What a whirlwind this holiday break has been so far! It seems like I have not finished anything that I planned to do, but I’m not really surprised or upset. 2016 has been a bugger for lots of reasons and so this December has been one long lesson for me in trying to go with the flow–or maybe to go against the flow?
In the flow or out of the flow?
Anyway, at the beginning of our break, we jetted up to TN to visit family and friends for a few days and to celebrate (early) my husband’s and my 25th wedding anniversary. We were married in March 1992 and we knew that there was NO WAY we would be able to get up to TN to see anyone during the time of our real 25th anniversary, so we had a little party a few months early. We saw my mom and dad and our best friends in TN and before long it was time to come back to GA. During our time in TN, our daughter Drew flew in from Chicago to Nashville, but our daughter Zoë was in AL participating in a University of Georgia IMPACT trip…so our little family all converged at home just a couple of days ago.
I had planned to finish Tracey’s mom’s quilt so Tracey could take it to her, but alas, it was not to be. I did get the top finished, the batting and back and top all pinned together and the stitching path chalked on for the machine quilting:
I’m really happy with the piecing of the top, even though some of my 4 points are just a bit off….but since this is only my 2nd quilt (if you don’t count the 2 t-shirt quilts that I made for my girls) I am pretty proud of how it turned out. Hopefully I will get it quilted and bound before the end of January, which is when Tracey’s mom is hoping to be in her new house. Since I was trying to finish the quilt, bestie Tracey only got part of her Christmas box while I was in TN (we alternate each year filling a box with gifts for each other) but she is coming to GA in January to celebrate her 50th birthday, so I’ll be sure to have all her Christmas box AND birthday presents done by then 🙂 One thing she did get, however, is her annual fix of Chocolate Almond Biscotti–more about that below…
In the meantime, the kitchen here has been abuzz with all manner of goodie-making. Bourbon Sea Salt Caramels are the favorite of my other best friend, Dianne, and David and I made several batches of those:
We gave them to our colleagues at our respective universities as well for some holiday cheer…they are tasty, if I do say so myself.
Today, I decided to whip up two family favorites. First I made some Boiled Custard. Have you ever had it? It is a real tradition in my family but most people that I meet, even in the south, have never even heard of it. It is quite easy to find in Middle TN during the holidays–Kroger makes a version and so does Purity Dairies and Mayfield. Our family recipe has been passed down through my great-grandmother (Granny) and calls for milk, eggs, flour and sugar. The funny thing is, even though it is called “boiled” custard, it is NOT boiled, it is all heated in a double boiler until thick and creamy. Then you chill and add vanilla and drink it with a generous dollop of whipped cream with your favorite holiday desserts. It is RICH and DELICIOUS. My husband and daughter Drew like the Kroger version, so we usually just buy some, but this year, the commercial boiled custard has been scarce. So I made a batch this morning, using cornstarch instead of flour to make it gluten-free. It is chilling in 2 quart mason jars in the fridge. YUM.
I also made another batch of biscotti–this time GF. Zoë and I are both GF out of necessity, not fashion. I’ve spent a good portion of the last 5 years researching and experimenting with GF cooking and baking–using different flours and ratios of fat to flour, etc. to come up with delicious GF things to eat. I have to credit a lot of the GF bloggers and cookbook authors out there–especially La Tartine Gourmande and Fat Free Vegan and Gluten Free Girl. And all hail, Alice Medrich’s Flavor Flours! What an amazing baking book for gluten free bakers!
I adapted this recipe from one I already had:
I used 1 cup almond meal and 1/4 cup rice flour and 1/2 cup ivory teff flour. I also cheat and just use sliced almonds so I don’t have to chop the almonds…I don’t toast them either.
Place the flour, soda, salt, cocoa, sugar, coffee and chocolate (I use Ghiradelli Bittersweet chips) into a food processor. Process for about 20-30 seconds. Add eggs, vanilla and almond extract. Pulse until the dough forms a ball around the blade. (sometimes I have to add a bit of water–usually this happens with the GLUTEN stuff, not the GF) The dough will be really sticky. Flour your hands (I used some of the rice flour) and form two long logs of dough on a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet.
Bake for 50 minutes at 300º. Let cool completely. These are the unscotti. They are baked once. When cool, slice into the familiar biscotti slices and arrange again on your pan. Bake again at 300º for 40 minutes and then cool completely on a rack. These keep for weeks stored in an airtight container or a sealed bag.
So good. Makes a BUNCH! Also a good gift and if you want to gild the lily you can dip the in melted semisweet chocolate or white chocolate after they are baked the second time and cooled.
I’m off now to wrap some presents and enjoy the rest of the day with my family. I’ll leave you with these random pics of some of the Christmasy bits around our home. Merry Christmas to all!