Saturday, November 29, 2008

Daring Baker's Challenge Nov 2008: Candy Lab

A couple of months ago I ran across a blog of someone who had done a Daring Baker's Challenge. I was attracted to the community of alternative bakers. The idea is that everyone involved cooks the same recipe and posts it on their blogs once a month on the same day. The rules are that you follow the recipe and instructions as directed unless you have a health concern that prevents you from doing so.

I don't have any health conditions, but I would like to eat more healthy. In particular I'd like to avoid sugar because of the diabeties in my family. For my first month, I have just followed the recipe as directed. I would like to try an alternative verison that uses stevia, agave and/or brown rice syrup, but I didn't get around to that yet.

This months recipes are: Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon, as published on Bay Area Bites . And Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich. The host this month is Shuna of Eggbeater. Cohosting are Alex of Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo, Jen of Foray into Food, and Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go.
This month is very much dedicated to sugar. It's caramel cake, with caramel frosting and optional caramels. I love candy making (caramel popcorn and toffee), but I hadn't tried caramel yet.

The syrup is required for both the cake and the frosting, so I started there. It was hard to get know when to take it off the heat. The first time I under cooked it and it turned out to be a thick mass of solid uncarameled sugar. The second time, I cooked it a bit longer and think I got it about right. Here they are side-by-side, with the correct one on the left. The one that is under cooked looks like a tub of butter, but it's really hard.

I opted to make cupcakes instead of cake, because I thought it would make them easier to share. I also made some as mini-cupcakes. I didn't have wrappers for those and most of them broke coming out of the pan. Drats! I had to eat those. The cake recipe was pretty straight forward. The frosting was pretty easy as well. I did have to warm up my caramel syrup a bit to make it easier to spoon out.

I was wondering if I could make something out of the sugar mass from the caramel syrup gone wrong. So I reheated it adding a litte cream and cooking it to the fudge stage. At the time, I wasn't thinking that would turn out to be like pralines, but I realized it was as soon as I poured it. I should have therefore made little patties instead of the big mass of candy I created. Here's how it turned out:

Because I thought it would be pretty, I drizzled some of the praline like candy and the caramel sauce over the frosted cupcakes. I was a little overwhelming for the flavor because the cupcakes with frosting were plenty sweet enough all ready.

I loved the idea of making the optional caramels. I made them with cardamom as recommended and then made a batch with lavendar. Both turned out a pull-your-fillings-out consistency, kind of like Sugar Daddies. I think I might should have reduced the cooking temperature because I'm at high altitute. I loved the flavor though of both the cardamom and lavendar. I rolled them in powdered sugar to prevent them from sticking to each other. I forgot to take a picture of that. I would consider wax paper instead of foil in the future, because I ended up with bits of foil stuck to the candy.

Candy Lab: Once the caramels were hard and I realized they weren't a good texture. I tried reheating them in a couple of different ways, adding milk, butter, and soy milk. I did find that they were salvagable. I would cook them with the liquid/fat until bubbling again. I ended up with all range of textures from thick sauce, to burnt hard candy. It was fun to play around.

Here's some picks of the candy in the pan and with a bit of foil stuck:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cross Country Skiing

I went cross country skiing at Tony Grove today. The snow wasn't great, icy and choppy (A water skiing term, but I feel it works. Think frozen waves.). You can find the snow depth at the snotel site.

This was only my second time cross-country skiing and the last time was about 8 years ago. I some how completely forgot that a person might need skill for the activity. That quickly became apparent.

The trails that we could get to by crossing the dam were icy, but good practice for a beginner. The snow was nicer on the nature trail (look for the trailhead at the end of the parking lot). Sorry no pics :(

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ski Swap Tonight and This Weekend

Details for this year's Beaver Mountain Ski Patrol Ski Swap. Beaver Mountain has an all volunteer ski patrol and I thin this is their main fundraiser.

USU Stan Laub Center 1400 N 1000 E Logan, UT
Nov 13 7p-10p
Nov 14 9a-10p
Nov 15 9a-6p

Skis, Snowboards, Boots, Bindings, Poles, Gloves, Hates, Googles, Ski passes and More! All major credit cards accepted.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Growing the Logan Team

To me what we're doing here in Cache Valley with Team in Training is really amazing. The team is really expanding the fundraising base for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The more we run, the more other people find out we're here and want to join. At the same time, we're increasing awareness of services for cancer patients in the area. The society has found us our own team honoree, Ian, right here in the Valley. For me that brings home that we're working for this amazing national organization, but there's also a really important local connection.

The picture above is of of Team Logan's captains and coach recruiting at Logan's First Dam 10k/5k run.

If you'd like fight blood cancer by running the Salt Lake Marathon/Half Marathon or the Country Music Marathon/Half Marathon, it's not too late.

Contact me or the Utah Chapter of Team in Training:

180 South 300 West, Suite 260
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Phone: (801) 519-6600
Fax: (801) 519-6606

To donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society visit my fundraising page.

Beaver Mountain Lodge Upgrade

For an article check here. I snagged their pic.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Annual Nordic United Fundraiser and Membership Party

Annual Nordic United Fundraiser and Membership Party

When: Wednesday, November 12, at 6:00 pm

Where: Cache Valley Learning Center (75 South 400 West)

What: Please help support Nordic United by joining us for an evening of good food, many auction and raffle items, and live music!

Nordic United is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and provide non-motorized winter recreation opportunities in the Cache Valley area of northern Utah.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Beaver Mountain Ski Patrol Ski Swap

Looks like the 2008 Beaver Mountain Ski Patrol Ski Swap is going to be November 13-15. But I haven't seen it advertised any where, just the organizing info on their webpage. It was at the Stan Laub (1050 E 1400 N) training center last year.

Team in Training 2008-2009

It's Team in Training time again. Last year, 5 of us raised over $6000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This year, the team in growing. We're going to run the Salt Lake Marathon and Half Marathon in April 2009.

I want to thank all of the people that supported me last year and made our team successful. You donated your own money and passed the word along. It really adds up. I raised over $1700 one donation at a time. 380,000 participants just liked me have raised over $900 million dollars. The research this has funded has greatly increased the survival rate and comfort of cancer patients. But there still isn't a cure, so we keep racing to save lives.

I really need your support in helping to fight blood cancers. Please visit my fundraising page to make a contribution.

Ski 2008-2009

Ski season is here. Snowbird opened up for early season today. To which people in Cache Valley will respond, what about the Beav? Not yet. Check the weather report for the Beav here. Welcome the cold and percipitation :D