Tuesday, 10 December 2013

It's December, let's bake!

Cooks, Bakers, everyone who loves to create edible wonders, meet your Lord and Master: my grandma.

I know, I know, everyone says that their grandma is the best cook in the history of ever, but I'm pretty sure that mine actually is. Like I said in one of my first posts: she makes vegetables taste heavenly. End of discussion.

A few weeks back, my grandma had an arm surgery, and she's still feeling pain when gripping stuff, or kneading dough, so for the first time ever, I helped her do the Christmas baking.
Mind you, we didn't bake as much as she usually does (so many different cookies!), but I call four Stollen and three batches cookies (and lunch) a success none the less.

Sadly, I only have some medium quality pictures and no picture of the end result of the Stollen, or the cookies, but I'll share the recipe anyway.

You must know, I think Stollen is one of the most disgusting Christmas foods ever invented. My dad on the other hand can't have Christmas without them. So I'll let you decide if you want to try making one or not.

The recipe I'm about to share was from a magazine or cookbook, redone by my great grandma, redone by my grandma.

Warning: lots and lots of pictures.

(makes two)

1kg flour*
250ml milk
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp flour
100g fresh yeast
350g butter (melted)
125g sugar
750g candied orange and lemon peel, walnuts, raisins, almonds, glacé cherries, etc.
2 packets vanilla sugar
rum extract
almond extract
lemon zest or lemon sugar
more butter (melted)

First, warm up the milk and pour half of it into a big bowl. Add the yeast, 1 tsp of sugar, 1 tbsp of flour, stir, to break up the yeast. Then let it sit somewhere warm until it has risen quite a bit. (This mixture is called 'Dampfl', btw)

Then add:
 a bit of salt
 lemon zest or lemon sugar (1 packet)
 vanilla sugar
 a tiny bit of rum extract
 a bit of almond extract
 some nutmeg
 some rum
 the remaining milk
 and the melted butter
 Now stir!
 Stir some more!

 Doesn't my dad look dashing in my grandma's apron? /cackles
Anyway, start kneading that dough! Or if you're lazy, let your Kitchen Aid knead it for you.
 If the dough is too hard to knead, add some more milk.
Besides kneading, also try slamming it onto the table a few times.
No, really, do it.
 When you're finished kneading, put the dough back into the bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place.

 Dough after it has risen.
 Divide it in half, and knead it one or twice, before rolling out each half.
My grandma put her rolling pin into the oven for a moment so it'd get warm. No idea why, but do it anyway.
The shape doesn't have to be even, just see that it has the same thickness all over.
 Add the filling (the nuts, raisins, candied peel, etc., which were soaked in a bit of rum)
 Spread it evenly.
 Unlike the picture, fold over a piece of the left and right side first, and only then start folding or rolling up the whole thing.
 Fold fold fold
 Now take your rolling pin, and press it down at the middle, flattening half of the roll you just did.
 Brush melted butter all over your Stollen (it acts as glue)
 Now fold over the dough... so! Yes, that part in the front is supposed to stick out like that. That's the way the Stollen is shaped.
 Now carefully lift it into a buttered pan.
Once again cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rise.

Now this is where my father left, so no more pictures after that.

Preheat your oven to 180°C.
When the Stollen has about doubled in size, put it into the oven and bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Brush the Stollen with melted butter, right after you take it out of the oven, and sprinkle with icing sugar.
Let it cool for a bit.
Put a piece of parchment onto a cookie sheet, and turn over the pan, letting the Stollen fall out.
Turn the Stollen back over (since it just landed on its sugary side), and do the same with the other one.
Now flip the parchment over the Stollen, and put them in a plastic bag (while they're still warm).

And that is it!
Now you only have to wait for about two weeks until you can have a taste.



Yes, you heard me correctly. You have to let the Stollen rest for at least two weeks.
It has to do with flavour and other stuff...which I don't know about.
But grandma says do it, so do it.

Until my next post!

 * my great grandma noted on the recipe that she used half and half, meaning one half 'griffig' flour and one half 'glatt'. I tried googling for an equivalent of that in English, but let me tell you, flour is confusing. But you can of course just use 1kg of normal all purpose flour.

Monday, 25 November 2013

One month til Christmas...which is why I'm posting Halloween stuff

Reeeeally late with this one, but I have an excuse! I was sick!
And I am forgetful.
Anyway, have my Halloween post!

So, last post, I told you about the Witch Doctor I was making (the one with the Tiki mask), and here's how he looks as a whole:
After making the mask, I started by plopping some chicken bones into a cup full of hydrogen peroxide. I left them there for about a day, not longer, because I didn't want them to get too white.
(I was too lazy to make bones. Plus, these look nicer)
 Then I sculpted a skull out of air drying clay and put it into my mini oven so it would dry quicker. Because if you leave everything to the last minute, like I always do, you can't wait for everything to dry naturally.
 And here are some pictures of the Witch Doctor in the making.
 The base is made from wood, wood glue, and some screws here and there.
 Then I added some news paper and lots of tape~
 After that, I added some of my fail paper mache clay (which is my enemy. If you are better at making paper mache clay than I am, you can use it for the whole thing), to form that nice little belly. Then some tissue to get an even coloured, wrinkly skin, and voila, you have a naked dancing chicken.
 Some paint and a hula skirt (which was super simple to make and took way less material than I thought it would) and the body is finished! I then glued on the mask, made another skirt, but didn't tie it together, and pinned it to the back of the mask.
 Here we have my mum, sneaking to our neighbour's window to scare her 8D
 And this is me. I already have a pumpkin kind of shape, so going as a pumpkin person was ideal~ Clothes and mask (and witch doctor) were, like always, made last minute, but still I like how everything looks. (although I had wanted to have orange arms and legs as well, but sadly no time for that)

And that's it! 
We had friends and their little ones over, and because they were dressed up as the Weasleys (Arthur, Molly, Ron and Ginny) my sister had a little event for them, where they had to practise spells.
It was cute :3
And that's what happened on Halloween~
Yes, Halloween in Vienna is boring (we had one group of Trick or Treaters...ONE!), but it was nice anyway.
Still I hope that next year, we'll be at Disneyland again 8D

Until the next post!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

IKEA update

And first place goes tooooo *drumroll*
not me.


The second place goes tooooo *drumroll*
ME!!! :D

Both my whale lamp and Timelord placed second, which means I am now 1000€ (1375$) richer!
Definitely happy with that.

I'll be making a Halloween post soon (probably after Halloween, because there's still so much to do!) and show off my Witch Doctor and hopefully my costume...maybe...

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

It's Halloween-lo-ween, everybody!

Well...not quite yet.
But I'm currently working on our Halloween props!

My sister wants to be a vampire on the beach for this year's Halloween (I will hopefully be a pumpkin person in a vintage bathing suit), so we decided to adapt our props to a beach theme.
I'm working on a witch doctor, who will be dancing on a sand grave, and thought I'd show you how I made the Tiki mask.
Hopefully someone will find this little tutorial useful and make lots and lots of masks 8D

You will need:
a (thin) insulation foam sheet
a Stanley knife (or any other knife that will cut through foam)
a pencil
(wood/white) glue
acrylic paints
a brush

Start by cutting out the shape you want the mask to have. It doesn't need to be perfect, since you will be cutting into the edges anyway.
Take your pencil, and draw 3, or more, straight lines. This will make the mask look like it's made of boards of wood instead of one whole piece. Remember to press down with your pencil, so it will leave an impression. Make these lines especially thick.
Now draw lines and squiggles all over the mask, but remember to always stop at the straight lines, since that's where the 'board' would end.
Decide where you want the eyes to be, and cut them out. Then cut out eyebrows, a nose, lips and teeth, if you want.
Distress your 'wood' a bit, by cutting into the edges, especially where your 'boards' meet. You can also take any object (I used the blunt side of a knife) and hit your foam with it. Yes, you will be a foam abuser, but it will be worth it.
Before you glue the features on, try the glue on a piece of scrap foam, to see if the glue melts the foam. I used wood glue, which takes ages to dry, but keeps the foam intact.
After the glue has dried, take your acrylic paint and give your mask a base coat. It doesn't matter if the surface doesn't look perfect, just try to get the paint into all those grooves.
 After the paint has dried, take a light brown acrylic, and paint the mask. Try painting big spaces with only a little colour, and try not to get all the paint into the lines. Also, when you paint, use long brush strokes, starting from the top, going down (or vice versa).
You can stop at the previous step, or you can add some colour, like I did. Just do it like you did with the brown paint, a tiny bit of colour for a big space.

And that would be my first tutorial! Yay!
Hoped it helped!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

My teeny tiny fall harvest

We had 4°C (39°F) this morning, so I decided to pick all my remaining vegetables before it drops below freezing.
Nothing very special about this post, but here, have some pictures.

 I'm not a fan of eggplants (actually, I don't like most of the things I plant, I'm weird like that), but isn't it gorgeous?
 Not quite ready tomatoes.
I am so proud of this butternut! /motherly tears of joy
This is the first time one of my pumpkins actually survived! I had planned to make at least five pumpkin cookies out of it, but now I don't want to eat it >-<

UPDATE for the previous post:
This is what the Timelord looks like with bow tie and hearts.
EDIT: and I just realized that in the picture, it looks like I drew nipples on the door...I give up.