Backlog, take 2

I apologize for my tardiness in posting yet again, despite it being summer, I've been insanely busy. A typical day for me lately goes like this: wake up and go to work, from work go to rehearsal, from rehearsal go out with people. Rinse and repeat for at least half of the week. Weekends get changed up a little, but I like to go swimming, and then (again) end up spending time with my friends. Whom I love. So it's cool.

The first set of cookies shown here are a basic chocolate chip cookie (50), with ingredients set up so that they're thin and crunchy. You can see Domo is crunching on this one. As far as making chocolate chip cookies to have different textures, one has to vary the ingredients. I'm noticing that things that are crunchy typically have more butter and less flour (cakey things go the other way). At first when I realized this it came as a surprise: for some reason I thought that butter would make things moist or something. This is not true. But yes, these were pretty good, plus they were convenient to make while I was over at my friend's house watching the first Transformers movie.

On the following weekend I was in my cousin's wedding (congratulations Whitney and Adam!!), so I drove home for a whirlwind weekend of fun. I was completely unable to make cookies then, but I managed to sneak some baking in on Wednesday when I decided it was too hot to leave my apartment. Baking didn't really help, but these cookies were quick to make and worked well for the pool party I went to with the people from my lab.

These are called Honey Florentines (51). They're made with butter and honey, some sugar, and the tiniest amount of flour. This is the kind of cookie that melts all over the place in the oven, and the lacelike texture is a result of things boiling and then cooling. Although they were very buttery, these cookies gave the illusion of being a light snack, and they seemed to go over well at the pool party.

(marked as a best cookie) Finally we have Sunday's (yes, I was late again) concoction, Peach Drop Cookies (52), which have won their way onto my top five list. There's a couple reasons why I like these so much: first, they basically taste like Snickerdoodles with peaches in them. Second, their texture is soft and cakelike (more flour, less butter!). Third, they were super easy to make. Aside from the normal ingredients, these cookies have chopped peach bits and homemade peach jam in them. I did not make the jam - it was a Christmas gift from my grandma, which means I should call her and tell her about how I used it. These taste so good... they were especially delicious when I had just taken them out of the oven, and I have to admit I downed about half a dozen while they were still warm. I blame it on that they're too good. As long as peaches are in season, I may end up making these again.

Alright, it's time to get back to work. Rehearsal is picking up since the show is about a month away, and Quals are coming up in two months, so I've really got to get my act together. Oh, right, and posting this stuff on time would be nice too.



Well, the semester ended, I passed all my classes, and ran home for a week. After that I crashed in Ann Arbor for a couple days, during which I spent fun times with several of my close friends from undergraduate times, and wowed them with my cooking and baking skills. It helped that I made Truffle Brownies (47), which are now my favorite kind of brownies ever. Yes, these even top Grandma Carol's buttermilk brownies (although I may have to make those sometime again just to check).

These brownies have a lot involved: the base starts with sugar and eggs whipped together for several minutes, with melted unsweetened chocolate and butter added in, followed by the usual blend of flour, baking powder, and salt. Whipping stuff at the beginning makes the brownies pretty light, and the chocolate is nice and dark, which is how it ought to be. After the brownie part is baked and cooled, it is topped with a ganache made from heavy whipping cream and semisweet chocolate. All in all, the experience is one of chocolate decadence, which means tasty tasty bliss. And how is it that I can talk about something I made 3 recipes ago with such detail? It might have something to do with me making it again more recently for a friend's party.

Soon after that baking endeavor, I returned to my own home and started work in the new lab (well, it's new for me). That week basically consisted of me working on a simple optics problem, which actually meant learning how to use Matlab... until I realized that I needed to be using Mathematica. Basically, these are both computational programs, but the first is for numerical stuff (i.e. processing data) and the second is for symbolic stuff (that is, solving equations with variables). I'm actually still not done with that I need to do, but it's a lot of work to learn how to make Mathematica do what I want it to do. I'll get it eventually, though, and then I'm sure I'll be glad to have worked on it.

After concluding a week spent almost exclusively working on the computer, I decided it was time to make cookies that were a little more involved than usual. And so I made what my cookbook calls Alfajores de Dulce de Leche (48). Essentially, these are shortbread cookies (well, less sugar and more flour) sandwiching a layer of dulce de leche. If I had really wanted to work hard, I would have made my own dulce de leche by boiling sweetened condensed milk forever (that is, like 5 hours), but it's summer and I don't like to add more heat to my apartment than is necessary. These were tasty cookies, although a bit rich, and the center layer had to be put on just before eating them, so I kind of didn't like that I couldn't present them already prepared.

Another week passed, with more work (finally some lab work too, hooray) and an audition snuck in on Friday night. As if I don't have enough to do what with preparing for the Qual, learning what I need to do in the lab, and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life, I am now singing in the ensemble for CUTC's Annie Get Your Gun. If you're not familiar with the show, here's my synopsis: this is a musical about a woman who's a champion sharpshooter, and she's in love with a guy who can't handle the idea of a woman being better than him. Throw in some other standard Musical Theater types - a young couple's forbidden love and a bunch of chorus numbers - and you've got this show. Although I'm sure I make it sound bad, I actually think it's pretty cute and I'm really excited to be involved ^.^

That weekend I got some of my favorite ingredients (toffee and butterscotch, mostly) to make butterscotch cashew blondies (49), which turned out to be exceptional. I ended up bringing these to a potluck lunch party for a friend, and everyone enjoyed them. Since these are blondies, they're pretty dense, and the three flavors mentioned above blend fantastically.

Okay, I'm off to lunch with friends, I didn't skip last Saturday's cookies, I just don't have them ready to post yet. Expect another rambling entry soon.


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