Crystal Chats Episode 3: Blind YouTubeing vs Sighted YouTubing

Hey guys, it’s been a while!  Honestly my main reason for being quiet over here is I’ve been posting more on YouTube.  I’ve sort of moved to vlogging about things I’d normally talk about here, but I’d still like to keep the blogs active so will try my best to still post on both this and The Blind Nerd!  I have a lot of YouTube links to share from last month honestly, but figured I’d start with the latest one and work my way back XD

 

Since people seemed to enjoy my first blindness related vlog, I figured I’d do another one about how I do YouTube as a blind user.  Why is this episode 3 when last you saw was episode 1, you may ask?  My 2nd one is a vlog about my A Warrior’s Heart EP, that’s why!  I’m thinking of making a playlist for the blindness related stuff, even though every video is going to be called Crystal Chats when I vlog…or maybe I should give it a sublabel, who knows~

 

Either way, enjoy the video!  Will try and be more active over here!

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A Warrior’s Heart EP is Now Available to Stream and Purchase!

 

I’ve been working on this EP almost exclusively for the past 3 months, and I’m so happy to say it’s finally out!  A Warrior’s Heart is my first EP of original tracks, all themed around stories of different warriors and their tales.  All of the music is folk/acoustic, aka my genre of choice and I can’t wait for you guys to all listen to it!  The link above is a song from the EP that I’ve posted to market the EP, and is track 3 on the album.  I’ll also be releasing a vlog where I talk about my mixing and recording process for it, which is why I’m keeping this post short – any other details are going to be in the vlog, so stay tuned for that if you like behind the scenes sniz like I do!

 

To stream A Warrior’s Heart, you can go to these places:

 

Spotify

Apple Music

Deezer

 

To Purchase A Warrior’s Heart:

 

iTunes

Google Play

Amazon Music

 

Let me know what you think of it if you listen in the comments below, and have a wonderful day!

A Candy Making Flub, Oops

As much as I keep on telling myself I’d like to get back to baking, I keep on doing different candy making projects.  I still  enjoy baking of course, but candy making is so interesting, and fun, and it’s just tacked on to one of those hobbies I circulate from now:  I was never huge into science, but sugar science is so fascinating to me, and I really wish where I went to school, I was able to have a baking class!  I would have learned science so much easier if cookies were in the mix 😉

 

The latest thing I tried was some toffee.  It’s pretty much the same thing as caramel sauce/chews, accept exchange the heavy cream for butter.  You add chocolate and nuts to it after it’s cooled a little, then have your toffee.  All sounds nice and easy, right?  Well it is if you don’t mess up a step!!  I hadn’t looked at the recipe I had found for toffee before doing it, because I was reducing it anyway.  So in my head, I thought you just pour all of your toppings into the bottom of the tray you’re going to pour your toffee into, and then pour the hot toffee over it and you’re done.  Nope!  I’m an idiot, and didn’t realize that maybe boiling hot sugar would burn chocolate and nuts, and of course, of course it did.  My brother noticed it better than I did – to me, it just tasted like it all was burnt.  He was able to figure out it was a layer on it so I was like “A layer?” and tried scraping off some of the chocolate and nuts, and it tasted better!  Still burnt, but I could taste that the actual sugar and butter side of it tasted fine – which was a huge relief!  I always taste, and feel the  consistency of my candy as I go (very carefully, please don’t do this until the sugar you’ve scooped out is COMPLETELY COOL) and that side of it tasted fine when it was on it’s own, so I was baffled.  So being able to figure out it was the other side of the candy.  Sucks because why didn’t I think of that as a factor, but also is good, because it wasn’t my sugar boiling, I still got it as far as smelling and tasting my sugar for doneness is concerned!  Like I said, huge relief 😀

 

I’ve always been a bit skeptical about the method of pouring stuff over your super hot candy, even if it does say let it cool for five minutes.  It’s just a more visual way of doing things, and I don’t want to try and do a visual thing with something that’s so hot – I have my Mom do the pouring into the pan for now, which I may do eventually but like I said dealing with very hot sugar is not something I have to deal with right now, so why even chance getting burned?  I think the best way for me to do things if I want chocolate on them is to let the candy set, melt chocolate and mix in any add ins I want to the chocolate (nuts, etc etc) and just do a dipping of each candy into said chocolate.  That’s the best way for me to do things, and it works without having any errors, which I wouldn’t have realized without this flub, so I guess I owe it a thank you 🙂

 

I also think that doing things in steps in general is a better way to do baking, and candy making.  Any time I’ve tried to do things the way a recipe says, where you layer things in and then bake just has never turned out right for me.  Not saying it doesn’t work, but it’s just not a method I mesh well with, so will stick to my method of doing things in steps because it’s easier to manage, and airs towards the side of having less mistakes.  I don’t mind mistakes, mind you, what I do mind is using, and wasting ingredients!  There were cashews in this toffee grrr -shakes fist-.

 

Have you learned any good tips from mistakes in the kitchen?  Would love to hear in the comments!

I Did the Disabled Misconceptions Tag!

 

I’ve wanted to vlog for ages, and never could talk about a topic.  I’d try and get nervous and think it sounded dumb then stopped, so I figured actually doing a tag was a great way to start vlogging.  Got this tag from another blind youtuber, so figured why not start with that!  Hope you enjoy, and if you have any other things you’d like to hear me talk about, I’m all ears!

More Truffles Ah Yee

Late night post is ago-go because my brain can’t be quiet at all and sometimes I get the urge to just write so here we are~

 

So I’ve been working on a cheesecake filling for truffles, because cheesecake is my favorite dessert, hands down.  The first time I tried it, the iflling was way too soft for rolling, the candy melts were too thick, and all in all it just was not a pleasant expierence.  So I hunted for some other recipes that weren’t just a cream cheese buttercream, more or less, and found one that was a 1:1 ratio of chocolate to cream cheese.  So I figured, why not play around with that?  If I replaced the milk or dark chocolate with white chocolate or vanilla candy melts, it would turn out tasting just like a cheesecake.  I was a little bummed I didn’t have white chocolate chips, but figured next time I had them, I’d try it.

 

Well my Mom goes to the store, and being the amazing Mom she is, she found white chocolate chips and picked them up, because she  knows I’ve been experimenting with truffles!  I was super pumped, and ready to try my hand at it again.  I beleive they’re candy coating chips, but when I melted them they were so smooth and easy to work with, far easier to work with than the cany melts before which are far better to use as a filling instead of coating.

 

I also tried rolling in chocolate chips first, and they taste great, but at room temp they get mushy.  Not to a melted point, but they’re a little ooey-gooey and I like being able to pick up solid chocolate.  I loved them so much that I made another batch today, for 2 reasons:  first time I tried this recipe, the centers were still softer and hard to roll.  It was doable, but I just wanted a more solid center to mess with, so added twice as much white chocolate to cream cheese.  It worked!  The fillings were way easier to handle, and roll.  I also did that to see if a harder filling would make the milk/dark chocolate not get soft on the outside, and nope!  It still does.  I had read that chocolate chips were bad to use for candy coating, and never realized why until using actual candy coating on the 2nd half of my batch because I ran out of chocolate chips.
I did a room temp test, leaving both truffles out all day.  The chocolate chip covered ones got soft, but the candy coating covered ones stayed hard, and kept that bite to it I want a hard candy shell to have!  It’s so rewarding to have that work, and know there’s a store right in the mall for me to buy amazing candy melts that work as well as these ones did!  I’m still amazed that they stayed hard all day, it’s so great!
It made me realize that the tools of the trade are important.  Like I said, I’ve read in tons of places to use candy coating, and not WIltin, but was liek psssh whatevs I’ll use what I have.  But after dealing with a coating I don’t have to temper, tha tmelted like silk, and that set in the time it took me to roll the last truffle in the chocolate, I’m sold on the candy coating way of making truffles.  I’m going to probably stock up on both white, and molk chocolate flavors of these, so excited that I can use these for candy, and stick with using chocolate chips for baking!  Super pumped that I got a cheesecake filling recipe I really like to, and that I made it by doing some test kitchen attempts before I found something that worked for me, and using a recipe as a basic guideline.  Baking level up, +2!

Sakura’s Theme/Sweet Song Cover is Finally Released, and My Triumphant Return to On Cam Videos!

 

I’ve had this done siNCE October, and I feel so bad it hasn’t come out until now.  I really wanted to do a video with me singing on it cuz I love this song, and this game so much.  But I got self concious again, and kept on putting it off.  The other day, I just decided to jump into doing video again, after a long period of self-reflecting, and support from different youtubers on twitter.  I got so wrapped up in how the video looked, how long it would take to set up, prepare, that I forgot that at the end of the day, just record video, no matter the quality you’re putting yourself out there.  So with that in mind, I did this simple video, and really enjoyed it.  I recorded another vlog like video that will be coming out soon, which is also something I’m really excited about!  I’ve wanted to vlog for ages and have always been afraid to, but this year I really want to stop thinking about what other people will think, and just do what I want to do.

I also can do very basic video editing in Reaper, which is great for the type of videos I want to do.  I was able to sync this one up myself, by listening to the audio of the video and lining it up with the audio of the track.  It’ll help loads with getting videos out consistently, because another huge hurdle of mine was having to ask someone to do the editing for me.  Of course, if I wanted something more in depth, I’d have to outsource, but it’s nice to have the ability to put out simple videos like this whenever I want to.  It’s very exciting to have this cover out, the way I always wanted to release it, and I’m really happy I didn’t settle for using stock footage, or game clips or something.

 

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this cover!  Next video will be more chatty, then we’ll see what other covers, or originals, I come out with next.  Working on a lot of stuff right now, just not sure how soon I’ll be able to release it.

Getting More Into Candy Making, What I Did for Easter!

Hi everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful Easter.  I spent time away from the internet, and spent it with family.  I do that a lot sans the internet unjacking, so it was honestly nice to not be on the internet a ton today, really need to do that more.  But this weekend, I’ve been doing more experimenting with candy making in general, and have been having a blast, so I wanted to talk about that!

So the two things I wanted to make for Easter were chocolate covered caramels, and cheesecake truffles.  The caramels turned out great, but cheesecake/cream cheese fillings need some work.  The caramels were a two day process:  I made caramel chews first, like think of the taffy caramels you can get form teh store, and let them set over night.  It was pretty easy to do those, because the process was the same as making caramel sauce, only substituting 1/4 of a cup of water for 1/4 of a cup corn syrup.  But I was really happy with myself:  I could figure out when to take the sugar off of the burner with smell, and the other two times I had my Mom look at the consistancy of the color of the sugar before taking it off the burner because I didn’t want to mess it up.  But I’ve been looking up a lot of tricks on how to tell sugar is done with other senses:  like smell, taste (have to do this one really carefully) and feel (also, be very careful with this).  I also found a cool trick with a glass of cold water, too.  Take some of the syrup on a spoon, dip it in the water, and see what consistancy it is when the sugar is cool to see if it’s how you want it.  But the major sense I use is smell:  If it smells like it’s kind of bitter, on the verge of smelling a little burnt, it’s pretty good to go.  After that, I taste it to see if I want the caramel a little darker, or liek it the way it is, and then if I liek it pull it off and add the rest of the ingredients.  Though I cannot stress how cautious you have to be!  Like I’m all for independance in the kitchen as a blind baker, but some things I know not to test my limits with:  I make sure the sugar is cool enough to touch, and when it’s time to pour the caramel chews into the pan to set, I let my Mom do it because I know I wasn’t comfortable spreading it out on the prepared cooking sheet.  One time I tried pouring caramel sauce in a container and got burnt by sugar, and it’s not an experience I really want to repeat.  Honestly it’s a big step for me baking-wise, because before hand I would have wanted to do everything myself, because in my head not doing eeeeverything means I didn’t make it myself which is silly because pouring caramel into a pan is not even remotely a cooking step haha.  But nice to see I’ve grown up a bit in the year of baking I’ve been doing, for sURE!

 

After waiting over night for my caramels to set (you can wait a few hours, but I wanted to do the dipping the next day – making the centers for the chocolates was exhausting).  I cut the caramels into pieces to pull a part…only to realize I was going to roll them into balls to dip in chocolate anyways, and didn’t have to do that step at all lol.  It was nice to see cutting the caramels wasn’t as sticky as I thought it would be though, and rolling the caramels for dipping even less so:  It was a lot of fun pulling apart the chews like taffy, rolling them and dipping in melted chocolate, and the end result was divine!  I got 20 chocolate covered caramels out of them, and still have about four left because my family has been eating them up, they’re so tasty!  I had a really funny accident in picking what chocolate to dip in, because there were two packages of chocolate chips on the counter and I thought they were the same chocolate.  After my Mom had one and said “These are really good, what chocolate did you use?” I went “…there was more than one chocolate?”  XD turned out we had both milk and dark chocolate, and I used dark for the caramels.  I would normally have used milk if I knew, and honestly the dark is so much better for these caramels because the bitter flavor of the dark chocolate offsets the caramel for this really rich, decadent candy, so woo for happy accidents!  I’ll definitely try using dark chocolate from now on, I usually don’t care for it but really like the richness it adds to home made treats.
So the caramels were a success, but the cheesecake truffles…well, I won’t say they weren’t a success, but I’m still working on the basic recipe for the fillings.  I realized I like working with firmer filings and won’t be trying to do any soft ones without some sort of binding agent involved, because just using cheesecake wasn’t working.  I saw some recipes that had half a cup of melted chocolate and half the cream cheese, so I may try that next time I do these.  This recipe I tried said it needed cookies crushed up in it and I wen “Pshaw! it will be fine” but I seriously think softer fillings need some sort of binding agent in them to make them more pliable, otherwise they just stick to your hands and make a mess while dipping.  I tried using Wiltins Candy Melts for the outer coating as well, and as much as I like them as fillings, they just are too thick, and over powering for my taste as an outer core.  I also tried just keeping cream cheese at a cold temperature, rolling in sugar, and dipping in milk chocolate, but that came out rahter soft and just…tasting like cream cheese balls lol.  Tasted kind of like chocolate cheesecake, but I’m not a huge fan of that, so I really think that doing the 1/2 cup cream cheese + 1/2 cup some chocolate (I’m thinking white, or the vanilla flavored candy melts so it tases liek a cheesecake cuz that’s what I was going for) or just using the cookie crumbs like the recipe said.  I really need to try that and see how much easier it will make working with softer fillings, but as usual, I’m chocolated out for the time being.  I’ll work on it next time I do chocolates, which will probably be for Mother’s Day.

 

I’m really, really enjoying candy making though!  It pairs well with baking, and you can get a bit more creative with it form the getgo, as opposed to straight up following a recipe with baking.  And, I’m super excited to combine it with baking!  Me and my brother already thought of adding caramel chews to brownies, or chocolate covered caramels to the middle of a cookie.  The possibilities are endless!!!  Today I had a cadberry bunny egg which is my favorite candy fro Easter, and it reminded me that I love nougat and really want to try and make tha tnext for candy fillings.  I hope they’re easy to work with though haha.

 

So far my favorite methods are the caramel chews and firmer candy fillings, like a firm chocolate ganache.  Anything softer hasn’t worked for me, but like I said neeed to experiment with adding something firmer into the mix to see if that makes them easier to  manage.  OVerall, enjoying my candy making progress, can’t wait to try more!
I hope yu all had a wonderufl Easter, would love to hear of any goodies you ate or made for the holiday!