Wednesday, July 9, 2014

oh summer days...

What a whirlwind week!  Up to Ellensburg, WA and back with dogs in tow.  Tater made new friends, she was surrounded by young pups too and was so happy to play n roughhouse every day.  We actually got the pups to sit still long enough to snap the cutest photo!!

From left to right...
Phoebe (Bea for short!); our pups Tater and Molly; Cairo; Sasha; Mya (Cairo's sister)  please forgive the misspells!

It was a challenge to get them all to sit still for the 5 seconds we got, so silly.  I'm still in shock we got this one.  Can you tell where the group of people are standing in this picture!?  I'm pumped Molly let Tater sit by her in the pic (not to mention the trip up and back.)  My hat is off to Jen Martens for her persistence in getting the shot; Andy was ready to give up and abandon the idea.  I'm glad we stuck with it!!  4 of the 6 dogs photographed are 7months young and less!

I baked up a slew of goods... Coffee Cake, Compost Cookies (for the next blog!, thanks for sending the pin Jen Martens and sorry you didn't get to sample), Moon Pies to start.  Sadly, in the hubbub of trying to get on the road Wednesday night, in the shuffle mix of getting everything into Andy's car we somehow took out the bag with these 3 baked goods in them to rearrange some things and they got left behind.  Needless to say, I was a little devastated; Andy felt absolutely terrible since he was the one who brought them to the car and shuffled things around.  It was an honest mistake, and we didn't even realize it until the next day we were crossing the Hood River, ie the OR/WA border!  Thankfully, the clementine cake and blueberry muffins made it into the car.  Oh well. Our step sister (who kindly fed our kitty!) threw them in our freezer so they wouldn't go to waste.  My co-workers have been enjoying now instead :)  BTW, the fricking ANTS got into the moon pies after I'd left them out to thaw Monday night.  SO GD ANNOYING because that shit was tedious and not cheap.  My waistline thanks me though lol. GRR.

Since we needed a dessert, I pulled my patriotic pie pin real quick when we got into Yakima and grabbed what I'd need at Safeway to make at the house.  Semi homemade doesn't really cover it because really it was just about all store bought stuff: canned filling (omg, not cheap), pie tins, and pie dough... that pie rang me about $20, so annoyed.  But I wanted patriotic pie damnit!  Next time: HOMEMADE.  it was a crowd pleaser and patriotic to the max.

So I made these Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Bars well before the trip to try out.  As I mentioned, Andy thoroughly enjoyed them multiple times before the next day when the ants ruined them.  Andy liked them so much I guess I will have to make again!!  It's been almost 2 weeks since I made them...I don't think I deviated from the recipe AT ALL actually.  I think mine took the full 26min.  I am not a big baked bar fan so I thought I'd mix it up...this is basically like a big ol cookie.  It might be fun to add in some toasted coconut.  Maybe some toffee bits.  It's a solid recipe and you can never go wrong with Chocolate/PB/Oats in any recipe!  I think they'd make for great tailgating food :)

Speaking of, guess who's got two thumbs and headed to the A's @ Giants game tomorrow afternoon?!  THIS LADY!  So so excited...we're so lucky friends and family think of us whenever they are unable to use tickets for an A's game!  Should be a fun, fun day :) gorgeous weather to boot, woo whoo!

I also experimented with some vegan ice cream recipes...the sister in law sent a bourbon caramel one.  I think it's missing something, like ya know, caramel flavor?  The other one I found and wanted to taste was a blueberry chocolate chip number made with coconut milk...that one I can get behind!  Not sure i'm into vegan ice cream yet, but i imagine i just need some time and testing to get it right :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Oh my darrrling, Clementine (cake)!

Ever since I watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, I was determined to make the Clementine Cake so often talked about in the movie. side note: RENT THIS MOVIE.  so good!  I searched the internet and recipe books at home without much to show for it.  I was skeptical; it wasn't really something folks were making or interested in, unfortunately.  I printed up two recipes on one sheet and decided I liked the ingredients involved in this recipe better than the other one, so away I went!  First stop: the store, for clementines!

There was another challenge: finding clementines.  I don't know enough about citrus to make the decision that tangerines, clementines, and any other "cutie" type orange are interchangeable.  So i waited patiently til i found actual clementines...even in summer, they're juicy tasty refreshing little snacks.  I actually just enjoyed two clementines a half hour hands smell orangy fresh and it's delightful.

Unfortunately if you don't have a scale I can't help you with the portions on this recipe...the website offers a conversion chart for reference, but as long as you have a scale it should have a grams function.  Hardcore baker folk will agree here: recipes weighed in grams are superior.  Soapbox aside, I use my scale just about everyday when it comes to cooking and baking; it's like $30 for a decent one and it lasts years and for the amount it gets used, I feel good about that.  The last one i had lasted me 4yrs and I bet if i took better care of it and didn't use it so often, it would have lasted longer.

For those of you who DO have a scale, then this recipe is for you.  BTW, 200 grams of butter is about 1 3/4 sticks if you don't want to weigh it out.  Outside of the clementines, I basically had everything on hand for this recipe which was ideal.  I do not care for their icing recipe and will provide my own below.  Oh and make sure you have a handheld zester/grater; i can't comment on the different sides of a cheese box grater, but my friend the Microplane has lasted me yeeeaaars.

(the link above goes to the recipe website with pretty pictures)

180C = I baked mine at 375F.
5ml vanilla = I think I did a splash or so :)

Glaze: adopted from Miette's lemon glaze recipe
2T fresh clementine juice (for me, it was 1 1/2 clementines exactly)
1tsp. light corn syrup
7oz. Powdered sugar (but i ended up only using 6 I think)  I didn't bother sifting the sugar, so up to you.

whisk together juice/syrup til totally dissolved.  Add in p.sugar about a half cup or more at a time, whisking constantly.  It will be thick and silky smooth when done and it will make ribbons when it falls on itself.  The icing recipe within the clementine cake recipe was good, but it was very thin, and i think it absorbed a little bit into the cake, like a syrup almost.  The recipe I listed is a stronger tea-cake glaze that holds its shape and is visible/stands out on the cake.  much better for presentation :)

I mentioned in last week's blog i messed up by turning the oven off somehow while baking...i managed to avoid this when i remade it the 2nd go'round, yet did it once again last night while making coffee cake.  SO GD ANNOYING!  can you tell I must be a special type of blond if i manage to keep repeating the error?!  i blame the dumb samsung oven maker; they made a lame timer/control panel IMO.  anyway, the 2nd time i made it, i think it finished baking around 38mins.  I then made the glaze and with the remaining half clementine, juiced the top of the still warm loaf cake.  i have not sliced into this one yet as i am saving it, but will let you know the results.  whenever i make tea cake i normally make a flavored simple syrup anyway, so i am excited to try it.  once cooled, the glaze went on and i drizzled it over all 4 sides and there was basically no glaze left, score.

when I first made the cake...andy and i were bad.  we ate way too much for our own good.  we gave some to his mom, but we still put a solid dent in the loaf.  it is really, really good.  so good, i made it again a week later for other folks to try.  and so i could enjoy again.  so good, but so bad ;)  i am reprinting this recipe so i have a clean version to save in my 2", 3-ring binder of sheet protector recipes!  which btw, i maaaay have to start getting sub-binders, like ones for cocktails, savory, frozen, etc.  eh.

next up: Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Bars (printable).  This recipe was basically like any cookie dough recipe and came together pretty quick.  Sadly i did not do a good job of sealing up an airtight container and all of a sudden we have ants now.  Before the ants got to it overnight, andy must've had about 5 bars and i had 2.  it made a lot, it was sad to throw out the other half...but probably for the best.  At least i know i have a winner, so i can easily remake.  Chocolate?  PB?  Oatmeal?  all good things; up down and around, it's circular.  feel the energy.  harness the good; block the bad.  all good things ;)