Other People’s Baking (Part 1)

Many of you are already painfully aware of the fact that if I were handed a report card for life it would most likely include the comment “Doesn’t Bake Well With Others.” I have, on many an occasion, stayed up until the wee hours of the morning just so I could have the kitchen all to myself.

This stems from two sources: I can’t stand mess, nor can I tolerate interlopers.

There’s nothing worse than going to turn out dough on a counter only to find that there is no counter space available. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, makes my blood boil quite like a series of questions – “are you going to do it THAT way?” “Why don’t you ___” “I saw on Pinterest/Pioneer Woman/Other site that you should ___” “Well my MOM always __” “What about using ___” “Why did you do THAT?”  (See also: I LOATHE using a GPS with turn by turn instructions. How many times must you tell me to make the next left? I get it. This is my own damn street, thank you.)

And so I generally prefer to do my work in an empty kitchen without anyone around to make messes, comments, or questions.

As you might guess, holiday baking does not under any circumstances allow for that sort of luxury. And so on more than one occasion this year I lifted my Willy Wonka sanctions and allowed, nay, welcomed guests into my kitchen to bake with me.

My first guest was Jess who weaseled her way in by way of a challenge. Petit Fours, teeny tiny cakes that seem deceptively simple. And they are. But they’re also not quite what you’d expect. She wanted to make them to impress everyone at a company holiday party and naturally since I believe the right baked good can get you into anyone’s heart I was all in.

Our first attempt yielded what seemed to be a disaster. The coating our recipe created wasn’t actually a frosting but a glaze (see the cakes in the back). So we grabbed a royal icing recipe and figured they would just be the backup group – you know, kind of like filler.

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Jess and I moved on to the second recipe – pomegranate chocolate beauties that we were absolutely certain would be our showstoppers.

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It was about at this point that we began to realize our mistake. For scale, the cake you see below is about as deep as my middle finger.

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We could have salvaged that a number of ways (scraping off the frosting, only using a little of the frosting, or using a larger pan for the cake to begin with (which the recipe may have called for but I didn’t own) so the frosting wouldn’t have piled up so high) but all sense and logic escaped us and we ended up trashing it.

Which is how we ended up going back to our back up plan. They sure looked a lot better after our winner didn’t work out and we spent a little time decorating them.

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They also tasted pretty wonderful and weren’t too horrendously sweet even with the glaze AND frosting on top.

After our first collaboration worked out so well, I agreed that Jess could come back for a second adventure. I’d like to say I didn’t know what I was agreeing to but I went into our next baking night with my eyes wide open…

In which Kate joins a CSA…and Hilarity Ensues.

My first ever CSA box came on Wednesday. It was a little like Christmas morning knowing I would have it that morning. I’d told all my coworkers what it was and that it was coming and that I was SO EXCITED.

They delivered it to my office door – I didn’t have to meet them in the lobby or anything – and I ran to the kitchen. I didn’t want to unpack it all right there so I peeked in and saw lettuce. Okay, cool.

Waiting until I got home was hard but I lived because I had a feeling I knew what was in there…
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I mean it’s obvious when I look at the box now that I ended up with ALL THE LETTUCE.

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Yeah. All the lettuce.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful. And I never would have gone to the grocery store and picked all these up on my own. But I have to admit I don’t know what half these greens are (and they didn’t give me a list of what was in the box…)

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The mystery is of course half the fun of a CSA box though, right? I didn’t sign up because I wanted to see the same vegetables I always eat, I wanted to “branch out”. And so here I am imagining all the ways I can use up these greens before they all go bad.

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Salad is the obvious choice – and of course exactly how might someone go about making a salad when all they have is lettuce since they assumed there would be other vegetables in their CSA box? I can make a salad with mixed greens, hardboiled eggs, and chicken, tilapia, and/or shrimp. Or a smoothie. Like I’m drinking right now.

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It’s like my very own little iron chef competition in my kitchen. There’s even a countdown clock since these won’t live forever. So we’ll see what I can come up with and how much of it ends up just getting turned into juice.

So here’s hoping I wind up with a better variety of produce next week…

And now I’m going to make like a tree and –  if you thought I was going to say “leaf” you must not know me at all.

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And if you knew this is what I was going to say then we must be best friends.

Happy Friday!

 

 

Wednesday Check In

Well would you look at that. Someone needs a pedicure.

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Yes, I brought my scale back. I had a break and then I got too comfortable. It’s time to find the balance between obsessively weighing myself and using the scale to keep me focused.

If you like math you’ll note that this brings me to a total of 26.5 pounds lost for the year.

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Ahem.

Let’s go for 30 now, okay?

I am tempted to set a goal for myself to be at 240 by the end of June. I hesitate for a few reasons: 1- I’ve not been able to lose weight that quickly all year and there’s no reason to set myself up for failure and 2 – I’ll be at Fitbloggin for the last 4 days of the month and though I don’t plan to go nuts I also am counting on a trip to VooDoo Doughnuts and I think the point of vacation is to take a break from paying attention to what you’re eating and so forth.  So I guess that’s an unofficial challenge to myself.

The other exciting thing about today is that I’m getting my first CSA box. No idea what I have to look forward to but who doesn’t love a good kitchen adventure? Do those sound like famous last words or what?

A Spring Weekend

It’s that time of year – or maybe just a stage in life? – when there’s something happening every weekend from now until…well, I don’t like to think about it.

Friday I ran out to pick up some supplies I needed. Thank goodness I handed this stuff over to my mother who never throws anything out because it was exactly where I left it and I knew it would make the most adorable tissue paper balls.

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After 4 or 5 stops I had everything I needed and settled in for the night because I knew I had an early morning ahead of me.

6 am just FEELS earlier on a Saturday morning. But it’s the perfect time to get your baking done because then your oven isn’t competing with the temperature outside.

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5.5 hours later I boxed up these beauties:

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And headed off to set up for Claudia’s baby shower.

In my rush I forgot some of the decorations I’d made but we definitely didn’t need them at all!

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It’s awesome to see how many people come together to celebrate and love on your friends and there was plenty of that to go around. Everyone brought something and made it lots of fun.  We had games, of course – how cute is this baby we used to play “pin the pacifier” ? Christy just drew that by hand, no big deal.

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This was the first time I’d ever been to a coed baby shower, but the guys had fun with each other and even got in on the games. Including the controversial “how big is the baby bump?” game.

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It’s not for everyone, but Clau was a really good sport until her mother pulled out a piece of tape taller than Claudia.

We did veer away from all traditional games and set up a beer in a baby bottle race. It sounds like it should be so simple but the guys quickly learned it’s not as easy or quick to drink out of a bottle as it seems like it should be!

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Sunday I slept in just a little and rushed off to Home Goods to pick up something I’d left behind on Friday night. After thinking it over for two days (and taking a poll on Instagram!) I knew I couldn’t live without this orange Buddha head.

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I’m still trying to figure out exactly where to put him but for now this is a good start.

The bigger question is exactly where do I put this key? It was a total impulse buy:

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But I have this one corner of my family room where there’s just nothing. And I need something (a taller end table for sure but the walls are what I’m looking at) there – I kind of thought I could hang the key there…but how?

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And then I saw this space and I knew it would look really amazing above the door:

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Then again, it’s white and my walls are white. So do I sponge a little teal paint onto it so it pops a bit more? All you interior design oriented types are welcome to weigh in :)

With my shopping done I settled in for the rest of the day with one – well, two – things to accomplish:

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About 7 hours later I finished the season. My other project for the day isn’t done yet but it’s coming along much better and faster than I’d expected it might. I can’t wait to show it off!

How was your weekend?

Just Another Post About Breakfast

Once upon a time I bought myself a box of toaster waffles and got very excited that I’d found an easy, pre-prepared breakfast option for myself that requires approximately zero effort to accomplish at a time of day when I have to focus all my energy on things like breathing and blinking.

Yes, I know this comes just a week after I rejected the idea of “clean” peanut butter cups because they contained fake sugar and protein powder which cannot, by definition, be considered clean. I don’t care how good protein powder is, it’s a processed food. I still use it, but I don’t use it thinking it’s somehow better for me.

Which is basically how I came to have my toaster waffles in the first place. I endured a very complete “get your shit together” rant on Friday after admitting I’d had a Sbux breakfast sandwich that morning.  And my usual “I am not good at mornings” explanation did not go over.

Me: I’m telling you, I wake up at noon every day sitting at my office desk with no idea how I got there or how I’ve already managed to successfully run a meeting, update clients, allocate funds, reorganize the file room and like 6,000 new pictures on Instagram .

Him: This can’t be real life.

So as I was getting my groceries I started looking for breakfast choices that didn’t require a lot of effort and found the toaster waffles. No, a tiny stack of processed carbs isn’t really the way I want to start my day but when faced with a trip through Starbucks drive thru or doing a grab and go I think these win a little (at least in the sodium department they do). It might be a very small win, but at least my bank account comes out on top.

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At any rate,  I was set to start this week feeling strong and prepared with my new breakfast plans and I even managed to get out of bed on time instead of snoozing until it’s time to walk out the door. Everything was sunshine and puppies (minus the actual sun because this was 6am and it was rainy) until I pulled the box out of the freezer and realized in all my haste to be awesome at life I’d forgotten one very crucial detail about my BrandNewAwesome Life.

Raise your hand if you saw this coming…

I don’t own a toaster.

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No, I don’t know how I managed to forget that small insignificant detail about my life especially since I think just a week ago I was telling someone about how I don’t own a toaster because I don’t eat bread (sliced, store bought bread and only because if I did I would eat grilled cheese for every meal – I’m not anti-bread). But obviously I did and so I was stuck heating my toaster waffles in the microwave which I’m fairly certain the instructions don’t explain how to do for a good reason because in 45 seconds they were pathetically noodly (which is a polite way of saying limp) and I felt reasonably certain that I was more of an adult at age 12 than I am now. At least I can usually blame my breakfast failures on the fact that I don’t function at complete intellectual capacity at that time of day. This time there’s no excuse because it was like 2 in the afternoon when I was grocery shopping.

I ate them anyway and because I got out the door so much earlier than usual I let myself stop and get coffee to go with my sad sack waffles. At least I got to work 15 minutes early?