Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Getting ready - lots of confectioners sugar.
Lots of cookies!!!
These came to work on Thursday for our White Elephant - I almost had an amazing present and it got stolen twice.... SIGH.
Saving lemon rinds in the freezer for future zesting.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Tonight after I finished a bunch of work that was due, went for a run, hit up 2 different grocery stores (and ran into a former co-worker at one), and cooked & ate my dinner, I decided I needed to bake these. We have an epic White Elephant/Potluck at work on Thursday (someone's going home with Made of Honor - heehee) and clearly I was going to bake something. Plus I'm having some girls over to decorate cookies on Sunday, so I need to get familiar with my KitchenAid again.... Oh, and first I cleaned the kitchen a little too.
Here's Brad Pitt trying to study for Econometrics:
Mom's recipe is a little hard to follow, so I'm just going to link you over here to RecipeZaar for a similar recipe.
A grated the rind of two lemons in with the shortening & sugar:
After combining all the ingredients it came together quite nicely. God I love this KitchenAid!!!
Oh yeah, had a Brooklyn Winter Ale while I baked:
Their Penant Ale and the Post Road Pumpkin are also great. Maybe I'll go visit this brewery when we're in NYC over break.
What comes next? Using my cookie scoop to make cookies:
And then bake them:
Some came out better than others:
Those are the eaters though. Why did this happen? These cookies were from the bottom and had a litle extra shortening in there.
When baked properly, the bottom should look like this:
These are nice light lemony cookies. Tomorrow night (when I get home sometime after 9pm....) they will be glazed with a lemon juice/powdered sugar concoction and decorated with multi colored nonpareil sprinkles....
THEN EATEN. YUM!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Also, it's not like if you eat less and don't exercise you'll drop 25 pounds immediately. That's going to be incremental, so you may as well gain a little fitness while you do it.
Yikes, so below are some excerpts from Time's article "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin": http://www.time.com/time/
What's going on here? Church calls it compensation, but you and I might know it as the lip-licking anticipation of perfectly salted, golden-brown French fries after a hard trip to the gym.
"If you're more physically active, you're going to get hungry and eat more." Gortmaker, who has studied childhood obesity, is even suspicious of the playgrounds at fast-food restaurants. "Why would they build those?" he asks. "I know it sounds kind of like conspiracy theory, but you have to think, if a kid plays five minutes and burns 50 calories, he might then go inside and consume 500 calories or even 1,000."
Uhhhh they build those so kids can have fun, play, you know, do kid stuff. Also, have you known anyone to burn 50 calories in 5 minutes???????
And wouldn't McDonald's prefer if you bought 1,000 calories of food for the little one??
We all need to move more — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says our leisure-time physical activity (including things like golfing, gardening and walking) has decreased since the late 1980s, right around the time the gym boom really exploded. But do we need to stress our bodies at the gym?
Actually, it's not clear that vigorous exercise like running carries more benefits than a moderately strenuous activity like walking while carrying groceries.
What kind of benefits are we talking? Running will better prepare you to run a race or escape a tiger than carrying your groceries will.
It's what you don't eat, not what you eat too much of because you think you've earned it. And most people don't exercise to "work it off" but to "work out." You shouldn't have a postexercise reward, you should have a post exercise refuel.
Besides, fries and gatorade - not part of a diet that helps you lose weight, regardless of whether you work out or not.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I tend to go between 9-11, and it's usually pretty crowded. Westmoreland Berry Farm has the longest lines and seem to have some good looking fruits. I usually make my way around the market, stopping in with one guy for yellow grape tomatoes, another farm for cucumbers, another for berries, and yet another for peaches (and then get a loaf of bread, mmmm bread).
Well this week, I had peaches and I had big tomatoes from Thursday, but I wanted some more blueberries & raspberries. And as luck would have it, the berry farm had an extremely short line. So I got in it. I have to say the blackberries were enormous, but I'm not the blackberry's biggest fan, so I didn't get them. (Incidentally, I have a regular old flip cell phone with no internet.) I picked up a box of blueberries, a box of raspberries, and a box of yellow cherry tomatoes.
Here is my assessment:
Raspberries - awesome, sweet & big
Tomatoes - mealy, boring, not snappy
Blueberries - not tart, almost sweet, kind of bland
In other words, not worth my waiting in line in the future, I'd rather visit a bunch of different farmers to get the same stuff.
My question is this: Are they usually better? Is that why there was no line this week? Did I get an off box of blueberries? (Is that possible?) Were everyone's blueberries boring this week?
Or are they just not worth visiting in the future?
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Look what happened:
Those are toasted on the top and totally gooey on the inside. Oops.
I still made two dozen* cupcakes and a two-layer cake.
Yes, I kind of did make my own birthday cake, but it was for a party for these birthday boys and girls:
Matt is wearing a Soylent Green t-shirt in this photo, which I thought was pretty funny. Anyway, onwards to my super adventures in the kitchen.
1. On Tuesday night I baked the layer cakes (and I used MATH! to figure out if I needed to double the recipe for the two pans or not. Yes children, math is useful in real life.), then let them cool and stuck them in the freezer until Friday.
The cake recipe is from the Silver Palate Cookbook I think, but it involves a cup of wine. Adult cake I guess.
2. Friday morning I took the cakes out to defrost.
3. Friday post-work I baked some cupcakes. Wait till you hear what I did with them.
4. Saturday morning it was FROSTING time. If you don't know this about me, I love frosting. Not that lame-ass buttercream stuff, but the sugary-sweet kind. Oh yeah. Usually I just eat the frosting from cakes and leave the rest of the cake to scavengers.
Frosting recipe from same cookbook. It involves melting chocolate and butter, then adding it to milk and powdered sugar and vanilla. Yum. Then you have to refrigerate and beat it every 15 minutes. YUMMMM.
5. And I cut up some strawberries.
6. Then I went wild with cupcakes. I used the filling tip from my cupcake frosting set and filled them with chocolate frosting!
7. And I frosted my cakes, adding a layer of strawberries in the middle.
There was a lot of switching things in and out of the fridge because it was HOT and the frosting got a little melty.
8. And I frosted the cupcakes. Some of them got strawberries, some got sprinkles. Check them out! (I didn't get a great picture because things were starting to get hectic, so no cupcake porn sadly. If you want real porn, you can go see Bruno.)
9. And I decorated the cake. I used some vanilla frosting from the can or contrast, and pretty colored sprinkles and star confetti. And more piping tips.
Yes, I put sprinkles only on the white frosting in case you can't tell from this photo.
Maybe I should start taking orders?
Anyway, the cake was excellent. Really really moist, and then a good contrast between strawberries and chocolate frosting. Delicious with ice cream too, but what isn't??? And I did actually eat the cake. I made it, which meant it was awesome, so of course I was going to eat it.
(Just in case you can't tell, I'm really freaking proud of myself!!)
*Less the two that got zapped on the top rack of the convection oven. Jeeez.
July 4th was busy: 3 barbeques/parties, then fireworks watching. I also made 3 pans of s'mores brownies, because after apple (or cherry) pie, what's more American than s'mores*?
Anyway, this was one of those times that I was 100% ok with brownie mix since it was being kicked up a few notches.
I came across a bunch of recipes, but the simplest and also one of the better sounding involved just crunching up some grahams and tossing them into the batter. I added milk & semisweet chocolate chips to it too.
Then put some marshmallows on the top. You actually just bake it with the marshmallows on top and they get gooey and toasted in the oven**.
They came out awesome! And again, sooooo easy. And I don't think I'm talking myself up too much when I say that everyone loved them, I mean, they were pretty awesome.
(Oh, I tried to make some ganache and drizzle it over the top, but it wasn't quite thin enough. Here's the photo.)
*S'mores came from the girl scouts. Blueberry pie would also be all-American as blueberries are native t0 North America.
**Right. In the convection oven, not so much. A few recipes suggested sticking hem under the broiler, but since we are not using the oven......
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Yes, we've been having Comcast issues. Ever since I switched our service (got Encore & HBO, paid less) we haven't been able to watch anything on Encore On Demand. And let me tell you, I've tried to watch 102 Dalmations about 20 times and it still isn't working.
Friday after a horrible morning at the dentist I was supposed to stay home and nurse my novacained face waiting for Comcast.
Comcast called right at 2. I thought, well aren't I lucky?
As you can guess, I am not.
My Comcast caller told me that Comcast's call center people had screwed up (no way, really) and that they weren't actually supposed to send anyone out to fix my problem due to the nature of the error. It was in fact supposed to go to Comcast's On Demand people and they would fix it remotely. Needless to say he would not be coming by and this was the day that I should have just gone to work.
(Hey, I have a great dentist NOW though because of it.)
He did however give me all of his supervisor's information - phone & email - and told me his technician number, and that if our service wasn't fixed in 24-48 hours, to call his supervisor.
Well Monday morning I called twice, left a message and eventually sent an email.
Today I called again, left a message (while he was on the phone, because it's a cell number and I get that annoying beep) and sent an email.
The last time I ranted about Comcast they discovered the blog and started fixing stuff, hopefully this will help too.
And I will keep calling and emailing until this gets fixed.
So Comcast=jerks. Again. Can't wait to move somewhere that I don't need to use it. UGH.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Cat number: 26518
She looks like this:
She is honestly super cute. This weekend she escaped, caught a bird, then left it on the rug in the living room. How darling.
Kitchen excitement (times BAD)!
In the order that it happened:
Running excitement, part 1: During Friday night's run there was a monstrous thunderstorm and it just happened to get bad after we ran past the waterfront and up under the Whitehurst.
Where Owen Wilson & Reese Witherspoon were filming a movie. Sweet.
We watched them walk back & forth in manufactured rain for a while and some people from LA saw their first hail.
Kitchen excitement: When we got home half of our power was off. We made some Indian food, and I turned on the oven to heat up some frozen Naan.
I opened the oven and there were FLAMES shooting out of the bottom of it. I think we have a gas leak. Yikes. And I need to bake a super big birthday cake for next weekend. (For my birthday party!)
Running excitement, part 2: I went for a nice long run (like 6.75 according to Map My Run) last night and did the around the White House loop. When I got there they had just tackled and were arresting a guy on the north side of the White House. Drama. I went around past the treasury and a police car sped out of the secure area and down 15th St. As I got down 15th St there was a crowd of people and two runners looked and me and said "They're going to make you stop."
Turns out there was a motorcade (pres or vp) coming through, press pool and all. Once I was allowed to run across the south side I had to stop and wait again because important people were getting out of the motorcade and walking inside.
And my butt/hip didn't hurt when I got home! (And didn't hurt this morning.) I'm still taking it "easy" so running every other day and getting elliptical & stretches or some yoga in on the off days.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
See my butt/hip/it band have been bugging me lately and I have been taking it easy on the running. This sucks because I just got new sneakers and really would like to run in them (they are pink! ok, that's not the real reason) and we are doing the Baltimore Marathon Relay in October. I would like to kick some butt.
As I was walking home today I was totally flip flopping - go run because I wasn't hurting, take a rest day because I wasn't hurting and didn't want to make anything unhappy, just go to work early and elliptical tomorrow. Hard decisions.
Ultimately I decided that I would test it out and do some laps around the memorial. It's about 6-7 minutes when I'm feeling ok, so I figured I would be close to home in case I was feeling pain. I started with a walk, turned it into a slow jog, and felt kind of ok. So I progressed into a slow run down the hill and determined I should run towards Memorial Bridge, which I did... Got there, turned around, came back and did about a lap and a half around the memorial. All in all, not bad.
To the baking!
First - today is my brother's birthday. My mom made him a brownie ice cream cake, with peppermint ice cream. So you see where I get it.
Second - SB needs cookies for a lunch tomorrow, so I said I'd make them.
For the first batch I just used a packaged chocolate chip cookie mix (I know, packaged! but they turn out just fine, because it's not like I break & bake.) and added toffee chips to it. I should have added walnuts, but didn't think of it until I was almost done scooping cookies.
And they turned out super yummy. The addition of toffee chips makes them a little more homemade. Plus - warm chocolate chip cookies? Who's going to complain?
The second batch was brownie cookies. I used my regular chewy brownie recipe from King Arthur Flour, the ones that JV said were delicious, and she could kick my ass in a baking contest.
I baked them in muffin tins though, using my melon baller/cookie scoop I put a big lump of brownie batter in and baked them for about 15 minutes.
Came out awesome too, even though I realized that I forgot vanilla. (You'd have to have pretty discerning taste buds to get that.)
Anyway, since I got that run in, I might put some ice cream on a brownie for dessert.
Here are some photos:
Thursday, June 4, 2009
I was about to cross M St. at 29th and was in kind of a funk so was just sort of gazing across the street waiting for the light to change and I heard a guy (on a bike) shouting. So I looked over, and striding down the street was the craziest guy I've ever seen in the city.
He looked like Poseidon:
(But he was black.) But legitimately this guy looked like he had walked out of the Potomac with trident in hand. He was barefoot, shirtless, and wearing what I would best describe as a denim skirt, but likely was a torn pair of jorts - which also happened to be ripped straight up the side, so you could see his bare thigh (he's neither boxers nor briefs). Not only that - he had bleached blond dreads and beard, and was carrying a wooden stick.
I STARED. (So did I'm sure everyone else who walked past him.) Then I thought, wtf do you do when a half naked, barefoot, homeless god of the sea strolls out of the Potomac and down M St. Do you call the cops? 311? Assume that if he walks into Cusp someone else will do it? Clearly I did nothing, my camera phone wouldn't have done him justice, but hopefully someone else out there caught sight of the Potomac Poseidon.
It was freaking weird.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
When I came home from work on Monday, I started with the pie crust:
When my mom first bought me that kitchen tool I didn't know how often I'd use it - but pie crusts, scones.... It turned that flour and butter into this:
This might sound like the last post, but I made the crust, stuck it in the fridge, then SB & I went for our Burn After Reading run... When we got back, and after dinner and a shower, I got to baking. This is why we are watching Body of Lies again.
Then I cut up about 4 cups of rhubarb and 2 cups of strawberries:
And mixed that with some orange rind, white and light brown sugar, a bit of cornstarch and some cinnamon. You can see in this photo what I use to roll pie doughs on - my pizza stone (in the lower left)! I cover it in parchment though (which also makes it super easy to get the crust into the pan).
Then I did this:
Fuck yeah that's lattice!
I know, it's beautiful.... You should see this:
(make sure you're not drooling.)
So I covered the cookie sheet in aluminum foil and put the pie on that - maybe this is why the bottom crust wasn't as crispy as it could have been? However, we didn't get smoked out of the kitchen by rhubarb juice on the floor of the oven, like what happened after my brother and I turned on the oven after mom made her two tart and delicious rhubarb pies.
Now that you've seen the pictures I'm sure you'd like to know how it tasted?
As I mentioned, the bottom crust just wasn't as crispy (flaky?) as it could have been, but the lattice tasted great. I love pie crust though and it provides a good salty contrast, so I think in the future - as cool as the lattice looks - I might just roll out a regular old top crust. (And cut hearts out of it?) The combo of rhubarb and strawberry was awesome - the fresh sweetness of the strawberries really cut down on the tartness of the rhubarb, not that I don't love straight up rhubarb pies (and I have some rhubarb leftover!) - but it also makes it a little more marketable to people who aren't so fond of the tart pie. And always always add the orange rind!
*On the subject of farmer's markets, I was trying to figure out which vendor was getting dissed in this post from DC Foodies on the Foggy Bottom market and realized it's probably my favorite people there. Also, they've always been plenty nice and talkative - but usually are busy because they have so much stuff, which would be why they stand behind the table. Also - no mention on the French bakery? So good. So is Atwater's and I am plenty happy that I can buy bread from them twice a week.
One more, just for the hell of it!
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Two weeks ago I went to the Dupont Farmer's market on Sunday since I had missed the Saturday Courthouse market when I was hanging out at P.R. Harris, getting ready to put other people's Hands on DC. The rhubarb is still not in season, in fact, there really isn't any fruit in season yet, but there are apples. And since I'd been wishing and hoping for rhubarb to make a pie I decided I should make an apple pie instead. So I bought a lot of apples - granny smith and a few other varieties.
And then I waited... And waited... HODC came and went and my two presentations came and went, and Wednesday night when I got home early (ok, like 6:30) I promptly made the pie crust.
Two sticks of butter makes it better.
Then I went for a run (because if there are two sticks of butter in that crust, I need a run before I eat any) and when I got home, sliced apples. I used my so sharp it'll cut you knife (because it has) and made super thin slices of apple, then mixed it with a flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice....
And rolled out the crust. Thoughts on this: when you refridgerate crust, cut it in half and mold it into discs not balls.
Filled the crust with apples and voila.....
Possibly my best apple pie ever:
Gooey and delicious, but not runny.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Today has been very productive, outside of the fact that I haven't written this memo yet. I have chocolate marble banana bread in the oven, made smoothies (sans ice), and went for my 1 week out run.
Cherry Blossom is on Sunday. I'm feeling: trepidation. :)
But my run this afternoon was good - I went down from the Marine Corps Memorial, past Arlington Cemetery, along the Potomac on the VA side, across 14th St bridge and into the madness.
The madness being Cherry Blossom crowds at the Tidal Basin of course. It actually wasn't that bad, but the people who decided they should drive down there? Kind of a stupid idea. There I am, running faster than you folks in your cars. So I continued past the Jefferson Memorial (my favorite) and along the river on the DC side with the Cherry Blossoms. There were lots of people out and about (the weather today was also lovely) - people walking, running, biking, etc.
I even saw a bus full of sakura girls (or just Japanese girls dressed up for the parade I guess) escorted by a DC police car.
Then I ran past the Lincoln Memorial, over Memorial Bridge and back past the Cemetery and the Marine Corps.
Cool route. So why did I decide I like tourists? It might have been the historical symbolism involved in the run, but it's nice to ignore DC's problems (Marion Barry, DCPS, guns, crack - heck, all of those can be contributed to Marion) and see what the tourists see* when they come to DC. Also, amidst this recession it's nice to see people still able to enjoy themselves and take a vacation. I know they stand on the left and hog the sidewalks downtown, but I guess I also have the privilege of taking the Blue Bus to work/school and not having to deal much with them.
Maybe it's just the weather making my disposition a little sunnier (maybe, especially because I'm screwed on my bracket now that Pitt lost, Louisville didn't help either).
I dunno. Memo time. House smells like chocolate and bananas (and smiles).
*Unless they have the misfortune of staying in one of the budget NY Ave hotels. Then they'll see the other side of DC.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
I also made raspberry scones, with an older recipe that uses all cream and no eggs. They were a little cakier than the other version but the cream makes them sweeter. I kind of had to undo and add more cream then re-form them, so they turned a little pink.
Anyway, here are the final products:
Scones, muffins, muffins...
They were all delicious, I think the cranberry muffins were my favorite (duh), but this cofeecake is super yummy.