Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Craft Night

We girls know how to get our craft on!

The purpose is to raise money to adopt one or two single mom families at Christmastime, through my local church.

And, to have fun.

Photos of finished products coming soon...

*or* you could check out the Craft/Bake Sale on May 15 at the Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tapping maple trees

This past weekend we've done something we've had in mind for several years now: tapping maple trees.

Well, OK, we watched a certified park ranger do the actual tapping, but we were right there in licking distance.

First there was the informative talk about the steps for tapping the trees, gathering the sap, boiling it down to syrup. Then there was the walk to the trees,

the tapping,

the licking.

Next our skin was moistened by the steam coming off the boiling sap on the outdoor stove.

And finally a pancake brunch inside with friends.

You gotta love March!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Gimme Five!

That's what happens, apparently, when time passes. People have birthdays. This one was pretty fun as my younger daughter fills up one whole hand with her age. Five!

The day of her birth hosted an ice storm.

She shares her birthday with another imaginative mind, Dr. Suess.

This year she declared the theme "Butterflies!"

So we pinned the antennae on a monarch,

Ate a fluttery cake,

Caught butterflies in nets,

And learned that butterflies do not have a mouth for eating, but a proboscis for sucking nectar.

As a throwback to the day she was born, we made ice cream.

And for our underlying Trash-Free goal, we gifted her a lap harp and costumes.

Hooray for Five!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Use What You Have, Part 6

I found about 6 beautiful saris a few years ago and they have been begging for a showcase ever since. One is currently hanging as a sort of canopy above my daughter's bed. A few are hoping I get invited to a masquerade party sometime in the next decade.

But this one found it's home as a duvet cover:

I love the bold orange and pink.

And in case the boldness needs to take a break, the reverse side is a sweet sheet salvaged from my grandmother's basement.

Not bad for cast-offs!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fat Tuesday Dream Buns, Yeast Feast, Part 5

Normally I'm not the type to celebrate Fat Tuesday, but it's been awhile since I've made these amazing buns and they slightly resemble the traditional paczki (hey, they are round and filled with yumminess, close enough), so I thought today would be a good day for these.

So I hauled out the bread maker and dumped in the ingredients. Call me crazy, but I LEFT THE ROOM to throw in a load of laundry, and when I returned the kitchen was rapidly filling up with smoke. I'm sorry to say that after 7 years of almost weekly use, my beloved Breadman breadmaker smoked its way into retirement.

I considered quitting the whole Dream Bun Project, but I promised some friends I'd have tasty treats tomorrow for my (Wallpaper) Stripping Party. So I forged ahead and actually kneaded the dough by hand. Note to self: it's not that hard, but the dough did not come out baby soft like usual. It's more of a rugged soft now.

Anyway, here's the recipe (as given to me by the lovely and talented Mari):

In the bread maker, put:
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon softened butter
4 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon yeast
Set the bread maker to the Dough setting and have a cup of tea while you notice how Not Smokey your kitchen is.

When the dough is done, divide it into 16 or 20 balls. Let them sit on a cutting board, under a damp cloth for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile you can get the fillings ready.

Chocolate: Melt some chocolate chips in a bowl with a tiny bit of cream or half and half.

Custard: In a microwave bowl, put 1 egg, 1 tablespoon corn starch, 1 tablespoon white flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons milk. Whisk well. Add 2/3 cup milk and whisk well. Microwave for 2 minutes, then whisk. Microwave for 1 minute more. Whisk, then let cool a bit.

Jam: Get some jam.

Now comes the tricky, I mean, fun part. Flatten each ball into a 4 - 5 inch circle. Place a small dollop (1 - 2 teaspoons?) of filling in center.

Bring edges to top and pinch closed.

Bring corners to top and continue pinching the dough closed until the filling is sealed inside.

Repeat with all the balls of dough. Place buns, pinched side down, on greased cookie sheets. Place a chocolate chip on top of the chocolate ones, if you want to be sure to identify them later. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place. Bake in 375 degree oven for about 13 minutes. The buns will not get brown, but they may leak or pop open if there is too much filling. I'm almost always guilty of this.

But I have 6 whole weeks to repent.

Happy Fat Tuesday!