Tuesday, February 18, 2014

TWD/BWJ: Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake

Let's just say it's been a bad day and leave it at that.
Except for the chocolate cheesecake, whose
only purpose is to make the world a better place.
Thank God.

I thought it might be a full moon. Looked at the calendar. Not quite. Then I remembered Mercury. Have you ever heard of Mercury in retrograde? Whenever I hit a stretch of unexplainable frustrations, little setbacks, things that stop working, people who confuse me or hurt my feelings, Mercury is usually in retrograde. And sure enough, that's the case, Feb 6-28, which means we're right smack in the middle of it now. It might just be a convenient excuse. I don't care. Had myself a good little pity party today. Wallowed in the sadness. Which is OK as long as you don't get trapped there. Chocolate cheesecake helps.

I do think it might be easier, well certainly neater, to make this the normal way with the crust inside the pan. But I'm willing to give anything a try once, and the recipe specified cooking the cake, then flipping it out of the pan and pressing crumbs onto the bottom afterward. You can't make many crumbs stick that way. Which makes all that Oreo crushing seem fruitless. Wish I'd taken a picture of the ball of "middle" cream that I dug out of those cookies. Pretty nasty really. I considered using it for sculpture material. But I digress.


All's well that ends well. But next time I'll press the crumbs in the pan first. This recipe can be found in the Baking With Julia cookbook, and the other Tuesdays With Dorie bloggers are here.

Here's a shoe. Close enough for Mercury in retrograde:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Emergency Snow Day Girl Scout Cookies

Not-So-Thin Mints
Oh my goodness, how lucky we have been.
Ice? Yes.
Snow? Yes.
Power? YES!

And then cabin fever set in. One of my friends mentioned Girl Scout cookies, specifically Thin Mints, on Facebook. Why did she have to do that? Poked around the internet and found this recipe. There were other recipes out there, but they required chocolate cake mix. Not in my pantry. I had the ingredients for this one, so the experiment was a go.

My mother was the troop leader.
This is the only picture I have of
us together in our uniforms

I've been a girl scout since I was 4 years old. They don't technically have a category for 4-yr-olds, but my mother was the camp nurse that year, so I went too. Official enough for me. Oh yes, I have many happy girl scout memories. I know all the songs. How many of you know "High up, high on the mountain, they founded Our Chalet"? My first experience cleaning a stove was for a girl scout badge. I could go on and on.

A letter I sent home from camp.
It's hilarious.

Camp was a entire world to itself. The flag ceremonies, table hopping for meals, the crafts cabin! I will always associate the smell of Prell shampoo with Camp Bear Creek because they sold little tubes of it at the trading post. We washed our hair in the outdoor concrete block showers, along with the spiders and other creepy crawlies. We sent hand-written letters to our parents and received goodie boxes, as if two weeks away from home was an eternity. 
The dough scraper is a perfect
tool for cutting these. The recipe
says 1/4" but they should
definitely be thinner.

The dough is stiff!
Powerful mixer helps.

My daughter at one of her first
Brownie meetings.

I got to experience girl scouting from a whole new perspective when my daughter became a scout. Oh, the times we had. Yes, there were camping trips. Let me tell you, the first time we arrived at a camp and there was air-conditioning, I knew times had changed! So many memories. The ballet, kangaroo farm, waterfall hikes, tent camping at Stone Mountain, horseback riding ("vaulting" they call it, where you learn to do tricks), quiltmaking, river clean-ups, Thinking Day overnights, dolphin-watching, Juliette Gordon Low's home in Savannah. What a close little group her troop became over the years. I will always love each one of those girls.

The troop learning about marine life at Tybee Island.

I've managed to write lots more than you want to know and haven't even mentioned the star of the family, my sister, the overachiever girl scout who filled her sash with badges all the way up the back! She even went on a trip to California as a Senior scout by winning some kind of contest. Forgive me for not knowing all the details. Scouting prepared her to be a community leader. Last year, she was honored by the Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana with the Tough Cookie Award. I'm so proud of her. I only wish our mother could have been there to see it.
Out of the oven.
They don't spread at all.
Mint-flavored chocolate chips
are definitely the way to go if you
can find them.
And did I mention COOKIES? I'd hate to think how many boxes have passed through these hands over the years. I believe they cost 50 cents when I first sold them. I could wax nostalgic about unloading a semi trailer truckload on a rainy morning, or sorting hundreds of boxes for distribution, or the variety of flavors that have come and gone over the years (does anybody remember Sugar 'n Spice?)...   But through it all, there were Thin Mints. They have nothing to fear from the homemade variety. Sure, the ones I made are free from preservatives. For an emergency craving, they weren't bad. But I'll be stocking up when the real ones come out this year. They freeze beautifully.

Just for fun, here's a video you might enjoy:

And a shoe:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

TWD/BWJ: Onion Bialys

Here we go again. 
The weather radio is blasting out a winter storm warning.  
They're using the word "catastrophic" on TV. 
There's ICE a-comin'! 
What's a girl to do? 
Bake some bread of course.

Oooo - weeee, these are good! 

Unfortunately, I only made half a recipe because Mr. Wonderful doesn't like onions. Unless he's in a super expensive restaurant. Then anything goes. He denies it, but it's true. Also, there was only one onion in the fridge and I couldn't face the prospect of a pre-ice-storm grocery store. It's surely a madhouse about now.

The onions, poppy seeds, pepper, sweet little bun shape. Liked it all.

I'm definitely more confident tossing a cup full of ice and water in the oven these days. Thank you, Tuesdays With Dorie, for making me brave!

This recipe can be found in the Baking With Julia cookbook, and the other TWD bakers are here.

And then there's the Winter Olympics in Sochi. It's so much fun to have a break from the ordinary and watch all these amazing young athletes. Doesn't matter what the sport is. They're all interesting. Have you seen those free-style skiers and snowboarders? And what about those cross-country skiers that stop and shoot a gun? (I had a bad cross-country experience once. Fell over. Stuck. Totally helpless. In very deep snow. In Norway. 'Nuf said. OK, it's funny NOW.)

Speed-skating is more exciting than you'd think, especially in person. Seriously, when they fall it's exciting, and heart-breaking. We saw speed-skating at the Lillehammer Olympics. Here's a picture outside the venue, just so you know I'm not fibbing.
Has it really been 20 years?!?
But of course, nothing is quite so dramatic as the figure skating. How can you not be mesmerized by it? Oh yes, we saw that too, in Lillehammer. Well, technically the arena was in Hamar and we missed our bus from Lillehammer. Hockey game ran over, not our fault. But as we happened to be walking past a "taxi stand", a taxi pulled up and took us there. Let me tell you that was a miracle. There were no taxis available anywhere. OK, I'll stop reminiscing now.

Or not. You might have heard that we had an Olympic event here in Atlanta. 1996. Seems like yesterday. I made a little quilt to put our pins on. Thought the bialys might like to see it.

As close as I could get to Olympic rings!
Well, wish us luck. Hopefully the sky (and the 6 huge oak trees in our front yard) won't fall. I'm visualizing our power staying on. You know, I really should've made that entire recipe. Could have used the extras for bribery. We have a neighbor with a generator. We get to listen to it whenever the power goes out. Maybe I'll bake something else while I can.

Here's a shoe, in honor of all those power company employees working in the cold. Thanks for all you do!