Crafting, Uncategorized

Oh Look!

And so ends another stay at home. My break here has ended, and I’m getting back to the city to work for a couple days and then begin classes the week after. All I can say is, I’m not sorry to be leaving. Three weeks here is more than enough, but I think I’ll miss certain materialistic things about being home, ie having a couch to lounge on while watching tv, having lots of counter space on which to make messes while baking, sleeping in a queen size bed, being able to have lots of sun coming through ample windows, having a light and airy atmosphere because of the sunlight, and the general cozy feeling I’ve been experiencing here. All in all, I want to get back to school and resume my hectic life, albeit I could do with a little less hectic and a little more calmness, but where’s the fun in that, may I ask? I still have some time before classes are in full swing, but work will keep me busy in the days leading up to it. I look forward to Tuesday when I go back; I haven’t seen those kiddies in five weeks, and I can’t help but think that maybe they miss me? Maybe I’m thinking too highly of myself, but if I miss them, who’s to say they don’t miss me as well.

I took a trip to my local Michael’s today in order to spend a gift card before leaving, but I have to say that I actually had a hard time spending money there. I went with the intention of procuring adorable fabric, fleece, and a matching button, but I was sorely disappointed. I found out that they no longer carry fabric squares or fleece. What kind of craft store is that? On a whim I looked for some Sharpies in assorted pretty colors, but oh look, those were no where to be seen either. I didn’t want a large set for $30, but just a couple of pretty colors sold by themselves. After wandering around for nearly 45 minutes, I ended up with only some new sewing needles in their own little case, two pieces of felt in a gorgeous shade of pink, a shamrock cookie cutter, some shamrock muffin tin liners, and a calendar on clearance for $0.50 (for my parents). It all came to a grand total of $6.35 . . . and I still have $18.65 to spend who knows when, because to the best of my knowledge, the closest Michael’s is up on Columbus Ave in the 90’s, and I’m not spending $4.50 in subway fare to get there and back. I wish they had an online store, but I guess that’s too much to ask, seeing as how they can’t even stock fabric anymore. I must give them some credit for their assortment of stickers though, it was very amusing to look at all of the adorable sets.

But I guess today was at least a minor success. I managed to spend (with the help of a friend) a Panera gift card that had been sitting in my wallet for three or four years. I also found two pairs of flats at Payless; they don’t stand a chance if I wear them outside to walk to work/home/class, but I can wear them inside while I’m at work or in class. There’s no way I would last the day wearing my big heavy boots, so until I get some all-purpose, sturdy as heck, miracle shoes, this is the best solution I have.

While I was packing up my things tonight, I looked at my clarinet case sitting at the foot of my bed, and for the first time since the end of senior year, I opened it and put the two center barrels together. I want to bring it back to school with me and try to play. I realized during my Celtic music course that I really miss it. Band was a part of my life from fifth grade, right through high school, and I can’t believe I just cast it aside once I got to college. Something that meant so much to me shouldn’t have been so easy to let go and to allow to fade away. I don’t want to let this go on any longer; I won’t be playing on a strict, daily schedule, but if I could at least get my clarinet out once I week I think I could get my abilities back soon enough. I probably won’t be playing some of the more extreme pieces I encountered in high school anytime soon, but just to play some scales and simple tunes would be wonderful. I used to get so much enjoyment out of it, and I want a bit of that old part of me back. It won’t be the same, but it will be something, at least.

Oh look! I’m using this entry as a means to procrastinate. I’m no where near done packing, and I leave at 8:30am. . . . It’s not even worth it to sleep now. I can sleep in the car, and that way I’ll hopefully avoid the sick to my stomach feeling I’ve lately been getting on buses when I travel. I’ll pop in my ear buds, listen to some good music, and sleep the hours away, like I *should* be doing right now. Instead, I’m blogging and watching the first season of Merlin–not a bad alternative, but not the best thing to be doing at the moment.

Baking

A Forced “Little Miss Semi-Homemade” Holiday

Those last few days of school nearly killed me. I can’t believe I survived, but I didn’t get through it entirely unscathed. I was dying with my lack of food supplies, and so I couldn’t relieve my building stress through baking. Note to self for next semester: NEVER run out of eggs or milk during finals–it only results in frustration and sadness. I couldn’t make ANYTHING I wanted to make, and so my stress levels just built up and I eventually just shut down and avoided the looming papers and exams for a while.

But now I’m back home and there’s a blizzard outside. . . . Oh yeah, snow just make everything better *sarcasm*. At least I got to avoid snow for the first few days back. One of the first things that greeted me when I stepped in the door was my list of desserts my father was *letting* me make for our Christmas parties. Yes, that’s right, the desserts he was *letting* me make. Needless to say, I was not thrilled with that. I was even less thrilled when my mother then said that I has to be “Little Miss Semi-Homemade” this year. I was even less happy with that restriction.

So on my list of “approved desserts” I had chocolate chip cookies, a Jell-o cake, and a chocolate pudding pie. I had nothing against the cookies, but the cake was from a box and the pie was with a store-bought graham cracker crust and instant pudding mix. Again, I have nothing against people who use these, but I don’t enjoy using them anymore. Now that I have the resources and ability to make things entirely from scratch, I want to keep exploring and seeing what else I’m capable of baking well. Doing it my way does not take much longer, nor is it much messier, than making things from a box, but my parents just don’t understand that. They’re fully content with suppressing my creativity and encouraging a manner of baking that no longer gives me any enjoyment whatsoever. If anything, being told what to make and how to make it just irritates me beyond belief and makes me not want to do it. Is this my teenage rebellion belatedly manifesting itself in my baking?

In any event, I made their desserts and still got yelled by my mother for making a mess. I just can’t win with her. I made her desserts as directed and still got yelled at.

For some reason no one even touched the pudding pie. Not even my mother, the person I made it FOR. I could have made it a mousse pie. Thanks a lot, mom.

At least I got to make whipped cream, even if no one but me enjoyed it. They were certainly missing out by not eating it, though.

While my parents were out at the store in the afternoon, I managed to sneak in one scratch yellow cupcake batch with chocolate buttercream frosting. I had to put my foot down on the frosting front, even though my parents got home before the cupcakes were done or frosted, and so I made the buttercream right under their noses. Look how well they went over. I started the events with twelve cupcakes and two bundts, and all that remained was one cupcake and one bundt. Homemade for the win!

Even as I was baking, my father didn’t think there would be enough, so he wanted to add a pecan pie and another chocolate pudding pie (which would have thankfully been from scratch). I was going to make the pecan pie during the break between our two family parties, but that never happened, and it wasn’t even needed. My father’s side of the family is large-ish, and so there were about 18 people here (and 4 people were actually missing), and my father expected there to not be nearly enough food or dessert, but he was definitely wrong about that. There were meatballs, kielbasa in this strange grape jelly/chili sauce sauce, Velveeta mac and cheese, a spiral ham, shrimp, chips and veggies and dip, my aunt’s beans, another aunt’s “crabbies” and her yummy mini chicken salad sandwiches, another aunt’s teryaki chicken wings and such, scallops wrapped in bacon, a quiche, and probably something else I’m forgetting. Then there were a few of my remaining cupcakes and cookies, my pudding pie, my Jell-o cake, and some store-bought cupcakes my cousin brought because he didn’t know what to bring.

There was just so much food on Christmas Eve because in the afternoon we had hosted my mother’s side of the family (just 9 of us total). So much food, so much sugar, way too much family, and entirely too many leftovers. A cupcake and a mini Bundt, more than half the Jell-o cake, the entire pudding pie and it’s accompanying whipped cream, and more than half my cousin’s cupcakes remained after everyone left. Needless to say, the eating will continue for a few more days than expected.

In other news, I think Fishy rather enjoyed his first Christmas and his first Christmas present.

Baking

Thanksgiving Baking

So basically I dropped off the face of the blogging earth for a while. I’ve been completely overwhelmed with school work, work, and thinking about all my final assignments these past couple of weeks that I just haven’t had the energy or will to post anything. Here’s a recap of my Thanksgiving creations.

Originally I wanted to make something really elaborate over break, but unfortunately my parents shot me down about that, and what would have been the point in making something wonderful if no one was going to eat/appreciate it. Instead they just wanted plain old boring chocolate chip cookies and a yellow cake–from a BOX . . . I guess they didn’t get the memo about my new-found hatred of boxed, chemical-laden, artificial box mixes. Now I know they work for those who don’t have the time/patience/ability/ingredients/whatever to make a cake from scratch–and I don’t think any less of those people for using this option–but now that I’ve been exploring the baking world more thoroughly, I never want to have to resort to boxes again because I’ve found such delicious and simple from-scratch recipes. I love trying out new ones, adding different flavors/more chocolate to them, and seeing how they turn out. Not all of them are rave successes, but it’s those slight flops that help me to learn what I want out of a recipe.

In any event, I–with the excuse of not having enough vegetable oil for both cookies AND a cake–managed to make a simple batch of yellow cupcakes for my father’s birthday. This attempt falls under the slight flop category, because I didn’t have the cake flour the recipe called for, and as a result, it was a very crumby cupcake (I know, bad pun). I think that if I had used the cake flour, the crumbs would have been much smaller and the cupcakes would not have fallen apart so easily (and I think having liners for the tin would have helped in that department as well, because they stuck like CRAZY and were difficult to get out).

Unfortunately, I also didn’t have nearly enough powdered sugar to make a fluffy buttercream frosting, so I had to used a tub of dense chocolate frosting instead *shudders at the memory*. It was such a light cupcake, and the heavy frosting just overwhelmed the poor dears, not to mention the chemical/artificial taste from it that I could not get out of my mouth. Again, no disrespect to those who use store-bought frosting, but I just don’t like the stuff anymore now that I try to do things from scratch as often as possible.

Overall they were good cupcakes, but I just need to institute a couple of changes, and they’ll be GREAT cupcakes. (My mother also shot down putting sprinkles on top because she hates them *sigh*.)

Before the cupcakes, I attempted a version of peanut butter/caramel/chocolate/shortbread bars (yes, like the candy bar, but with peanut butter). Again, a good attempt, but rather flawed in execution. The shortbread crust was nice and golden brown, but it wouldn’t come out of the pan; the caramel was slightly overcooked; and I destroyed the ganache topping by accident. I just don’t think I was meant to make these at this time. I ended up just taking everything else out of the pan and leaving the crust behind, resulting in hunks of thick chocolate and oozy caramel, with a thin layer of peanut butter on top.

Yeah, not exactly the prettiest thing I’ve ever attempted.

Finally, came my cookies. Finally, something turned out well. Thank goodness. I must say, this was probably the best-looking batch I’ve made in a while. They were soft and chewy, but not too much so. The perfect combination of soft and crunchy in all the right places.

A post about my creations from today will be coming up next. I’m sure I’ll need to procrastinate again really soon.

Baking

A Long Time Coming

Last week I went home for the first time since January, and I must say, I was FREEZING in my house. I’m just not used to being in air-conditioned places for long periods of time, so I spent a lot of time under a blanket. One good thing about the cooler indoor temperatures was that I was able to bake without personally baking. I started off slowly, with just a double batch of my chocolate chip cookies to bring to a reunion lunch the next day.

Then, on the morning of the lunch I made some cinnamon rolls with a cream cheese icing, but they didn’t last for very long, hence the lack of a picture. However, they didn’t look very different from the ones I made for Midnight Breakfast, so that picture will work just fine.

The next night I wanted to make a cake, but I changed my mind and settled on cupcakes and a vanilla buttercream frosting.

I do wonder what my parents have done with all the treats I left at home. Have they eaten them all? Let them go stale?