I’ll admit that I was not thrilled with the idea that my niece chose a prefab Cinderella castle kit from the store for our annual gingerbread session this year. She loves to bake and is now old enough to see the project through from scratch. I was looking forward to designing our own charming chalet or creative candy cottage a la Hansel and Gretel. In the end, the gingerbread castle we put together from the kit still allowed for unique touches. My favorite parts are the mice dancing on the roof and the alien-looking snowmen with the blue eyes (all from the brain of the sweet five-year-old). I need to remember that these activities are, above all, about togetherness and that the outcome will inevitably be as unique and fabulous as the individuals involved.
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Second food swap (first in our area!) boomed with bounty. The special aspect of a summer swap is that those with gardens bring their freshly harvested abundance. One day I will have a patch of land with a garden, but for now my swap items are kitchen creations and confections. My items this go around were meringues and black raspberry shrub drink mixers. Everything was “swapped up,” and I returned home with more than I could have ever imagined! The camaraderie is almost as delicious as the goods. I now refer to Food Swaps as “Food Christmas.”
Last month I participated in a community food swap for the first time! Mary has been diligently working to connect our region with the Food Swap Network (read all about it on their site). These photos were taken when I joined her at City Market for the Indianapolis Food Swap. My swap items were riffs on previous recipes made and documented on this blog: Honeycomb Brittle and Porter Candy Apples. I made three types of honeycomb brittle (lavender, toasted almond, black raspberry) and chocolate stout lollipops. At first I was nervous that no one would want to swap for candy, but as you can see I had nothing to worry about. I have been enjoying my swap loot ever since, and now because of Mary’s efforts, Northeast Indiana will host its inaugural swap this weekend. I can’t wait to see what swap-chances await; I hope people will swap for cold-pressed black raspberry shrub drink mixes…
I made it to the post office in the nick of time this weekend to mail off my simple sweet valentines in time for the 14th. I hope they like their favorite juicy Starburst flavors put together to make heart shapes. You can make your own Starburst hearts by gluing (I used Elmer’s) three Starburst on a piece of heavy paper (I used fluorescent poster board cut to fit a long envelope). Candy tiles and juicy hearts!
Begin with a pillowy marshmallow meringue bowl, fill it with fluffy peanut butter mousse, then top it off with a classic chocolate Hershey’s kiss; it’s a bite-sized recipe mash-up to remember, and I call it the fluffernutter kiss.
Make it yourself by combining these recipes:
Stephen Collucci’s Peanut Butter Mousse Consider yourself forewarned on this PB mousse: the stuff is simple spoon-able heaven. This recipe is my standby for filling up killer parfaits and chocolate cookie tart shells.
Martha Stewart’s Meringues I did not pipe them in heart shapes the way Martha does, rather I scooped the meringue into cupcake papers and made a little well in the center using a tablespoon. They baked for a total of 1.5 hours, and cleanup was a breeze.
And if I may, I will tack on a final sentiment to Robin Leach’s signature line:
“Champagne wishes, caviar dreams, and fluffernutter kisses.” Goodnight!
Giant cinnamon ribbon candy | Hand-dipped turtles by a man with 35 years worth of practice | 100 year old diner with a lunch counter across from a candy counter | Candy cane heart pendant lights hanging from a tin ceiling | Best-tasting soda shop lemonade ever | My first visit to the Olympia Candy Kitchen, a place “reminiscent of the days when the world revolved a little slower.” Now that’s more my speed.
It was never so easy to follow a diet. The day began with my sister’s eggnog pancakes covered in maple syrup. After breakfast, my niece and I unwrapped candy and candy canes to decorate a gingerbread house. And when we went to find Santa at an outdoor mall (unseasonably warm for December in Indiana this weekend), we found another jolly man making fresh kettle corn on the sidewalk (kettle corn will sub for candy corn here)! I have to tell you that I have never enjoyed kettle corn so much in life, then I realized that this was the first time I had ever had kettle corn when it wasn’t hot outside. With just the right amount of sweet and savory, popped to warm perfection, it reminded me of the hot chestnuts I ate on the street in Florence one chilly early January afternoon. The day of sticking to the four main elf food groups was also a day I will never forget — thank you Manges Family! Don’t worry, I am eating my fair share of broccoli today.