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This is what I awakened to this morning. We had about three inches accumulation and steadily falling snow. It continued to snow all morning, and by the time I left to take Matthew to the train station, we had about six inches accumulation.
The temperatures warmed up some this afternoon, and it is now melting and falling off the trees, but there is still a lot of snow on the ground...wet, slushy stuff that makes driving difficult. We're supposed to get more as the week goes on.
This is how Smitty spent most of the morning. So funny. He really wanted to go out, but he was very suspicious of this stuff. He decided to keep his options open, and hung in the kitty door half in and half out, rather than go completely outside with both front and back legs.
When I went outside, I could see his paw prints where he'd leaped to one of the rhododendrons and then leaped back in the same tracks, venturing only about five feet from the door.
As for me, I spent the morning baking, and I'll just say right here that it is ill advised to measure out baking ingredients prior to having one's full complement of coffee. Here's what happened:
The morning began with me trying a new recipe for Gingerbread Biscotti. The recipe called for 1/2 cup of butter, which in my morning fog, I translated into two sticks of butter. Now just think about that for a minute while I continue on with my story. So I mixed all the ingredients, noting that the batter seemed awfully sticky and difficult to form into the logs necessary for the first stage of baking. Nevertheless, I formed the logs onto a cookie, and then put the whole shebang into a 375° oven. Then, I went upstairs to read the notes I'd made about how to slice the half-baked biscotti loaves into pieces for the second stage of baking. This took approximately five minutes or less.
As I headed back downstairs, I distinctly smelled something burning. When I looked into the oven, the biscotti logs had melted into liquid cookie and were in the process of sliding off the cookie sheet onto the hot oven interior. OMG, OMG, OMG!!! (That's three exclamation points for the three OMG's I uttered. Actually, I used a different word.) Quick thinker that I am, I turned off the oven and yanked the biscotti out of the oven and threw the whole mess into the sink before it could do any more damage. Needless to say, I had quite a mess on my hands. Then, and only then, did I realize what I'd done. I didn't even need to look at the recipe to know that I'd used twice as much butter as I needed. Oy.
Oh well. Times like this call for buckets of tears ordinarily, but since Matthew was in the living room, I decided to forego the tears and get on with the rest of the process. Also on the agenda were two loaves of Cherry-Almond Bread with Amaretto Glaze. This is a bread I've made before, and so I was pretty sure of the recipe. That went off without a hitch, fortunately.
It's really such a tasty bread. It can be made with dried cherries, almonds, and amaretto, or it can also be made with cranberries, orange zest, and Grand Marnier. I hadn't tried doing it with the dried cherries, and so I wanted to try this variation. It's really quite tasty. The cherries are tart and counteract the sweetness a little. The almonds give it a nice crunch. The glaze is a rather hefty glaze, and so the top has a nice little crunch as well. While it's still warm, you poke holes in the top and pour the glaze over so that the moisture runs down inside the bread. Very nice.
You can find the recipes for both breads here: Cranberry-Orange Bread with Grand Marnier Glaze and Cherry-Almond Bread with Amaretto Glaze. If I were given truth serum, put under the lights, and forced to choose, I think I would say I prefer the cranberry version.
So while the bread was baking, I determined that I had enough ingredients to give the Gingerbread Biscotti another try. And I'll just say right here that I am so glad I have double ovens. If I didn't, I would have been sunk for my day of baking. That would have been a tragedy because these items are gifts for a friend and mentor who helped me through a life transition. Each year, I take him some baked goods even though our professional relationship ended long ago. We are meeting up tomorrow so that I can give him his annual Christmas goodies. It's also an opportunity to catch up a little bit.
In any case, I'm glad I didn't let the earlier failure deter me because these are just wonderful. They contain half a cup of chopped crystallized ginger and a full cup of chopped almonds. The recipe calls for whole almonds, but in my experience, whole nuts make it difficult to slice the half-baked biscotti into pieces without breaking them.
They are also supposed to have their ends dipped in the white chocolate, but I opted for drizzling instead. I've never had much luck dipping them. The chocolate seems too wet and clingy, and it takes too long to harden afterward. If you like biscotti, I can recommend this recipe with the changes I made; i.e., use slivered almonds, roughly chopped, and drizzle rather than dip the chocolate. Aside from those changes, I made the recipe just as you see it here: Gingerbread Biscotti.
Also, want to know my secret for slicing the biscotti without breaking it? First, don't leave large pieces of fruit or nuts in the batter. Regardless of what your recipe tells you to do, chop fruit and nuts into fairly fine pieces.
Second, biscotti logs become brittle if they cool too fast when you take them out of the oven to slice. To avoid this, cover the logs with a tee towel and allow them to cool for ten minutes before attempting to slice them.
Third, don't use a serrated blade, and don't saw back and forth as most recipes will instruct you to do. Instead, use a sharp butcher knife and cut straight through leaning into the blade as you go. I managed to cut these without breaking a single one. Ta-Da!
So once these were out of the oven, I needed to take Matthew to the train station. He's heading back to Klamath Falls to rent a U-Haul truck and move his belongings to Portland. He should be back with the sum total of everything he owns on Friday. I'm so happy he'll be coming back to Portland. It occurs to me that these past few days he's been staying with us may very well be the last nights he'll ever spend under our roof. He's our youngest, and with this latest chain of events, I think it's fair to say that he's launched into his life. It makes me happy, but it also makes me sad.
As we drove off our hill, this is what we saw:
At our elevation, there was six inches of snow. Down in the valley, clear, sunny, and green. No snow. It was clear that they'd had snow earlier, but it was melted at all but the highest elevations.
So with all of that, no sewing for me today. Nevertheless, I'm all finished with the top-stitching, and I'm ready to make the borders for my December Folk Art Cat block. Here's what I have so far:
He's looking pretty smart in his Santa duds, don't you think? He still needs his checkerboard border and I will also need to make two pieced cornerstone blocks. Once I have him finished, I'll be ready to move onto the last of the challenges for the Free Motion Quilting Challenge.
So, phew! I'm tired. How did your Tuesday go?