December 24th, 2018 — Christmas

Christmas

I’ve never managed to stay awake until Midnight and go to the barn and see if the animals really do talk but if I did I’m hoping they’d be excited about their gifts.

The cows already have a full mineral feeder and a protein tub but we’ll fill their hay feeders today.  The bachelors will get minerals added to their protein tub for a treat.

The sheep are getting an extra bale of straw, a full mineral feeder and maybe a bit of extra hay, even though they don’t really eat all they’re getting now but just because it’s Christmas.

Cerin, the enormous fluffy puppy, enjoys hard boiled eggs so there will be a few in his stocking.

Professor, the barn cat is getting a can of cat food instead of his usual dry.

The chickens have a fresh bale of straw and a bag of gluten free crackers on their list.  Now that the days are lengthening they’ll repay us by starting to lay eggs again.

Pumpkin, the house cat just spent 20 minutes playing with a wood chip from the wood stove so he’s a typical kid.  No matter how much the toy cost they’ll still like playing with the box more. He’ll have a treasure of boxes, tissue paper, ribbon, bows and paper to stalk, attack and destroy.

We have treats planned for us as well.  For Christmas eve we’ll make jacket potatoes, carrots with butter and parsley, ham, homemade bread, cranberry chutney.  For Christmas breakfast, lamb sausage along with scrambled eggs from our hens, fried potatoes from leftover jacket potatoes. Made from scratch biscuits served with real butter and maple syrup.  No maple flavored corn syrup for us!

Christmas dinner will be a feast with beef tenderloin, sweet potatoes, homemade bread, mashed potatoes, a vegetable to be named later and chocolate cake with cranberry frosting.  If you make cranberry chutney save out a bit for the frosting recipe. You’ll be glad you did.

After all this feasting presents seem to be unnecessary but we’ll fill our stockings anyway.

Enjoy your holidays with family and friends and be sure to remember the animals.  Candy

Cranberry Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1 stick butter

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place a baking sheet on the lowest rack, to catch any drips when the cake bakes.  Put the sugar, unsweetened chocolate, butter and 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir occasionally until all of the ingredients are melted and blended  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  In a small bowl, stir together the milk and vinegar. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.  (If you prefer you can grease them, line it with parchment and then grease and flour it. This is not necessary but parchment does make getting the cake out easier.  And if you use cocoa to flour the pans instead of flour your cake won’t have white dust covering it.)

When the chocolate in the pan has cooled a bit, whisk in the milk mixture and eggs.  In several additions and without over-mixing, whisk in the dry ingredients. When the mixture is smooth add the vanilla and whisk once or twice more, to blend.  Pour the batter into the pans and bake on the middle rack until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let the cakes cool completely, then remove from the pan and cool on a rack and proceed by making the buttercream.  

Buttercream

2 ¼ sticks of butter

⅓ cup sugar

2 egg yolks (optional)

1 cup sifted confectioners sugar

¼ cup cranberry puree (saved from cranberry chutney recipe)

On medium speed, using electric beaters or a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter, eggs yolks if using, confectioners sugar and ¼ cup cranberry puree for about 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl several times, until you have a fluffy, light pink frosting.  Do not worry if the frosting curdles a bit at first. Persevere and it will all come together.

Level the 2 cooled cake layers with a serrated knife.  Use about half the icing to fill between the layers of the cake and to apply a crumb coat.  Chill the cake for 10 to 15 minutes, then finish icing. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.

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