This is Halloween! This is Halloween!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year (and I think it’s almost my anniversary for this site), Pumpkin Spice everything! Reese’s!  FreeForm’s 13 Nights of Halloween! Mother nature even gave me some rainy, melancholy days that were delightfully foggy and deserving of copious cups of Earl Grey.  I’ve had my nose to the grindstone for the past two months getting ready for this week but Baby Bat and I have managed some seasonal fun as well.  We attended Hilton Apple Fest earlier in the month, which always sounds entertaining in my mind and then I get there and my introverted personality is like “yup, never doing this again”.  Afterwards we went with a friend to a local orchard and picked our own apples (first time), it was gratifying, fun and cheap so we went back again this weekend!20171021_120912

Last week I also went to see the New York State Ballet’s Production of Dracula at the RIT campus:

choice_event4-1-dc329e8780692b65I feel really, really critical of this piece maybe because I read the story so many times growing up, maybe because its dance…but I really want to say positive things about it so here it goes:  there was no Van Helsing character!  No, wait. Stop.  That was a criticism, had to get it out of my system.  I totally get why they cut him, another character to introduce, another dance to choreograph…would have taken to much time to tell the story etc. etc.  Moving on.  The best part about this outing was getting out with a friend I work with and having someone who has an appreciation for the gothic genre to enjoy it with.  The crazy adventure in finding the theater on an immense and sprawling college campus was just an added bonus…nothing like looking for signs to the event only to find them on the way out afterwards.

I’ve  been big on making Dundee Cake lately.  This has nothing to do with Harry Potter, oddly enough, and everything to do with Peppa Pig and has become a weekly staple if ountitlednly for myself as Baby Bat doesn’t seem to care for it.

We were watching the “Pretend Friend” episode and I got to thinking that a) I need to do a baking project with Baby Bat in mind and b) everyone in this television show seems to have the same cake this has got to be a thing?  So I did some research.  Of course I went to Delia Smith first and looked through all of her cake recipes, it was a choice between the Dundee Cake and the Family Cake but the Dundee cake seemed to look like the show more.  It was late spring or summer when I made this the first time and I was quite appalled that no one had orange peel or cherries glace on hand (apparently its a holiday thing).  That didn’t stop me then, I just looked up how to make those things and had an awesome and really delicious time of making the candied peel and cherries from scratch (my kitchen needs to smell like that all the time!).  The peel was easy, the cherries I’ve got to figure out what I’m doing wrong because the were literally candied cherries with very little fruit crisp to them anymore (not a wholly bad mistake, just not easy store for later and dreadful to cut otherwise.  But a couple weeks ago the holiday candied fruit made a reappearance and I got this book out of the library:20171007_112108

I can’t even tell you how weird it is to not have to wiggle a mouse to make sure the screen doesn’t go blank while your cooking.  Totally a blast from the past.  Anyway, Peppa Pig aside Dundee Cake is significant as it comes from the Scottish City for which it is named.  If you have an international section in your grocery store you might find Dundee Marmalade.  Dundee is, I believe the birthplace of marmalade although I’m not sure on that as a fact.  To be sure, they make a good deal of marmalade there and as such had a great deal of peel left over and started mixing up these cakes as well and I guess had a period of popularity in many homes (may or may not be the case…or might still be the case as it would be).  In any event I love it! and am very much shocked by that as I have never been one for fruit of any kind in my baked goods.  I’ve also gotten a chance to use my experience from trying to make almond milk from scratch in the process. as it calls for blanched almonds to decorate around the top like so:

20171007_112301The secret I’ve found, as whole blanched almonds don’t seem to be a thing they carry at my local grocery (or am utterly blind),  is to measure out 1/4 cup of whole almonds.  Either boil  a good bit of water or let your faucet go hot and add enough to cover the almond to soak while you prep the rest of the cake.  When the cake is mixed and placed in the buttered and floured tin the almond jackets can easily be removed and placed on the cake…now it also says to split them but I had no luck with that and had little patience left after stirring 2 and half…2 and a 1/4 (?) cups of flour by hand so as there were more then enough whole nuts to go around splendidly I gave it no further thought.

 

 

Yesterday, after apple picking I took Baby Bat to Mount Hope Cemetery.  No matter how hot or sunny it is I always feel the need to keep an eye out walking in there because my imagination runs wild and what is probably a chipmunk or a falling acorn may one day be a zombie or a day walking vampire (kidding…not kidding, my imagination is ruthless and can make me believe the most dreadful things).  Even still it is one of my most favorite places to walk any time of year and I love sharing that with Baby Bat:20171021_140443

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She is now also in an “take a picture of me!” phase and I love it!  I loved getting out with her this weekend and can’t wait to do more and play with her on my breaks as I have finished my big Harry Potter Wizarding weekend Project!!!! TA-DA!!!!!!!:

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I’m so excited! So proud of me!  Of course there are mistakes, things I would have done differently but for my first big project in pretty much forever I did pretty darn good.  I especially love my pockets not only because they make pulling a wand out very dramatic but also because I did them after I had sewed the two layers together

vlcsnap-2012-10-19-22h33m55s131“what a goose!?”

Well, off to Hogwarts on Thursday!  Time for bed now. Stay magical!

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Me dad’s a muggle; mum’s a witch. Bit of a nasty shock for him when he found out…

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In fact I just had my dad take the Pottermore Quiz and as it turns out he’s a Hufflepuff too!  Mum’s a Ravenclaw; I always thought maybe my dad was too or Slytherin. Anyways its been awhile because I’ve been adulting (“in the muggle world”).  Oddly I do a lot of what I do here with pictures and documenting things I do and my kids do so I haven’t felt like doing more on my free time during the past month.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been keeping it magical here.  We’ve had a Harry Potter Weekend and as I had to work a close shift I couldn’t be there for the Hogwarts Express Leaving at 3 in the afternoon Friday so it has been designated Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them night

…and then get up at 7 on Saturday and watch Harry, makes sense to me…

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Anyways I did not feel up to taking myself on a baking adventure and I really wanted to take it easy and enjoy the movie, so this is what I came up with:

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I got mini hot dogs and pre-made crescent roll dough as an homage to our messy hot dog eater, Nina, in the beginning:

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I hunted down apple toaster strudel… I was going to try to make this because it just felt like a sin to get something so processed for something that Queenie made but I was exhausted and I can be funny about apples in baked goods so if I didn’t like it I didn’t want to spend too much money or effort.  I’m sure they were nothing compared to Queenie or Jacob’s baking:

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Finally, we absconded with potions and brews in favor of a simple but decadent hot chocolate:

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It seems like lots of people focus on the 1920’s speakeasy when cooking/celebrating for this movie and I might do that too for maybe a specific night or when there are more movies or something but this was a good way to relax and get ready for a big weekend (…of sitting around/cooking/baking/laughing with friends).

Harry Potter universe aside (or maybe not…) Baby Bat and I have been busy.  I was originally going to take her to a Fairy and Gnome Festival at the Buffalo Botanical Gardens but that very week I heard that Peppa Pig was coming to the Eastman Theater!  I take her to enough fairy and fantasy stuff I wanted to do something that was her specific. So we got tickets and made a day of it.  We went early and had lunch at Java’s right next door which is a really groovy-artsy coffee house in downtown Rochester.  The Eastman school of music is right there too so it’s real bohemian like and covered in all sorts of art.

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After a Panini and lemonade we went and saw the show.  The theater is beautiful and we both admired the zodiac ceiling decoration around the chandelier.

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Its been awhile since I’ve been to a kids show of this sort but I was a little let down.  Peppa Pig is a British television series and the cast for the show was decidedly American, so no British kid accents.  There were also puppeteers for the child characters which would not have been so weird if they hadn’t been all dressed in black and in no way blended in with the sets…maybe kids don’t care and its still magical for them but I was a little perplexed (they could be shadows?). The theater also treated it like a regular event so the crowd had lots of gaps which I believe contributed to the lack of audience involvement. But we went we had fun and came home with a light up fan with George on it.

The ay before the show I also found out that the University of Brockport was having their first ever Harry Potter Festival (!!!).  Most of it was happening around the time of the show so we didn’t really go but we did make it out for a Quidditch demonstration.  Baby Bat got to play Beater!

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Mother’s Day also just happened and I get really stumped when gift giving is mandatory, not that I don’t like giving gifts its just that I better with random giving (would make an excellent gifter if I waited with the random gifts and didn’t spaz out and get overly excited and give the gift upon acquiring).  That being said I chose to make my mum brunch for Mother’s Day.  I’ve had brunch on the brain for awhile (pinterest board upon board dedicated to themes and menus) so I finally settled on vegetarian (as my mum is a devote vegetarian) and Fall flavors because I read up on Apple Cider Mimosas and had to try them, I also make awesome Cinnamon Rolls.

About these Apple Cider Mimosas.  When I saw them I naturally thought “oh, yum…okay”  but really this shouldn’t be a seasonal thing, more like all the times because as good as it already sounds it tastes amazing!  It’s simple but my taste buds were kind of like “we haven’t lived until now!…Except for that one time at the speakeasy bar downtown, but other than that we haven’t lived until now!”

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The rest of my menu was a delicious Frittata (because Frittata is synonymous with Brunch in my opinion) made with shallots, mushrooms and butternut squash.  The only thing I would do differently is shred some smoky gouda or something in it (recipe didn’t call for it, they were trying to avoid milk). I also set up a mini yogurt parfait bar.  I originally set out to do a fruit salad (also synonymous with Brunch, IMO) but honestly I don’t like most fruit.  The apple fruit salad was nice and Autumn-y but called for Neufchatel cheese and sour cream.  “Why bother?”  I said to myself, and got a few single serving cups of plain Greek yogurt; mixed up the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla for people to sweeten as they desire and mixed up a bowl of walnuts and cranberries and set out another bowl of chopped apples (granny smith and pink lady).  Ta-da!  And then Paula Deen’s Cinnamon Rolls of course.  For garnish around the champagne glass rims I dipped them in vanilla extract and then again in a mixture of brown and white sugar and pumpkin pie spice (I felt particularly brilliant after that first sip).

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Next thing I really need to do is get down to it and put our cloaks together for Ithaca Wizarding Weekend but I hope to have a few more adventures throughout the summer.  “Until our next meeting!”, Keep it magical!