Friday, August 31, 2012

Baking Under The Sleepiness

The other morning on my way home from work I had to make a pit stop at the grocery store but once I got there I couldn't for the likes of me remember what it was I intended to purchase.  I strolled up and down the aisles until it came to me (it was fruit juice by the way) but while I was trying to kick start my brain I stopped in the baking goods section and picked up a package of Quaker Oatmeal Cookie mix. 

Now let me make one thing clear... I love baking cookies and I never ever use cookie mix or ready made cookie dough.  All the cookies I ever bake are from scratch... get out the sugar, the flour, the real butter no substitutes and lets get cracking.  The closest I've ever come to using prepackaged mix was when I made the chocolate cookies that called for the powdered cake mix to be used but other ingredients were also added, not just water... that should have clued me in.

The directions on the package were pretty simple, reminded me of Aunt Jemima Complete pancake mix: just add water!  I measured out the cookie mix in a bowl and added the water - did I mention that I had just completed a ten hour night shift at work so I was extremely tired and had no business whatsoever to be in the kitchen baking when I should have been in bed sleeping!  I was mixing the cookie dough thinking to myself "wow, this looks like oatmeal cereal".  I continued to spoon the dough onto the cookie sheet and popped it into the oven and waited. 

*sniff sniff*  mmmm they smelled so good!

After the designated time passed I took them out of the oven and had to pick my jaw up off the floor.  What the heck?!  They were flat, the dozen cookies I had placed on the cookie sheet spread out and merged into one big flat awful looking cookie (that smelled great and tasted just as good believe it or not!).  I scraped them off the cookie sheet and tossed them in a bowl to munch on later - waste not want not and did I mention they tasted good.

I stared at the bowl that contained the remaining dough and then glanced over to the package of cookie mix then over to the measuring cups. 

oops!  My bad!  

I didn't put enough cookie mix! 

The directions, had I been fully awake to read them properly, called for 2 3/4 cups of mix and 1/4 cup of water.  When I looked at the measuring cups I didn't recall dipping the smaller measuring cup into the bag three times... once, but not three times so I only used 2 1/4 cup of mix.  No wonder it was runny like cereal!  Having said that you think I would have just added just a bit more mix to the remaining dough before placing it onto the cookie sheet and baking it.  No, not me, sigh, I just baked it as is and got another giant mashed up cookie. 

I went to bed after that.

I woke up later in the day and decided to give the oatmeal cookies another go.  I carefully measured out the correct amount of cookie mix and added the correct amount of water and combined it in a bowl.  Then I added a bit of dried cranberries to the still watery looking mix.  That can't be right so I also added a bit more mix until the dough became more firm.   I scooped them out onto the cookie tray and in the oven they went where I kept close watch on them. 

This time around the cookies didn't merge into one but they didn't actually fluff up either.  They just flattened out a bit but not quite like a Frisbee.  They also fell apart when I tried to remove them from the sheet that was non stick and also sprayed.   I had crumbs everywhere. Sure my cookie sheets look awful but that's only because they're my favorite sheets and they don't stick when I spray them with cooking spray. 

Though this last batch came out looking better than the first batch, see them there fresh from the oven and looking they they're reaching for one another.  I remained very disappointed in them.  I highly doubt I will ever buy a cookie mix again. I was frustrated and should have known better. 

When it comes to home baked oatmeal cookies, I'll continue to use the recipe I always use and get rave reviews from.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Movie Time

I can`t remember when I last went to the cinema to watch a movie.  I do enjoy the ambiance of a cinema with the box of popcorn, bag of twizzlers, a way too big for my bladder cola... and nachos. 

I was discussing movies with an online friend the other day and she told me she was excited to go see Magic Mike.  Personally, I have no interest in seeing that movie but reading her excitement made me chuckle.  We were speaking of how long it`s been since we`ve been to see a film further than our livingroom couch and for the likes of me I couldn`t recall what the last film I saw at the cinema was! 

That`s distressing!

So we changed the suject and spoke of the films we enjoyed at the cinema.... Beverly Hills Cop was one I enjoyed at the cinema.  I went there with friends one Saturday while in high school.  That was fun! 

I recall one year while I was on vacation from work, well, more like a staycation, and it was so hot that the coolest place was the mall or the cinema so I took in a matinĂ©e every day... That was the year that Armageddon and Independance Day were released.  I recall seeing Armageddon one day and then Independance Day the next.   A few years before that I raced to see What`s Love Got To Do With It, I think that was the name of it... you now, the Tina Turner film. 

Usually when I see chick flicks at the cinema I have to go without Prince Charming.  He refused to see Sex And The City with me so I went one Friday while he was at work, but he dragged me kicking and screaming to Black Hawk Down. 

I think it`s time we take in a film!.... date night!  LOL

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Reset

Apparently there's not such thing as a "reset" on the ipod touch.  I discovered this over the weekend when I had intended to risk losing everything on my pod just to reset the software back to the ORIGINAL factory settings.  However, resetting the pod doesn't bring it back to the ORIGINAL factory settings, it just re formats the drive then installs the LATEST SOFTWARE.... the latest annoying software instead of the nice friendly software that it came with.

For Christmas 2010 Prince Charming bought me an ipod touch 32gb because over the course of that summer, the little green square ipod nano 8gb that I had died when I fried the battery while listening to music and playing Klondike at the same time.  The little bugger over heated and made a funny zap noise then died in my hands. 

I was traumatized. 

For a couple of months I had to used Prince Charmings Sony Walkman mp3 player that sucked (it doesn't remember playback position so audio books are a waste of time).   Anyway, earlier this year after constantly being nagged by iTunes that a software update was available I figured why not...especially since the ereader I had on it stopped working after it got upgraded so I took the plunge and have since had a love-hate relationship with the 5.1 ipod software.  This weekend I had decided to forgo everything and just reset it back to the four point something software it originally came with until I read the fine print... the update will delete all data from the ipod touch and install the LATEST software. 

WHAT?!  Latest software??!!  *slaps hand against forehead*  

I ended up just upgrading the software and leaving everything as-is.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Take The Cake

I'm not exactly sure why I'm on this baking binge lately, especially since I'm trying to drop another 15 pounds.  Funny thing is, I'm not over eating all the baked goods I've been making! 

I know, I can't believe it either!!! 

The Red Velvet cake turned out fairly well and it is something I intend to bake again for the Christmas holidays however, I need to work on my icing skills.  Seriously folks, I suck at it!  And as it turns out, that's not the only thing I need to work on when it comes to baking cakes....

I need to work on layering. 

All this time, for some real stupid reason that in my mind just made sense, I figured, you bake two cakes, when they are done and cooled you just stack them atop one another and voila... a layer cake! 

Apparently that's not quite how it's done... I discovered this most recently.  

I purchased two packaged cake mixes - brand name irrelevant for this post - one was chocolate, the other vanilla.  I prepared them and sort of tried to be creative - and failed miserably - by mixing a bit of each in the other to make marble cakes and baked them.  They came out of the oven slightly puffy over the eight inch round pans.  I let them cool, then took some prepared icing and slapped it on the chocolate cake then put the vanilla cake on top and it kept sliding off because the chocolate cake wasn't flat on top.... that should have clued me in to begin with but it I ventured forward and continued to ice the cake.  It tasted awesome but looked pretty pitiful.  So ya, I guess I need to work on my icing skills.




Saturday, August 18, 2012

Digital Magazines

I'm a magazine person.  I truly enjoy flipping through a magazine, pulling out coupons, recipes, inspirational stories, fashion... ok maybe not fashion but the list goes on.  I currently have just two magazine subscriptions that are delivered to my home and one of them comes with a free digital edition of the same... which brings me to this post.

When it comes to a magazine, I need to "piggy-ear" the pages, scribble notes on articles of interest, cut coupons and recipes and sometimes... only sometimes... draw mustaches on pictures of celebrities that shouldn't be in MY magazine! 

No matter how hard I try, I just can't get with a digital version of a magazine! 

Sad but true! 

I do have a few magazines in .pdf format on my pc read through Adobe Reader but I honestly don't enjoy reading them that way and won't bother to print them because I'd waste too much ink and paper on unnecessary advertising - I don't know why, but MY magazines always have advertising that don't really appeal to me, hmm, go figure! 

The digital magazine I get can be read through Zinio, a free online & downloadable application for your pc & portable device that saves your digital copy off line for later reading. Purchases of digital subscriptions can also be made through Zinio. 

Hey, that just sounded like a commercial for Zinio didn't it?! 

The "up side" to Zinio is the price of a magazine subscription or single copy magazine is ridiculously cheap!  Correct me if I'm wrong but aren't cheap prices a good thing?  I've browsed their library and drooled over all the holiday cookie & baking books on Zinio and am seriously considering making a few purchases though it won't be the same as a paper mag.  But hey, who can resist a savings in this economy right!  I guess the bottom line is if you want a magazine and can't get the magazine for free from a friend, then try Zinio. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Ten

Hard work has paid off... ok so maybe it wasn't THAT hard, oh who am I kidding IT WAS THAT HARD!!!

I've reached the first goal of 10 pounds lost. 

NO that's not me, that's Jennifer Hudson.  I never took a "before & after" photo, nor am I using Weight Watchers.

Since March of 2012, I've been counting calories though not quite accurately but within a ball-park type of category using an app on my ipod touch.  I record my weight in the same app whenever I get the courage to step on the scale.  You see, I can't blame the scale any more now that it's a new one I purchased back when I got serious about dropping some pounds.  The app helps me record the food I consume.  As time passed I found I became more conscious of what I ate and whether or not I'd buy the big belly aching bag of gummy bears or the small single serving snack bag... that's right, when I crave something I allow myself to have it otherwise I'll eat down the house until I satisfy that craving!  I don't just want to lose weight, I want to eat healthier and make a lasting change.

In March I began to take losing weight seriously and since then I've begun jogging..
  • ... and froze my ears off in March when it was still cold out,
  • got stuck out in the middle of nowhere when the app I was using said the workout was completed,
  • got caught in a wicked thunder storm while jogging,
  • injured my right knee falling off the sidewalk while my head was in la-la-land,
  • started reading Runners World magazine,
  • purchased a new pair of jogging shoes as advised in Runners World magazine,
  • purchased a portable stair climber for the rainy days,
  • cramped up my belly doing pilates found on Youtube,
  • busted a gut laughing at myself while I danced off some calories,
  • bought a step counter for days I chose to walk and not jog,
  • ran to the bathroom every five minutes from all the lemon water I've been drinking,
  • bought cinnimon sticks to add to the apple water I've been drinking,
  • oh, and I fell off the wagon more times than I choose to admit
....but in the end, I'm down ten pounds. 

Now comes my reward... General Tao chicken with fried noodles and a couple of eggrolls I'm going to buy a ball of yarn!  Woo!  Did I mention I'm yarn obsessed?  Oh that's a whole 'nother blog!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Something Old, Something New


You know, when I married Prince Charming, the one thing I didn't do was let superstition stand in the way. 

The morning of Saturday, August 11, 2007, I got dressed in my wedding gown with help from my Mom and prettied myself up to walk down the aisle.  Apparently it's some sort of tradition or ritual to go down the list of something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.  Mom had asked if I had everything but I recall telling her, I have my cross pinned to the inside of my gown - I wore pearls so removed the gold chain I usually wear but didn't want to go a day without my cross. 

All I needed for that day was the blessings from God, and after living with Prince Charming for eight years I have no doubt God was happy we were getting married.

The funny thing about that day was when we left the house and got into the car; the car wouldn't start!  My mom and I were seated in the back seat of an old Rolls Royce on a very hot August afternoon and it wouldn't start! 

The driver panicked. 

Mom got a bit angry saying this isn't was we paid for.

I remained calm and simply said hey if I have to take a cab to the church then so be it because nothing is going to spoil this day. 

Within minutes a replacement car arrived, and off we went.  I'm told that the driver of the limousine that picked up Prince Charming had called for the replacement car because he feared the one we had would stall since it had already stalled once when they were on their way to pick us up... smart fellow!

At the end of the day Prince Charming and I were married so if anything fell apart during the day it wasn't relevant to us because we said our vows before God and our family so even if nobody really got to taste the wedding cake because the caterer didn't slice it up and dish it out, so what.... at the end of the day... and til this day, he's still my Prince Charming and I'm still his Miserable Wife.

....I gave my brother the whole top layer of the wedding cake!




Friday, August 10, 2012

Red Velvet Results

The results of the Red Velvet Cake I baked the other day were quite positive!  For sure I'm going to be baking this again and next time I won't pour all the batter into two pans, but will use 3 or 4 pans like it actually calls for (I know NOW why).  I ended up with a single cake because the other one broke apart as it overflowed my pan so we just ate it plain from the pan all broken as-is. 

Lesson learned on that one! 

Moving it along....

I had used two eight inch pans when I should have used two nine inch or three eight inch but you know, for the first time out, it wasn't a waste because we ate that broken cake anyway!  It went down nicely with tea.

I was weary of the red food colouring getting all over the place during mixing because I'm far from a neat and tidy baker... soooo far from it!  Much to my surprise, I only ended up with red colouring on one or maybe two fingers from handling the bottle!  I used a glass bowl for mixing as I didn't want to mess up my favorite white plastic bowl - crazy but true. 

I had seen many recipes on line and blogged recently about which recipe I would use (the recipe from Baking Is My Zen), however, that WAS NOT the recipe I used though the photos on that blog look amazing and I added it to my favorites for future reference to other recipes and suggest you do the same, maybe next time I'll give it a whirl to taste the difference if any.  The actual recipe I used came from Food.com for the Waldorf Astoria Cake using shortening instead of butter among other changes.  I won't re post either of the recipes (lets give credit where credit is due) so just follow the links if you want them, I know it depends on a persons preference to bake with shortening or butter so take your pick. 


When it came to the butter icing which Food.com was kind enough to include at the bottom of the cake recipe, it made enough to cover a full three layer cake but since I only baked two cakes and one was eaten plain, you can imagine how much icing I had left!  I ate some of it by the spoonful and made myself sick in a nice happy sort of way LOL. 

Once I completed icing the cake, stood back to examine my handiwork... not so good I'm afraid I need to work on my icing skills but as you can see, I had fun using my icing tube with my shaky hands. 
 
Now for anyone who really REALLY likes baking and would like to see a comparison of Red Velvet Cakes.... I stumbled on a site that really goes into detail and also, if I'm not mistaken, posts links to all the recipes used (or at least it names them so a google search is made easy).  The Bake More blog displays photos and details of the cakes and also offers spreadsheet results! I added her blog to my favorites for future viewing!!

I've got three small pieces of a single layer cake left because the taste-testers had to give me their opinion... kids love cake so chances of them saying anything negative is slim to none (at least, not if they want more cake!). 

Now I guess it'd be as good a time as any to confess that this is the first cake I've ever baked from scratch (that is, if you don't count Christmas Fruitcake). 

That's my tiny slice, I'm trying to lose weight after all....

Thursday, August 9, 2012

No Oldy But Goody

Purchasing an ereader was the best decision I ever made. I love to read and I find myself reading even more now that I have one. I do miss the paper feel of a 'real book' and the old-cheese used smell of a library book, remember that scene from Sex and the City where Carrie smells the book and Big calls it an oldy but goodie ...

The two issues I have with the Sony ereader, though it has 2 gb internal memory and can expand an additional 32gb with micro sd cards, and also has mp3 playback through headphone jack, it really isn't something I like playing the audiobooks on.

Initially I purchased this gadget particualrly because it hold ebooks and audio books but I prefer my ipod for the audio books mainly because there are equalizer settings and the volume level can be louder when in a noisy public place.  Also the synopsys of the book is located in the software on the pc that the reader links with but once the book is uploaded to the reader, the synopsys is not there so there's no reading book covers to find out what you feel like reading next... you have to hope that the title and cover art pull you in!

I've been eyeballing the kobo vox, for colour and hopefully better software since I don't use the Sony software to load books on my sony ereader, I prefer Calibre, besides, Calibre can reformat books including the addition of the synopsys but that doesn't get uploaded to the reader (no matter what software is used!) So frustrating!

Anyway, I'm still happy with the Sony ereader, got about 250 ebooks on it now and believe it or not they are NOT all romance!  gasp!!!!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Back In The Kitchen

I love to bake, but I really don't love to cook.  Is that normal?  Does it even make sense?

I'm trying to "enjoy" cooking so I've been scouring Pinterest for recipes in hopes that the photo in the pin will lead me to a blog with a recipe and not just a photo on any random page that will try to upload some malware on my pc.  That's really annoying by the way ok so stop it!

Anyway, most recently I've tried a recipe for mini chicken pies made in a muffin tin.  Well, they were pretty good but I wouldn't call them pies... they were more like skimpy chicken and veggie buns sort of but with not so much bun.  In my so-called-chef experience, chicken pies have gravy in them, these ones did not.  I won't say I disliked them because I'd be lying if I did!  They went down pretty darn well with a glass of fruit punch alongside some boiled potatoes.  Nothing fancy just wanted to get them thrown together but something was missing.... I feel they should have been more of a bread bun with chicken but it lacked in the bisquick mixture to make a full bun.  And now that I have a whole big box of bisquick that I purchased just for that recipe that only ONLY required a few tablespoons.... sigh .... what have I got to lose with experimenting.

I've also tried banana bread made with whole wheat flour and apple sauce and honey rather than oil.  It was very quick and easy to make, I made them in my mini loaf pan so yielded 8 mini loaves.  I found the whole wheat flour was a bit over powering in taste so it should have had another banana or called for sweetened apple sauce instead of unsweetened.  Raisins and walnuts... it should have contained raisins and walnuts!!!  I will make this recipe again but will make a few minor adjustments.  I'm not saying it was bad, far from it, I liked this recipe alot .... it just wasn't sweet enough for my sweet tooth is all.

I also intend to make the sticky bun breakfast ring some time this week but I need to purchase a bundt cake pan first because I only have the tube cake pan (you know, the one that comes in two pieces) and I'm told not to make this sticky bun in a tube pan because the sticky cinnamon leaks and will cause major burns when you try to remove the pan from your oven and it drips on you - not to mention the mess it'll make of your oven!

I'm not sure what's next on the cooking agenda otherwise but I do need to shop for some new cooking/baking supplies....

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Instagram

I've jumped on the Instagram bandwagon... actually, I've been on that bandwagon for a tidbit now but am not addicted to it.  I don't have too many photos up there just take on every now and again when the feeling overwhelms me which is few and far between.  Usually I like to photograph the flowers in my neighbours gardens since they're in competition with one another (or at least it appears that way).  It just hasn't caught on with me 100% yet... oh give it some time, we'll get there!  Probably once I get my Flickr album set to Pro (from the freebie) then I can play like a photographer!  Ohh...ahhh!!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Pinteresting Flickr

This past weekend I spent a tiny bit of time searching and comparing recipes for Red Velvet Cake.  Yes I managed to find one over on Pinterest and I also found one over on Flickr.  I decided to go with the one on Flickr, and it also got me to thinking about the two sites.

I enjoy using both Flickr and Pinterest but I guess my gripe with Pinterest would be the same that everyone else with a Pinterest gripe is.... the same photo & website is repinned over and over and over again so it's constantly showing up in searches where as on Flickr not so much.  Yes I'm quite guilty of repinning too!   Now over on Flickr, it seems to be all about your own items.  See, I was looking for a recipe for Red Velvet cake, and I've never made this type of cake before so I not only needed the recipe, but a photo, how to information along with comments from others who have given it a whirl would also be a bonus. 

Well, I found all this over on Flickr. 

When searching the key words "red velvet cake recipe" I came across many recipes and comments that I felt confident in my choice.  Initially I'd be posting a "show off" or a "laugh with me" photo of the cake now but I was missing one ingredient thus couldn't get started.  Hopefully I'll be energized enough tomorrow to get the deed done.

Now back to Flickr & Pinterest.... I like how Flickr allows you to post your own photos and categorize them at the same time allowing you to make a collection of your favorite photos from other users.  Pinterest allows you to manage your collections as well into boards but there's just something missing that I can't quite put my finger on.  It's a great site if you're planning a wedding or party, or even a christmas shopping wish list but other than that I may be missing the mark.  But that's just me.  I'm still somewhat addicted to it but not as much as I was when I first started using it.  I think I'll actually pay the yearly fee and stick with Flickr.

Now back to the Red Velvet cake.... the Flickr image links to the same users blogspot blog where not only can you find the recipe for the Red Velvet cake but also plenty of more recipes : Baking Is My Zen.  Please click the link and show them some love!