Sunday, May 26, 2013

Congratulations Graduates!

My niece Tori has graduated from North Callaway High School this year. She is an awesome girl.  I don't know too many high school graduates that have had as much dedication to their school work as she has. Not to mention surviving those four years without so much as blinking an eye towards that ever so popular peer pressure monster. She is pursuing a nursing degree and I know that she will make one compassionate, smart, dutiful nurse.
I'm sure she will have a party this summer, but for now I just sent a couple of cookies to congratulate her.

Doesn't she just look like a smarty pants?

Congratulations Tori! We love you!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cancer is a jerk.

I just looked up the statistics on how many women will get breast cancer in a lifetime and it's 1 in 8. That doesn't make me like my boobs very much, or cancer.  My mom, two of her sisters, my grandmother (dad's mom), and a few other women I know have had breast cancer. It's scary to think about how many people you know that have had to fight for their lives unexpectedly and without knowing the outcome.
I do admire the strength that these women around us exude. I know nothing of what it takes to have to care for oneself when taken over by an illness such as this.  I do know that the support of other women must mean something. To have someone take care of you and not just offer. I am not comparing a c-section to cancer, but that was the first time that I have ever had to lean on anyone in my adult life. There is something to say about the people that come to your side because they love you.

The pink ribbon is supposed to be a symbol of hope and the color of strength.  If you wear it, post it, display it, or in my case eat it, it shows that you support these women. Shannon Picard asked for me to make some cookies to take to a funeral luncheon for her husband Jeremy's late Aunt Jenny.

Jennifer (Jenny) Kay Mitchell
5/17/72 - 4/28/13

I wrote a post with an example of how to create a cookie using cutters that you currently have, to make a cookie in a shape that you don't have.  The picture above shows another way to do this, by making a template.  All you have to do is draw out your design and cut it out, place it on the cookie and use a sharp knife to cut around it.
You'll want to use something plastic like a lid from a large oatmeal container. This way it won't get soggy from all the yummy butter that is soaks up from the dough.  It will take about three times as long as using a cookie cutter, but your results will be the same. This is the first time that I have done this, but I will definitely take the time to do it again to make a cookie with a special meaning such as this.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

I love my mom.

I love my mom. I think everyone could say that they love their mom even more after they've had their own child. It's only been a little over a year since Amelie was born and the time has made me appreciate the effort that my mom put into raising me even more. I love having a child to care for and my mom had four pretty close in age. She must have been supermom.  I think about her numerous times when Amelie wants me to hold her while I'm unloading the dishwasher or cooking dinner.  You know, the tasks that normally require two hands.  I can't imagine that my mom's hands were ever empty.  Even now she said that she has a habit of standing around in the kitchen to eat her meals because she never really sat down to eat when my brother, sisters and I were around to keep her busy.  My mom has always been a helper to everyone around her and she has been such a blessing to me since Amelie was born. Of course she has to have her time with her granddaughter, but I know she tries to help me as well.
I made a few cookies (surprise!) for my mom and John's mom. 

Teapot and teacup cookies
 Teapots for my mom to match her favorite collections.

Brush embroidery cookies, stencil cookies
Flowers just because for my mother-in-law.

A card I made to tell her of my new revelation.
Mother's day card quote

Mother's day card

My post today would not be complete if I didn't include some pictures of Amelie since I am a proud mother on Mother's day. I am so thankful to have been able to experience the joy of mothering such a happy little girl.

Everyone loves smiley pictures of little ones, but I like pictures with silly faces that you just don't appreciate until you see that single second captured by the camera.

On another note...I've been wanting to make my own ice cream for some time. I've looked at ice cream makers but I really didn't want another kitchen appliance. Johnny was thoughtful enough to buy a separate bowl for my kitchen aid mixer that churns ice cream as a gift for Mother's day.  I am really excited to use it. I think it is supposed to be in the 80's on Tuesday - perfect day. I'll have to get busy looking for a good recipe.
I hope every mom has had a great day today!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My Favorite Dessert

This past week I've done a little bit of baking. It's fun to know someone's favorite dessert or dinner and even better when you know that you can make it for them just the way they like it.  I know how to make Johnny's favorite chocolate chip cookies and just the way he likes his steak shish-ka-bobs. I know that my sister-in-law, Andrea loves white or yellow cake, buttercream frosting with some almond flavoring. I know that my brother loves chocolate eclair cake, carrot cake, and those peanut butter cookies with the hershey kisses smooshed on top. I know that my Dad loves fruit pies, ice cream, and that he wishes he could have his Mother's orange cake with frosting.  I know that my sister-in-law, Jenn loves lemon desserts and lemon bars. As for my sisters, Bev and Michelle - they are kind of like me, anything sweet goes.  However anyone can make my very favorite, brownie ice cream sundae.  I'm not even picky about the brownie, it can come from a vending machine and I'd be happy. I also love bananas foster and yellow cake with chocolate frosting.  If you've never had bananas foster, you need to stop what you are doing and look it up right now. Johnny made it for my birthday one year and now that I know he can make it I'll be requesting it every year.
My Mother-in-law's birthday was this past week her favorite dessert is white/yellow cake (lucky for me) and I was happy to make her birthday cake for work and also a few sweets for the get-together at my house.
Daisy cake

Pansy cupcakes

Pansy cupcakes, petit four

If you look in the back right corner of the photo above you'll see some petit fours or "small cakes". The words petit four in French means "small oven." I've added a few photos below to show you the process.
blanched almonds
Blanching and peeling the almonds to make almond paste for the cake.

Layers of petit fours
The cake is baked in 3 separate jelly roll pans in very thin layers. Jam is typically spread between the layers.
Cut petit fours
A special cutter is used to cut the cake, but my cake was short enough to use a cookie cutter.

A pourable fondant is prepared to spoon over the cakes or alternatively the cakes are dipped into the fondant.

Iced petit fours
It can take a layer or two of icing to cover the cakes if the consistency of the icing is not thick enough.
I pre-made some buttercream icing pansies to place on top of the petit fours which you saw in the photo above.
I used this recipe from Martha Stewart's head baker.  I thought that if I am going to take the time to make petit four the long way, I would use a good recipe. The cake tasted great, but the icing was not to my liking. The icing is Martha's pourable fondant icing.
You could also buy some pound cake, cut it in slices, use a cutter for the shape you prefer, and dip the cake in fondant.  That might be cheating but I don't think anyone would know.

So....Is everyone thinking of their favorite dessert and wishing that someone would make it for them?