azriona: (Azri's pantry)
There is a very good reason why I will never be a very good food blogger, which is really disappointing because every time I visit food blogs, the blogger at one point mentions all the free goodies they get from various foodie supply companies.

(I would like a free box of baking supplies.  Then again, who wouldn't?)

But really, the reason I would be a terrible food blogger is that as much as I enjoy baking and trying out new recipes, I'm terrible at actually getting around to sharing them.  The recipes, that is.  The food I generally send in to Bill's coworkers, because I seriously do not need that many cakes and cookies in my life or more importantly, in my kitchen where I have easy access.  The only reason I'm being seriously good about not snacking on the current stash of Halloween cookies is because they are all packaged up and out of sight.  Even the rum balls for the adults are in a tin in the fridge, and will stay there until the mini monsters come knocking on the door.  (At which point I'll take 'em out, gather the rest of the cookies, and go sit in the Bedouin tent Bill's set up in the front yard so Cleo can stay inside and not be disturbed/freaked out by the doorbell ringing constantly.

Among the goodies I've baked that I haven't mentioned are: the aforementioned rum balls, homemade marshmallow creme, vanilla cupcakes with raspberry marshmallow filling, green tea cookies, Amish sugar cookies, and sugar spiral cookies.  (Also ginger molasses cookies and today's project is oatmeal raisin cookies, but those are old recipes.  What amuses me is that everyone wants the recipe for the oatmeal raisin cookies, but it's the one from the Quaker Oats box, it's not like a big secret or anything, and I don't do anything special to it.)

But see?  If I did gorgeous photographs of all those things, and wrote up pretty little pdf files or something for them, and wrote a rambly, random post for every single one of them....I'd have like a month of regular posts for a food blog.  I could totally be a food blogger, and get free boxes of baking supplies in the mail.

(Because that is how you know you've made it: Wilton sends you a box of baking supplies.  Wilton, if you are reading, I would like a free box of baking supplies.  Especially cupcake papers, I always run out of those at the worst possible moment.  And a 16" pastry bag, please.  And that scrapey thing that makes the side of frosted cakes all even, or with lines, as appropriate.  I might even actually get around to writing up how much I will love them and use them every day.)

So I will probably never be a food blogger, because I am clearly terrible at it.  Also because I'm still taking photographs with my phone, and that doesn't lead to very good photographs.  (At some point I really have to fix the camera situation.  It's just every time I think about doing it, I get so aggravated with myself for dropping my camera in the first place that I end up shelving it for another year.)

I suspect the actual food bloggers are in it for more than free boxes of baking supplies, though they're probably a very nice perk.  After all, I'm in the Sherlock fandom for more than free boxes of Sherlock DVDs, which is good, seeing as how I have never received those either.  I don't know, maybe Benedict Cumberbatch can write us some more porn, that seems to be a good trade-off.  
azriona: (cat in a box)
First and foremost, as I just had a worried call from my father-in-law: Andrew is fine.  He had a fever, it was gone by morning, he was jumping all over the place and so I packed him a lunch and sent him to school, and all was well.  We have no idea what caused the fever, but it was clearly short-lived.

Moving on.

Today has been an odd day.  Andrew has been in turns an absolute angel and the devil incarnate.  He woke up this morning wanting to sit and trace his name over and over, and completely huggy and happy and cheerful, and then progressed to sitting on his best friend’s face while the Mommies were on the other side of the gym doing Zumba.

I really have no idea.

But I can think of three truly awesome things that happened today, even if I don’t have a clue how to react to them:

1. I got to lead my first Zumba routine today. So a few weeks ago, the Zumba instructor introduced a new dance, this time to Imagine Dragon’s Top of the World, which I happen to love.  Except the dance was….not really dancey.  It was a lot of standing around and waiting to make the next move, none of which were really bouncy moves, and every time we did it, I would be in the middle of the room shaking my head and going, “No NO NO NO NO.”  So finally, about a week ago, I went up to her (I am way vocal about songs I like and do not like, I am totally THAT PERSON), and asked if she minded if I tried to choreograph something different.  To which she very graciously say, “Go for it.”

So I did.  And today, she let me present it to the class, and everyone liked it – or at least they were nice enough to not be me and say they didn’t like it, and so we’re going to do it again, and it is now MY SONG.  Which is cool…except now the Zumba instructor has given me homework, and I have to come up with a Zumba dance to the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back,” because she saw Guardians of the Galaxy and it’s a good song.  There’s a weird salsa version online, and I’m going to see if I can’t backtrack that to the original Jackson Five version, because say what you will, Michael Jackson makes for excellent dancing music.

(We currently have Thriller in the rotation, because Halloween.)

2. Someone wants to pay me for baked goods. I like to bake, we all know this.  And I would rather not gain five thousand pounds (see above post re: Zumba), so I sent a majority of what I bake in with Bill to share with his co-workers.  Well, on particularly baking-heavy weeks, he filters the baked items out to other offices.  (I’m pretty sure there’s ulterior work-related motives in who gets them, but I don’t care as long as someone else is eating them.)

Anyway, there’s this one office that got cookies a few weeks ago, and Bill mentioned how I take requests.  (This is true; I love a challenge.)  So they asked for banana cake.  I made one, sent it in, and got a lovely thank-you note in return.  And also a request for pumpkin bread.

I made the pumpkin bread last night (there are pictures on Tumblr, it was way yummy warm with butter), and Bill took a loaf in this morning.  (In my defense, the recipe made two loaves, so I got some too.)

At noon, I got a phone call from one of the ladies in the office to thank me for the bread, which was apparently already gone.

And also another request, for more pumpkin bread, and also ginger molasses cookies.  (Those of you who were at Gridlock, those were the “Mrs Hudson cookies.”)  Except this time, she wants it for herself, and she wants them Monday, and she wants to pay me.

I….have no idea what to say to that.  I’ve always said that I’d make a terrible businesswoman because I don’t actually want you to pay for my stuff, I just want you to eat it.  And I’m finding that this is true – I really don’t want her to pay me for it, I’m just happy to make them.  But I also have the feeling that this might be a slippery slope, and if I don’t charge her something, I’m going to be her personal baker for the next two years, which I also don’t particularly want to do.

(Not to mention, I’m doing a lot of baking in the next week or so – I have to make the rum coconut cake for an event on Saturday, and I promised to make a cake for the community club next Thursday, and two of Bill’s coworkers have birthdays in the next few weeks and they have already put in requests for tiramisu and gelato.)

So…I kind of feel like I should charge at least something, but…I feel terrible doing it.  I’m not actually running a business, nor do I want to.  And I think there’s rules about living on government property and running your own business – but then, there’s people here who do it via those catalog-Tupperware-type parties, so it’s not this is new ground for anyone.

And then there’s the issue of how much I should charge, anyway.  What’s a loaf of pumpkin bread run at the grocery store, $3?  Maybe $6 at the farmer’s market?   And how many cookies would I have to provide? By the pound or by the dozen?  (One batch is usually around three dozen.)  So..another $5?  Or call it ten and be done with it?

(Or I had the thought to refuse payment on sheer principle and tell her to donate whatever she felt appropriate to the nearest food bank.  I am tempted…but that still doesn’t alleviate the fact that she might start taking advantage of my oven.)

So….tl:dr….awesome that someone actually wants to pay me for baked goods, because that is awesome, but…oh my lord, this is a can of worms I didn’t anticipate.

3. I figured out the Medieval Omegaverse porn issuesAnd I did it with the oldest trick in the book…well, second oldest, the oldest is probably a fade to black.  No, I just switched up POVs.  Previously, I was writing from John’s POV, and now it’s from Sherlock’s, and it’s much better.  Okay, I still haven’t gotten to the porn, and John is back to fully clothed again, but I wrote over 3,000 words today and they were the easiest words I’ve written all week, whereas the previous 2,000 were like drawing blood from a stone.

Anyway, Andrew has Bird Camp in the morning at the animal museum, so I will either hang at the Starbucks near the museum with my laptop and write porn, or I will check out the estate sales that are reported to be in that vicinity, because I do love me an estate sale, and I haven’t been to one in ages.  (And they’re best experienced without bouncy boys following you and wanting to touch things.)
 
azriona: (cat in a box)
Every child under the age of five loves to play at our house, because most of them have older brothers and sisters who tend to take over the playspaces.  Not Andrew - he's the only, so when the toddlers are here, it's a toddler wonderland.

Every child except Andrew, that is. He'd rather go to the other kids' houses, because he actually loves older kids and wants to be around them.  Plus, the rule in our house is that when friends are here to play, the TV goes off.  (Also, I tend not to let him graze on things between meals.  When Andrew snacks, dinner does not get eaten, and therefore, Andrew is seldom allowed snacks, because I'd rather he eat dinner.)

But I also have this thing where I really, really, really like to have the house to myself.  Today, Andrew's bus actually showed up on time after school, and so he got home at the same time as his friend Trent's older siblings, and they all ended up trooping over here for a while, and then trooping over to their house, where Andrew is now presumably helping them rip the house to shreds.  Every so often, I hear shrieks, so either they're all having the time of their lives, or not.

I am not terribly stressed, either way.  On Sunday, Andrew proved to be somewhat reliable in that he went over to one of the neighbor-children's houses and played for two hours, and when he was done, ran straight home.  I had a lovely two hours in which I...swept and mopped the floors.  Yeah, I lead an exciting life, I tell you.  Also, I cleaned bathrooms.  The fun never ends.

Otherwise, it was a lovely day: Andrew's speech therapy was moved to tomorrow morning, so he was both picked up and dropped off by the bus, so I didn't actually have to go anywhere today (except Zumba, which does not count as it's at the gym on the base).  Instead, I made the homemade Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies, which turned out way better than the originals, and I will certainly be making them again once I've amassed enough egg whites.  (Six egg whites!  SIX!  Yay for egg whites being ridiculously easy to freeze; I can just store them up until I have enough again.)

With the theory of pics or it didn't happen... )

No writing today.  The Sheriarty yesterday wore me out.  And I'm not entirely sure how to get John and Sherlock back on the same page now (figuratively, not literally.  Literally they're actually on the same bed), but the plan for tomorrow is to drop Andrew off at school and then head over to my favorite coffeeshop for lunch and writing, and THEN I'm going to cross the street and go to the Williams-Sonoma because Bill got me a gift card for them and I can use it in the store and I'm going to have a lovely browse and maybe buy some 6" cake pans because I understand you can cut a cake recipe in half and it bakes up perfectly in those suckers.

Or maybe I'll buy a cleaver.  I haven't decided.

(Bill asked me a while ago what I wanted for my birthday.  I said, "A cleaver."  He looked at me for a really long time before slinking quietly out of the room.  I think I scare him sometimes, but he suggests that I kill off fictional characters with ricin poisoning, so you know, whatever.)
azriona: (Azri's pantry)
So a few months ago, I got an offer in the mail for cheap subscriptions to various magazines.  One of the magazines was for Bon Appetit.  It was maybe $10 for an entire year, and I figured, "Eh, why not?"

Well, I'm on my third copy and it's only in this issue that I found a recipe I wanted to try.  Actually, I found several, but the first one was for a potato bread that was, and I quote: "the greatest sandwich bread a person could ever hope for."  Well, with an endorsement like that...

Either I really messed up, or that person has very limited experience with sandwich bread )
azriona: (cat in a box)
I feel like I should make an apology post - here are all these new people cautiously easing their way back into LJ, and I've been cheerleading them along....and now I'm getting on a plane tomorrow and heading out for ten days of fun and frolic and giant talking mice and will be more or less unavailable for cheerleading.

(Not entirely unavailable, but sort of preoccupied as one is when on vacation.)

So, if you are new to LJ, DON'T LEAVE YET.  I shall return.  With photos of Andrew and the aforementioned Giant Mice, or possibly Buzz Lightyear.  There will be pictures of Hogsmeade, and IF I AM REALLY REALLY LUCKY, Diagon Alley.

(If Diagon Alley is not open, Noel and I have agreed to get our entry pass for Hogsmeade and then go camp out at Diagon Alley's entrance hoping for a soft opening.  Mind, it could be open RIGHT NOW, but I have not looked for information in a few days because I am chicken.  I do know there was some press opening thing a day or so ago, I've seen the pictures.  They are so awesome it hurts.)

*

In other news, I made the cream cheese brownies again today, this time replacing the sour cream with lowfat plain yogurt.  MUCH better - the sour cream had too much tang to it, and the yogurt had just enough so that it didn't overpower the cream cheese or the brownie.  I also baked for an additional five minutes, but I think they could have used another five - or maybe a higher temperature.  I'll continue playing when we get back.

[livejournal.com profile] auntiesuze, I utterly fail at typing up your buttermilk scone recipe.  Use the lemon scone recipe, and add a cup of the still-frozen blueberries and bake for an additional 5 minutes, they should turn out just fine.  If you want to drop the lemon, you can, but make sure you add extra milk to make up for the loss of lemon juice, and maybe add a bit of cinnamon or cake spice to give it another layer of flavor.

Doesn't that paragraph make it sound like I know what I'm doing in the kitchen?  I'm impressed with me.
azriona: (Azri's pantry)
I made a Boston Cream Pie this weekend for my neighbor’s birthday – it was her choice, but I was happy to oblige since it’s one of my favorites, and I haven’t had a chance/excuse to make one before. (I made Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes once, but they’re terrible fiddly and I wasn’t overly impressed with the recipe except as inspiration.)

The pie itself was pretty good – if you’re not familiar, it’s a sponge cake that’s been split in two, and then filled with a vanilla custard or cream. It’s topped with a thin layer of chocolate ganache or glaze. Utterly, completely, fantastically delicious.

But the best part of the pie was the custard, by far. The cake itself is basically a sponge cake that’s split in two – you can use any recipe you like and can make properly. (I ended up making two, because the first one required so many eggs that it came out smelling like an omelet. Tasted vaguely like one, too. The second was much better, but still nothing super special.) The topping is a bittersweet chocolate, but you can really use any chocolate frosting recipe you like, as long as you make sure the chocolate flavor is strong and spread it thin.

But the custard…mess up the custard, and there’s just no point to the pie, if you ask me.

I’m giving you two recipes for the custard – the original vanilla, baked in a 9” pie plate, and a chocolate version, which I baked in individual ramekins, because I’ll be honest and say I overbaked the vanilla, and wanted to try it again. (Bill vastly prefers chocolate over any other flavor, and I wanted to see if the basic recipe was versatile enough to switch it up a bit.)

The second chocolate version came out like a dream. But even overbaked – it was awesome stuff. It’s thick and creamy and has the consistency of clotted cream. I may have licked the bowl and the spoon after assembling the pie. Just saying.



Vanilla Custard for a Boston Cream Pie )



Chocolate Cream Custards )
azriona: (Azri's pantry)
So I have a standing rule with Bill’s workplace that I take requests. I love requests. A few weeks ago, Bill came home with the request for snickerdoodles.

I love snickerdoodles; they were my cookie back in high school, and I made them so often I had the recipe memorized. That was twenty years ago. I don’t have the recipe memorized anymore, and when I went to look one up, I found that none of the recipes quite matched what I remembered. Not only that, the recipes were wildly different, with different ratios of butter to eggs to cream of tartar (which is a key ingredient to a snickerdoodle).

“Aha,” I thought to myself, “this is my golden opportunity to do a taste test!”

So…instead of trying to decide which one of two recipes I’d bake….I did both, hoping for two wildly different but still edible cookies. And that’s exactly what I got.



Snickerdoodle #1 (on the left) is flat and wide, but stayed soft when it cooled. It’s not very sweet and has a strong cinnamon flavor, probably because it has more cinnamon in the cinnamon sugar coating. It’s also got a higher amount of cream of tartar and a lot more butter.



Snickerdoodle #2 (on the right) is puffy and looks more like I remember – but it became very crisp when it cooled, despite its shape. It’s also much sweeter – almost too sweet to me – and has a very light cinnamon taste. I thought there was an odd aftertaste as well, which is probably attributable to the vanilla, which wasn’t present in the first cookie. But I was the only one who thought so.



I followed each recipe to the letter – well, apart from making sure the butter in #2 was softened first, which wasn’t specified but I assumed – and kept with the suggested baking times instead of shortening by a minute or two to encourage softness. Neither cookie is quite the way I remember them from high school, but they’re good nonetheless.

(Note that I'm not a scientist by any stretch: I just like baking. I'm sure someone much smarter than me is going to look at this recipes and instantly know what they'll get. That's lovely. Me, I just want it to taste good, and for me, the fun is in actually baking them.)

In the end, the workplace taste test was interesting – early in the day, most testers reported that Cookie #2 (the sweeter version) was their favorite. But by the end of the day, it was Cookie #1 that disappeared first – and keep in mind, there were more of Cookie #1 to go around. My husband’s theory is that it’s a bit like the Pepsi-Coke Challenge – in a blind taste-test, the sweeter option is almost always going to win, even if it’s the one people like on its own least.

Anyway, here are two cookies for you to try. Pick your poison, and happy baking!

Snickerdoodle #1 - Flat and Wide )

Snickerdoodle #2 = Puffy and Crisp )
azriona: (Azri's pantry)
At some point I need to post the Thanksgiving Day dinner menu, if only because I find them very useful to return to in later years to find the recipes we liked.

In the meantime, though, I made sugar cookies for tomorrow's neighborhood Christmas party.



Sugar Crinkle Cookies )
azriona: (Azri's pantry)
I appear to be a lean, mean, recipe-testing machine this week. (I think if I were ever to start a food-centric blog, that's what my tag line would be. "Testing the Stars' Recipes So You Don't Have To.")

Last night I tried the chocolate souffles. The only ingredient I wasn't able to source was the double cream - whipping cream is easy, double cream is not. (Not the same thing, incidentally: whipping cream is 35% fat, whereas double cream is a whopping - and yummy - 48%.) However, I did get a small container of UHT whipping cream, so I didn't shake it before opening it, and thus the fat all rose to the top, and I used that thick part. I'm not sure if that was closer to double cream or not, but considering I made four souffles last night, and there are no souffles left in the apartment, I figure the recipe was a success.

(And really, it would have been fine had it not been: half the reason I attempted a souffle is because I wanted a dessert that was prone to disaster. So if it hadn't worked, then I'd have a real disaster to write about, and if it did, then I'd have a chocolate souffle. Win-win.)



I ended up baking the souffles in two batches - since I was making four, and I'm only one person, I baked one immediately for myself, and then put the other three in the fridge for friends who went to the Quiz Night at the expat club and weren't due home for a few more hours. The first one, baked immediately, puffed up dramatically, but I was stupid and didn't have my camera ready until it'd deflated considerably. I was ready for the second bake, but those three souffles didn't puff up quite so much - probably the time in the fridge. Still pretty awesome, though, and they tasted the same.

Chocolate Souffles )

*

Anyway, the cooking continues; I'm using the leftover cream and chocolate to make marscapone ice cream. YUM.
azriona: (Azri's pantry)
This week continues the plan to make the recipes from Mise - yesterday I made the Afghan pilau. The problem with pilau (also known as plov in some parts of the world) is that every region in Central Asia has their own version. There's Afghan, Pakistani, Uzbek, Tajik, etc and so forth. I've got a recipe for Uzbek plov that we really like, and there's a Chechen recipe in one of the cookbooks in storage. But for the purposes of Mise, it has to be Afghan, so I found a recipe online. It's the same basic concept: rice, meat, carrots. But the preparation is different from every other version I've had before.

What's odd is that the preparation is actually really well suited for a restaurant kitchen - you make everything separately, and I have a very good idea that much of it could be made ahead of time, with the vegetables made once the order comes in. So in that respect, it's just about perfect.

On the other hand...for a home kitchen...oh my frickin' lord, that used just about every pot I own. And I'm not entirely sure anyone needs three cups of rice to feed four people.

Anyway, I'm going to play with the recipe at least one more time before I share - including the type and amount of rice. (I don't care if Basmati is more authentic; it's too delicate for the amount of cooking it's going to get.)

*

Today, because I'm baking the goodies for writer's group tomorrow, I decided to try one of the desserts. I found a recipe for Eccles cakes, and while I'm not entirely sure they're appropriate for a dessert, they looked interesting and yummy and I figured I'd give them a go and then make up my mind.

Result? Yum.

But better yet - I'm forming the little cakes with the puff pastry and the filling, and suddenly knew exactly how these cakes are going to work in the story, and who is making them, and why, and the conversation they're going to have while they do. And it's a scene I've had in mind, but I didn't know how I was going to do it, and now I do. And it's all centered on these little cakes.

(I'm probably placing far too much importance on the cakes.)



Eccles Cakes )

Edited to add:
I forgot to mention! So I'm at one of the local stores today which stocks a lot of foreign stuff - I'm running low on caster sugar and they usually carry it, and the commissary doesn't carry superfine so they're not an option. Well, the store didn't have caster sugar - but they did have tins of golden syrup. SO I BOUGHT ONE. I have absolutely NO idea what one does with golden syrup, but there has to be a recipe that requires it that I can make. SUGGESTIONS, PLEASE.
azriona: (Azri's pantry)
Here’s the second of the two unposted 2009 Advent Calendar Drabbles. This one isn’t fanfic; it’s an original poem. It used to be, before I had Andrew, that I had what is commonly known as “free time”, as well as “energy”. These days, I usually have only one or the other, and never both at the same time. Anyway, when I had both, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, I would make fudge. Lots of fudge, fudge of every flavor, fudge enough to pack my freezer to bursting. (Because you can freeze fudge, and I always made so much of it in advance, this was a necessary trick.) The fudge became my Christmas present to people. I think I even mailed fudge to some of my flist one year - [livejournal.com profile] ladychi, I am still all kinds of embarrassed that yours didn’t show up for…what was it, three months?

Anyway. In 2009, with another season of fudging on the horizon, [livejournal.com profile] talloakslady gave me the prompt “fudge”. But then both the fudging and the drabbling were preempted by Andrew’s arrival. Ah well. Here, have a poem instead. It's slightly over 100 words, but it also rhymes, and I tend to break rules anyway. (And yes, I really did make all the fudges mentioned.)


Fudge )
azriona: (Azri's pantry)
Re: Andrew )

So I had this moment of realization last week that Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Luckily, I remembered in time to buy a turkey. Unluckily, the only turkeys for sale at the commissary are frozen ones, and I haven't cooked a frozen bird since...um....maybe ever? Anyway, it's been sitting in the fridge defrosting since Sunday morning, and I think it's defrosted; when I push on it, my finger goes in. I might do a water bath in the morning. I haven't decided.

Mostly, though, I'm feeling seriously disorganized about Thanksgiving this year. Usually I like having a full house; this year, we've only got one person coming. I also forgot to look up recipes for stuffing, so I'm thinking to not have it at all and hope no one notices. And I'm absolutely POSITIVE that I bought carrots the other day, but I can't find the blasted things anywhere so Andrew and I are going to make an early morning run to the vegetable market to buy them.

(Andrew likes the vegetable market, because the guy selling veggies always gives him a banana or an orange as a freebie. Sometimes both. Seriously, the vendor would totally give Andrew the entire damn store if he asked for it. Andrew makes out like a bandit.)

Anyway, I'm kind of ready. I made the rolls yesterday, canned the cranberry sauce this morning*, made the pumpkin mousse for dessert, and washed ALL THE VEGETABLES. (Except for the errant carrots. And I think I need another sweet potato.)

*Things I am thankful for this year: not accidentally dousing myself with the large canning vat full of boiling water when I slid on the damp kitchen floor and did a faceplant in front of the stove. I knocked the lid off the pot but luckily did not actually jar said pot of boiling water. I'm going to have a hell of a bruise, but no burns, so I'm feeling pretty good about that.

The menu:

Roast Turkey with Smoked Paprika
Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
Whiskey Glazed Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans with shallots
Roasted Garlic Carrots (which I realize I have never actually posted the recipe for, which is a shame, because they are YUMMY and can be served at room temp)
Parker House Rolls
Cranberry Sauce (home-made; one day I should also post this recipe)

Pumpkin Mousse with Candied Walnut Topping, slightly modified because I couldn't find toffee for the topping.
Pecan Pie, not made by me

All else fails, I have a ton of bread cubes in the freezer, extra celery and onions, and a spare apple. (I make my own cranberry sauce, people. Stove Top is cheating.)
azriona: (Default)
I woke up this morning and had absolutely NO desire to work on the Mystrade fic - which is more a commentary on my mindset than it is the Mystrade fic, which is actually a lot of fun to write even if it's turning into more of a casefic than I originally intended. (I'm directly referencing one ACD story and I'm going to see if I can't pull a second one into it, just for kicks.)

So instead I started the treatment of the Nano fic, and I've written 1200 words of treatment and Sherlock hasn't even shown up yet. (Although he's about to.) I was feeling really worried about the story, but with 1200 words - and a whole lot of dialog playing in my head - I think I have more confidence now. This ought to be fun.

On baking and Turkeys )

In other news, Andrew was playing downstairs in the playground this morning and I was chatting with one of the new moms, and it turns out that she also is somewhat addicted to British TV shows (more so than I am, even), and the following happened:

Me: Did you see Parade's End?
Her: No, what was that?
Me: Costume drama with Benedict Cumberbatch, based on a book.
Her: How was it?
Me: Okay. It had Benedict Cumberbatch in period clothing, it doesn't get much better.
Her: Agreed!

I think I might like her. I've having happy daydreams where it turns out that she loves Sherlock and Doctor Who and we can have lovely shippy conversations about Johnlock and Mystrade and Doctor/Rose and how Rory is Made of Awesome.
azriona: (Default)
Much Ado About Andrew in Preschool )

Also, this conversation happened:

Me: (on the phone) Barbara, are you still at the commissary?
Barbara: Oh, yes.
Me: Can you pick me up some whipping cream?
Barbara: Absolutely. I can be paid in ice cream.
Me: Well, actually, I'm using it to make cake. I can pay you in cake.
Barbara: I can always count on you to make me fat.
Me: ...
Barbara: ...
Me: Thanks?
Barbara: Hey, you're helping to support my positive body image.
Me: Happy to be of service.
azriona: (Default)
So I'm in the shower, minding my own business, washing my hair, when I was brutally attacked by a viscous plot bunny of the dark variety. Apparently the cute and fluffy fic I posted yesterday angered the Dark and Scary Bunnies of the fandom, because I have NO idea where this one came from. I've been keeping a Word document of various plot bunnies, and this one will be added to what is increasingly becoming a very long list, not all of which are prompts from either the LJ or the kink-meme. ([livejournal.com profile] ashfae, I haven't forgotten yours, I'm just having trouble getting it to flow properly.)

Today's main goal is to bake the Lemon Curd Cake for a dinner party tonight (this time, with raspberry filling, assuming I can find a recipe where I have all the ingredients in hand), and I made marscapone ice cream the other day, which I think will work very well. I did make the original curd recipe, and it turned out much better this time - at least, Andrew really likes it on toast. I realized yesterday afternoon that I'm low on powdered sugar, so I bought some of the local variety, which is...rather clumpy. I suspect it doesn't have the cornstarch in it. Pretty sure I can sift it to a usable consistency, though. I'm also short on lemons, but I can work around that. On the plus side, though, I actually have buttermilk this time, so yay.

In other news, I'm going to get my local driver's license on Tuesday, and as it'll take a few hours, I need to bring along reading material. I found a copy of Hound of the Baskervilles at one of the local bookstores, so I think I'm set. :)

Still not quite sure what to do about Tumblr. And it turns out that Pinterest, which has fascinated me for a while now, has finally opened up to those who don't have Facebooks or Twitter accounts, so I get to figure out what to do over there, too. Suggestions?
azriona: (Default)
The saddest part about Andrew being jet lagged is that it's hard to determine when he wants to go to bed. He keeps springing it on us - he fell asleep this morning at 11.30, for what I thought was going to be a nap, but then didn't wake until 6.30 this evening. We even tried to wake him up a few times, going into his room, turning on the lights, moving the covers back, leaving the door open and watching a movie really loud - nothing. He'd just blink at us, and then roll over and go back to sleep.

Don't get me wrong, it's nice when the toddler sleeps, but it's nicer when the toddler sleeps AT NIGHT.

Then, because it was 12.30am and Bill was getting tired, we gave Andrew a bath. Ten minutes before the bath, he was running up and down the hall yelling happily. Ten minutes into the bath, and he nearly fell asleep in the water. So we lotioned him up and popped him into bed. No idea how long this sleep'll last.

Plus side: bathed baby. Down side: lost opportunity to put away his toys, because he hasn't put away his toys in DAYS, and you can't take two steps in the living room without stepping on a truck or train. I would do it myself, but darn it, I taught this kid to put his own toys away, and I'd rather he not think I exist solely to pick up after him.

(I also exist to pour him juice. Dual-purpose, thalt's me.)

In the meantime, I've been having great fun figuring out how to fill up the deep freeze. (One of the joys of government housing, everyone gets deep freezes. I missed mine horribly when we left Kyrgyzstan, but there's no space in the Technicolor Townhouse for one.) I'm already good at doing pie crusts, I've figured out how to par-bake pizza crust, and I'm experimenting with frozen unbaked biscuits. Tomorrow's goal is meatballs, and I have a plan to make and freeze cinnamon rolls prior to baking. Today, I made a sour milk chocolate cake. The cake is fine. I accidentally turned the icing into penuche. Which is yummy, don't get me wrong, but doesn't quite work as icing. If I get a few minutes tomorrow, I might try to repeat the mistake, because I've tried to make penuche before, and it was always a disaster, and this was WAY easy.
azriona: (Default)
I keep forgetting that I don't have all my kitchen tools yet; I tried to make Andrew's minty pea pops yesterday but as I didn't have a blender, the peas didn't really pulverize, so the pops are more off-white with green specks. We'll see if he actually eats them or not.

I also attempted to make scones yesterday, except the largest mixing bowl I have here is about half the size of the one I usually use, so actually forming the dough was a challenge. I ended up forming the two rounds separately, which worked all right, although I think some scones now have more blueberries than the others. The baking sheet was smaller than the one I usually use, too, so instead of the scones being more or less individual-ish, they baked into one large scone that I then had to cut apart. Which in no way detracts from their yumminess, but does make them look a little more wild.

(The flavor's good, though, despite me totally guessing on how much baking soda, baking powder and salt to add.)

As for the fabled pizza-dough-without-thermometer experiment....I'm happy to report that it takes my 1000w microwave exactly 20 seconds to heat 1 cup of tap water to 104F. The dough turned out just fine. The experiment continues, however, because I baked half of it and tossed the other non-risen half into the freezer for storage. I know there's a way to freeze pizza dough for later, but the original recipe didn't include how to do it, so I'm cribbing off other recipes which said to freeze prior to rising; we'll see if it works.

In other news, the week went well, although last night wasn't the most fun. Bill and I took Andrew to a local coffee shop, because they have a nice outdoor play area for kids. (Think Starbucks, with a playspace and waiters.) The menu included a lot of really good-sounding drinks, but we never actually got anything because before we could track down a waiter, Andrew decided to climb to the top of the jungle gym and then fall off, consequently giving himself a bloody nose.

(April is just not a good month for him; in a few days it'll be the one-year anniversary of his seizure, and now a bloody nose. Poor baby.)

Anyway, he woke up at 4 this morning and was having so much trouble settling back down again, we ended up taking him back to bed with us, and there he sleeps as though butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.

Me: So we've had a chipped tooth and a bloody nose. All that's left is...
Bill: A broken bone.
Me: Maybe we'll get them all in before he's three and then it's clear sailing?

Other observations regarding life in the Undisclosed Location )
azriona: (Azri's pantry)
Andrew's Birthday Party Pro: I have an excellent excuse to try out some new recipes.
Andrew's Birthday Party Con: That's an awful lot of baking....

So after going through the recipes that I'm going to make, I saw that one of the recurring themes was mayonnaise. Which I've sort of had a secret hankering to make on my own - it's apparently very easy to do, and the ingredients are all basic pantry staples. And Julia has a very good explanation in her book, and I heart Julia, therefore, mayonnaise ought to be a snap.

Well.

Hmm.

Good News: Mayonnaise is very easy.

Bad News: It...didn't taste that good. I think it was less me than it was the oil I used; you're supposed to use olive oil, but I didn't realize that the olive oil I was using wasn't actually olive oil, but a "blend" of olive and canola.

(Don't ask why it was even in my pantry to begin with. I'm already regretting it.)

Anyway, the mayonnaise looks like mayonnaise, and has the consistency of mayonnaise, and I suppose it even tastes a little like mayonnaise....if you don't mind mayonnaise that tastes oily.

Ugh. I think I'll stick with Miracle Whip.

(Which is also probably not technically mayonnaise. I should probably just buy some good olive oil and try again. Unless this was a case of first-time's-the-charm and I'm never going to manage to make mayonnaise so successfully again.)

Excellent News Which Possibly Overrides the Bad News and the Con: Three eggs yolks used in the mayonnaise results in three extra egg whites, and I have a good recipe for chocolate chip meringues.



When I say that the one cookie I can't do is chocolate chip cookies, I'm not entirely lying - I really can't make chocolate chip cookies from scratch. (Hence the icon.) These, however, I can do just fine, and I have no idea why. I'm not questioning. You can buy perfectly good chocolate chip cookies in the store. (I'm partial to the ones from the bakery department that sell 24 for $3 or $4, myself.) These, you can't buy anywhere that I've seen, and they're soooo good.

Chocolate Chip Meringues )
azriona: (Azri's pantry)
The problem with the strawberry jam is that it makes a lot of jam, and I can only fit seven jars into my pot when processing. That recipe must make enough jam for 9 jars, minimum. I'm told the unprocessed jam is okay to eat, as long as you keep it in the fridge, so I now have a rather large Tupperware of jam sitting in the fridge, waiting to be eaten.

Or cooked with. You probably can guess my preference.



[livejournal.com profile] amberfocus supplied the original Jam Cake recipe, along with her modifications; I further modified the recipe. All three are under the cut.

Strawberry Jam Layer Cake )

Incidentally, in the Further Adventures into Botulism, I made applesauce today - ten jars worth. This involved making two batches, which meant I had to reheat the applesauce for the second go. I think I did it right. Hopefully, we won't die. But if we do, at least the applesauce tastes good.
azriona: (Default)
Woke up at 3.20 to hear Andrew screaming. Bill apparently had been trying to get him back to sleep since around 2am. Mommy to the rescue - in twenty minutes, I had him swaddled and sleeping, and he slept straight through to 6am. He should have had his next bottle at 5, honestly, but I woke briefly at 5, looked at the clock, thought, "Need to feed the baby", and promptly rolled back over and went to sleep. At six he was doing the "I'm About To Wake Up" whimper, so I fed him then.

And then I put him back to bed and frosted the carrot cake I baked last night. The cream cheese frosting is a bit lumpy, but it tastes way yummy and not horrifically sweet, and I found the container of whipped cream cheese that my parents bought and used maybe one tablespoon of in the back of the fridge, so I tossed most of that in with the block of cream cheese I bought this week. Extra cream cheese for your money, I figure, and I'm unlikely to use it anywhere else. And good thing, too, I had just enough frosting for the cake, with a little left over to lick off the spatula.

('Cause what's the point of making your own frosting if you can't lick the bowl? Seriously. And I'm generally crap at frosting - I grew up on the stuff in the can, and I just like it better - but cream cheese frosting isn't too hard.)

So there's me being productive before the sun was even up.

The social worker visit yesterday went very well. Andrew slept through most of it, so he never had a chance to complain about the service. Our paperwork's turned in, we're going to have another visit in March, and the goal is to have everything all done by the fall or thereabouts. We're finalizing in Maryland, which apparently involves a court date, but from what I understand, the court date is actually kind of fun, because the courts pile all the adoption hearings on one day and turn the place into a big party. (I have heard rumors about clowns and such.)

This afternoon, Andrew, Bill, the cake, and I will be heading off to Aunt Do's. Tomorrow I'm dragging Bill to Babies R Us, because I want to see his eyes pop out of their sockets, and I have coupons which expire next weekend. Also, it gives us an excuse to go to the really yummy Thai restaurant nearby. (It's a very unfortunate name, but they have shrimp fried garlic, and how can you possibly go wrong with a dish where you describe how you cook the garlic as opposed to how you cook the shrimp?)

Extreme Cuteness Under the Cut )

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