I think I could almost say I am studying baking as a second language right now. I won’t say it’s easy, but I will say it is very rewarding (even if only in the “kitchen smells good all the time” sense). Anyway, I thought I might share with you some of the things I’m learning in BSL. I hope, if you ever choose to take on this delicious course, you’ll take note of this extremely important advice so it doesn’t become painfully obvious that you’ve enrolled in said course.
Do NOT brew a fresh pot of coffee while the cookies are in the oven
Make sure you begin the cookie process just after you’ve filled your tummy with good things, not before
While the dough is rising in the oven, throw some green beans on the stove – fresh, crispy green beans with salt, pepper, and a bit of butter. Then MUNCH on those instead of the “broken cookies”
Hide the milk!!
Entice your friends into the kitchen with the job of “taste-tester” and then TRUST them!
Remind yourself with each batch or finished cake that these items are going to be sold – and that finger-licking isn’t necessarily professional.
Intentionally plan a workout following your baking session so you can’t over-indulge… you know you will regret it later.
(This is my favorite) Allow yourself to lick the cake pan, once the cake is safely on its serving plate. There’s no point in completely denying yourself the good stuff!
That’s all I got for now. Any other suggestions from fellow bakers-in-distress?
I’ve been baking a lot lately, but that’s an understatement… I think I basically wear cinnamon as a new fragrance! In order to raise money for our mission trip, I’ve been taking orders and keeping really busy with the three items on my menu: pumpkin cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, and cinnamon oatmeal cookies. I had to go with a large glass of orange juice tonight over the usual cup of tea to wind down – there’s just too much sweet and hot going on around here!
I am praising the Lord with every batch I make because I know it is HIS provision for these kids to walk under the banner of His name and serve this community. This weekend, I have students assisting me in the kitchen, though (as always) I am most grateful for their company.
Tonight, I snuck away to work out between bakings and this wonderful song popped up on shuffle in my ipod.
I pushed through my treadmill moves with vigor I usually reserve for much more upbeat music. As I pounded out that unforgiving conveyer belt beneath my feet, I sang along with Emily DeLoach. It made me think about a conversation I was having the other day with a wise friend of mine. (Don’t worry, if I’m ever inspired while on the treadmill, I usually just try to store it away and think about it later. If I tried the cardio/philosophy combo I’m sure something bad would happen!)
We were talking about loneliness… and how the closer we get to the heart of God the more lonely it seems. These days have been like that for me. I won’t pretend I spend hours a day in deep sorrow or that death surrounds me, but this deep loneliness seems to be a lot about a heavy, oppressive grief.
Sometimes I’m surprised at how close I feel to the Father while in the same moment feeling flung out of orbit from whatever was anchoring me. I think in those moments (sadly there are just moments) I may be opening my heart completely to the Lord’s love and experiencing it pour out just as quickly. Even as I am being filled, I am feeling it rush out of me and into all the parched places, desperate for a drink.
Maybe that’s where the loneliness comes from – well, the feeling of loneliness. I’ve come to Jesus asking for more love and He’s given it, but not for me to keep. As I feel His love rushing through me, I recognize at once my need for more of Him and my eyes are opened to the needs of others.
I could post the whole song, but these are the last two verses. Be encouraged tonight, my friends, as you journey in joy to be more like the Lord!
Thou the hated and forsaken,
Thou the bearer of the cross
Crowned of thorns and mocked and smitten,
Counting earthly gain but loss
When scorned are we, We joy to be the more like Thee
When scorned are we, We joy to be the more like Thee
Thou the Father’s best beloved,
Thou the throned and sceptered King
Who but Thee should we adoring,
All our prayers and praises bring?
So blessed are we, Savior Lord in loving Thee
So blessed are we, Savior Lord in loving Thee
I started a mental list awhile back, because I always happen upon the strangest things. I realized, they might not be strange after all, just bad assumptions.
Before I get into my somewhat silly list, let me be serious for a second. Three things happened today that made the world shine like a candle at a Christmas Eve service. 1) phone chat with my mom and grandma, who came through surgery like a champ 2) a skype call with a dear friend that made distance feel like “just around the corner” 3) the most GLORIOUS reunion of baking goodness with my favorite high school ladies…
AND bonus number 4) students huddled in my office for the first mission trip meeting with excitement practically bursting out of their buttoned up uniforms.
These things prove again my belief that any “case of the Mondays” can surely be cured – Mondays do not have to be the dreadful thing they seem. My favorite scene from the day involves: one student working through a series of facial expression while texting, another student busily finishing college applications, and myself dancing around the kitchen to Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas,” while piping hot Nutella-Peanut Butter brownies cool on the counter. Mondays? Yes, please!
Okay, here’s a few examples of bad assumptions:
A sign that says “maquinas trabajando” does not necessarily mean machines are working… it could also mean men with pickaxes and shovels.
When you see sewer covers in the road, don’t be fooled – they may not have a long life as a sewer cover. Chances are, you will soon have to swerve around that spot with great skill because someone has swiped it to make a buck.
Those silly yellow and white lines on the road are not to indicate to drivers what should and should not be done in traffic. Nonsense! They are to decorate the otherwise dull streets!
Whoever said there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing” has obviously never tried the nutella + peanut butter combination.
That terrible cliché about “dancing like no one is watching” is horribly misguided. I think it should go something like, “dance like everyone is watching… and just keep going!”
Okay, that’s all for now. I hope you bursting with joy tonight – don’t forget to
For these bars, I added to the bottom crust, because many bakers suggested a smaller pan. I needed the quantity, so I just increased some of the proportions. Also, I used whole wheat flour and added peanut butter to the second layer. I skipped the chocolate on top because they were already very sweet. It was a HIT!
For these cookies, I didn’t really follow a recipe. I had chocolate chips, peanut butter, milk, oatmeal, vanilla, and spices on hand, so I made my own combination and we’ll see how they go over tomorrow morning.
Just in case you are wondering, I’m planning a big hoorah for Friday that will involve my favorite ingredient for this time of year – PUMPKIN!
Last night, we experimented with a recipe from my Good Housekeeping Healthy Choices cookbook. The recipe was for tortillapizza, but we transformed it into a lasagna and it was so wonderfully delicious! My roomie is a veggie (my affectionate term for the vegetarians in my life), so I’m always on the lookout for recipes that we would both like. This one turned out to be the BOMB!
Then, for dessert, I made baked apples with a recipe from the same cookbook in an effort to welcome fall to the rain and sun of this country that knows not the four seasons.
Tonight, I’m having my high school girls over for movies and THIS incredible apple cinnamoncupcake dessert! Doesn’t it look amazing?
Here’s the description from the website:
Shredded apple replaces some of the oil and keeps the cake moist in these cinnamon-spiked cupcakes. There is a generous amount of fluffy marshmallow frosting to mound or pipe on top for a festive look.
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish
To prepare cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups with cupcake liners or coat with cooking spray (I made about 17 cupcakes with this recipe)
Combine shredded and dried apples in a bowl with 3 tablespoons brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Set aside. Beat oil and the remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Beat in eggs one at a time until combined. Add vanilla, increase speed to high and beat for 1 minute.
Whisk whole-wheat flour, cake flour, baking soda, salt and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon in a medium bowl.
With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and buttermilk to the batter, starting and ending with dry ingredients and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, until just combined. Stir in the reserved apple mixture until just combined. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. (The cups will be full.)
Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before frosting.
To prepare frosting: Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in the bottom of a double boiler. Combine 1 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup water in the top of the double boiler. Heat over the simmering water, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Add reconstituted egg whites, cream of tartar and pinch of salt. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed until the mixture is glossy and thick, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the top pan from the heat and continue beating for 1 minute more to cool. Add vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and beat on low just to combine. Spread or pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes and sprinkle cinnamon on top, if desired.
I love it when people call me granola… although I don’t think I deserve it.
If you are not familiar, it’s a term people use to describe someone who is a bit on the rugged side, earthy, probably makes chai from scratch and can, without much effort, throw on anything and pull it off. Again… not me, but I love my granola friends!
I also love… making GRANOLA! My roommate brought a recipe she actually got from her roomie last year and we made it yesterday and WOW. So good! I thought I would indulge you with the recipe and encourage you to try your own variations and report back!