Suncatchers for year-round flowers

Another gift recently given was to my younger brother.  He grows Dahlias in the summer and they are gorgeous.

Living in Wisconsin, these beautiful blooms are only around at his house for a few months each year.  With his birthday coming up, I thought I would make him some sun catchers to bring some color to the winter months.

The background was a single sheet of clear glass, with strips of the same glass used as the hanger.  The stems were green noodles, the leaves were scraps of transparent green glass, and the flowers were various sizes of glass frit.  The project was fired following a Contour Fuse schedule.  Quick and easy project with a lovely outcome.

Glass Votive Candle Holders

Now that Christmas and a few January birthday gifts have been given, I can post some recent projects.  Today, I am showing some votive candles that I made for two in my extended family.

In November, I completed a four panel fused glass project for my sister-in-law.  After making this four seasons picture, I decided to make a matching votive candle that had the four seasons depicted on sides of the glass.

First, I fused together two pieces of clear glass to form the main part of the votive. Next, was to add the trees.  Since the votive candle was small, the trees would need to be made from something other than traditional fused glass – that glass would be too thick.

Option 1. Bend brown stringer to look like a tree.  I tried this but never could get two trees to look alike.

Option 2. Draw trees with Glassline paint  I thought about it and wanted to try something that would look better than hand drawn.

Option 3.  Cut trees out of fusible transfer paper.

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This is the option I decided to go with. A few years ago, I had used transfer paper to make a sign for another sister-in-law’s kitchen.  While printed black, the iron oxide in the toner fuses to the glass with a nice sepia tone.  This brown color should work nicely for trees.

Using an older model black laser printer (the toner cartridge needs to have a high iron content), I printed a black square on the Photo Transfer Paper.

Then, I used a paper punch in the shape of a tree to make four tree shaped transfers.  Each punched image was then transferred to the four corners of the glass and allowed to dry.

Using medium and fine frit in various colors, the ground and leaves were added to the trees.

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Around the same time, I decided to make a votive to match the “Cook’s Kitchen” sign.  For this I made grape vines using the tree punch but cutting off some of the branches and turning the direction of the tree.  Green confetti glass was used for the leaves and medium weight purple frit was used for the grapes.

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The glass was then contour fused and slumped over a metal mold.

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Pretty gifts to give to a couple special ladies.

Homemade Citrus Marmalade

After Christmas, my family headed to Arizona for some sunshine and a chance to visit my parents and celebrate their 60th Anniversary.  The weather was delightful, with highs in the mid 70’s.  Whereas, in Minnesota, the temperatures were well below zero.

With the help of my younger brother and sister, we also moved my parents into a senior living center.  This meant that they would be selling their home, including the many fruit trees.  During the years that they have lived there, they have enjoyed having fresh lemons, peaches and oranges available right in their backyard.  I too have enjoyed the fresh fruits.  Each time I have visited them, I have taken some fruit back to Minnesota with me.  Since their house will be sold, this trip was my last opportunity to take some fruit home.

As in the past, this year my plan was to make some citrus marmalade.  While most recipes call for making marmalade out of oranges, I prefer the stronger flavor achieved by using equal amounts of juice from oranges as well as lemons.  I also prefer the enhanced fruit flavor obtained when using SureGel Low Sugar Pectin – less sugar, more fruit per bite!

The first step in making marmalade usually involves cutting up pieces of the fruit skin to make the strips that are present in the preserve.  I am not real fond of the large chunks of skin that this normally creates.  Instead, I use a small grater to grate the skin off of the fruit – the size is similar to fresh lemon zest.  This creates a marmalade that spreads nicely, looks more uniform and tastes great.   This also leaves the white part of the skin still on the fruit which makes juicing the lemons and oranges much easier because your hand has something to hold onto.  Today’s batch included six lemons and twelve oranges.  Since each lemon was about twice the size of the oranges, this resulted in equal volumes of juice after squeezing the fruits. A result was 72 ounces of marmalade.  Yum!

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Ten 4 oz jars and four 8 oz jars.
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Delightful on a whole grain roll!
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My extended family.

Happy 60th Anniversary, Mom and Dad

1.Anniversary Announcement

Today is my parents 60th anniversary.  To honor them, here is the newspaper announcement and video I made for them.  Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

Wed on December 28, 1957, Gordon and Sheila Delzer will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary this year.  Gordon and Sheila first met in a barn, being introduce to each other by her father.  A few weeks later, the couple of dates later, a few intervening incidences with another beau and they were engaged.  Their marriage was officiated by Pastor Zarling in Harland, Wisconsin.

They are the parents of four children: Richard, Joyce (Brian), Pamela (Keith) and Andrew (Nancy). Their lives have been blessed with twelve grandchildren and five great-grandchildren who live in various locations coast-to-coast.

The majority of their years were spent living in Watertown and Waupun, Wisconsin.  Gordon’s career as a semi driver lasted over 40 years.  Sheila worked as a machinist and in direct sales.  After raising their family, Sheila received her degree in Education from UW-Oshkosh and taught special needs children at the middle school in Ripon Wisconsin for many years.

In retirement, they have gone on the help many in the communities around them.  They served as missionaries at various location for over ten years. Their involvement with Mission America Placement Services (MAPS) took them to California, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan and their home state of Wisconsin.

The couple now reside in Sun City, Arizona enjoying the sunshine and snow-free life of retirement raising peaches, oranges and other citrus.

Christmas 2017

Today we celebrate the birth of our King, Jesus. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for who he is, all he has done and his great love for us. Yes, Christmas is a special time of year here at the Erickson house.  Merry Christmas to everyone!

A Christmas Craft – Fused Glass Ornaments

 

A Christmas Recipe – Cranberry Honey ButterIMG_2579

1 cup salted butter, softened
1/3 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbs orange peel

Beat together all ingredients and divide into jars.  Store refrigerated. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Holiday Baking

I enjoy baking.  And, since most of my boys no longer live at home, I will sometimes try a new recipe and bake for my staff. For tomorrow, I decided to try making Lemon Brûlée Mini Tarts.  This recipe called for four egg yolks.  Not wanting to waste the egg whites, I  also made Chocolate Cloud Cookies.  These cookies are gluten free since there is no flour.

I hope the staff enjoy these treats in the morning.

Lemon Brûlée Mini Tarts IMG_2560
Pastry Dough
1 cup flour
5 Tbs cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 Tbs shortening
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs ice water

Tart
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon juice
4 egg yolks
1 whole egg

Blend together flour, butter, shortening and salt until mixture resembles coarse meal (I used a mini food processor to do this).  Drizzle water over the mixture and pulse until incorporated.  Be careful not to overwork the dough or it will become tough.  Divide dough into 12 pieces.  Roll each section to 1/8″ thick and press into well of mini tart pan.  Trim edges and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place the tart pan on a large baking sheet and bake the shells for 15 minutes. The mini tart pan I used had 12 wells with removable bottoms (to make removing the tarts easier).

Near the end of the baking time, whisk together cream, sugar, zest, juice, yolks and whole egg until combined.  With the oven rack extended, carefully pour the filling into the tart shells, then carefully slide the rack into the oven.  I had extra tart filling that I poured into individual custard dishes. Bake the tarts for 20 minutes, or until the custard is set.  Remove from the oven and cool for at least 30 minutes.

Remove the tarts from the pan.  Sprinkle the top of each tart with sugar.    Using a baking blowtorch, move the flame back and forth over the top of the tart, avoiding the crust, until the sugar is caramelized.  Let stand 5 minutes, top with a fresh raspberry and serve.

Source: this recipe is a modification of a Epicurious recipe.

Chocolate Cloud CookiesIMG_2555
4 egg whites, beaten stiff
4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup Triple Cocoa Blend
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup mini white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Sift together sugar, cocoa and salt.  Add egg whites and vanilla.  Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment paper and bake for 12 minutes.  Store in airtight container.

Source: I have had this recipe for several years and unfortunately do not remember the original source for it.  There are several different cloud cookie recipes available on-line.  Most of these use cream of tartar, but not this one.

Holiday Candy 2017

Now that some snow has fallen, it’s time to start making Christmas Treats.  Three types of candy, including two new recipes, was the goal for today – Fudge, Truffles and Caramels.

Chocolate Truffles IMG_2549
16 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
5 Tbs butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs shortening
1  cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup white chocolate chips

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. In an 8 cup microwave bowl, microwave semisweet chips uncovered on medium in 1 minute increments for 3 to 4 minutes until melted and smooth, stirring well after each minute.  Stir in butter until melted. Stir in heavy cream until well blended.  Refrigerate until thickened enough to hold a shape.  The original recipe suggested that this step would take 10 to 15 minutes.  It actually took me about 90 minute before I could shape the mix. Drop the mixture by teaspoonfuls onto the parchment paper.  Shape into balls. Freeze 30 minutes.

Heat shortening and dark chocolate chips in microwave until melted. Stir until smooth.  Dip each ball, one at a time, into the chocolate.  Place on a clean sheet of parchment paper. Heat the white chocolate until melting.  Drizzle over the truffles.  Refrigerate until set.  Serve at room temperature.

This was my first time making truffles.  I always thought that they would be a bit tricky to make.  However, this recipe is actually very easy.

Source: this recipe is a modification of a Betty Crocker recipe.

Apple Cider CaramelsIMG_2551
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup light corn syrup
2 cups sugar
6 Tbs butter
1/2  cup Boiled Cider
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Line an 8″ x 8″ pan with parchment paper and lightly grease.  Combine the cream, syrup, sugar, butter and cider in a deep saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 245 degrees on a candy thermometer, approximately 45 minutes. This will give soft caramels.  If you want firm candies, then heat longer until the mixture reaches 248 degrees.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the salt and spices.  Pour the hot mixture into the prepared pan.  Let stand until slightly set before transferring to the refrigerator to cool completely.

Remove the pan from the refrigerator and cut into 1/2″ – 1″ pieces.  Wrap in waxed paper.

The apple flavor and spices make these caramels very tasty!

Source: King Arthur Flour.