Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Cure for Frustration

I had good intentions and plans.  I was up and in the studio by 9:30 am, after an eye checkup and getting the laundry started.  I really want to finish this quilt, so it can go to its intended owner.  I have made progress!!

I decided to start the geometric, structured quilting- if I need to add more to the flowing lines, I can do that later.  I love using the painter's tape to guide my lines, so much easier than marking- and no marks to remove!  My Juki started acting weird last weekend.  I would stop the machine to turn the quilt, and it would not start again.  I tried turning it off, taking the power cord off and putting it back, and finally gave up after it did the same thing multiple times.  When it started doing it again this weekend, I decided a trip to the repair shop was unavoidable.  So I packed her up and had her in the shop by noon.  I'm hoping she'll be ready before next weekend, and the bill won't be a big one.

That left me with frustrations- the need to create, and nothing to do.  I'd thought about making some treats for staff at work for Valentine's Day, and that's what I did (and then some!!)  By the end of it, my kitchen looked like my studio at the end of a project.

I started with Cake Pops.  I first had them at Starbuck's, and was intrigued by the sweet treats that are only a few bites, and so not a calorie budget-buster.  I looked on You Tube, and found many, many tutorials on how to make them.  Skip the ones that call for cake mix and canned frosting, if I am going to eat sweet calories it is going to be the real thing.  So I made brownies (from Moosewood's Desserts cookbook), crumbled them, and bound the crumbles together with melted white chocolate.  Roll the balls, freeze them long enough to get them good and cold, then insert the sticks, and voila!  Chocolate brownie cake pops!!

That white dot you see where the stick goes in the cake pop is melted white chocolate.  An important step, run the stick through melted chocolate right before you insert it in the cake pop- it help cement them together.  After another fifteen minutes in the freezer, then I swirled them in more melted semi-sweet chocolate.  Wow- I'm a pastry chef!!

After the dark chocolate cooled, I tried decorating with melted white chocolate.  This is where I learned that white chocolate is much more temperamental than dark.  I managed to turn white chocolate chips into something that looked more like cottage cheese in my attempts to melt it.

Then I decided I wanted cupcakes.  So I made lemon cupcakes.  I think I got mesmerized by my stand mixer, I started playing with the shutter speed settings on my DSLR.  So we have slow shutter speed. . . 

which blurs the motion of the mixer, and fast shutter speed. . . 

which freezes the motion (and lets in less light to the camera, hence the noise in the photo!) 

For the first time ever, I made a European butter cream frosting in addition to my version of cream cheese frosting.  OMG, what a treat.  Light, silky, and not too sweet- that is was a frosting should taste like.  And I flavored some of that cream cheese frosting with raspberries to fill the cupcakes.  By the time I was done with them, they looked like this:

Gotta have red for Valentine's Day, right??

Then I decided I wanted to make another batch of cake pops, using a recipe from an Australian cook for raspberry white chocolate.  I  baked my cake instead of microwaving it like she did, and it worked fine.  I did mix it with a bit of my cream cheese frosting before I made the cake pops, and it seemed to work fine.  

After my disaster with white chocolate, I decided I wanted to try using melted cream cheese frosting to coat the cake pops.  It sorta worked, but not nearly as well as chocolate.  And I ended up dunking the top half in dark chocolate anyway. No, they aren't round and pretty like the first batch, but they taste just fine.  I guess I just have to get better at handling white chocolate!

I made cookies- gotta have heart cookies,right?

And last, I had cream cheese frosting left, so I made a small batch of gingerbread cupcakes.  I couldn't let that stuff go to waste!!

Don't worry, I have not fallen off the calorie conscious wagon.  All of this will get taken to work tomorrow, I will get to sample one or two things, and the rest will get eaten by some one else.  But I will have had the fun of creating, of getting better with my pastry bag and tips, and the pleasure of making some people happy with good food.  All in all, it's not that different than the creating I do with dyes, fabric, and thread.

But I really want my Juki back! 


Barbara Strobel Lardon said...

I never heard that when you machine breaks you may gain weight! hahahaha.
Everything looks yummy. Hope you get your machine back soon and the bill is small.

Vicki said...

Beverly, that's what my kitchen always looks like! But wow, you did some creative cooking there. I hope they enjoyed their treats at work!

Gina said...

Lucky staff at work, your treats look great! I hope your Juki is back to you soon, running smoothly.

JB said...

What a whirlwind of activity. Are you sure you shouldn't be a chef? :-)

Renate said...

Pardon me while I finish munching! Ooo this is all so delicious looking. Hope your Juki is back soon.