It’s been ages since the first snow of the season fell, and there’s still white stuff on the ground. A LOT of it. Over the past month and a half, we’ve had freezing rain, ice, snow, below-zero wind chills and bitterly low temperatures. Not that any of that is out of place for mid-winter in Illinois–I’ve just had enough of it. I’m ready for spring. Mother Nature, I guess, is not.
While we were barricaded against the before-holiday bitter temps, I tried to make good use of my time. I stitched up a stocking or two to brighten up the holiday, and filled them with fun little gifts and goodies. The main stocking material is free-motion quilted with a variety of threads–something that’s really fun to do. I could easily get carried away with embellishing these. What do you think? Bells and beads? Encrusted with buttons? Hmmm. I may have to get an extra-early start on next year’s stockings.
One side effect of all this winter weather is that I want to cook. Maybe it’s some sort of cold weather survival code kicking in. Or, maybe it’s just warmer with the toaster oven* going. Whatever it is, we’re eating better. Homemade soup. Fresh-baked breads. Yellow cake corn muffins. Twice-baked taters. Chicken veggie casserole. Yum. For the holidays, I churned out several different kinds of cookies, snack mix, and my first ever batch of these.
I’d been wanting to try making marshmallows for quite a while, so one day, while the snowflakes were flying, I thought “Well, why not?” I printed the recipe, unpacked the candy thermometer, and fired up the ol’ hot plate*. And then I realized I couldn’t find the hand mixer. I had the beaters, but no mixer. A bit of a problem, since you have to whip this stuff for 8-10 minutes, until it’s very fluffy and stiff. Undaunted, I plunged ahead with the milkshake maker–one of those handheld blenders that fit in a glass and are great for making fruit smoothies. Bad idea. It gave up the ghost in just a few minutes, and hasn’t started since.
So, I was left with a whisk and a hand-cranked eggbeater. I whisked. I cranked. I almost cried. The glop of sticky sweetness in the bowl was nowhere near fluffy, and my hands were getting stiff.
Enter the Answer Man. The dear hubster (who, for whatever reason, always seems to hover nearby when the cooking code kicks in) came up with this:
…and it worked like a charm. So well, in fact, that I later used it to mix up a couple batches of cookies. I’m still hoping for a true kitchen mixer, but it’s nice to know there’s a backup nearby.
*We’ve been remodeling for, well, forever. While the house kitchen is out of commission, we’re cooking in a tiny studio kitchen space with just a few appliances. Talk about a creative challenge.