Top five mood boosters (baking is a given, it's like breathing):
1) Finding a book that's worthy of filling the void left by it's predecessor.
2) Watching Niles play with the empty boxes that his catnip-filled toys came in.
3) Any "Arrested Development" episode
4) Running, or a wonderfully sweaty hour of Bikram yoga
5) Butter (hence the need for #4)
I panic when I'm down to one stick of butter. Butter deserves to be at the top.
I'm trying to prioritize.
Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!
Birthday Banoffe Cupcakes
Scooping issues aside (I never add the right amount of batter to the liners), cupcakes are the good cops of the cake world. They never play half-baked mind games, and unlike some desserts I know, cupcakes won't 'tease' you into believing that all is well up until the eleventh hour (that's right layer cakes, I'm talking about you!).
Cupcakes are my safety net, my comfort zone, the lovingly-worn grey cashmere sweater that I've had since high school.
Cupcake...what an ingenious, to-the-point title. It's a cake that's small enough to fit inside a cup. I've yet to meet a cupcake that I don't like.
This transitional time of year makes everything feel especially melodramatic, I love it!
Am I the only one who occasionally takes pleasure in listening to melancholy music for hours on end? This seemingly odd wallowing ritual will usually take place on an errant weekend or the tail-end of a long week day. Aside from a great novel and a Baileys infused hot cocoa, my instruments of blissful contemplation vary, but they usually involve Yo-Yo Ma's cello, Yann Tiersen's Good bye, Lenin! soundtrack, and as always, any album by Leonard Cohen. Also included during this brooding sweep...anything rich, chocolaty, and neat enough to eat without the need to leave my peaceful repose to hunt for a napkin.
September is pediatric cancer awareness month. As someone who lost a dad to cancer, I've felt it's devastating effects first-hand. However, I did not know the startling statistics of childhood cancer.
Today, despite all the breakthroughs and research, only 25% of children diagnosed with cancer survive. 25%...that's an entire 1/4 cup. Combined, all forms of pediatric cancer claim the lives of more children in the United States than any other disease. What makes this even more tragic is that it's due to lack of funding, funding that could have provided effective therapy and treatment.
These are the brownies of childhood memories, and brownies that memories are made of must always have walnuts, always.
When I was little, if the warm smell of baking chocolate and toasted nuts welcomed me when I came home from school, I knew I'd done something right. I would run to the kitchen in my plaid uniform and knee sock (the left one always ended up at my ankle by the end of the day), and gaze with saucer-sized eyes at the pan of brownies cooling on the table. My mom would pour me a glass of cold milk and we would talk about everything and nothing. The fact that I wasn't allowed to have sweets very often made those moments even more precious.
Lemon Bars (take 6)
Despite the fact that I am a walking example, I never liked Lemonheads.
I felt the need to mention that...just in case my shameless lemon addiction led to visions of lemon candy-stuffed cupboards, drawers, and pockets. Except for jolly-ranchers (hello, sour apple), I'm not a fan of hard candy, especially when it tries in vain to replicate a beloved fruit. Lemon cravings are best soothed by something quiet, silky, and natural.
Anything that includes the words "fast","easy", or "kid-friendly" in it's title, makes the challenge-loving, microwave-loathing baker in me cringe a bit. Plus, when a recipe claims to be fast and easy, it also induces a deep-seeded fear of potential disaster...one that ends with me hanging up my whisk and spatula in shame. So because of the 'quickie' infused title, I did not have lofty expectations for these cookies. However, this is another example as to why you should always, always, always-read through a recipe before thumbing your oven mitt at it. (or is it nose? that never made sense to me.) They were not as "quick" as the title indicates. Easy, yes. But because of a much needed refrigeration time, not very fast. I was happy.
Honey-Peach Ice Cream
I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but I love goats. They are my lemons of the animal world. When I see goats, especially a herd of goats, I'm alarmingly tempted to kidnap a few. As I was driving home last week, I saw something that made me wish I had a Clyde to go along with my inner Bonnie; Pygmy goats. Had it not been for a seemingly unending flock of cyclists, I would now be sitting at the computer with a recipe-chewing pygmy goat on my lap instead of Niles, the recipe/paper spewing cat.
I'm adding pygmy goat to my birthday wish-list. Right in between the "Happy Birthday!" email from Jamie Bamber and the extra week of summer.
The mini goats made me think of mini tarts...mini tarts filled with something sweet and summery, like honey infused peach ice cream.