Friday, December 28, 2007

Present Cakes and Discoveries

Here they are! After I made the "Teacher's Desk" for Wonderful Hubby on the first day of school, my sister wanted me to make something special for Christmas. The plan I came up with was to make "Present Cakes" for everyone.
This was the final result. One for my brother and one for Mom. My sister and her husband couldn't make it this year.

Here is Mom "opening" her present.

And here is what she found inside. She has collected some interesting tea sets in the past and this seemed to fit.

David was a little hard to gift this way, he collects farm toys, but I couldn't find anything that I wanted to put in the cake.
He ended up with an Austin Mini Van.
British for where he first was involved in young people's church activities and the van because that is his mode of transport to all those places he takes the kids.

How I made these is covered in another blog. Picture limits made me split the post up.
By the way, that freezer behind Mom is not there anymore! WooHoo! We moved it out to the garage. No more moving things from the freezer to the table to get things out and from the table to the freezer to eat dinner!
Of all the things that were cleaned out of that deep freeze, there was one historical artifact discovered.
Wonderful Hubby and I brought a few bricks of Jacobs Coffee with us when we moved back from Germany, in 1992. It seems that one of those freeze dried, vacuum sealed bricks ended up in Mom's Kansas freezer.
Several years ago, when she moved from Kansas to Georgia, the freezer and it's contents came along with her, an extension cord running out the U-Haul door wherever possible.
This week, when she was emptying that freezer in preperation for it to be moved out to the garage, this brick came out of the freezer! It is a little torn around the edges, but the seal was still good. There was much laughter and happiness at that time and this morning when we made a fresh pot there was great flavor to be enjoyed at our house.
Speaking of that, it might be time for another pot.

Making Present Cakes

You have seen the results in another post so here I have the whole project laid out if you are interested.
Basically you bake a cake and then put a present inside it before frosting it with fondant. This is a picture diary of how I did it.

Originally I was planning on making a cake for each of my family members for Christmas. My sister and her husband couldn't make it to Mom's for the holiday so I only made two of them; one for Mom and one for my brother.

I split the first cake mix into a round and a square cake. Those were combined into one cake, the round cake would be the bottom and the square cake was the top, since I ended up trimming the square one to match the bottom, I realize now that I should have made two round cakes, but I was experimenting.

The second cake mix was made into one large cake that I cut in half to be the top and bottom. The basic process is the same for both so you will get the idea for both of them.

The round cake is Mom's, the miniature teapot set is the present for her. She has collected a few teapots, so I thought this was a cute present.
I cut a hole in the middle of the cake and then put it on the cardboard covered foil bottom, which turned out to be too small and flimsy. I fixed that before I went further. The teapot was put inside a sandwich bag and placed inside the round cake. The square cake was first leveled off and then set on top of the round one and trimmed to fit the round base.

You can see the beginnings of the trimmings in the container at the top of the picture. I used those as another dessert by breaking up the pieces and mixing them with cool whip and canned cherries mix.

The fondant frosting was made and colored with a lot of powdered sugar and elbow grease. The last time I did this I made marshmallow fondant, this time I had glycerin so I made it that way. It was a lot easier and pretty good too. The only problem I had was in the colors. I need to make them brighter. These seemed dull to me. I added more coloring, but the cornstarch that I used to keep the mix from sticking bleached it back out again.

So anyway, after I got the color mixed I rolled out the fondant and wrapped the present.
I forgot to put a nice layer of regular frosting on Mom's cake before I put the fondant on, which made the cake pretty dry when we had a piece. We didn't have any ice cream either, that might have helped, but a nice buttercream would have been great.

This final picture shows you both cakes. I wrapped the one to look like two seperate presents tied with a ribbon. I cut a ribbon of the fondant and ran it around the bottom of the cake and then tucked it in between the two layers. Then I rolled out the top covering and tucked it in too. The ribbons were just rolled out a little thick and layed out on edge to get some depth.

I think they turned out okay. Kind of folk artish, but that is my style.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Busy Weekend

We had a very busy weekend. Bill's actually started Thursday night when he tutored the kids in their Math Field Day lessons. Then Friday night he chaperoned a dance for the middle school. Saturday morning was Graduation Day at Concord.

Bill's sister has completed her Masters in Education. That is her walking across the stage to get hooded during the ceremony. She worked really hard for this degree. 10 years ago when she graduated with her Bachelors she said she was not interested in ever becoming a Principal, but now she is headed that way. Dean of Students to start with anyway. Of course Bill says the same thing now.

I have been baking and decorating again. Back before Thanksgiving, the teachers were having a lunch and Bill volunteered to bring cookies. Knowing that he doesn't bake at all it turned into me being volunteered to make him some cookies. I had fun with it when I found a Pillsbury recipe in the Sunday coupon section of the paper.

This is their website picture since I forgot to take one, but my cookies looked a lot like these. I used the refrigerated dough to make sugar cookies and then used frosting to "glue" the candy corn as feathers and mini M&Ms for eyes. I also got some frosting in a squeeze tube to do the feet and beak. I actually got Bill to help some. I put all the frosting on and he followed behind putting on the candy. I thought they turned out pretty cute.

Now that it is Christmas time I volunteered to make some Santa Cookies.

Look at all the Ho Hos!

This time I got my picture. I made the cookies Saturday after graduation and then Sunday I decorated them.

I bought two cans of fluffy white frosting and added color to one to make it red.

I "buttered" on the white beard and hat trim and then the red hat, added a mini marshmallow for the ball on the hat, and "glued" on the mini M&Ms for the eyes and nose.

In between the rounds with the cookies we went to my company Christmas party. It was held at Glade Springs Resort by Beckley. We had a great time. There was good food and company along with an open bar and bad weather expected over night, so rather than one of us being the driver when it might be icy out, we decided to stay overnight.

That was almost worth the money. The room was nice, but way overpriced, not like there is actually any walk in business, it is a gated community. The breakfast brunch was horrible and even more overpriced. I have had better food on continental bars at express hotels! We should have known when none of the resort residents bother to come for the food. It seems like the resort is missing a HUGE opportunity there they are wasting a lot of bad food when they could be selling a lot of good food. I might have to tell them about it.

When we got home from Beckley it was cold, but the ground was clear. By 430 this afternoon it looked like this outside. Bill went out to feed the cows under several layers of clothing. Jake goes with him, but if you notice he is nowhere in this picture. That is because as soon as Bill opened the truck door Jake zoomed over to the basement door to get let back into the house.
Then finally tonight we went to dinner with the in-laws. That is always an experience.
It has been a long weekend. I didn't even get my six mile run in, again.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Still Here

In case anyone is wondering we are still here. Haven't had a lot going on lately. Mom came up for Thanksgiving. We deep fried a turkey and had a quiet weekend. Projects have been slow too. I have to get a picture of Bill's new rails for his hay trailer. He said he needed a metal chop saw to build the rails with, so he caught me at a weak moment while we were in Georgia and got his Christmas present early. He thought he was building the rails for the truck bed, but they weren't tall enough so he used them as practice and put them on the trailer. The next project was to be the actual truck rails, but since the saw throws so many sparks Billy finally decided to make a project table that he can roll into the garage doorway so that the sparks go out into the gravel instead of inside the garage. It will be used for a lot of his projects.
Anyway, I will get some pictures posted one of these days.