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Archive for February, 2013

Swiss Buttercream, you’ve broken my heart one too many times.

Posted by eemilla on February 21, 2013

Spurred by memories of my honey’s delicious homemade coconut cake last year as well as Short Street Cakes’ delightful version, I caved to impulse and purchased some coconuts at the Coop a few months back.

I used Alton Brown’s cake recipe which my husband did so well with, and Smitten Kitchen’s Swiss buttercream which I had previously done so well with.  This cake is crazy labor intensive, and it is really is a really special occasion cake (unless you just happen to love working your tail off in the kitchen for hour upon hour).  My husband tried the 7 Minute Frosting provided by Alton Brown, but it was an utter disaster so my Swiss Buttercream saved the day.  However, the two attempts since my first attempt have been hideously sweet and greasy.  Maybe one day I’ll get the courage to try it again.

coconut draining

peeled coconut

shredded coconut

yolks

whites

coconut cake

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Gingerbread sculptures 2012

Posted by eemilla on February 16, 2013

We’ve decided that visiting the Grove Park Inn’s Gingerbread Sculptures will be a nice tradition, so we sucked it up and paid the $10 parking fee so we could park really far away from the inn.  Admittedly we’re part of the reason the fee was instituted: we will not spend any money there unless forced to.  The last time we spent money there it was for a gin drink and a beer, and it set us back about $20 including a normal tip (plus that was at least five years ago).  To make it even more difficult for locals to view the pieces, they’ve restricted visitors to Monday through Thursday.  We took these changes in stride as my honey works every weekend so it was six of one and half dozen of another for one of us to take some time off work.  It seemed that many more of the pieces were missing as they were on display in New York, whereas last year I only recall the grand prize being off site.  Below are my favorites.

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Apple Butter Recipe Fail

Posted by eemilla on February 10, 2013

Back in the fall, LB and I went to Hickory Nut Gap Farm to get some apples and some sausage for my honey and to explore.  LB was too small to enjoy the play areas as she had just begun walking a few weeks before so the admission I paid felt steep considering it is a dollar less than the WNC Nature Center.  Plus your admission doesn’t get a discount at the store.  However, they don’t charge admission for spring or winter visits or if you just want to shop, and next fall LB will be more able to enjoy the hay bail jump and tricycle track as well as the animals.  Her favorite part was reaching into the huge apple bins and putting them in the bag.

The apples were thankfully much cheaper than at that store, but most of them were too ugly to get sold in the store so maybe they were seconds.  We purchased some pink ladies, granny smith, and winesaps.  The winesaps were terribly mushy, and I won’t be purchasing those again.  While we ate a few sliced apples, most of them went to the apple butter.

I’ve been afraid of canning, but this experience was easy; plus, how awesome is it to open your refrigerator to find homemade apple butter.  I decided to base my recipe on Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy mostly because I liked the Shakespeare reference in the recipe title.  I understand that sugar is  important in helping the ingredients gel, but I loathe oversweet apple butter so I had to reduce the sugar which meant the cooking time was mind numbingly long before I reached the desired consistency.  Next time I think I’ll also reduce the cider, and while I liked the taste there is some wiggle room on increasing the sugar.

Ooops!  I can longer find the notes for my recipe adjustments except that I started with 5lb and 5 7/8oz of whole apples which became 3lbs and 10 1/8oz after peeling and coring.  I guess I’ll do better this fall; below are pictures of the process.

whole apples

peeled apples

cooked aples

yay immersion blender

finished apple butter

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