Today I attended a glass blowing workshop at Agnes of Glass in Denver. It was a Christmas gift from Larr. I thought it was wonderful and hope that I may get to go another time. You could opt for a paperweight or a shot glass. I opted for the paperweight. Really, it did not matter to me which project I did. I just wanted to do it. When we went to upstate New York a few years ago we spent some time at the Corning Museum of Glass. When Uncle Marty suggested it I agreed to go out of politeness. I thought why would I want to see a museum of cookware? However, once I was there, I found that it was amazing! (If you find yourself in that area of Corning, NY, be sure to visit. I'd even plan two days! There is the museum and a workshop with lots of cool opportunities.) While there we made slumped glass jewelry and a few sandblast designs on glass bowls. After watching a glass blowing demonstration, I knew I wanted to give it a try.
Our small group of three had a wonderful time. Agnes has been a glass artist for over 25 years. She has studied in many wonderful places in the world, including Italy. Her methods are a twist on the Italian method. Her shop is spotlessly clean and well organized. It is clear that she put a lot of thought into the design so that the workflow would be smooth. Agnes clearly knows her stuff, but she does not overwhelm you with information. She speaks in an easy to follow, friendly manner. She was assisted by Cody, a young man who is apprenticing with her.
We began by learning a bit about the process and the names of the tools. Then we picked out colors for the "flowers" that would be in the center of our paperweights. Some options included shards of glass, others looked like little piles of glass dust. Agnes or Cody puts a bit of molten crystal on the end of a punty (special metal rod) which is then heated up in the special fire kiln called the glory hole. Next, I would slowly turn the glass around to make sure that the shape is fairly even. Next, it was sort of rolled out and centered. We did this a few times. We then pressed the end of the cylinder of molten glass into our pile of colored glass. It would pick up some. We'd heat it again and pick up more glass. From there we worked at the bench to poke the hot glass a few times. This would create what would become the stems of the "flowers" and it would also put a small glass bubble in the center. While on the bench, we worked the glass to a specific, round shape with a wooden shaping tool, gravity, heat and a lot of prompting from Agnes. Once it looked good we would take some clapper type tool to begin to encourage the glass to form a ball at the end. During this part of the process it would be rewarmed many times. Before we cut it off we took them outside to see what they would look like. It was interesting to see that the colors would start out looking black when they were super hot. As they cooled slightly the colors would begin to bloom. Cody helped each of us work the end so that it was a nice ball. We would then tap the punty rod with the handle end of a butter knife. This would cause the glass ball paperweight to separate. Cody would heat it some more so that we would be able to put our initial in the bottom by pressing a metal letter stamp into the hot glass for just a quick second. Cody would then use special gloves to place it gently into a special kiln that would slowly lower the temperature of the glass from about 2,200 degrees until they are cool enough to be removed in a few days. I am very excited to go back on Tuesday and take my paperweight home.
Satisfied with my efforts and my results, I headed home to pick up Ethan and get a few things from the grocery store. At his suggestion, we invited the Cures over for a casual dinner and had a great evening with them. Our recipe choices all ended up being great. I made homemade hot dog buns,roasted fingerling potatoes, chocolate chip cookies and roasted broccoli. Ethan made guacamole. The Cures brought over marinaded beef. Ethan cut up some veggies which were used to make beef kabobs. He used some of the usual stuff, like red onion and young peppers. He was adventurous by including kumquats which roasted nicely. It is really nice to be able to have friends who can come over for a nice evening of discussion.
Homemade Hamburger or Hot Dog Buns
(using a Bread Maker)
via: Craving Comfort Food blog
1 1/4 cups milk, slightly warmed
1 beaten egg
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 3/4 cups bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
(hamburger buns, if you want hot dog buns. cut 'em to that shape)
Place all ingredients in pan of bread machine, according to manufacturer's directions.
Select dough setting.
When cycle is complete, turn out onto floured surface.
Cut dough in half and roll each half out to a 1" thick circle.
Cut each half into six 3 1/2" rounds with inverted glass as a cutter.
Place on greased baking sheet far apart and brush with melted butter.
Cover and let rise until doubled, about one hour.
Bake at 350° for 9 minutes.
Note: Oven temperatures vary so check after 9 minutes to see if done.
The Very Best Roasted Broccoli You've Ever Had
via: Amateur Gourment
(Inspired by a recipe from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa)
4-5 pounds Broccoli, washed, dried and cut into florets
4-5 Garlic cloves, cut into thin slices
5 TBL. Olive Oil
1 1/2 tea. Sea Salt
1/2 tea. Pepper, gorund
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Line your pan with foil. Toss the broccoli, garlic, olive oil and sea salt. Roast in the oven until it is kind of caramelize(some of the ends will be a small bit brown and crispy), about 20-25 minutes.
(We all thought this was wonderful!)
Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies
via: The Very Best Baking
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts
PREHEAT oven to 375° F.
COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
PAN COOKIE VARIATION: Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars.
SLICE AND BAKE COOKIE VARIATION:
PREPARE dough as above. Divide in half; wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Shape each half into 15-inch log; wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.* Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices; place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.
* May be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 8 weeks.
FOR HIGH ALTITUDE BAKING (5,200 feet): Increase flour to 2 1/2 cups. Add 2 teaspoons water with flour and reduce both granulated sugar and brown sugar to 2/3 cup each. Bake drop cookies for 8 to 10 minutes and pan cookie for 17 to 19 minutes.