Saturday, October 31, 2009

Catch up

Lately, I've had less time to participate in all the baking events I would like. Mostly, it's due to a heavy work load. I have my own freelance business, which is bustling, thankfully, but I also have a part-time job at the local public library so I can have access to various health benefits.

I few weeks ago, I went on a week-long cruise with my daughter. However, apparently, I was a day or so shy of having enough vacation time accrued. I received a 'thinly veiled threat' from the HR person, saying that if I didn't make up the hours in the correct time period, all my benefits would be canceled. Really? All? (If you wouldn't keep stealing them for holiday time, I'd have had enough. Harrumph.)

So, yesterday (Friday), I worked all day -- my detention time, as I like to say. Ironically, the server for the entire library system crashed for the whole day.

The whole day.

There was no check-in. All check-outs were done manually. (Just love the mom with 40+ picture books.) No fines were paid.

Just think, I could have been home being productive: baking, and freelancing.


Along with second-job detention, I had fun dealing with this event this week:

Yep. That's my front door.

My daughter and I had the good fortune to watch the crash happen. Sure made exiting and entering a challenge.

Two of my nice neighbors came to the rescue with their chain saws, unasked. In return, they can have free firewood.

Oh, and remember the 'drug house' episode from a year ago? I am pleased to report that the For Sale sign went up on Tuesday! We all persevered, and, in return, our neighborhood has returned to its normal calm state, free of drug dealers and questionable characters.

Finally, one of the joys of my freelancing business is having the opportunity to see new books before they are published. While I'm at the tail end of the publishing process, I provide a much-needed and much-used part of the book (the index). Over the summer, I had the great fortune to work on a new bread cookbook:

I would encourage everyone to rush out and buy a copy. There are some great recipes, using a variety of grains, fruits, and vegetables. There are even gluten-free breads to be found. A Google Group has been set up as well, to go through the cookbook and bake all these delicious breads.

(I succeeded in keeping quiet about this, no easy task I assure you!)

So, with all my looming deadlines, I will do my best to bake and cook along with all my blog groups, but if I'm a bit tardy, you'll at least know why.

Halloween treats

Instead of the usual treats for my neighbor's two children, I decided to make them some cupcakes with a Halloween theme.

My daughter is out partying tonight, but I promised to save some for her.

Black icing is fun.

The cupcakes actually turned out well, and given my past cupcake history, that's amazing. I really like the icing. It reminds me of a royal icing, so it dries nicely and doesn't stay gooey.

The recipe can be found here.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Alas, poor Jack

Is that a lobotomy I spy?

Why, no.

It's just a tardy
Tuesdays with Dorie delight, Cherry-Fudge Brownie Torte, chosen by April of Short + Rose.

Once again, I have used up the last drops of a liqueur from my cupboard. No more Kirsch-Wasser anymore.

Although other TWD bakers decorated their tortes more elegantly, I chose the impending holiday theme.

The mousse topping was my favorite part. Mmmmm, nice and thick.

The cherries add a nice zing to the brownie, and, frankly, you'd never know there was pepper lurking as well. I agree with the other bakers -- this is a great party dessert.

Even with two of us eating this, it is rich enough to last for awhile.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: No Feet + No Shine = Amaretti

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

These were supposed to macarons.

The uncooked batter looked fine:

Except they didn't grow feet and the baked tops looked like the surface of the moon.


I have made macarons before with better results. While I still didn't get the shiny tops then, I did get well-developed feet.

Until I figure out where I went wrong, I'll be a bit gun-shy about making these again, which is a shame.

Even though they tasted fine, but I decided not to waste my time or the ingredients to fill a failure.

So, this year there will be no Halloween macarons.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

BB: Blue Cheese Soufflé

I decided to make Ina's Blue Cheese Soufflé for lunch today.

For several reasons:

I'm trying to get caught up with my baking.

I finally got to the grocery story yesterday to restock the kitchen after having been gone.

I love cheese

My daughter doesn't like blue cheese and I do. Since she was at work all day, I could make this and enjoy it and she wouldn't have to suffer.

I made only half a recipe since my
soufflé dish is 6 cups, and, rather than splitting an egg white, I used 3 whites to 2 yolks.

I had my camera ready as it came out of the oven and proceeded to collapse:

It was delicious.

Blue Cheese Soufflé was chosen by Summer of Sexy Apartment. Stop by the Barefoot Bloggers to see more.

Friday, October 23, 2009

TWD: Soft Pumpkin Hockey Pucks

Apparently, I left my baking mojo somewhere in the Caribbean. How else can I account for the fact that these biscuits were a failure? To be fair, they tasted alright, but they never rose and were still a bit doughy on the inside, even after 30 minutes of baking.

Because sweet potatoes never cross the door step, I used pumpkin instead.

Everything seemed to proceed well enough, except the biscuits never rose and were stubborn about being cooked all the way through.

The funny thing is, they tasted ok. My yellow-vegetable-hating daughter pronounced them delicious and ate most of them. Go figure.

I did make these on Tuesday, but I have a huge work backlog, so the baking/cooking events will have to be fit in when space/time becomes available. At least until I get caught up.

For the recipe, check out Erin's blog at Prudence Pennywise.

I haven't stopped by the other TWD blogs since my return, but I plan to do it this weekend and expect to see some wonderful biscuits, right?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Daring Cooks #6: Vietnamese Chicken Pho

Today is October 14th, posting day for this month's Daring Cooks' challenge. If you're reading this, then the autopost worked!

I, however, am far from home, chasing butterflies on St. Maarten and checking out the local offerings.

Before I left, I had a chance to make and enjoy this fragrant Vietnamese Pho, using a recipe provided by Jaden of Steamy Kitchen. That's whole coriander, cloves, and star anise, toasting in the pan above. I added some homemade, rich chicken stock, some onions and fresh ginger, then let it all simmer with a small amount of sugar and fish sauce.

For serving, the resulting broth was ladled over a mixture of chicken and rice noodles, then topped with fresh bean sprouts, red onions, coriander and lime juice. We had enough for two dinners and one lunch, and since I always have fresh chicken stock in the freezer, it would be easy to make again.

Visit the Daring Kitchen to see all the wonderful variations and to get the recipe.

Oh, and before I forget, dessert was chocolate-filled, deep-fried wontons.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

TWD: Allspice Crumb Muffins

If you're reading this, it must be Tuesday and the autopost worked. I should be somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean, being pampered.

This week's TWD challenge was Allspice Crumb Muffins, chosen by Kayte of Grandma's Kitchen Table.

I took about 8 of them to work with me on Sunday morning. They all disappeared.

One co-worker said they tasted like doughnuts without the grease, and promptly ate two.

The ones left at home were gone quickly, too. This was a most delicious choice, Kayte!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Gone cruisin'

See you in 10 days.

New Addition

Isn't this just the cutest pan? My 2-quart saucier now has a little buddy to keep it company.

After making a reduced amount of pudding for a previous recipe, I realized I needed a 1-quart saucier to cook smaller amounts, and there just happened to be a sale on over at

The rest is history.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

BB: Cheddar Corn Chowder

October's first Barefoot Blogger challenge was a lovely soup, Cheddar Corn Chowder. This is similar to a long-standing recipe I have that includes a few more vegetables and tuna.

For a light and quick lunch or dinner, this chowder is ideal. Although, for the life of me, I can't understand why it requires bacon fat, olive oil, and butter! Rendering the bacon at the beginning of the recipe certainly provides enough fat for the flour and for the taste.

I also quartered the recipe for the two of us -- it makes a whole bunch of soup, otherwise.

My daughter's favorite part was the bacon.

She did like the soup as well, but she consumed the leftover bacon.

Thanks to Jill of My Next Life for a nice change from all the sweet stuff. Stop by the Barefoot Blogger site to see all the other renditions.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

TWD: Split Level pudding

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Garrett of Flavor of Vanilla. More than just a pudding, this was a split level pudding, hiding a delicious layer of chocolate ganache at the bottom of the vessel.

I chose to flavor the pudding with peppermint oil, just for kicks.

For a more spectacular presentation, I would recommend using a see-through dish or glass as some of the other TWD bakers did. For the recipe and other interesting stories, head over to Garrett's blog.