Friday, 16 February 2007

something for him... and something for me

Well it's Friday and as usual i have no lectures. In order to use this time wisely it's usually necessary to spend part of the time cooking. Now Lex describes my every day cooking as basic, but functional, and filling. I think that's meant to be a compliment. My baking on the other hand he actually admits to liking.
I have a real love of food blogs, some people out there write about food so beautifully, and create the most wonderful food. Just recently I found a load more blogs, including the one I took todays recipes from.
For Lex we have a chocolate blondie. The theory behind these is they're meant to be like a brownie, but with a plain style dough, and be kind of like a gooey cookie, but as a tray bake. I've only had a small piece and it tasted ok, but I had a really hard time getting it to cook, it was meant to take 25 minutes, mine were in for at least 45, I think this may be to do with our rubbish student oven though. Anyway here's the recipe, I'll let you know Lex's verdict later!

Chocolate Chunk Blondies
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar (half brown, half white)
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper.
Stir together flour, baking soda and salt.
Cream butter and sugar by hand or with an electric mixer. Add in eggs one at a time until incorporated. Stir in vanilla.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture in 2 additions, then add your chocolate/butterscotch chips and stir until batter is smooth. Spread evenly into your prepared pan.
Bake 20-25 minutes, until the edges are golden brown (A slightly longer baking time will produce a slightly more cakelike cookie). A tester should come out clean, if you use one.
Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then lift out onto a rack for further cooling. Cut bars as desired.

Now I also made something from me, again from the Baking Sheet blog. These are far more to my taste, and are really really good, and would be even better if I hadn't left them in the oven for slightly too long, oops!

Sour Cream Lemon Shortbread Bars


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

2 tsp lemon zest

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup butter, chilled and cut into several pieces

Lemon Topping

3 large eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

6 tbsp sour cream

3 tbsp all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup lemon juice

Zest of 2 lemons (1 generous tbsp)

Preheat oven to 350F.
In the bowl of a food processor, whizz together the flour, sugar lemon zest and salt. Add in butter and pulse until mixture reaches a crumbly, sandy (with some pea-sized chunks of butter remaining) pieces. Press evenly into the Baker's Edge pan (or 9"x13" pan) bake for 16-19 minutes, until just slightly golden at the corners.

While the crust is baking, beat together the remaining ingredients until smooth. When the crust comes out of the oven, pour in the lemon filling while it is hot, then return pan to the oven.
Bake for 25 minutes, until set and slightly browned at the corners.
Set pan on a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 16 large bars.

All the wonderful food bloggers produce wonderful pictures to show you how gorgeous what they made looks. However my camera is broken, and the web cam built in to my macbook doesn't really take good pictures due to having no flash/appropriate focus etc. And also, I'll be honest here, I don't seem to be able to produce food that looks as good as it tastes, so a photo is actually likely to put you off making something that's actually really good!

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Do I spend too much time ...

My boyfriend reckons I spend too much time on the internet. He may have a point, but don't tell him I said that! this week I have reached number 38 in the UKClimbing top 40 posters for the last week. This is just plain worrying, so I've decided that I'll just have to find some more blogs to read instead. he also thinks it odd that I read all about other peoples lives, when I'll never met them, but then again I think he does lots of odd things to!
Anyway the point of this post (written for the 2nd time by the way, stupid internet died!) was to go through all the blogs I read and work out why I read them. Now I currently read 15 blogs, so i think this is going to turn in to something of a serial drama!

Anyway first up, in no particular order is
Mom to the Screaming Masses
Carmen has 6 kids, is Catholic, and American. Now on that basis nothing in our lives is similar, I have no kids, and I'm not sure if I want any, and definitely not 6, very definite Aetheist, and British. However her style of writing is beautifully funny, and very entertaining. She makes trying to decide what colour to paint a room interesting and funny.

Next we have
Notes from the Trenches
Chris has 7 kids, and homeschools them all. Like Carmen her blog mostly focuses on the lives of her kids, but again like Carmen she writes about it in such an amusing way. Chris also has a very British style of sarcasm, that can almost make you foget she's on a different continent. Americans aren't usually known for their sarcastic sense of humour, but boy does Chris use it well.

I like reading both Carmen and Chris' blogs because they remind me to think outside how a person classifies themself. Americans generally have a pretty bad reputation in this country, but I both Chris and Carmen remind me that not all Americans conform to their reputation.

By the way, this post was better first time round, but I don't have time to go back and change it, really have to go to lectures, who said students laze around all day doing nothing!

more blogs.

Ok continuing from this mornings post, which was meant to be last nights post untill the internet crashed. Anyway a bit more about all the blogs I read.
Moving on from yesterdays large family blogs I think we'll have a change in direction
Meet Liza Doolittle and her tribe of animals, 3 of them to be precise. Now Liza ia slightly unusual in my world of blogs in that not only do I not know the names of her children but I don't even know their sex. As a result I have Liza to thank for introducing me to the word "thon". Now Liza's animals are all animals with various special needs, in order to keep her life relatively private she doesn't reveal many of the exact conditions, but many of her posts are devoted to the challenges living with 3 children with various special needs. I coudl explain them here, but to be honest, Liza will do it better. I like reading Liza blog because it makes me thankful that everyone I know is well, but at the same time makes me realise that life doesn't end if your children happen to have a disorder. (and I hope that comes across ok, I don't have the skill with words that many of teh bloggers I read do, anyway I really admire Liza, and again she's another person I would love to meet!)

And finally for this blog post we have Cecily of and I wasted all that birth control
Now to quote the details at the top of her blog, this is a blog about .... parenting after infertility, pre-eclampsia and loss, sobriety, being fat, politics and more...
Now when I discover a new blog I really like the look of I always go back and read all the previous entries. Doing this with Cecily's reduced me to tears. Again I'm not going to go in to details on here, but I don't think I've read a more moving series of blog posts. Basically the blog started about her and her husbands journey through infertility treatment, and now mainly focuses on her gorgeous daughter. However Cecily does talk about other subjects, like trying to loose weight, movies, and politics. In part I like this because I like people to open my eyes to things that I can otherwise go through life being unaware of.

Sunday, 11 February 2007

Baking keeps me sane

Lots of cake making has gone on over the past few days, I've made cakes for people to take up to Scotland with them, and then a cake so Lex wouldn't get jealous. Today saw me making cookies instead. I'll fully admit to stealing the recipe from this wonderful site but I did make a few changes to it which I think makes it much nicer!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields approx 17.
300g plain (all-purpose) flour

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 teaspoon fine salt

170g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

215g light brown sugar

120g granulated white sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

300g milk chocolate chips

Sift together flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Set aside.
Stir together melted butter, brown sugar, sugar and vanilla. Add egg, then the yolk. Beat well to ensure that egg is evenly distributed. Stir in dry ingredients, then fold in chocolate chips until incorporated. It will look as if there are too many chocolate chips but the dough will be able to hold them all. Cover with clingfilm and chill dough until firm. At least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas Mark 5.
Bake in preheated oven for approximately 10-12 minutes or only until the edges begin to turn golden. (They'll look and feel underdone but they're ready.) Cool on the sheet for 1 minute and remove with a wide spatula to a cooling rack. Cool thoroughly and enjoy!

Now I leave out the salt, as I don't find I miss it when it's not there, and this way I can think I'm being healthy! I also don't use that much Vanilla, just a capful of the proper stuff (not yucky essence, it has to extract) is plenty for me. I'm also not a choc chip fan. After all one can never have too much chocolate, so silly little chips just aren't satisfactory. I need choc chunks! My personal method for this is to shove the chocolate in a carrier bag and hit away with a rolling pin until I think the chunks are the right size (usually about half a square). To shape the dough I actually roll a big sausage in cling film, and then stick it in the freezer so it goes really solid, if I'm not impatient and I have a sharp knife I actually just slice this roll up. Today I wasn't, but you can still try to cut a disk a centimeter wide, then roll the squashed disc in to a ball, and plonk it on the baking sheet.

et Voila, how to keep one cookie monster (aka Lex) happy!