all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (peace love bake)
Bakers who don't do yeast. *sigh*
It makes me sad, it really does. Because yeast is easy. People get all freaked out about it, but yeast dough is really just not that hard.

I feel like that's my motto for so many things. Sewing: not that hard. Knitting: not that hard. Baking: not that hard. Yeast/candy-making/meringue/other: not that hard. You do not have to be a genius to do these things. It does help if you go ahead and come to terms with the fact that you will sometimes do things wrong, like last week when I read baking SODA when the recipe said baking POWDER. These things happen. (Even if you are a genius. Maybe especially if you're a genius.) The key is to eat the accident if it still tastes good and then move on.

And if I can get over a mistake and move on (if only in the kitchen), anyone can.
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (terrible danger)
Today I have lazed and eaten Dharma cake for brunch. I ought to now either do some yoga or go to the gym and then shower and do some laundry.

Instead, I am contemplating a nap.

Well, Star Trek: TNG is on, featuring a fabulously sparkltastic Q. Still have no idea what's going on, but TNG is always a giggle. Suppose I can do yoga while I watch it.
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (peace love bake)
Delicious does not equal difficult.

I feel there's a common misconception among people who don't do a lot of baking that anything that tastes good must have been hard to make. It's true, there are some great things that can be difficult or very fiddly, but there are even more wonderfully delicious things that are downright easy. I will occasionally go for something difficult just for the challenge (hello, cream puffs), but practically everything I make otherwise is ridiculously simple. I think this is why I feel like a charlatan when everyone goes on about how the cupcakes or the tarts or fill-in-the-blanks are SO AMAZING, or when people talk about what a great baker I am. I'm fairly confident that pretty much anyone could get the same results if they used the same recipe and decent ingredients.

Really, it's just like mending (another apparently miraculous activity)--the one thing it really requires is time, and the willingness to do it.
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (in my dictionary)
Oh, livejournal. How I wish I could talk about Lost here. But I can't, because people who don't watch it are probably sick of hearing about it, and people who do watch it may not have seen the most recent episode and I really don't want to give spoilers.

So instead I will merely say that with every passing episode, I love Ben Linus more.

Also, on a completely unrelated note, I love how you pretty much just look at Thriii and she'll start purring. Then you pet her, and the purring amps up to 11. It's adorable.

Had a lovely day of lazing. Made rice pudding, sat outside with the cats, read Blackout. I'm about 170 pages in out of 491, and I would be farther along than that if it hadn't turned out that this book follows about 6 different people in different times and places (so far) and thus requires rather careful reading so as to not get confused. I'm loving this idea of there being too many historians time traveling to the 40s to observe WWII. It totally makes sense to me--if there were time travel, I think this is exactly what historians would be doing. Not all in WWII Britain, of course, but seeing what happened first hand, without having to question the reliability of your source documents or deal with someone else's bias. And arguing over who gets to go to the really juicy bits first/at all. I will try to remember to give a fuller review after I've finished the book, but for now suffice it to say that I'm enjoying it.
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (peace love bake)
Ate two Mad Hatter sugar cookies today. It is a vile addiction, I tell you. Bad weather comes, and suddenly I must have a smiley face with chocolate eyes, and you can't just buy one. Although today my other cookie was a Queen of Hearts crown, because at least they're a little smaller. (Shut up! That's what I tell myself, okay? And if I keep saying it, then it must be true.)

And I had chewy amaretti with lunch. My dietary practices are so bad. But so tasty.
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (stephen fry = awesome)
Am ridiculously full of this delicious garlic soup. And two corn muffins, since it turned out our bread was turning blue. Now, I'm watching A Bit of Fry and Laurie and kicking back, because I'm still tired from yesterday.

Yesterday sucked. Lab was really long, with two dissections and so many sketches to make that my fingers felt like they were about to fall off. Dissections are bad enough by themselves, especially when one of them is an earthworm, but we also had to handle and sketch tarantula exoskeletons. Between the spider reaction and the smell of formaldehyde, I spent pretty much the whole morning on the edge of vomiting. Lecture wasn't too bad, but then the Art History test swallowed my brain, chewed it up, and spat it back out. I think I did ok on it, but I was just absolutely beat by the end of the day.

Luckily, I did find the strength to haul myself back out of the house and over to Raleigh, because hanging out with Chris was exactly the mixture I needed of relaxation and fun to salvage the day.
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (peace love bake)
The almond tarts I just made are ridiculously delicious. Ridiculously, I tell you. I'd love to try a full-size version sometime, since the shortbread crust is pretty fiddly to press into the mini muffin tins. The minis are really cute, though. And I just ate FOUR. I can't even tell that I forgot to put the vanilla in the filling.
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (peace love bake)
Baking and bourbon on the rocks. Ah, the simple pleasures in life.
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (peace love bake)
Have decided that I am, in fact, fit for company today (plans for this coming weekend (albeit somewhat tentative ones) = in a much better mood. Somebody wants to hang out with me!). Thus, making cupcakes to take to a Super Bowl party and getting my sorry ass out of the house. It's not like I'll actually be watching the game that much, since I find football boring and incomprehensible (as opposed to baseball, which I find intermittently very exciting and only mildly incomprehensible, or basketball, which I've been trained to care about only under very specific circumstances). It will, however, give me an excuse to try making pretty frosting swirls to sprinkle colored sugar over. Some will be blue, some gold, and some with hearts, because I have got to get rid of these damn giant heart sprinkles and my options are limited.
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (peace love bake)
I cannot decide what to make next. I am torn between punitions, brown butter brown sugar shorties, and flourless chocolate-walnut cookies.

Clearly, I'm in a cookie sort of mood, but I just can't choose.

At least thinking about cookies keeps me busy and in a relatively good mood. Whenever I have nothing else to occupy me, I seem to fall back into being troubled and sad.
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (terrible danger)
Something about snow on the ground absolutely precludes the possibility of doing any actual work. Baking, mending, and knitting are not work. Studying for my test in Art History, on the other hand, is.

Ah well. Tomorrow I'll do schoolwork, and hopefully our neighborhood will have thawed enough by Monday for me to go to school and benefit from it.
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (peace love bake)
I think I'm going to try and Bake Something every week.
This week: Oatmeal Pie.
Next Week: Derby Pie?

After that, maybe I'll branch out, but I suspect pies will feature heavily, since they're pretty easy and, unlike cookies, you can pretty much count on a bit to be gone by the end of the week. I will try to shift to fruit pies or crisps, though, to keep things a little bit light. Oatmeal and Derby are both heavy on the butter and yummy bad stuff.

The best thing about pie? Breakfast, and being able to bribe your friends with a slice or two :)
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (not the droids)
I am having a massive craving for some kind of almond dessert. We don't have anything like that in the house, but we do have Ghirardelli brownies. I've already had one, and I'm exercising iron control so that I won't eat another. They may not have almonds, orange, or cranberries in them (my current three baking flavor obsessions), but they are delicious.

I woke up at about 4 am this morning--just full awake, out of the blue. It was really strange. The house was totally quiet, and I couldn't remember having any of the sort of dream that usually hurls me into awareness like that. I felt fine, I wasn't cold or hot or anything, I was just… awake. Lying in the dark, staring in the general direction of my bookshelf, and wondering why the hell I was awake and why I couldn't get back to sleep. It must have taken me at least an hour to fall back asleep.
It happens every once in a while, and it's weird every time. Anyway, I hope that and my late Friday night are the reason I've been so tired the past couple of days. It seems like I spend most of my time thinking about how nice it would be to go back to bed. Hopefully longer days will help, if nothing else does. I've always had a hard time getting up when it's dark outside.

Geek points for any of you who comment on this post with the appropriate response to that particular sentiment, as well as a healthy dose of love from me.
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (death by cats)
Another baking rant:
People who do not have muffin tins/cupcake pans, and thus make their cupcakes by sitting liners down on a plain baking sheet. All I will say on this subject is that if you have cupcake liners, you should have a muffin tin. A nice plain 12 cup muffin tin is one of those things your kitchen should just have if you do any baking at all, and basic ones are not expensive. And muffins are an excellent form of breakfast food, not to mention a good way to use up bits and bobs you have lying about and easy to make. If you're really lazy, you can even buy mix.
So really, buy a muffin tin. You will use it. You will have properly shaped cupcakes and excellently portable breakfast foods.

Also, holiday decisions:
I am ignoring Valentine's Day. It's got nothing to do with me.
I am making Hot Cross Buns for Easter this year.
I want to go somewhere for my birthday, which falls on a weekend. The beach, maybe.
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (and really bad eggs)
First day of class went well, although it felt very odd to not have class first thing in the morning. There was even parking once I got past the (incompetent) traffic direction they decide to do every once in a while. My teacher is stupefyingly familiar, and I'm not sure if this is because I've actually met her, or if it's because she's very much like a lot of people I know.
My policy for the semester is to get up at 8 every morning, since I do have one morning class a week and I don't want to risk sleeping through it. That means that today I'm already ridiculously tired, since my body wasn't expecting to have to get up before 11. Tomorrow I have classes straight through from 9:30 to 3:15, with 35 minutes of break total. I am under no illusions--it will suck. I only hope there's no dissection in my biology lab this year, since lunch falls between lab and lecture. At least I did manage to arrange that to fall on a day when I don't have to go anywhere in the evening.
On a cheerful note, my sleep last night was much better than it has been recently, even if there was less of it than I might strictly have liked. Also, I made cupcakes for my father to take to work, which was very satisfying. It is only unfortunate that there were none left for us.

I guess I'll just have to make some more to go with that extra frosting.

(For the curious, I'm using the basic yellow cake recipe from Buttercup Bakes at Home. It's pretty much my default, although I usually only make half the recipe. I can't remember the actual name of the it, but it's pages 35 & 36 in the hardback copy. Quick and easy to put together, really tasty, nice texture. I especially like them fresh. The edges have a lovely little bit of sweet crispness to them in the first few hours that makes them just heaven eaten warm and plain.)
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (peace love bake)
If you make your fudge with marshmallows or powdered sugar, it's not really fudge. I just feel like everyone should know that. I also feel like they should know that making real fudge, the good stuff, is not really very hard. All you really need is a good thermometer to clip to the side of the pot. You can even control the texture--if you like it a little hard and crumbly (like I do… the very first fudge I had was some my mother had boiled too long, and the idea that fudge should be hard stuck for a long time) you cook it up to the top end of the soft ball range, and if you like it softer (like most commercial fudge) you cook it up to the middle or lower end of the range.

It is good. No, it's delicious. And it has no damn marshmallows in it, because real fudge doesn't.

Sorry. I know I sound like a complete lunatic, and I kind of am, but it drives me crazy that people think marshmallows are a necessary ingredient in fudge. Confectionary is just not as incredibly hard as people think it is. Yes, there is boiling hot sugar syrup, and yes, it will hurt like a sonofabitch if some splashes on you. On the other hand, as long as you're not an idiot, it won't splash on you. All you have to do is adjust the temperature to keep it from boiling too enthusiastically. Yes, hot sugar can be temperamental, and when it starts to set up things move pretty fast. On the other hand, if you're stirring the fudge as it cools like you're supposed to, the change in texture is pretty easy to notice, and the only trick is to start pouring it a little bit before you think it's ready. All it requires is a little attention. I recognize that I'm a little crazy, since I want to make hard candy but cannot for the lack of some specialized equipment. (Someday when I'm filthy rich, I will have the stand mixer for homemade marshmallows, and the marble slab and the hook and the special gloves for pulling hot sugar.) But really, fudge is pretty accessible. I've been making it since I was a teenager, and it has never been as difficult as, say, meringues. Meringues are delicious, but egg whites are capricious.

Anyway, try making the real stuff some time.
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (Default)
One of my father's co-workers wants me to bake a cake for her. Like, for money.

That sound you heard? That was just me, DYING OF SHOCK. And awesomeness. Of course I'm doing it, and for pretty cheap and maybe with some bonus cookies on the side.
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (Default)
"Do you ever wish you had sonic hearing?"



*facepalm*



(On the happy meme- life is kinda more full of suck than good at the moment. my CSD concerts went well- we even got a good review, although one part of the review is WRONG about which piece had which soloist- one a baritone, one a soprano, totally different styles… hey, whatever. And I baked like mad. But I'm still behind on christmas kintting and writing, and my grandfather is in the hospital with what seems to be a combination of pneumonia and his chronic heart condition. My mother was in High Point for the second time this week today because of it… and at some point she has to go see a neurologist about some nodules that showed up in the MRI they took to see if she had a tumor on her auditory nerve. And my Aunt Lisa has breast cancer. ARRGH!)
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (aziraphale)
There is nothing quite like the satisfaction of baking late at night. You produce something useful and tasty, and the very fine dusting of flour on your face and clothes is the reassurance of a job well done. Cookies get neatly stacked in tins, cakes are iced and covered, bread bagged and labeled, and then washing up can begin. It's usually the worst of chores- you're feeling harassed and tired and you want to get on to something else. After midnight, though, it becomes strangely relaxing. There's no hurry, nothing else to do, no one waiting. You are in a little island of light, and the deep quiet descends which says that everyone else has gone to sleep. Washing the pots and bowls and baking sheets become an almost meditative task, an end in and of itself as the dish rack slowly fills. As you wipe down the counters, everything is calm and peaceful. It's the peace of being the last one up, doing something constructive that will bring pleasure to everyone. That's something you don't often get to do.

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