Monday, December 20, 2010
Tis the season for White Christmas Cupcakes.
Though in the Seattle area, we are more accustomed to wet holidays than the white variety… which I'm absolutely not complaining about, since my car readily doubles as a sled when there is so much as a blush of frost on the ground.
I'll take frosty christmas cupcakes over the real thing any day. More so today, since I was having a raging pregnancy sugar craving.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Few things woo me back into the kitchen like candy making. Not only is it fun and delicious, when making candy I always have this devious, subversive feeling come over me. As though I've thwarted some natural law by bringing the special, highly rationed substance CANDY into existence with my own humble hands.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
High time I posted something, right?
I'm doing well, still very much pregnant but not much in the way of a blogger. I just haven't been up for the marathon cooking sessions that drive this little website of mine.
Actually, I haven't been much of a cook at all. This pregnancy has taken food aversions to a whole new level for me. It is funny actually, as for the better part of my last pregnancy I felt as though I could run down and slaughter a taco truck like a lion on the Serengeti.
Monday, October 11, 2010
I've been a bad blogger of late. Now even my father has admonished me for my lack of posts, teasing me that all my readers were going to abandon me (including himself) unless I produced some pretty food and soon.
I explained that my lack of posting wasn't without reason. I am in good health and I've been trying to work in some kitchen time and turn out some pretty treats to post... only circumstanses haven't exactly been conducive to blogging.
Allow me to explain:
1. Let's start with the fact that my laptop currently looks something like this:
This state is due to my flinging it from my luggage at last week's conference. If there was such a thing as laptop discus throwing, I would have earned myself a gold medal. I had truly excellent distance and form.
Thankfully, my replacement is on the way.
2. I've had an unusually busy month. I have been traveling and I am leaving town once again to do volunteer work this week.
3. I'm adjusting to my new status as pregnant baking blogger. My time in the kitchen has been made complicated as the sight of softened butter now brings about waves of nausea. (Of all the possible things, why does it have to be THAT!) Not exactly a blessing for a person who often finds herself elbow deep in quanties of butter that would shock even Paula Dean.
Even thinking about butter now, as I write this, is risky. Infact, reading cookbooks is now suddenly something I do at my own peril. Where I used to find inspiration, I now find photos of evil puff pastry onion tarts that leave me heaving.
|Don't look directly at the onion tart!|
4. I have been baking, it is just that the results have ALL been lousy, unfortunate looking food. Stuff that doesn't belong anywhere on the blog. Maybe it has something to do with the fatigue of early pregnancy, or the accompanying absent-mindedness that has resulted in one good sized kitchen fire and four broken dishes (that's just this week). Or perhaps, it is just hard to lovingly and carefully craft desserts that the sight of which make you want to hurl.
So that is what's going on at the Humble household, Dad (and everyone else).
Hopefully my baking luck changes tonight and I can get at least one set of blog worthy baking photos to take with me on my trip, but as I've botched no less than THREE desserts today, things are not looking very promising. So if we have yet another week of absentee Ms. Humble, I hope you'll bear with me.
I did borrow an annoyingly tiny netbook for while I am on the road, so I will at the very least be getting caught up on the backlog of emails, questions and comments.
I will be home again by Saturday and that will put an end to all my traveling for a while and I can sort out things in the kitchen and get back into my blogging groove.
Patience, I do have something fun lined up for when I get back into the kitchen.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Happy Monday, everyone!
Today I have a wonderful vanilla treat for you. While some think vanilla is synonymous with plain or generic, I think it is marvelous, particularly in the form of a well crafted vanilla ice cream. When I tasted today's dessert, I was smitten.
The ice cream has an absolutely luxurious mouth feel, one that the recipe's author credits to the use of dry milk powder. It is so amazing that I am tempted to start incorporating the use of a small amount of milk powder into all of my ice creams. The custard and vanilla will remind you of an excellent french vanilla ice cream but the addition of brown sugar sets it apart, giving the ice cream character and richness.
Friday, September 24, 2010
I've gone totally scatterbrained in the kitchen. I'm starting to cook like my sister, who is famous in the family for baking purple chocolate chip cookies without the aid of any food coloring. How exactly that happened remains a mystery.
I can't seem to read recipes correctly. I find myself omitting key ingredients and steps. My custards magically curdle, my ganaches crack, I neglect to remove the desiccant packet from freeze dried fruits before grinding them.
I'm spacing out, putting things in the freezer that should be in the refrigerator and vice versa.
I think I ruined a 3lb box of cream cheese...
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I've been baking a lot this week. Testing recipes and frequently finding myself disappointed by the results.
It's been a little frustrating. Especially when Mr. Humble and I are at odds over the verdict for a particular baked treat. Like the well reviewed Epicurious pumpkin spice cake with my own mascarpone dulce de leche frosting. He loved it and insisted I should post it. I thought it tasted less like spice and more like salty-metallic baking soda.
He says he can't taste it but I think that's just because he has corrupted his taste buds with too much rooster sauce.
So we 're posting something we can agree upon today, a relatively simple coffee cake. It has passed the taste test, even though Mr. Humble professes a greater fondness for the plain version of this cake I make. He doesn't seem to understand that I made four cans of dulce de leche this week and they need to find a purpose before I start eating the stuff straight from the can from a spoon.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Inspired By Wolfe--who will forever have a special place in my heart for making the medieval Beef y-Stywyd--sent me the following email:
I am nominating my friend Kathy who blogs over at Play, Eat, Learn, Live. For her daughter's 7th birthday, she organised a science-themed birthday party, including science experiment party games and pass the parcel with science themed prizes. The piece de resistance was the 'birthday cake' which took the form of cupcakes in the design of the periodic table. Once I heard her plans, I volunteered to help and we spent an evening icing 118 cupcakes with the correct chemical symbols. It's fair to say that until I began to ice 118 cupcakes, I did not fully comprehend how many cupcakes there were! Kathy has blogged about our experience in icing the cupcakes here:Oh, I do commiserate. The periodic table is a huge undertaking.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Best way to follow up a healthy post? A massive, heart stopping chocolate cake.
I was tempted to load up on the chocolate curls, ganache, raspberries and fancy piping, but in the end I decided to make something a little more basic. A big, fat, simple chocolate cake.
Don't feel constrained by my minimalism though. Add-ons like raspberries and whipped ganache would be wonderful upgrades to this moist, fine textured chocolate cake.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Soup today! Healthy soup. Sorry if this disappoints those who read my blog for a vicarious sugar rush.
I did try to deliver, spending my morning hand-pulling some gorgeous twisted hard candies. However, I decided that blogging about how to make these treats would be unwise. I managed to burn myself while handling the pulled sugar, even with my layers of gloves.
Sure, handling hot sugar is dangerous by default but I've decided that trying to handle hard candy is crazy dangerous for most home cooks (including myself). It isn't the same as handling something like taffy, which you can work with your bare hands.
I don't want to post a recipe where I need to recommend having your local hospital's burn unit on speed dial.
Hence we're posting my lunch today.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Happy Monday, everyone!
We're making candy today, and unlike last week's marshmallows these are vegan/vegetarian friendly. Fruit gelées is something that I've long wanted to make for the blog but it involves one rather pesky ingredient: Pectin.
Since not all pectins are created equal, you often see recipes will call for a specific brand or type (like apple) when making gelées. Rarely does one find a recipe that calls for a generic powdered fruit pectin, the type one might find at a corner grocery store. And of course, using gelatin as the gelling agent was off the table, as it doesn't produce the ideal texture in these fruit candies.
What I needed was a reliable recipe that had a chance of working with ordinary powdered fruit pectin and finally, I've found one to share with everyone today.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Following Friday's disaster, my laptop keyboard is more or less working again. Some keys have been poorly reattached, jutting up at awkward angles and crying out for technological orthodontia, but for now, it works.
However I was not so lucky as to have all my keys turn up. I'm still missing my ESC, F3 and CTRL keys. When I ask my two year old what she did with Mommy's ESC key, she tells me she wants chocolate.
While I may not know much about negotiating with toddlers, something tells me this may be a trick...
Anyway, let's get down to the grapefruit cake. It's from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home cookbook. The cake, despite its rather humble appearance, is delicious. Low on fuss but high in flavor, each slice is moist and sticky with bitter-sweet ruby grapefruit syrup.
Friday, September 10, 2010
We're having some technical difficulties in the Humble household today.
Someone had an unsupervised moment with my laptop, and popped off about 30% of its keys. I actually NEED those keys to make today's post, so Friday's treat is going to be late. Most likely tonight or tomorrow, assuming I can round up all of tiny pieces.
I do hope none of them were eaten...
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
I'm not sure about other food-bloggers, but I am always on the lookout for new cookbooks.
After spending 5-6 hours a day in the kitchen, I often need something new and exciting to drag me in again the next day. New cookbooks keep me inspired, baking and blogging.
Every now and then, I stumble across a really unique cookbook, one that will be supplying today's recipe. The simply titled "Marshmallows: Homemade Gourmet Treats".
Monday, September 6, 2010
Happy Monday, everyone!
So we're following up last week's easy cookie theme with something a little more fussy. Something that would get my apron dirty.
Today's cake is divine. Frosted with whipping cream, stabilized with mascarpone cheese and flavored with lemon curd. It's light, creamy and not too sweet. The cake is moist and dense, yet fluffy with a delicate crumb. Layered with a little lemon curd and the mascarpone frosting, it's easily one of my favorites.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Time to post the winner of the Science cookie giveaway.
I gave Sherry of sciencecookiecutters.com the entire week to sort through all the mountain of comments and emails and pick a winner. She emailed me Thursday night telling me she had picked a winner but announcing it completely slipped my mind on Friday, so we're doing a rare weekend post here on the blog.
After reading all the comments ( which were all great) and making sure they followed directions, I cut and pasted into a table then random.org'd it because I couldn't put a higher value on newton vs someone's dad!Totally understandable, Sherry. So the winning comment was...
Friday, September 3, 2010
Happy Friday, everyone!
Today's post is going up a little later than normal. Mr. Humble took today day off and is at home… which throws a wrench into my normal baking/blogging routine.
Like when he drags me off to hunt down produce all morning because being at home on a workday makes him "fidgety".
He does try to be helpful though, like staging this glass of milk for me.
You spilled some there, buddy…
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
More cookies today!
I've been craving peanut butter lately so earlier this week I whipped up a batch of these cookies cute little sandwich cookies.
Since I baked these cookies late in the evening, when the lighting is terrible for food photography, I boxed them up and tossed them into the freezer. I will often freeze things this way, since not only does it preserve the food until I'm ready to photograph, it usually deters would-be-snackers who pass through the kitchen.
Key word here is usually.
As it turns out, freezing these cookies is no deterrent. When a half dozen sandwiches went missing, I questioned the usual suspects and learned that they're quite good straight from the freezer. I tried them and discovered they're indeed terrific frozen and everyone I give them to agrees.
Crisp, frosty peanut butter wafers, a cool silky smooth filling, it almost makes peanut butter... refreshing?!
I know it makes no sense, you'll just have to try them to understand.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Happy Monday, folks!
Back in the kitchen today baking cookies. After all the cake, frosting and fondant I was working with last week, simple cookies sound wonderful. In fact, perhaps I'll make a theme of it this week. Nothing but cookies.
I can do that and recharge my exhausted baking batteries.
So this recipe is an adaptation of one of the first cookies I ever baked. A basic Snickerdoodle recipe from my ancient, tattered Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Mother Humble taught me how to make cookies with this recipe, demonstrating that how you make and bake cookies makes all the difference in the end result. She taught me to use high quality ingredients, how to properly cream butter and how to aim for slightly under-baking chewy cookies to give them the best texture when fully cool.
When my own batch of the ubiquitous Better Homes and Garden's recipe took a place for best in show for baking at the state fair when I was seven or eight, it cementing into my child-brain that good technique and quality ingredients are key to baking well.
Today we're taking that same old recipe, and putting a citrus twist on it. These lemon snickerdoodles are fragrant with lemon, soft and chewy, yet pack a big sugar crunch.
Simple and delicious.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Completely swamped today so you'll have to forgive me if the post seems a little hurried.
I'm wrapping up various non-blogging related projects as well as handling all the baking for a baby shower. Ack!
You see, my sister has a way of volunteering to provide desserts for various social events. Of course, you know who really ends up doing the desserts?
Today, I'm elbow deep in fondant for a baby shower cake and I've only just begun tackling my sister's wishlist. Hopefully she'll come visit and help me clean up (HINT).
So earlier this week, I was turning out batch after batch of sugar cookie dough. Burning through pounds of butter. It was a good time to experiment, as the test batches of dough were used to produced cookies for Mr. Humble's lab and this baby shower.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Happy Monday, everyone!
We're giving away a set of cookie cutters today!
You may remember this set from the last science cookie roundup. They're made by scientist Sherry of sciencecookiecutters.com and she has kindly offered to give away a set to one of the blog's readers.
Interested in baking up your own nerdy cookies?
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Happy Thursday, all.
Yesterday, I found myself very busy using up all the wonderful summer fruit I have hanging around. Fruit that was in desperate need of a purpose, and soon.
Usually, when faced with an excess of fresh fruit I do two things: make purée to freeze and save for future baking and candy making or I make fruit leather.
Fruit leather is so simple to make and a great way to take advantage of the summer markets that are flooded with inexpensive fresh fruit. Kids love the stuff too... who will be going back to school soon, right? They might need a reasonably healthy treat in their lunchbox. Something better than the usual fare I supply on this site.
While fruit leather is generally made in a dehydrator, you can make it at home in your oven too. All you need is plenty of time, a blender or food processor, an oven that can hold a temperature more or less around 150°F, and since most ovens don't have a mark on their dial for that, an oven thermometer too.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
|French macarons don't get any more perfect than this.|
Monday, August 16, 2010
Happy Monday, all!
Today we're going to talk a bit about jam, because I spent a good part of my weekend making it with Mother Humble and I don't have anything else ready.
Mother Humble has this thing about jam, while other mothers might worry about their children's health, finances or career. My mother seems primarily concerned with how much jam we have.
It is so obsessive, that I seriously feel I could tell her some crazy story about my life being in total chaos and the first thing she would ask me would be, "...but sweetie, do you have enough jam?"
She asks about it during each of her visits. She never believes it when I say we're stocked, that we have tons of jam. Instead, she checks my supply and determines--regardless of how much is actually in there--that my supply is woefully inadequate. Inadequate, only if I want to serve scones to all of South Asia.
Maybe that's the life lesson she's gleaned from her half century of existence, you must stockpile jam.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
and that I'm not too lazy to iron. Okay?!
We're baking donuts today!
Yes, I know we did donuts last week and yes I know it is going to be hard to top Thomas Keller's donuts but I think there should be special blog-space allowances made for donuts.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
but sometimes you're just too busy eating chocolate cake to care about such things.
Today I'm trying out something new in my kitchen, a steamed pudding.
This dessert, as it turns out, was just meant to be.
Allow me to explain.
About a week ago, Mr. P of Delicious Delicious Delicious and I were discussing steamed puddings and sponges. It came up that I lacked a pudding basin--one of the more basic items in an English kitchen--or even knowledge of what a pudding basin was. In my defense they're not exactly easy to find around here. The bowls with their thick rims are no longer common place, outside of a few high-end cooking supply shops. Not to mention, pudding in my part of the States is limited, with few exceptions (save perhaps bread pudding), to the Jell-O sort. Sad but true.
So Mr. P was extolling the wonders of steamed goodies and I figured I was missing out and should venture into that baking realm. Eventually, should I ever find myself in possession of a good basin.
Then while at Sur la Table the following weekend, poking through the clearance baskets hoping to find some discount cooking treasure, I pulled out one of these.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Happy Monday all! I hope everyone had a lovely weekend.
We spend the weekend on a little road trip down to Oregon. We had a family wedding to attend and we decided to drive from Seattle as Oregon always provides a lovely view.
While Mr. Humble and I really enjoy road trips, this was the little Humble's first one and she didn't approve of the long hours spent in a car seat. Toddlers seemingly can't take in sights at a distance, they want to get out and run around.
So we satisfied her when we could, the rest of the time we plied her with ice cream.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
I'm looking through all the fantastic science cookie roundup submissions in my email box this morning--scattered amongst the mountains of emails telling me I've won £500,000,000--and it looks like it is time for another roundup!
This time I have a few of my own cookies to include.
Though you must forgive the pastel colors. While crafting these cookies I was also making butterfly cookies with the young daughter of our UK house guest.
We've got beakers, flasks and test tubes! Best of all, I didn't have to hand cut them. I got my hands on a set of science cookie cutters. The first I've ever seen.
The set included cutters for flasks, test tubes, atoms and beakers.
I came across these cutters after reading an email from a physicist/chemist who works at a science museum. She was tired of hand cutting shapes (totally understandable) and ordered a custom set of cookie cutters from a manufacturer. Only she had to order a minimum of 2000 sets to have her design made. To unload the surplus cutters she decided to offer them up to the science-cookie loving public:www.sciencecookiecutters.com
I think Sherry is onto something. When she sells out--and she probably will--I think she should consider having other designs made up. Please? The nerdy baking community needs you. I need you. At the very least, I will buy them. Hand cutting macrophages is a pain!
Sherry sent in the cookies she made for a teachers workshop for the round up and a picture of her custom cutter set. As well as a brain cake they made for their biology meeting.
We have a lot of cakes this round up!
The next cake I received was from Carmela of Mela's Baking Adventures, whom I'm now hopelessly in love with.
I am a Pre-Med student going into my Junior year of undergrad. I was accepted into a program that gives early acceptance to medical school. One of the requirements of the program is to take classes at the medical school each summer, and at the end of the summer, we celebrate our hard work with a dinner banquet and talent show.
For the talent show, I decided to make a cake of an anatomy model (something that all of us at the program could relate to). I have included pictures of the cake, which is red velvet and is sitting on a blue sterile field. If you'd like to see the "surgeons" (aka caterers) in action, I posted those pictures on my blog.
Good thing he/she is only partially anatomically correct, eh. I will take a slice of liver, please.
I have also included the link to the video that I presented at the talent show. My brother put the video together since my talent is not in video editing, but in baking. I hope you like it and will consider posting it in the next Science Cookie Round up.
Love the video, check it out:
If the idea of eating a human torso doesn't disturb you, the next cake may...
Christine, an entomology grad student, of dragonflywoman.wordpress.com sent me this email and cake:
A friend of mine (Cheryl) in a wildlife and natural resources program defended her Ph.D. about a year ago. In her department, it's customary to turn defenses into potlucks and almost everyone shows up with some sort of treat to share with everyone else. Another friend, Jess, was interested in bringing a cake to the defense and asked if I wanted to help out and of course I did. Cheryl studies crayfish and Jess used to be one of Cheryl's employees for the project, so we planned (while on a boat taking water samples for work) to make a somewhat realistic crayfish cake based on Jess's knowledge of crayfish habitats and behaviors. We then scoured every toy store, party supply shop, and grocery store in the city looking for crayfish or lobster toys to put on the cake with no success. In desperation, Jess (an excellent fisherwoman) eventually thought to look at a bait shop. She bought four fantastic, rather realistic plastic crayfish lures and the crayfish cake was born.
Crayfish make burrows in mud at the bottom of the streams where they live, so we dug some holes out of our chocolate cake to represent burrow before we frosted everything with chocolate frosting. We went with chocolate in part because it is delicious and in part because we needed the cake to look muddy. We then tucked three of the four crayfish lures into the "burrows" after we carefully removed the hooks. They have their claws out like they would in the wild so that they're ready to defend their burrows from challengers. The fourth crayfish didn't have a burrow, so we placed him claw to claw with one of the burrow-holding crayfish to illustrate that it was challenging the resident crayfish to a fight for the burrow. We further decorated the cake with green sprinkles (representing algae) and chocolate sprinkles (representing clumps of mud or small rocks - the piles in front of the "burrows" are there to represent the materials they've excavated while digging the burrows) to give the whole thing a more realistic feel. It was an easy cake to make and the decorations were very simple, but we were quite proud of the realistic feel and scientific accuracy of our cake - until we brought it to the defense and NO ONE WOULD EAT IT! Apparently we had made it too real and people were scared to eat it, thinking that we'd put dead crayfish on it. Jess and I each had a big piece to let everyone know that it really was cake and that it was in fact edible (and tasty!), but we didn't get any takers. Still, Cheryl loved it, so we considered it a success.
Say it with me, folks: AHHHHHHHHHHGGGGG!
So realistic! I love it... after I got over my initial horror.
The next cake is from Carolyn, a grad student working on marine evolutionary genetics.
A few months ago, I helped teach a course in Molecular Ecology. For the last class, I made the students a gel electrophoresis cake as a reward for all their long nights at the gel bench. It's a simple chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream icing. It's iced to accurately reflect the size of the DNA fragments they were amplifying, complete with primer-dimer and a blank well as a control.
Electrophoresis cake, fantastic! It is about time! Now I want to see someone in the field get over their agar repulsion and make a pertri dish cake.
The other cake depicts a kelp forest ecosystem, and was made as a submission to a friend's Art Show and Garden Party. We're mostly all marine biologists, so the cake represents a classic ecological interaction between sea otters (which eat sea urchins), purple sea urchins (which eat kelp), and of course, kelp (which shelters sea otters). The breakdown of this system with the removal of sea otters is a classic example of a trophic cascade-- but this cake ecosystem is balanced and happy, and even has a few garibaldi for color. This is a dark chocolate cake with brandied ganache, decorated with fondant (of course).
This has to be one of the prettiest science cakes submitted to date. Gorgeous.
Our next set of cookies comes from Catherine, a biology undergrad.
I am finishing up my undergrad in Biology this year and taking an 8 week Microbiology class. I decided to spice things up a bit and make micro cookies to share with them all! Here are a few of them: agar plates, scientists and my favorite virus (to learn about not acquire)... the T4 Bacteriophage!! I ended up making these cookie cutters by cutting out the bottom of an aluminum lasagna pan and shaping them around a design I had made on some thick cardboard, and then I stapled it together.
Love the little piping gel goggles on the scientists! And the lasagna pan-cardboard cutters did a great job! Going all Macgyver on the science cookie creation. Right on!
Kristina, a post-doc biochemist/biophysicist sent a sample of her baking. These perfect female spectral karyotype cupcakes!
Based on Martha's Caterpillar Cupcakes.
Because a science cookie roundup wouldn't be complete without some version of a lab mouse, we our next cake by Sunmi.
For the past two years I have been working in a transplant immunology research lab, spending most of my waking hours with the thousands of mice that my lab uses. When I started working full-time, I found myself with free time on my hands for the first time since middle school, so I began trying out new recipes, churning out baked goods faster than my roommates and I could eat them. Of course the natural solution was to bring the excess food to the lab, and pretty soon I became established as the resident baker of the lab. I even received a marriage proposal the first time I brought cookies for the animal facility staff!
I wanted to make something special for this past Friday since it was my last day at the lab, so I turned to your science cookie posts for inspiration. I settled on a mouse(-shaped) cake (not a cake made of mouse!), which got a great reaction from everyone who saw it. Its proportions are like those of a 2- to 3-week-old mouse, which is my favorite age for mice. I like to think of it as the mouse equivalent of the human 2- to 3-year-old, when it is impossible for anyone not to be adorable. :)
The cake in progress:
Great idea for the whiskers!
Our last submission is from one of the youngest bakers to contribute (16!), Chelsea Ann of Chelsea Ann Coconut.
Chelsea sent in these absolutely fantastic cookies representing neurons, neuromuscular junction, spine with nerves.
I just finished a week of work experience with a neurosurgeon! It was absolutely amazing and to say thanks, I made these cookies. I'm a bit proud :)
I think I got everyone in this month's round-up. If I missed you (the blog's email box is roughly 99% spam, it happens), email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to be in the next round up, shoot me an email with links or photos of your science-themed edible goodies. Including "Science Cookies" or "Science Roundup" in the subject line helps ensure I don't miss you.