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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Divine Divinity

Oh, how I wish I had a picture of the first batch 
that I ever made!

As I have become a food blogger and have created
a 200 page color photo family cookbook 
I have often wished I had pictures of some of
my firsts attempts at cooking.  That way when people think
they can't cook, I could show them
  pictures of my failures
to encourage them!

My first cake (which was supposed to be a 2 layer cake)
was about 1 1/2 inches tall.  The frosting was supposed to
be purple (surprise, surprise!) and it turned out a muddy
brown.  My first full dinner I made for my parents and
brothers and sister, I knocked the pan of potatoes
off the back side of the rack in the oven and lost all of
the dish.

My first divinity - ahh, there was a candy treat - they
turned out brown little sandy balls.  I don't even 
know how I could have been that off on the recipe!
It took me years and years to try Divinity again.

I admit, candy can be a little tricky, so I am going to
take your hand and lead you step by step to a great
batch of Divinity.  And --- It is a fat free candy!  
You can't say that about much candy can you?

We make Divinity every year.  We have a family friend, Mike,
who has a November birthday and he always wants 
Divinity for his birthday.  We have even come over to teach
him how to make it.

So I have included step by step photos above and
am going to teach you step by step because Divinity
is a wonderful light (fat free) candy but it can be a little
tricky and since I have been trying to teach Mike, I
have come up with a few tricks.

Divinity starts with cooking a candy syrup.

If I can say one thing about candy -

I tell people this over and over and then they try a recipe
and it fails and I ask if they calibrated their thermometer and
inevitably they say NO!

Candy will not be right if it is off just a few degrees.
Water boils at 212 degrees at sea level.  I don't live at
sea level and even if I did, my thermometer could be off.

Just set a pan of water on the stove.  When it reaches a
rolling boil check the temperature.  Always check the temperature
by getting down at eye level.  Because we live in the mountains,
my water boils 16 degrees less.  So I have to subtract 16 degrees
off of 212.  

While you are boiling, whip your egg whites.  My purple 6 quart
Kitchenaid won't reach those 2 little egg whites at the bottom of 
that large bowl.  Fortunately I had saved my smaller kitchenaid
and it whips them up just fine.  When the syrup reaches temperature,
take it off the heat and slowly pour it into the egg whites while 
they are whipping.  I have timed the whipping and it seems
to take about 9 minutes.

While I have the bowl still attached to the mixer, I do a text
piece of divinity.  Spray two spoons with Pam.  Scoop out a
spoonful and use the second spoon to release it from the spoon.

This test was done at 8 minutes of beating.  Can you see that it is
still too glossy 
and won't hold it's shape?  It won't set up well either.
So I beat for another minute and did another test.

It's ready now and I have found that my first half of the divinity looks
great, but my second half gets crumbly.  By putting the mixing bowl in
a bowl of ice, it stops the cooking process and I can keep all of the 
Divinity perfect.  You still have to work quickly but this really helps.

This is what it is supposed to look like.  It has lost its gloss and creates
stiff peaks as you spoon it.  

I always make it when I have a helper as you have to work quickly
so my daughter and I spoon it out onto parchment paper working
as quickly as we can.  It seems to be a perfect trick.

Divinity Recipe

3 C. white sugar
1 C. light Karo Syrup
1/2 C. water

2 egg whites, room temperature
1 tsp. clear vanilla
nuts if desired

Bring the sugar and Karo syrup to a boil in a heavy saucepan.  
 Cover pan for 2 minutes
to steam down the sides and dissolve any sugar crystals.  Boil to
254 (remember to calibrate your thermometer - it is worth investing
in a good thermometer if you want to make candy - it should measure every
2 degrees.  Meanwhile
beat your egg whites to a stiff peak.  When the syrup has reached
temperature, remove it from the heat and slowly pour it into the egg whites
while they continue to beat.  After you have finished pouring the syrup
in, begin timing the beating process.  Beat on high for 7-9 minutes.  At
7 minute, stop the beaters and drop a test spoonful.  If it is runny and
glossy, it is not ready.  About now add your vanilla.
Test again at 8 minutes.  Mine usually is finished
at 9 minutes.  

Meanwhile set out parchment paper.  I spray mine with Pam for an
even easier release.  Spray two spoons for each person who will
be spooning out the Divinity with Pam.  Fill a large bowl with ice and
set aside.

When the Divinity sample looks right, remove the mixer bowl and
place it in the bowl of ice.  Begin to quickly spoon out the Divinity.

It should make about 30 pieces of candy.

Add a nut on top if desired.

Let cool.  Cover tightly to keep it fresh.  Ours never lasts too long
as we eat it up quickly!

I will be posting this with

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Woodland Elf Table

This Woodland Elf Tablescape originates
from my former Christmas tree decor and the grapevine wreaths
that I mentioned I made in my last post.

I decided to change my tree which I have had for at least
ten years and as I stripped off the elves, the florals
and the mossy limbs, I just couldn't dispose of
them so I bagged them up and now I am 
featuring them on this table.

I just love using the new grapevine wreaths as a base for 
a layering of purple and green plates.  The tree was decorated
in jewel tones.

and it was filled with elves, frogs, birds, humming birds and
all kinds of nature inspired decor.

You know how we love elves and fairies at
Purple Chocolat Home and so the 
pre-decorated tree was perfect for us.
It brought many years of pleasure, but my
niece informed me that it was time for it to go - 
that it was looking a bit shabby!

I needed to wear gloves to undecorate the tree.  We would
always just put it away decorated which saved so much
time, but with all of the years of handling, I had to agree,
it was looking tired.

There were lots of these acorn elves so I put one
on each placesetting.

The tree was filled with beautiful florals.  I am sure
that the florals will be reused a lot.  These little guys
that I used for napkin rings were wired all over the tree.
A quick wrap around the napkin and they make a perfect
napkin ring.

I just love these little guys.  There is no way I could 
give them away.

I used my sage green flatware again. 

 It is amazing how often I use them for tables.

The tree was filled with these mossy branches and moss balls. Just
past the gnarled moss branches you can see my beautiful 
amethyst goblets.

This is the first time I have used these beautiful glasses.
My sister Jean gave me these.  They are 
Amethyst Kings Crown Thumbprint goblets.

For Christmas Eve my aunt would always have us over and the
adult table got the pleasure of drinking out of her Ruby Kings Crown
Thumbprint glasses.  Of course none of us girls inherited them so I found some
on ebay and bought some for Jean and Joni. (Aunt Ionia was a single lady
her whole life.)  Jean returned the
favor by finding these gorgeous amethyst ones and giving them
to me!  

The color is so light and delicate.  I just adore them.

These guys are really rustic - a little more rustic than most of
my decor, but they are really fun.

This one is unusual as his face is cloth.  I love his velvet frog.
There were at least 30 woodland elves on the tree.

I always love to hang things from my chandeliers for Christmas
so this one has elves in purples and burgundies with
hanging ornaments.

It is such an easy way to decorate and dress up the house.

Earthy - yet elegant!

Hope you enjoyed this visit to Purple Chocolat Home and 
see how I recycled my tree decor and used my grapevine wreaths.  I 
am sure to use them over and over again.

I will be showing you my newly decorated tree next week.

I will be posting this with

Goblets - Gift
Napkins - Home Goods
Plates - Home Goods
Flatware - Tuesday Morning
Tree ornaments and elves - Modern Display
Wreaths - Homemade
Placemats - Wal Mart
Purple glass plates - Spiegel Catalog (years ago)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Grapevine Wreaths - Make It Yourself

I have been admiring tablescapes with individual grapevine
wreaths under the plates but when I went to purchase
some, I decided I didn't want to spend that much money
on grapevine wreaths just for a tablescape.  They were 
selling for $20 each.  If I did a table for 6, that would have been $120!
(Just for the wreaths!!)

 I was out cleaning up the garden before the snow comes
and the weather was so beautiful and I had Christmas
music playing on the outside speakers to make
the job a little more pleasant,

I got a wild hair to trim the grapevines and started 
twisting and wrapping 
and ended up with a nice collection 
of grapevine wreaths.

It was so easy and you just can't really get it wrong.

Just trim a long piece or two that will make it around
the circumference of your wreath a couple of times.
Bend it against your body to get the general size and 
shape as you wind the vine around itself.

I just kept winding until I got them as full as I wanted them.  I tried
to make matching sizes.  I created two large - about 17-18 inches
across, 6 medium - about 10-12 inches across and 1 small - 
about 6 -7 inches across.  I ended up with 9 wreaths all for $0.

Don't worry if the thicker vines kind of split as you bend
them, that looks fine too.

See the very bottom center of the picture?  That is a vine that has
split a little.  It still looks great.  I love all of the curlicues that
add character.  While they are still pliable, shape them the way you want.

It was a perfect project for a beautiful afternoon.\
These will be so fun to create with, just in time for the holidays.

I will be posting this with

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Tables

Whether done up elegantly in white and silver and
shiny glass

with magical turkey bowls

that spread their tail feathers wide,

and glittering baubles and candles,

or done with turkey plates

 in soft and muted colors,

with metalic accents

and special touches,

or done up in green and white,

with a few natural touches,

and a little glitter

and shine,

or done in Fall's glorious colors

with a dose of magic

and a touch of whimsy,

Thanksgiving is a great time of year.

May we all take time as we gather around to 
table this year to give thanks to God and to one
another for the bounteous blessings we enjoy!


I want to include this as we get busy
and might feel overwhelmed:

Thank You Lord
Lord, thank you for this sink of dirty dishes
We have plenty of food to eat.
Thank you for this pile of dirty, stinky laundry,
We have plenty of nice clothes to wear.
And I would like to thank you Lord, for those unmade beds
They were so warm and comfortable last night.
I know that many have no bed.
My thanks to you Lord, for this bathroom,
Complete with all the splattered mirrors, soggy grimy towels
and dirty lavatory;
They are so convenient.
Thank you for this finger-smudged refrigerator
that needs defrosting so badly;
It has served us faithfully for many years.
It is full of cold drinks and enough leftovers for 2-3 meals.
Thank you Lord for this oven that absolutely must be cleaned today,
It has baked so many things over the years.
The whole family is grateful for that tall grass that needs mowing,
The lawn that needs raking;
We all enjoy the yard so much.
Thank you, Lord, for that slamming screen door;
My kids are healthy and able to run and play.
Lord, the presence of all of these chores awaiting me says,
You have richly blessed my family.
I shall do them cheerfully and I shall do them gratefully.

I will be posting this with

Monday, November 19, 2012

Crockpot Apple Sauce - Tastes Like Apple Pie And A WINNER

I promised you this fantastically yummy applesauce,
but first I have to announce the lucky winner

of $200 in accessories from

the winner is



Thanks for everyone who participated.  We love
giveaways at Purple Chocolat Home and hubby
even loves them too - I love that!!!
Even if you didn't win, you can be a winner
by ordering some fun and reasonably priced
jewelry and accessories for Christmas 
from Marsha.  

Remember this gorgeous bowl of apples I featured
on my table a week ago?  Well, a girl can only eat so
many fresh apples so I decided to try out a great recipe
I had seen on Pinterest.

 I had remembered it as applesauce but really the recipe was
for apple butter.
I saw it on Changing My Destiny
and she tweaked it from

I decided to tweak it a little more and make
applesauce out of it. It turns out, Cake Student
made hers into applesauce a year later too!

This is so easy and if you have lots of apples
like I did this year, you will want to make some.

Applesauce or Apple Butter Recipe

10-12 medium apples or 6-7 large
apples - mine were huge Jonagold - 
a juicy, sweet/tart apple - enough to
fill a 5 quart crockpot
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 C. brown sugar

Wash and slice and core the apples, then rough chop them
and fill a 5 quart crockpot.  Toss the spices and sugar into
the apples.  Cover and cook on high for about 5 hours.
I didn't add any water and I had plenty of juice that 
cooked out of the apples.

Blend the cooked apples until smooth with an immersion blender
or in a food processor.  
If you want apple butter, just cook it longer until it forms
a paste.  My first batch I ate some and then cooked the
rest about 2 more hours and had a wonderful thick apple butter.

Changes I made:
I had already thrown mine in the crockpot with peels on (theirs were peeled)
and thrown in 1/2 C. sugar (they used 1/4 C.), then I
went and looked up the recipe to see what spices I needed.
I hadn't added water either.  By the time I got back to add the
spices there was plenty of liquid in the bottom and I loved
the flavor with double the sugar so I am sticking with my changes.

I started with a full crockpot.  They have begun to cook down here.

This is what mine looked like after 5 hours or so.  It is reduced
about in half.  I didn't peel my apples.  The peels blend right up in the sauce
and add extra nutrition and fiber.

We ate some hot with dinner, cooked some in my

and then had some cooked down as apple butter.

It was so good I made a second batch a few days later.
My daughter tried the pie and loved it because it was so
smooth and didn't have chunks of apple in it.

Nothing could be easier.

One bite and I was swooning, now those of you that know me
would know I am not going to swoon over apples  - chocolate, 
lemon, raspberry, yes, but apples???
Well, let me tell you I was.  I love, love, love this recipe.
It tastes like a bite of apple pie without all the guilt from the

Give it a try.


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