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10/21/2012

Candy Corn

photograph by Caroline Gerardo of Harvest Corn - decorative not edible


Photograph of three balls of the candy corn dough in process. This project was started and inspired Fall Fun by my daughter Blair Barbeau


  • 4 1/2 ounces powdered sugar, approximately 1 1/4 cups
  • 1/2-ounce nonfat dry milk, approximately 6 1/2 teaspoons
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 1/2 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 3 3/4 ounces light corn syrup, approximately 1/3 cup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 drops yellow and orange gel paste food coloring
Making ribbons of the corn in a row. Traditionally the order of colors is orange yellow white but on the last one I mixed it up


This part takes time to cut and form each piece of candy. This is probably done by some giant machine in a candy factory, thank you Willy Wonka, we're doing it home made. This is a creative and fun project you can do with your children at home. If anything after making all these they will never forget how much time it takes to make one little piece of fun.

Directions

If it is humid or raining, turn on air conditioner or warm up kitchen. Making candy in muggy weather ends up with a greasy residue. Temperature and humidity may require you to add a few more drops of water to the mixture. Think dry desert- add.

Combine the powdered sugar, dry milk and salt in the bowl of mixer. 1 minute until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Set aside.

Combine the sugar, corn syrup and water in a 2-quart pot. Put over medium heat, cover and cook for 4 minutes. Add the butter, clip on a candy thermometer, and bring the mixture to 230 degrees F, about 1 to 2 minutes. When the sugar syrup reaches 230 degrees F, take the pot off the heat and remove the thermometer. Add the vanilla and the dry mixture, stirring with a silicone spatula until combined. Pour onto a half sheet pan lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Cool until the mixture is cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.

Your children can help with the rolling and cutting and this is quite fun. Keep the sink filled with cool water to be able to dunk and dry hands as they work as the “dough” gets “sweaty”. Working with messy in the kitchen is fun and although this has food coloring the dough doesn’t stain.

Dividing the dough into 3 equal pieces. Add 2 drops of yellow food coloring to 1 piece and knead the dough until the color is consistent throughout. Add 2 drops of orange to the second piece, and knead until the color is consistent throughout. Leave the third piece white. Roll each piece of dough into a strand, about 18-inches long. Cut each strand in half.

Roll 1 of the white pieces into a strand that is about 1/2-inch thick and about 22-inches long. Repeat with a yellow piece and orange piece. Lay the strands side by side and press them together using your fingers. Cut the strand into 4-inch pieces. Lay the strands, 1 at a time, onto the silicone mat and press into a wedge shape, like a triangle. Use a small think knife to cut the candies into pieces. Or a wire butter slicer, metal bench scraper or pizza cutter to slice the dough into small pieces. Repeat the procedure with remaining dough. You may need to shape them with your fingers to make the corn look somewhat round. You can also make pumpkins by rolling a small ball of the orange, add a tiny drop of blue to the yellow and use for the stems. Lay the finished pieces on a piece of parchment or waxed paper to dry for 1 hour in the refrigerator to harden. Store in a sealed container with parchment paper between each layer.
The batch makes a good deal of candy and if your children don't eat half in the process, I saw a recipe for candy corn martinis. You might need one after this...


Fall color from Laguna Nursery is a pretty old wooden cart with gourds, white pumkins, butternut squash...
These are called Princess pumpkins. I am not certain if a princess was supposed to make her Cinderella chariot out of them or what, but we stacked them like a japanese rock offering.

10/19/2012

A little birdy told me

http://mywjb.com/caroline-gerardo/


My W J Bradley Mortgage Capital LLC website went live today.
I hope to add blog posts about real estate financing and local Orange County
market news directly into the new website. Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, South Orange County Real Estate News

Please go take a look and tell me  what you think. Photograph of a silly little birdy telling you where to find Caroline Gerardo 's website

10/06/2012

Composting In Small Yards

Most Orange County California lots are small. In Laguna Beach you might have lot square footage smaller than the average American home. We all want to be green and compost, recycle and conserve but these actions seem to require more space than the traditional buy and toss methods. This brief summary of  composting for a small yard can be adapted for other climates.

Materials needed:
I found:
some wire cage material (used chicken wire and even the mesh plastic fencing could be used for this purpose).
Vegetable ties - the type often used around lettuce
all the green cuttings of food stuffs, grass clippings, coffee grounds, yard cuttings

Place wire cage upright in a corner that is not terribly front and center.
You will see in my backyard cage I have used a tree trunk as the upright support and in the front it stands freely on more level ground.
The vegetable ties can be opened and closed and replaced as they fall apart.
Layer your waste and leave it alone
In summer warm months or if you water the cage the material shrinks very rapidly.
The cage is light and can be lifted to scoop the nice compost from the bottom


DO NOT use: rose clippings or plants that have major disease infestation, toss those to
save on later problems.
If you want to be really green, save rain water and pour through the cage, catching the runoff for
compost tea (used to spray plants as fertilizer and bug repellent).

Why would you do this in your garden?
Simple, free, saving landfills, making your soil improve, make flowers and vegetables grow cheaper, less water use, less fertilizer, repeat free, save money