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BTB, good update December 6, 2006

Posted by clumsyraine in Food.
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Where I stand:

10 dozen brownies made by my mom (need about 10 dozen more)
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First batch of pumpkin cookies (7 dozen, came out beautifully)1_pumpkin1.jpg

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Second batch, bleh!
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Third batch, perfect. Current total, 16 dozen. (Hopefully that’s all of those.)1_pumpkin3.jpg

Next up, the rest of the brownies. Afterwards, about 15 dozen oatmeal raisin cookies!

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Blog Through Baking, first screwup December 6, 2006

Posted by clumsyraine in Food.
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When you measure out all your ingredients into nice little bowls the night before to save yourself time in the morning?

It helps if you um, use them.

I just pulled the first pans of the second batch of pumpkin cookies out of the oven (the first batch came out brilliantly), and they didn’t seem to be baking properly. The others took about 11.5-12 minutes. These I gave nearly 18 minutes and they were still wet in the middle and not browning. I noticed when I started spooning them onto the pan that the dough seemed wetter as well. What’s the deal?

I taste one, and it tastes…. floury? Well, that doesn’t make sense. It tastes like it has too much flour, but if I had miscounted my 5 cups of flour and, say, used 6, the dough would be drier, not wetter.

Hmm….

Finally I notice my many pre-measured bowls from last night sitting on the bar, and it dawns on me.

I didn’t put the baking soda/powder/salt/cinnamon/nutmeg mixture in them.

Anybody want 7 dozen really plain, flat, floury pumpkin cookies?

Blog Through Baking, preface December 6, 2006

Posted by clumsyraine in Food.
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Wow, it was nice to not look at this thing for a few days post NaBloPoMo!

I found myself wondering, whatever shall I do with my time now?! But, I found things to occupy me – catching up on my non-Blo blogs that I had neglected, message board friend, and um, that job type thing that likes to compensate me for paying attention to it.

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If you’ll remember my horror the other day regarding our baking endeavor, you know what the title of this entry is about. (Hey, some bloggers Blog Through Birth, and I don’t have anything that pressing going on, so I’m working with what I have.) I decided to blog this insanity to keep myself in the habit of posting. Above, you can see all the goodies assembled neatly.

We have orders for 13 dozen Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, 13 dozen Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, and 17 dozen Blonde Brownies. My mom made the first 10 or so dozen brownies for me tonight to get me started (thanks Mom!:D) but tomorrow, I’m on my own.

I measured out the ingredients for the batches of brownies my mom cooked to make life easier for her:

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And the cats had to be held at bay (which left too much time for Harry to, erm, powder their noses):

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Hmmm… I was going to measure out ingredients for a few batches to get started with in the morning, but I think I should just hit the hay. Stay tuned for whatever exciting happenings there are tomorrow!

(Ooh… this is the first post I’ve written in a month that didn’t need to be placed in the NaBloPoMo category.. it feels strange not to check that box, like a part of me is missing!)

Famous last words November 29, 2006

Posted by clumsyraine in Food, NaBloPoMo, Shootin' the breeze.
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Remember when I said the other day that I hoped we weren’t getting in over our heads?

I obviously forgot to find some wood to knock on when I wrote that.

Harry took a few nice sparkly pre-order sign up sheets for baked goods with him to work today. He called me at 8am to tell me he’d filled up 3 pages and had made more copies. He called me at 10am to tell me he’d hit up another building down the way (still part of his company) just for good measure.

He took 51 orders from 36 people.

We tallied up orders over the phone on his lunch break. Next week, I’ll be making roughly:

3-4 batches of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (approx. 6 dozen cookies per batch);
4 batches of oatmeal raisin cookies (approx. 4 dozen cookies per batch); and
6-8 batches of blonde brownies (approx. 3 dozen brownies per batch).

I think it’s a really good thing NaBloPoMo is over tomorrow.

I need a muse. November 27, 2006

Posted by clumsyraine in Food, NaBloPoMo, Shootin' the breeze.
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I really don’t feel like writing. Which makes me wonder, what will keep me posting once November is over?

When Harry went back to work on Friday, I sent a large pan of leftover cookies and brownies and some of my mom’s fudge with him. The pumpkin cookies went lickety-split, and he got several recommendations that we sell them in the coming weeks. So, even though it sounds like lunacy to me, I guess we’re selling pumpkin cookies.

To me, that meant making up a batch or two, packing them up by the half-dozens, and sending him off to work with them. But he’s wanting to take it so far as getting pre-orders, and being much more organized about it. And then somehow, the pumpkin cookies multiplied and we’re also selling my personal favorite, blonde brownies, along with an old recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies that I ate tirelessly in college, but haven’t actually made since I graduated.

I hope we’re not getting in over our heads.

Whoa nellie November 24, 2006

Posted by clumsyraine in Food, NaBloPoMo, Shootin' the breeze, step-munchkin.
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I didn’t get to NBPM day 24 just to screw it all up! But I just headed to bed and nearly completely blew it. So I came back for a short and sweet story about compromise. (We take Olivia home Sunday afternoon, so I’ll have to start thinking up my own ideas again… drat!)

We drove out to Hobbs to visit my cousin Lynn today (my mom, Olivia & me). While we were there, Livi spotted Lynn’s candy stash and asked if she could have some. We told her she could pick one piece after lunch.

We all got in my mom’s truck later on and headed to Western Sizzlin’ for lunch, and of course, the sweets were at the forefront of Olivia’s thoughts.

“We’re going to eat lunch,  and then I can have some candy?” she asked.

“Yes, you can pick a piece of candy after lunch, but you have to eat a really good lunch, ok?”

“OK. But DON’T put any green beans on my plate, OK?”

Measuring Success November 23, 2006

Posted by clumsyraine in Food, NaBloPoMo, Shootin' the breeze.
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Anyone else think the way to measure the success of a holiday meal is by the amount of time it takes you to fit the leftovers into the fridge?

Some raisins are not for eating November 22, 2006

Posted by clumsyraine in Food, NaBloPoMo, Shootin' the breeze, step-munchkin.
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A day or two ago, I left Olivia in the bathtub longer than I normally do because I was straightening up the bathroom and the sink area just outside the bathroom door while Harry was straightening up the closet and changing the cat boxes, and it was nice to have her safely out of the way. (I was only like 3 feet away from her, of course; we have a really small apartment.) She was quite pruny when she got out, but figuring she wouldn’t be as likely to know what a prune was, when I saw her examining her wrinkly fingers I told her they looked like raisins.

She cocked her head slightly, then slowly stuck her index finger in her mouth and sucked on it a little.

“It doesn’t taste like a raisin?” she said quizzically.

I was too busy quieting the huge snort that almost escaped to remember the rest of that conversation.

***

When I had pulled the fourth or so pan of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (Go now! Make them! They are awesome!) from the oven, and reminded Olivia for the four hundredth or so time do. not. touch. It. Is. HOT., she reached up and jabbed a finger at the cookie sheet.

In the few seconds it took for her to register the pain through the shock, I had already spun around and grabbed a medicine cup from the drainer, and poured some ice cold water from the bottle I had on the counter into it, and stuck her finger in it.

(Is that anywhere near the right thing to do? I know cold water is what I want when I burn myself… which is fairly often because I’m a clutz in the kitchen… but really, I have no clue…).

While she quieted the sobs that had started to build, I hugged her for a minute and explained that the cool water would help keep it from hurting. Once she was still sniffling but reasonably calm, I went back to spooning cookies onto the next pan. She was standing on her step-stool next to me, and I watched out of the corner of my eye as she would pull her finger out every couple of minutes, look at it until she began to mutter “ow, ow ow” and place it back into the cup.

I got distracted, probably swapping cooked cookie pans from the oven for raw ones, so I wasn’t looking at her when she exclaimed,

“Don’t eat it!!!”

I froze. “Don’t eat what???”

“My finger. It might look like a raisin, but you CANNOT eat it.”

(more…)

The one where I have nothing to say November 20, 2006

Posted by clumsyraine in Food, NaBloPoMo, Shootin' the breeze.
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Seriously… nothing to say. It’s day 20 of NaBloPoMo! 2/3 of the way there… it doesn’t seem like it really. The idea that I’ve posted 20 times in the last 20 days just escapes me; did I really? Neat 🙂

This was our last lazy day this week, and it’s only Monday! Tomorrow will be my shopping day, because I refuse to go anywhere near Wal-Mart on the day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday night is my usual grocery night). Even if I was going by myself, it would be out of the question, but the thought is even more absurd since Olivia will be with me. As it is, I think she and I will go right after lunch tomorrow when she’s full and happy.

My list feels like it’s a mile long, and I’m not even cooking the “real food.” I’ll make a lasagna (meat-free) to go with the turkey my mom is making, so that I’m not stuck just eating veggies. (What kind of vegetarian am I, right?) But mainly, I’ve got the dessert duty. I think my mom is making a cobbler, and she already made fudge over the weekend. My husband requested 2 pans of blonde brownies, and because I feel bad for him marrying into a not very pumpkin-oriented family, I decided to make the pumpkin cookies I saw on Kerflop’s site. Luckily for our waistlines, most of the fudge, brownies, and cookies will get divided up for goodie boxes to go to work with my husband, and home with my step-daughter.

So… yeah, Tuesday shopping. Wednesday, baking/cooking (if I don’t start some of it Tuesday). Thursday, eeeeating. Friday, probably going to visit family out of state (day-trip). Weekend, who knows. Maybe a quick trip to the in-laws.

Thursday morning, Livi & I are going to go to my mom’s early to watch the parade, and I’m going to make french toast. I have a fantastic recipe (will probably post it later this week) and my mom recently told me she’s NEVER had french toast. (Which is obviously why I never had it before a year or two ago.) So, we will remedy that situation shorly.

We still have no idea whether or not Harry will have to work. The topic just flat hasn’t even come up at work, which baffles me – aren’t other people trying to plan meals and trips?? How can people not be anxious to find out these things? It makes no sense.

On a side note, I guess you realize times are desparate when you’re willing to put the Sesame Street sing-along tape back into circulation after it was “accidently” retired to our sock drawer a few months ago (if we had heard “Roll Over” one. more. time…). But right now? If I have to hear Pop Goes the Weasel or the Hokey Pokey one. more. time….

Mmm, pie. November 10, 2006

Posted by clumsyraine in Food, NaBloPoMo.
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(Hmm, I better watch out, or I’ll end up being known as the pie blog.)

So, alot of people I know have already started decorating for Christmas. (Christmas?! It’s November 10th, people.) We don’t really decorate around here, but all this holiday spiritedness has been making me want to bake. So, I did!

I made a chocolate pie, using my grandma’s recipe. I cheated on the crust, I haven’t been brave enough to try to make crust from scratch yet, so Betty Crocker’s crust mix to the rescue for me.

I make the 1/2 crust and pre-bake it according to the box directions. Set aside to cool. (Forgot to grab the camera for this step.)

It’s tough to juggle the filling and the meringue. On the one hand, the Baking 911 meringue guide says to use it within 5 minutes once you’re finished beating it. On the other hand, it says the meringue will do best if placed onto practically still-boiling filling. Well, this filling takes longer than 5 minutes to boil, and I’ve only got 2 hands. I think the last time I made this pie, I completed the filling before making the meringue, so this time I tried it the other way around, and I’m not positive, but I think my meringue was kind of flat this time. So maybe the better sacrifice to make is a less-than-boiling filling over a more-than-5-minutes-old meringue.

I measured out all my ingredients for everything ahead of time. I should add that I believe the original recipe probably makes filling for 1 pie, but I’ve never made, or seen it made, in single format. My mom, and now I, have always tripled the recipe because the leftover filling doubles as awesome chocolate pudding (and I promise, the pie isn’t going to last long, so it’s nice to have a bowl of pudding stashed away in the back of the refrigerator for after it’s gone. 😉 ) I’ll include the original and the tripled measurements out to the side:

Pour into a large pot:
1 12 oz. can Pet (evaporated) milk (3 cans)
1 cup water (3 cups)

Sift together:
2/3 cup sugar (2 cups)
1/8 tsp salt (3/8 tsp)
2 heaping tbsp cocoa powder (6 heaping tbsp)
2 1/2 heaping tbsp flour (7 1/2 heaping tbsp)

Ready in one bowl:
2 egg yolks (6 egg yolks) (save 3 whites for your meringue)

Ready in another bowl:
1 hunk* of butter (3 hunks*)
vanilla*

* In true southern cooking form, I’ve never seen butter or vanilla actually measured, heh. I would estimate I used about 4 tablespoons butter for the tripled recipe though.

For the meringue:
3 egg whites in your mixing bowl

Set aside:
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla
sugar (1/4 cup to 6 tbsp, depending on the recipe, see below)

I made my meringue according to the directions on the Cream of Tartar jar (what IS that stuff, anyway? It stinks.) because I was too lazy to come back to the computer to see how much sugar per egg I was supposed to use. (Baking 911 says “at least 1 1/2 tbsp per egg white.” About.com says 2 tbsp per egg white. The CoT jar called for 1/4 cup for 3 egg whites. How many tbsp is in 1/4 cup? I think 2 tbsp = 1 oz, so 4 tbsp = 2 oz = 1/4 cup. That’s less than 1 1/2 tbsp per egg white. I guess we’ll see how it tastes tomorrow…)

Begin by beating the eggwhites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and vanilla and continue beating until soft peaks form. Slowly beat in sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

I already had the pet milk and water in a large pot before I started the meringue, so just before I began adding the sugar I reached over and turned the burner on Med-Hi. I finished up the meringue and set it aside.

Patience is key here, because the milk/water will take a bit to start simmering, but you need to continually stir and scrape the bottom while you wait on it, otherwise it will stick something awful. After FOREVER it begins to simmer; at this point I switch from a plastic slotted spoon to a whisk and begin pouring the dry mix in little at a time (I probably do it in 1/4ths), whisking well as you go. Make sure to get out any lumps, but don’t take too long.

Now whisk in your egg yolks, mixing well. Shortly after this point, the whole thing will probably begin to bubble, big popping bloop’ing bubbles. Keep whisking hard and fast, but here I usually turn the heat down to Medium just for a minute. Add the butter/vanilla, and even though your arm is about to fall off you’ve got to keep stirring until it’s well mixed in.

This should be close to done; I wish I had a good description of the consistency you’re looking for, but I really don’t. I can only eyeball when it’s the right thickness because I’ve made it wrong so many times. You really don’t want it to overcook, it will thicken as it sits. I’m just going to hope that you’ve moved quickly through the steps and your timing is where mine was. Turn off the fire and keep whisking for another minute.

I’ve got my pie plate on a cookie sheet to make life easy, and I bring it over next to the pot (still on the burner, remember Baking 911’s “still-boiling filling” suggestion). I grab a plastic solid spoon and spoon the filling into the pie shell (the filling thickly coats the spoon, hopefully yours is doing similarly).

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Now I spoon my meringue onto the top of the pie, being sure to seal in the pie by starting at the outer edge and working your way inward. I’ve never been good at the making decorative “peaks” in the meringue with the back of a spoon, but I give it my best shot.

pie2.jpg

Now, according to About.com‘s directions, bake it at 325 degrees for 15-18 minutes (I pulled mine out at 15 and it was a little browner than I would have liked, so make sure to adjust this to your own oven).

And, voila!

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(Note that the use of the decorative penguin to hide your messy stovetop is completely optional.)

Let it cool before covering and refrigerating.

Maybe I’m weird – I perfer the pie completely chilled, but the pudding to me is at it’s absolute peak straight off the stove. I’m talking nearly burning your tongue warm. My husband, however, is hard pressed to take his share of the pudding until it’s been refrigerated overnight, so, to each his own.

Well, that’s all folks… That was kind of fun! Hope you enjoyed!