On Turning 29 and Peanut Butter Pie

So far 29 has taught me…

that cinnamon sticks do not light on fire and therefore cannot double as birthday candles, and also smell not like cinnamon when burning.

sometimes taking care of a sick person can be a blessing in disguise. It’ll lead to lots of cuddle and couch time.

a good birthday present to yourself upon turning 29 is disinfecting the entire house.

birthday parties at this age include some little people who may not even be able to join in on the conversation. This does not make parties any less enjoyable. We may be growing up, but everyone is still game to adjust their grown up schedules so we can all still hang out and be friends like normal.

time goes by so. fast. In the blink of an eye I’m a year away from 30. I remember when 30 sounded so old. Now it feel like NBD, just the next thing that’ll happen in this life.

Perfection is not something that comes on the first time. Well, rarely anyway. Who among us can say their first time having sex was awesome? Bad first date that turned into many more amazing dates? Who doesn’t feel there was some room for improvement in the first real job they took, the way they handled themselves in their first job? Perfection, let’s be honest, 29 years have taught me that it doesn’t exist, thank God. But ecstatically amazing, drool-worthy, break out the happy dance? That does exist. Twenty-nine says it exists if you admit to your mistakes, learn from them, don’t kick yourself, and give it another go.

Perfection did not exist in the first peanut butter pie I made for Michael, and at the tender age of 27 I did not know how to admit that. For the last two years I have heard endlessly about the perfect peanut butter pie from Smokey Bones.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Birthdays. Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Buttercream.

Let’s be honest for a second. Is that OK? I’ve sat in front of my computer about fifteen times in the last week and a half staring at the big, blank “Edit Post” screen. I’ve typed a bit. I’ve brainstormed a bit. Mostly I’ve just felt anxious as more time passes and my planned birthday cake post goes unpublished. Unwritten, really. Nothing is coming.

I want all this inspiration in the start of the new year. I’m really thankful that my friend Sam got me this really cool journal, 642 Things to Write About, because I want to be inspired, but in small and not overwhelming doses. I want to plan big for 2013, but big plans give rise to anxiety. I did make one successful plan: I signed up for a marathon in November. A mother fucking marathon. Oh shit.

This is the year I turn 29. One more til 30. Instead of resolutions I’m making a 30 before 30 list. Thirty things I’ll do this year. Number 26: Run 26(.2) miles by completing a marathon. Number four: Send flowers to four friends. Number 12: Go to shabbat services 12 times. Number 20: Take pictures of 20 of my favorite things. Do you have any things to add? I need helping filling in the numbers. I’ll post my whole list next week, after the birthday happens.

Birthdays come with cake. Always cake. My favorite part of birthdays. I love making cake for other people.

Happy birthday Marnie

I hate asking other people to make me cake. I always lust after these complicated layered things, covered in frostings, drenched in flavored syrups. And it’s not that I don’t trust my friends to come through, I just feel bad asking for something complicated.

After all, a birthday cake should be filled with a good, joyful energy that you bake into it. Not a stressed out, this will never live up to expectations energy. In reality, I’m a fan of a simple cake, a cake with good flavors, one that I can even make on a weekday, because sometimes that’s when birthday celebrations happen, but that looks and tastes dang fabulous.

One that I am proud to put on my pretty silver cake stand, but that didn’t take hours for me to make, because, after all, we are busy. It’s a fact of life. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to shower cake on our loved ones on their birthdays. So, simple and lovely cakes for busy people who are looking in every corner for simple inspirations and have birthdays to celebrate!

Continue reading

This or That … Chocolate(vegan) Cupcakes

This is a face I am certain about. This Mira, I know, it’s an easy decision. I don’t waver. It’s never, “Should I love this dog or not?” It probably has something to do with those ridiculous eyes.

With most everything else in life I am a very indecisive person. I sit on the fence a lot. Doesn’t that sound painful? Who even came up with that phrase? I want to be more decisive just so I don’t have a fence up my butt.

Anyway.

I like to have things both ways, because most of the time I can’t decide which way is best, tastiest, most advantageous. For instance, would I want to make my home in the city or the country?

Right now my home is in the city. I’m 10-15 minutes from great restaurants, a grocery, the cleaners, parks and museums, the highway … When I say I’m going to run to the store, I mean I will be there and back within twenty minutes if I know exactly what I want (which, let’s be honest, rarely happens). I can ride my bike to the farmers market.

IMG_1594

I love living in a neighborhood. It’s got character. I smile at people as I walk the dog along the tree-lined sidewalk. We gossip about the yard work the couple up the street is doing, and we curse the damn lady who walks her dog without a leash.

At the same time, I crave long and quiet roads, houses with huge yards, big inky black night skies filled with endless stars. I think this side of me stems from camp in the mountains tucked away in a stoplight-less town of Tuxedo. I want to sit in my house with the windows open and not hear cars drive by. I want to not have to close my curtains at night to block out the street lights.

Biking north of the city with friends.

This or that?

I’d like to be a vegetarian, to make that commitment, that decision. I don’t love meat (besides bacon, oh dear God), and I am sure OK with eating lots of vegetarian foods, such as tofu, beans, lentils, and vegetables. I just can’t make the decision. Because what if it’s wrong? What if one day I want a burger? What if one day I want to run to the grocery five minutes away to get a pound of chicken salad? (I may or may not have done that this weekend.) So I go back and forth. I rarely cook meat in the house. Chicken or fish, the occasional beef. I only buy meat when I know how and where it’s been raised. Then I feel better about eating it. Always in moderation. Does that make me a semi-vegetarian?

This or that?

If making decisions was as easy as eating these chocolate(vegan) cupcakes, then I’d have bought a house somewhere totes rad and would be a super vegetarian.

Yeah, they’re vegan. That means no eggs, no butter, no  milk. That means in my mind kinda healthier. That means in my mind that I am being a vegan for the two minutes it takes me to eat one of these. So I feel good. Like I’ve made a good decision.

Now, don’t expect these cupcakes to taste like regular chocolate cupcakes. They don’t quite. The texture is all around different, and that’s not a bad thing. They’ll stay tasty and edible for a week before they start to dry out/get weird. And they have a secret ingredient in them—avocado! I’ve made them a couple of times for audiences of mixed varieties, and everyone has enjoyed them.

My advice? Make the decision to make these for the vegan in your life who can commit to a lifestyle, the on-the-fencer who wishes she could commit to a meatless life, and the lover of all things non-alternative who you think should branch out. They’ll all love these cupcakes.

Continue reading

Day 12 – 36 Hour Chocolate Chip Cookies

Long week. Glad it’s over, but it’s not really over. Glad I have a wonderful and supportive boyfriend. Glad I can support my mom. Not glad the last time I saw my grandmother was two years ago. Distance sucks. I’m not quite sure what else to say right now. I think I’m going to miss my Oma though.

Chocolate chip cookies – a classic comfort food.

Chocolate chip cookies, you gotta have more
You can bake them in the oven or buy them at the store
But whatever you do have them ready at the door
And I’ll love you til I die, boom, boom, boom

That’s gotta be Michael’s anthem.

In our quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookies, I came across a recipe published in the New York Times in 2008. The gist of the article that accompanied it was that in order to get a truly flavorful chocolate chip cookie, you must let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 36 hours. The resting time allows the eggs, the hydrating ingredient in cookies, to really penetrate the dry ingredients. You must pay attention to the size, because, well, it matters. Large cookies allow for three textures – a crisp outer edge, a soft center, and a small space where the two meld together in a ring. Please also use salt. Salt enhances sweet like no other. Trust this. And use disc-shaped chips. Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chips are a larger, disc shape.

So, was the 36 hour wait worth it? Well, Michael, the very picky judge, claims these are addicting and good. My brother claims they are more flavorful. I ate five yesterday.

The recipe suggests baking for 18-20 minutes. I had never heard of cookies baking for that long, so I punched 10 minutes into my timer for the first batch. When it beeped, the cookies were very ready to come out. In fact I shortened the baking time to 8 minutes for the rest, rotating the sheets at 4 minutes.

Also, don’t be scared by cake flour. Mix 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1 tablespoon of cornstartch and you have one cup of cake flour.

Continue reading

Day 1 – Scotcheroos and Corn Cakes

Day one of 30 Days of Creativity was a delicious success. I got creative in the kitchen. Start easy and where you’re comfortable, right? On Sunday we went to a barbeque hosted by a former co-worker. We’d been camping Friday through Sunday morning near Bloomington, so I needed something easy to make. Lucky for us, I requested breakfast on the way home from our campsite at Bloomington Bagel Company. Michael spotted a Peanut Butter Crunch bar in the dessert case and declared it very good. Could we reproduce it? One taste and I said hell yes, this is gonna be easy! These are scotcheroos!

Have you heard of scotcheroos? They’re like Rice Krispie Treats but better because they involve peanut butter, butterscotch, and chocolate. I use the word addicting loosely here. I ate one at the barbeque and then two more on the way home.

Scotcheroos seemed to be the easy and obvious choice for Day 1 for multiple reasons: Michael requested I make them again, and soon; they take literally 15 minutes to make; no oven; did I mention delicious?

We also had corn cakes with avocado and tomato salsa for dinner.

I prepped half of this meal (the corn cake batter) while I ate breakfast at the counter this morning. All that was left to do tonight was cut up veggies for salsa and cook the cakes. The meal is flavorful and balanced, filling and yet not heavy. The sweet corn cakes go nicely with the bright salsa. I love combining tomatoes and avocados. Just something about the flavors mixing together. Next time will add some black beans to the salsa. And the bright colors in this meal were actually fun to photograph! Continue reading

Ginger Chocolate Cookies

These past few weeks I’ve been too exhausted to cook or even really bake much. I’ve been eating out with my parents, eating over at my parents’ house, eating with my girlfriends, and sometimes throwing something together at home. I’m sure you know the feeling. Work is overwhelming, your personal life is a roller coaster, and standing in the kitchen becomes a chore rather than a joy. No one ever told me that being a beginning grown-up was so hard and tiring! Your college diploma should come with a big warning label: Hard times ahead. Forget staying up late to party or study. You won’t be able to make it past 10:30pm lots of nights. You think being independent will be cool and will involve having fancy drinks at fancy bars, buying awesome clothes, and decorating your first real apartment? Think again and this time include bills, rent, credit cards, food for your pets, gas money, food for yourself…and then swear that the only time you’ll look at your bank account is when you need a good cry. Oh and balancing your personal and work lives? They overlap. Work seeps into personal time, even if you don’t work long hours. It affects your personal relationships. Just…be prepared.

OK, so enough with the bitching about being a grown-up. The good part is that if you do come home from work one day and are craving cookies like woah, you can make a batch of cookies if you damn well please.

And these ginger chocolate cookies are the ones you should probably make. That’s what I did one Friday about a month ago. (shut up, I know I’m behind on posting!) They’re hella easy and you most likely have everything in your house.

Chocolate and brown sugar make cookies magical

(You may not have molasses, but you should probably buy some and keep your cabinet stocked with it always. It adds amazing depth and flavor to baked goods.) Kind of like chocolate chip cookies with a fantastic kick.

Continue reading

simply irresistible chocolate chip cookies

Adam is my best critic of my baking. He likes good baked goods (really good food in general, how lucky?!) and he’s not afraid to tell me exactly what he thinks about a pie, brownies, or cookies that I’ve made. He’s always able to pinpoint the not so great aspects, such as “this pie is too watery, and I can taste the chunks (that’d be the tapioca beads)” or “the caramel on top of these brownies is just too much. The layer is too thick. Besides, don’t change the brownies, they’re perfect the way they were.” I really do value his judgment and opinions. So when he proclaimed my most recent batch of cookies “simply irresistible” I was thrilled.

What makes these cookies so irresistible? Well, first, as a baker, I find the fact that they hold their shape irresistible. You know how most chocolate chip cookies spread as they bake? These don’t. I kind of want to attribute that to the oatmeal in them. Oatmeal cookies always seem to hold together much better than choco chip cookies. Also, and this wasn’t in the original recipe, I left out the vanilla. I read this in a recipe somewhere on the internet (damned if I remember where), and while you’d think taking the vanilla out would take away flavor, I think the exact opposite happens. The brown sugar, butter, and chocolate flavors really shine. Lastly, I love the texture of these cookies. They’re not chewy, but not crunchy and hard. They live in that in between, crumbly cookie land.

Continue reading