..that's where we wanna go, to get away from it all

Greetings from South Florida! It's finally Spring Break, and I have left the cold and blustery Midwest weather for a more comfortable climate this week.

Traveling to get here was fun, but the kind of fun that is like going to the dentist: I flew out of Bloomington, IL, which has a very tiny airport with free (!) parking, but I got there way too early, and I had to change flights in Dallas, which was rather out of the way, and eventually I made it to the MIA.

While in Dallas, I saw a few iPod vending machines. These didn't just have headphones or Shuffles, but there were iPod Touches in there (so, like, items costing $300+). Who drops that much money on an impulse like that? I spent less money to fly than it is to casually purchase such an item. Here, I'll show you:

It's nice to be able to come back and visit here: Miami is sort of like a home to me, but sort of not (although I did live here for some 8 years). I like seeing familiar things, and I'm glad to have been able to visit with a couple friends. Unfortunately, most of my good friends from high school have gone elsewhere, for undergrad or graduate studies, or just for not living here anymore. As for the question of where I'm from, I'm still not sure. I'll work on that one later.

Another funny thing that reminds me of old times is that I went shopping with my grandma, and the sales lady who helped us couldn't believe 1)that I'm as old as 23 and 2)that Grandma is actually my grandma and not my mother. Of course, when I was younger, my height made people think I was older, but the grandma thing has been recurring for a while now.

I think that is all I have to say about Miami for now, maybe I'll post more later (but most probably not)

The real purpose of this post is to give two cookie updates. I got so caught up in teaching and finishing homework last week that I didn't find the time to post after baking.

The peanut butter and chocolate things I had made were so disappointing that two Saturdays ago I decided to go with something safe, and made pecan biscotti (37). These were incredibly easy to mix, especially since they called for vegetable oil instead of butter. However, as with all biscotti, they took a while to bake: I think I mentioned this before, but I had to shape the dough into a flat log, bake for about half an hour, cut the cookies into their appropriate shape, and then bake them for another fifteen minutes.

These cookies were much more popular with my friends - in fact, the three dozen or so I made were gone by the end of Monday (i.e. the day I brought them in).

(marked as a best cookie) This previous weekend the break forced me to choose a recipe with a smaller yield: most of my friends left town very early Saturday morning, so I did my baking Friday night, dropped about half of the batch off with people who were going to go camping in Tennessee, and ended up bringing the rest with me to Miami to share. Perhaps I should mention that I made brown butter toffee blondies (38). Brown butter is made simply by cooking butter over medium heat until it turns brown. This changes the flavor and texture a bit, and the slightly nutty taste goes fantastically with the toffee and walnuts. Honestly, I thought these were really delicious, and I think I'll have to make them again to share, perhaps this summer (I'm also happy to share the recipe). The picture doesn't do them justice - I think I undercooked the blondies a little, which left them nice and a little bit squishy on the inside, meaning they stayed moist and were just how they should be.

Yes, I'll definitely be making these again.


Slightly underwhelmed

Last weekend was a continuation of my crazy cooking/baking/doing everything at once from last week. I slept in on Saturday (after all, it was my only chance to get a good sleep before diving back in to the homework cycle), then went to Sam's Club and Meijer. At Sam's, I picked up something like two pounds of smoked salmon, which makes me very happy (and when I start eating it, I will be even happier). I will not be eating it straight like Cassi has, though: she has a pack that she's been keeping in the office fridge, and at lunch time she gets it out and just eats strips of it. I'm ok with that, but I think the flavor can be better enjoyed with, perhaps, a bagel.

Part of my busyness is due to my decision to make coffee cake to share with my first-year friends for the Brinner (that is, breakfast for dinner) we had on Saturday night. So I called my grandma up to get her recipe, and made my first coffee cake ever. The recipe is fairly straightforward - the dough has yeast, flour, sugar, &c. and has to rise several times before it's time to roll it out and add the pastry filling. Fortunately, I didn't have to make my own filling, and this time around I used apricot, only because the raspberry filling was out of stock when I ran to the store. Next time I will use raspberry. But, fruit choices aside, it turned out very nicely, once I moved the pan high enough in the oven that the bottoms didn't burn. You can see in the picture that it's very pretty too, which is good because visual appeal is an important part of the food experience.

My cookies from Saturday, on the other hand, did not turn out to be quite as good. These are what my cookbook calls "Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies" (36), but I don't think they call for so much enthusiasm as that. The cookie part is very floury, with some unsweetened cocoa and buttermilk involved (oh, and lots of butter too), but I find that, perhaps just because I'm comparing it to other foods, the cookie flavor is somewhat bland. The layer in the center is peanut butter mixed with butter and powdered sugar, which, to be honest, seems like a bit of a waste. The recipe calls for taking two cookies and sandwiching them together with the frosting in between. When I did this, it was like eating a small hamburger, and I didn't like it. Instead, I chose to keep the frosting separate and to bring it in with the cookies so that my friends could put the peanut butter mixture on the cookies in whatever quantities they decided were appropriate.

I find myself underwhelmed by this recipe, so I expect not to revisit it after my project ends. I suppose this is alright, though - in three years when this project ends, it'll probably be good to have some recipes eliminated so that I don't just go through the cycle again.


Martha Stewart is a liar and I am a nerd.

Yesterday, I went swimming as I usually do, and after picking up a few ingredients, I settled down in my apartment to cook up a storm. And so after several hours' work, I made myself some pretty decent pad thai and a delicious beef and beer stew. The stew kind of reminds me of french onion soup, but with a nice brown beer taste included. If you're up to cooking for 3+ hours, I highly recommend it.

After all my cooking, it was time for baking. This week's recipe is mini black and white cookies (35), which are like the big ones, just smaller. How much smaller? Well, I'm pretty sure the recipe meant to make the cookies teaspoon-sized instead of tablespoon-sized, so these are about 2" in diameter. The cookie part is very simple: the buttermilk added to the recipe makes it taste like cake instead of a usual cookie, and otherwise the ingredients are pretty typical. The frosting is also fairly straightforward: confectioners' sugar, corn syrup, water, vanilla, lemon juice, and dutched cocoa added to make the chocolate half. I think that perhaps there's a bit too much lemon juice for the white frosting, but the chocolate is very tasty.

All in all, I declare these cookies worth making again, although I think I'll try making them smaller so perhaps they won't puff up so much (I doubled the recipe since I was promised a yield of 4 dozen and definitely got 2 dozen...).

As for being a nerd, I definitely looked at these cookies lying out on the counter and started to think of them as being magnetic dipoles that weren't aligned, like in a paramagnet. Fortunately, my thought train stopped there, but I'm a little ashamed that I even thought that way.

Okay, I think that's it for now, as usual I'm very busy, so I don't have too many interesting things to say. Perhaps I'll try to drum something good up for next week.


Related Posts with Thumbnails