Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Process of Organization

I am trying to organize all the jewelry.  This is one of those tasks that is hard to start because it seems insurmountable.  Some need new photographs, some just need photographs, I am getting ready to retire some pieces and send them to be reworked, many of them need to be listed on Etsy.

So many new pieces that you all have not yet seen.

Wish me luck,


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Stollen - A German Tradition

Growing up, I always new it was Christmas time when I smelled Stollen baking in my grandmother's kitchen.  It wasn't everyone's favorite holiday treat, but there was something to that fragrant bread that I always loved.  My version of this holiday treat is different from my grandmother's mostly because I use dried fruit soaked in Grand Mariner instead of the candied fruit.

2 cup Raisins, dried Apricots, dried Cranberries, and dried Cherries rough chopped
½ cup Grand Mariner
Soak the chopped up fruit in the liquor for at least two days. 
½ cup whole milk
½ cup flour
4 teaspoons yeast
Warm the milk to 100° F, then whisk in the flour and yeast, cover in plastic wrap and store for 1 hour in a warm draft free place until very foamy.
2 ¼ cups flour                                                                           1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar                                                                    1 egg
¼ teaspoon salt                                                                         5 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon grated orange zest                                                    Up to ¼ cup water
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Mix together flour, sugar, salt, zests, and cinnamon.  Fold in sponge, egg and butter.  Then add enough water to make a soft dough.  Let rest 10 minutes.
Add fruit to the dough.  Sprinkle the counter with flour and then knead until the fruit is spread evenly through the dough.  The dough should not be sticky but may be tacky.  Knead for about 6 minutes.  Add a bit of oil to a large bowl and spread it around.  Roll the dough ball in the oil, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let ferment for 45 minutes.  The dough does not rise much.
Form either one large loaf or two small ones.  My grandmother always made stollen in metal loaf pans.  I formed the dough into two small bรขtards. Gently coat with a very thin layer of oil, cover with plastic wrap and proof on a parchment lined sheet pan for approximately 1 hour or until 1 ½ times its size.
Heat the oven to 350°F.  Bake the bread for 20 minutes, turn the pan and bake for another 20-40 minutes depending on how you made the loaves.
Now I don’t do this, but after you bake the loaves and remove them from the oven, coat the loaves with a bit of oil and then cover with powdered sugar, wait a little bit and then tap on another layer.  This is apparently traditional, but it was not the way my grandmother made it.
Cool completely and store in a plastic bag, unless you like your stollen stale, then leave it out.  Stale stollen is also traditional.  If you cannot wait to eat your fresh baked stollen, make sure you wait at least 1 hour.
I hope you enjoy!

Happy Holidays,

Sarah McTernen
An Ardent Life Design

Friday, December 16, 2011

Warning: Traffic Revision Ahead

I've decided that a change in direction is needed:  partly for this blog, partly for my web presence, and partly for my life.  I am not a big company.  I am not a power-driven business woman.  I am a mother to three pretty awesome kids.  I am a housewife, no matter how '50's that sounds.  I am a photographer with a different point of view.  I am a website designer with a personal touch.  I am a baker of cheesecakes, cookies, bread and more that entice peoples' tastebuds.  I am a violinist, though it has been a few months since I've played.  I am a writer, of more than this blog.  I am an artist in copper, gemstones and more. 

I am not sure why I thought it was to my benifit, or to my readers for that matter, to keep all of these aspects seperate and to try and be a kind of business woman that I am not.  You are not a single thing: just a mother, just a sales clerk, just a fiber artist, so I will not pretend that I am anymore.

That is all for now.  I will update you as changes are made, and changes will be made.

Have a wonderful Holiday Season if I don't talk to you before then.

Merry Christmas, Happy Solctice and a Wonderful New Year,

Sarah McTernen