Monday, June 9, 2014

Adventures in Summer Cooking (with Cora)

Hello everyone! Hope you are doing well in blogland! I'm going to stop apologizing for my absences and just let you all know that, whenever I possibly can, I will update the blog with our (mis)adventures LOL. As you all are, I'm sure, we are extremely busy trying to make everything happen.
This summer is going to be a wild one - since Mark is a teacher, he is off for the summer, I am currently unemployed and the kids are home for summer break too - this is the first summer we've ever had, where everyone is here! This is the summer of projects. We've already finished building the raised beds and planting most everything (still need to find a spot for those gourds). We've also decided to expand Cora's bee garden - originally, we were going to create a simple raised garden bed to help support the bees (and other pollinators) - however, we've decided that most of our backyard isn't very functional for us. Eventually, we are adding a back deck (when time and money allow) - our large vegetable garden and apple trees (and likely the chickens/turkeys) will remain back there - but instead of having just a mess of weeds and grass that we need to mow down, we are thinking of changing that into an entire garden space to support butterflies, and honey bees etc. I've been compiling a list of plants to add to our space - plants that will bloom throughout the seasons and will provide both nectar and pollen sources. It's exciting for us. Imagine looking out over the deck and seeing all these amazing flowers and pollinators making their way around. LOVE LOVE LOVE it.
Now that we have four hives - yes FOUR! We need to make sure that we are giving them all of the natural goodness that we possibly can. Speaking of bees - guess what we did for the first time EVER...Captured our first swarm!!!! It was scary, exhilarating and exciting all wrapped up in one bee cluster!
Our neighbors (from about a mile or so down the road) - the ones that provide our hay to us, showed up in our driveway and asked if we could help them out. The wife is allergic to honey bees and they were pretty sure there was a swarm in their tree. Mark and I suited up, grabbed a box and away we went - it took about an hour to get there, capture the swarm and get those girls home. It went amazingly well for our first swarm capture - especially since the property owner was watching us. We feel like we deserve a badge or something lol. There should be like the homesteader collection of badges (I slaughtered my first chicken, I captured a swarm, I ran into the barn without shoes and didn't get worms) - we also feel like we should create a list of things we thought we'd never say to each other like "Eew, the cat is eating the goat's placenta"...but that's another story. We combined the swarm with an existing hive that had gone queenless....and they seem to be getting along really well. We need to take a look at them girls later this week - we are hoping that one of our beekeeper friends will be able to make his way over here (Friday?) to take a look at our hives, offer suggestions etc. Also this weekend we volunteered at the BCBA/OSBA Summer Beekeeping Symposium. It was at Miami University and had a bunch of great breakout sessions - we really enjoyed helping. BTW - if you haven't heard of BEEpothecary - you should go check them out. Great people - Great products!
Anyway - I have so much more to share...and I will! Promise! But for now, I'll leave you with a project that Miss Cora and I are working on today...HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOWS! That's right, homemade! We have them made and right now we are waiting to cut them - I'll let you know how it turns out...Here's the recipe that we used:

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Nonstick spray

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

For regular marshmallows:
Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

So far, they taste amazing - I just hope we can finish the last step of getting them cut and tossed with the cornstarch/powered sugar mix. Fingers crossed!


  1. Busy busy busy! You're kicking booty, Mrs. Roberts! The farm is a full-time job on its own! I love you!! <3

  2. Its all good good good for you guys. Well done Cora, that looks yummy. I think we made it when i was in school (last century, literally). Oh, i agree, you need a special vest you wear your badges on like girl guides. How about making your own and putting them on the blog somewhere. Down the side maybe.

    Good to hear from you.

  3. Maybe that's what we'll do, badges on the site...hmmm