Thursday, 28 February 2013

Winter Pictures, Part 3

Kindness is like snow.  It beautifies everything it covers. - Unknown

The news was projecting a winter storm for days.  Honestly, I did not believe that we would get a huge amount of snow....isn't it the first of March tomorrow...the month that brings the beginning of spring.
However, this morning I woke up to find a beautiful world outside my window...(sometimes it is nice to be wrong).  With all my children still sleeping, I put on my boots and coat and went for a winter walk.
Here is my world today...

The End!

Monday, 25 February 2013

Turkish Delight

Thorns and roses come from the same bush. - Turkish Proverb

I was introduced to Turkish Delight by my Serbian in-laws.  The history of Turkey and Serbia, at one time, was intertwined.  Though the cultures have since gone their separate ways, Turkey has left some marks on the Serbian culture.  One of which is a love of Turkish Delight.
Before, I had only heard of Turkish Delight through a famous story book by C.S. Lewis...with the White witch's temptations of a small boy with the confectionery.  I always wondered what it tasted like and was intrigued by the first box that my father in law bought many years ago.
The taste that stands out in a Turkish Delight is the Rosewater essence.  It is a flowery taste that makes the candy taste exotic.  Though a bit difficult to find, rosewater is a key element to making the true Turkish Delight ( I found mine at Bulk Barn....but it can also be found at Middle Eastern Stores).
In the past, I bought Turkish Delight from the store.  This is the first time I made it from scratch and it was well worth the effort.  I will definitely keep this recipe at the top of my recipe list...I hope you too will give it a try... and you too can experience why a young boy sold out his family just for one bite.

 Turkish Delights 
(from : Candy, chief Elizabeth LaBau)

4 cups granulated sugar
4 1/2 cups water, divided use
2 tsp lemon juice
1 1/4 cups cornstarch
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 Tablespoon rosewater
2-3 drops red food colouring
1 cup powdered sugar

(another variation of Turkish Delight is to add chopped pistachio nuts into the candy mixture at the same time as the food colouring to add more texture.)

1.  Prepare a 9x9 pan by lining it with aluminium foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.  Set aside.

2.  Add sugar, lemon juice and 1 1/2 cups of the water to a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Stir until the sugar dissolves and bring the mixture to a boil.  Brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming, and insert a candy thermometer.

3.  Allow the sugar mixture to continue boiling, without stirring, until it reaches 240 degrees on the candy thermometer.

4.  When the sugar syrup is around 225 degrees, begin to get the rest of the candy ingredients prepared.  Place the remaining 3 cups of water in another, slightly larger saucepan.  Add the cornstarch and cream of tartar and whisk until the starch dissolves and three are no lumps.  Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring or whisking constantly.  The mixture will become thick and pasty.

5.  Once the sugar syrup is at 240 degrees, remove it from the heat. Slowly, carefully, pout it into the cornstarch mixture, whisking until it is fully incorporated.

6.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking it every 8-10 minutes for about an hour, until the candy has turned a light golden-yellow colour and is very thick and gluey.

7.  After an hour, remove from the heat and stir in the food colouring and the rosewater.  Pour the candy into the prepared pan and allow it to set, uncovered, overnight.

8.  The next day, remove the candy from the pan using the foil as handles.  Dust your work station with the powdered sugar, and flip the candy onto the powdered sugar.  Remove the foil from the back and dust the top with sugar.  Use an oiled chef's knife to cut the Turkish Delight into small squares.  Dust each side of the square with powdered sugar to prevent stickiness.

9.  Turkish Delight is best soon after it is made.  It doesn't keep very well, but if you want to try keeping it, store it in an airtight container with waxed paper between the layers, and dust the sides with powdered sugar again before serving.

 The End!

Friday, 22 February 2013

Homemade Playdough Recipe

Those who don't believe in magic will never find it. - Ronald Dahl

If you never have made homemade are missing out on one item that should be added to everyone's Bucket List of Parenthood.  A basic recipe usually takes just a few minutes to make and can produce a dough that will inspire hours of creativity and smiles.

Today's homemade playdough recipes can be pretty fancy.  You can add vanilla can add neon colour food can add glitter...

Homemade Playdough Recipe

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 cup water
4 Tablepsoon cooking oil
2 teaspoons food colouring or two packets dry cool-aid mix (without the sugar)
optional: glitter, cinnamon for scent, or 1-2 teaspoons vanilla essence

1.  Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
2.  Pour into a frying pan coated with a little oil.
3.  Stir constantly until a ball forms.
4.  Remove pan from heat.
5.  Turn out playdough onto a working surface and knead until smooth (this step children enjoy doing for you...just make sure the dough is not too hot.)


Playdough can be kept up to six months in an airtight container in the fridge.

The End!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Cinnamon Hearts Popcorn

Only from the heart can you touch the sky. - Rumi

Here is just a little valentine's day treat idea.

Cinnamon Hearts Popcorn
makes about 10 cups of flavoured popcorn

1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
1 cup cinnamon hearts candies, divided
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons Corn Syrup, or Brown Rice Syrup
10-15 cups popped popcorn

1.  Finely crush 1/2 cinnamon hearts...(I used a small blender).  Set aside.
2.  melt white chocolate chips in a pan on low heat.
3.  Add butter and corn syrup to the pot with the white chocolate.
4.  Add the crushed cinnamon hearts to the mixture.
5. Heat mixture through...the mixture will be thick...and a bit hard to stir, but do not worry... it will spread out over the popcorn.
6.  Pour into popped popcorn...and mix quickly until combined.
7.  Toss in the remaining 1/2 cup of Cinnamon Hearts.
8.  Enjoy!

My little niece enjoying the popcorn

My daughter and my nieces getting in the Valentine spirit

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Mexican Drinking Chocolate (and Ice skating, too!)

Let your smile change the world.  Don't let the world change your smile. - unknown 

Picnics do not have to wait until summer.  This weekend, my family and I went ice skating in the marsh behind our house...and what better way to enjoy the ice, than to have hot chocolate(and fresh baked cookies, too) served lakeside.
The temperature was dipping low, but promises of sweet rewards kept my children willing to face the cold and skate for almost 3 hours...a record I assure you!
The hot chocolate I constructed, was inspired by a dear friend of mine...back from my time in University. She had made a similar brew to brighten my day.  The twist...cinnamon and a pinch of red chili flakes...

Mexican Drinking Chocolate
makes a rich drink, thicker in consistancy than regular hot chocolate
serves 1

1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
2 Tablespoon(or to taste) sugar ( or coconut palm sugar)
pinch red chili pepper flakes (or more)
1 cups milk ( or any "milk" of your choice, I used soy)
1 square unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped small ( or 2 Tablespoons chocolate chips)

1.  Combine the cinnamon, cocoa powder, sugar and red chili pepper flakes into a small bowl.
2.  Slowly whisk in a few Tablespoons of the milk.  A paste will form.
3.  Continue to add the milk, a few Tablespoons at a time, to the cinnamon chocolate paste, until all the milk has been combined and there are no lumps.
4. Transfer mixture to a pot and begin to heat.
5.  Add the chopped baking chocolate, whisking constantly.
6.  Heat until just before boiling...when small bubbles begin to form around the edges...and the chocolate pieces are melted.
7.  Remove from heat and serve!

The End!  Enjoy!