Saturday, December 19, 2009
Week Before Christmas Wonderland
This is what we woke up to this morning -- it's definitely enough "frosty winter wonderland" to put you in the christmas mood. It's actually the view from my kitchen window and I certainly appreciate having it! I especially love it when the birds drop by for a visit and though I haven't seen any lately -- in the fall I had a steady stream. I don't know the names of birds but it seems there's a lot of fluffy little black and white ones this year, the odd bluejay and the even rarer red and grey/white. They are more or less the size of baby chicks -- so totally adorable. Today I also enjoyed watching my husband shovel the driveway and then seeing how lucky he was that our next door neighbor drove over on his snow blower (he rigged up an amazing snow blower -- looks like a mini zamboni) to join in the fight against the accumulation of white stuff! We are lucky to have an awesome neighbor and he's been helpful with many things besides "snow removal" for almost as long as we have lived here (17 years). With only one week until the "big day" I decided to proceed with another batch of my GF Peanut Butter Almond Cookies that proved to be very popular. I really like them too (I'm sitting here typing and enjoying several with a cup of hot chocolate). Here's a sampling of what I whipped up this morning. I stashed some away in the freezer with the hope they stay put until next week :)
Here's a few things I learned this morning in my endeavor to be creative - I'm going to post them just in case inquiring minds want to know :)
#1 -- Jam sinks and shrinks a bit when you put some in indent of cookie before you bake so next time I'll have to put double what I think it needs.
#2 -- Almond paste rises so a little less is needed than you think.
#3 -- Mix melted chocolate chips (plus 1 teaspoon hard margarine) and an equal portion of white sugar glaze (water & icing sugar) -- that way it drys shiny and hard just like the white glaze alone does.
#4 -- The plastic baggy tip is awesome -- tried for the first time ever (I've never been much for decorating in the past -- just starting to get a little creative hence the tips above probably everyone knows but me but hey I need it on here so that I'll remember what to do next year). The first batch of cookies I decorated I drizzled icing from a spoon but this definitely beats that all to heck. So all I did was take a small fork and poke a hole in bottom corner of baggy and spooned in my liquidy glaze and it was done lickety-split and much more evenly that's for sure.
Veggie Prairie Girl Rambles
Chickpea-Crockpot Update: I finally cooked chickpeas from scratch using the slow cooker. I soaked 1-1/2 cups of dried chickpeas overnight. Then the next day I drained, rinsed and put them in a large pot and pre-cooked them at a rolling boil for about 10 minutes. I then drained again and put chickpeas in my slow cooker with fresh water. It took about 10 hours (at HIGH) to get soft enough for my preference. I couldn't believe how long it took but I guess that's why they are called "slow-cookers"! I was also glad I was home to keep an eye on it because I did have to add water twice during that time as the level was starting to drop ever so slightly below chickpea level. I made sure to use boiling water so as not to decrease the temperature.
I did some research and one suggestion was to soak the chickpeas with 1 tablespoon of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. Then drain & rinse of course and then to use spring water especially if you live in hard water area. Which of course we do -- and I know this -- but I forgot. Next time -- spring water only! See if these tips make a difference in how long it takes.Perhaps my chickpeas were old -- I did buy them bulk recently but with bulk who knows how old it is. You would hope not that old but next time I'm going to see if I can buy them pre-packaged with indication of expiry date and see if that helps. There were also a lot of chickpea skins floating around which I don't like but it's not a problem when making hummus. And it did make absolutely wonderful tasting hummus so all in all it was worth the effort. I also did read that a lot of women in India apparently don't care for chickpea skins either in their cooking and take the time to remove them before use in dishes where appearance is important.
Wishing everyone a good time with their baking and hoping to get a few more posts in before Christmas. Right now I'm backtracking through my recipes and trying to get a few more dishes in the freezer cause a lot don't seem to be making it there or lasting too long once they are :)
P.S. Here's a photo I took of the christmas card my sister sent me in the mail - she always sends beautiful cards and so thought I'd share this one with you all! Happy Holidays!