December 31, 2007


this afternoon i took the kids to see enchanted.

personally, i was dying to see this, and we had originally planned to see it on saturday, but friday night i went to bed with a sore throat and woke up saturday unable to talk. so, today it was. seth sat in my lap for the entire 1 hour and 45 minute (plus previews). ella sat very well throughout the picture as well, although probably drank too much juice and had to pee by the time the credits came around so i was forced to leave without reading who animated it.

after looking on imdb, i discovered it was james baxter and andreas deja among others who were responsible for it.

this is why i became an animator. i love working in flash, it's like instant gratification- you can see if your animation is working or not right away. but nothing will ever take the place of paper. i miss the sound of a good sharp colerase scratching away on a medium toothed paper. geek, i know.
i only wish disney would make more movies like this, not super sappy, just well written with little bits of goodness thrown in... like when they're out to dinner at the pizzeria- it's called belle notte- you know, like song in lady and the tramp with the spaghetti and meatballs. i love stuff like that!
seriously though, go see this, you'll love it. amy adams is perfect as giselle, the soon to be princess and always having "ballet" hands, and james marsden as prince edward all smiley with puffy sleeves. susan sarandon... fantastic! patrick dempsey i haven't really seen in anything since can't buy me love (no, i don't watch grey's anatomy), but he was great too. and the little girl! gawsh!
the best thing was when we were leaving seth asked if we could go back tomorrow to see it again. ella seconded that motion.
o yeah, happy new year!

December 25, 2007

merry christmas!

here's wishing everyone out there in the blogging world a very merry christmas!

enjoy the rest of the evening, now that the kids are in bed and the mess is tidied up!

December 22, 2007

buche de noel

this month's daring baker's challenge was a buche de noel, also known as a yule log. buche de noel is a traditional dessert served during the Christmas holidays in France and Quebec. i have never made an actual log before, although i have made the individual elements previously, including meringue mushrooms.

the genoise cake was super easy to make and came together beautifully. the only problem i had had nothing to do with the recipe, and everything to do with my teeny weeny unlevel oven. i proped up the front of the jelly roll pan with a pizza tray to level it and it still didn't level, but man was it better!

since i'd madmeringue mushrooms before i decided to make the marzipan ones.

i made the marks on the underside of the caps with my cake tester and then brushed the cocoa powder over them. so much fun to make these! although, i think next time i'll make them smaller. much smaller.

the buttercream turnded out wonderful, the only change i made in the entire recipies was the espresso powder. i don't much care for instant anything, and i'm not the hugest fan of rum, so instead i opted for pure espresso. buzzzzz! the buttercream did curdle a little when i added the espresso, but it soon came back together. i didn't worry about it too much, i've made this type of buttercream many-a-time and knew what to expect.

the assembly went quick enough also, although i did end up with some mild cracking when i re-rolled it. i took the tip from martha stewart and rolled the genoise in a dish towel while it was still warm so it held the shape and i'm positive it would have cracked even more had i not done this.

the finished product! i ran down the street with my bypass shears and trimmed some holly from the house on the corner. i got caught!
"i hope you don't mind if i grab some of your holly!
"no, not at all, it needs a good trim anyway!"

we'll be taking it to the neighbour's house for a party they're hosting tonight.
check out the daring bakers blogroll to see what the others have made!
thanks to ivonne and lis for this challenge!

Plain Genoise:
3 large eggs 3 large egg yolks pinch of salt ¾ cup of sugar ½ cup cake flour - spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour) ¼ cup cornstarch
one (1) 10 x 15 inch jelly-roll pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper and then buttered again
1.Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.
2.Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.
3.Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is just lukewarm, about 100 degrees if you have a thermometer (or test with your finger - it should be warm to the touch).
4.Attach the bowl to the mixer and, with the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume. The egg foam will be thick and will form a slowly dissolving ribbon falling back onto the bowl of whipped eggs when the whisk is lifted.
5.While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour and cornstarch.
6.Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.
7.Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
8.Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure the cake doesn’t overbake and become too dry or it will not roll properly.
9.While the cake is baking, begin making the buttercream.
10.Once the cake is done (a tester will come out clean and if you press the cake lightly it will spring back), remove it from the oven and let it cool on a rack.

Coffee Buttercream:
4 large egg whites1 cup sugar24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened2 tablespoons instant espresso powder2 tablespoons rum or brandy
1.Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
2.Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled. Switch to the paddle and beat in the softened butter and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth. Dissolve the instant coffee in the liquor and beat into the buttercream.

Marzipan Mushrooms:
8 ounces almond paste2 cups icing sugar3 to 5 tablespoons light corn syrupCocoa powder
1.To make the marzipan combine the almond paste and 1 cup of the icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on low speed until sugar is almost absorbed.
2.Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and mix until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
3.Add half the corn syrup, then continue mixing until a bit of the marzipan holds together when squeezed, adding additional corn syrup a little at a time, as necessary: the marzipan in the bowl will still appear crumbly.
4.Transfer the marzipan to a work surface and knead until smooth.
5.Roll one-third of the marzipan into a 6 inches long cylinder and cut into 1-inch lengths.
6.Roll half the lengths into balls. Press the remaining cylindrical lengths (stems) into the balls (caps) to make mushrooms.
7.Smudge with cocoa powder.

Assembling the Yule Log:
1.Run a sharp knife around the edges of the genoise to loosen it from the pan.
2.Turn the genoise layer over (unmolding it from the sheet pan onto a flat surface) and peel away the paper.
3.Carefully invert your genoise onto a fresh piece of parchment paper.
4.Spread with half the coffee buttercream (or whatever filling you’re using).
5.Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder.
6.Transfer back to the baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours.
7.Unwrap the cake. Trim the ends on the diagonal, starting the cuts about 2 inches away from each end.
8.Position the larger cut piece on each log about 2/3 across the top.
9.Cover the log with the reserved buttercream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump.
10.Streak the buttercream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark.
11.Transfer the log to a platter and decorate with your mushrooms and whatever other decorations you’ve chosen.

December 21, 2007

gingerbread houses

this afternoon was spent with the kids decorating the gingerbread houses. two for friends, and the third, a close-enough replica of our own abode. i used the same gingerbread recipe as the gingerbread army, it's pretty standard and very simple. i also used the staple royal icing recipe.
seth and his house

ella and her house

our house on my grandmother's cake plate

next year when i make our house again i'm going to cut out windows and fill them with life savers! yummy stained glass!

December 15, 2007

we got elfed!

happy holidays to everyone out there in bloggerville!

click this link to see us in action!
(gotta love gettin' elfed!)

December 03, 2007

family fun weekend

saturday morning started off with a little sprinkling of snow while ella and i were running around town... first to dance class, and then to a birthday party for her good friend grace at build a bear. as usual she had a blast and a huge thank you goes to grace's mother and grandmother! by the time sunday rolled around our plans to go and see enchanted went to the wayside. there was just too much snow and i wasn't about to go risk life and limb driving in that mess just to see a movie.
so, we bundled up and went to the park with the toboggan with all the rest of the neighbourhood kids!

after we were too wet and cold to stay out any longer, we came inside to warm up with hot chocolate and spiced apples over cinnamon pancakes! mmm, man they were good!

our snowman in the front yard

these are the gingerbread men...

...and sugar cookie snowflakes i made for goodie day and bake sale.

there's nothing left.