Monday, April 21, 2014

Lemon souffles!

Martha Stewart magazines are probably the original Pinterest. Full of too perfect crafts and foods with instructions that always seem easy enough until you're in the middle of them. But the outcome is too irresistible to pass up so despite knowing better, you think 'well maybe this one will be different' and try it anyways.

Anywho, this happened to me this week when I came across a link to a Martha recipe from a few years back. This one.  Lemme just put this in here. If you have any little cuts on your hands, or hangnails, Do Not Try This. Or if you can't resist, do yourself a favor and wear gloves. In all my years working with lemony flavored desserts and such, I have never ended up quite this coated in lemon juice.

But let's get on with it! The amount of soufflé this makes is enough to fill eight large lemons, but if you don't want that many you can always bake some in small ramekins like I did.

You'll need:
8 large lemons
3 eggs - separated
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp flour
Powdered sugar for dusting

Step one, prep your lemons. Wash them. You'll be eating out of them so really it just makes sense. Next, cut off the nubby end of the lemons so they can sit upright without assistance.

Make another cut at the top of your lemon, parallel to the first, so you can scoop out all the insides.

Now the tricky part. Hint: this is where you get covered in lemon juice. Scoop out the insides. The Martha recipe recommends a melon baller or a grapefruit spoon. Hah! A grapefruit spoon may have worked but I don't have any. What I ended up doing was using a very sharp knife, I cut around the opening between the lemon flesh and the pith about an inch deep. Then I used the melon baller to scoop that out and to gouge the rest out. The inside wasn't pretty but the top lip was and that's what matters right?

Here's what they looked like after being scraped out. Make sure to get all the seeds out!

Also, save the innards by scraping them into a sieve over a bowl. You want that lemon juice!

I'm sure it's pictures like these that started the trend of only showing the finished product rather than the process. Lemon guts just aren't very pretty.

Now that your shells are prepped, it is time to make the soufflé. In a heat-proof mixer bowl, beat together (on medium) the egg yolks, 1/4 cup of the sugar, 1/4 cup of the lemon juice you saved, and the flour using a whisk attachment. After a few minutes it should be a pale yellow.

Like so. Place the mixer bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly for eight minutes. The mixture should get quite thick. Put it back on the mixer and whisk until it has cooled down, scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time. Transfer it to a medium sized bowl. It should look like this when you're done.

Next up, in a clean mixer bowl, combine the egg whites and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Place this mixture over the pan of simmering water and stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm. Don't over-do it or the egg whites will start to cook.

Put it on the mixer and whisk on low speed until frothy. Then increase the speed and whisk until it is shiny and holds soft peaks. Stir about 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture, blending well. Then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.

Place your prepared lemon shells on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Fill them carefully to just below the brim.

Pop them into a 350 degree oven for 14-16 minutes, or until the soufflé has risen about an inch and the tops are just starting to tan.

Here you can see I didn't fill them all evenly, oops! But you can also just see the two ramekins in the background so that shows how much this makes aprox.

And now the fun sugar dusting part.

Aww, so pretty.

So these are relatively simple once you get past the scooping out of the lemon innards part. And so so so delicious. I think I like them better then lemon bars! The only thing that could make them better is a shortbread cookie stuck in the top.

The top part has a very slightly crisped coating, like when you roast marshmallows and peel off just the outside layer. Then the part inside the lemon is extremely juicy from being baked in lemon juice. You need a spoon to eat these, and you might find yourself picking up the lemon peel and drinking any juice you couldn't get.

So go forth and bake! And then report back and tell me I'm not the only one who covered my kitchen in lemon :P

Monday, April 14, 2014

Grad school

I mentioned just the other day that I was waiting on one last graduate school response letter and of course I got it the day after I said something about it. Isn't that how it always seems to work?! Anyways, I applied to four schools this year and received four no answers with varying degrees of explanation, a couple of them quite informative and helpful. Such is life I suppose, nothing to do but to try again next year. And I did learn that while the degree that I want is costume design, the school that I want ideally will also offer a good variety of costume production and crafts courses as well.

I'm really not looking forward to writing admissions essays again though.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Costumes and Legos. Story of my life.

I think I probably mentioned a while back that I was costuming some shows this spring and I'm thrilled to report that the first one is opening this week! Even though it ended up being mostly just alteration work, I had a good time working on this first show, Life is a Dream but it did result in tears a couple of times. I find that to be pretty normal. Stress levels go up and tears come down. I doesn't help that I'm still waiting for a response from one of the grad schools I applied to.

As much fun as the first show was to work on though, I'm excited to see it go and to start in on the next one, Don Juan in Chicago. Because, well, I get to make fun silly things like panniers and a collar ruff and other such nonsense. I enjoy making silly things, and I get to work with some really lovely people too. Very obliging actors who will make the most of ridiculous costumes!

On a different note, my son and I went to the Lego store the other week and I made our family out of legos. Wanna see?

Of course you do.

My hubby there is holding what is supposed to be a briefcase but we're pretending it's a laptop. Much more accurate for him. Little man there in the middle with a popsicle, and me on the right with a coffee cup. Perfect! I even own pants that color, hehe.

Ok, ttfn. No idea if there will be a sweet this month or not. Probably not, but I'll try to come back in a timely fashion and share some costume progress pictures!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sometimes real life takes over...

Aww my poor neglected blog! It has been a very long time. I've been rather busy you see. I got sick, then went to Hawaii (I got better first fortunately), then started production on the first of two shows that I'm costuming back to back. So yeah, busy! Sadly I have no new recipes or anything really exciting to share, but I have a couple of pictures of my little side projects from during this time.

I've made two batches of French Macarons, just to try it. This is my second batch and I even got some little 'feet' as they're called. They are delicious by the way.

I tried some different fillings, nutella, biscoff butter, and the traditional swiss buttercream.

Sneek preview of my next costume. Really this is just the fabric I have so far, it will not be draped like this so that won't help you guess at all.

Close up of the metallic.

I went to Hobby Lobby for the first time ever, now that we have one in Washington. Score! I needed some claws for my upcoming costume and now I don't have to figure out how to make them.
Anyways, that's the recap. I'll try to be back sooner next time. After all, my little man needs a dress shirt this summer for all the weddings we'll be attending, and he has decided that he wants a star wars one. I smell a sewing project coming on!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sewing project: portfolio case

While I am still smack dab in the middle of finishing applications and starting interviews for grad school, I really needed a sewing project this past week to calm my nerves. I decided to make a pretty case for my portfolio since I'll be traveling with it soon, and you know, first impressions and all that. The standard black outside of the portfolio book itself is pretty boring. It needed sprucing up. So here's what I did:
Here are my fabrics. I had the slate blue and white stripe from the sewing expo last year. The yellow is a home decor fabric and the black is classic twill bottom weight.

So the first thing I did was straighten out the edges, because things are never cut perfectly. Then I cut out a rectangle of the fabric for the outside of the case, one inch bigger on all edges than my portfolio book (which is large, so if this looks huge that's why).

I cut the fabric I wanted for the outside pocket/trim one inch wider than 1/2 of the first rectangle.

Next I cut two rectangles of the interior fabric the same size as the first rectangle.

I pinned and sewed my outside pocket onto what will be the back side of the case. You can just see the center fold line in the far left of the pic in the yellow fabric.

I then stitched the two fabrics together on either side of the center fold line so that the pocket would not wrap around the spine of the book.
Now I've finished off the edge of what will be the front pocket.
I put an invisible zipper in here since it was the closest in color to what I wanted and I like the way the zipper pulls on them look. It is not actually invisible when zipped nor does it need to be. I sewed it first to the blue striped fabric first so I could line it up properly on the yellow.

The next thing I did was to cut out rectangles from photo mounting board to give my case some stability. I cut these the same size as the covers on my actual portfolio.

With wrong sides together I sewed my outside fabrics (yellow and blue stripe) to one of the black twill rectangles on three sides, leaving one of the long sides open. I slid the photo mounting board in to check placement, then stitched two seams on either side of the spine piece.

I slid the boards back in and stitched up the remaining side.

Next I made a couple of simple handles.

And sewed them on securely through all layers. Yes even through the photo board.

See! I tested it first. Totally works.
By this time it was getting late and I started to forget to take pictures. At this point though I had cut my last black rectangle in half, finished one long edge of each half, and sewn them into the inside of the case.
Next I made a ton of bias tape, which I didn't take pictures of cause it's boring, and sewed some onto the sides of my zipper and the rest around the outside edge of my case. Here I'm trimming the edges and corners before I turn the bias tape to the inside.

And here I'm pinning in the zipper to the inside with the bias tape. It got dark out so picture quality went down. Sorry :(
And here it is done! (see, I told you I started to forget to take pictures.) Putting in the zipper was...interesting. I ended up re-doing some parts to make it pucker less. Anyways, this is the front.

This is the back.

And this is the inside. I did put a strip of elastic in the center of the spine to add another layer of security, but it really isn't necessary. The book isn't going anywhere once it's in there.

So yeah! Now I have a lovely portfolio inside and out! And I felt better for having made something instead of just sitting in front of my computer smacking my head on the table trying to finish a personal statement.

And now back to the scheduled head-desk routine.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Sweet 16th: Recipe Round-Up

Well the 16th was yesterday and despite the fact that I actually was making delicious things, I managed a lapse in either judgment, time or both and forgot to do a post.  But it's ok because I made more yummy things today so you get bonus recipes!

We have an almost constant stream of company this weekend so I've been making little snacky treats and such and I'd like to share a couple with you.  First up are these delicious rosemary walnuts from Eclectically Vintage.  These are spicy and really full of flavor without being heavy.  I have a sneaky suspicion that I could eat an awful lot of these on my own so it's a good thing there will be others here to help me out :D

Next up I made these lovely little coconut macaroons with a raspberry twist. These are from a Martha Stewart magazine and they just looked so pretty I had to give them a try. They turned out really nice. I put some extra raspberry in mine so they have a little more kick than they might if you followed the recipe exactly.  I think I had about 3/4 cup fresh raspberries instead of just 1/2 cup.

Here they are before going into the oven.

And now after chocolate dipping and playing with a variety of toppings.

Last but not least, I got a candy making cookbook for Christmas this year and wanted to try something out. I started out with something really simple, the Chocolate Mint Meltaways.  They are absolutely lovely.  Minty and melty as implied. I've been trying very hard not to eat them all before our visitors get some.

These are from the book The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook. If you are at all interested in making candy, get this book. Not only is it full of beautiful and delicious candies, it is also hilarious. I can't remember the last time I laughed out loud while reading a cookbook but it happens frequently with this one.

Anyways, go forth and make some goodies. And send me recipes you like!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Long time no see!

Hey all!  The holiday whirlwind has died down and life and routine are getting back to normal. Happy 2014 by the way! (Won tons were definitely consumed) It has been an embarrassingly long time since I've posted anything here. Hope to get better about that, but I'm still working on those grad school apps so, ya know, priorities.

Anywho, I'd love to share a project I was working on before the holidays. It was a gift or I'd have posted some pictures before, but here they are now!

Progress shots of painting a crystal skull (from a photograph)

There you have it!  It was a fun challenge, although it made walking into my workroom in the dark mildly startling! 

And now I need to clear some shelf space in my workroom for this beauty!

Aw yeah! Jar of buttons.

Ta ta for now.