Saturday, April 21, 2018

Birthday Cakes, 1 and 2

The youngerchild has turned 13 and celebrated twice, once with each set of grandparents. Who live in different states, so that meant two cakes. Never a problem, as the youngerchild has been asking for both these cakes for a long time.

First off, with my in-laws, I made a Brasilian Carrot Cake. I used the recipe I posted before but instead of fudge frosting I made a simple chocolate ganache. When I first poured the ganache on the warm cake, it filled the pan. I turned my head for a second and then looked again and the ganache had sunk about 1/4". Where did it go? It soaked into the top of the cake! That made the already rich and moist cake even richer and moister. Yum. We had a second piece each for breakfast before we hopped on a plane and came home. Our flight was delayed by over an hour, so I'm glad we had a filling breakfast.

Last night, for today's celebration, I made a New York Style Cheesecake, with strawberry topping. This was a recipe from school; the full recipe makes two 10" cakes and so I cut the recipe into 1/3 so I could make one 8" cake. (18 ounces of cream cheese, 3 eggs, a little sugar and flour, and some cream.) The batter was even run through a sieve to get out all the lumps, that's how much of a labor of love this was! It chilled overnight and today was served with the strawberry pie filling as a topping. The only other change I made was that the crust was chocolate wafer cookies crumbs rather than graham crackers.

And, with that, I think the youngerchild has been properly ushered into teenager-dom.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Sorted Out, Sort Of

The past few days I've been out of town and it's been cold and rainy. Even a little snowy. While I was gone my very awesome husband even offered to change the bee's feeder for me, but couldn't get into the hive when it was cold or overcast or rainy. So I got to them this afternoon when it was finally 50˚ and sunny and I was pleased with what I found.

They very industriously have started making comb. They had completely eaten the syrup I left for them. They also ate through the little sugar plug and released Beeyonce. However, I'm still not very good at finding the queen, evidently, as even though I know she's marked with a red dot I still couldn't find her. That's OK. I'm sure we'll see her sooner or later.

I changed the feeder, inspected each bar, and put everything back in place until the next time. I'll probably have to feed them pretty frequently until things warm up reliably and there are flowers around. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Still Getting Situated

After a chilly start we have a few nice days during which I hope my bees figure themselves out. I went and changed the feeder this morning and found a whole bunch of dead or dying bees still in the crate. I'd left it open under the hive hoping they would find their way in; some did, but those that didn't weathered a few nights in the cold and so I don't think they're going to make it. Bee-yonce is still in her cage; I'll go back into the hive in 3 days and if she hasn't been let out I'll do that for her. But the bees only really made comb next to her cage and I hope that they'll figure out what they're supposed to do soon. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Run the World

Feeder in place. It's adorable.
The bees are back!

After a year off, and some pondering, I decided to try again. I opted to get bees earlier in the season, to take advantage of the spring flowers here in Eastern MA. Unfortunately, it's still pretty cold and today it's going to rain, so I got them in as quickly as I could and am hoping for the best.

Here are some things I learned:

An empty hive attracts termites. I discovered this yesterday when I went to do a final clean out. Disappointingly, they ate into some of the wooden slats but fortunately all are still useable, the bees will likely seal any holes with propolis. Also disappointing: they ate much of the comb I left behind for the bees to build on this year. Well, something did, anyway.

Making a bee feeder can be as hard as you want it to be. My husband designed a feeder for me and 3D printed it, but the grooves are off so I had to jury rig it so it wouldn't leak. Still, it works!

Bees don't fan on an overcast day. I really hope the rest of the colony makes it into the hive before nightfall. Still, I think I have enough in there for now that the queen will be OK.

Speaking of the queen, she has a red dot (I went for a marked queen this time) and her name?

Bee-yonce.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Another Year, Another Chocolate Birthday Cake

Not that anyone is complaining, mind you!

I was going to make a Boston Cream Pie for my husband like last year, but then I saw this recipe for a Guinness cake with frosting that is flavored both with whiskey and Irish Cream. It looked like fun and I'm happy to report it IS fun to make!

Yesterday I made the cake part, which went smoothly. Each layer was wrapped and refrigerated until today. Once I made the frostings, I split the cake layers (my husband was very impressed with the evenness, thank you, culinary school!) and assembled the cake. I know the recipe says to serve immediately, but I have other things I have to do for dinner that are more time sensitive than this, so this can wait in the fridge until after dinner. I will sprinkle the top with cocoa before I serve it.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Stuck In The House

Well, not really. But close enough. Our bunny has been ill and I needed to keep a close eye on him after I brought him back from the vet yesterday. So I'm not planning on going anywhere. The youngerchild and I are working on a gladiator helmet for Latin class and I made chicken stock and soup.

I'd roasted a chicken on Thursday and set aside the bones and leftover meat for this project. However, I also dug through the freezer and found a second bag of chicken bones and meat so added those in. After pouring off 9 pints of stock from the pot, I added more water and simmered again to make the soup. Now the soup is simmering with green beans, celery, carrots and onion. The stock has been canned and is cooling down.

While I was digging through the freezer I did find 5 gallons of tomatoes that I'd frozen last summer. Those were simmered until soft and passed through the food mill. I always forget what a mess that is, and today was no exception. My shirt was spattered with orange sauce, as if I were an extra in a low-budget horror movie. But the sauce is now simmering nicely and it remains to be seen how many pints of sauce I will get. [Edit: 7 pints. I left them plain, without any herbs or spices.]

In the meantime, I keep checking on the bunny and hoping that he's starting to eat. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Closer to Wonder

Since I got Legion, my yeast starter, I've mainly used it to make loaves of bread for toast and sandwiches. Until recently I generally used a combination of 1 part sprouted wheat flour and 3 parts bread flour with either honey or maple syrup as the sugar. However, the youngerchild expressed nostalgia for Wonder bread and requested I try to get the bread a little closer to that. The changes I made were: use all-purpose flour instead of the other flours and use sugar instead of honey or maple syrup. Everything else is the same. It's not super squishy like Wonder bread - honestly, I'm not sure how they do that, nor how they make the crust so soft - but it is white inside and less dense. We're all pretty happy with how it came out. After the first batch, we couldn't stop ourselves and just ate warm bread with butter and almost finished a whole loaf in 10 minutes! Tonight we'll probably do the same thing as these loaves just came out of the oven. Mmmm!