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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 08/23/12

Thursday, August 23, 2012

DIY SOLAR LAMPS!

   This was found at www.creativecabin.com .   There's alot of different ideas I could come up with on making these different things around the holidays.  Good luck and I hope you get inspired and creative!






What you will need

Small mouth mason jars

Solar garden lights

Hot glue gun




I only removed the stem of the light, but you can also remove the clear plastic base that the solar light attaches to.




Run a bead of hot glue around the rim of the jar

and...




place the light on top.




This is a much safer way to illuminate an outdoor area rather than candles.




They can easily be taken apart if you need the jars, or decide to put them back on the stem for another purpose.

VANILLA BUTTERMILK CAKE WITH INSTANT FUDGE FROSTING!!

   Here's another recipe found at www.sweetapolita.com .  She makes such lovely desserts!!


Vanilla Buttermilk Cake with Instant Fudge Frosting










I have a real thing for the 70s. I mean, heck, I was born smack dab in the middle of them, into a family of much older siblings ready and eager to love, spoil, and torment an unsuspecting baby sister, so overall I’d say it was a pretty fabulous era. When I think back to my first memories of cake, they come along with my first memories of life at all: sitting around the dining room table with siblings who, at that time, would have been about 15, 14, and 8. I have particularly fond memories of the family birthday dinners gathered around that same table, eating the birthday kid’s meal of choice: my mom’s lasagna, my dad’s famous barbeque steak dinners, or, any other favourite of the time. There was, though, one thing that didn’t vary: the cake. Throughout the 70s (and possibly the 60s), I remember my mom serving yellow birthday cakes with chocolate fudgy icing. I was so young, but I can envision these cakes in rectangular glass baking dishes smothered with the icing, sprinkles, and colourful birthday candles. I’m fascinated by this, and I’ve asked around: it seems that many others have these same yellow & brown cakey memories of the 1970s. Perhaps it was the combinations of signature colours-of-the-era: golden yellow cake (or, should we say, Harvest Gold) and warm chocolate brown (or Rust Brown) frosting that drew them to this type of cake. The memories overtook me the moment I spotted this classic cake in one of my beloved baking books: Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes, and I knew I had to try it. I also love the traditional layer-cake structure, the homespun feel of it, and the decadent-but-uncomplicated flavour combination of vanilla buttermilk & fudgy chocolate.







With a total of 4 whole eggs + 2 additional egg yolks, as well as buttermilk, butter, and a generous amount of sugar, this cake has a gorgeous texture and is a beautiful golden yellow. The process was different than I’m used to, with a mixing of the egg, a portion of the buttermilk, and vanilla to begin; followed by a whisking of the dry ingredients with the sugar; the addition & mixing of the butter and partial buttermilk; and then adding the initial egg & milk mixture into the batter. Confused yet? It wasn’t any more difficult than the classic butter cake technique, but just different. The switch in technique was a welcome change and resulted in a lofty and moist cake.










The frosting is made in the food processor, which was pretty exciting for me since I am in love with my new food processor and am always looking for a reason to use it. As the title suggests, it was made in an ”instant,” since you just put all of the frosting ingredients into the food processor and, well, process. Was really simple and fun to make, and the result was fluffy, satiny, and rich. As I always do, I used my favourite Belgian bittersweet chocolate, Callebaut, which makes it even more decadent and flavourful. I find that in these kinds of recipes where the main flavour of the frosting or cake is classic chocolate or vanilla, that it’s truly worth using the best chocolate or vanilla that you can get, as the flavours really come through and really are the main attraction. With such a yummy and classic frosting base, though, you can even get a little adventurous and add a few drops of almond extract, or, say, 1/4 teaspoon (or so) of instant espresso for a mocha version. Those are just ideas, but you can use your imagination and add anything you like, or, of course, leave it traditional & simple.
So, here’s the family in our yellow-cake-with-chocolate-frosting days, or, well, 1975. I found this while digging through old photo albums the other day, and I love it. My brother Andy, my mom, me (the baby who seemingly was the only one experiencing gale force winds that day…what was up, and I mean up, with my bangs?), my sister Michele, my sister Linda, and my dad. This was actually taken in California, where we were visiting our relatives. It wasn’t until I had 2 kids, that I really began to appreciate, and become in awe of, what my mom’s life must have been like with 4 kids, and this trip is no exception: they drove all of us, including 1-year-old me, in a station wagon (yes, with wood panel sides, I believe!) the 2,700+miles from Ontario, Canada to California in the peak of the summer months. What I’d give to go back in time and watch that go down!
Here I am a few years later, in my favourite red checkered dress, eagerly awaiting birthday hot dogs and, I would bet, yellow cake with chocolate frosting. It was only a few short years after this party that the 80s were in full swing, and that I discovered frilly white heart-shaped cakes with pink icing flowers from the bakery, where I insisted my mom buy my birthday cakes each year for pretty much the rest of my pre-adult life. Hey, is that a Harvest Gold refrigerator I see? Of course it is! Were you a Harvest Gold household? Avocado Green? Rust Brown?







If you’d like to make this classic delight, here’s the recipe:


From the book Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes
Vanilla Buttermilk Cake with Instant Fudge Frosting {click here for printable recipe}



Yield: One 8″ triple layer cake; serves 12-16


Ingredients:

4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3 cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature



Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans or spray to coat with vegetable oil. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and grease the paper.
2. Put the eggs and yolks in a medium mixing mixing bowl, add the vanilla and 1/4 cup of the buttermilk. Whisk to blend well.
3. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, in a large mixer bowl; whisk to blend. Add the butter and the remaining 1 cup buttermilk to these dry ingredients and with the mixer on low, blend together. Raise the mixer speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
4. Add the egg mixture in 3 additions, scraping down the side of the bowl and mixing only until thoroughly incorporated. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared pans.
5. Bake the cake layers for 28-32 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes clean and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes; then carefully turn out onto wire racks, peel of the paper liners, and let cool completely.
6. To assemble the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread 3/4 cup of the Instant Fudge Frosting over the layer right to the edge. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and use all but 3/4 cup of the frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake. With an offset palette knife or spatula, smooth out the frosting all over. Place the remaining 3/4 cup frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tube and pipe a shell border around the top and bottom edges of the cake.




Instant Fudge Frosting



Ingredients:

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
4 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (no need to sift)
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons half-and-half
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Method:
A large food processor is the best piece of equipment to use for the frosting recipe. It whips up the perfect fudge frosting, and there is no need for a boiled syrup.
Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to incorporate. Then process until the frosting is smooth.
Sweetapolita’s Notes:
1. For the ultimate version of this frosting, I used my favourite Belgian bittersweet chocolate: Callebaut Chocolate – Pure – Bittersweet – 1 kg
2. For a mocha frosting, you can add 1/4 teaspoon (or more, to taste) instant espresso powder.
3. If you don’t have a food processor, you can make this frosting in your mixer by beating the butter and confectioners’ sugar with the flat beater for about a minute on low speed, followed by another minute on medium-high speed. Add the remaining ingredients and beat on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until fluffy.
4. Frosting is best used immediately, but holds up nicely on the cake once frosted.
5. Finished cake keeps best in a cake-saver at room temperature for up to 3 days.
6. You may enjoy the previous post 50 Tips for Baking Better Cakes.
Good luck & enjoy!

BOLAS DE FUEGO FROM NEJAPA, EL SALVADOR!!



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Scorched earth policy: Blazing trails as proceedings get fiery
Goodness gracious: Pitched battles watched by onlookers




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Pause before a flare-up: Revellers take a breather

    It looks like a warzone or at least a riot in full swing. Fireballs tear through the streets painting the night air orange as young men, their faces emblazoned with fearsome patterns, prowl the streets waging in pitched battles against one another. The incendiary missiles explode on impact – sometimes in the faces of their targets. Pyromaniacs take note. If you love fire – and fireworks or trick or treat are too tame for your taste buds – you’ll be blown away by the Bolas de Fuego festival in El Salvador.



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    Every August 31, the El Salvadorian town of Nejapa is set alight by Bolas de Fuego, meaning balls of fire – though some might consider balls of steel equally essential for taking part. In the kind of event that would’ve been banned or smothered by health and safety regulations long ago in a lot of countries, men in opposing teams fling burning fuel-soaked rags at each other. Yet in this part of Central America, the chaos is semi-organised – and part of a tradition stretching back many years.






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   Some say the historic spark for Bolas de Fuego came in 1685 when the nearby volcano El Playon erupted, forcing the people of the old village of Nixapa to flee and re-establish their homes at Nejapa’s present location. During the eruption, bombs of lava and fire flew through the air, which gave rise to the commemorative ritual. Or so the story goes. According to other versions, the combustive custom marks a more recent violent volcanic eruption and forced evacuation of 1917 or 1922.


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   Further complicating matters, religion is bound up with Bolas de Fuego in the saintly form of San Jerónimo. By one account, the celebration recalls the legend of Jerónimo fighting the Devil with balls of fire. Another story ties the devout figure in with the 1685 eruption, when the fleeing villagers took the image of their patron saint and named a new church in his honour – but as punishment left the image facing the wall because he had not protected them from the volcano’s destructive force. Whatever Bolas de Fuego’s exact origins, today the festival blazes on brightly. Shrieks fill the air in Nejapa, but the emotion they express is less pain or terror than frenzied excitement. Despite safety concerns – and the ferocity of some of the point-blank shots to face – serious injuries are reportedly rare. Presumably this is helped by the participants’ habit of soaking their jeans and gloves in water





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    One spectator watching kids lighting a melon-sized bundle of rags compared proceedings to the tradition of young hooligans throwing eggs at cars on Halloween. Fireballs may not be so forgiving, but in a country with one of the highest homicide rates in the world, Bolas de Fuego is probably the least of its worries.