Sunday, December 30, 2012

On the Road Again

On the road once again.  Christmas is over and we must once again return to DC-- an 11 hour drive back to reality.  Sigh..... 

Thursday, December 27, 2012


One Day, Baby Applecookie will hate that I have taken all these photos of her in her old man pjs and her hair ribbon, but my defense will be: how could I resist such CUTENESS??!!!  She put on the ribbon after opening presents and continued putting it on for the rest of her visit.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Taylor Christmas in Photos

Christmas Crackers
The Taylors Christmas Table

Merry Christmas!

Daddo gets his own....

....Stilton Scoop!


Brando waiting for Santa

Hugs for Mommy

The kiddos waiting to open presents


Stirling meeting Django (the D is silent)

Candy cane place settings

We Three Brothers-in-law

Daddo and Mambo

The Chef

New Parents to be!

The Jester

Caroline's first cake! Beautiful and delicious!

Santa Vader

Listening to the "Twas the Night before Christmas" as read to us by Annabelle and Juliette

Unwrapping gifts!

Hearth Cricket for good luck in 2013

Straw Glasses

Chloe loving the handmade soft scarf from Aunt Kristie!

A new video game

The Kids Table... Daddo's assigned seat!

Stocking hung by the chimney with care.

Chloe and Vivi

Ruuuuuuum Punch

Brando with GAS: Great Aunt Sharon

crackers on the tree

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Decorations

 My parents' house at Christmas is always decorated for Christmas, with every room having some holiday decoration to celebrate the season.  Every nook and crany, hanging service or bookshelf has a Santa, an angel, or past Christmas card from one of us.  It is always  nice to be home for the holidays.  One of the best decorations: our stockings.  Too many to hang by the fireplace, Mom displays from the "bridge".  And the space in the middle is for the unfinished stocking for Baby Applecookie (it should be done in a matter of hours). 

My stocking and my siblings were made by my Aunt Carol.  Mom has made all the rest.  And as the family keeps growing, she will continue to sew more Santas, presents, and snowmen, all sequenced and done up with a bow.  If only they would face to the right to balance out! 

The main tree (there are several, you see) is in the front hall and covered with gorgeous ornaments.  This year, the silver sparkly pine cone stood out to me.  It was just so sparkly!  And underneath was piled with presents, mainly for the little kids, but I think I saw my name under there once or twice....

It will be a lovely holiday, regardless of the gifts, as it is just nice to be home in Kentucky.  Merry Christmas everyone! 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Stilton Scoop & Cheese

 So, after all the taste testing on the various blue cheeses, we settled on one and drove it to Kentucky for Christmas.  We put it on a pedestal, as anyone would do with such a beautiful bit of cheese, added some pretty ribbon, and stuck in the gorgeous Stilton Scoop made especially for us by Sylvia, Will's mum/my mother-in-law. 

I have to say, it looked almost like Excalibur and the Stone, as it sat on my parents' counter.  Only this was much easier to remove....

It was quite the hit: several family members and friends thoroughly enjoyed digging in and scooping out a bit of Stilton.   Hopefully two and half pounds of cheese will make it through the holidays!

(A not-so focused close up of the hallmarks: The Diamond Jubilee mark being on top)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cunningham Tablet

Will and I had an idea for Christmas.
We would make his favorite candy: Scottish Tablet, a vanilla-fudgey-grainly- sweet confection. His mother had given us a recipe a few years ago, but she had never tried so she was not sure about it.  We used it as inspiration, found some coberating recipes online, and then tried our hand at it.

First, this is not for the diabetics out there.  And if you aren't one when you begin making Tablet, you will be when you finish making it-- especially if you make as much as we did.  Each batch takes:
  • one stick of butter
  • one can of condensed milk
  • 911 grams (or 5.5 cups) of caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup of whole milk
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • teeny-tiny amount of vanilla, like 4 or 5 drops
I substituted the whole milk and heavy cream for just one cup of 2% milk, so I had a low-fat version.  Wink, wink.  I can tell you that 911 grams of sugar is A LOT of sugar.  And when I doubled the recipe, seeing 1822 grams of sugar was mind blowing.  

You mix the butter, milk, and sugar together, slowly bringing it to a boil and stirring constantly.  And I do mean bring to a boil s-l-o-w-l-y. It is best to cook the mixture on a medium-to-law heat.  Once the mixture has boiled, you then pour in the condensed milk.  The mixture needs to boil again and reach the temperature of 240ยบF, or the soft ball stage of candy making.  You need to stir it occasionally, watch the mixture until it gets to the right temperature as well as nice deep golden color. 

After it reaches the right temperature and color, remove the pot from heat and the fun begins: a constant, quick, repetitive stirring for at least 10 minutes.  On the final batch, I finally broke out the hand mixer with the whisk attachment.  The key to Tablet is mixing in the air.  The air makes the sugar crystallize, the key difference between fudge and Tablet.  When you see the mixture gritting onto the sides of the pan, and you can feel the grit when you taste it (and you should be tasting this as you go along, it is really delicious), then you then pour it out into a greased pan. 


It will start to cool as you stir in the pot, and after the 10 minutes of whipping it followed by pouring into the pan, the tablet cools even quicker.  Let it rest in the pan for a bit and then you can score it to make it easier to take out of the pan.  

Once it is out and cool, the pieces will be grainy and crumbly and taste like vanilla and a sugar cube had a baby, which is almost the case.   

After 7 batches (4 of which were doubled and one of which failed when we didn't stir it enough; and don't even think about how many pounds of sugar that is), we are pretty much pros at making Tablet and yet I still failed to take a photo of the finished product.  Instead, you will have to imagine the small bricks of candy, sitting in Christmas tissue paper, in the decorative tins, sealed with ribbon and a homemade label featuring the Cunningham Tartan.