Posts Tagged ‘winter’

2014-02-28 09.40.18   I’ve been going through a rough spell during the last few months.  Isn’t it always the post-holiday season, winter cold, false spring starts that drag you down?  Newly sprouted spring bulbs frozen in place by an unexpected cold snap, Christmas debt, flu-bugs, sometimes I wonder how anyone makes it through the doldrums of February and March.  This year I received an unexpected lift.  11 to be exact.  It sort of redefined life, mine especially. My daughter found a young female puppy cowering in traffic in the pouring rain.  She called the police and pulled the dog to safety.  After 5 days at the pound, ‘Maisey’ became part of her family.  Vet checked her over and owner didn’t want this passive little girl, so Julie brought her home. Some short weeks later, a trip to the vet confirmed she was pregnant.   Maisey underwent an ultrasound and was expecting  6 pups.  In the early evening of February 21, Maisey made her nest in a closet and set out to birth her pups.  Julie had tried to get her into a child’s swimming pool to present her babies, but Maisey had other ideas.  The first pup was born about 6:00 PM.  Myself and Pappa rushed through supper and drove the few miles so we could witness the remaining births. By our arrival, 3 pups had been whelped, and so we were privy to the birth of the next 3.  A message awaited us when we arrived home, 3 more pups had been born during our short 15 minute trip home.  It was now 9:30PM.  Before 11PM, 2 more pups were born.  11 pups total, and one exhausted momma. My husband and I have been able to babysit on an almost daily basis.  Walking momma dog, and seeing to the puppies feedings and cleaning has been a joy.  Updates to come.

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I swear, I can’t seem to do anything in moderation! What started out to be a gifty (is that a word?) thought for my Gluten-free granddaughters, has grown into marshmallow dreams. I had planned on getting my home ready for Christmas decorating this weekend with festive greenery and glitter and colored lights. Marshmallows, a snow-scene complete with drifts was not quite what I had in mind. But everyone, this is so much fun. It reminds me of playing in the snow as a little girl ohhhh so many years ago. My kitchen is white from one end to the other with powdered sugar and cornstarch. With trepidation I approached my first batch. Dealing with candy thermometers and blistering hot sugar was daunting. It was not nearly as difficult as it seemed and such fun watching that hot sugar syrup being beaten in billowing drifts. The visions of sugar plums set my head jitterbugging. Can I make a life out of this, I’m asking myself. I mean, I love marshmallows but there are just so many cups of cocoa to garnish. Just so many s-mores and sweet-potato casseroles, what will I do with these hundreds of gooey, ethereal, lighter-than-air puffs?
shall I become a puffy, fluffy grandma or..Gifts of course, gift baskets of this summer’s jelly, biscotti and homemade marshmallows.
My first batch was peppermint, I snitched the recipe out of Southern Living magazine. They are wonderful One warning though, if they will not be served within a day or two, fore-go the crushed candy cane and maybe just swirl some red paste food coloring through the mix in the pan with a toothpick. The candy softened quite a bit after storing, but still givable and delicious.

Batch two was chocolate, nice heavy dark chocolate flavor. No complaints. Perfect for a cup of hot chocolate.020

Now batch three was interesting. I decided to make Dulce de Leche marshmallows, following my basic recipe from Southern Living and working in some Dulce de Leche I made (used loosely) by simmering a can of condensed milk for several hours.
Directions coming. I let it cool while I prepared my simple vanilla marshmallows. When the marshmallows had fluffed up their stuff, I whipped 5 egg whites to soft peaks and folded in half the can of cooled Dulce de Leche.026
I swirled the remainder into my marshmallow mixture. That step was NOT a good idea. The caramel cream sank to the bottom of my pan. 025All was not lost, when I cut the marshmallows, I trimmed the bottom gooey caramel off and put it in a bowl for dessert. Yummy! 030037That left the marshmallows intact. These were luscious flavored but they stay very moist and weepy. Best to serve immediately or the whole doggone pan make for a terrific, rich dessert.

Basic Marshmallows

Spray shortening
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 envelopes plain gelatin
1 cup water, divided
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
flavoring (1 tsp vanilla, or peppermint, or lemon, etc)
1 egg white beaten until stiff peaks form
pinch salt

Spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with Pam, line with parchment and spray again. Mix 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Sift half of the cornstarch/sugar mixture into prepared dish, coating well. In mixer bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup sugar. In a deep flat-bottomed pan, stir together granulated sugar, corn syrup and 1/2 cup water. Turn heat up to medium-high and insert candy thermometer. Cook without stirring until temperature is 240 degrees. Remove from heat. Beat gelatin mixture briefly, add salt. Slowly pour hot sugar mixture into mixing bowl, drizzling down the side of the bowl (I don’t know why, but the recipe said to do this way). Beat at high-speed about 10-12 minutes or until mixture is tripled in volume and is fluffy and white. Mix in flavoring. Fold egg white into beaten sugar mixture. Turn mixture into prepared pan, sift remaining cornstarch/sugar over top. Set in a cool place uncovered for 4 hours or more. To cut, turn onto board that has been sprinkled with more cornstarch and or powdered sugar. I cut mine with a long serrated bread knife, pressing down in a straight cut rather than sawing at it and had no problems with sticking. Some recipes say to coat the knife with Pam or cornstarch or even hot water, but I didn’t need to. Toss cubes in a bit more powdered sugar to coat all sides.

Dulce de Leche

1 can condensed milk (not evaporated)

Place UNOPENED can in pan, cover with water. Bring water to a boil, turn down heat and simmer can for at least 2 hours. Allow can to cool before trying to open, as it can explode when very hot. This makes a terrific sauce poured over ice cream.

Chocolate Variation
When mixing powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture, add 2 Tbl unsweetened cocoa. This will coat your chocolate marshmallows with brown instead of white.
Mix 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa with water until it forms a thick paste. When sugar has been beaten until almost tripled, drop cocoa mixture into sugar by the teaspoon, beating well after each addition.

Other variations are endless. Coming up at my house will be cinnamon, hazelnut, cherry, and lavender. If there is an extract for it, I’ll try it. I wonder how Bailey’s would work, huh? Maybe I can make a life out of this.

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