4Shoes 'BOOKENDS'; Morgan Horses

4Shoes 'BOOKENDS'; Morgan Horses
“Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams die, Life is a broken-winged bird, That cannot fly.” ~Langston Hughes *pictured: '4Shoes Bookends'

Monday, 30 November 2015

DIY Kahlua ~ Holiday Traditions

December first is traditionally the opening day of our Christmas Holiday Season at the 4Shoes. Aside from specialty baking, every Christmas I also make a huge batch of hootch to carry us over & into the New Year. One of our perennial favourites is 4Shoes Homemade Irish Cream, because who doesn't love alcohol that you can hide from any party poopers in your coffee? 
When all of our kids were small & there were close to 30 of us packed into a 14x20 kitchen/dining/family room combo, a good mug of Irish really used to help keep the Holiday Mellow going strong amongst the craziness.  (Really? Just keep the cup full, please.) 
 
One thing you need to make good Irish is a good coffee liqueur to build upon; my family recipe for coffee liqueur takes about 4 to 6 weeks to age & mellow the flavours. Get started as soon as possible if you want to use this batch of java juice for an Irish Christmas. 
Ingredient List:
  • 1 lb good coffee beans
  • 3 vanilla pods
  • 40oz Smirnoff Vodka + 2 empty bottles
  • 3 Tbsp cocoa nibs
  • 4 C water
  • 4 C sugar
  • 3 Tbsp molasses
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Method: 
Split the coffee beans into 3 even piles; add 1 Tbsp of cocoa nibs to each pile. Then, using a paper funnel, pour 1 pile into each bottle & then remove the funnel. 
Split each vanilla bean lengthwise & poke down into a bottle. 
Using a plastic funnel this time, divide the vodka equally between the 3 bottles & finger tighten caps back onto bottle-tops.
Lay the bottles on their sides in a cool, dark spot of the pantry. Each day rotate all of the bottles a quarter of a turn to the right (or left, but be sure to rotate in the same direction each time). Repeat daily for 21-28 days.The vodka will deepen into a rich coffee colour during the aging process; the longer you leave the bottles in the pantry, the deeper & richer the colour & flavour will be. 

In a stock pot on the stove, add the water, sugar, molasses & salt. Over medium-high heat bring this mixture just to a boil & immediately reduce heat. Allow mix to simmer gently for about 45 minutes until it has reduced & thickened to a thin to medium syrup. Let cool til warm.

Line a sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth (to catch the spent vanilla pods & any bits of bean or nibs) & strain the contents of the bottles through the sieve into the warm syrup mixture. Discard the spent pods & beans into your compost bucket. Stir the contents of the pot gently until all is well combined. Taste. Yum. Now stop tasting already. Allow to cool completely.
Ladle your homemade coffee booze into a pitcher with a pour spout; don't spill any of this liquid gold. Now carefully pour your hootch into the bottles, finger tighten the caps, & squirrel it away somewhere safe until it's time to make the Irish. 
I should mention that, really, only full bottles qualify for storing, & you are pretty much obligated to "sample" any overages later that night, after the chores are done, (4Shoes style) cuddled up with your Sweetheart in front of a roaring fire.
This delicious concoction will store in your liquor cabinet for up to a year, but good luck keeping it that long. 
Happy Brewing!

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Marijuana Munching Mutt

Remember the 60s? Me neither.
Probably because I was barely a toddler... but, not the point.  
Has your dog ever eaten marijuana?
Mine have not, but if yours ever does, please get it to the vet asap!
When you get home, find a better spot for your stash.
In the meantime, this video has seriously cracked me up.
Enjoy!

p.s. On a serious note though, THC toxicity is no joke - your pet could die from it! If you love your pet & you suspect ingestion, there is no time to go all *"follow the labrador, man".
*If you don't 'get' this reference, you must not remember the 70s either...

Thursday, 12 November 2015

DIY Sweetened Condensed Milk

Christmas is coming! Not to rush it, but for the busy farm wife it's none too soon to start thinking about getting the baking started. Having a couple of containers of squares or loafs in the freezer means never having to serve store bought cookies!
So, in happy anticipation of the upcoming holiday seasons, today I crack open the 4Shoes cookbook to share with you a tested & true homemade version of a must have ingredient that is just too pricey in the store. Make sure to write this one down as it will surely come in handy for many of the more decadent dessert recipes of the year.

Homemade is always more satisfying!!
Ingredient list:
  • 1 C boiling water
  • 1/4 C butter or margarine
  • 2 C sugar
  • 1 C powdered milk

Method:
Pour boiling water into a small saucepan, add butter & sugar & stir gently over low heat until butter & sugar are completely dissolved.
Add the powdered milk, 1/4 C @ a time, stirring constantly until it is completely dissolved & the mixture is silky smooth.
Your homemade version should be stored in an airtight jar & will keep very well in the fridge for a month to 5 weeks.
1+3/4 C of the homemade version = 1 can of the pre-made grocery store product.

Happy Baking!