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Archive for the 'Kitchen Crafts' Category

Happy Pi Day!

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012
By Twistie

In honor of 3/14, I’m going to talk about one of my favorite subjects in the world: pie.

(Image via Serious Eats)

I started baking early in life. At six I was baking cookies regularly – with adult supervision, of course – and at seven I made my first pie crust.

My mother nearly cried.

It was perfect.

Pie crust was my mother’s Achilles’ heel in the kitchen, the one thing that never came out quite like she wanted it to. And her seven year old daughter turned out to be an idiot savant of crust.

Once Mom accepted that I had a talent she didn’t, though, she was more than happy to exploit it. It became my job on Thanksgiving to make the crusts for the pumpkin pies.

Over the years, many people have asked me for my secrets. For years I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know why I couldn’t turn out bad pie crust on a bet. All I knew was that every single time, my crusts turned out delicious, golden, and flaky.

Still, I did eventually come up with a short list of tips that seem to help others. And now I pass it on to you, in hopes that those who struggle with pie crust can find peace, enlightenment, and flakiness.


Somebunny Is Getting Dipped

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012
By Twistie

With Easter just around the corner, it’s a great time to indulge yourself in seasonal sweet treats.

Now personally, I’m not that wild about Peeps. Then again, I don’t like marshmallow. Never have, never will. Still, while I consider them useful only for scientific experimentation, and some others mark them for grisly death, there are those who truly love eating the little suckers.

Ah, but doesn’t everything taste better enrobed in chocolate? Okay, there might be something that doesn’t, but marshmallow clearly isn’t one of those mutant food items. It’s better with chocolate.

So if you like Peeps, and you like chocolate, and you’re looking for a fun holiday project to share with the kiddies, you should definitely check out this article at Makes and Takes from a couple years back with instructions on chocolate coating your Peeps.

Sweets and Not So Sweets for the Sweet

Monday, February 13th, 2012
By Twistie

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and we all know what that means. Flowers, chocolate, prix fixe meals at restaurants we rarely can scrape up the funds to go to, and… well, all that usual stuff.

Me? I like the chocolates and flowers. Mr. Twistie and I usually go out for dinner the night before V-day, but he’s been seriously overworked and exhausted this year, so I’m going to take the opportunity to make a really nice home cooked meal for him this time around. Then I’ll tell him to go the heck to bed early and get some damn rest. Sometime in March it will probably occur to him that he didn’t take me to a fancy meal and he’ll take me out then… when I can order whatever I please and the restaurant won’t be overstuffed with people. That suits me just fine.

But for those of you celebrating in a very slightly less unconventional way, there are still options to make the day special.

The first of these comes from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories, where you can find full tongue in cheek instructions and a photo tutorial on turning an ordinary heart-shaped box of Valentine’s candies into a fun way to present the love of your life with tiny fiddly electronic components. It’s simple and versatile. After all, if your love doesn’t want transistors but would love bits of festive colored rovings, some good sewing needles, or other small crafts supplies, this would work really well for that, too.

And for those of a more traditional bent and reasonably good kitchen skills, Epicurious has Jacques Torres’ fabulous chocolate truffle recipe filled with great hints and yummy alternatives.

Either way, this is probably better than a drugstore teddy bear holding a red satin pillow that reads ‘I wuv you beary, beary much.’

Too Kool for Wool

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012
By Twistie

Some years ago, a wool-happy friend of mine showed up with some rovings she’d just dyed and planned to spin. I fell in love with the cheerful, Easter eggy pastels and asked her what she’d used to dye them.

I nearly fell off my chair when she told me Kool Aid.

Yes, the packets of fruity drink mix so loved by small children was the source of those gorgeous colors. Oh, and for those about to make a Jonestown joke, that was actually Flavor Aid. Then again, I imagine Flavor Aid would work, too.

Just don’t choose the grape.


Turns out, dyeing with Kool Aid (or similar drink mixes) is a pretty simple process. the results, however, are fabulous.

If you’d like to learn the method, I suggest going to Under the Desk (which is also the source of the top illustration) and reading through Ana’s illustrated tutorial. I know it’s something I’m bookmarking for future reference!

They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To….

Friday, December 23rd, 2011
By Twistie

… and that’s not always such a bad thing.

Once the German tradition of Christmas trees was imported to England in 1841 along with Prince Albert, people had to come up with ways of decorating them. We all know about popcorn strings and candles and candy canes, but the endlessly creative Victorians came up with a plethora of ways of making their homes festive for the season, and some of them were less classically attractive. has compiled a selection of Christmas ornaments Victorians made at home that you can, too… if you really want to.

The one above is peanuts on a string. That’s right, those are peanuts wrapped in pastel tissue paper, fringed on the ends. For my money it’s miles and away better than the chimney sweep made of prunes.

Well Fancy That!

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011
By Twistie

Hey all you baking mavins out there! Fancy Flours is having a series of one-day sales for the next week. The shindig starts tomorrow, thursday, december 15, with a one-day 25% off sale on all cupcake liners, wrappers, picks, and decorations as well as books and DVDs.

Now’s your chance to get something like this rather glorious Nutcracker Suite cupcake decorating set for a quarter off. The set includes 24 cupcake wrappers in two styles, and 24 picks in four different styles: the Nutcracker, Clara, the Rat King, and the Sugarplum Fairy.

Then check back each day for more sales!


It’s a Piece of Cake!

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011
By Twistie

‘Tis the season for lots of holiday parties. And if you’re known for your baking skills, as I am, chances are someone is going to ask for a goodie to round out one holiday feast or another. Sure, it’s going to taste great. There’s no question of that. But you may want to add a visual touch or two to kind of gussy things up a bit.

If you head on over to Cake Central, you can find instructions for making the charming buttercream poinsettia shown above. Oh, and it works in royal icing, too, if that’s more your cake decorating speed.

Not interested in poinsettias? No problemo! Cake Central is an entire cake decorating community. Whatever you’re trying to do from seeking inspiration for your kid’s birthday cupcakes to instructions on making a 3-D roast turkey cake, to finding a delicious new cake or frosting recipe, if it’s about cake, you’ll find it here. They even have classes available with renowned cake designers.

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot to learn about making cakes as pretty as they are delicious, so I’m going to spend some time there.

Scare Up Some Party Treats for Halloween

Thursday, October 27th, 2011
By Twistie

With Halloween on monday, a lot of us are having parties (or going to them) this weekend, and parties require fun and delicious goodies! Halloween parties require ones with an extra drip of delicious venom. Or at least some cute marshmallow ghosts, like the ones featured here on a cake from Martha Stewart Living. As much as Martha kind of scares me, and as much as I detest marshmallows… yeah, I’m kind of feeling this cake.

But of course, Martha isn’t the only one to come up with clever ideas for your ghostie and goblin needs.


Where It’s Halloween All Year Long

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011
By Twistie

Have you ever visited Skull-A-Day? If not, this is the perfect time to go check out a great website with a fun concept behind it.

Way back in June of 2008, one Noah Scanlin posted an image of a paper skull he’d made and vowed to make a skull a day for an entire year. Three years and change later, it’s still going strong.

Every day you can see a new skull created by Scanlin or another skull artist. They run the gamut of materials and attitude. Above you can see a really adorable skull created from Valentine’s candy – mostly motto hearts – and a couple candy papers attached to a colorful blue base.

Other days you’ll see drawings, paintings, paper cutting, stencils, weaving, knitting, crochet, carving, and every possible material. In fact, you may well see some that seem downright impossible.

So go check it out! It’s an appropriate time of year. If your taste runs to the combination of macabre and cute that mine does, you’ll go back all year long.

Hey Sugar, Looking… Dead

Thursday, September 15th, 2011
By Twistie

I love the Mexican holiday of Dio de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Why? Because it’s a celebration of our loved ones who have passed on, without sorrow, without regret, just an appreciation of the people who have been special to us. It’s about remembering good times, accepting that life is a finite thing best enjoyed while we’re living, and expressing love for those who have shaped our lives.

Plus there are cool sugar skulls. They sit right on the cusp of cute and macabre with a solid dose of the kitchen skills I so adore.

This year, I would like to try my hand at making skulls myself. I’ve got a few really wonderful people to remember and celebrate come November 2 (Dio de los Muertos is actually a two-day celebration beginning on November 1, but that’s the day for children and I’ve been lucky enough in my life not to lose kids).

If you’d like to try out skull making, too, head on over to Mexican Sugar Skull for full instructions. That’s where I got the cool illustration at the top of this entry. The site even includes ideas for teachers to use in making this a classroom project.

In fact, the one thing I didn’t find on that page was a source for the skull molds. Ah, but you know I would never leave you in the lurch without such a key ingredient!

That’s right, I know a place where you can get not only the skull mold illustrated here, but several others, as well.

Fancy Flours has a wide variety of candy molds, cake pans, pretty cupcake papers, and packaging materials for all your baking needs. Also, all your Mexican sugar skull making needs.


Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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