What a Pickle!

I was in the garden trying to establish boundaries for my vine plants – unsuccessfully I might add, there is a pumpkin in my zucchini patch, up and OVER the garden path – I spied this huge guy lurking in with my pickles and cucumbers.

What A Pickle!

How did I not see him before today?  And does anyone else have a craving for a deli pickle about now?


Emily’s Tea Party

My daughter Emily turned 12 last week and she’s having a tea party and sleepover today.

Emily's Tea Party

Getting ready for the pre-teen invasion that is currently happening required a little bit of preparation.

First I baked a red velvet cake to make Bakerella’s Red Velvet Cake Balls.  While that was in the oven I made two batches of Rice Krispie candy and pressed it into 10 – 4″ mini cake pans.  Those went in the fridge (along with an 8″x8″ pan of candy for my husband and I).

While the cake was cooling I rolled out the leftover white marshmallow fondant from last week’s cake.  I just put a light skim coat of decorator frosting on the top and flipped them over onto the fondant, where I cut around the cake so there is only a circle of fondant on the top of the rice crispy treats.   They aren’t quite up to my standards but it allowed for the girls to do some custom decorating on their own.

Krispy Treat

I rolled out the blue and purple fondant and my daughters used a flower cookie cutter to cut out shapes.  The rolled some of the white fondant into balls as well.  I showed my oldest how to affix the fondant to itself and let her get to decorating while I cleaned up.

The cake was finally cool enough for me to make cake balls.  I used a heart shaped silicone mold to shape them.

Cake Balls
Of course I sampled one…er, maybe two…..ok, ok it was three!

This morning was spent with putting together finger sandwiches.

My daughter and I decided on four fillings:  Cucumber with dill mayonnaise, prosciutto with mozzarella and basil, bacon and onion cream cheese, and tomato with provolone and basil.  Some I cut into triangles and others into squares.  I was fortunate enough to harvest the dill, basil, and cucumber out of the garden.   All in all I made 96 tiny little finger sandwiches.  They look cute and are tasty too!

Tea Sandwiches

Now it’s time to put my feet up, have a drink, and keep one ear on what is going on in the other room.

All Quiet on the Midwestern Front?

Not entirely.  Since I stopped my training I feel as though I don’t have as much to talk about on a blog about martial arts and family life.  I will still post here occasionally for personal things perhaps, but I’ve been spending time growing and tending a new blog that I hope to eventually grow into something interesting.  It’s called Dabble Do It! and it’s a place for me to share my tips and tricks about gardening, knitting, crocheting, photography (when I dabble in that), and whatever else seems to catch my attention deficit brain.

It is still in it’s infancy, but in the past week or so I’m starting to post more regularly.  You can still find me at Flickr at MinivanNinja and increasingly at Dabble Do It as well.

If you follow me on Twitter you may want to also add me as DabbleDoit.

After I took down PsychoBabble (wayback link for those that remember, I still sometimes miss it), I thought it would be a good idea to have different blogs for different interests.  Some I will keep, like Book Club for One, my book review blog.  Others pretty much died from the get go.

I created Dabble Do It! with the desire to create a brand in mind.  I needed something that both explained what I do (dabble) and encourages others to do the same.  Right now the bulk of the posts are of gardening, but there is some baking and entertaining information there as well.  It’s still a little rough around the edges, but in time I hope to have it running like a well oiled machine.

So for any of you wondering, no – I haven’t died after having a brief existential crisis, I’ve been working on relationships and other wonderful things.

Adventures in Fondant

Every year for the past 12 years I have baked and decorated a cake for my eldest daughter (my youngest has had this honor for 9 years).  I have always wanted to try working with fondant but there were a few obstacles to this.  First, the pre-made fondant was pricey, and not always safe for my nut-allergic daughter to eat.  Second, the fondant recipes seemed too fiddly and difficult.  Thirdly, the taste of fondant detracted from the beauty of the finished product.

Some time ago, I was searching for cake ideas and somebody had used what is called marshmallow fondant.  Apparently marshmallow fondant has all the properties of standard fondant, but with a better, sweeter taste and it was easier to make (many people have the ingredients in their cupboard).

Imagine my delight when I not only found a recipe for marshmallow fondant, but an instructional video for making it using the microwave and Kitchen Aid mixer, thus reducing the mess factor.

A few days before the party I mixed up a few batches of fondant then got to work.

For a first-timer entering the realm of fondant cakes, I couldn’t have been more pleased with how easy it was to work with (it’s about the consistency of fresh play-doh) and the finished result.

Fondant Cake

For those of you who haven’t tried fondant for fear that it is too hard, or too messy, try marshmallow fondant.  It was easier than I anticipated and the cleanup was actually easier than working with butter cream.  The finished result looks very professional.  The cake sat out for a few days (you don’t want to refrigerate after covering with fondant, it will sweat, then melt) and it still looked great!

(recipe and video: Marshmallow Fondant).