Tag Archives: my mother

Sweets Week: Retro Raspberry Divinity & a sweet little giveaway for bakers

Divinity - Pans & Cups

That’s right, folks – this ain’t no modern homemade marshmallow trend. We’re kickin’ it old school with divinity, baby! This raspberry version is sure to soothe your savage sugar craving. It’s retro. It’s fluffy. And it’s pretty in pink.

Valentines’ Day may be for lovers, but let’s not forget that it’s also an excuse to celebrate SUGAR. Candy, chocolates, cupcakes, creme brulee… you name it, we’ll eat it. So join my blogging friends and I as we stop lookin’ for love in all the wrong places and start rummaging through the pantry for something sweet.

It’s Sweets Week, and we’re celebrating with sweets for your sweetie pies.

When I was a kid, my mother made divinity every Christmas. I remember little balls of white fluffy confection laced with chopped pecans like it was yesterday. While most kids were getting their divinity fix from a Stuckey’s Pecan Log, our Mom was shaming other mothers by making it at home. Mom rocked the 70’s.

The Pecan Log from Stuckey's - a blast from some poor kid's past. Photo via http://brucemctague.com/pecan-logs

The Pecan Log from Stuckey’s – a blast from some poor kid’s past. Photo credit to http://brucemctague.com/pecan-logs

But this ain’t my Mama’s divinity. This version is cooler. It’s hipper. And did I mention it’s PINK? That hue is due to yet another childhood favorite – Jello. That’s right. Good old-fashioned Jello. Raspberry to be exact, although I’ve also made this with cherry and I’m pretty sure it would rock in blackberry, too.

Here’s what you’ll need:
3 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup light (clear) corn syrup
3/4 cup water
3 egg whites
1 small (3-oz.) pkg. Jello (raspberry is shown)
3/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Start by lightly oiling an 11″ x 7″ pan, or you can use 4 miniature loaf pans like me. I sprayed them with regular Pam cooking spray, then wiped them gently with a paper towel so they were lightly oiled.

Next, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water in a medium or large saucepan (you’ll need 4-5″ of headroom, because this will come to a furious boil and rise in the pan). Set it over medium-high heat and whisk it occasionally until it reaches 260F on a candy thermometer.

Divinity - Boiling the Syrup

When the sugar syrup reaches around 200F, start your egg whites. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip your egg whites until soft peaks begin to form.

Divinity - Whipping Egg Whites

Lower the speed and sprinkle in the Jello powder, whisking until combined.

Divinity - Adding Jello to Egg Whites

Turn the speed up to high and continue to beat until the Jello powder is incorporated and the egg whites hold their peaks.

Divinity - Egg Whites & Jello

Once the syrup mixture reaches 260F, turn the mixer to medium-low and slowly pour a thin stream of syrup into the egg whites until all of the syrup has gradually been added. DO NOT STOP THE MIXER WHILE ADDING THE HOT SYRUP MIXTURE OR YOU WILL SCRAMBLE YOUR EGG WHITES! Sorry for the drama, but it’s a divinity no-no to stop the mixer & scramble the eggs.

Divinity - Whipping in the Syrup

Once all of the syrup has been added, turn the mixer up to high and let it run for 6-8 minutes, or until the candy mixture begins to get very thick. I just set the timer and went for the full 8 minutes. Better safe than sorry, I always say.

Divinity - Ready to Spread

Turn off the mixer and remove the beater. At this point, the divinity will be thick and glossy. Using a spatula, fold in the pecans and vanilla extract by hand.

Divinity - Stir in Nuts & Vanilla

Pour the candy mixture into the prepared pan(s) and smooth evenly. If yours sets up as quickly as mine did, you may need to lightly spray your spatula or hands with additional cooking spray to keep the candy from sticking to it.

Now the hard part – set your pan(s) on a kitchen towel somewhere out of the way and let it sit for at least 6-8 hours to completely firm up. I put mine on our formal dining room table because we haven’t used it for a meal since 1992.

Once it’s set, cut into 1″ squares with a lightly oiled knife; a serrated bread knife works best. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Divinity - Final Cut

Fun Facts About Divinity:
1. Humidity and Divinity are not friends; they do not play well together.
2. Divinity should never be refrigerated; apparently it doesn’t like cold, either.
3. Most candy, divinity included, should not be made on a rainy day (see #1).
4. Unless they are ‘of a certain age’ your friends may not recognize divinity.
5. Just tell those friends you made ‘marshmallows with nuts’ – it’s simpler.

Recipe Credit: This appeared in Womans Day Magazine when Ronald Reagan was president. I tore it out & saved it when I was but a wee child. {cough}

Now on to the giveaway! One lucky reader will win the following baking booty in honor of Sweets Week:

Sweets Week Giveaway Bar - Vertical

This prize package includes: one copy of the Good Housekeeping Best Loved Desserts cookbook with more than 250 glorious recipes, two adorable ceramic mini-crocks in cherry red, two packages of treat wrappers by Martha Stewart, my favorite bowl-scraping silicone spatula in Valentine’s red, a sweetheart print quilted apron, and a matching kitchen towel in raspberry.

Note: My friend Katie, The Hill Country Cook, introduced me to these sweet little single-serving ceramic crocks. You’re going to love them!

To enter, simply leave a comment at the bottom of this post telling me your favorite sweet treat. This giveaway will run from 8:00am CST on Sunday, February 10th through 12:00 Noon CST on Saturday, February 16, 2013. One winner will be selected at random and notified by e-mail. If the reader selected does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be drawn. Participation is limited to US residents only.

THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO LAUREN GRIER, OUR WINNER! (Lauren, check your e-mail for details.)

sweetsweekbadge

Sweets Week is for sugar lovers, so drop in & check out these Sweetie Pies:

Sunday:
Retro Raspberry Divinity – Jeanne @ Inside NanaBread’s Head (that’s me!)
Red Velvet Vanilla Marble Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Buttercream Frosting – Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic

Monday:
Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Pudding Cookies – Beka @ Kvetchin’ Kitchen
Mini Meringue Strawberry Pie – Katie @ The Hill Country Cook

Tuesday:
Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti – Madeline @ Munching in the Mitten
Samoa Crack Dip – Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama

Wednesday:
Avocado Peppermint Chocolate Mousse – Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain
Cherry Garcia Chocolate Bark – Megan @ Wanna Be A Country Cleaver

Thursday:
S’Mores on a Stick – Kat @ Tenaciously Yours
White Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream Frosting – Mads @ La Petite Pancake

Friday:
‘Pucker Up’ Lemon Marshmallows – Allison @ Decadent Philistines Save the World
Mini Chocolate Mousse Pies – Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic

Saturday:
Berry Smoothie Ice Cream Pie & a Giveaway – Anne @ From My Sweet Heart

Divinity - Cake Stand

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Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Food & Recipes

“NanaBread’s Head” Turns One Today

July 1st marks the one year birthday of my NanaBread blog. Can you believe it? Neither can I. While time seemed to fly by, it feels like we packed a lot into this first year. Favorite recipes, photos of the family, Ziggy’s adventures in… well, snoring. We even started highlighting some of the culinary creations of The Complete Package, my beloved husband. We’ve also seen the grandkids grow at an alarming rate, shared Hoegarden stories about our “ladies only” family weekends, thrown in a few crafts, and shared some of our travel pics. We’ve highlighted local products, spotlighted some of our favorite barbecue joints, and sprinkled in some of the things I love. I think this first year definitely lived up to my blog header in that it truly is a lot like my junk drawers. It’s happily filled with random tidbits, trash and treasures. Mission accomplished.

Overall, it has been a great year, and I couldn’t have done it without you. In fact, you are the reason I’m still here. Your comments and support are what keep this blog (and me) going, and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I really do. I appreciate each visitor and value every comment, but those of you who return again and again are more than readers, you’re friends. And that is the gift I most value from my first year of blogging. You. Without you and my family, there would be no Inside NanaBread’s Head. I keep writing because you keep reading. I don’t always understand why, but I’m so happy that you do!

Here is a look back at a few of my favorite posts. Click on any title to see the full post and take a walk down memory lane.

My name is NanaBread and I’m a Peppermint Bath Product Junkie.
In this post, I got a chance to bare my soul and share my addiction – peppermint bath products. I’m not proud that I’m an addict, but if you’re going to get hooked on something, I suppose this one’s pretty harmless. Not cheap, but harmless. And it answered the burning question “Is there such a thing as too many peppermint bath products?” with a resounding “You’re joking, right?”

Menopause, you hateful bitch…
This post still makes me laugh. I was suffering from a particularly raging hot flash when I sat down and let it rip. I don’t rage often, but I let it fly with this one. I felt like life had lied to me by omission, and I didn’t want another woman to be taken by surprise ever again. This one was for the ladies, especially those in the inescapable grip of “the change” like me. It also confirmed for me that if menopause had a rubber wristband, it should be black like my mood swings.

Hidden Treasure Cupcakes: Mocha Fudge Cupcakes with Reese’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups Inside
Of all the recipes I’ve posted, this is the one I personally enjoyed the most. I’ve never had an experimental recipe come out of the oven and make my eyes roll back in my head like this one did. Deep down in my soul, I’m a pie girl. But these cupcakes almost converted me. Dark chocolate, coffee and peanut butter? Seriously – it is probably the closest I’ll ever come to cupcake perfection.

Playing With Food: Big Sister’s Rainbow Tie-Dyed Cupcakes

Speaking of cupcakes, the prettiest cupcakes of the year (by far) were my Big Sister’s rainbow tie-dyed beauties. These were inspired by a food blogger I love, but Big Sis put her own spin on it by using one of our mother’s old white cake recipes and a frosting recipe she found on the Tasty Kitchen website. She brought all those elements together to make not only a gorgeous cupcake, but a tasty one. The great thing about this recipe is that it’s adaptable. You can substitute any white cake recipe or mix, and you could use any frosting recipe. But honestly, the one Big Sis found was awesome. For pure fun and beauty, these rocked my world and made me think outside the (cake) box.

Vacation Photos of Amsterdam: Let’s just say it was…interesting.
Of all the stories I’ve shared, this one continues to get regular weekly hits months after it was posted. Evidently, Amsterdam is a highly searched travel topic. Who knew? Maybe it’s the cheese; maybe it’s the weed; maybe it’s the waffles. It truly is a “whatever floats your boat” city. It was a great trip and an interesting place, and months after it was posted this story is still going strong.

“Buy Local” Spotlight: Salt Lick BBQ
This post will always be special to me because it was the first time one of my stories was selected as a FoodPress feature. It got attention from around the world, which seemed to open my blog up to an expanded global view. I received comments from exotic locales, and gained a few subscribers from far away places who visited and decided to stick around. For that, I am eternally grateful. It left me wondering if good BBQ might be one of the keys to world peace.

In Honor of Mother’s Day
This was by far my most read post of the year thanks to a feature on the WordPress “Freshly Pressed” homepage. I don’t know how they select stories to feature, but I was blown away that this one garnered their attention. It was highlighted on the Friday before Mother’s Day and left up the entire weekend. Because of that, it got over 8,000 hits in 3 days. Some bloggers hope that their blogs will hit the big time, but in all honesty this one made me a nervous wreck. That kind of attention brought a lot of spam and more than a little anxiety, but it also provided an opportunity for others from around the world to share memories of their mothers and siblings, or lack thereof. It was both an emotional and enlightening experience for me. It also provided my mother with more than 15 minutes of fame, which was fun for her. She deserved it.

In honor of my first blogging birthday, I’m extending the celebration to one lucky reader. That reader, selected randomly, will receive a gift box containing some of my favorite things from my first year. Gift box items include:

1 bottle of Nielsen-Massey pure vanilla bean paste
1 jar of Dickinson’s Black Raspberry preserves
1 jar of Salt Lick BBQ spice rub, not pictured
1 set of small Nordic Ware spatulas
1 set of colorful measuring spoons
1 set of colorful measuring cups
1 set of Le Creuset silicone measuring prep bowls
1 bar of Garden Botanika oatmeal & peppermint soap
2 boxes of Stash tea – Chai Spice & Black Currant (decaf)
1 ladies print kitchen apron, handmade by NanaBread

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED TO COMMENTS. THE WINNER OF THE DRAWING HAS BEEN NOTIFIED BY E-MAIL, AND WILL BE POSTED AS SOON AS I HAVE A CONFIRMED MAILING ADDRESS. THANKS TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED.

CONGRATULATIONS TO SUSAN FROM FLORIDA. YOU’RE A WINNER! I HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR GIFTS. -NB

Here are my rules:

1. Leave a comment on this post.

2. The selected reader will be notified by e-mail. Once I have a confirmed mailing address, I will announce the recipient of the gift box on my blog.

3. Participation is limited to residents of the United States.

4. One name will be randomly selected on Friday, July 8th at Noon (Central).

Disclaimer: All gift box items were purchased by me with my own money except for the apron, which was handmade by me. None of the products were donated or sponsored in any way, shape or form. They are simply items that I love, shared with one lucky reader.

Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a reader of my blog. Your support and friendship over the past 12 months has meant the world to me, and I look forward to seeing what the next year will bring.

Hugs & birthday kisses to you all,
NanaBread (Jeanne)

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Filed under Miscellaneous Thoughts

Apron Strings & Crafty Things

I love aprons. Old, new, retro, campy or classic…it doesn’t matter. I love them all and I actually use them; especially when I’m cooking splattery things like bacon. Aprons stir up memories of my grandmothers, my husband’s sweet granny, my mom when I was little, and Betty Crocker. They’re like a portal to my past. I have very fond kitchen memories from my youth. In 2008, my mother and I decided to make aprons as gifts for our annual Hoegarden weekend. For those new to the blog, that’s our annual “ladies only” family event held each spring. Yes, it’s named after a beer (you can read more about it in my Hoegarden blog tab). Mom and I like to collaborate on homemade gifts each year, and we wanted to make something fun but practical to share. We started this project by selecting a variety of unique fabric prints and patterns.

Hoegarden Aprons - A Fabric Sampler

Once everyone picked a fabric and a style, we went to work. For the record, my mother can sew anything. She made our clothes when we were little. She once made cheerleader uniforms for our high school (at least 10 girls, 2-3 uniforms each). She even made adult-size chicken costumes for a school play (one of which I was wearing when I had my car towed during a hail storm/tornado while I was in high school, but that’s a story for another day). She’s made curtains, shopping bags, baby gifts, pillows, etc. She can make anything, and probably has at one time or another. She has also created some amazing quilts. She’s very talented, but I’ve mentioned that before. Anyway, Mom really enjoyed this project. As she finished each apron, she would pose for a photo. She’s too cute.

Mom hams it up by modeling a few aprons

I should also clarify that I don’t usually ask my mom do all the work on these projects. It’s just that my old sewing machine died a violent death while making my first apron, so mom stepped up to help with the rest. She’s helpful like that. In the end, we (and I mean she) made ten aprons including a little pirate version for Jonah Bear, who had a “man pass” for the weekend (he was 15 months old). I made most of mine before my machine died and my daughter made her own apron (you go, girl!). Hey, I contributed the fabric and trim, along with lots of moral support, so I helped…a little bit. And now we each have a keepsake from our weekend together. One we can use and enjoy for years to come. Thanks, Mom. You saved the day again. Here’s a tribute to her lovely handiwork:

Aprons on a Fence - A Tribute to Petticoat Junction

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Filed under Craft Projects, Hoegarden Weekends

Old Photos of My Mother

I’ve been scanning old family photos for my mother. We’re trying to create a digital archive so all the sisters have a copy. It takes a lot of time, but it’s a great way to make sure all five of us and our families have a complete collection of all the family photos. Today, I pulled out two pictures of my mother I wanted to share. I love both of these photos.

My Mother in Elementary School

The first one is an old elementary school picture. I’m not sure what grade she was in when this was taken, but I love that the photographer captured this exact moment. School photos aren’t exactly famous for capturing us at our best, but I think this one is perfect. She’s so young and innocent, but her smirk proves there’s mischief churning just under the surface. You can tell by the look in her eyes that she’s up to something. I wonder what it was. Something to do with her brother, perhaps? She’s a clever girl, and it looks like she’s definitely up to something. She still has a mischievious streak. I like that about her. I like it very much.

Mom Managing the Money

I think the second one was taken when Big Sis was just a baby. It’s obvious she’s paying bills or balancing the checkbook. Money was tight when we were kids, but it was extremely tight when she was little. Times were tough, but Mom was tougher. Because of her youth, my mother grew up very frugal. She had a gift for making something out of nothing on a daily basis. She made our clothes. She fed a family of seven on pennies. She grew her own vegetables and had a small orchard in the back yard. I once saw her pull a door off its hinges and plane it down so it wouldn’t stick. She knew how to do everything, and still does. She was alway conscious of how much money we had and how to stretch it. I never considered what she went through when we were kids. I never gave a second thought to how we would pay our bills or how she had to juggle things to make ends meet. Kids don’t think of things like that. Mom never had it easy, but she made sure we were taken care of. Thanks, Mom. I didn’t say that as a child. Thanks for all you did for us and all you sacrificed to do it. I think you’re awesome. I really do.

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Filed under Family Stuff