Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gearing up

Holiday activities in December for me are about making things. Mostly making food (baked goods), and sometimes gifts, but also making the holiday cards. Right now I'm in the several-day process of making the cards. I'm also in the planning stages of making a Yule Log for our office holiday party, which is in 2 weeks. As a result, I don't know how much posting I'll be doing in the next few days.

I do have to share some cool feather photos I snagged over this past weekend, though. I was sitting outside on the deck Saturday evening, waiting for the Cardinals and Sparrows to come in for their dusk feeding, when I saw these little feathers clinging to a branch. The sun was setting and casting a spectacular light on them, so I ignored the birds for a bit and focused on these feathers. I don't know what caused them to be there, just hanging on the branch like that, fluttering delicately in the breeze. I did notice some other similarly-size feathers on the ground below, so maybe a hawk dove in at some point during the day and stole one of my birdies away. Not sure who the feathers belonged to. Based on size and coloration, I would guess Chickadee. If someone out there is good with feather ID, please give me your opinion.

I was also able to grab a shot of Mr. Downy munching on some suet.

Switching gears.... Here's the dining room table, which is acting as my card-making station.

I started making my own Christmas cards about 8 years ago, and I've been doing it every year since. Most years it involves rubber stamping to some degree, like this year. I was able to find a cool Cardinal stamp this year!

And this, my friends, is my bible of just about all things culinary. It's not listed as one of my favorite books in my profile for nothing!

Yes, I spent a good 45 minutes this evening studying the Joy to understand what all is going to be involved in making this Yule Log for the party. In case you're unaware, a Yule Log (Bûche de Noël) is a traditional French cake served at Christmas time, and it is made to resemble a log. It involves a jelly-rolled sponge cake and buttercream filling and frosting (which I have decided to replace with a whipped ganache filling/frosting). I've never made sponge cake before, and it doesn't sound terribly hard, but I will be making a practice cake this weekend. The only other jelly-roll style cake I have ever made was a pumpkin roll. Unfortunately my pumpkin rolls always crack, but they were not made of sponge cake, so hopefully things will go better this time around.

I will say this - the Bûche de Noël recipe in The Joy of Cooking involves many different pages of the book, but once I read through it a couple of times, I decided that it appears more complicated than it really is. Besides, I have also made the Boston Cream Pie recipe that is in the Joy, and it also involves flipping to mulitple pages for different component item recipes, and that always comes out just fine. I'm up for the challenge. Wish me luck!


NW Nature Nut said...

Lovely feather on a stick. I am a sucker for photos so I always scan them first. Before reading the post I thought this was some sort of craft project. Even neater that is magically appeared in nature. Sounds like you and I are both crafting and baking. My kitchen table has a similar look! Tis the season.

Shellmo said...

The feather photos are so beautiful - I can tell how light and soft they are. I hope you post pics of your xmas cards and how your yule log turns out!

Heather said...

-NW Nature Nut - you know, I was hesitant to put all that text right at the top of the post. I'm glad you stuck around to find out the story behind the photos!

-Shellmo, yes I will be certain to post pics of my finished product on both the cards and the yule log!

RuthieJ said...

Good luck with all your projects Heather.
(That cardinal stamp is really cool!)

James said...

Great shots. The light on the feathers is beautiful.

I too consult the Joy of Cooking regularly. It's a great resource when inventing or interpreting recipes from my wife's grandmother.