Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie; Fresh Ginger & Chocolate Gingerbread

I'm not a huge fan of ginger, but I am a huge fan of chocolate so I was hoping I would like this recipe. It has some prep work (sometimes I feel like all I do is chop chocolate when I'm baking) but nothing too involved. There's the option to add stem ginger in addition to fresh grated ginger and ground ginger but I used some crystallized ginger in place of the stem kind. I wanted to like this recipe, and it smelled wonderful but it just didn't turn out correctly. My cake tasted dry and my frosting didn't look right either.Thank you to Heather of Sherry Trifle for the selection, I'm thinking my baking mojo was off this week.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fun mail

I love getting mail. Only fun mail though, the bills and insurance EOB's are not my idea of fun mail. I've ordered a few things lately and always get a thrill when I come home and I have a little package (this can be dangerous to my bank account however). Recently I got the following:

- Felt Circle necklace from Get Felt Up on Etsy (only $12.00!) Her stuff is so cute and affordable.- A collection of socks from Sock Dreams. I have been coveting nearly everything in this store for awhile and then a friend ordered some and that encouraged me to take the plunge and order. Most of their socks are made in the USA and shipping is free in the US. I really like all of the ones I ordered. There are a couple of pairs that are really, really long, but that is not their fault. I'm 5'2 and have short, stumpy legs.- Baking goodies from Bake It Pretty. She has got such a sweet collection of packaging, decorations, tools and little 'extras'. I bought two cookie cutters - a mushroom and a US map (I had a Inauguration day plan for this but ended up not having enough time), a frosting tip for cupcakes, cupcake liners and a package of old fashioned valentines. I'm contemplating ordering this candy mold, maybe for Easter? It looks very Spring-like.-Ball winder from Knit Picks. Doug built me a swift and he thought he could come up with some type of ball winder but I got impatient and just ordered one from Knit Picks. Now I make my own yarn 'cakes'. Sweet. (that's Fleece Artist Trail Sock on the winder)- This tunic dress from AD LOVE on Etsy. I love, love, love it. I don't know if I'm hip enough to pull it off but I don't really care at this point.

I did not get this in the mail but I downloaded some music from the Mountain Goats a few weeks ago. I 'found' their songs while watching Moral Orel on Adult Swim. It's hard to acurately describe Moral Orel. It's odd and sad/funny/beautiful and really twisted. The Moutain Goats had a few songs on the show and I dug around and found their music and was immediately drawn to it. Their Wikipedia page better describes the music and the songs.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Berry Surprise Cake

This week's selection comes from Mary Ann of Meet Me in the Kitchen. There was no picture accompanying this recipe in the book, which concerned me because I need a visual when it's something that is supposed to have a certain look to it. Essentially this cake was a genoise cake the middle scooped out and filled with a cream cheese filling, raspberries and frosted with homemade whipped cream.
As you're whipping the eggs and then folding in the dry ingredients you're supposed to be very careful and not 'upset' the eggs. I tried to be careful but I still must have angered the eggs because my cake hardly rose it all. It was almost like I didn't have enough batter. But I trudged on and made the filling, syrup and whipped cream.
Since the cake didn't rise very much I didn't have a lot of space in the middle to cut out but I did what I could with what I had. I used the cut out part to make a little deconstructed cake for me. I put the cut out cake pieces in a bowl, soaked it in some of the raspberry syrup and then added a dollop of the filling, some raspberries and some whipped cream. It was divine. The cake was the excellent 'sponge' for the raspberry syrup and the filling was delicious with the raspberries. The cake itself looked awful, not a pretty picture at all, so all I have to show you is my deconstructed cake, but it tasted SO good. Doug approved. In retrospect this recipe is great but the assembly is not so wonderful. I think it would be much better put together as a trifle in a big glass bowl. Regardless of its appearance it tasted excellent. I would definitely make it again (just as a trifle).
Thanks Mary Ann!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Book love

Growing up I spent hours and hours running my hands across the spines of books at the public library and my school library. The library was always my favorite place at school. I was terrible at math, had no athletic skills and in the very beginning of elementary school I didn't have many friends so the library was my own little escape. There were very few things I exceed at in school but reading was one of them. As soon as I learned to read I was at the library constantly. Reading was and still is my escape. It is harder to read now that I'm always knitting though. And audio books don't bring me the same satisfaction that a hardback does. I checked out the maximum number of books allowed every time I went to the school or the public library. I went through numerous 'book phases' too, Encyclopedia Brown, The Boxcar Children, The Baby-Sitters Club, Sweet Valley High, Nancy Drew, R.L. Stine, Agatha Christie, Stephen King, VC Andrews (those were the ones you snuck and read when your mom wasn't around), Anne Rice, etc.

Lately, I've been trying to find copies of those books I checked out repeatedly when I was younger. Some of them are out of print, I did have luck finding "The Rain Catchers" which I know I checked out at least a dozen times from my middle school library, I bought it used on Amazon. Last week I was trying to think of the titles or authors of others books I remembered reading a lot. One was "Silver" by Norma Fox Mazer and the other was "A Summer to Die" by Lois Lowry. Of course part of the problem is that some of them have been reprinted and I really want the copies that are same as the ones I used to checkout, which is probably ridiculous. I still have some of my vast Baby-Sitter's Club book collection and a few Sweet Valley High books. I heard via another website or blog that they switched up some details in the SVH books to make them more 'modern'. Hmph...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Savory Corn & Pepper Muffins

This week's selection comes from Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake. She has a great blog with gorgeous pictures and excellent recipes. This was a non-dessert-y recipe which was a nice change of pace.
The original recipe calls for jalapeno, chili powder and red bell pepper. The 'Playing Around' part of the recipe omitted those things and increased the sugar for a richer less spicy version, which is what I did. I increased the corn a little but kept the recipe the same otherwise. It was an easy recipe to make and they would have been excellent with chili I think. However, since I married to the pickiest man on earth, I did not serve them with chili. Instead we ate them with buttermilk fried chicken. They were good, crumbly, very much like cornbread. And I think they could have used even more corn (at least I would have liked more corn in them). This was a welcome change from our regular sweet baking selection, thanks again Rebecca!

Monday, January 12, 2009

The best cookies you'll ever make and cables!

The Tuesdays with Dorie group has yet to pick the World Peace Cookies to make but I had heard about how mind blowing they were via other foodie bloggers. I really wanted to make them. Plus I took my first trip to Penzey's last weekend so I obtained the fleur del sel that I needed to make them, along with more vanilla beans, tandoori spice, crystallized ginger and other random spices.
Friday I took the plunge and pulled out the recipe book. The recipe for World Peace Cookies can be found here but if you don't own Dorie's book "Baking" buy it, it's completely worth it. I softened the butter, I chopped the chocolate, I blended and I refrigerated the dough. By the way, the dough was so good I ate a spoonful before I even baked them. Bittersweet chocolate + fleur de sel = magic. These cookies have a sandy, shortbread like texture and the melted chocolate chunks along with the salt taste so amazing I can't even describe it. It wasn't until I had a Vosges Barcelona bar that I realized how extraordinary of a combination sea salt and chocolate is.I tried to make some knitting resolutions for myself this year. For instance knit a complete pair of socks. I started a pair of socks last August but lost interest. This year I am determined to finish a pair. I also just purchased a pair of these tiny Hiya Hiya circular needles for socks, which I hope will help me instead of turning my hands into useless claws.
I want to knit a sweater that has to be seamed instead of top down, even as much as seaming scares the daylights out of me. Cables have also eluded me in my nearly 3 years of knitting. Finally after my knitting peeps convinced me I could do it I took it I knit an item with cables. It's a coffee sleeve and the pattern is from MissKnityPants via Ravelry via Craftster. I used some leftover Malabrigo. I'm assuming I made the cables correctly. They look right but that doesn't mean they are right.I completed my first finished knitting object on 2009 on Saturday (before the coffee cozy). It's the Bunny hat from Itty Bitty Baby Hats. I took it to the recipient and she liked it a lot. It is super cute. I've already cast on for another one to go to an equally adorable baby girl.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: French Pear Tart

Okay so this week's TWD really is 'with Dorie', Dorie Greenspan picked this week's recipe herself. How awesome is that?

This selection was a little involved, especially since I was making two small tarts instead of one big tart and I had to do math. Add to that the fact that I was not really feeling the baking bug this week and you've got a lackluster baking performance on my part. Which is totally embarrassing considering the author herself picked the recipe this week (hides face in shame).

I made the tart dough on Sunday and put it in the freezer until I was ready to use it Monday. I didn't use a food processor since I deemed my waaay too small, just my hands. The almond cream was quick to make, I used a handmixer. However, it wasn't until after the filling had been made and the tarts were in the oven that I realized I had used too much butter. The recipe calls for 6 tbsp., I used a whole stick, which is 8 tbsp., by mistake. Ugh. And even though it felt a little bit like sacrilege I used canned pears. I had two lovely looking Bosc pears on my counter but peeling pears, really peeling any fruit, is not my strong suit. I had two mini tarts in the oven plus a little souffle dish with the leftover almond cream. They were in the oven for about 40 minutes before the filling puffed up. (please ignore my ugly oven)Doug loved the tart, he kept saying "this is awesome. this is so good." I liked the tart but not as much as he did. Plus since I knew I had messed up the filling with the extra butter it felt off to me. My tarts don't look nearly as nice as the ones I've seen posted from my fellow TWD-ers but I gave it a shot. Thanks again to Dorie for taking time to answer the questions everyone has asked over the year and for participating with us. Her book has some wonderful recipes and stories and I am happy to be a part of Tuesdays with Dorie. I always have fun making the recipes and trying things I've never even considereing making on my own.

Monday, January 05, 2009

So this is the new year...

Yes, I am using song lyrics for post titles now. I'm running out of original ideas. So, 2009, woohoo! This is a big celebration year. Our 5 year wedding anniversary is in February, my 28th birthday is in April and Doug's 40th birthday is in July. 28 is not that big of a deal but 40 is. I'm already pondering ways to celebrate Doug's milestone.

Last year I made a massive list of New Year's resolutions, really they were things I wanted to accomplish in 2008. The list was broken down into sections like "Financial", "Spiritual", "Physical", "Homekeeping", "Crafting", "Travel", "Doing Good", etc. Truthfully I did accomplish a few things on the list but others I did not. This year I'm lowering my expectations. A lot of that has to do with me becoming happier with the person I am and not looking so much to change. I'm about a million miles from being anywhere close to perfect and there's always room for improvement but I am much happier with myself than I was a year ago.

This year I hope to travel more, donate more money to worthwhile organizations, lessen my impact on environment, finally learn how to ride my pink bike, knit socks, sew a skirt, enlarge my garden, buy more food locally and volunteer more frequently. I'm also going to start taking better advantage of the opportunities I have, whenever I have them. Sometimes it's okay to leap before you look.
On an unrelated note, I've been wearing this song out on my iPod this weekend (don't judge). I have a crush on Wayne Coyne. Lyrics found here.