Monday, July 18, 2016

In Mint Condition

A couple of weeks ago I offered to help my friend, Ann, prepare for her daughter's baby shower.  The shower was being planned by Ann's sister, Sharon and Sharon's daughter, Sarah.  It was decided to have the shower at Ann's place because it was more centrally located.  Sarah lives in Seattle and Sharon lives two and a half hours from Ann's, so Ann was helping with the preparation.  A few days before the shower Ann called me while she was searching for a few last minute items.

"Do you know where I can find some good mints for the shower?  I have looked everywhere and just can't find any that I like."

My ears perked up at the word "mints" and before I could stop myself, these words tumbled from my mouth, "Why don't we make them?  I have an old family recipe.  Linda and I made mints for Maggie's (my niece) wedding and everyone loved them!"

"You know how to make mints?  Is it difficult?  Do we have time?"  Ann had good reason to question our ability at making mints as we have had a few other adventures in creating interesting treats.

I assured her that we could do it and told her the ingredients that we would need. (Well, I had to get the recipe from my sister...the recipe that our mother, Maxine, sent to her thinking it would be a fun business for Linda and her friend Janie to have...way back in 1973.)  The business never started, but the recipe remained in Linda's library of cookbooks and recipes.

I arrived at Ann's early in the morning after stopping to pick up butter, powdered sugar and the "secret ingredient" (Kayro Syrup).  I brought my large Kitchen Aid Mixer because I remembered that the batter becomes really stiff and a hand mixer would not work.  The following pictures show our progress.

These are the ingredients we used.

The butter was not soft enough so I put it out on the patio table.  It was really hot outside so it did not take long for the butter to become soft.

We mixed the butter with the powdered sugar and then added the Kayro syrup.  It looks like I did not mix the butter and powdered sugar first, but dumped all the ingredients in at the same time.

 Even with the mistake of not mixing the powdered sugar and butter first, the batter worked out fine.

 This is what it looks like before adding the flavor and coloring.

The next few steps will be videos. 
In the first video I am mixing the lemon flavoring into the batter. Since Apple devices don't allow Flash videos, click on the YouTube links to see the videos. YouTube link for Mint Flavoring .

Ann will now show the proper way to add the coloring. :-) YouTube link for Mint Coloring . For some reason this video is upside down, but it doesn't hurt presentation.

We soon realized that we did not read the instructions carefully.
YouTube link to Reading Instructions Helps

The next video is short and blurry, but it explains why we decided to use the color we had. YouTube link for Coloring Mistake II

Of course, we do not know that dinosaurs are this color, but we had a choice of dinosaur molds or shell molds.  We had little square molds but they just looked like blobs of dark teal.  The next step is to put the batter or dough (not sure what to call it) into the molds.  We first....well, watch the video, it explains it much better...and Ray thinks it should be used on Saturday Night Live. YouTube link for Having a Ball

Here is the last step...rolling the balls in sugar and then placing them balls in the molds.
YouTube link to Molding Mints

The next two pictures show what our first mints, the dinosaurs looked like.  I have to stress that these really are dinosaurs...really...a T-Rex and a Stegosaurus.  Ray thinks one looks like a dancing Godzilla with a smile on its face.

 We tried a few more to see if we just needed practice or if we were going to have a bunch of mints that looked like mutated monsters.  You can see that the shells don't look too bad.  The square piece just had no personality so we decided not to use that mold.

After looking at our creations and gagging on the strong lemon scent we thought the taste would probably be too strong.  Tasting just a tiny corner of one of the mints we knew we could not serve them to anyone.  We had used too much flavoring and too much coloring.  Fortunately, we had plenty of ingredients to attempt another batch.  Since the shells were the only mold that made what actually looked like shells, we chose them.  

Here is the final creation!

The only problem with these was that the flavors did not match the colors.  We called them mystery mints. The green mints were lemon, the lavender were raspberry,  the teal were mint and the coral color was cinnamon flavored.

What we were missing was the orange flavor.  When Linda and I made mints for my niece's wedding we had an orange flavor that tasted like those Orange Creamsicles we used to get.  So, I made a few more mints so I could have the orange flavor.  I did not want to confuse people by making yellow mints be lemon (since the green ones were lemon) so the yellow ones were a caramel flavor.

I don't know if Ann and I will be making any more mints.  We had so many because each batch yields about 125-130.  It is a good thing we can freeze them.  Of course, I brought some home for Ray.  I am just glad that they turned out so pretty after our first disasters.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Schooled :-)

My mother, Maxine, would have been 97 today, July 6, 2016.  I have written a number of Maxine stories and really need to write more.  She would always have people laughing with her as she told stories; partly because she would be laughing as she told the story, and partly because her delivery was...well, just funny.

Linda is our family genealogist and has traced our family lines back many generations.  She is able to check sites like to see if there are any articles about family members in the archives.  Recently, she found this, and I thought today is a perfect day to share it.  Linda and I remember this happening, but had no idea that a newspaper in Arizona would have an article about it.

Some of you who know that the roads were a lot safer when Maxine did not have a driver's license.  My father kept trying to get her to get her license so that she could at least go to the store on her own.  She did have her license for a few years when we lived out in the country in Indiana, but did not bother to get her Ohio license when we moved to Ohio.  Sad to say that after my father died at age 66, Maxine enrolled in driving school and got her license at age 67.

Here are a couple of posts I have written about Maxine's driving.  Check them out if you need a chuckle for today.

Maxine Overdrive

Maxine Overdrive Sequel

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Winner of the First Smile a Day Picture Caption Contest!!!

This is the smile picture that needed a fun caption.
A few days ago I posted a picture on Facebook for my Smile Project.  Each day I post a smile. When Your're Smiling  I usually add some sort of comment with it, but this picture needed a caption.  So, I asked for people to add their captions.  After reading a few of them, I decided to make it a contest.  I had not created a contest for ages, so now was the time!  This blog post will show how I determined the winner and announce who that winner is.  I know that everyone is waiting for this 'breaking news' so I will begin.

First, I printed the captions that my friends had written.  I cut them into individual strips.  My plan was to put them all in a hat and have someone pick out the winner. I removed my sister's and husband's captions.  All relatives must be disqualified in such a high stakes contest!

Strips of the Captions.

Next, I folded each strip.  The excitement was growing. Who will be the lucky winner?  How many times should I fold each strip?   I must do this properly.  I don't want anyone to think this was rigged.

Folded Captions

Now, I must find the perfect hat to use.  It did not take me long to find it.  This hat had fallen from its holder just that morning as if asking for me to choose it.  I love how everything was working with me, even the hat knew the importance of this contest.

Thank you, Flower Power Cruise hat for volunteering to take part in the contest.

I had thought that I would have Ray pick out the winning caption, but he was focused on his drone software (and it was not being cooperative). I know he would have taken a few seconds to pick a caption out of the hat...but right when I headed to his walks Ary.  Perfect!  Ary loves to pull things out of nooks and crannies and bat around his discoveries.  I set the hat in front of him and he just looks at me.  So I dump them on the floor next to him.

Oh so close!  Has he chosen the winner?

Expectations are way too high...he needs a break from the excitement.
Well, now what do I do?  I decided that Ray would have to be the one.  I deposited the slips back into the hat and stepped into Ray's office (which is also our spare bedroom).   Ary must have felt guilty for failing me.  He followed me and jumped on top of the bed, and began pawing at the hat.  (Ray told me that Ary was not feeling guilty, but that he was just being a cat,)

Ary to the rescue!
And....if you look closely you will see the winner!  Steve Warner, you are winner of the first Smile a Day Picture Caption Contest!  You now need to message me your address so that I can send you the prize!  I am sure you are overwhelmed with excitement.  And, for those of you who participated and did not win...don't worry.  I know there will be other Smile Caption Contests.

And the winner is.....Steve Warner!
Congratulations, Steve. I would have had this written yesterday, but as you can see, Ary wanted to help me type this, and I find it difficult to type with a cat sitting on the keyboard.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest.  I really love doing these and it is fun when others join me.  Oh, and I almost forgot! (Thanks, Barb, for asking me.)  Here is Steve's caption.

Mom said to get a hair cut and get a real job... That's bull$#!+