Now that the gifts have been delivered and opened, I can tell you what I have been working on...
Chai spice concentrate for tea (or coffee) from here. Modified, of course. I like my spices a little stronger than what I got from the original recipe, and a little spicier. What I miss from my own chai is the warm fragrant fresh ginger. I may continue to work with this and see if I can sneak that in without making it chunky/funky.... All in all, I think it was pretty successful. I'll be taking some to work for afternoon tea, since we don't have real milk there and I don't do caffeinated tea without some kind of milk. Non dairy creamer does not merit consideration.
Mocha hazelnut biscotti - from a modified recipe in Sweet Maria's Italian Cookie Tray. The straight up recipe is for chocolate biscotti, and it couldn't be easier. The nuts make it a little tricky as things tend to want to fall apart a little more, but... All worth it. I think this was a great success. The biscotti are crunchy, not too hard and not too sweet. Basically Sweet Maria's recipe with tiny bits of chocolate, finely ground coffee and bits of toasted hazelnut. Yum.
So here is my question, is it bad to put recipes from books on the blog? I don't know.... and I don't know why this has just occurred to me that it might not be all together on the up and up....Advice please!
Cranberry Apple Bread - this is my holiday standby. I make small loaves of this for neighbors and friends and lots for the house here. The recipe (Dutch apple bread with cranberries, I actually haven't messed with this much) is from A World of Breads which I love and am sure I have told you about before. It is from the time before "artisan" baking was what people talked about. It goes through about a million recipes for all kinds of yummy breads, including multiple recipes for cornbread, biscuits, etc. If you want to be an artisan bread baker, make them all and figure out what makes those recipes tick. You don't need pretty pictures for that - and you won't find no pretty pictures in that book. It is one of my most used cookbooks along with the Joy of Cooking.
The ducks spent the holiday at work. I put them into the garden to hunt for anything that might be chillin' beneath the leaves for winter. They really take a long time to warm up to these tasks so I figured I had better keep them in condition for the upcoming spring thaw. I did a trial subscription to the Mother Earth News Garden Planner. I am not impressed. It doesn't allow you to modify for vertical gardening or mixed plantings (like lettuce beneath the okra). So I would say it might be good for folks who like to row plant, but for me, well, I am just a little more free form than all that. It would be nice to have actual plans from past gardens, but I think I can live without that. Gardens are something like theater, once it is gone it is gone and the memories are all you have, other than the friendships forged in the sharing of them.
The SB and I spent the day on the FUF thrashing through the design of our garden pavilion. It will be awesome if it comes to fruition. Rilly. In preparation for the pavilion we moved a tree/shrub (Carolina Silverbell) and planted some winter berry hollies, so in future, we hope to have us some of this.
I have more days off, Woot!, and hope to get lots of organizing, straightening and cleaning done around the house. Unfortunately, I am being distracted by the internets....