After I moved in with Mr. W and dug out the recipe for Rosca de los Reyes, I read the bit about the person who find the muneca in the bread has to host a party for Candlemas. I started celebrating Candlemas by making my own candles with an at home kit. It works out really well for votive candles and I save spent candles through out the year so I can reuse the left over wax. After a few years I deided to branch out votives and bought a mould for 3" pillars. Those ones are a little harder to fill the well that gets created in the center, but as the years pass I continue to learn from my mistakes and improve the process the following year.
The process for making candles is as follows:
1) Cover your work table with newspaper
2) Hack up the bock of wax into meltable chunks. Rather than contaminating our double boiler, I place a glass measuring cup in a pan filled with water. When we combined households we had lots of duplicates so these are pieces that I only use for candle making. The pour spout and handle help to get all the melted wax into the candle moulds. Early on I used to have lots of spills of wax not getting into the mould.3) Add in color to the wax once it has melted. A little goes a long way. If I am reusing wax from old candles I skip this step and the next.4) Once the wax is the color you want add in fragrance is desired.
5) Pour the wax slowly into the moulds. As it cools the wax will create a sink hole in the middle of the candle so make sure you save enough hot wax in the pitcher to refill the well.6) Once the wax is in the mould slowly insert the wick. I learned the hard way that this has to happen after the wax is first poured in otherwise the wax on the wick will get melted off and then the candle won't burn properly.7) As the wax cools and the well forms around the wick, insert a toothpick to help release any air bubbles.8) Pour in more melted wax into the well making sure to not pour in more wax above the original level of wax. While I am waiting for the candle to set up before I do the second pour, I put he pitcher back into the pan of water which I leave on simmer so the wax stays melted. Then I turn up the heat so that the wax reaches the proper temperature before doing the second pour.
9) Once the wax has completely cooled and the candle has been set up, remove the candle form the mould by pulling gently on the wick. It should pop right out. Trim down the wicks to 1/4" inch before burning.One of my sources listed tamales and Mexican hot chocolate as traditional dishes to serve for Candlemas. Everyone I know who has made or watched a family member make tamales has warned me that this isnot the type of food for the casual cook. I have heeded these warnings and have always bought the tamales. One year they were imported from my friend Ms. H in Tucson and other years Mr. W. bought them from his boss's favorite tamale stand in Hillsboro. Now that he isn't working that direction I have had to find a source closer to home. The last two years I have bought them from the Canby Asparagus Farm which has a tamale restaurant in downtown Milwaukie. It is still a little out there, but I don't have to cross the river to get there which is always a plus in my book.
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