Mmm Pie!

Well, I’ve bought another year subscription for a Flickr Pro account, so you will continue to see photos cross-posted between there and here, and some expanded photos there.
Because pie crusts are so damn finicky, I tend to avoid making apple pie, even if it is several people’s favorites. But, since I got the press punch I mentioned in my last post, I thought I’d make a go of it. Here’s how it went:

I ended up making two: one for my family, and one for Sunday Night Dinner. They were hits in both houses.Here’s some tips I have about pie making:
  • use your grandma’s recipe: she knew what she was doing
  • use lard: it’s not as bad for you as those would have you believe, as long as you are using non-shelf-stable (i.e. needs to be refrigerated) stuff
  • roll out that pie dough on sheets of saran: much easier to roll, way easier to get into a pie pan

And, now I have enough leftover apples that I think I’m going to make some Apple Brown Betty.

The Argument for Dog Ownership

I consider cooking to be a hobby, even though I do it sporadically (well, serious cooking, I make noodles and quinoa a lot, but I’m terrified of cooking meat – hey, hey salmonella!).
I know a few of you have been privy to my burgeoning Pinterest recipe board. I’m working my way through trying the equivalent of one new recipe a week, picking largely from the vast expanse of the internet.

But lo! Let me warn you on the dangers of using the internet to search recipes. This may also speak to my inability as a cook and validate my skills as a baker (of which I truly believe are two separate skillsets).

I’ve been looking for a good recipe for black bean burgers, and ended up settling on one that also included quinoa. I’m not even going to bother linking to it because it’s such a clusterfumble, I don’t even want to give the page hits. Mid-way through making it, though, I realized the recipe skipped a step, had a bizarre flavor profile and didn’t include salt.

They are awful. Like mealy, bland-black-bean-dip-formed-into-hockey-pucks awful. They are covered in panko, but since they went in the oven, they look like coconut flakes.

I thought about actually eating them as burgers, but that though is so unpalatable, that I’m just going to crumble them up on the top of my lunch salads. Which is really going to bring down the whole level of my salads, but it’s better than waste, I suppose.

If only I had a dog…but I’m guessing the black bean gas mixed with dog flatulence would be incendiary.

So, those black bean burgers were a bust, but I’m digging through the following two cookbooks, so I’m bound to find something that works:

Have any no-fail black bean burger recipes I can try?

NaBloPoMo’10: Prior Planning…

Last week I’d mentioned that I spent the day engaging in a whole lot of couch surfing and boob tubing.

Today, not so much, and thank God for that.

I thought I was going to sleep in, but the Thanksgiving baking elf in me totally took over.  I woke up at 7, got out of bed at 8, double-checked my shopping list, and was at Aldi‘s on Mayfield by 9 am.

Side note about baking: this year, I really got my shit together for baking.  In the past, I was running around, hoping I had enough ingredients, and basically making the kitchen look like the culinary equivalent of the beaches at Normandy, only to succeed in causing me to stay up late not for the love of baking but because I bit off more than I can chew.

I made it a point to sit down with all three recipes, figure out how much I needed with each ingredient, and made a master list with master amounts.  I cross-checked that against what I had in stock currently in the kitchen (I was shocked that we had half of a bottle of blackstrap molasses…), and made the grocery list off of that.

Which brings me to my side note about Aldi.  I love Aldi.  The Boy has been shopping at his local Aldi since it opened (before that, we had shopped at both Save-a-Lot and Kroger), and I’d gone with him a couple of times.  But I didn’t realize how wonderfully handy it was until I needed to buy a few baking staples after finding myself extremely strapped for cash. In the future, I will definitely be going to Aldi and GFS for all of my baking and make-ahead-meal needs.

I had an MK customer meeting right in the middle of the day, so my plan of attack was to semi-assemble everyhting that didn’t require the mixer for all three recipes, storing them in Tupperware, and finish them both this evening and tomorrow.  With all of the separate components already assembled, I wouldn’t need to worry about wasting time on each recipe as I’m making them having to measure everything.  I’d already done the measuring this morning.

So far, it has worked out beautifully.  I’m through the baked brownies, the ginger cookies are going in the oven tonight, and the whoopee pies are going in the oven tomorrow.

Once everything is baked (and assembled), they will get wrapped individually in both Saran and tinfoil to keep them fresh until they are ready to be served.

My lack of panic at this point validates that I need to give in to my nearly-neurotic front-end planning.  As part of my effort to work smarter and not harder, doing the messy work in the beginning is a lot easier than trying to tidy up on the back end.

And I’m a much happier camper, feeling like I’m not a slug.