Merry Go ‘Round Christmas

This holiday season has been a whirlwind of activity. It is only today that I am finally catching my breath. The shorter time between Thanksgiving and Christmas was enough to begin with. Then you add in an unfortunate passing of a family friend, helping my mom host the memorial, 2 cake gigs, a catering and 3 dogs boarding into the mix and things just got down right out of control.

Mom and Stepdad are only in town from Thanksgiving till just after Christmas . this year we struggled to find time to be together with all our lengthy to-do lists. Stealing a dinner together here, a walk together there. Learning to play Pickle Ball with them, dinner at our place, dinner at their place (the motorhome in a beautiful nearby RV park). Trying to get in as much time together as we possibly could before their leave date of December 30th arrived.

Mom has never been in town when I am creating cakes or cooking for a catering. The weekend before Christmas I had a fun water polo themed cake order. Mom made a quick detour in her running around to come see me at work. I typically don’t like having an audience when creating, but how could I refuse my mom, she was so excited to finally be around to see how I turn cakes into some of the sculptures that I have made over the years. Oh sure, I email her pictures, but to actually be able to see one come together, she was like a kid headed to Disneyland for the first time. I had fun sharing with her.

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Not the most elaborate cake I’ve made, but still fun.

Christmas day things finally slowed back to a more normal pace for us. We enjoyed our early morning family Christmas, Brunch at Grandpa’s, followed by dinner at my brother’s. There were many wonderfully, generous gifts received this year, but the gift my brother thought to give me took the cake.
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Yes, that is a Le Creuset 5.5 qt. French Oven. Isn’t it lovely? I have long coveted my mom’s Le Creuset 3.5 quart French Oven but have never splurged on one for myself. I am in love with it, is that weird? Oh my goodness, that was such a well thought and HUGELY generous gift, it made me cry. I hope he knows how much I appreciate the love and thought that went into that gift.

Of course I have already Christened it, I had a vegetarian Mexican food for 50 catering order to fill and this pot was the perfect spot to cook up a quadruple batch of tomatillo salsa and then a quadruple batch of red rice. It is almost like cooking in non stick but so much better. Being enamel coated cast iron the heat distribution is even and you can turn the flame off before the food is done cooking, it will finish perfectly.

Midge has shared with her friends what I do, the cakes and all. One of her closest friends shared with her mom and grandma and next thing you know I have an order to create a 3 tier, 3 flavor, eggless wedding cake. Of course I mention that I cook more than just cakes so the order then grew to food for 50, vegetarian, eggless, no garlic, no onion, food for 50. Vegetarian Mexican food I can do, Mexican food with no onion or garlic???? Then the bride tells me they use an Indian spice called Asafetida as a substitute for the onion and garlic. Funny, the day before my vegan mom had just told me about this same spice that she bought for 1 recipe one time and now had no use for it. Perfect how things fall together.

I have fed 250 people before, but this catering had me jumping through some hoops and ran me a bit ragged

So what was on the menu?? I used the bride’s personal recipe for vegetable enchiladas, they are vegetarian, not vegan and these were far from skinny enchiladas. First you combine chopped fresh veggies, cauliflower, zucchini, yellow squash, fresh corn, bell peppers. Cook them up in a gravy made with asafetida, cumin and veggie broth. Dip the corn tortillas in the fresh made tomatillo salsa, fill with the veggie mix, sprinkle in some jack cheese and a dab of the salsa. Roll them up, fill a pan with them, top with the remaining salsa, then add a white sauce made with butter, flour, sour cream, half and half, milk and seasoned with cumin and fresh nutmeg. Finally you sprinkle on the remaining jack cheese and bake until bubbly and golden brown. Yes, they were as much work as it sounds, but they were well worth it as I had enough to make a pan for us to enjoy for dinner on Sunday night.

Along with the enchiladas I made green chile/cheese tamales, red rice, pico de gallo and 7-layer dip and a
southwest salad (loaded with jicama, black beans, corn, tomatoes, black olives and cilantro) served with egg-free chipotle ranch dressing.
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YUM!

The cake, oh the cake, it was so pretty. 3 tiers, each tier a different flavor. The base was red velevet with cream cheese filling, the middle was lemon with butter cream filling and the top was carrot cake with cream cheese filling. I iced all three tiers in butter cream, piped a gold butter cream bead around the base of each and then created a cascade of flowers down the side with an assortment of fresh white flowers and hand crafted gum paste flowers that had blue and gold petal powder hand brushed on. I don’t know about you, but I just love the finished product. It may have been lacking eggs, but it was far from lacking in flavor.
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What a great cake to add to my repertoire.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, one of the Nuggets finally gifted us with her first egg!!! Our lovely Ginger laid her very first, little pullet, egg on the morning of December 27th at about 27 weeks of age.
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We had so hoped she would be a blue egg layer. With an egg as green, nearly olive green, as this, it is hard to be disappointed. Now if only her hatch mate, Chiquita, would catch up and join the egg laying club.
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Come on Chiquita!!!

I will close my last post of 2013 with wishes for you and yours for a plentiful, prosperous and pleasant New Year.
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