There's No Business Like Show Business

...especially when it comes to throwing my schedule into complete turmoil.

Over the past several weeks I've been kept super busy with work and rehearsals (and the actual show, of course) and my attempt to keep up some semblance of a social life in the midst of all that chaos. It was rough. But after 4 shows, the run of Annie Get Your Gun is over and I can move on to finish my summer as a normal person.

Aw, who am I kidding? I have three weeks left to study as hard as I can for my Qualifying Exam, which is basically the most important exam of my whole life. That means nonstop studying between then and now. In fact, I should be studying right now. In order to get back to my textbooks as quickly as possible, I will have to keep this post brief.

Yes, I realize I'm backlogged on 4 posts now. I'll give you pictures, brief descriptions, and will do my best not to wax too scientific on you.

After all my trip to Michigan funtime, I decided that I really like hazelnut flavoring in my coffee. This made me think that perhaps I would also enjoy hazelnuts in cookies too, so I chose to make hazelnut orange shortbread (55).

This was an interesting recipe, because the dough is about half flour and half toasted hazelnuts (which, I admit, I think I burned a little bit), and the orange zest has a nice strong taste. There's cane sugar on top, which adds just enough sweetness to help keep this shortbread from tasting like a granola bar... or, at least I was a bit reminded of some Nature Valley business or some such. My coworkers disagreed.

(marked as a best cookie) The week after that I decided that, being the middle of summer, it was the perfect time to make what I consider to be a perfect dessert for the summer: lemon bars (56). I'm not sure if it was the recipe, or if it's just an inherent quality of lemon bars, but these were SO GOOD. When I brought them in to work I encouraged everyone around me to eat them up so I wouldn't.

The recipe for the crust had an unusual instruction in it: it called for grating frozen butter so that it could be mixed with the flour and sugar. I think my grater was too fine, though, because by the time I got halfway through a stick the end had started to melt.

After that, I made peanut butter and jelly bars (57). These were a late-night endeavor, thrown together after loading everything into the theater and running through musical and technical rehearsals, so I chose something simple that required minimal shopping. What these bars did call for, however, was a LOT of peanut butter. A medium-sized jar of peanut butter went into this recipe, along with a couple sticks of butter and some other random stuff. Essentially what these are is a peanut butter dough covered with a layer of strawberry jam (homemade by my grandma), and then covered with another layer of peanut butter dough and roughly chopped peanuts.

When I tried these, I found, to my dismay, that they taste just like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that has been in a lunchbox all morning. My friends said they really liked these, but something put me off. It may be that I don't like how strawberry jam goes with peanut butter. It may be that the consistency made me think of elementary school cafeterias. I don't know. But I wasn't particularly fond of these bars. I did like the peanut butter dough, though, so I might see about revising this recipe to make peanut butter cookies (especially considering the melty peanut butter cookies I made last year).

Finally, this past weekend, I found myself a tiny bit of free time to whip together some key lime bars (58). Now, I love key lime pie, and I like lime in general, and so Saturday turned into a lime fiasco by mistake: my family came over to see the musical, and while they were here I served them Pad Thai (with lime), limeade, and these bars. But that's slightly off-topic.

I like these bars (although not as much as the lemon bars) - the key lime juice makes them exceptionally tart, so that adding whipped cream on top tones them down just enough to be amazing. I'm also particularly fond of graham cracker crusts, which is exactly what is on the bottom layer. The top layer is made with key lime juice, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk.

Aside from baking, I've picked up a couple things to keep me occupied in my nonexistent free time: I've been reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I've spent a bit of time getting stars in Super Mario Galaxy, and I've started watching an old BBC comedy called 'Are you Being Served?'. I expect that I will be dropping all three of these in order to study more this month.

I'll try to keep the cookie posts up, although I warn in advance that everything I choose will be chosen for its quick prep time.

Ok that is all for now ^.^

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