Christmas

Year’s End

It’s the last weekend of the year, the last day of the year. I decided to usher 2017 out the door by making soap. I haven’t been making as much soap this year as I did in 2016 but I am still reading about soap and planning soap.

Yesterday, I made an experimental batch of soap that uses two kinds of lye, sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide. In my reading, over at the Soapmaking Forum, I came across a post about a dual lye soap and how using both can increase the lather in a low coconut oil soap. I decided to give it a try.

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It is now out of the mold but still quite soft and not ready for slicing yet. I coloured this one with Aztec Gold mica and it’s scented with a combination of cedarwood, rosemary, and lemongrass. It smells wonderful!

Now, I am in the mood to make another batch of soap for the upcoming year. I’ll be making a batch of Lavender & Goat Milk soap, a lovely mild, skin-loving soap that smells amazing. It will help to use up some of the goat milk languishing in the freezer. And we’ll be set for the upcoming year.

And, just because, here are a few pictures taken over the last few days. It’s definitely winter here.

 

 

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Categories: Christmas, Finished, Holidays, Making Soap, Soap | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Snow Day

It’s December in the Okanagan. We expect snow. We’ve had snow for the past couple of weeks. I’m okay with that. Honestly, I am.

However, overnight we received another 5-6″, with more still falling. I did make the effort to get out the door and try to get to work for a four-hour day. No. Just no. The roads are dreadful and people are driving way too fast for the conditions. At one point, I was driving at a 45ยบ angle! Four hours of work is not worth taking my life into my hands.

And so, time will be spent working on a project I started in October of 2015 (yikes!), the Hidden Light Cardigan for John. The back is done, the front panels are done up to the arm scyes. And then, I got bored. Or my hands hurt. Whatever the reason, the bag with the pieces and needles has been languishing in my yarn stash. Yesterday, after work, I decided it was time to pull it back out, dust off the pattern (which I would have done had I been able to find it) and pick up where I left off.

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This picture really captures the colour very well.

And so, today I will be spending time listening to the weather news and working on John’s sweater.

Categories: Blogging, Cardigan, Christmas, Holidays, John's Sweater, Knitting, The Weather | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Practicing

Now that November 11 (Happy Birthday, Gloria!) is past, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas. The operative word there is “thinking”. I’m not big on decorating for the holidays, really. When we were growing up, the tree didn’t go up until just days before Christmas. When we had our children, the tree didn’t go up until school let out for the holidays and came down when they went back to school in January. It’s a day, not a season.

However, all that said, when it comes to Christmas baking, a little bit of time and preparation is required. This year, with the discovery that Kristen is gluten intolerant, it also means practice runs of promising recipes. That’s what this weekend has been about.

This is going to seem like a digression, but it really isn’t. When it comes to cookie baking, I’ve always wanted a cookie press. Each year, I check out Amazon.ca for their prices. I wander over to Michael’s to see what they have; and each year, I don’t buy one. My mother had an aluminum one years and years ago but it was never really used and I have no idea where it ended up. This year, I decided it was time to just get one. I went to my favourite kitchen store (Chef’s Edge in Kelowna, if you must know) and bought one. The price was reasonable, very much in line with buying it online, and taking into account the delivery costs. Plus, I didn’t have to wait for it to arrive.

With new toy, er… tool, in hand, I set about to finding some recipes to play with. I came across one that looked really good – Vanilla Cardamon Spritz. The recipe I used is from Serious Eats, one of my favourite food websites. The only thing I did differently was to use a 1:1 gluten free flour.

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The cookies are crisp, buttery, perfectly flavoured. The cardamon doesn’t overpower the vanilla but gives the cookies a depth of flavour that’s really nice. With a cup of tea or coffee, these are perfect.

I didn’t do much in the way of decoration, as you can see. I wanted to try out the recipe gluten free. However, I did play a little bit later.

vanilla-cardamon-spritz

A little melted dark chocolate, some sprinkles… it doesn’t take a lot to make these little cookies look festive and cheery.

Then, because I’m not super big on sweets, I decided to try my hand at some savoury biscuits. During my hunt for the spritz recipes, I came across a cheesy spritz recipe. It seems this recipe is all over the internet – how have I never come across it?

This time, I inadvertently used wheat flour, even though the gluten free flour was already on the counter beside the mixer. Doh!

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These call for a pound of aged, sharp cheddar so they’re not an inexpensive treat but, my oh my…. they are addictive! They go very well with a glass or two of white wine. VERY well. Don’t ask how many I ate, ok?

I did have a bit of an issue in getting these on to the cookie sheets – they wouldn’t stick very well, even after I washed, dried, and cooled the cookie sheets in the freezer. In the end, I rolled out the last bit of dough and cut cookies out with a small square cookie cutter, kind of like Cheez-Its.

I followed the recipe on the TGIF (This Grandma Is Fun) blog but I’ve noticed that the same recipe appears on numerous other blogs. Some bakers add a little dry mustard to their mix but I found that the addition of a little hot sauce (I used Franks’s) works well. Seriously, these are good!

If you do bake them, whether with wheat flour or gluten free (that will happen at some point), I’ll offer one tip: beat the heck out of the butter and cheese mixture. Seriously, you can’t underbeat it. The longer you beat that mix, the easier it will be to put it through your cookie press.

Categories: Baking, Christmas, Just stuff, Kitchen | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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