Our last stop before arriving in Lincoln for a family Christmas, was Independence, Missouri. I generally look online for suitable campgrounds, and look at a lot of them! The one I chose was called “Campus”, and when we got closer, Cherryl remembered we’d stayed here once before! Yep, right next to that amazing spire. If you want a brief history of that cool building, you’ll have to read a previous blog… (June 8, 2019)
Not all the buildings in the area are so futuristic!
Christmas with the Kids
My daughter Becky is a Chocolatier… which means when staying at her house, there are always fun food things going on. She and her husband Kevin are very creative and adventurous cooks. While we were there, Becky got an order for 20 “Chocolate Bombs.” These are large chocolate spheres filled with hot chocolate powder and marshmallows, which when placed in a mug and doused with hot milk, “explode,” making a great hot chocolate! Tastes great and fun to watch!
Like all tempered chocolate, these aren’t easy to make. The chocolate needs to melt at a certain temperature, then cool to a different temperature, and held at a working temp, and all temps are very degree specific. It requires a lot of monitoring.
Chocolate is then poured into molds, set for five minutes at room temperature, then chilled a bit longer, then the spheres are cleverly assembled, decorated, labeled and bagged. I’m exhausted just typing about it! But it is great fun to watch (Help??) and see the entire process!
Below is the first stage of melting or tempering the chocolate.
After the hemispheres are out of the molds, they are filled, sealed, and decorated.
And finished! Remaining tempered chocolate is spread in a thin layer on the counter behind, and will be broken up and added to the next batch to be tempered.
Regular Milk Chocolate Bombs, and “Grinch” Chocolate Bombs, which have green chocolate and contain large colored marshmallows. Fun!
Lincoln Christmas Zoo Lights
We had a very pleasant evening to check out the Zoo Lights. In a COVID world, you needed to make reservations far in advance, for a 15 minute window of entrance time. Becky & Kevin reserved our spots within minutes of when tickets went on sale, and found they were selling out fast. Our evening was great – clear and not too cold. The next day it was windy, snowing and about 20 degrees colder! We are very blessed!
With Kevin’s skills as an engineer and Becky’s baking talents, it was obvious we needed to make gingerbread houses! They designed and baked the gingerbread housing materials, and got out all of their wealth of edible decorations. The white sugar concoction that was to act as glue holding the pieces together looked like it would never set up, and the houses needed some help to stand up for a bit. But everything worked out very well… Dayna and Peter each did a house, and we adult-type couples each collaborated on ours.
After Christmas, we dismantled the houses to EAT THEM! How cool is that? The icing glue was so strong it was really very difficult to disassemble the houses! The gingerbread was so amazingly good it was hard to stop eating house parts.
Below – our house, Kevin and Becky’s, Peter’s, and Dayna’s.
Cute Christmas Kids
One cold and windy evening we drove around looking at fancy Christmas lights. The house below was rated one of the best of Lincoln: It had FM radio broadcasting excerpts from Chevy Chase’s “Christmas Vacation,” lights synchronized with music, an RV out front like the one in the movie, the Griswalds’ car with huge tree on top, and of course a million lights. The neighbor on the left of him saved a tremendous amount of effort by just posting a sign…
Presents, cute grandkids, great food… need I say more?
Becky even trusted me to make Star Bread! She made the dough, and then told me what to do and she and Cherryl left to go shopping! INTIMIDATING! But it turned out pretty well! Layers of raspberry filling and white chocolate (Tinted green, left over from the Grinch Chocolate Bombs) are twisted in a fancy pattern, and result in Christmas colors for a fancy dessert!
Peter’s birthday is the day after Christmas. Or maybe I should just say Christmas is the day before Peter’s birthday! He asked for a tree-shaped cake, with a marshmallow star on top and no frosting on the sides. It was as beautiful as expected, and as tasty too!
He also wanted his Birthday party to be at a bowling alley. So a couple of days later, he had a few friends over, and fewer parents, and we had a great time! The alley has automatic bumpers that lift when it’s a kids turn (or whoever wants them) and there were even dinosaur shaped ramps for the little ones to help them roll the ball down the lane. Peter even got a strike with one! A very cool party to wrap up the year.