Sunday, December 28, 2008

Daring Bakers December 2008 Challenge

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.

This challenge took the most time of all the challenges I have done so far - but it was really fun.

There were so many different places to start on this bugger. We had to make six elements:

  1. Dacquoise Biscuit
  2. Mousse
  3. Ganache Insert
  4. Praline (Crisp) Insert
  5. Creme Brulee Insert
  6. Icing
After looking through the PAGES and PAGES of the challenge, I decided to start on the Creme Brulee since it takes three hours (one hour to infuse, one hour to bake, and another to freeze). One of the options was to infuse the Creme Brulee with lavender - which I did. . .

After tasting the final product, I wish I hadn't infused with lavender. If the log was white chocolate based, then I can see it being tasty. As it was, the lavender just didn't go with the dark chocolate and hazelnuts. Should have gone with vanilla bean.

The next thing was to make some praline powder for the praline crisp layer. Here's a photo of the caramel.

And the one cup of hazelnuts mixed in and poured out onto a parchment paper to cool:

Next I had to make get the Dacquoise Biscuit started. Here's the egg whites whipped up with sugar.
Then I added the hazelnut meal. Here's the biscquit before I baked it. I made the size approximately the size of my "mold". I put this in the oven.
Then I put the hazelnut pralines in my food processor.
I added the egg yolks to the lavendar infused cream, and put it in the oven with a water bath.
Here's what the biscuit looked like when it was done cooking.I then finished up the praline crisp. I forgot to get a photo of the finished product, but here's the chocolate melting in a double boiler. I used rice crispies for that layer and now wish that I had mushed the rice before adding it to the chocolate. It stilled worked well.
Here's the creme brulee finshed and in the freezer.
Part of the mousse is to make a pate bombe. Here're the yolks being whipped until white-ish.
Here's the sugar syrup I made that will be added to the yolks.
This is the chocolate & 1/2 cup whipped cream mixture.

This is what the egg yolks looked like after I added the syrup.

Next thing left is to assemble the log. I put in some plastic wrap.
Added 1/3 of my mousse.
Put the creme brulee on top.
Added another 1/3 of the mousse. . .

I didn't get a photo, but I put the praline crisp and the final 1/3 mousse on that. Then came the dark chocolate ganache and I cut the biscuit down to fit the bottom of the loaf. This went into the freezer for an over night freeze.

Today, I mixed up the cream and cocoa.

But softened the gelatine at the same time I was boiling it.
Here's what it looked like after I added the gelatine. This icing was made with Special Dark cocoa and it was so black in color.
This is what the loaf looked like right after pulling it from the freezer.

After I iced the loaf. . .Since I had some hazelnut praline powder left over, I dusted the sides.

Here's what it looked done and ready to go.
I took it to church and here it is being cut into many different pieces. The praline crisp layer made it difficult to cut - which is another reason why I wished I had crushed them smaller when making the crisp.
Wow! What a challenge! I really felt like I was being a true pastry chef!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Maker Faire

This is cool. I was video taped at Maker Faire and it was just posted earlier this week.

Antique Sock Knitting Machines - CRAFT Video Podcast from make magazine on Vimeo.

M being a supermodel

Originally uploaded by civilgrrl
M had a great time in Cozumel - mainly because there were more kids there her age this year. That, and she was not afraid to go to the Pirate's Club this time. When the kids were at the club, the professional photographer's came around and took pictures. She hammed it up for the camera and they said that she was a supermodel that day.

Click here if you want to see her in all her supermodel glory.

Silly goose.

Home again!

So after the big marathon trip to Nashville and Las Vegas, we were actually home for a week before we headed off to Cozumel, Mexico.

Yeah, we went away for ANOTHER week.

I have never been so happy to be home. We arrived home on Saturday around 6 pm and had a party in Granbury were were invited to.

I became an absolute brat and put my foot down and said I wasn't going to go. I just had to sleep in my own bed that night. We woke up early and I had a HOT shower - the first in a week. We then headed off and got a Starbucks - I was tired of having really bad coffee. It was heaven.

We ended up going to Granbury and found out that we missed out on a singing cowboy the night before. We were sad to hear, but it was nice to see all our friends.

I have been hand knitting and will post my projects later. It's just so nice to be home.

Merry Christmas

Originally uploaded by civilgrrl
M with Santa when we went to Las Vegas.

Friday, December 05, 2008

I wanna go home


We've been on the road since Tuesday before Thanksgiving. It's Friday - the second Friday we've been away from home.

Fun stuff we've done:

Seen J's family in Nashville. Ate at Aquarium restaurant there for J's birthday. M essentially disappeared as she was glued to the hips of her cousins. I missed her a great deal.

We got to Las Vegas last Saturday and stayed downtown at the Gold Nugget. M got to see the big movie in the sky. She also declared the Gold Nugget pool to be the coolest pool EVER. They have a slide and you get to slide through a shark tank towards the bottom. We actually opened the pool and closed it in one day.

Monday rolled around and we had to move hotels to the MGM - it's the hotel we stayed at for the Autodesk University. The twin beds were twin queens, not two twins. M & I actually got some good sleep. The day before my birthday, M & I went to see Mama Mia. We didn't make it through the whole show as M just got too tired. We still had a good time.

On Thursday, we went to Craftsteak located at the MGM. It's one of Tom Colicchio's restaurants. I wanted to eat in a celebrity chef restaurant. We stopped by a couple of them that were located in the MGM. One actually had a menu starting at $459 per person. (Yikes!)

Tonight is Friday - we're tuckered out and really just want to be home. M want's to go down to the Excaliber midway (yes, we're staying there tonight) and we just don't have the room to fit one more stuffed animal - so she's a little upset with us right now. That and the Excaliber doesn't have Nickolodeon - which is M's all time favorite channel. So she's essentially unpleasant right now.

So we get home tomorrow only to leave one week later for Cozumel.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

AU Day 3

I felt like such a fan boy today - I saw Dana Probert was speaking at the conference and had to go stalk her down and say hi.

I did buy her book on the Expo floor today. I'm finding that there's SO much about Civil3D I just don't know. I think the book will be a great reference.

Also, it's my birthday today. So happy birthday to me, damn it!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Autodesk University

AU rocks. It just does. I'm here and just am learning a great deal. Plus, it's in Las Vegas - let's face it, Vegas is great.

I'm halfway through and have already used some of the tricks I've learned - plus AU has the added benefit of making you feel so not worthy!

Looking forward to going home, though. We went to Nashville for Thanksgiving and flew directly to LV. I want my own bed. . .

Friday, November 21, 2008


I am just death on television shows. If I like it, it will be canceled. J gleefully points this out. He just IM'd me this gem.

I just found out that Eli Stone, Pushing Daisies, and Dirty Sexy Money won't be renewed for next year. All three are on my DVR series that I record.


Pushing Daisies and Dirty Sexy Money doesn't surprise me. Eli Stone does. I guess I have a soft spot for musical style stuff. Blame it on my college, I-love-Andrew-Lloyd-Weber, days.

Another show that's being canceled: Boston Legal. That show makes me laugh out loud. I don't do that often as I'm a jaded television watcher (read: I watch too much).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More socks & such

I saw a cute scarf made on a CSM on Ravelry, so I tried to make one myself. It's not finished - I have to add eyes, nose & a pom pom at the end.

Isn't it cute?

Next: Joann's Socks N More sock yarn size 13 mens (gotta Kitchener it close):
Thought I was making a size 13, but the gauge is off. This will probably go to my big foot nephew.
This is a size 9 Women's knee high sock. Sock-it-to-me sock yarn (great value)
Trekking cotton yarn (Women's 10)
Re-knitted the square toed sock (Women's 7)

Still have more to crank out!

Sad Anxiety

My local Curves is closing. (Curves is an exercising place)

It's the only regular exercise program that I've successfully done for over 2 and a half years.

Things are already uncertain right now and it's that uncertainty that is stressing everyone out. But how uncertain is it, really? I wake up and things are still the same.

I just get anxious when I read the news. Are things really this bad or is it just our imaginations?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ribbit, Ribbit

I know I sound like a broken record, but I do have my ribber working VERY WELL. So well, that I knocked out a number of ribbed socks last weekend. Three pairs of socks for M.
Red Heart's Heart & Sole yarn (Tropical Stripes). This is also ribbed down the top of the foot!!!! M loves the socks as they're all knee highs.
Lion Brand Sock Ease. The pair M wanted to wear first - she loves all things pink.
Another Red Heart Heart & Sole (Watermelon Stripes)

These are for me. Berroco Sox. I LOVE the colors for these socks.
I also did a fifth pair, but I forgot to knit the toe. I was so tired when I made this I even SEWED the darn thing up! Gotta square foot?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Best GIS Site Ever

Another boring CAD post. Just trying to keep this info in one place.

Great GIS info available for download for the state of Texas:


Very cool.

Has all Digital Raster Graphics available for download (use the UTM ones) so you can import them into AutoCAD. FREE!! (Squee!)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

More Socks!

Well, I've been on a bit of a CSM adventure as I was determined to get my ribber running smoothly. At Maker Faire, I was able to crank Sarah Easter's Legare 400 a couple of times with it loaded with ribber needles. It turned so nicely and easily. It's always been a struggle with mine. That and the eating of the latches started to become expensive.

Thanks to the SockMachineFriends Yahoo! group, I got the diagnosis: The nose on my tappet plate was too blunt. I used some metal sand paper and sanded the nose into a duck tail so the nose will direct the latches to the side rather than snap off.

It worked.

Then I made a You Tube video to see if any of the more experience CSM'ers could help me out. They are amazing! I did the adjustments and my machine is working really well - finally!

So, I have whipped up two pairs of ribbed socks and an i-pod cozy over the past two nights.

First pair:

These are going in the mail as soon as I get them washed.

Leg: 1x1 rib for 50 rows
Pre-heel: plain for 10 rows
Foot: (I forgot - I'll have to look this up)
Womens Size: 7.5

With the i-pod cozy. This time I didn't turn a toe. That's why it's nice and square (Sarah's idea). I'm on the fence regarding sewing in a zipper.

Second Pair (Tasha's):
Leg: 1 x 1 rib for 20 rows, 3 x 1 rib for 50 rows
Pre-heel: 10 rows all stockinette
Foot: 48 rows
Women's size 9

I also started a new blog:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Daring Bakers October 2008 Challenge


I need to start putting these posting dates on my calendar - I missed it by a day!

But, I did do the challenge!

From the DB Kitchen page:

THE CHALLENGE: You have to use the tossing method (as explained below) for at least 2 Pizza Crusts. If you are not comfortable with it, then you can switch to the rolling method, but you HAVE to try the traditional method and exercise it, using at least two dough pieces. You should also capture the moment by either filming or photographing yourself while tossing the dough.

So, I made the pizza. Here's the dough flattened and resting for two hours before I start to throw it.
My pizza peel prepped.
Here's me tossing it - this was tough to get as my camera has a pretty long delay
Put on the peel to dress it.

For the first pizza, I made a simple red sauce (this is from a jar of Ragu with some Parmesan cheese sprinkled and a spoonful of chopped garlic).

Add some pepperoni . . .
And some cheese. . .

Bake for 8 minutes and it was a HUGE hit with the family. "This is WAY better than store bought, mom!"
For my experimental pizza, I tried to replicate the Thai Chicken Pizza. From my local Krogers, I bought some peanut sauce.

Then I grated some carrots on that and put some grilled chicken on top.

Add cheese and - most importantly, a little bit of cilantro. . .
The first pizza was such a hit, I had to hurry to get a finished pizza picture.

This was dead on, BTW. Really delicious.