Cake Decorating

With TV shows such as Cake Boss, the Ultimate Cake Challenge, and Cupcake Wars, the fad of cake decorating has taken off. 

In 4-H, though, cake decorating has been around for a long time.  

Decorating cakes is a great way to explore your creative mind, and have some great bonding time with friends and other 4-Hers. 

Here are some of the great cakes that we saw this year at the Cake Decorating Revue!

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Hope this sparks some great ideas!

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Crocheting Project

I stumbled across this awhile ago when I was looking for something to make for my new nephew.  When my sister was visiting for Christmas, I quickly threw together a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle hat for my nephew.  He was recently baptized, so I thought I would make him this

This was actually quite a simple project to make.  There aren’t any difficult stitches or anything. The hardest part is keeping track of what row you’re on.

Send me pictures of yours! Here are some pictures of mine!

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An Easy Community Service Project

If you’re looking for a great way to teach Cloverbuds about community service as well as give them a simple craft project to do at a Cloverbud meeting.

Fleece Tie blankets and scarves are useful for many occasions.  A 4-H afterschool program made two blankets and a bunch of scarves to be donated to the local warming shelter for use when the weather gets cold again.  Although the fleece blankets cannot be used at the shelter, they can be given away to help keep out the cold for those who are not staying at the shelter.

Fleece blankets can also be donated to food pantries and hospitals to be given to newborns and for patients to take home with them.

As with any project it is a good idea to check out rules and regulations before donating them to any organization.

Here are some pictures of the ones made recently.

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Send me pictures of yours!

 

Dutch Letters

We have friends who live in Iowa, and we visit them quite often.  During one of these visits we went to the Pella Tulip Festival.  If you haven’t been there, I highly recommend it. It is an adorable little town, with great food, beautiful flowers, and fun activities.

When I say great food, I’m specifically thinking about Jaarsma Bakery.  They have some very delicious items for sale.  One of my favorite items is a Dutch Letter.

I don’t like almonds, but I love these.  They are a light flaky pastry filled with an almond paste based filling.  So delicious.

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Well our friends from Iowa visited us a few weeks ago and brought some of them with them.  I was then feeling pretty ambitious, and decided to make my own! I found many recipes that said they were based off the Jaarsma recipe.  I chose the one that looked the most reliable.  Though, they were all pretty much the same.  The only thing I would do differently is, I would use an egg wash on these.  The recipe doesn’t say to, but another one did, and I think that would have helped keep them in one piece.

Dutch Letters

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups cold butter (1 pound)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 8 – ounce can almond paste
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • Granulated sugar

directions

  1. For dough, in a large mixing bowl, stir together flour and salt. Cut cold butter into 1/2-inch-thick slices (not cubes). Add butter slices to flour mixture; toss until slices are coated and separated.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, stir together egg and ice water. Add all at once to flour mixture. Using a spoon, quickly mix (butter will remain in large pieces and flour will not be completely moistened).
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured pastry cloth. Knead the dough 10 times by pressing and pushing dough together to form a rough-looking ball, lifting pastry cloth if necessary to press the dough together. Shape the dough into a rectangle (dough still will have some dry-looking areas). Make corners as square as possible. Slightly flatten dough. Working on a well-floured pastry cloth, roll dough into a 15×10-inch rectangle. Fold 2 short sides to meet in center; bring top edge down to meet bottom edge to form 4 layers each measuring (rectangle will now measure 7-1/2×5 inches).
  4. Repeat the rolling and folding process once more. Wrap dough with plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes. Repeat rolling and folding process 2 more times. Chill dough for 20 minutes before using.
  5. For filling, in a small bowl, stir together egg white, almond paste, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the brown sugar. Set aside.
  6. Using a sharp knife, cut dough crosswise into 4 equal portions. Wrap 3 portions in plastic wrap and chill. On a well-floured surface, roll 1 portion into a 12-1/2×10-inch rectangle. Cut rectangle crosswise into five 10×2-1/2-inch strips.
  7. Shape a slightly rounded tablespoon of the filling into a 9-inch-long rope and place it down the center of one strip. Roll up the strip lengthwise. Brush edge and ends with water; pinch to seal. Place, seam side down, on an ungreased baking sheet, shaping strip into a letter (traditionally the letter “S”). Brush with water and sprinkle with additional granulated sugar. Repeat with remaining dough strips and filling. Repeat with remaining dough portions and filling.
  8. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden. Remove from baking sheet. Cool on wire racks.

tip

  •  For best results, use an almond paste made without syrup or liquid glucose.

Here are the ones I made!

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As you can see, they are broken.  That’s because these are actually the ones I mailed to Houghton.  They didn’t travel well.  I’m trying to find ways to prevent that.  I think maybe mixing the butter in a little more will help, and the egg wash should help give it a slight shell that should work.

I did an S, but you could do any letter you want.

These are quite tasty!

Gluten-Free Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

I originally found this recipe to make as a Christmas gift for one of my friends since she tends to avoid wheat gluten.

Its always been hit and miss for me when it comes to gluten-free cookies, but I think these were really delicious and worth it!

I found the original recipe here.  The only changes that were made to it, were I used dark chocolate chips instead of milk, and when they were made my friend used three large eggs instead of two jumbo.

Final Product

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies-in-a-Jar
By: Nicole @ Gluten-Free on a Shoestring.com
Recipe type: Cookies
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  10 mins
Total time:  20 mins
Serves: 24
Gluten-free double chocolate chip cookies
Ingredients
  • 2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose gluten-free flour (I use Better Batter)
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if using Better Batter)
  • ⅔ cup (80 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, place flour, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and sugar, and whisk to combine well. Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of the dry ingredients and set the bowl aside.
  3. Add the butter, vanilla and eggs to the dry ingredients, mixing after each ingredient until the dough comes together. Add the chips and reserved dry ingredients, and mix until the chips are evenly distributed throughout the dough.
  4. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons on nonstick rimmed baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes until firm.
  5. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake until just set, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet until almost entirely cool and solid. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet to cool completely.
Notes
To make cookies-in-a-jar, into a 1 liter (or 1 quart) mason jar, layer in first the flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, and salt, then the cocoa powder, followed by the sugar and, finally, the chips. After each layer, tap the jar on the counter to help the ingredients settle into an even, compact layer. On a hang tag, write out the instructions for the recipient to make the cookies
Ingredients
Let me know how yours turn out!

Hoppy Easter!

Since Easter is around the corner, I thought this would be an appropriate post.  I saw this and immediately thought of a great Fair project.

These could be entered either in Dept 15 (Flowers and Houseplants) or Dept 28 (Home Environment)!

This would be good for any age really. Its simple enough for a Cloverbud or Explorer, but opens open to variations that an older youth could have fun with.

This could also be a great club activity to do if they wanted to have an Easter party/potluck.

Follow the link here for the original post about it!

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Materials Needed (From original post)

  • 4-in. cube vase
  • 6-in. cube vase
  • Jelly beans
  • 30 gerberas (also called gerbera daisies)
  • 5 packs of Peeps (4 per pack), for a total of 20 peeps

Step 1

Center one vase inside the other and insert jelly beans (in any colors you like) between the walls of the two cubes.

Step 2

Place Peeps on top of jelly beans, making sure to save a few for the corners of the vase. Don’t be afraid to squeeze them into the space. You should have enough to fill in any gaps.

Step 3

Gerberas are usually sold with plastic tubes on the stems for support. Keeping the plastic in place, cut the flowers to desired length and arrange them in the smaller vase.

Step 4

Cutting shorter stems for the outside flowers and longer stems for the inner ones will give you a nice rounded top. And don’t skimp on flowers: If you don’t want to use that many gerberas, find a pair of smaller vases.

 

Enjoy! Let me know how they turn out!

Upcycled Dry Erase Calendar

This is such a cute idea that came from a blogger in Canada.

I happened to see it on the twitter feed from 4-H Ontario. (Yes, I’m very excited that Canada has 4-H!)

This is great! Check out the directions here!

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Now I just need to find myself some paint chips and a frame!

Quilted Tote Bag

This past weekend was the annual Marathon County 4-H Quilt Camp.

Each year at this two day event, campers learn a new quilting technique.  This year was “Half-Square Triangles.”

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Each person had to option of making a quilt, a wall hanging, a tote bag, or a table runner. I chose to make a tote.

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Here is the Tote Bag pattern that I used.

Feel free to try this, use your own fabric and design for the center block.

Send pictures of your final project to marathoncounty4hwi@gmail.com

Department 15: Lot 63

Herb Garden.

Here is a very cute way to create a little herb garden that is different from the usual Terra Cotta pots you.

Mason Jar Herb Garden

For instructions click: DIY_Mason Jar Herb Garden Instructions

Arm Knitting!

I’ve seen this a few different places, and I’ve always wanted to try it. I guess now would be a good chance to.

As I was watching the video that goes along with this I was thinking that this would be a good project for older 4-H youth to do at a meeting.  The younger ones could even do finger knitting so they don’t feel left out.

Then could either make scarves/cowls for themselves or to donate to a worthy cause.

Since I can’t embed videos on this blog, I’ll just post a link to where you can see the video for yourself.

Enjoy!

Arm Knitting Tutorial

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Let me know how they turn out!