25 January 2010

Vintage sheets

I went secondhand shopping before the holidays and found a bunch of vintage sheets. Score! I was really excited to find this many in one place. I don't love the yellow stripy one but then again I don't really care for yellow. My favorite is the orange and pink one but then again I love orange. It even had a pillowcase. Hmmm... Maybe I could make this. The only problem I have is that it's a european sized pillowcase which is square. I'll have to keep looking for great projects.

On a side note, why can't I get my font all the same?!? How frustrating. Just when I think I have the basics figured out about this blog thing something so simple comes along that I can't make work. Sounds like parenting. Ha.

21 January 2010

Homemade Marshmallows

I like to make these marshmallows during the holiday season. I think this was my 4th year with this recipe. They are easy and fun to make. Pepper helped me this year along with a friend of hers. We had a good time! Everyone who tastes these says 2 things. The first is always "I didn't know you could make marshmallows" and the other is always "these are good" like it's shocking that they are good. Really they are way better than store bought.

The all important licking of the beaters.

Little hands helping to cut the block o' mallow.

The bowl full and ready to go into mason jars for giving.

I use the recipe from King Arthur Flour and like them best plain.

3 packages (1/4-ounce each) unflavored gelatin

1 cup (8 ounces) cool water, divided
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 cup (11 ounces) light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) vanilla extract
crushed peppermint candies, peppermint oil, or espresso powder, all optional
confectioners' sugar, to sprinkle on top

Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup cool water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup cool water in a small, deep saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.

With mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase the speed to high, and whip until the mixture is very thick and fluffy, and has cooled to lukewarm, 8 to 10 minutes. (It should be cool enough that you can spread it into the pan without burning your fingers.)

Add vanilla towards the end of the mixing time. This is also the time to add a few drops of peppermint oil, if desired, instead of vanilla extract. Or try 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder for a coffee-flavored treat. To use the crushed peppermint candies, which will tint the marshmallow pink and add flavor, stir the candies into the marshmallow mixture, leaving some swirls of plain white.

Spread the marshmallow mixture into a greased 9" x 13" pan (glass or ceramic is best). Use your wet hands to smooth and flatten the marshmallows. Sprinkle confectioners' sugar over the top, and let sit for several hours (or overnight) before cutting. Use a greased knife or cookie cutters to make squares or other shapes. Yield: about 100 1" squares.

Things I've learned:

If in a bit of a rush (or just plain impatient), I'll cool them in the fridge. This works fine and doesn't seem to alter them in any way.

I also don't grease my knife to cut them and I keep a bowl of powdered sugar nearby. The cut shapes go into the bowl a row at a time to get coated then I bash them a bit in a sieve to get rid of the extra sugar. This works great to keep them from sticking together.