Wednesday, March 31, 2010

gone to england

okay, we're leaving on friday afternoon. but i don't know that i'll have much time to comment here before we go (especially considering our internet router thingy is ba ba ba busssted).

tomorrow is all about packing. friday morning is all about making sure the kitties are sorted and the car is full of fuel for the ride to boston.


maybe i'll update from england with a few british easter pictures.


Friday, March 26, 2010

happy birthday ryan!

(lemon macarons with white chocolate ganache and blue rose meringues)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

More Macarons!

i had another go at macarons tonight, and i think they look wonderful!

i used the recommended portions of confectioner's sugar (160g) and almond meal (120g) this time.

also, my egg whites were properly aged (in the fridge 5 days before baking and left out on the counter for two days before baking).

finally, i mixed the batter a bit more. i think i have the consitancy down now.

these ones are lemon flavored for ryan's birthday.

to bake, i set the oven to 310 degrees F, turned it down to 300 and put the macarons in for 10 minutes. the bottoms are a little sticky. there's a batch in the oven right now that i am going to try leaving in a little longer (maybe 12 minutes) to see what difference that makes with stickyness.

there are huge air pockets in them, but that's not my biggest concern yet.

i'm so pleased these ones look more like macarons on the outside, and less like... weird pink cat vomit. tasty cat vomit. okay.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Katy Makes Macarons: Part 6

while these little delights don't LOOK like the macarons i was aiming for, they taste pretty stellar.

next time i'll use the original ratio of almond meal to sugar and see what differnce that makes in the shells. and i can afford to mix the batter a bit more than i did too. i was very very concerned with not overing mixing it.

overall though, i'm really proud of my efforts and looking forward to trying again.

Katy Makes Macarons: Part 5

the macs i baked at 330 degrees F for 10 minutes came out really nice... with one HUGE excepton:

those cannot be called feet. they're more like flippers.

i'm letting the oven cool down before i try a batch at a lower temperature. i think 300 degrees for 15 minutes. they might also come out all wonky, but so goes trial and error.

Katy Makes Macarons: Part 4

so far, so good. well, aside from the fact that i'm a moody grumbleoid today and had a little bit of a strop earlier x____x

here are a few pictures of the macarons in progress...

almond meal and sugar in the food processor

I'm making my shells rose flavored

and pink ^___^

i think i did a pretty good job NOT over mixing my batter, but i may have under mixed it... dunno.

and this is one of the best pipped shells so far. i made a few weird looking ones because i started off with too fine a pipping tip.

as of right now, the tray of macarons are settling on the counter. i'll put them in the oven in half an hour or so.

and the kitchen smells of roses! ♥

Katy Makes Macarons: Part 3

having done quite a lot of reading on these little cookies, i've discovered some variations. because i don't want to go into the kitchen confused and disorganized, it's best to make some decisions ahead of time.

The Ratios

the sites that i'm relying on to guide me through this macaron adventure offer a few different ratios of ingredients. i'm sure there are differences in the final cookie, but i'm not sure what they are.

since i genuinely have no idea what i'm doing, i've decided on the most scientific recipe, and the one least specialized to a single baker's preferences.

this base recipe is that offered by syrup and tang.

i'll be mixing 100g of egg white (aged) with 80g of castor sugar with a dash of cream of tarter (because i have some).

my bright pink gel food coloring and rose water extract will go in this mixture of egg whites and sugar.

then syrup and tang recommend a well mixed 160g of confectioner's sugar and 120g of almond meal. i don't want my cookies too sweet though (oh, here i go, making changes already), so i'm going to do equal parts sugar and almond, which means 140g confectioner's sugar and 140g almond meal and add that blend to my meringue.

The Method

like ratios, there are also different methods of making these tasty treats.

one method requires using syrup (sugar boiled in a water solution to 150 degrees F). this technique is the italian meringue method. from what i gather, this method yields more consistent results; however, i don't have a standing mixer to let run while i boil the sugar. i am not in the mood to burn myself on boiling sugar. and finally, i've tried making homemade chocolate fudge from scratch and every time i over or under boiled the candy for over-all terrible results.

seeing as how i have a bad history with boiling sugar, i'm going with the french method. you simply whip up some egg whites, add your sugar, whip some more, and viola!

so while the french method might be a little more risky for the cookies, my comfort level with this second method is higher and i'm less likely to royally screw up in the kitchen.

i'm hoping that the meringue doesn't make so much of a difference and that allowing the shells to rest before baking, baking for the right time in the right temperature, and then allowing the shells to cool all make the difference in the shape and texture of the cookies.

that being said, it might take a few tries to figure out the best temperature and time in my own oven. for now, i'll be backing with the convection setting at 330 defrees F for 7 minutes. i don't know if i have to leave the oven door open or not... i think i'll leave it closed for now. i'd rather watch the shells and take them out sooner if need be. the fortunate thing is, i can bake several differnt trays full with my one batch of batter, so i can adjust the temp and time between batches to start figuring my oven out.

wish me luck!

Katy Makes Macarons: Part 2

furthering my research on making macs (that's the industry slang for macarons, see) i've been watching a few videos.

this one was particularly helpful:

i'll be baking this evening so expect pictures tonight. i'm nervous, but excited.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Katy Makes Macarons: Part 1

i've been thinking about Macarons a lot lately. i found a few places online where i can buy them in large quantities. on our last jaunt to Philly we went to a little place called Miel Patisserie and i purchased a whole box of cookies!

i've not just been thinking about eating them though. i've been thinking of *dun dun dun* making them!

macarons are a sort of bench mark baked good. once you've made macarons (good ones), you've MADE IT in the baking world. (okay, so at least in my little ol' opinion anyway, and that of some fellow foodie type bloggers out there).

i'm nervous about making these little cookies as i've not even attempted straight meringues yet. but saturday is Jour De Macaron, and what better day to attempt making my first batch of macarons that Macaron Day!?

no better day, i say. so saturday i will be attempting my first batch of macarons.

the first step to making macarons is RESEARCH. and so, i've been reading up on the delicious little delights. below are the three sights that have detailed guides; all of which can become a bit overwhelming, but at least i'll know where to look when my cookies come out all wonky or sticky and figure out exactly what i did wrong.

Not So Humble Pie: Mararon 101

Sytup and Tang: La Macaronicité

and La Cuisine De Mercotte

i don't have all the tools i really should. i don't have silicon mats for my cookie sheets. i don't have a stainless steal mixing bowl. i don't have an oven thermometer. but i do have a great oven, a nice scale (thanks mum!), and patience enough not to be put off if my first batch comes out terrible.

so far i've seperated some eggs (which, erm, i made a huge mess while doing) i'll measure out two 50g portions of whites saturday before baking (this could be a really bad idea, don't know. i've never aged egg whites before).

i've got almond meal (which i intend on drying out tomorrow night) and i'll probably whip up the buttercream tomorrow night too.

updates as they come ^__^ and yeah, there'll be pictures!

Monday, March 15, 2010

home improvements big and small

a new bundle of tea towels

new kitteh-food bowl and mat

and this... she's called Cherry Cherry Boom Boom


today's breakfast special

girly-rainbow pancakes with confetti and low-cal imitation syrup ^___^

Sunday, March 14, 2010

project 365 fail

i am so behind on the picture-a-day project that it feels futile to try to catch up. i have been taking a lot of pictures, but not one each day.

i will continue to post photos, but i think it's time i start refocusing my blog into the realm of poetics.

the pictures won't stop. in fact, later i plan on taking some pictures of my brand new washing machine (♥) and posting them here. i also have a few pictures from our weekend in philly to share.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

the tragedy i've heard

are you the tragedy i've heard so much about?

you're the one with all the opportunities
but too strong of an adverse response to commitment

you're the one that comes in for a chat
and leaves just as we're getting to talk about me

you're the one that... well, we'll never know.

Monday, March 01, 2010

St Catherine and the Ruby

The face looking down at her was upside down and only mildly attractive. His face was upside down because he was standing over her. He was standing over her because she was lying down in a pew with her head towards the center aisle of the Hidden Gem.

“What, um, what are you doing?” he asked mildly; somewhat concerned, but not the least bit worried.

Catherine blinked with nonchalance. She blinked like a young woman who had just been woken from a pleasant, yet predictable dream. She blinked and answered, “Have you ever tried it? Lying in a church pew, I mean…”

“No.” His answer was immediate and defensive. It was as if he thought such a practice was odd. It was odd; she would have to admit. But instead of admitting anything to him, she closed her eyes again, slowly and deliberately.

In her dream she meets a handsome man with broad shoulders and clean fingernails. He is well dressed and quiet. The man is handsome, but simple. She understands him all too well, too easily. She is unchallenged by his offer of wine and bread and ballroom dancing. In her dream, she considers herself happy. The background is blue and green and pink. The man in her dream tries as he might to surprise her, but she always knows precisely what he’ll do. The puppy was not a surprise. The picnic in the field of wild flowers. The proposal. The ring. The dress. The shoes. The children. The laundry. The bouquet on valentine’s day. The mistress. The fights. The slamming door. The tears. The debt. Nothing he did could thrill her. He was, after all, a creation of her own mind.

Back in the church her arms were folded over her waist. Her legs were closed politely together all the way down to the tips of her shiny black pumps. Her purse was somewhat carelessly placed on the floor between where she slept and where the only mildly attractive man with soft curls of hair was now sitting. His arms rested alongside the back of her pew.

Rupert looked down at the sleeping woman. Her hair was properly curled. It looked like she’d spent a long time fixing it. He didn’t understand why she should spend so much time on her hair only to lie down in a church pew. He didn’t understand why she should lie down in a church pew at all.

When he was a child he found pews itchy and uncomfortable. He still found them uncomfortable. They reminded him of his mother and he had always found her itchy and uncomfortable too. He thought instantly, that’s a terrible way to think about one’s own mother. Nevertheless, he felt it.

He felt something different towards the odd young woman though. He couldn’t figure out exactly what it was though.

“You should try it” she whispered out between dreams.

“No thank you” he spoke in reply, quickly, but still mildly, still thinking about his mother and her over-compensating hats.

Catherine opened one eye, her lips curled into a cheeky half grin. “Well then…” she sat up so that their faces aligned with only half a foot between them and her hands still together, now resting on her lap, “would you like to try something else?”

He very purposefully stopped thinking about his mother.

She smirked. She liked him. At least, she thought she did. She could see the gears churning in his mind. She could imagine he was a clockwork robot calculated to respond to others with the reserve of a well-bred British gentleman. She wanted to open up the casing, to see the metal at work.

“What sort of something else did you have in mind?”

“What do you mean what sort of something?” She knew full well she was provoking his sensibilities. She wanted to test him, see how far he’d go with her.

“I mean… um…”

As he floundered for a response Catherine couldn’t help but laugh despite her good sense, “what would you like to try?”

“I’m sorry” he put his head down and lifted himself up from the pew. He couldn’t stop thinking about his mother. His shoulders tucked in to his chest as he shuffled out of the pew. A beautiful girl and he still couldn’t get past those hats. He couldn’t get over the hatred he felt for them even after his mother’s death. “Timely death” was the phrase he harbored. Damn it Rupert you ruddy fool, there’s a pretty young woman taunting you and all you can think about are hats.

She rose swiftly and urgently, surprisingly. “Don’t leave, please.”

They stood in front of one another for a very long time. Again, she sensed his mind turning. For an instant she thought she could hear the churning of the gears as they ground against one another. She liked him. She definitely liked him and wanted nothing more than to antagonize him further for the benefit of them both. “What I mean is, is there something you have always wanted to try, but never thought you could?”

She stood in front of him beaming with life and stern, powerful beauty that he hadn’t recognized before. He heard her question and the bold vowels in her accent, but did not process the meaning of her words. “I’m… sorry, I’m…” He caught up with himself, forgot all about hats and reverted to manners. “Hello.”

Catherine laughed out loud; too loud for a church. She covered her mouth to calm herself then responded with an equal “hello.” “Let us start with a simpler question. My name is Catherine, what’s yours?”

“Rupert.” He stood still in front of her, lost in some other realm of interaction. He didn’t even notice her hand held out in front of him until she waved it in his face, still giggling.

“Oh, ah, nice to meet you Catherine.”

“The pleasure is all mine, Ruby.”

“Ah, no, sorry, it’s ah, Rupert.”

She smiled, “that’s what I said, Ruby.” She spun around on the back of her pumps and pulled him towards the entrance of the church by his hand. His eyes were transfixed on the seams of her leggings when she asked again, “so what would you like to try?”

Right Hook Problem Solver

Cormac was enjoying dinner with his family when the front door bell rang. His sister Amy stood on the front porch shivering in the 52 degree summer night air. “Good God, Amy, what happened to you?” Her hair was in a pulled apart, messy pony tail and her up-town girl make-up was smeared across her face in every which way.

“Corny, I’m sorry to come around here like this with the kids here and… well, I didn’t know where else to go.” She looked down to avoid the gaze of her got-his-shit-together older brother and his disapproving glare.

He put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her into the house. As much as he disapproved of her lifestyle, he wasn’t going to leave his sister out in the cold. His wife fixed Amy a hot bath and a dinner plate while he and the kids put fresh sheets on the pull-out sofa bed in the living room. “Daddy, how comes you can haves a sleep over if you says I cannot?”

He patted his son on the head. “It’s not a sleep over, Corn-on-the-cob, she’s my sister. And your sister can sleep over any time she wants.”

There was another ring at the door. This time a tall, pale young man stood with his hands in his pockets pacing back and forth in front of the door. “Hiya, sorry, is Amy here?” he asked politely in an old Irish accent. “I, ah, I was trying to apologize to her when she ran off… I think she might be a little drunk. That could be my fault actually.”

Cormac stared at the stranger, trying to hold back his anger in front of the kids. He could feel his temperature and heart rate rise. “What did you do to her?”

“Nothing… oh Nothing!” he took his hands out of his pockets and put them up in defense. “There was a friend of hers that I, well, I was trying to apologize for it all. I’m… I’m sorry. I can’t always control…”

Before the guy on his porch could finish, Cormac stepped out onto the porch and shut the door firmly behind him. He didn’t even feel himself wind the punch. The fist to face feeling was instantly satisfying. He closed the door before the tall Irish guy could pick himself up off the bottom step of the porch.

He Came to Say he was Sorry…

Tiki’s dad had been missing for two days when the looming, dark stranger rang their front door bell with a big bunch of slightly wilting roses in his hand. He spoke with an old Irish accent, “Hello, may I come in?” he asked gentlemanly enough.

Tiki shut the door “hold on, I gotta ask my mom” and rushed up the stairs to her mom who was on the phone with some relative or another. Her mom started to run out of worry. Tiki heard her say something about dad running away. Tiki didn’t think her dad would ever run away, and held on hope that he was lost or that someone was holding him captive for information they thought he had. She imaged whatever it was, her dad was tough enough to survive it and come home a great hero. Tiki always thought of big guys like her dad as heroes.

“Please come in, sit down. Can I get you some coffee or something?” Tiki’s mom, Leah, was polite to the stranger. Tiki didn’t like him.

“Ah, no that’s really okay. I can’t stay long.” He handed Tiki’s mom the flowers and asked her to please sit, “I have something very important to tell you.” He looked over at Tiki. He stared at her. She got the chills and left the room.

“I’m gonna go play on the xbox, k mom?”

“Sure thing, honey.”

The next thing Tiki heard would change her forever. It would alter her view of a universe otherwise normal and electronic.

“WhAT!? You’re a sick freak, get out of here NOW!” Tiki heard her mom shouting at the stranger. “What kind of vampire APOLOGIZES!? Jesus fucking Christ all mighty.” Leah slammed the door shut on the stranger then fell with her back against the door weeping and sobbing and cursing.

Tiki went to consol her mom until she saw her dad’s wallet and wedding ring in her mom’s hands….