A Diversion from the Baking

I try to keep this blog focused on photography and baking, but every now and then I find something inspiring that I feel that I must share with everyone.  I am mastering in museum studies and it is sometimes depressing realizing all the troubles that museums are facing both internally and externally.  It’s almost hard not to think that museums won’t be able to survive for much longer with so many being forced into foreclosure due to lack of finances and traditional mindsets (that is as broad as I can make their problems…and trust me, there are many). 

But some museums are surfacing with creative and brilliant ideas that might just help keep museums around.  In my lecture today, I was introduced to the website ArtBabble.  It is a website that consists of videos of artwork, interviews, etc. What makes it so brilliant is that it allows people to learn about the artwork if they can’t see it in person and hear so many different opinions on it.  There is no longer the one interpretation of the curator because there isn’t one correct way to view it. There are multiple and this website encourages that sharing and learning.  It is fantastic and I encourage all of you to check it out!

More Time…

I think it would be interesting to know the average of how many times a person says something along the lines of ‘I just wish there was more time, hours in the day, etc.’ during their lifetime.  That is all I have been thinking about this past week: wanting more time.  My current schedule consists of going to work from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., possibly exercising and having dinner, and then cwork on homework until 9 so I can have at least an hour break before I go to bed and repeat the routine. There isn’t much time for anything else really, and sometimes it is very exasperating.   

I am able to preserve my sanity just a little bit by looking up new recipes each day and saving them in an e-mail so I may hopefully try them someday.  I wish I could show you all how extensive this e-mail is.  It’s almost ridiculous, especially since I find roughly 5 new recipes a day to add to this list.  I can’t help myself! These recipes wind up consuming my thoughts all times of the day as I try to decide on the next one I’ll try. As silly as it is, it allows me to escape from all those stresses.  

The recipe I tried this week was actually inspired by one of the many recipes I had found last week from The Kitchn, who was actually inspired by a bakery in San Francisco.  Go figure :p  I couldn’t remember the last time I had a snickerdoodle cookie, and the idea of doing a snickerdoodle swirl cookie sounded fantastic! Then as I was sitting at work, I thought of not only making that cookie, but also about using apricot preserves to make another ‘swirl’ cookie. Once I came up with that idea, I instantly decided that that was the recipe I was going to make that weekend.  

Snickerdoodle and Fruit Preserve Roll Cookies:
I swear I’ll come up with a better name for them soon.  

  • 3 c. of whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. of cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. of baking powder 
  • 1 tsp. of baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 1/2 c. of brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. + 1/3 c. of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbl. of vanilla extract
  • Around 10 oz. of fruit preserves, in this case apricot
  • A significant amount of cinnamon sugar (sorry, I didn’t measure when I did this. I know, typical)

Roll ‘Em Up: 

1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cream of tartar (which is actually a powder…), baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Stir together until well mixed, and then set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and both sugars. Again, I always look for those ribbons that happen when it becomes nice and airy.

3. Add the eggs, and then mix together well until the ribbons return.  Then, add in the vanilla until that is well mixed. 

4. Combine the dry ingredients with the liquid mixture, and mix that together well.  

5. Place the bowl in the fridge for about an hour or so, or until the dough is cool.

6. When the dough is cool, remove it from the fridge, and take the dough out of the bowl.  Kneed it together a couple of times just to get all the loose bits together.  Then with a rolling pin, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface.  You are going to want to go for more length rather than width, and you’ll want the dough to be about 1/4 of an inch thick. When you have reached what you believe is the appropriate length, cut the dough in half, and then into fourths across the width. This will help make it easier to roll up later on.

7. Spread the separate sections with cinnamon sugar, apricot preserves, or whatever else you desire.  I did one half (two fourths) sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, and the other with apricot preserves.  With the cinnamon sugar, don’t hesitate to use a lot, and with the apricot preserves, use less than you’d probably want to. When you roll the dough, it pushes the apricot preserves and so if you use too much then a lot will get pushed out to the end. With whatever you use, leave about 1/4 of an inch from the end bare. 

8. When you are done spreading the filling for the dough, gently and carefully roll the dough.  The flour you had used for rolling will prevent the dough from sticking, but it may crack a little. Don’t let this freak you out—it freaked me out originally. Even though it may crack or break, I pinky promise you that it’ll turn out just fine. When you’ve reached the end, gently pat the end of the dough to the roll to help it stick.  If there is extra fruit preserves, just wipe the extra up before you finish rolling it.

9. When you have finished rolling up the four sections of dough, tightly wrap them up in seran wrap.  Place the rolls on a cookie sheet and place it in the freezer to chill. The reason we are chilling the rolls is because it will make it easier slicing them later, and the seran wrap is to make sure the air doesn’t dry out the dough. Leave them in the freezer for at least 30 min.

10. Preheat the oven for 375 F degrees.

11. Once chilled, remove the rolls of dough from the fridge and unwrap the seran wrap. WIth a relatively sharp knife, cut the rolls into about 1/4” slices. They should be about the same amount as 1 tbl. spoonful of dough you would do normally.  Place the sliced cookies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
A note of caution: the cinnamon cookies will spread out nicely, but the apricot ones will spread about twice as much. It looks good in the end, but it is best to give the apricot/fruit preserve cookies more space than the cinnamon ones.

12. Place the cookie sheet in the oven.  The cinnamon cookies take 12 minutes to bake and the apricot cookies take 17 minutes to bake, or until a light golden brown on the tops of the cookies.

And the results were fabulous! I loved both the cinnamon and the apricot swirl cookies, each for their own reasons. Definitely worth a try :)

'I'm Craving Pie…'

Have any of you watched the TV show called Pushing Daisies? Sadly it was cancelled in 2009 and only last two seasons. My sister and I fell in love with the show pretty much right when it was getting cancelled and the last episodes were being aired. It was such a fabulous show filled with quick and hilarious dilagoue, a quirky and adorable plot, mixing solving murder cases with pie baking. Pretty much it was amazing and I highly recommend that you look it up if you haven’t seen it already. 

Anyways, I introduced this show to my boyfriend not too long ago and he quickly got hooked (although he thinks it is sick that the main couple can never touch—that isn’t a spoiler I swear, it happens in the first episode!)  Because he liked it so much, we’ve been slowly working our way through the episodes.  After watching one of the episodes last week, I started to brainstorm what to bake for that coming weekend. My boyfriend had unselfishly offered to be the unofficial taste tester when he learned I liked to bake so much, solely to help me have an honest opinion of the results and he did not make this offer to benefit him at all. Yeah, sure. But because he had become my guneia pig, I went ahead and asked him if he had any ideas on what I should bake that weekend. He just looks at me and says, ‘I’m craving pie…’ After all of our time spent watching Pushing Daisies, each episode filled with a variety of different pies, he wound up wanting a pie. And so I decided to try and bake a pie.  

Now I would like to mention that I had attempted at baking a pie once before. It was a lemon shaker pie and it had turned out…okay. I don’t lie when my family, friends, and boyfriend rave about the recipes I share, but they were being generous when they tried the lemon shaker pie. The pie called for the use of a tart pan and because the filling was so liquidy, the pie leaked everywhere! Also, a characteristic with a lemon shaker pie (or so I believe since it was my first time making the pie) is that you use the entire lemon, including the rind, and soak it in sugar for several hours to make it softer. Sadly, the rind didn’t get as soft as I would’ve liked. One positive result was the crust. The crust was not flaky as described by the author of the recipe, but it held together well and didn’t break on me which I feel is a constant problem and what makes pie crusts so tricky. And if we really would like to look at the silver lining, I learned what I wanted to keep and change for the next time I made a pie so I could hopefully make it better the second time around. Now was my second chance and I was more than ready to give it a shot.

For my second try, I decided to keep the pie crust recipe I had used before since it had turned out pretty well before. However instead of trying a different lemon filling recipe, I wanted to try a peach and blackberry filling. For one thing, those two fruits are my favorite combo. Secondly, those two fruits have been in season for awhile now and I wanted to use them while they still were ripe so I wouldn’t have to use frozen fruit. I bet frozen fruit would work just as well, but it is summer time! Farmers Markets are all about with fresh, ripe and local produce and it would almost be criminal to use frozen fruit instead. So my boyfriend and I went to one of the many Farmers Markets around the D.C. area on Saturday and we picked out numerous peaches, blackberries, and some other fruits, veggies, and baked goods to snack on or keep for later.

 

Of course my boyfriend immediately finds the pastry stand.

 

If the fruit that you chose for the pie isn’t very ripe, here are two helpful hints:
1) Peaches actually ripen well in a closed brown paper bag. I’m not sure why, but my boyfriend’s mother told me this and it worked so I won’t really question it.
2) Another way to help ripen fruit is to place an apple or banana with the fruit. Both of these secrete a large amount of ethylene that makes neighboring fruit ripen more quickly. 

The Reliable and Delicious Crust Recipe (the original came from Tartine):

  • 3 c. and 2 tbl. of whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. + 5 tbl. of unsalted, cold butter
  • 2/3 c. of water
  • 1 tsp. of salt

Making the Crust (top and bottom):

  1. In a small bowl, combine the water and salt until well-mixed. Place in the freezer while you prepare the rest.
  2. Put the flour in a large bowl. Cut the butter into 1” cubes, and add this to the flour. With two knives cross cut the butter into the flour until there are only small pieces of butter, around the size of peas. You can try to use a mixer, but I don’t have a stand alone, and my handheld electric mixer couldn’t handle it.
  3. Add in the cold water-salt mixture, and stir it together until it becomes relatively combined. If you think it is a little too dry, don’t add additional water just yet. Wait until the next step.
  4. Divide the dough into two balls. On a lightly floured work surface, kneed the dough together. This should help incorporate the butter well into the dough, and the warmth of your hands will melt the butter and make the dough not as dry. If it is still too dry, then go ahead and add a little bit of water, but no more than a teaspoon at a time. Once you are done kneeding the dough (doesn’t need to take more than a minute or two), shape into a disc about 1” thick. Repeat this process with the second ball as well.
  5. Wrap both discs up with plastic and place in the refrigerator. You may refrigerate the dough for 2 to 24 hours.
  6. When you are ready to roll out the dough, take out of the frigde and let it come to room temperature. This will take about 1 to 2 hours, depending on how long you left it in the fridge.
  7. Roll out both discs of dough on a lightly floured work suface, and roll out until they are flat, level, and about 2” larger around then the pie dish you are using.
  8. Gently place one dough into the pie dish, making sure to press down into the sides so that the dough is touching all over the pie pan.  

The Oh-So-Yummy Filling:

  • Roughly 4 to 5 medium-sized peaches, thinly sliced*
  • 1 1/2 cartons of blackberries
  • 3 tbl. of corn starch*
  • 1/4 c. + 1 tbl. of brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. of honey
  • 1 egg

* I am sorry that I am not more specific on how much fruit is needed to fill the pie. It depends on how large the pie is and how full you would like the pie. You certainly want it full enough, but you want to be careful not to make the filling overflow. Also, the amount of corn starch can vary depending on how ripe your fruit is and how much liquid they may have. If your fruit is very ripe and is similar to that of blackberries (such as blueberries, raspberries, etc.) you will want to consider using 3 tbl., which is what I used when I baked this pie. However, if your fruit is not as ripe or liquidy, then you can use 2 tbl. Now to Finish that Pie…

  1. In a large bowl, gently stir together the peaches, blackberries, corn starch, 1/4 c. of the brown sugar, and honey until the fruit is well coated. You may want to do this with your hands if the fruit is very ripe.
  2. Place the filling into the pie pan, distributing it relatively evenly. Set aside.
  3. Returning to the second half of the pie dough, cut the dough into roughly 1” strips. It would be best to have the dough atop a cutting board for this. Lay each strip atop the pie, so it forms a lattice (criss-cross) design. Gently cut or remove any extra dough that hangs at least 1” off the sides. You want to leave some extra so you can pinch the two pie crusts together, but not too much.
  4. Pinch the two pie crusts together. I wish I could describe this well after having done it twice, but even after my mom explained it to me I still don’t quite understand it.  I believe that you need to take the pointer and middle finger of your one hand to push up on the bottom of the crust and the pointer finger of your other hand to push down. What matters is that the two crusts are sealed together.
  5. In a small bowl, beat the egg and the remaining 2 tbl. of brown sugar together with a fork until well-combined. Using a brush (or fingers if you need to improvise), spread this on the top of the crust.
  6. Before placing the pie in the oven, I highly recommend placing it ontop of a cookie sheet with some parchment paper. You do not want to risk the pie bubbling over and onto your oven. That is just one mess you don’t want to have to deal with later.
  7. Place the pie into the oven for 30 to 45 min. When it is done, let it cool for about 20 min. before serving (and I highly recommend serving it with some vanilla ice-cream—delish!)

And here is the result: a peach-blackerry lattice pie!!!

I usually like to include more photos of the process, but I took those with my fish eye camera and sadly those didn’t develop. Hopefully next time I’ll have more pictures to share. In the mean time, hope you all enjoy the pie!

Round 3!

I would like to say my life has become less busy/crazy. It obviously hasn’t, and I still kept thinking about baking, photographing, and this blog. I missed it. So I’m trying to keep this renewal alive. I swear the third time is the charm! I know I won’t be able to post as much as I used to, but I still want to explore baking and photographing, and document/share this process. So, here’s to a third go around!

I have a friend who is named Paula (go figure) and who loves to bake (conincidence?) Although had a baking party for her birthday, I figured another batch of baked goods couldn’t hurt. So I found this recipe from Tartelette that is the ultimate in chocolate cupcakes. I changed a bit of the recipe, and although it turned out relatively different from her pictures, it was a huge success (as told by Paula, my boyfriend, and family).

The Ingredients for the Cakes:

  • 2 c. of whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp. of baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. of nutmeg*
  • 1/8 tsp. of salt
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 c. of sugar
  • 4 large eggs*
  • 6 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled
  • 1 c. of buttermilk

* Two different notes: 1) I substituted nutmeg for cardamom. I’ve never used it before, and if I wasn’t giving the cupcakes as a birthday present, I may have tried it. I decreased the amount because I used semi-sweet chocolate instead of bittersweet, but when I make this again I would increase the amount to 1 tsp. 2) I may decrease the amount of eggs next time. I like my batter light and fluffy, and the batter looked perfect with 2 eggs. However, for my first time I followed the recipe and it did turn out well. I would just do it differently next time to see how it would turn out.  

The Steps:

  1. In case you did not do this for prep, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Once at a boil, turn off the heat. Place a bowl with the chocolate chips on top of the pot (same size so it is resting on the pot, not the water), and stir the chips until completely melted. Remove from heat and set it to the side.
  2. Preheat the oven for 350 degrees F.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together butter and sugar until it is fluffy and creamy. It’s all about the ribbons forming. Add the eggs one at a time (either 2 or 4 depending on your preference), making sugar to beat each one well into the mixture. After all of the eggs are beaten in, add the chocolate and mix in well.
  5. Add the dry ingredient mixture into the large bowl, alternating with the buttermilk.
  6. Place cupcake liners in the cupcake pan, and then fill the liners about 2/3 full with the batter. The oven should reach the appropriate temperature at this time. Bake the cupcakes for about 20 minutes.

Ingredients for the Icing:

  • 12 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 c. of heavy cream

Whipping it Together:

It is best to do this right after you put the first batch of cupcakes in the oven. Because there is no sugar involved in this, you need to give the mixture time to cool and harden before you can actually whip it together. It seems unfathomable, but it works and it is amazing! It is like a light mousse for frosting.

  1. Place the semi-sweet chocolate in a medium size bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat up the cream on medium heat until it begins to simmer.
  3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and leave it be for a few minutes so that the hot cream can melt the chocolate a bit. Then stir the chocolate until it completely melts and well-mixed together.
  4. Instead of using the refrigerator to cool, I used the freezer. I cook late at night, and I don’t have the most time unfortunately. So I placed the bowl in the freezer for 30-45 minutes, stirring the mixture every 15 minutes to make sure it cooled evenly. What you need to make sure is that the mixture is thick and cool before you begin to mix it.
  5. Once the mixture is ready, mix it until it is light and fluffy as if a regular frosting. It will really taste like mousse.

I went ahead and spread it on, but it might have come out better piped. Either way, it all tasted delicious. It is a rich, light cupcake that requires a glass of milk at the end. I hope that you all enjoy this recipe and that I will be able to share another one with you soon!

Applesauce Spice Bars

Long ago I mentioned that my sister had come home for spring break and we had tried a serious number of recipes. Well, my sister went back to school, finished her semester, is now back at home, and I am just now getting around to sharing those recipes. Better late than never I suppose!

One of the recipes that we tried out was an Applesauce Spice Bar recipe, originally done by Dorie Greenspan.  Laura, my sister, and I had no idea what to expect really. We just looked at it and knew that it sounded good. Sadly, I cannot locate the original recipe to share the changes that we made.  Luckily though, Laura did write down our version of the recipe so I still have something to share. 

Ingredients for the bars:

  • 1 1/4 c. of whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. of baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. of baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. of ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. of salt
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 c. of brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. of unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 apple (diced)
  • 1/2 c. of golden raisins
  • 1/2 c. of chopped walnuts

Ingredients for the glaze:

  • 2 1/2 tbsp. of soy milk
  • 1/2 c. of brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. of unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. of dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract

Putting it alllllll together…

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F; crisco 9 x 13 glass pan, and then dust the pan with flour
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and allspice, and salt together in a bowl.
  3. In medium saucepan, melt butter on low heat. Add brown sugar and stir until mixed and melted. This should take around 1 minute. When that is finished, remove from heat.
  4. From this point on, pretty much everything goes into the saucepan. First, add the eggs in one at a time, mixing them. Then, mix in the applesauce and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients. Mix in the diced apples, golden raisins, and walnuts.
  5. Pour the batter into the pan. Spread out so it is even. Then bake for 23-25 minutes.
  6. The glaze can be done really quickly, and can be done after the pan is taken out of the oven to cool.  To start the glaze off, get a small saucepan and whisk together the soymilk, sugar, butter, and corn syrup.  Have the heat be on medium, and bring the glaze to a boil, whisking frequently during this time.
  7. Once the glaze has come to a boil, turn down the heat a little but still let it simmer. Keep the glaze simmering for about 5 minutes. Again, you will need to stir the glaze this entire time.
  8. Then remove from heat and add in the vanilla.
  9. The final step: pour the glaze over the cooled cake.

And the results…

It is a shame I posted them so late because at the time they were made, it was the perfect time of the year for them. Still cool out, but certainly more of an autumn/winter dessert. Incredibly delicious with a cup of tea or coffee.

Disappearance

I apologize for my absence from this blog. I had full intentions on posting those recipes I had done with my sister.  My life just became absolutely crazy these past few weeks, for both good and bad reasons.  One good reason is that I am now dating a fabulous, genuine person I have known since college. It just never worked out for us before this. So now we’re trying to spend as much time with each other as possible.  The second reason is both good and bad: I finished my first semester at graduate school! 5 more to go! It just made me incredibly busy, especially with finals. Papers, exams, projects, presentations…I had it all! But now it is over and I can breathe easy again. The last reason is not so good unfortunately. Some of my relatives’ health is declining, and it has made life very mentally and emotionally exhausting.  Now it seems as though my family finally has a hold on things, and hopefully things can get a little less stressful now. And now that I finally have some time, all I want to do is bake! Hopefully soon I can get back into the swing of things…and who knows, maybe my boyfriend will want to join!

The Grown-Up Rice Krispie

I’m truly losing track of the days. Another week has flown by, and I cannot really recall what happened. Work, class, homework, managing to hang out with friends? I’m still trying to figure out this schedule, and sadly this poor blog remains neglected. Luckily though my sister has come home for spring break this week, and when her and I together we go in a baking frenzy! But before all of that begins, I thought I would share what I consider the grown-up rice krispie. Technically, it is a british flapjack recipe (no, not pancakes) that I found in this month’s issue of bon appetit. It is incredibly simple, hardly takes any ingredients, and the only thing that’s really different is that you’ve got to wait for this to completely cool. I kind of read over that, and dug in to half of it before my mom pointed that out. Whoops! It was still good then, but like granola. Haha. Anyways, before I spoil anymore of how it turned out, let me share the actual recipe with you!

Grown-Up Rice Krispies (British Flapjacks)
Yields 8 (original said 16, but I don’t know how they cut 16 triangles)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. or 1 stick of butter
  • 1/2 c. of brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. of maple syrup (original called for golden)
  • 1/3 c. of golden raisins
  • 2 1/3 c. of quick-cooking oats

I swapped the maple syrup for the golden syrup because I did not have it on me, and apparently it can only really be found in specialty stores. I also decided to throw in the golden raisins, because let’s be honest, I’ve been on a golden raisin kick this past month. I couldn’t help myself.

How you got about it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees
  2. Butter an 8x8x2 inch baking pan (I used my lovely pyrex, although they called for metal)
  3. Combine the butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup in a medium saucepan. Stir frequently over medium heat until it is all melted and well-blended.
  4. Remove the mixture from heat. Add in the oats and raisins, and stir until well coated.
    I actually swapped it, pouring the mixture into the oats, simply because I didn’t use a large enough saucepan. Another whoops! Haha!
  5. Transfer mixture from the saucepan/bowl into the prepared pan, and spread out evenly with a spatula. Place in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
  6. Remove from the heat and let it cool on a rack for 30 minutes. After 30, go ahead and cut it in 4 squares, and then cut each square diagonally in half to create 2 triangles. Then let the whole thing cool completely before serving.

It really is very delicious, either warm or cool. Just if you take it out early, it will crumble and fall apart on you. While if you let it cool completely, it actually firms up and becomes dense. My mom did not understand it because that was all that went into it, but it did it. So again, very simple and very delicious. Hope you all enjoy!

Bon Appetit!

I complained that I was busy last week. Well, this week was twice as busy as last! Finishing papers, starting the first full-time job I’ve ever had, and paying a visit to the emergency room when something went terribly wrong with my toe (have no fear, the resident took fabulous care of me!) It’s just been crazy! And all this time, I haven’t had the chance to bake. I feel very much out of touch with things, and even if I wanted to bake something I have no idea what…I almost feel kind of lost with everything changing. I don’t mean to be dramatic or anything, but it’s kind of how it is.  

And then I watched Julie & Julia with my best friend today while we put together these chocolate-mint-coconut bars. It was a bunch of improv., but I really wish I had taken pictures now because it was a funny process but it was so delicious. My tummy actually feels a little sick from all that sugar now. But that’s besides the point! What is the point is that the movie helped remind me why I got into this. I began this blog just a few months ago because I wanted to ground myself as my life drastically changed with graduating from college. It was time to “be a grown-up”, and I have taken big steps such as getting this job and working towards my master’s degree in museum studies. I can easily get lost in big changes like these, so I wanted to make sure I dedicated time to the things that I’ve always loved doing. Now this is a range of things for me, but it has always involved some form of creativity. It’s bound to happen when you majored in art. And over the months, it has become more focused on baking and photography.

I just love baking. I really do. I don’t know what it is really. Cooking is good too, but baking is such a comfort. I just always feel happy doing it, and I feel like I make people happy in turn. As I’ve said before, it’s my way of showing that I care for them. And I also have really enjoyed sharing my recipes and adventures. It’s nice to see some people like the recipes I’ve posted, and I can only hope that I’ve helped people in some small way too.  Photography is also a big thing for me, but for more selfish reasons.  Photographing has become my way of developing more as an artist, and I can only hope I’m really learning something as I’m trying to teach myself. I’m still pretty dicey with film. But hopefully in time I’ll get better!

Julie & Julia essentially focuses on two different women who both pursued something that they loved: food. They both went through their own troubles, but they both wound up successful. It really motivated me. My goals are a bit different though: I’m focusing on helping myself and others, at the same time, through the exploration of baking. Seems kind of like an odd way to go about it, but that is what has stood out to me since I’ve started this blog. It’s the thing I keep going back to.  I’ll of course keep posting lovely designs, ideas, and photographs on this blog, but it will predominantly be made up of baking. I can only hope that I make other people’s lives a little sweeter through this, and they can do the same for the people they love.

I’m thinking about maybe doing a one night a week dessert/get together thing at my place. A different recipe each week. Still tossing the idea around, but it would ensure that I did set time aside for baking while my life remains a madhouse and it would be with the people I love. We will see. Either way, I hope to be sharing another delicious recipe with you all soon :)

Some Feel Good Designs

This week has been crazy busy, and incredibly different to the week before when I was snowed in. I’ve been working on papers, projects, getting paperwork ready for my new job, and I worked my last shift at the coffeeshop yesterday. It was so bittersweet because I had become so close to not only my coworkers, but with the customers as well. But it was the best time for me to move on I think because I left there learning many new things and the negative aspects of it hadn’t taken a toll on me yet. If you haven’t been in a service industry before, than you may not know what this means and I recommend that you go into it just so you have to chance to experience it. It really changes your perspective and personality, and thankfully mine was for the better.

Anyways, with all these happenings going on, I haven’t had the chance to bake or cook. And my hands are actually getting the itch. They want to bake something. It’s so weird! Given that I’m not sure when I will be able to bake, I thought I’d share some cute designs I’ve found from different blogs I’ve followed over these past few months.

I feel like this one has been popping up all over the place, and I just love it so much! This poster comes from the website Keep Calm Gallery, and was started just about 2-3 years ago by Lucas Lepola and Hayley Thwaites.  With their love for typography and design, they make available goregous posters by various artists and designers. This one was actually originally released in World War II to help ease the public’s fears. I think this message applies to a lot of instances, for both the big and small things. It comes in a variety of colors, but this purple is definitely my favorite.

Another good one is this poster featured at by Postal Press. It is a quote by Albert Einstein saying that, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” I’ve also seen this one featured on a couple of different blogs, and I don’t think you can beat that quote. You just can’t beat it’s message, and it’s fabulous that one of the brightest minds in the world said that.

I’m not going to lie: I never heard of ‘etsy shops’ until just a couple months ago. Now that I’ve discovered it, I find it is amazing how much creativity is out there! This is just one of the shops there run by Eva Juliet. It features a lot of adorable designs, and I just love this one. It’s kind of how I feel in the morning, where I’m just hoping to get a little extra something from my coffee or tea so I can come up with something! Haha!

Lastly, you just can’t beat this design by Julene. She creates these intricate designs, and uses a laser cutter to make them. She can either take requests, or you can choose from ones that she’s already made. Personally, I love this one the best. It’s probably something I’d give to my sister or a really good friend.

Valentine’s Day Treats (Part 2)

Nothing says Valentine’s like chocolate, and this recipe is a serious dose of absolute delicious chocolate. This is one of the few times I was unable to photograph the process. I usually like to include that because often times when I’m making a recipe I have no idea if I’m doing everything correctly. All I have is the end result to base it off of. This time though I made it with my friends, and my family and friends ate them up so quickly that this morning this was the last one! I had to threaten my parents to not eat it so I could at least photograph it! It obviously turned out alright (better than alright really) despite my hesitations the day before, and is relatively simple to make. So here is an amazing dessert that is bound to be a hit anywhere (unless they’re allergic to chocolate!)

Chocolate-Nutmeg Pots de Crème
Makes 6 pots of sinful goodness

The Necessary Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbs. of sugar
  • 1 5 oz. can of evaporated milk
  • 1/3 c. of skim milk
  • 1 c. of semisweet chocolate
  • 1/4 tsp. of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. of nutmeg, plus extra for garnish
  • A little bit of salt
  • And some whip cream!!!

The original recipe, which I got from this month’s issue of Vegetarian Times, called for 2 oz. of chopped bittersweet chocolate or 1 c. of bittersweet chocolate chips. However, I went with semisweet because there was so little sugar going into it. Sometimes bittersweet is far too strong for me, and I’m glad I went with the semisweet. Delish!

How to make it…

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Place 6 custard cups or ramekins in a large roasting pan.
  2. Whisk together egg, egg yolk, and sugar in a large bowl. Set that aside.

    If you don’t know how to separate an egg yolk from the egg white, then you’re in luck. This is something I learned when I worked at a bakery (actually had to separate 24 the first time I learned—one of the grossest feelings ever!), and I got pretty good at it. Take the egg, and with a spoon, gently tap it in a circle around the middle. Once that is done, set the spoon down, and gently open up the top part of the egg shell. Pour the contents off the egg into your free hand, and then set the shell down (still holding the egg!). Then, pass the egg yolk back and forth from hand to hand, letting the egg white fall through between your fingers. You’ve got your egg yolk!
  3. Bring evaporated milk and skim milk to a boil in a medium size saucepan. Constantly stir to ensure it doesn’t burn. Once boiled, remove from heat to add in the chocolate. Return to the heat, letting the mixture simmer, until the chocolate is completely melted. Again, make sure to constantly stir so nothing burns.
  4. Whisk half of the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Add the remaining half of the chocolate mixture as a steady stream into the bowl, while whisking. Lastly, add in the vanilla, nutmeg, and salt.
  5. Divide this mixture between the 6 custard cups. Then, fill the roasting pan half full with boiling water. For placing this pan in the oven, get assistance just in case! I was good for when I put it in, but when I got the pan out my strength failed me and I was forced to place it on the oven door as I called out for my friends to help me. Granted I was trying to do it with one hand (another stupid mistake), it is surprisingly heavy. With assistance or not, place this pan in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the custards are set.
  6. Once the custards come out of the oven, let them cool and place them in the refrigerator to chill. I only let them chill for 30 minutes, and that way they were cool enough to hold but the chocolate was still so warm. Yum!
  7. Lastly, add whip cream and little nutmeg on top as you desire, and you are done!

It seriously is one of the best chocolate desserts I’ve had, especially one that I’ve made! Hope you all love it just as much as I have!