Friday, August 24, 2007

the final chapter of the wedding cake.....

and now the final chapter can be written!

just over a week ago (last Thursday, to be exact) this is how the cakes looked.

On Wednesday I had taken them all out of the freezer and put a glaze layer on them all after trimming so the tops were flat.

Thursday morning, I did the "fill", putting in the raspberry jam (seedless, of course) and stacked them up.

So far so good!

and so we begin to ice.

Three full batches of buttercream frosting (all faintly flavored with almond).

The tier that I expected to be a problem (the chocolate one) went quite well, the jam glaze served well and the icing went on easily.

The same could not be said for the smallest layer. In fact, at one point I wondered if we would end up having to bake a whole new top tier, but it finally came together.

We used mostly white -- a shell border around the bottom and a sort of star border around the top. Then scroll work across the top and cascading down the front of the cakes. Lots of the white roses that I had spent a Sunday afternoon creating, then little "vines" of pale green and tiny lavendar dots here and there.

And so on Saturday afternoon we began to set it all up.

Each tier had traveled in its own individual box lined with "non slip" rubber matting. The traveling was actually safer than being in our kitchen as all of the layers arrived safely in the car and I had actually put my fingers into the icing on one of them in the kitchen and had to repair it before we packed the box.

Using 3 risers of different heights all covered with a piece of lace fabric, we set it up as a kind of spiral of cake.

But the top layer was not done giving us trouble.

In the kitchen we had made an imprint on the top of where the cake topper needed to go so we would know how to place it. Just one problem....that tier was so tender that the topper began to actually sink into the cake!

Fortunately, we traveled with a repair kit -- containers of buttercream, pre-loaded bags (with the same tips) of the colors we used, spatulas, etc., etc., but in the end it was the creative use of a broken off plastic fork that saved the day -- we broke it the right height (just a bit shorter that the cake) and inserted it into the cake just behind the flowers and scroll work on the top. It supported just enough of the weight of the cake topper that everything stayed level.

And so the saga of the wedding cake is complete. Some time I might be willing to do this again, but there are definately things I would do differently!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wedding Reception Mints

While I'm waiting for really good pictures of the wedding cake all set up to arrive, I thought I'd share the recipe for the mints we made for the reception.

We didn't have any real plan to do these, but when my friend from California was here she was talking about it and almost before you could say "how do we do that?" a phone call was made to her house and her son was digging the recipe out of her "wedding recipes" file in her kitchen.

Actually, this was a fun project, something that wasn't so crucial to the success of the day as the cake and the flowers, so there was really no stress involved. (something that was desperately needed at that point in last week!)

We did these in the colors we used for the wedding, and I sprinkled them all with the edible glitter that is available from Wilton.

So then, here's the recipe:

Wedding Reception Mints

1 egg white
1 tbls water
2 tbls canned milk
5 cups (1 pound) sifted powdered sugar
1/8 tsp mint
1/2 tsp vanilla
color as desired

Blend egg white, water, canned milk and flavoring, mixing well. (If you're making a batch that is all one color you could add the color here as well.)

Add sugar slowly and kneed the mixture well. Cover bowl with a damp towel.

Pinch off small balls (about the size of a marble) and pat them out in small circles on waxed paper. Allow to set for about 5 minutes then make imprint on top with a damp fork.

1. If you don't want to get food color on your hands, wear disposable gloves to do this project.
2. You could use a clean rubber stamp to make an imprint on the top of the mints.
3. After the imprint, sprinkle with edible glitter if desired.
4. These transport best if you leave them on the wax paper in a flat pan until you are ready to put them in the dishes at the reception. After that, store in an air tight container to keep them from absorbing moisture.

We got about 80 mints out of this recipe.

Friday, August 10, 2007

its just Peachy, thank you.....

Last Saturday we went up to Denver and picked up 2 boxes that looked like this.

MMMMM, nothing quite like the sweet smell of FRESH peaches in a hot house in August.

Yesterday we hauled up the necessary number of pint jars.

I love the look of those jars all lined up and waiting to receive the peachy, syrupy goodness.....

And here they are .... we got 18 pints of peach halves in medium syrup.

The point of this exercise is our own little family canning project: my sister gets the peaches from the Knights of Columbus in their parish that use it for a fund raiser every year; my DH & I (mostly the DH, his hands handle the heat much better than mine) put up the peaches and we give a lot of them to my folks, especially my dad....

There were a few of the peaches that had major bruising. We never throw anything away that we can use, so the bad spots get cut out and the rest get made into peach jam.

There are 13 half pints of this yummy stuff! We'll be taking some of that to my dad too.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

When Shares gives you zucchini.....

you just have to make pickle relish!

First a bit about Shares. The whole point of Shares is to help families cut their grocery costs by becoming part of a buying co-op. Sponsored in our area by Catholic Charities, it is open to ANYONE. To get more information and to join the group, you can go here. (This particular group covers Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota and Wyoming. There are other Shares groups in other parts of the country, so you may want to check it out)

Anyway, when we picked up our package on Saturday, there was a large zucchini, a large yellow squash and two large cucumbers in the box. Now we eat squash and cucumbers, but we prefer our zucchini to be about an inch in diameter by about 6 inches long, and these were WAY bigger than that!

A quick read of the pickle relish recipe revealed that we had everything we needed in the house to whip up a batch, so that produce wouldn't be wasted.

So here's what we used
from our Shares box: 1 large zucchini, 1 large yellow squash, 2 large cucumbers -- all of these got grated on the biggest hole of a standard hand grater

from the drawers of our 'fridge: 1 red onion, 3 small yellow (sweet) peppers -- these were chopped in very fine dice

Put all of those veggies in a large crock (yup, I have an OLD McCoy crock that was my grandmother's that we use for this purpose). Cover the whole batch with a mixture of 1/4 cup salt and 1 quart of water. Let soak for 3 to 4 hours.

Drain. Cover with 1 quart of fresh water and sprinkle 2 teaspoons of tumeric over the top. Let soak for another hour.

Drain completely (we pressed it into a sieve to squeeze out the water).

from the cupboards: mustard seeds, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, whole cloves, vinegar

In a sauce pan, combine 2 cups vinegar, and 3/4 cup brown sugar. Create a bouquet garni by using a piece of cheese cloth (or part of an old, clean dishtowel) tied with a piece of thread or kitchen twine and include: 1 cinnamon stick, 2 teaspoons of mustard seed and 1 teaspoon of whole cloves. Drop the bouquet garni into the sauce pan and bring to a boil. Pour mixture (including bouquet garni) over the veggies. Let stand for another 12 to 18 hours.

At the end of the "steeping", remove the bouquet garni and pour the remaining crock contents into a large pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for at least 10 minutes.

Pack into hot glass jars and put on seal and ring. Set jar on a towel UPSIDE DOWN for 5 minutes, then turn right side up.

Let cool completely before moving. Test jars for seal before storing.

And this is the result.

Oh yes, because we had so many yellow veggies in the mix, it just didn't look quite right, so I dropped in 2 drops of green food color....yellow pickle relish just looks wrong to me!!