Monday, August 30, 2010

Because I'm Selfless

I have a question that is plaguing me when it comes to my cookies, so I need to do one more variation before I rest. Since I want the truest answer, I'm going to use bar chocolate, not chips. I dropped by the International Wine Center because I've heard they have some delicious chocolate. Well, they better because boy howdy is it pricey. It was definitely the most expensive chocolate I've ever purchased. And the costliest bar isn't even close to being enough for a batch of cookies.

But I wanted to try a couple to compare flavors because I'm selfless and want to provide the most accurate blog ever. It's a sacrifice I must make as a chef. To take the road of...chocolate. No need to thank me, I can feel your gratitude radiating through my computer.

Let's begin this experiment, shall we?

(Oh, and if you have Mumford & Sons, please turn on their music while you read. That's my listening music today.)

(Um, the above comment about being a chef and having the most accurate blog? Please cross those off the list. I'm neither a chef nor have the time to make 100% certain that I'm 100% accurate. Plus, I like to make things up. Shhh. Don't tell.)

(One more thing, the chocolate is not the plaguing question. I'm not going to delve into that until I run my trial.)

This was the most expensive chocolate. I had to sell a kidney. Okay, I didn't sell a kidney. But this was the moment in the store where I realized I should really set a cooking budget each month. And it wasn't obscenely expensive, it was just pricey for the amount of chocolate you get for the moolah.

It was my least favorite. I wouldn't buy it again. Sorry van Gogh. (Doesn't it look like van Gogh on the packaging? And I typed van Gosh twice before getting it right. True story.)

Second most expensive per ounce. I love the packaging because of the wax seal and there's a love poem inside!

Isn't this the cutest, loveliest chocolate ever??!!

This bar is what I'll use when I bake my cookies.

I liked this one the best. I still won't be buying it routinely. I'm not willing to pay this much when I've been happy with my Wal-Mart chocolate bar. I was happy that the cheapest one came out victorious. When I try higher quality things I get nervous. I worry that I'm going to fall in love with something that I cannot have somewhat regularly or that I will truly need to sell a kidney to have it in my life. I like my kidneys.

Here's what I've noticed about higher quality chocolate: It falls apart into layers. Because it's less waxy? Because it's a truer product? Because of the type of production? Because fate says so? I have no idea why, but it does.

Don't you feel like you learned so much from this investigative reporting? No? You don't? Well, then you should probably conduct your own research. It's imperative actually. Go on. Buy your chocolate. It's all in the name of science.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Shiny and New

I'm not sure if you've noticed, but I love to bake. What? You have noticed? Well, then it won't come as a surprise that I love to buy cooking supplies. In fact, I'd much rather shop for cooking supplies than for clothes. Rest assured, I don't shop mindlessly or aimlessly for kitchen supplies. My sense of financial responsibility kicks in....or maybe it's the limited kitchen space...No, no, I'm certain it's financial responsibility.

Anyway, every so often I let myself get something I've been drooling over. Today was that day. While my heart longs for a Kitchenaid Mixer, I cannot justify such a purchase. Yet. I would use it routinely, but man are they expensive!

My latest item of interest was rectangle measuring spoons. I petted them at Macy's a couple months ago. They're from Martha Stewart's line. Anyway, I told myself that I needed to wait that day. Today, with a little extra cash, I raced straight away to Macy's. Okay, I ran some errands, had some lunch, and then went to Macy's.

I was giddy.
I was excited.
I was nervous that I would buy waaaaaay more than the measuring spoons.

I can't help it. My heart goes pitter patter when I'm in kitchen supplies. So here is my confession: I walked out with more than the measuring spoons. I bought a stainless steel measuring cup set too. Nevermind that this makes my third set of measuring spoons and measuring cups. They each are different and have their own purpose. And let's just be honest: there are days when I cook a lot and I don't want to wash them and I certainly can't wait for a half-full dishwasher to run.

But this rectangle set of spoons will fit where my others will not and they're beautiful. I love them and I won't apologize for allowing them to enter my life. In fact, I'll dance and sing in their honor.

Hello, my pretties. I'll love you forever.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Donut Muffins

The Pioneer Woman has an additional site called Tasty Kitchen. A couple weeks ago, she linked to a recipe on that site called Muffins That Taste Like Donuts. Aside from sounding delicious, the recipe reminded me of my first baking experience in Home Ec. Do they still offer Home Ec classes? I sure hope so. Mrs. Steinhoff taught me how to sew. She told me "You can always add time, but you can never take time away" which is an important concept when it comes to cooking. And I'm sure there are various tidbits running around in my head from the three classes I took with her. Her class was where I learned that when a baby is born, there's a step that comes after the baby comes out. Since this is a cooking blog, I'll spare you, but let me tell you...whew, that Family class was valuable! Are you grossed out now? Sorry. The point I'm trying to make is that I hope that schools are not skipping home economics classes because there really is a lot of value in such courses. Now, back to the reason you're here: food.

The muffins, which I will now refer to as Donut Muffins because I don't want to type out Muffins That Taste Like Donuts anymore (except for that one last time), were delicious. I don't know that they really tasted like donuts, but they're good. I'm not really into donuts, so I wasn't bothered by that fact. Really, it probably made them more delicious to me. I only dipped the tops in cinnamon sugar, so maybe if I had dipped the entire thing like the recipe shows they would have tasted more like that? I don't know. Do your own thing. If you want the entire thing dipped, go for it. Since I was channeling the nostalgia of my youth and home ec class, I just dipped the top. Well, that and I didn't really pay attention to the fact that they were completely covered until later. But I'm still happy with my decision to only cover the top in cinnamon sugar.

1 3/4 cup Flour
1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/3 cup Oil
3/4 cup White Sugar
1 whole Egg
3/4 cup Milk

1/4 cup Butter
1/3 cup White Sugar
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Combine oil, sugar, egg and milk. Add dry ingredients and stir only to combine.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a bowl. Combine the white sugar with the cinnamon in another bowl.

The muffins have a distinctive nutmeg taste. I love nutmeg, so this makes me happy. If you're not nutmeg's #1 fan, you'll want to use a bit less.

Shake muffins out while still hot. Dip muffins in butter, then into the sugar/cinnamon mix. Let cool.

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Sous Chefs

I love these boys. I've known them since they were almost 3 months old. They're now 6 1/2 years old. I love them, I love them, I love them. They, along with their brother and my nephew, are my most favorite boys of all time. I spent Saturday evening with them and we made cookies. From a package. Let's face it: their attention span would not allow for homemade cookies. As it was, I was left to finish up the project. But that's okay because they're still my favorite sous chefs.