Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Preach, sister, preach!

I've known E socially for ages--ever since I first started working in publishing, ten years ago. She's a fantastic author in her own right, but this piece about superhero movies is just literally the bomb.

Have a pull quote, why don't you?

"And so I will not see another superhero movie until we get one for a solo woman. I don't care who she is--Wonder Woman, Black Widow, Captain Marvel--just give me ONE. One fucking movie that acknowledges my gender exists and we can be heroes, not supporting cast."

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Captain Barnacles Octonauts Cake

My apologies for the brief hiatus, but this happened this past weekend and sucked up tremendous amounts of my time and energy between the cake and the party itself.

Yes, the cake is homemade.

Yes, that IS Captain Barnacles from Octonauts.

Yes, my husband and I may be a tiny bit crazy. =)

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Sourdough Starter, Day Two

Picking up with Twinklestar the Sourdough Starter, let's move to Day Two!

Day Two

So, the book says that "Bubbles will have formed on the surface."  I'm not seeing any bubbles, are you?  What I am
seeing is that the color has darkened. Which surely has to be a good sign, no?

For today, we take 40 g of rye flour, 40 g of water (Poland Spring, again), and 5 g of honey.


 Combine as before.


And mix in the entire mixture from Day One.



Cover loosely, as before.

We're basically taking the new mixture of rye flour, water, and honey, and using it to feed all the lovely bacteria that have gathered on the first day's starter mixture.  This is called "refreshing the starter".

More to come, as we soon explore Days Three and Four!

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

July garden photos

You know that summer cold I thought was gone?

Yeah, not gone yet.

Never fear, I have (theoretically) kept Twinklestar the Sourdough Starter alive--the Day Two blog post will be coming tomorrow.

In the meantime, however, have a look at some lovely garden photos I took this afternoon. =)

It's a tiny garden, based on the square foot gardening method, but I'm very fond of it.  One day, I'll have a bigger one. =)

This is my potimarron squash plant.


Have some baby green peppers!


I do love tiger lilies. =)


My shiso is going crazy this year. It just sort of reseeded itself from last year, with no encouragement. In fact, it's doing even better this year than last.


It's a wee, baby eggplant! I have totally forgotten what variety I planted, wouldn't you know? I'll have to look it up later.


This is either a Black Krim or a Purple Cherokee tomato, but I kept terrible planting records this year, so I won't know until it matures more.


This is an Azoychka tomato.  I had two plants, but lost one to a late cold snap.


And finally, carrots gone wild! Nantes carrots, to be precise. Doing so much better in a container than my in-the-ground carrots did last year.


Do you guys garden? Am I talking into the thin ether? If androids dream of electronic sheep, do they also grow mechanical gardens?


Sunday, July 05, 2015

Sourdough Starter, Day One

This is what happens when you let your almost-four year old name your sourdough starter: it becomes known as Twinklestar the Sourdough Starter.

As Twinklestar will now be a permanent blog feature, at least while I attempt to use it, we will all be forced to live with it.  Enjoy the sparkly My Little Pony inspired goodness. =)

Anyway, this comes about because I had a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card burning a hole in my pocket (thank you, mother-in-law!), and I found this fabulous cookbook there: THE LAROUSSE BOOK OF BREAD.

It's written by Eric Kayser, whose bakery my husband I ate at it in Paris back in 2013... where we literally had the best baguette we'd ever had in our lives.  How could I not try such a book?

Unfortunately, or fortunately as it may be, almost all of his recipes call for a liquid sourdough starter to be mixed into the bread dough as leavening. So, Twinklestar it is.  Let us begin in a pictorial manner!

Day One
Start with rye flour, water, and honey.  You want the water to be room temperature. As you can see by the first picture, I've opted to use spring water, since it's a more easily controlled source. Distilled would probably be ideal.

First, measure out 50 g of the rye flour.


Then, add 50 g of the room temperature water to the rye flour.



Mix to combine.



Then, add 5 g (or 3/4 tsp) of the honey to the starter mixture.


Mix some more.



Finally, cover loosely (my bowl lid isn't secured), and place in a warm place to continue to ferment for 24 hours.


As a small caveat, if your starter curdles in this first 24 hours, throw it out and begin again.

We shall pick back up with this tomorrow!   

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are addictive. More than addictive. My latest batch yielded 33 cookies, and they were gone within four days.  I may have eaten an unhealthy number of them.

They're a combination of salty and sweet: deep, rich chocolate, tempered with hits of salt, and a texture that's reminiscent of the best parts of a chewy Chips Ahoy cookie.

These are my cookie crack.

They're not the same type of cookies you've always made from the back of the yellow bag.  For starters, the Toll House recipe uses the Creaming Method, and these use the Muffin Method of construction. (Can you tell I love Good Eats?)  They also play off the heightened chemistry that salt works on sweet things, as it intensifies their flavors. Always put salt in your sweet desserts. Salt in pie crust. Salt in cookies. Salt in chocolate pudding. It will make it that much better.

The recipe is lightly adapted from Tara O'Brady's cookbook, SEVEN SPOONS, which is based off of her blog of the same name.  I must have been living under a rock these past few years, since I hadn't heard of it until the cookbook came out.  I want to make more from it--much more.

The metric measurements for the ingredients are the more precise ones in this recipe. Do you use a scale when baking? Yes, now you do. Whip it out--weigh your stuff--and you will be surprised by HOW MUCH BETTER everything turns out.

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies
Lightly adapted from Tara O'Brady

1 cup (225 g or 2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 1/4 cups (415 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup (200 g) packed dark brown sugar
1 cup (220 g) sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons (or one good glug) vanilla extract
12 ounces (340 g) semisweet chocolate chips
Kosher salt for sprinkling

1. Preheat your oven to 360 degrees F.  Line two or more cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpat equivalent.  My cookie sheets are 16" x 14", and I found that I needed to use three of them, plus one small extra one to make this recipe. You may need more, if you eat less cookie dough than I do.

2. Melt your butter.  My microwave handily accomplishes this task for me, but if you need to use the stove, do it in a small pan over low, low heat.

3. Stir together the dry ingredients: that's the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and the measured amount of kosher salt. Set them aside in a small bowl.

4. Now, it's wet ingredient time: pour the melted butter into a large bowl, and stir in both sugars.  Once combined, add each egg, mixing thoroughly after each one. You're forming an emulsion with each one, which will hold the batter together. Don't dump them both in at once--slow and steady is the name of the game here.  Add the vanilla, and then stir once more.

5. Now, take the dry ingredients, and add 1/2 of them to the bowl with the wet ingredients. Stir just until the flour disappears.  Add the last 1/2 of the dry ingredients and mix, making sure to stop when the dough still has a dusting of flour visible.

6.  Fold the chocolate chips into the batter, but don't overwork it. When the flour disappears, you're done.

7. Using a standard ice cream scoop, take a portion of the dough and form it into a ball between your hands. Place on a prepared cookie sheet, making sure to leave at least 3" of space around it. I fit 9 cookies per 16" x 14" cookie sheet.

8. Next, take the kosher salt, and sprinkle on the top of each cookie dough ball. Do not let yourself get seduced by the beauty of the salt crystals on the cookie dough--that way, madness lies.  Sprinkle only enough to dust the top of the ball, and then move on to the next one.  You do not want to over-salt the tops of the cookies.

9. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the tops of the cookies are cracked and lightly golden.  Rotate the cookie sheets midway through baking, to ensure evenness.  Cool on the pan for at least five minutes, as the cookies will be very, very soft still.  Transfer gently, with a spatula, to a wire cooling rack, and do not touch until they have hardened.



Friday, July 03, 2015

Cookies coming soon...

As soon as I can shake the stupid summer cold that never ends, these are coming.... They are seriously, hands-down, some of the best chocolate chip cookies you will ever eat. Hopefully, the full recipe to follow tomorrow, once my brain feels better.  In the meantime, salivate away. =)