Saturday, March 5, 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

Friday, April 23, 2010


Today’s post is going to be all about crystallizing flowers. I am going to be doing a live demonstration on this tomorrow at a local grocery store, and I gotta say, I’m a little more than nervous about it. All week I’ve been obsessing about every little thing leading up to the big event. Actually, it’s a really small event and my part is an even smaller part of it, so probably no one will even notice or remember me. But still, I’m nervous. Here’s a few of the things I’m worried about:

• My hands will shake
• I’ll talk too fast and/or too much
• I’ll drop something or knock something over (this is almost SURE to happen)
• Someone will ask a question I won’t know how to answer, making me look like a total boob
• Even though I’ve crystallized flowers before, and I’m going to do the exact same thing tomorrow, somehow it won’t work right and again, I’ll look like a total boob
• Someone will take pictures and there will be photographic evidence that I really do look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy in my chef coat and hat

I could go on, but I’m sure you have better things to do with your time than to delve too far into my neurosis. You may never resurface. And I would miss you. Terribly.

Anyway… since I’m so nervous, and since I want to have some samples to show the poor, unsuspecting people that are to be subjected to the torturous event, I’m practicing today and you get to watch! Lucky for you, it’s pictures only with none of the weirdness that is, well me. Ok, maybe just a little since you have to read whatever I write, but only if you choose to. But I digress. Again.

Here’s what you need:
Fresh flowers, Meringue Powder (or egg whites), superfine sugar, 1 or 2 paintbrushes, water, tweezers, scissors, waxed paper, a cooling rack and a cake pan or cookie sheet.

You can use any variety of flower you like. They all look beautiful. I like to use only edible flowers because I am usually using them on a cake or showcasing them with food. Some people like to eat flowers. I don’t, but some do, and I think the sugar helps a little. Additionally, I use meringue powder rather than egg whites. This is for the health and safety of the people who may choose to eat the flowers. Salmonella is no fun kids.

Get set up:

  • In a small bowl, mix 1 TBSP Meringue Powder with 1 ½ TBSP water and stir it up. You’ll want to let this sit for a few minutes and go back and mix it a couple of times to get the lumps out.
  • Line the cake pan with waxed paper (this is not necessary but will make clean up a lot easier).
  • Place the cooling rack in/over the cake pan.
  • Cut the flowers from the stems, leaving just enough to make them easy to handle (about ½ to 1 inch)
  • Remove any petals that are bruised or damaged. You can also remove some of the nice, healthy petals and crystallize those.

Next dip your brush of choice into the meringue mixture and, well…paint it all over the flower.

I like to start with the center and work my way out. If the flower is very full, you don’t need to paint the petals all the way down to the bottom center. Just the tips and the parts that you can see just by looking. As you work your way out, dipping and painting, you can pay closer attention to covering more of the petals.

This is where you get to be creative, so do what feels good! Sometimes I gently nudge the petals apart to show more petals and layers and make the end result more detailed. Other times I like to just lightly coat a nice, slightly closed rosebud. Sometimes I just crystallize the outer petals and not the inner ones. Or even just coat the tips of the entire thing. Whatever floats yer boat. Note: the meringue mixture is kind of thick for a delicate little flower petal so don’t feel the need to use lots. It doesn’t need to be dripping off of your brush. A little bit goes a long way. Also, if you paint it on too thick, the flowers will take a l-o-n-g time to dry.

Once you’ve painted what you want to paint you dust it with Superfine Baker’s Sugar. Holding the flower over the dish, just scoop up a spoonful and sprinkle it on like you would sprinkle brown sugar on your oatmeal. Like about 2 or three spoonfuls. Or is that just me? I usually hold the flower upright and sprinkle over the top, letting the sugar get down into the nooks and crannies. Then I turn it over and sprinkle the sides and bottoms.

Do this part over the bowl so that the excess sugar falls back into your dish. And so it doesn’t get all over your table. And so your grand daughter doesn’t swoosh around in it and then lick her hands… but I digress.

Once you’ve finished painting and dusting, hang the flower in cooling rack. You want air to be able to circulate so they will dry. That’s why I use a cake pan rather than a cookie sheet.

Then you simply leave them to dry. You can just let them air dry over the next 2-3 days or you can speed up the process by placing them in or on an oven that is on very lo-temp for a few hours. I have one of those ovens that has an exhaust right at the stovetop, so I like to get the process started there. Sometimes, I just turn the oven on to 400 and leave them on the stovetop while my cookies are baking. They will finish drying overnight. The drying time really depends on the kinds of flowers you use and how heavily the meringue mixture gets basted onto the flowers.

And VOILA! You’ve got crystallized flowers.

Aren’t they purty? People will think you’re an artistic genius. It’s great. Enjoy it. You don’t have to tell them how easy it is while they are singing your praises and fawning all over your great works of art. I won’t judge you.

Wanna know something else? These little beauties will keep FOR-EH-VER once they are dry. Just store them in an airtight container. No refrigeration necessary. You can use them on cakes over and over again or you can make them up months in advance.  Or, you can eat them.  Whatever hangs yer curtains.

Wish me luck tomorrow.  Or maybe you should wish my captive audience luck...

Friday, April 2, 2010

Food... It's good for what ails ya.

I think I may have mentioned that, so far, my Spring Break has been riddled with grey skies and rain and  COLD nights.  I think I also have mentioned how much I dislike rainy days.  They just weigh me down and make me feel... blah.  So yesterday I finally mustered up enough umph to do something other than catch up on previous seasons of "The Tudors".  In the morning, Kirra and I made strawberry jam.   mmm... sweet, tasty yumminess.

Then we colored eggs in the afternoon (see previous post).

Last night was super-duper special because both Hanna and Kalynn were home.  Together.  Before bedtime.  Hip-hip-hooray! 
As your kids grow older, family dinners are a rare event.  So, for the prisoners I made pizza.  Not just any old pizza, mind you... CPK Bar-b-cue Chicken Pizza. 
And, because I had some momentum - and a few leftover strawberries - I made a Trifle (or a gigantic parfait).  Whatever, you get the idea, right? 
Hello, lover...
Today, I am fasting.  HAHAHAHAHA!  Yea, right.
Seriously, it's a good thing that even though I must leave the comfort of my PJ's every day I can run (or waddle) to my stretchy yoga pants.  PHEW!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April 1, 2010

Nevermind that the weather has gone from the sunny high 70's to wet rainy and c-o-l-d....We decided to brighten up the day: Please forgive me the ugly tablecloth.

 I was keeping it just for this special occasion.  Translation:  I won't miss it when it gets ruined with food color.
Today was made eggstra special because we had a Kalynn-sighting.  Kirra loves her Auntie Kalynn! 
Please also forgive the terrible pictures. Kirra rarely is still long enough for my poor old camera to have time to focus. This is an attempt to capture the blue egg-dye on her cheek.   She wasn't the only one that got a little messy. Here we have our very own rainbow of fingers!