.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Not As Good As Pork Cracklins

misadventures in cooking

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Practice Practice Practice

One of my favorite quotes from Swimming to Antartica is "Don't get frustrated... get determined!"

I don't even know why I want to learn to make buttercream roses. I don't much care for them and rarely have a need for them. Why bother? I suppose the fact that my first tries were so frustrating made me determined to get them right someday. So every now and then, I use my practice frosting to attempt a few before I scrape it all back into the container to try again another day.

This morning, on a whim, I pulled out my practice frosting. OMG! I did it! A passable rose. I mean, really, that does look like a buttercream rose. No way was I scraping it back into the container. No way in hell. Of course that meant I needed to whip up a batch of cupcakes (I spent a few minutes thinking it deserved a proper cake, but none of this was on my agenda for the day!) and a mini-recipe of RLB's Neoclassic Buttercream (p. 187).

My one rose is for a dear friend who is going through a rough time. It's meant to be a sign that I am thinking of her, and that I value our friendship.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Chocolate Cupcakes

Towards the end of my run this morning, I started daydreaming about baking cupcakes. When I got to Barton Springs to soak my tired legs, Mike told me about a new bakery he was planning to try out today. I took that as a clear sign that great minds think alike and that it was obviously a cupcake kind of day.

I made a half recipe of the "Chocolate Cake That's Got It All" from CookSmart: Perfect Recipes for Everyday, which filled 12 cupcake papers, with some lickableness left in the bowl and on the spatula. A half recipe of "Soft and Creamy Double Chocolate Frosting" was just the right amount to generously top them.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Jess and I made bagels from Baking with Julia. Definitely nothing to be afraid of! I'll make them again for sure. They were easy enough and not terribly time consuming - just long enough for us to catch up after not seeing each other for a few weeks.

The recipe says it makes 10, but we decided to divide it into 12 and I'm glad we did because they're still pretty big. We made half of them as "everything" bagels (topped with garlic, carraway, sesame, poppy seeds and coarse salt) and half with thinly sliced tomato and chiffonade of basil. We shared one as our afternoon snack, and I have to say, they are amazing.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Nice Buns :)

Not bad for a first try. I used the recipe from King Arthur Flour. Sometimes I think their online recipes are intentionally vague, but I found the tutorial from their blog very helpful. Half are topped with poppy seeds and the other half have sesame seeds. You could leave them off entirely, of course. These are going to make great burgers!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Score at Half Price Books!!

A brand spanking new copy of Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Pie and Pastry Bible was less than half-price - only $22.48!

And a shiny new copy of Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours was only $9.99, an unbelievable 75% off. Sweet!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Oatmeal Raspberry Jam Bars

Anna wrote a lovely story about her grandma recently. I had jam in the pantry, so I decided to make Oatmeal Raspberry Jam Bars. I only made a 1/2 batch and I think the recipe could use some tweaking, but honestly the end result is really, really good.

When you run a hundred miles in a week, your diet has room for a few extra calories. Not that I run a hundred miles a week, mind you. But if you do, and if these particular extra calories look appealing to you, then you should speak now or forever hold your peace. I'm just sayin'.

Oatmeal Jam Bars
(Tweaked Small Batch Version)

4 oz. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 T. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup quick oats (not instant oatmeal)
1 T lemon zest
3/4 cup cherry or raspberry jam

Heat oven to 350° F. Line an 8x8 metal pan with foil.

Place the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times until the ingredients are combined and a crumbly dough is formed. Add the oats and lemon zest. Pulse quickly twice to combine. Take approximately 1 cup of the crumbs out, and set aside to use as topping.

Press the remaining crumbs firmly into the bottom of the foil-lined pan. Spread the jam evenly over the crust. Sprinkle the remaining crumbs over the jam, gently pressing down. Bake until golden brown, approximately 20-25 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Saturday, July 05, 2008


Jess is out of town, so she invited me to pick up her farmshare from Johnson's Backyard Garden. My instructions were easy to follow:
Bring a few canvas bags for your veggies. Take a box, load up the veggies in your bag…break down the box and put it in the pile. The half dozen eggs will be in the cooler along with the coffee. There will be a clip board to initial that you picked up. Sometimes there is a bucket of flowers and instructions as to how many you get. If there is a box of melons you get one. There is also a trade box. If there is something that you know that you don’t want check that box for something you do want. Do what you feel like is an even exchange. That’s it.

The eggs & coffee aren't in the picture. The melon is not in the picture either - because Gary took it away too quickly! There are straight-neck yellow squash, zephyr squash, onions (partially obscured), zucchini, four types of tomatoes (which I have already sampled and WOW! are they good), basil, cucumbers, pattypan squash (one right side up, one upside down), sweet peppers, hot peppers and bell peppers, and 3 types of eggplant.

Very exciting! I can hardly wait to get cooking!