Saturday, December 22, 2012

TWD/BWJ: Finnish Pulla

The world didn't end.  But just in case, I made the Finnish Pulla on Thursday (I know, I know - late again). It was good. And I was glad. Because who wants to eat something that's not good on what could potentially be their last day on Earth?

After seeing some suggestions in the P&Q (what DOES that mean?) I decided to make two small wreaths, one regular and the other with filling. The filling was shredded almond paste that I came across in the store next to the sliced almonds. Never used it before.  But I WILL be using it again.

Ready for the oven.
I used turbinado sugar on the regular one
instead of pearl sugar.  The other got a dose of
powdered sugar glaze after baking.  Just because.
The kids were too busy watching two seasons of The Walking Dead to help with the baking.  But they were quick enough to descend on the finished product.

The recipe can be found here and other TWD bloggers are here. I wish you a very meaningful Christmas. May your heart be filled to overflowing.

Here's a little treat.

The best shoe I can think of for this week is one I saw a year ago at the Christmas Market in Vienna. Yes, "lost soles" are an international phenomenon.

Merry Christmas, Y'all!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

TWD/BWJ: Gingerbread Baby Cakes

Sort of like a gingerbread whoopie pie.

For once, I remembered to watch the Baking With Julia video before baking! When I saw those little pans she used, all I could think of was Easy Bake Oven pans. And then I wanted some of my own. But I didn't want to drive across town in rush hour traffic, so *lazy* won out and I used a muffin tin. I did stop at the Home Goods store which is next to the grocery, just to see, and found some adorable little pans. However, they were in bakeware sets for children. In the end, I bought a couple of those sets for some little girls on my Christmas list. It worked out.

Does that piece of ginger look like a rhino?

Don't know what I expected, but these were a bit... intense for my taste. Might as well face it. I've got a totally uneducated palate. To me, "gingerbread" means a cookie shaped like a person with raisin eyes and three red hot buttons down the front. The German Bakery here makes wonderful gingerbread men. Worth the splurge. Sweeter and milder than these cakes were.

I wish I'd had a camera in my hand when my husband took a bite of one! Have you ever seen a baby bite into a lemon? Well, it was something like that. Now that I think about it, the dogs did the same thing when I tried to feed them the new chewable heartworm/flea tablets the other day. I ended up having to shove them down their throats.  OK, OK, I know, TMI...

These weren't THAT bad.  I split them in half, spread with lemon curd filling, and served with vanilla ice cream. Seriously, I could happily eat most anything with lemon curd and ice cream. The recipe can be found here, and the other participant's blogs here.

UPDATE: I took a couple of these to my neighbor and she thought they were the best thing ever (especially the lemon curd).  And they grew on me when I discovered how great they tasted with Bluebell Pistachio Almond Ice Cream!

Yesterday I saw my first boot of the year.  Finally, the seasons are changing! (That's Stone Mountain in the background.)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

TWD/BWJ: Best Ever Brownies

Like lots of people, we have our own favorite brownie recipe.  It's called "Susan's Secret". At first this recipe seemed similar.  But it was just different enough to be...  well... different.

This is Susan.  She's not the one for whom Susan's Secret was named.  But she was named after the one for whom Susan's Secret was named.  If you followed that, you're good. So it seemed appropriate that she was home from school to try this recipe.

I shall now confess to a bias against real butter in brownies. In general I love butter. It's one of my favorite things in life. But when it comes to brownies, I want a cleaner chocolate taste. To me, butter has a flavor of its own that detracts from chocolate. So, I use margarine in brownies (quell horrors!). Yes, you read that right. However, I stayed true to this recipe, used real butter, and regretted it in the end.

Had a heck of a time getting these things done. Baked them well past the suggested time. A knife came out clean, but after cooling and cutting, they were clearly still raw.  Don't get me wrong, we like underdone.  But these were just plain raw. So back in the oven they went, even though there was already a pumpkin pie baking.

Eventually, they were done enough to eat. Pretty darn good, but I think we'll stick with Susan's Secret.

If you want to try the recipe for Best Ever Brownies, it can be found here. And the other bakers' links are here.

I was on the way to Home Depot to buy some wreaths for the church when I spotted this week's shoe in the road. Sitting there pretty as you please all by itself.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

TWD/BWJ: Buttermilk Crumb Muffins

Total Fail. Lived up to it's middle name. Such an easy recipe, what could go wrong?

I was having a bad day. A deep, deep sadness had me in it's grip. Started crying around 5 a.m. I'd sent a whine-y email that I shouldn't have, hurt someone's feelings, and was ashamed of myself. I'd done what I could to apologize but it's impossible to take back words once they're out.

It was election day, the culmination of a week, no 2 years, of arguing. Rainy and gray. I just couldn't stop the tears. Then I realized it was baking day. Got myself together and went to the grocery for buttermilk.

There, between the coffee and tea displays, that Fork In The Road song by Greenday began to play over the store's sound system. It's actually called Good Riddance.

 ♪ "It's something unpredictable, but in the end there's right, I hope you had the time of your life." ♪

That did it. Instantly, I was in tears again. Literally sobbing in the middle of the grocery store. Thank goodness I only had a few items and was able to check out at the YouScan without having to face another human being.

In the end, I think the muffins were something of a metaphor.

The day's bright spot was a picture that my girl texted me. It was her first presidential vote. And I have to say that I'm relieved at the results of the election. I would like to be overtly happy.  But with so many of my "friends" posting ugly hateful things on Facebook and insisting that I can't be Christian if I voted for Obama, it's hard to celebrate. I pray, however, that this too shall pass. Hopefully, we'll eventually understand that we're all in this together.

If you would like to make a plate full of crumbs, check out the recipe here.  Or you might just use cupcake liners in your muffin tin...

I saw this shoe in front of the Greater Atlanta Christian School the other day.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

TWD/BWJ: Bagels

RESOLVED: I will seek out the Baking With Julia videos before attempting all further recipes in this project!

Do you think that'll help me remember? The printed recipe seems SO much more complicated than the video version. Especially 4 pages of printed recipe. Especially for a visual person.

I considered skipping this recipe altogether because in general bagels aren't my favorite food. Too hard to eat without feeling like you might pull out a tooth or OD your jaw muscles. But then I started to read the links. Several people used the word "fun". Who am I to argue with that? Why should I care about the finished product if I have fun along the way? And you know what? It WAS fun! And you know what else? They're good!

The second debate was on while I was making the dough.  Which explains the wine...  I'm terribly exhausted by what passes as politics in this country anymore. It's disintegrated into an ugly bitterness that has infiltrated even my own friends. The fear- and hate-mongerers aren't going to let up, are they? A sense of hopelessness has taken hold of me. There. I've named it.

And so I welcome the unexpectedly "fun" recipe. And try not to think about the way people are treating one another over an election. When all else fails, I'll make bagels.

The recipe can be found here, and links to other Tuesdays With Dorie bakers who made this recipe are here.

And now for a shoe. How about a hopelessly bad picture of one?  It's not easy to get them in focus when you're driving 45 mph and there's a car on your tail.

TWD/BWJ: Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Loaves

Seems like EONS ago that I made this bread. Picture dates say Oct 6 and 7 which was a few days late to begin with. So I'm only 2 weeks past the "official" baking date posting this.

Guess I'm not one of those competitive bakers waiting for midnight to hit so I can be first to post my link, LOL!

At least I'm trying to keep up.

Life's been a little overwhelming lately, so I count this as an accomplishment. Yesterday was my husband's second chemo treatment.

So far, so good. Let's get this done.

Truth be told, I don't think I'll make this bread again. Must confess that I have an intense affection for nice, sweet, easy pumpkin nut quick breads. Held hostage to my unrefined palate. And after a week-long search for fresh cranberries, I didn't like them in the bread. Too sour for me. The Craisins that I used were good though.  So I'll probably add them to my next quick bread...

The recipe for this 2-day yeasted bread can be found here, and other baker's links are here.

Now I can share the other shoe we saw just outside Tuskegee, Alabama this summer... a loafer!

Monday, October 8, 2012

TWD/BWJ: Whole Wheat Loaves

If you're lucky, there are very few times in life when the world turns upside down. But that's exactly what happened to us on Sept 17th. I'd just eaten the first bite of a fried egg on toast when the phone rang. Two minutes later, the egg was in the trash and I was headed out the door. "They think it's cancer," he'd said.

Eight years ago my husband had surgery for colon cancer. There have been annual colonoscopies, and CT scans with every abdominal pain. Nothing indicated cause for concern. 

It was chest pain that took him to the ER this time. His heart is fine, thank God, but the cancer has returned and spread. And so we take the next step.

He had his first chemo treatment last week. It went pretty well. There'll be many more. I am grateful for miracle drugs and insurance. 

For the first week I had to remind myself to breathe. Repeatedly. 

It's coming a little easier now. 


I made the bread a week late. Then took another two weeks to post it. Better late than never. 

Comfort food, literally.

The bread recipe can be found here or here, and links to the other Tuesdays With Dorie bakers are here

We actually saw THREE shoes in the road on our way home from the hospital. I take that as a sign that all will be well. Here's a picture of one of them.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

TWD/BWJ: Nectarine Chiffon Cake

Of all times for me to decide to bake early...

Well, it was Labor Day. The King of the Castle and the Prince were both home. I blame them. TOTAL DISASTER! First, I should say that I was already making a pecan pie.  The King ordered a 6 pound box of the most beautiful, delicious pecans last week.  I think it was a Groupon or something. I've been nibbling them and dreaming of a pie. Today was pecan pie day.

I figured as long as the oven was hot I might as well bake the Nectarine Chiffon Cake. And could send at least half of each dessert back to school with the Prince. You know how much sugar college boys need.

Let me rewind for a second and tell you about Labor Day weekend in Atlanta. There's something for everyone. One of my favorite events is the Decatur Book Festival, the nation's largest independent book festival. Oh the joy of it! You wander from building to building, hearing authors talk about their books.  For two days you can do this, and it's totally free. Mind-boggling really.  This year, I could only make it on Sunday having previously signed up for a full-day quilt workshop on Saturday (which was awesome - some years there are just too many wonderful things). Still, on Sunday alone, I heard presentations about the dangers of prescriptions drugs, the development of the Lithium Ion battery , the stories held in our DNA, the similarities between writing a book and making music, and how creativity works. It doesn't matter who you listen to. When someone writes a book, they're passionate about the subject. It's always interesting!

And then there's DragonCon. Legions of people converge on downtown Atlanta dressed as everything from videogame characters to zombies to superheroes. My daughter's good friend said "I tripped on the steps and Captain America caught me!" Personally, I'm not interested in the convention activities, but one of these years, I WILL make it to the DragonCon parade on Saturday morning.

Oh yes, there were a few other events too.  Braves games (with Lynard Skynard afterward on Friday), a NASCAR race, a Hot Air Balloon Festival, and a Whiskey and Beer Fest. Like I said, something for everyone. And too much for any one person.

Back to the cake, er, disaster.  All went relatively well until the timer went off. Testing the cake with a toothpick, I determined that it was nowhere near done. Set the timer for 5 more minutes, twice. All the while my husband, the King of All Things Olfactory, announced repeatedly (and emphatically) that something was burning. The cake did look dark. I finally got tired of listening to him and removed the thing from the oven even though the toothpick never did test clean. Thought maybe it'd firm up as it cooled. NOT. More like some kind of lava cake.  The prince and I had a little piece anyway, with ice cream of course. But it wasn't good. I didn't care for the flavors or the streusel. Not even gonna try this one again.  On a brighter note, the pecan pie came out great! Oh, if you'd like to prove to me that the cake is wonderful, feel free to find the recipe here or here, and the blogs of other bakers here.  Good Luck!

This week's shoe showed up right down the street from my house. Not really a disaster, but it IS ominously black.