no recipe just reflection

I have some peanut butter sandies coming up soon, but today I want to talk about baking for love, for someone you love. When you know someone really well, you know what they like and what they crave. And you want to make them something that will remind them of you. Make something for someone that means something to you, even if it’s a box of brownies. Showing that person you took time to do it is what matters. Bake from the heart, and it will show. And love people, love those people who need your love, who are easy to love, hard to love, worth loving, sometimes not worth loving, and especially love that person who is so overwhelmingly the person you know back and forth, in and out, over and again. And who knows you so well they might as well be you. Recipe coming soon. Image

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My weird relationship with summer and root beer vanilla bean ice cream

I live in a humid state. Fact. Yes, I know I live here by my own free will, but I am mainly here for family reasons. So when summer rolls around, well, it’s not my favorite time of year. I like long sleeves and boots. I also really like ice cream in the winter. But here is a recipe I came up with, and it tastes like a root beer float. So while I stay in the AC, you all enjoy your lakes, boats, and camping. I will watch Netflix and wait for fall 

Root Beer Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

1 cup whole milk

3/4 cup sugar

pinch of salt

2 cups heavy cream

2 bottles root beer

1 vanilla bean or 2 T vanilla extract

Whisk milk, sugar, and salt together until sugar is dissolved

If using an ice cream maker, add heavy cream to maker and start churning. Add root beer, vanilla bean (or extract) and milk mixture. Churn for 30 minutes or however long your maker suggests

If not using an ice cream maker, place all ingredients in a freezer safe bowl and freeze overnight. 

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This might be how Mariah Carey feels every day

So let’s talk shop shall we? Or more let’s talk about the thin line between confidence and cockiness. Now I know I am good at some things-baking, sarcasm, shoe shopping, saying no (to people’s fashion choices) and starting to get really good at photography. Now I say all this with confidence, with just a small bit of cockiness for good measure. As I have blogged about before, you have to have some ego and belief that you are good at something to write, take pictures, bake, cook, sew, be president, etc. You wouldn’t be where you are or where you are headed without it. Taking chances, being better than others is why we do what we do. But it makes people uncomfortable to talk about, or it makes people feel bad that they deep down feel this way. I am becoming more of the type of person who isn’t feeling so bad about myself, my talents, my ability to do well in certain areas. I feel like I deserve the self pat on the back. I didn’t sit and let these things come to me, I have worked hard, continue to work hard, selling myself and talents to those who will listen, and even those who won’t. I make them. Be brave, it’s hard, and it hurts sometimes, but it’s worth it when it works. 

Now Mariah Carey-this lady is a megastar and can do what she wants when she wants. And it was because of luck, talent, knowing the right people, and the ego to keep going. So I am going to be a mini, mini version of her and say “Yep, I am pretty good”

Here are some lemonade bars, pink lemonade bars that you can find on smitten kitchen’s blog. http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2012/08/pink-lemonade-bars/

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Asparagus White Cheddar Tart

I love the word tart, I find that if I was a food, that is what I would be. Probably a lemon tart, you can take that as you will 🙂 

A few of us at work joined a local CSA, weekly getting fresh vegetables, and eggs from local farmers. Last week included asparagus and white cheddar. So I went for it, making a simple asparagus tart, which would be great as a side dish with dinner, or an appetizer for a party or gathering. Local foods aren’t just a great way to give back to the community, they are fresh, seasonal, and you know where they come from. Try this tart, see what you think. And think about what food you might be, it’s amazing how we see ourselves. 

 

Puff pastry thawed (about 30 minutes on the counter)

5-10 pieces of asparagus, depending on how big of a tart you want to make

4 oz white cheddar cheese (any cheese really that you want to use, just make sure it melts easily or is cut into thin strips)

olive oil

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees 

Roll out puff pastry into a rectangle onto a sheet pan or in a tart pan if you prefer

Fold sides over about half an inch towards the inside of the tart. Slash fold with a knife, and prick the whole tart with your fork (this will keep the middle from puffing up too much)

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges are slightly brown

Take out of oven and lay cheese on tart, making an even layer. (I also added some shaved parm cheese for a little extra kick)

Cut asparagus to fit inside the tart laying one after the other (use stalk sides to fill in gaps)

Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for about 20 minutes

Serve warm or room temp

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My “real” job

My day job

 

I work in a crazy place. And by crazy, I mean over 40 different personalities, mostly feeling like family crazy. I have been here almost 12 years, I went  from a file clerk to my position today as reigning bossy gal, and it’s been a bumpy ride. There have been some people here with backstabbing agendas, accusing me of being things I would never be, all in the name of getting attention and getting themselves out of working.  It was not such a great place for a short time, but it always works itself out in the end.

 

My job-they were so wonderful when I was in culinary school, letting me come in early or in the afternoons around classes, so I could fulfill my dream of being a pastry chef. They would get very excited on days when I would have an early out class, so they could taste some of my “schoolwork”.  They would keep me awake and off the ledge when I wanted to just lay down and sleep, or cry. I am lucky that the whole floor was so supportive of a career that has nothing to do with my current one.

I make about 98% of my desserts for work. They are my judge team, my taste testers, my real recipe developers. They tell me what they like and don’t like, they hint for their favorite dessert, and they can sometimes tell my mood by how much I have baked. Some go on diets and quit for awhile, but there is always someone in the wings, ready to try that new cookie, bread, or cake I bring in.

 

My day job is not my “passion job” but we can’t always do the thing we love at this moment. Until then, I will keep baking for my work peeps, and let them decide what goes on this blog/in my oven. 

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Cookbooks and apple tart

I read cookbooks like most people read regular books. Page by page, recipe by recipe, folding down the pages of things I have to make. Let’s just say my “to make” pile is getting larger and larger.  This recipe I found in a 6 dollar french cookbook at Barnes and Noble. Don’t knock the bargain section, especially if you are like me and only use a few recipes out of a cookbook which can you easily set you back $30. So I made apple tart, using store-bought puff pastry. Ever tried making it from scratch? It’s a royal pain. Even my baking teacher in culinary school said just buy it. Make a tart or tatin as the book calls it. It’s fancy and easy and tastes divine. 

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My southern post

My dad is from the south, the real south. I never had the chance to know him, but I feel that southern presence in the way I bake. I feel the sunlight through a farmhouse window, I feel the humid heat of a summer day, lemonade sweat on the side of the glass, ice clinking. I imagine the wraparound porch, the fan clicking and going side to side, not making a dent in the heat, but making enough noise to almost be music. I see the pies cooling on the windowsill, the heat from the oven making you want to run from the kitchen, but you stay and stir and mix, and add more flour, more salt, more Crisco. You knead the bread by hand, you cut out biscuits and rub the tops with melted butter, real ass butter. You take a cake to a neighbor who just had a baby, or a sick elder down the road. You know your local dr by their first name, you know their favorite cookie when you go visit. Small town inside, big city dreams outside. That’s me people. And I bake like it. 

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Biscuits

5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 T baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 T kosher salt
3 sticks unsalted butter (plus some melted for brushing tops)
3 cups chilled buttermilk

Preheat oven for at least 20 minutes on 475 degrees

Combine first four ingredients in a mixing bowl (use dough hook attachment if using mixer)
Cut in butter either with dough hook (will need to scrap the sides) or using a pastry tool, cut butter into small chunks in flour mixture
Add buttermilk and knead* (just until formed, do not overmix)
*mixture will be a bit wet when you knead it, make sure to have extra flour to keep hands dry

Roll dough into a rectangle and either cut out with biscuit/cookie cutters, or cut into squares or the shape of your choice, just making sure they are the same thickness to cook evenly

Place on parchment lined sheet pan, brushing melted butter on tops (if no parchment paper, lightly grease your sheet pans)

Cook for 8 minutes, turn sheet pan around, cook for 8-10 more or until brown/toothpick comes out clean

Makes about 20 biscuits