Embroidery…we may have found a winner!!

Back in the end of June, we were getting ready to head up to the family lake home in Northern Minnesota for a week.  This vacation is always very low key- we sleep, read, fish and eat…not much more than that!  A few days before we hit the road I was shopping at Aldi (bless you Aldi, you rule!) and you know how they have that 1 aisle that just had the most random selection of non-food stuff? Like blankets and socks and toys and it’s different every time you go? Well, let me tell you, that is where, for $8, I found a embroidery for beginners kit!  It had instructions, embroidery floss, iron on patterns, cloth and 2 hoops..for $8!! Perfect for vacay! I made sure to iron on the patterns before we left, and then threw everything into my sewing box and stashed it in the back seat.

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One overcast afternoon I pulled everything out and starting reading instructions. It seemed fairly simple, with the book giving written directions, and color picture diagrams for each type of stitch. So I was off, I choose an H monogram, with roses, following the instructions fairly closely. Not too shabby actually! And I finished it about a day and a half, maybe putting in 4 hours total

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Next up was this cute bird! This pattern was also included in the kit, but it didn’t have play-by-play instructions to go with it, the idea being that you take what you learned from the other patterns and apply it to this one. So I had a lot more creative freedom, ya know..to make mistakes! but I think its cute!

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A few days went by and I decided that I LOVED doing this, and wouldn’t you know it, there was a friends birthday coming up and I had the most perfect idea for a gift! Both of these patterns were pieced together using  the Doodle Stitching Transfer Pack by Aimee Ray, on Amazon

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Spoiler Alert: She LOVED it!!

Honestly, I was hooked from the start! It takes some concentration, but not so much that you can’t join in on conversations. Its takes almost no space, just wherever you are sitting. And the creative possibilities are endless. I still don’t know what to actually DO with the finished pieces, I guess I could attach them to a pillow or tote bag or something. I have plans for some placemats eventually.  I just really like that after a few hours (or days depending on how complicated the design is) I have a completed piece of art, something to be proud of and that I can call mine. We are up at the lake house again now, take a peek at this work in progress:

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Ice Cream Sandwiches

If you’ve spent any time on the Instagram, then you know that Ice Cream Sandwiches are the hot summer dessert right now, and frankly, how could they not be? Ice Cream? good. Cookies? Good. Eating both at the same time? GOOOOODDD!!! You can combine all sorts of flavors, they are great for a crowd, and they are just a perfect little hand-held treat!

I have made a few different sandwiches these past few month, the best so far being Roasted Cherry Ice Cream with White Chocolate Pistachio Cookies.  I have been using the same vanilla ice cream recipe, just modifying it by stirring in my flavors, its nice and creamy, and it sets up hard but not like a rock.

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Below is the recipe I used, modified for a 2 QT ice cream maker

Vanilla Ice Cream

287g whole milk
287g heavy cream
33g corn syrup
70g yolks
125g sugar, divided
10g dry milk pwd

8g van x

-heat together milk, cream, corn syrup, yolks, and half the sugar
-whisk together remaining sugar, dry milk pwd, whisk into warm milk mix
-cook to 85c, stirring constantly
-strain over ice bath for 4hrs or overnight
-whisk in vanilla extract, balance, spin.  At this point, you can stir in any flavorings you might be using…roasted cherries for example. Once its done spinning (ice cream is thick and holding its shape), place into Tupperware container, cover and freeze overnight. It need to be fully set before you start to sandwich, otherwise its a big old mess.

Roasted Cherries….not so much an exact recipe. I took about 1.5 pounds of pitted cherries, both sour and Bing, tossed them with brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper. I baked them at 375f in a dish, stirring occasionally until the cherries are soft, and the syrup is thick..maybe about 30 minutes? Then I pureed everything with the blender and strained.  I folded about half the cherry puree into the ice cream base before spinning, then the remaining half after it was spun but before it goes into the freezer. I tried not to fully mix in this half of puree, so there would be pretty streaks of straight cherry goodness in each scoop.

 

For the cookies I used this recipe from Cookies and Cups. I modified by tossing in some chopped pistachios with the white chocolate chips. These cookies are amazing and totally live up to their name of Best White Chocolate Chip Cookies!!! Plus, it will make  few extra cookies for you to snack on while you wait for the ice cream to set up.

So. To sandwich everything together I usually enlist my husband to help, so it goes faster and the ice cream doesn’t melt. Also this probably isn’t the most precise, professional or efficient way to make ice cream sandwiches, but it works for us!

you need 2 pieces of parchment paper, an ice cream scoop, baked cookies (I pair up similar sizes ahead of time), frozen ice cream, and an empty container in your freezer that you can put your finished sandwich into. Ok! Ready Set Sandwich! Scoop out ice cream onto 1 piece of parchment, cover with the second and smoooosh the ice cream with your hand. remove the top parchment, place 1 cookie on top, flip parchment to release ice cream onto cookie, top with second cookie, freeze. Continue until you are out of cookies!

 

 

 

Wow, its been awhile…like a year

Hello! I seem to have finally found my way back to the blog, nice to see you again! Sorry I haven’t been around, but stay tuned because I have several new blog posts coming straight at ya!

What have I been doing for a year…well we got a DOG! Her name is Penny Lane and she is a rescue hound mix and a total doll! She has been the absolute light of our lives and we are so happy to have her!!!!

This is the moment we adopted her, we are IN LOVE!

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Penny keeps us very busy. She is pretty active and demands about 4 walks a day, according to other dog owners that’s a lot and we are very nice parents LOL!

She loves being chased by other dogs, finding deer on our walks, and playing tug. She also loves DQ soft serve, but unfortunately it doesn’t love her back…the stink that comes out of her after some dairy is other-wordly! She likes to be cuddled when she is snoozy and gives kisses freely

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Penny Lane has made our life so much better, and we think she is just as smitten with us as we are with her

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Paper flowers

so it has been awhile since my last post…work has a way of ramping up at unexpected times, so while I actually played around with paper flowers several weeks ago, this is the first opportunity I have had to actually write about it.  Making paper flowers was actually pretty fun, and I  had something pretty to show for it too!  I used cardstock from Michael’s and a hot glue gun to hold stuff in place.

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The first method of paper flowers I used was the spiral method. It is the EASIEST way to make flowers ever!! You draw a spiral on the paper, then cut out following the lines, then roll from the outside in and bam! you have a flower! The more spirals the tighter the flower. I cut several differently sized spirals to make the above bouquet. Then I cut out some leaf shapes to complete the look and glued everybody to a piece of paper (I’ve also seen them attached to straws to make stemmed flowers, or strung on a string to make a garland).

 

I used this blog for instructions for the spiral flowers, but there are a ton more on Pinterest, so have a search if you want.

 

For the second batch of paper flowers, I went with paper gardenias.  These are a bit more complicated than the spiral flowers, and technically you need a printer for them, but I don’t have a printer, but I DO have cookie/cake deco cutters and that actually worked for this flower.  I traced my cutters onto the paper and cut them out (had I printer, I would have printed from a template, then cut them out).  It was essentially 4 sets of petals, curled and shaped for dimension, stacked on top of each other so each layer of petals can be seen,then a center core…you can find way better instructions here

20170820_102010pssst…..these flowers are a different color than the spiral ones, I swear!

 

My 3rd attempt at paper flowers didn’t go over so great unfortunately… I wanted to make a giant flower, using this cool metallic 12×12 paper I had kicking around, but, once again you needed a printer. I thought I could free hand it, but I was wrong

here it is…

 

 

are you sure you want to see this…?

 

ok here goes…

 

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just…no.

 

So in the end, I really enjoyed making both the spiral flowers and gardenias…they would make great decorations for parties or holidays, but I definitely need to get a printer if I want to do anything more complicated than that.

side bar…I am a pastry chef

So I am a pastry chef. I went to culinary school and got a degree in Baking and Pastry like…17 years ago (wtf !!??! 17??!) Since then I have worked in luxury hotels and small independent restaurants and bakeries. Currently I am general manager at a local bakery specializing in cupcakes, plated desserts and specialty cakes. Its not my dream job, but it definitely keeps me busy, although its a lot more administrative work than actual baking. My dream is to have my own bakery that does more European style desserts, no custom cakes no cupcakes. Serve coffee drinks and cocktails, maybe a small but delicious lunch menu.  All mis-matched vintage tables and plates and cups….and maybe on the weekends the basement turns into a speakeasy! We went to Barcelona in May for our honeymoon and there was a cafe bakery just like this across the square from our hotel (actually I am pretty sure it didn’t have the speakeasy feature, but it was still amazing!) At the counter they had a selection of cakes and tarts that changed daily, you can just point and they will slice you off a piece and bring it out to you with your cafe con leche. In 5 days we were there 3 times!!!!

but I digress…

My current position doesn’t allow for as much baking as I would like, so sometimes I will bake at home just for the hell of if. Today is one of those days, and I have decided to make croissants.  Now, in case you don’t know, Croissants are made from a laminated dough, which means that dough and butter have been layered together by repeatedly rolling and folding. Its a bit of a process, and has the potential to go wrong ( and considering how long it has been since I made them, I’m betting something goes wrong today!).  But even if something goes wrong, and they don’t look perfect, they will still taste delicious and are the perfect pairing for your morning coffee!!

 

here’s the recipe I am using today:

  • 113 g whole milk
  • 227 g water
  • 454 g AP flour
  • 113 g cake flour
  • 64 g sugar
  • 14 g salt
  • 14g active dry yeast
  • 1 # butter, cold
  • 42 g bread flour

1: combine milk and water together, warm to about 90-100 degree F (thats right about body temp), stir in yeast and let sit 5 minutes

2: stir together AP and cake flour, sugar and salt, add to liquid

3: mix with dough hook on low for about 5 minutes, until dough is smooth and firm, but still a bit soft in texture. Too much mixing will toughen the dough

4: Shape dough into a rectangle, place on floured parchment paper, cover with plastic and chill until cold and relaxed

5: while dough is chilling, make your butter roll-in; mix together cold butter and bread flour with dough hook until soft and smooth, about 20 minutes on low

6: roll out chilled dough to large rectangle (about 2x original size), spread butter roll-in over 2/3 of the dough, making sure it is very even and not going over the edges.

7: Lock in your butter by folding 1/3 dough over the butter ( the 1/3 of the dough that doesn’t have butter gets folded on top of the buttered side). You now have only some butter showing, fold that side over the non-buttered side.  Line the edges up and turn the dough so the lengthwise seams are facing you. Congratulations, your butter is now locked in!

8: Roll the dough out to about 3x larger rectangle, fold into thirds. Always fold the same way… I fold the left hand edge into the middle, then fold the right edge over that. Cover and chill about 30 minutes or until cool to touch. This is your first fold/turn.

9: Repeat step 8  four or five more times, making sure the dough rests in between each turn. Always fold the same way, always keep the lengthwise seams towards you

10: After the last fold/turn, chill the dough for at least an hour so it can completely relax.

11: cut relaxed dough into 4 equal blocks, wrap individually and chill overnight in the fridge.

12:take one block and roll to about 3x in length, cut into 4 equal rectangles, then cut each rectangle in half on the bias (upper left corner to lower right corner) so you have 8 triangles. Cut a 1 inch notch in the base/sort side.

13: pick up the triangle by the base and gently stretch the dough from base to tip, to lengthen the size of the triangle.

14: place stretched triangle on the counter, with the point towards you, with both hands roll from the base to the tip, making sure the everything stays centered.  Continue with remaining triangles

15: place all croissants on parchment lined sheetpan, cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to proof until doubled.  You want the croissants jiggle slightly when you tap the pan.

16: make an egg wash by beating 1 whole egg with a splash of water. Gently brush croissants with egg wash

17: bake @ 375f  until golden brown, cool, eat, repeat.

****instead of making all croissants, I took half the dough and made pain au chocolate… to do that you just cut smaller rectangles instead of triangles, and roll up some good chocolate pieces inside. Proof, egg wash and bake the same as croissants.

 

I tried Geo-Caching and all I found was poison ivy…

I had never heard of Geo-Caching until a few weeks ago. It sounds like something to do with rocks, but in fact it is, according to wiki an :

‘ outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”, at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world.’

So its like a treasure hunt, you sign up  pull up an app (there are many, this is the one I used) and it tells you what caches are nearby, providing GPS coordinates, and you can use google maps to get directions to get there. Once you are at the GPS location you have a search around.

 Allegedly there will be a small waterproof container containing a log book and sometimes a trinket.  I say allegedly because I tried ‘caching’ 6 different times and found bupkus! nada! not a thing!!! It made me feel slightly better that the user previous to me also couldn’t find anything in all the same spots, so maybe they are gone? I’m not sure who maintains the caches, making sure they are in good shape, clearly all six of the ones I tried near my house need help.  The whole point is that they are hidden, they aren’t supposed to be found easily, they should be hidden well enough to add a bit of challenge, and also you don’t want the cache to be mistaken for trash and thrown away.  All that means is that all 6 caches took me off the walking paths in my neighborhood and into the fields and woods…you know, where poison ivy is! Which I unknowingly found. A few days after my adventure walking, as my husband likes to call it, I found a few bug bites (so I thought) on my lower legs. After a week of non stop, making me crazy, I want to chop my legs off itchiness, I finally went to the doctor because I thought a few of the bites had gotten infected…nope, not infected and also not bug bites but POISON IVY! YAY! I’ve never had poison ivy, and now I feel bad for everyone in the world who has gone through this….it sucks man, sorry! Calamine lotion is my new best friend (and epsom salt baths)!!

 

Anyhoo… geo-caching was a bit of a bust, but I think I may give it another shot, ya’ know, once the poison ivy clears up, maybe try a more urban area where the only dangers are cars, broken glass and hoodrats.

Aside

HI

My name is Holly and I need a hobby.  My husband has many hobbies, and it has been pointed out to me that I should have interests that are not just work, sleep and hanging out with my him. I need to have something just for myself, something that I enjoy and fills my free time.  So.  So follow me as a try a bunch of things that people consider hobbies and hope that I find one (or more!) that suits me.  There are a few activities that some would consider hobbies that I already do and are necessary for life and they are:

Reading (seriously, it needs to happen every day)

Cooking (I am a pastry chef, he is an accountant…but we BOTH love to cook)

Watching Movies (I probably watch too many movies if I’m being honest)

so I won’t be trying out those hobbies, I’m pretty ace at them already thank you very much!

 

So here’s how its going to work, I will pick a new hobby and give it a try for a couple of weeks. Then I will write about my experience here.  Some upcoming hobbies to try are:

GeoCaching

Paper Flowers

Trivia Night

Embroidery

Photography

Painting

and I’m open to suggestions so add them in the comments