Monday, December 20, 2010

The Nest

Forgive me, FaceBook friends, for double-posting photos and descriptions. We're just a little excited over here at the Peacock Coop. I'm adding a little more detail here so as to avoid writing a novella in the FaceBook photo album.
... and so, without further ado, I present to you the Peachick's nursery. Come join me for a quick tour of our home since the invasion started. I love the color, even though it really doesn't show up well in photos. Mike picked it out: his inspiration was the color of the water in the Gulf during our trip to Rosemary Beach back in June. It's a sweet soft blue-green that makes me feel like I'm in a giant box from Tiffany's. And hey, there's nothing wrong with that.
I personally think the furniture is Asian-influenced, but Mike (who lived in Japan for four years when he was young) doesn't see it. The panels slide away to give access to shelves, and maybe my favorite part is the light in the top of the armoire that shines through the sliding panel - the perfect night light!
Mike says the mother-of-pearl mirror is "beachy," which was exactly my objective when I selected it. The sterling rattle on the left was how I broke the news to Mike that he was going to be a daddy. I wrapped it up in gold and white paper, and since he was on the midnight shift, I had to wait until he woke up around 4 PM to give it to him. He was still groggy and didn't have a clue what it was - I almost had to draw the man a picture!
The crib still needs a bedskirt, but we decided to forego bumper pads because they're a SIDS risk. At first I was a little sad about that, but then I figured if she's banging her head repeatedly against the side of her bed, we have bigger problems to worry about.
Seems like everywhere you turn in the house, there's a baby thing.
She even has her own drawer in the kitchen! You know I must love somebody dearly to give her one of my drawers and space in my kitchen cabinets. Every now and then, when I get overwhelmed by hormones and all the change that's about to happen and start to think I won't even LIKE this kid, much less love her, I'll go in the kitchen and look in this drawer. Somehow it makes everything fall into place.
..... so one day I was trying to explain to Mike how much work a baby really is. He started comparing her to Dante, and I blurted out, "Yeah, but you can't kennel a baby!" He said that we can, we just have to be more creative. I think we've found our solution.
Dante's bed will be moved over to Mike's side of the bed for a few months. Now Mike will have to learn how to exit the bed without stepping on the dog while I advance to co-sleeper wrangling.
And this is my favorite picture of all. I found it this morning while I was putting away clean grownup laundry - Mike helped me with her laundry yesterday but couldn't figure out how to fold what I like to call her "Hugh Hefner" bathrobes. We plan to hang all of her clothes in her closet, but for the first few months, while she's co-sleeping, her clothes will go in a drawer in her changing table by our bed. I wasn't paying attention to where everything went and never knew what happened to the robes until just now.

This just melts my heart. Gives me the warm fuzzies like when I caught him with a starry, faraway gaze while holding the stuffed monkey that he picked out for her. I can't wait to give that man his little girl.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Martha Washingtons

This is one of my favorite Christmas candies, and unlike fudge and divinity, anybody can do it. You don't have to wait 'till it stops raining, and there's no mystic mumbo-jumbo of letting it set up and harden. Basically, it's just a chocolate-covered fondant, but oh, what a fondant it is.

When I was little, I didn't like these very much. They seemed really labor intensive, and the dark chocolate just wasn't my thing. But the other day I decided that nothing would do until I'd made a batch. I forgot that one recipe makes a TON of these babies. I made them twice as big as they're supposed to be and still ended up with over 125. But I turned on some Christmas music, started grooving on down, and had a great time making a mess in the kitchen.

The recipe from which I worked comes from More Saintly Servings from the First United Methodist Church in Canton, Mississippi, where Cha-Cha and Papa Doc were members. It's one of those old recipes from the 1950s with vague descriptions like "1 can Eagle Brand milk," "3 boxes confectioners' sugar," and "1 can coconut." I hate those recipes. Who knows how big cans of coconut were 50 years ago?!? Give me exact measurements, dammit!

So I'll leave it at this: these measurements are give and take, as long as your fondant center is a consistency so you can pick it up and roll it in a ball between your hands and it will hold its shape. Usually I do this with very clean bare hands, but the pregnancy hormones have made me such a hot mama that I had to wear latex gloves so as not to melt the mixture. I love latex gloves in the kitchen; they're just kind of a luxury, so I don't use them often.

2 Tablespoons vanilla
3-4 boxes (pounds) confectioners' sugar, to the correct consistency. I used about 4 pounds just to make the mixture stiff enough to roll.
2 sticks melted butter
1 14 ounce can Eagle brand condensed milk
1 can coconut (I just used about 10 ounces flake from a bag, but you can certainly add more to taste)
2 cups chopped nuts

12-24 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, depending on whether or not you want to double-dip
1-2 ounces paraffin wax (you can usually find this in the canning or baking aisle)
Toothpicks. Lots and lots of toothpicks.
  • Mix fondant ingredients well and roll into balls.
  • Place balls on waxed paper and refrigerate as you go. Once you're done with the last tray, the first tray that you put into the fridge should be cold enough to hold their shape during dipping.
  • Using a double-boiler, melt chocolate and paraffin wax, mixing together well.
  • Stick a toothpick into each ball on the tray and use this as a handle to dip the chocolate.
  • Once you're done dipping all of the balls on that tray, remove the toothpicks. You can re-use them if you like - just keep a small glass nearby to catch them.
  • Using a teaspoon, scoop up a little chocolate and use that as a finishing topper to fill the toothpick holes. When I was young, Mom and I used to try to fill them up perfectly so all the balls were neat little spheres. But now that I'm older and more creative, I an reveling in letting the chocolate luxuriously drip down the sides. Then while it's still wet, you can add fun stuff, like nonpareils.
I feel like a Godiva chocolatier. What I wouldn't give for some edible gold leaf right about now.

When you're done, just keep them in the fridge until you're ready to consume. Mmmm. There's something about the crunch of the outer chocolate shell and the soft coconutty goodness inside that tells me Merry Christmas!

Mike asked me why they're called Martha Washingtons, and I had to tell him the same story that my mom told me: I have no idea.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Candy

Atmospheric conditions have been perfect to make divinity, and oh boy, have I been cooking up a storm. Three batches of divinity later, I figured it wouldn't hurt to do a few more batches of candy. Nesting instinct? Maybe. But really, I know this time next year I'll be chasing a little kid around, so I decided to make the most of a quiet kitchen while the peachick is as manageable as she'll ever be.

Also, I have somehow been volunteered to do desserts for all of the Christmas parties to which we've been invited this year, and what hostess wants to deal with plates, forks, knives, etc. involved when a pie or cake is brought? This way guests can definitely have their fill of sugary indulgence by using only their fingers!

So it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the kitchen with.....

Martha Washingtons
Traditional walnut divinity
Chocolate peppermint divinity, a brand-spanking new creation in the kitchen. I added 2 teaspoons peppermint extract instead of vanilla and 12 ounces mini chocolate chips instead of nuts.
Peanut clusters with and without pretzels
Pecan divinity and...
Martha Washingtons with sprinkles.
'cause life's just more fun with sprinkles.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

How We Broke the News to Mom

These photos are oldies but goodies: I just found them in my little snapshooter camera that I keep in my purse. They're from back in August, when we found out that the Peachick was a girl. Our ultrasound appointment was mid-morning, and everybody had been calling, texting, emailing, even sending smoke signals to find out the sex of our baby as soon as we found out.

In a fit of hormonal rage, I told my mom that we would tell her as soon as she took us to CHAR for lunch. This mama needed red meat. But I also wanted Mike to be the one to tell everybody our big news. What to do, what to do....

Dr. K's office is close to Gigi's Cupcakes, so we dropped by after our appointment and picked up a few pink ones. I made Mike carry the box in to lunch with us. Mom was waiting for us at a table, bouncing up and down in her seat with excitement. She never noticed the cupcake box in Mike's hands.
We just weren't cruel enough to make her wait all through lunch to dessert for the big reveal, but I did have the presence of mind to whip out my camera as Mike was reaching for the box:
"Are you having a girl?"
She was thrilled.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I was initially disappointed when I found out she is a she. Because I don't have any problem at all with having Mike's baby, but I know MY baby will be a pain in the butt to raise. But I'm coming around: maybe she'll be a tough little girl with Mike's laid back and easygoing personality. That would be a good combination.

In other news, I'm realizing that all of my posts are quickly becoming labeled "Baby." I didn't really want to be that person, you know, the one who only talks baby stuff all the time. But I guess our lives are pretty boring in all other areas: Peachick is currently our only excitement or interesting thing going on. I hope I'm not bothering y'all with all this baby talk.


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