Sunday, December 14, 2014

A White Christmas?

Good morning, Everyone.

I think I am beginning to get into the Spirit. Some of the shopping is done, not all. Just some. Some of the baking is done, too. I thought I would share my candy making adventure with you. It is something that we do once a year, and in some cases not even that. So I decided this year to make suckers for the children. I used to make them for my daughters and nephews at Christmas.

First I needed to find molds, which you would think would be a standard this time of year. I had a nice selection of candy molds from years past that I either loaned or threw away. I did find some molds at my favorite kitchen speciality store. The clerk had to go to the basement to retrieve them as they had been put away because no was buying them.

So I began. The recipe is simple enough: sugar, water, corn syrup. Stir until sugar dissolves, boil to 260 degrees, add coloring but don't stir. Boiling will incorporate color. Continue cooking to 300 degrees. Remove from heat. Once bubbling action quits, add flavoring. Easy.  As you can see, something went wrong. By the time I had added the food coloring, the syrup was golden instead of clear. By the time it reached 300, it was burned. So what did I do wrong? I had a list.
   *I am using a new cook top, so I am still learning how to adjust the burners.
   *My pan is not heavy enough to conduct the heat that candy requires
   *The candy thermometer is out of whack.

At any rate, I ended up a very burnt batch.

Lucky for me there are do-overs. I used the same thermometer a second time, this time keeping a very close eye on the cooking syrup, too. I also double checked my syrup consistency by using our grandmother's method: dropping a bit syrup into a glass of ice water to see if was at the hard ball stage. I did end up throwing away the thermometer and purchasing a new one, which truthfully I think isn't any better. I made a batch of Fantasy Fudge with marshmallow cream and it turned out grainy, which means that it didn't cook long enough to dissolve the sugar to make creamy smooth fudge. I cooked it to the right temp, but I sometimes wonder if our high altitude alters some results. And yet 234 degrees is 234 degrees at any altitude.

I do enjoy making candy. Divinity and peanut brittle when I am done with today's post.

Baking goes much better when you have such good helpers. This will be Boone's first official Christmas with us. He spent his first Christmas as a baby in a shelter. This year he will be as spoiled as the grandchildren. Judith at Lavender Cottage wanted to see Lily in a mosaic for Monday Mosaics. I am glad to oblige her. Be sure to visit to see the other wonderful mosaics.

We had another disaster;  this one outside. Earlier in the fall I had unplugged the pond pump and filter because even though the pond was frozen over, I could tell that there was a serious leak as the water level had dropped underneath the ice. With the Head Gardener away working corn harvest, the pump and filter stayed off and the pond stayed frozen. We had a rare hard freeze in September and it has never warmed up enough to melt the ice.

Yesterday the HG decided to start the pump and filter to freshen the water. Later he noticed that the ice had cracked as the water level had dropped more. We found the leak; it was a tough one to find, but shouldn't have been. The filter is made out of plastic trash can which froze in the extreme cold weather. The water leaked out underneath gravel mulch and into lawn, making it very hard  to discover earlier when the pond first began to lose water. The HG spent a while breaking up the ice to toss it out of the water.

The pump continues to pump water to oxygenate the water for the fish, which survived. I had noticed that one of the big koi had died. It was up at the edge of the ice out of the water. Dead. Or was it? I am not inclined to photograph dead fish, so there is no proof of what I am about to say, but once the dead fish body was re hydrated the fish was revived. We have heard that gold fish can be frozen in ice and once thawed will come back to life. Just saying' the koi has joined the group again. 

It isn't Christmas without poinsettia is it? For years I have purchased two. I always bought them here in town at an antique store because Gertie's were the best, biggest, brightest red, and best priced. Now I buy them at Bath Nursery (where the reindeer are). I opted for a more subtle color this year and purchased just one.  Later in the day our neighbor dropped by with a second poinsettia of the same color. What a special gift. Ironically his wife works at Bath and gives poinsettia to her neighbors. Thank you Carol and Chuck.

How can one not be in the mood for the holidays?

After my very expensive excursion through ARC thrift store last Saturday in Denver with Heather, I vowed to stay out of the store until after the new year. Ours in Greeley is getting pretty picked over, so it is easy to stay or away or even shop and not buy anything there.

I am not good at keeping promises that I make to myself, especially when a certain daughter forces me to join her. I was the check out, when Jen exclaimed: "Mom, look, those little houses, like the ones you make." So I left the check-out line to have a look.  I love this little putz houses so much that I tried to make my own, but I am just not that good. 99 cents each. I couldn't pass these up. My mom had a set, now so do I.

We are supposed to get snow today as a result to the Pineapple Express. So far my California friends are okay. Here it is very cold, windy, and cloudy. The mountains are under heavy storm warning, but here it is just cold so far. Still a nice day to bake and watch Payton Manning  do his job. The Broncos play San Diego in San Diego. 

Have a wonderful week. We have lots to do yet. 

Thanks so much for taking time stop by. 


  1. Hello Ann, Lily looks like a great helper and a cutie! I like Boone too, dogs are my favorite.. Sorry, about the pond problem, glad the leak was discovered and the fish will survive.. Have a happy Sunday and week ahead!

  2. Is n't it a miracle that the big koi revived, hope the pond problems are solved now. And Boone.......I think he wants something from you in that kitchen, he is very adorable.
    Have a nice new week!

  3. Interesting stories and wonderful photos!
    I hope you will have a White Christmas!

  4. It looks like you have been very busy, doing all kinds of projects. The people across the lane made a pond similar to your several years ago. The only bad thing was the Great Blue Herons and Hawks took her Koi, but left the smaller Goldfish...yikes~

  5. I love the busy look of your house, so full of joy and creativity! Yes, it's snowing beautifully and I am setting out to walk to the store in my new boots! Yay!
    Yes, we must have coffee in January! I'm looking forward to seeing you again, Ann!

  6. Lily is such cute helper! My Mother made candy and I did the baking when I was growing up. Sweet memories! I've had the hardest time finding a regular, Old, red poinsettia. They all seem to be pink or white and have a lot of glitter on them ... bring on the good 'ole days! Merry Merry!

  7. Hi Ann!

    I'm glad your second batch of candy came out well! Lily is a very sweet helper! I had the hardest time with baking here in Colorado as i came from a sea level in NY and now live over 6,000 feet. All my recipes needed adjustment. Luckily I found a few good high altitude cookbooks and i learned how to do better baking.

    Glad you fwere able to fix your pond leak. Is ot snowing there today? It is here in the Denver area. Your Putz houses were a fabulous find!! They are very pretty!

  8. It's maddening when the baking or candy making doesn't go as it should - this is my story with pie crust, never the same twice. :-)
    Finding a leak in the pond plumbing is frustrating. Two summers ago one of the hoses that pumps water up to the waterfall burst and it emptied our pond. Neither of us were home at the time and I was so worried for our pond life. I jumped in to rearrange plants and the frogs were jumping all over me, stressed with the water level and I was fortunate that a good neighbour ran his hose over to join ours and refill. The fish were OK, down in the dug out deep part that still had water but it was mighty crowded.
    Thanks for sharing the photos of Lily, and linking to Mosaic Monday Ann, I like your apron!

  9. Our fish are dormant now...looking forward to spring just to see them. Wonderful post!! Wishing you a grand week!!! Cathy

  10. Those little houses are just the cutest! And I love that you do all of the special things for the holidays. It's been a long time since I've seen anyone make homemade candy! How sweet!!! Holiday hugs, Diane

  11. A beautiful Christmas and I love your cookie making helpers...great shots of anticipation of baking cookies and tasting them...

  12. We have just had to re-line our pond as the level was dropping quite rapidly - what a job - but it looks lovely now it has been re-done. One of our fish was found out in the road - a cat had fished it out of the pond and dropped it as he ran away. The fish had been out there for heaven knows how long covered in grit and muck - but it survived - amazing.

    Your home is looking so festive and I am amazed at how much effort you put into your Christmas preparations I don't do nearly as much as you - you put me to shame.

  13. I think I will just sleep over the Christmas holiday! I don't feel festive at all. I doubt if we will get snow even.
    Still your post is very Festive and I love your poinsettia. xxx

  14. What fun to do holiday baking and candy making with your grandchildren nearby. I hope you realize what a blessing it is to have them near! Have a wonderful family Christmas.


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