I am not cool, and one of my blog crushes

I am resigned to the fact that I am not cool. I don’t know much slang, my daughter tries to help god love her. I don’t use text speak or abbreviate. Hate it. I am not one of those people who can pull off a hipster, bought this “vintage” shirt for $50 but act like I found it on the street looks. I am more Liz Lemon, librarian chic. I love cardigans and Game of Thrones, Sons of Anarchy (this might make me a littler cooler) and Bourne movies. I like good grammar and nice handwriting. I am a dorky old lady with a shady younger past who is happy to be in bed by 9:30.  So for all you cool people, high five to you, but I am never going to cool. I am good with that though. Dorky people come see me, I will bake you some cookies and pour you some lemonade. 

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Onto my blog crush-I have many, I am addicted to food blogs, design blogs, postsecret, etc. My baking addiction is my current crush. I love her recipes, photos and writing. So when she put up the honey-peanut butter cookies, I knew I had to make these for work. I decided since I had left my peanut butter at work, I am was going to use Trader Joe’s cookie butter (another place cool people hang out) I also used actual butter because I don’t buy butter shortening. They are pretty, and I am sure work is going to go crazy. Check out my baking addiction if you haven’t, it’s a great place for amazing recipes:

http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/honey-peanut-butter-cookies-recipe/

 

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Life is hard, jam doesn’t have to be

 

Life, man. It’s hard. You might be living the life you had imagined you always would, or a better one, or sometimes a worse one than you thought you might. Maybe you went down a completely different path than your parents, friends, yourself had wanted. Or maybe you are doing exactly as you wrote on a piece of paper back in junior high. Life, man it’s hard and real and great and tragic and deep and light and hopefully filled with love and laughter.

 

I grew up in a house of chaos. There wasn’t a lot of “normalcy” in my neck of the woods. There was disruption, confusion, lies, mistrust, loneliness, guard up, sometimes hands up. This is not meant to have anyone feel sorry for me, this isn’t pity party table for one. This is real life. In a moment of childhood weakness, upheaval feels like a sigh of relief. I hate this part of me, but it’s me. It’s the girl behind the lens, behind the cake, behind the blog. It’s the mom who does whatever she can to break a cycle, to control the chaos, to organize and plan and push for a real sense of security and normalcy. This is me, making up for the basic skills I lacked. There weren’t a lot of bbq’s, there were no hobbies and practices, not many vacations or happy memories. There was a life, my life, which made me who I am today. No matter how far we run from our roots, they are deep inside us, and sometimes they come up in a surprising way. 

So that is my deep part of this post, the dark place in which I sometimes go. But here is something happy, something tasty, simple and delicious-strawberry jam. Many people are afraid to tackle jam, with the canning and the boiling, etc. But don’t be afraid, because you can tackle it, and this jam is so easy, so quick, but just as good as if you had spent days stirring in a hot kitchen with no ac. Make some jam, take time for yourself, and love those around you who might not seem like they need it.

 

Strawberry jam

 

1 bag of frozen strawberries, or half a pound of fresh strawberries

½ cup of sugar

2-3 tablespoons lemon juice

 

Chop the fresh strawberries, or puree the frozen strawberries in a blender until chunky pieces

 

Place strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a heavy saucepan or pot on med high heat with the lid on for 5-7 minutes.

 

Remove lid and stir until thicken, about 10 minutes more.

 

Place in cans or heatproof storage container and let cool to room temperature

 

Refrigerate for up to two weeks, freeze for a month or two

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Asian pear cake and me rambling

I like to ramble. It’s my thing. I listen to a song, or watch a show, and I get inspired to ramble. Lately I have been rambling more in my own head, drifting off to what I want to really be doing at that moment. My life is in a great spot, I am thankful, I just strive for more. I want to put the work in and get to that place where I can do what I love everyday, when it’s hard, when I am creatively blocked, but challenged. I have finally, and I mean FINALLY found a passion, and I want to do it all the time. But for now I can’t, but when I do it, man it’s all I can do to not jump to the next moment and keep going. My ramble for today.

I made Tartelette’s pear cake-my only changes were I used asian pears, and mine took about 20 minutes longer to cook, I think because I used a regular oven proof skillet and not cast iron (I need a new one) Love Tartelette by the way, I hope to do one of her workshops in the future. 

http://www.tarteletteblog.com/2013/03/recipegluten-free-ozark-pear-cake.html

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Lemon meringue pie

So I am a tart. Or I think I am. I like things tart, I like to bake tart. So by definition, I am a tart (this is where my wanna be British part comes out) Here is how I made this lovely little gem, which thankfully the light cooperated and I was able to get lovely pictures of. My notes are to use more lemon zest and juice (a tad more) than a recipe calls for. Don’t feel you have to make pie crust if that isn’t your thing, I used Nila Wafers in mine. Have fun, update or old school it, whatever your fancy. 

Lemon Meringue Pie

Pie Crust:

2 cups crushed graham crackers, or cookie crumbs (can also use a baked pie crust as well)

4 Tablespoons butter, melted

1/3 cup sugar

pinch of kosher salt (table if you don’t have kosher)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Mix everything together until moist. Pat into a springform pan until even. Cook for 10 minutes or until brown on the edges. Set aside while you make the lemon curd

 

Lemon Curd (from the Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg)

1 1/2 cups lemon juice

zest of 6-8 lemons

8 eggs

24 oz of sugar (1 pound 8 oz)

12 oz unsalted butter

*Ice bath with bowl and strainer ready

 

Combine lemon juice and zest

Beat eggs and sugar in a heavy stainless steel saucepan. Add lemon juice and zest over medium heat, stirring constantly

As mixture heats up, add butter, in one inch cubes, stirring until butter is melted, and lemon curd is thick, do not overheat or burn. 

Strain immediately in a bowl that is in an ice bath 

Pour curd into pie crust, about halfway to 3/4 full and refrigerate for at least two hours, if not overnight. 

 

Meringue topping:

3 egg whites

6 tablespoons sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

Whip egg whites until 3x in volume, slowly add sugar. Whip until stiff peaks, adding vanilla. 

 

At this point you can broil the top for a few seconds to get the brown crust, or if you are cool and have a torch, torch the ends for a few seconds. Either way brown it up and make it yours!

*I pipe my meringue on to make it fancy, but you can just smooth it and make a tower with a spatula. 

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I bet you think this post is about you

Ok, so here is a topic we all have knowledge and experience on-love and dating. To start off, I was in a relationship for over 8 1/2 years, since I was 24 years old, so when I got back into the dating world, I was shocked by the changes. Texting seems to be how we get to know each other now. I remember when we would actually talk on the phone for hours, getting to know someone that way before you meet. But nope, text is the wave of the future. Not sure I like it. Sure I text my friends and family, random ramblings and observations. But if we just met, say online and we start texting each other questions, my first thought is “you know how much easier it is to talk to someone and get to know their reactions” Phone calling is like second base now.

For the past almost three years, I have been single. I finished up my culinary certification, I got to know my friends better, hung out with my teenager as much as she would let me, found my passion for baking and photography. All things I feel if I was dating I wouldn’t have done. Plus I went through a pretty hard, and gut wrenching time to get over a love that I thought was going to be forever.

This winter my co-worker and friend decided while I was on vacation that I needed to get back out there. I wasn’t convinced but thought I would give it a try. Let’s chat about the things I have learned so far:

I am not dating anyone whose name starts with the letter D. After a bit of unscientific analysis, I realized all my exes had this initial, and it wasn’t working out. So Frank or Gary, here I am!

I know not all are like this, but the farmer that I came in contact with has a certain “fetish” that would require us to shop at the same store for undergarments. Next

Skype isn’t what I thought it was for. If you think having a gold chain and getting into bar fights/punched in the neck on a Friday night is a good time, I am not the girl for you.

I am not giving up on finding someone funny, and smart, with their own life and hobbies. I just feel that right now isn’t the time for that, unless someone great comes along, then I am ready for that. But if not that is ok too. Right now it’s to get Mad off to college, keep baking and photographing, girls nights, kickboxing, and being awesome.

Next post will have pie in it, promise.

 

my favorite cookie of all time

What a week. Not going to go into a long diatribe of my feelings and opinions, just glad things are calming down in the good old US of A. What I am here to talk about is cookies. Love them. Everyone should give one to a friend and say “i love you as much as this cookie, or i like you a little and had an extra one, don’t get too excited” My favorite are oatmeal raisin cookies. I wouldn’t eat a raisin on it’s own if you paid me (not true, I love money) but you add some oats and some cinnamon and I am there. The trick that I learned from the internet (where everything is true, but this really is) is to chill your dough for this recipe. Give it an hour or two to rest. Things you could do while waiting: read, a puzzle, tweet, facebook, write your memoirs, etc. 

Here is the recipe-make these and you won’t regret it. 

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

stick of unsalted butter, room temp 

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg room temp 

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp all spice 

1/4 tsp kosher salt (use table if that is all you have, sea salt if feeling funky)

3/4 cup all purpose flour

4 mini boxes of raisins or 1 cup 

1 1/2 cups oats (old fashioned are best)

*I am a purist, but you can add a 1/2 cup chopped walnuts if you want. Make sure to toast them ahead of time, this brings out the flavor. 350 degrees for about 10-15 mins or they smell toasted

Cream butter, sugar, vanilla and egg for about 5-8 mins. Longer you cream, fluffier the cookie. Sometimes I go as long as 10 mins. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon,  and all spice.

Add to butter mixture, mix for 30-40 seconds until combined. 

On low speed, add your raisins, and oats (nuts also if you used them)

Mix only until incorporated, don’t overmix or you will have tough cookies. 

Chill dough for at least an hour, two if you have it. You can chill in the mixing bowl, or go ahead and scoop them onto the sheet pans lined with parchment paper or sprayed with cooking spray and chill that way. I can’t stress the importance of a slipat or parchment paper. Your baked goods will never stick again

After chilled, scoop cookies with a cookie scoop or a spoon a few inches apart and preheat oven to 350. Bake cookies for 11-13 minutes or until brown on the edge and still soft in the middle. Let rest on cooking sheet for 10 minutes, and transfer to a cooling rack. 

Enjoy! 

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