7/25/08

My Prolific Vegetable Garden



And you know what? I never even bothered planting or watering these. Curious?
Well then, get yourself some marzipan and I'll show you how to grow your own vegetable garden, the lazy-ass way.

I find that kids, especially, love these vegetables ... and I can't help but wonder WHY a child who has absolutely no qualms diving into a bowl of Krap Macaroni and Cheese, or Dirt Cake with gummy worms, will gag at the mere sight of fresh vegetables. Any parents out there who could shed some light on this phenomenon?

Incidentally, I'm not talking about my kids, of course. My kids are perfect. I just wondered.

My inspiration for these bushels of vegetables came from a local farmer's market. Seeing the wide array of summer vegetables, compelled me to recreate some of them in sugar.
I started out with Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes. Of course, you could use your favorite cupcake recipe. The domes on the cupcakes were sliced off, then they were turned upside down and iced with chocolate buttercream.

Once the icing set, I laid strips of fondant over the cupcake to resemble a bushel. I also rolled out a circle of fondant to cover the bottom of all the cupcakes to give it a clean, finished look.

Once the fondant had set up and was firm enough to handle I turned the cupcakes right side up. Iced the top of the "bushels" with chocolate buttercream and decorated them by placing the marzipan tomatoes and corn on top.

The tomatoes were made by rolling out tiny balls of marzipan. Tomatoes aren't all the exact same size or shape in nature, so yours shouldn't be either. If you need inspiration, my advice for you is to study a real tomato, or any other vegetable, and copy it. Try to copy the real thing, whenever possible.



Gumpaste tools were used to make the indentations in the tomatoes, but if you don't own any of these tools, the dull side of an x-acto knife or even a wooden skewer will achieve the same effect.

The ears of corn are also very simple to make. Because these were so small, I had to come up with a way to make the job faster, and results more realistic than individually rolling lilliputian balls of marzipan into tiny kernels of corn.

If you have that much time on your hands, by all means, knock yourself out. But know this, I'll hate you. I don't have that much time to play, so I'll stick with my own technique.

I digress. Run to your local fabric store and buy a piece of Nylon Netting. Not Bridal Tulle.
Nylon Netting is different from Bridal Tulle. Why? Well, because they're spelled differently for one thing, but that's not the reason why. The latter is much too fine, and will not give you the look you're after.
Nylon netting, on the other hand, has wider holes, which, once wrapped around a cone of marzipan (that's been dusted with confectioner's sugar or cornstarch) and pressed against a bench scraper (see picture below), will result in perfect little ears of corn. Saving you one major headache. No need to thank me.



Once all your "produce" is done, set them aside to dry for about 30 minutes, or longer, depending on their size.
To give a slight shine to the tomatoes and corn, I combined 3 parts corn syrup with 1 part water. Using an artist's brush (avoid cheap, craft brushes as they shed horribly, and you'll end up with hairy vegetables - not very appetizing) brush the corn syrup mixture over all your vegetables, but avoid brushing the bottoms, or they'll stick. Set aside to dry. You could make your vegetables or fruits in advance and store, covered, in a cool place for several weeks.



The Terra Cotta pot is just as simple to make. Roll a 1" ball of fondant or gumpaste (which has been tinted with tiny amounts of yellow, red, and an even tinier amount of brown gel or paste food coloring. Or, if you can find terra cotta paste food coloring, you'll spare yourself the hassle of color-mixing. Mold fondant into the shape of a thimble. Cut a thin strip of fondant and attach to the rim of the pot with a little water (or the corn syrup mixture I recommended above). Make the sunflowers using a tiny flower cutter. Add the centers and glue on top of the pot. Set the whole thing aside to dry.



Enjoy. I'd also like to add that by the time you read this, I will be on my way to a much-needed vacation. But if you have any questions or comments regarding this entry, please post them. I will reply as soon as I get back. See you all soon.