Writer’s block is not fun.
I have plenty of other ways to procrastinate, I don’t have to blog.
Some options include:
Sow seeds (in life and in the ground).
Organise possibility of being a lead tenant for Youth For Christ next year.
Organise possibly extending my trip to Perth so I can hang out with Peace Tree. (and visit Georgia and Dave?)
Study for my quiz tomorrow.
Make more chocolate muffins for September Camp.
Upload my study questions for Sep Camp.
Go for a walk. Or a run. Or do some yoga. Or some other kind of physical exercise to not. stress. out. Because I have this essay I keep procrastinating from doing.
So yeah, I wrote up a complete running sheet for the last few days before camp. I have an illness. I have lists upon lists and I HAVEN’T STARTED MY ESSAY YET (Mum and Dad, just forget you read that, yeah?)
It’s ok, I planned time to write the essay. It’s gonna happen. I haven’t got a back up plan so it HAS to happen (hopefully with little to no effort on my part.)
Besides, I have apple pie to calm my nerves.
Technically, it’s apple and pear pie. I got fruit from the farmer’s market on the weekend because it’s almost not apple and pear season anymore and I wanted pie. I love pie.
And thanks to Pam’s Pie Tutorial courtesy of The Pioneer Woman (thank you, Ree!) I made a perfect pie. I’m not kidding. It tastes amazing, it was perfectly cooked, it looks incredible and it’s just as good cold as hot.
I know. I’ve already had more than I need.
Apple and Pear Pie (two crust)
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Pam says that pie making is not a recipe, it’s an approach. It’s about the technique. So while this is a recipe, it’s a very loose one. Play around. Enjoy. Make pie.
2 1/2 cups flour (plain or pastry)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
250g butter, cold, cut into chunks
1/4 cup ice water
about 6 cups (8 pieces of fruit) fruit, peeled and chopped (if needed)
1/2 cup (more if needed) sugar
2 tbsp cornflour or other thickener
juice of one lemon
2 tsp cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
pinch nutmeg (more than cloves)
Pulse 2 cups flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until it looks like breadcrumbs (alternatively, whisk together dry ingredients and use fingertips to rub in butter.) Pulse in 1/2 cup flour (just) and place in a bowl or on your counter. Sprinkle water over, knead in and form into two discs.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees Celsius.
Stir together fruit, lemon juice, thickener and spices. Make sure all the fruit pieces are even and that the mixture coats each piece.
Now, to roll out the dough, take two pieces of parchment paper (or baking paper) and place a dough disk in between them. Roll out to fit your pie pan (this recipe makes enough for one two crust nine inch pie). Place one rolled out disc into the bottom of your pie dish and prick all over with a fork.
Place the fruit in the dish and dot with butter (about four or five tablespoons). Cover with the other half of the dough, rolled out. Crimp the edges however you like and slit the top a few times. (You may choose, as I did, to decorate the top with the scraps of dough left over.) Brush with a beaten egg or some heavy cream.
Bake at 250º for about half an hour, until nicely browned on top. Cover with foil to stop browning and lower heat to 200 degrees for anywhere from 1/2 hour to 40 minutes – apples will need longer, berries will need less.
Let rest for about ten to twenty minutes on the counter before you eat with heavy cream or ice cream.
Warning: Another photo-heavy post coming up.
Mostly because I’m still kinda scattered.
But sunsets are something that helps me to stay calm.
Even though I’m behind on my uni work and I’m nervous about camp.
So, less words.
I am a big fan of Greek-style yogurt.
And I love five:am yogurt.
And I love chocolate!
And I love cake. And snacking. So they’re all represented here.
And sometimes you just gotta bake.
Hence, the chocolate yogurt snack cakes. Again, from Smitten Kitchen: one of my major inspirations in cooking and in photography and in blogging.
Beware of the tiny ones, though. They’re dangerous. They slip under your guard and suddenly, BAM! You’ve eaten twelve.
How do you de-scatter? Calm down? Refresh?
spending time with God in the sunset, sunlight, good times and deep in the funk.
And the chocolate. Always the chocolate.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
I doubled the recipe because I have a lot of yogurt to use (and I’ll be making more this week because as I mentioned I have a camp that I am going to and it made 36 cupcake sized muffins and 12 mini muffins. So I’ll give the doubled recipe with the original measurements in square parentheses.
400g [200g] dark chocolate, coarsely chopped- I used a combination of 72% and 54% cocoa
1 cup (250ml) [1/2 cup - 125ml] vegetable oil
1 cup (250ml) [1/2 cup - 125ml] yogurt (I used Greek-style – plain yogurt is fine too)
2 cups (400g) [1 cup - 200g] sugar
2 1/2 tsp [1 tsp] vanilla extract
(I didn’t use almond extract but Deb suggests 1/2 teaspoon)
3 cups (400g) [1 1/2 cups - 200g] plain flour
3 tsp [1 1/2 tsp] baking powder
1 tsp [1/2 tsp] sea salt
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line two muffin tins with patty pans.
Melt chocolate and half the oil in a ceramic or glass bowl over a pot of simmering water or in the microwave. Meanwhile, stir together the rest of the oil, yogurt sugar and extracts together.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yogurt mix and the slightly cooled chocolate mixture. Stir together.
Divide between the patty pans (use more if you need to) and bake about 20 minutes . Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream and berries. Or, you know, as is. With milk.
AKA my favourite kind.
I mean, who doesn’t like a slice of birthday cake?
I’m sorry this post is a little late. Try a lot late, actually – my birthday was almost two months ago. There are pros and cons to baking at home. One pro is getting to use Mum’s fancy camera. A con is that between using that camera, not bringing my computer and relying on a certain brother to email me the photos I took meant that I actually had to wait till I went home again to get those photos back.
But look! I made you cake!
Ok, I made me a cake. My mum was worried I’d be psychologically scarred, baking my own birthday cake. Not really. I love baking, I’m picky with my food. I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I like to try new things. Therefore, it made perfect sense for me to make my own birthday cake.
Unfortunately this one didn’t turn out as well as I would have hoped. I’ve wanted to make red velvet cake for a while now and so this seemed like the perfect opportunity (especially since my favourite colour is red. Most of the time).
I think the problem was that I used a teaspoon of baking powder instead of baking soda, although even baking soda would have had a difficult time inflating this cake. Which is especially disappointing considering the fact that I was at the parents’ house, which meant I had access to a stand mixer, and I didn’t utilise it to its full potential.
Ah well. We’ll just have to wait until Christmas, when hopefully I will get one from, uh, Santa. Yes, I still leave milk and cookies out for Santa, and a bucket of water and carrots for the reindeer. Although that may be difficult this year. I hope Santa finds us.
So, cake. Birthday cake. It was yummy anyway, despite its density, and I got to practise decoration (with pink cream cheese icing! yum! and! pretty!)
You should make this cake. Maybe you’ll make it better than I did. Maybe there is actually something wrong with the recipe. Nevertheless, it was pretty good, and especially so because of the cream cheese icing. I love cream cheese icing. Yum.
Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
8 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 tbsp cocoa powder
4 tbps red food colouring (I used 50 ml and it turned out plenty red) mixed with 2 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp distilled white vinegar
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease and flour two nine inch cake pans and set aside.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl and add eggs. Beat until well incorporated, scraping down bowl as needed.
Mix cocoa and vanilla with the water and red food colouring, making a thick paste. Add to batter and beat until well incorporated. You will probably want to scrape the bottom of the bowl several times to make sure the colouring is fully mixed through.
With the mixer on low, slowly add half the buttermilk. Add half the flour and salt and mix until incorporated. Repeat, and mix until smooth.
Add the baking soda and vinegar and beat on high speed for a few minutes, until fully incorporated and smooth.
Divide between the two cake pans and tap them against your bench a few times to get rid of air bubbles. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean.
Let cool in the pan for about half an hour, then invert onto a baking rack until cool. You can make the frosting in this time.
To make the cream cheese frosting:
1 1/2 cups butter (about 300g), softened
8 oz (200g) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
4-6 cups icing sugar
2-4 tbsp milk
Cream the cheese in an electric mixer for a few minutes, until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and add the butter, beating until well incorporated and smooth. Add sugar, salt and vanilla, beating until incorporated.
Turn off the mixer and add 2 cups icing sugar. Mix on low, adding more icing sugar and milk until you get your desired consistency.
Wait until completely cool before frosting your cake.
In a time when I’m inundated with stuff to do (my to do lists are numerous and scarily interconnected, like one to do list spawns another and another. For example, Uni stuff. Then, Study and Work On Assignments. Then, I work unit by unit, prioritising by when I’m going to have that class or when that particular assessment is due, counterbalanced by what’s easiest or more fun. And we move on to my other to do stuff, long term and short term – I make lists when I’m stressed. And some of those lists may have to do with 1) why I’m stressed and 2) what I can do [will do, should do] to become destressed.) I can’t believe I digressed so easily already, so when I have so much stuff to do, I want to bake and I want to cook and I want to write for you (and for me, it’s more about me than you at this moment in time, sorry) SO MANY PARENTHESES, I’M SORRY! when I do cook it kinda has to be simple.
Enter vanilla baked pears. Not bears, I’m vegetarian, I’ve had this space for seven months and I still get asked if I’d like some baked bears, no thank you unless they’re tiny teddies.
Wow, I am so distracted. So, the lowdown is, make these. Pears are in abundance because it’s still winter (and aggressively so, it’s freezing!) so you can buy them and they won’t be too expensive. You don’t have to do much – peel, cut, and place the pears in a roasting dish.
Rub vanilla extract or the insides of half a vanilla bean in sugar. Sprinkle it over with lemon juice and water. Dot with butter.
Put in the oven for longer than I did. Eat with whipped cream, ice cream and lots and lots of pan juices. Feel better about everything.
Vanilla Baked Pears
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
I did not follow this recipe exactly, my pears were ripe rather than underripe, I should have left them in for longer, I had no vanilla beans. This was amazing anyway. So just do it.
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
About 600g which is probably about 6 slightly underripe pears, whatever kind, peeled, halved, cored
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp (approx) butter
Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius.
If you have the vanilla bean, scrape the insides out and rub them into the sugar, and use the sugar to scrub the vanilla bean itself and also the vanilla off your fingers. Mmm, vanilla sugar.
If not, just rub the vanilla extract into the sugar.
Place the pears, cut side up, into a baking dish. Sprinkle with the sugar, dot with the butter, sprinkle with the lemon juice and water. Put the vanilla bean in the dish also, to make pear vanilla caramel juices (yum).
Bake about half an hour, basting every few minutes. Turn the pears over so the cut side is down and bake another about half hour, basting every now and then. Serve with whipped cream and/or ice cream.
Try not to burn your mouth when you wolf it down because it’s so delicious.
Guys, I have a rash on my hands. Granted, it’s not very red or large or even very itchy (at the moment – it could spring into crazyitchy annoyingness at any moment. Watch out!
I think it’s stress related, but that is of course only a theory. And to be honest, it’s actually just resurfacing from a couple of weeks ago. What was I doing then? Oh, yeah, being a head counselor at a kids’ day care camp. Fun times.
They actually were fun times, just also quite stressful. Thankfully, I have this baking thing to destress me. Thank you God for flour, sugar, butter and ovens.
So I actually made these before the birthday cake that is yet to appear on this blog (soon, people, soon. I promise.) and they didn’t quite turn out as expected. They were quite small, and I made a cream cheese lime glaze instead of the icing I was after (I may have figured that that would have happened if it weren’t for the fact that I had quite a few other things on my mind, namely university starting in three days and also work and also car trouble. Not fun.
But hey, they tasted good.
Until they turned mouldy. Not cool! Keep these in the refrigerator, and eat them quick. Share them with your housemates, your uni mates, your family, your friends. They are really nice. Especially coming from a sun-dappled kitchen.
Carrot and Pineapple Cupcakes
Ok, so related to the fact that these went mouldy in less than a week kept in an airtight container in winter at room temperature, I would suggest that a) keep them in the fridge and b) squeeze the carrots after you grate them to get the juices out. Also c) really strain that pineapple out.
1/2 cup (125ml) vegetable oil
3 eggs, beaten lightly
1 1/2 cups (225g) self raising flour
3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups (440g) firmly packed grated carrot, squeezed of juices
3/4 cup drained crushed pineapple
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 degrees fan forced). Line a twelve hole standard muffin pan or eighteen cupcake moulds (approximately).
Mix together oil, eggs, flour, sugar and cinnamon. Stir in pineapple and carrot. Warning – this will not look pretty. Do it anyway.
Fill the cases about three quarters full – a little fuller if you like them spilling over more, these were a little flat.
Bake about twenty five minutes, longer if they’re bigger.
Cream Cheese Lime Glaze
25g softened cream cheese
juice of one lime
Beat the cheese with electric beaters until smooth. Add lime juice and beat until combined. Dip each cupcake in the glaze. Eat with others.
PS: Happy Birthday Harry Potter!