Monday, August 29, 2011

Canelake's Candy

In appreciation of homemade candy and Steve's comment I had to post a photo of Canelake Candy in Virginia MN. Cheers to homemade candies!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Daring Bakers: Candylicious Candyland!

The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

Be sure to check out the link for Lisa above as she shows step by step how to make Hot Air (sponge candy) and how hers turned out and mine did not. It's interesting to see the differences.

I was so excited to find out that we were going to be making candy! We needed to create two forms of candy and one had to involve the tempering of chocolate. I have experience tempering as I make chocolate peanut butter buck eyes each Christmas that this family goes crazy over.

As a rather snobbish chocolate consumer I have only found a few truffles that I care for. I always claimed Godiva was my favorite, and yes, I still like Godiva, but with shopping over the internet I can find truffles all over the world and Godiva is no longer my number one.

I have never created a truffle so I was very excited to give it a whirl. Troy likes white chocolate (gag me). Each Valentines Day or Easter I buy a few pounds of Godiva White for him. He doesn't have to worry about me snatching any pieces from his stash!

I decided to try a combination of three different truffles: a white chocolate truffle using white ganache with white chocolate tempered coating, white chocolate ganache with milk chocolate tempered coating and semi sweet chocolate ganache with a dark chocolate tempered covering. Oh yeah.

They aren't beautiful, they aren't even perfectly round..I used a melon baller to scoop the ganache when firm, then rolled into the tempered chocolate to cover. In my next batch I'll add vanilla, maybe hazelnut praline, cinnamon. I used Guittard chocolate and it worked quite well. It doesn't hold a candle to the Belgian chocolate I can order, however.

For my second candy I tried what Canelakes of Virginia, MN (where I grew up) calls Hot Air. This is a boiling mass of sugar, corn syrup and water. After boiling for 10 minutes I removed it from the burner and added vinegar and baking soda for a volcanic effect! The mass created huge air bubbles which I poured into a baking sheet. After it hardened I broke it up to serve. This wasn't so great. It wasn't 'airy' enough and it was very crunchy. We ended up crushing it and using it for an ice cream dessert topping.

I really enjoyed this challenge. I will be making truffles quite frequently now. The combination of chocolates and additional flavorings is just endless. I have some chocolate in transit and can't wait to use it! Steve thought I should try a key lime ganache with bittersweet covering. I just might do it :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Still Sidelined

Last week I felt like I was coming along pretty well. Saturday I even walked a few miles of my running trails out at Lake Maria State Park. Topaz and I didn't have to fight a deer fly or mosquito. I spent a pretty sweet couple of hours out there.

I enjoyed the sunshine upon my face, the nice breeze, the beautiful scents of summer..but I wasn't grateful .

I took a few running steps but my back hurt so I continued walking.

I broke down in tears a few times whining to Topaz "why is this taking so long, why can't I be running..the Dr. told me I could take the prednisone, Aleve and RUN..whining and crying.."

I arrived home that Saturday and just felt down, sad, depressed that I wasn't running. I wasn't in pain. I was walking quite well, some nerve irritation from elbow to finger tip but I was feeling OK. I was disappointed in myself that I probably wouldn't be able to run Superior or the Minneapolis Duathalon.

Sunday I couldn't get out of bed. During the middle of the night Topaz had somehow wedged himself under the bed. I could hear him trying to remove himself, kind of 'paddling' with his front legs but not getting anywhere. I popped out of bed, too quickly I now assume, crawled onto the floor, stretched my arms around his back end and pulled him out. Oh the pain I felt.

I crawled back into bed and realized I was really in pain. Was it the pulling of Topaz? Shit. I couldn't move. I lay there until 5 AM and finally skooched from my bed with horrible nerve pain zinging all over my left chest, elbow to hand and fingers. Ugh. This hurt. My back was throbbing.

Eventually Steve brought me to the ER. I couldn't move. I couldn't breathe without pain. The ER Dr. told me that in addition to ruptured discs I probably had a strained or tore rhomboid muscle which is what I originally thought my problem was. I think I may have ripped it while weight training. You know, the 50+ pound DB shoulder shrugs might have been a bit much...

Dr. told me I should take the Oxycodone I had from my hysterectomy every 4 hours and with Oxy, Aleve, muscle relaxant I should try running because movement is good for me. I looked at him like he had two heads. Run, really? I couldn't walk much less run. Forget running. I want to walk and feel human again. Sheesh. Forget the Oxy. I'm an alcoholic, I don't need to become addicted to something else.

He discharged me after x rays, making sure that there were no bone splinters or whatever else it was that he was looking for. I couldn't believe a torn rhomboid could hurt so much.

Monday I decided to try a chiropractor. It hurt. He told me my neck was probably sprained. Good grief. My neck was stiff because I was over compensating with my neck for my sore back. Tuesday I was too sore to even go into work. Carol, bless her heart, gave me another massage that made me feel human again. Back to chiro yesterday for another adjustment but I noticed after that adjustment and today that the chiro just irritates the muscle. The nerve pain is out of this world. I hold my arm across my stomach, this settles the nerves some. I can't stand it.

I begin PT on Tuesday. I'm hoping the PT will give me a thorough examination and find out what is really going on here. I imagine it is both ripped rhomboid and herniated discs. I guess it doesn't matter how it happened, just that I heal.

I feel foolish for not enjoying my walk through the woods that beautiful Saturday last week. I feel like my whole world had changed since then. The pain, the frustration, the lack of activity, it is something that is foreign to me.

I am trying to forgive myself for not being grateful for enjoying the little things in life. Walking, the woods, being pain free. You would have thought I would be super grateful for every painfree step I had since my hysterectomy was only 7 months ago. Funny how quickly I forgot. I guess I needed a reminder.

I remember.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Herniated Discs

Today I received confirmation that I have two herniated discs. Disc 5/6 and 6/7 which are located on the upper spine, near the neck.

I've had pain since March, really. I first noticed pain when I went back to work after my hysterectomy. I noticed my elbow hurt when answering the phone. I ignored it, felt my elbow needed to get back into shape. It probably did!

While running Minneapolis Marathon in May I noticed that my hand had prickly, electric probe like feelings while holding my water bottle. I realized my fingertips had been tingling for a while.

By the time Afton 50K rolled along my arm was beginning to have these electric jolts going from elbow to fingertips. I had to hold my arm to my body at many times during the race to alleviate the pain. I realized about this time that I should be seen by a Dr.

It seemed that the pain radiated from my rhomboid area. I wasn't having any problem lifting, so continued to do so.

A few weeks ago I was in quite a bit of pain. I couldn't lift or run without pain. I noticed that the up and down motion while running was very painful in the left rhomboid/down my lats area. The zinging from my elbow to finger tips was crazy and constant, my index finger now numb.

Today I learned that I have two herniated discs, no wonder I hurt! I will begin physical therapy and a dosage of steroids. I am hopeful to be on the road to recovery soon!

Razzyroo Giveaway!

My goodness, I apologize for not posting the Razzyroo winners on August 1. I did notify my winners: Carol and Michelle and they did already receive their awesome headbands. I just failed to post it here.

Congratulations to Carol and Michelle. Let us know how you enjoy those headbands!