Gingerbread mischief

December 10, 2011 at 17:54 | Posted in Desserts, Experiments, Tried and True | Leave a comment
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This is Rapunzel's Tower!

Hansel and Gretel caused a cranky old woman to come to a bad end by enjoying a life-size gingerbread house. Despite the bad precedents, gingerbread houses are a traditional holiday food craft enjoyed by many modern Americans.

This is my favorite. It appears to be from Alice in Wonderland.

The smell of spices is an olfactory hit of holiday nostalgia, taking many of us back to childhood and rolling out gingerbread dough, using Lifesaver candy as windows, and an abundance of frosting to hold the thing together.

Every December the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner hosts a Gingerbread House Contest. The community embraces the opportunity to display their creativity with candy, frosting, baked goods, and an abundance of patience. Thematically most embrace the holidays, though some are simply exercises in imagination.

A delicious Mt. St. Helens.

I love judging. I have been known to look down my nose at things like gingerbread house kits, but they are a good idea for the family that isn’t comfortable in the kitchen, but wants to participate in a tradition.

This is a storybook castle. Regular. Run of the mill awesome.

Why didn’t I enter the competition with an Occupy North Pole offering?

Maybe next year.

I’m never gonna go back to Ohio!

November 30, 2011 at 23:49 | Posted in Desserts, FAIL | 1 Comment
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Jason Robert Brown wrote a musical several, several years ago called The Last 5 Years. I’m currently (again) very into the song A Summer in Ohio. The lyrics are set to a bouncy tempo and describe the female protagonist’s hellish 90 days in Ohio. Again. It paints a picture of disappointment (and paying dues) as she sings about all the things she could be doing instead of spending time in the O-H (I-O).

Ultimate noms about to occur.

Anyway the connection is the lyric, “I guess I’m doing something right. I finally got something right.”

Again, the food connection?

I think about all the failures I’ve done in the last several months and how they taught me to succeed and that they weren’t failures. Just steps along the learning curve.

Unlike the little turtle friend I believe the best is still yet to come. In life and cooking.

Here’s a recipe for thumbprint cookies. They’re a fine christmassy treat and this recipe relatively modifiable. You’ll see various photos of my successes with these cookies flip across the banner up to sometimes.

Crust 3.14

November 17, 2011 at 09:35 | Posted in Desserts, Pies | Leave a comment
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Truth be known I tend to buy my pie crusts since this is kind of involved, but it does work. This entry is also brought to you entirely via the WordPress app. We’ll see how that goes.

Delicate, flaky, flavorful pie crust. One that is intact enough to support and hug its filling, but light enough dissolve when eaten.

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Noms.

Soggy, tough, doughy, and ick pie crust.

Not noms.

With a bit of practice, and a bit of knowledge, most people can achieve a good pie crust. Not all people, but most.

The enemy of a perfect crust is gluten, aided and abetted by it’s sidekick water. Gluten is found in wheat and other grains, and it is formed when the flour is mixed with water. Gluten formation with bread is a good thing. With pie crust, not so good. Water makes it possible for gluten to exist, much like without the Joker there would be no Batman.

Were Batman a chemical reaction some are allergic to.

The friends of a perfect crust are vodka and lard or vegetable shortening.

I prefer shortening because I have a thing with the term lard.

I know that combining vodka and shortening sounds like a hazing ritual for a fraternity, but trust me, they are key to preventing the formation of gluten and making sure your pie crust is a delicious piece of Gotham City. Or Heaven.

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Some science:
Vodka, a liquid, and depending on your brand, tends to be about 60% water and 40% alcohol. The moisture of the water and alcohol together make the dough workable, but the alcohol boils off in the baking process, stopping the formation of gluten, and allowing your crust to be the best it’s ever been. It turns out that having liquor on hand while cooking is not just to mix it at Thanksgiving.

Who knew?

Experiment with flavored vodkas. Making a Lemon Pie? Use Lemon vodka. Making a Chicken Pot Pie? Peppar or Ginger could be the way to go.

This advice coming from a self-proclaimed terrible baker may not be what you call “credible” but it’s a well-known secret. If that’s possible.

Get in the kitchen and make me a… Part 2

November 10, 2011 at 14:27 | Posted in Desserts, FAIL, Pies | 1 Comment
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So here it is finally. The pie slide show. Sorry I’m a little late.

I mentioned in a previous entry that I made this pie because I was thinking about my Grandma. She recently fell and broke her hip into 3 pieces. She’s had surgery and is now in physical therapy.

Here's a picture of Grandma with my mom when she was small.

I think she’s having a rough time with it. She doesn’t really want to do the physical therapy. They’re trying to make her build up her upper body strength.

Anyway! The pie. My mom has a good recipe for egg custard, but I always misplace it. If I searched my email long enough I might find it but I just used the one from here. My grandma is important to me and even though I can’t be with her while she’s doing this, I am thinking about her and praying for her recovery.

The pie didn’t turn out very well. It was OKAY but not amazing. I should have asked my mom for the recipe. For shame Nikki.

Get in the kitchen and make me a…

October 29, 2011 at 21:35 | Posted in Desserts, Experiments | 1 Comment
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PIE! SANDWICH!

i should be i the kitchen!

Should I?

I don’t need a watch… there’s a clock on the stove!

In other news I made an egg custard pie. I’ve never used that recipe before. I took a ton of photos so I’ll make a snappy little movie to illustrate the endeavor and whether or not it turned out well. My dear husband Joshua does NOT like this pie, but I do. It makes me think of my Grandma because she and I used to go share a slice at the local cafeteria when I was small.

I’ve been a little off my game lately (throwing out a LOT of food) and I aim to fix that with this pie. I hope. I even followed the recipe! I’ll have that movie up on Monday.

Muffins vs. Cupcakes

October 21, 2011 at 11:57 | Posted in Desserts | 11 Comments

Sometimes baked goods don't get along because they are so similar.

Get on my level.


When it comes to cupcakes and muffins there’s a lot to be said. Sometimes scraping the frosting off of a cupcake will yield a basic, boring muffin or peeling the paper off a muffin reveals a basic, boring muffin. Andrew, Marmian and Tania weigh-in on muffin tops, cupcake sprinkles and whether beauty is truly on the inside, in this sound clip.

If you don’t listen to this- part of your life will be missing.

36 degrees and windows down

October 8, 2011 at 21:56 | Posted in Desserts, FAIL, Tried and True | 8 Comments
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Having your windows down in the car when it’s slightly above freezing because you’re hot may not be the best plan, but in Alaska it’s like that. I think I may have invited a little cold into my head.

Chocolate chip cookie dough

Cookie dough I made yesterday. It's best to refrigerate it after you make it.

I have lots of things to do but I took a sick day.

Between the sniffles and the dental work, I think this week is ready to end.

I made this cookie dough yesterday with the intent on having some almond flour in the house by now, but the road to all-purpose flour is paved with good intentions. Or something like that. I used the recipe on the package of chips. They’re kind of fun because I used white chocolate chips and regular semi-sweet chips. If the store had had peanut butter chips I would have used those.

Cookies are a little burnt

I burnt these a little because I didn't set a timer. It's part of why I'm a horrible baker.

I can make thumbprint jam cookies really well. I think because those are more like making bread and don’t require such specific measurements. Disappointing. I really like baking in the fall, so there will possibly be a lot of baking in the future.

I’m going to keep trying to make baked goods, but I’m a bad baker. Something about the level measurement of cups and tablespoons doesn’t really click with me. It’s why I’m a better cook than baker. I aspire to delicate french pastry and cookies, braised butter and homemade candy. It’s frustrating. I think I need to take a class.

It was kismet

September 9, 2011 at 12:12 | Posted in Desserts, Experiments, Pies | 4 Comments
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Lemon curd is amazing. It is, by and far, my favorite curd.

It’s tart. It’s yellow. It’s curd-tastic.

This particular batch of lemon curd came to be last weekend. Using this recipe, I preconceived what I would bless with this lemon curd, but as many concepts go, it didn’t work out. I was trying to make lemon financiers. That experiment didn’t turn out so well (failure) and I had a lot of lemon curd leftover.

Artsy filter shot of the final product: 24 bite sized lemon meringue pies. Born on 9/8/11.

For the duration of its life, lemon curd patiently lived in my refrigerator, awaiting a time when it could follow its fortune as a filling.

That day was today.

It may have been happenstance that my tryst with financiers had failed, but a rendezvous with lemon curd was meant to be, as the filling for a lemon meringue pie. I was setting up in the kitchen when it came to me! To do something different, I decided to use the mini-muffin pan and mini-cupcake papers to bake many bite sized pies. Oooooo. Fancy.

I pressed the crust, dolloped the lemon curd to its destiny and scaled the stiff peaks of meringue.

There may have been some kind of providence associated with this pint of lemon curd. That any destination this particular batch arrived, was to have a disastrous end. The meringues fell. I’m not sure if this was because I didn’t let the pies cool long enough before putting them in the refrigerator or if I didn’t let the meringues cook long enough. Either way, they are perfectly preserved in pictures.

Fortunately for me look doesn’t always equal taste. Despite the deflation of the meringue, in my opinion, the pies are still del.icio.us.

All for what? For tasty little snacks.

Click to View Recipes and Illustrations

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