Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I've been in a bit of a baking slump lately. Granted, a slump for me is still baking once in a week or so, but it's less than normal. I think I've just been busy with other things, like working, writing stories and just hanging out with friends. All valid reasons, I think, for less baking. That, and I think I've lacked inspiration lately. The weather here has been strange, but hey, that's Kansas. I'm a huge fan of fall weather, but it only cooled down a couple days ago. Between the extended summer and the fact that I didn't go back to school for the first time in 17 years this August, I've been a little thrown off. Not that I mind — I'm super happy to not have homework. I'm just shocked at how late in September it is already, and that I haven't had a test in who-knows-what political science class. I actually sealed the post-grad deal last week when I went to pick up my diplomas (four months after I earned them). I got those, plus my distinction cords, plus my honors medal, plus my Phi Beta Kappa key. I didn't get any of them at the ceremonies, because I skipped them. So now that all of that stuff is sitting on my bedroom floor, it's easier to realize that college is actually done.
Not having homework means that I get to plan stuff in my free time, time that doesn't revolve around reading or calls from The Kansan. One of my days off I went to Aunt Betty's house and started fall baking (before the weather changed, but hey, I was being proactive!). Fall baking means apples to me. I'm not much of a pumpkin gal, but tart apples in an apple pie? Mmmmm. First, though, we made apple cider doughnuts. I've been craving these since I saw them in last October's Food Network Magazine, but since we knocked out doughnuts earlier this month, I thought we should try these. They're super heavy, but light inside. Rolled in cinnamon sugar and with a delicate apple flavor, they were heavenly. I managed to burn myself with hot oil while frying them. Always fun. Frankly, I hate cooking with oil. It's so temperamental. Boo.
Then we did the Martha Stewart apple pie. We did a nice Joy of Cooking double crust, complete with obscene amounts of butter, which, of course, makes it that much tastier. Then the apple filling and covering with a second crust, with apple cutouts. I'm getting slightly better at making crust, but that managed to injure me too. I cut myself on the food processor's blade, so let's just say it wasn't my day. The pie, though, was excellent, especially with some yummy cheddar cheese.
In between oil heating for doughnuts and pie crust chilling, I also made some cashews. I found a recipe for ginger cayenne cashews in my latest Martha Stewart Living. Last time I tried making flavored cashews, I burnt them pretty close to a char. We watched these much closer, and they turned out excellent. They had a really unique flavor, and the cayenne wasn't overpowering. They were a great snack.
Then a few days later I went to my friend Sarah's house to help with her baking. I admire her because she eats WAY healthier than me and does things like run 30 miles in one day (!). She bakes, but it's generally vegan, and always tastes excellent. After eating broccoli pad thai, we made carrot-raisin cookies. It always fascinates me when baking vegan, because I'm so used to putting butter and eggs in just about everything I bake. Apparently flax seed acts similarly to an egg and as a binding agent. Anyway, these cookies were super yummy and made a gazillion!
She also had me help ice a bunch of mini cupcakes, half chocolate chip agave, half key lime coconut. All vegan. I'd never tried agave before, but they were a much richer sweet. I didn't actually help bake the cupcakes, but did mix and pipe the icing. I think they turned out pretty :)
So now I'm getting baking bug again. I'm trying to decide what I will make for my own birthday, which is this Saturday. I might make another ice cream cake, or cupcakes, or nothing. I guess I get to decide, right? I can't wait!