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Category Archives: baking disasters
The front dahlia has been bursting out with one giant pink beauty after the other. Every time I get out of my car I have to run over and inspect the latest.
I brought all the squash in. I rarely process any before Thanksgiving and back in the day I sometimes waited until January but I noticed a little black spot on one. I learned the hard way not to ignore those. I processed three of them this weekend.
This all went into the freezer.
While I was awake in the middle of the night I had the idea of making a pumpkin pie now and shaving dark chocolate into the blind baked pie crust when it came out of the oven to create a chocolate layer. However, I’m going back to using all my brain cells for writing again so baking projects might be few and far between.
I tried the Milk Bar compost cookies this weekend and had medium results, mostly because I made a huge amateur hour mistake and while I was attempting to dump my sifted dry ingredients into the mix, the mixer part jostled my bowl and a significant quantity of dry ingredients sprayed artfully across me and my kitchen.
I’d already invested all those other ingredients so I kept going. I stuck them in the oven and put the timer at the recommended time rather than a couple minutes early to check — I should know better. My oven has a mind of its own. The cookies came out super crunchy but still yummy enough that I will try again.
During the dark months I like to have string of xmas lights in my room. Sometimes I can get away without using the overhead light and it’s cheery.
If you’ve used these lights, you know they are super crappy and don’t last long. The string I had up developed a short and would blink on and off so it was like living in a David Lynch movie.
The store doesn’t sell lights year round so I’ve been keeping an eye out. I didn’t think they would be here in October, but I was poking around the Halloween stuff in case there was something I could use.
The holiday lights are out now.
We went to Bob’s Red Mill this morning, and I picked up another giant bag of flour, even though I still had flour left from my last bag.
I had a lot of trouble moving the last bag around, and obviously, the most logical conclusion was that my aging body isn’t as strong as it used to be. I was also surprised that I hadn’t managed to use it up yet.
I brought home a new giant bag today (the one on the left) and I noticed the problem:
I still don’t have new romance novel news. Unfortunately, there are forces beyond my control causing delays. Trust me, if they were in my control I would be controlling them. I will update the minute I have something to update.
In keeping with the weirdly lit food photos theme, I captured these photos in the living room because it was sunny in there.
Yesterday I had a half day at work but there was an early traffic snafu and the bus was running late so I didn’t get home until after 2pm.
I decided to take the time to make a real lunch and relax a little bit before diving into cooking so instead of having all afternoon to cook, I had to rush around.
I made the pie crust and put it in the refrigerator, so that part worked out.
I thought I would make the rolls early this year since that seems to be the item that breaks the camel’s back when I’m rushing around at the last minute. I always think I should just buy rolls, but I want the rolls that Mom makes. (A slightly different version of this Betty Crocker Dinner Rolls recipe.)
My brain wasn’t completely re-started after my day and I somehow confused 1/3 and 3/4ths and added way too little liquid. Rather than cut my losses, I tried to just add more later in the process. It did not work and I unloaded one load of flour soup into the trash.
Then I gave up for the night.
This morning I got up early to do the rolls and pie.
I had started mixing together the pumpkin stuff when I got to the part where the recipe called for 1 tablespoon of ground ginger. This sounded like too much to me. I’ve learned not to blindly trust recipes after that time I accidentally made about 1000 gallons of lentil soup.
I went and found the recipe on line and looked through the comments to see if there was an adjustment on the spices. Instead, most of the comments said things like, “OMG worst pumpkin pie recipe ever,” “Tastes bland,” and “Too much ginger.”
Then I tried to find another recipe which wasn’t a problem except I’d already added stuff to the pumpkin (which I grew myself) so I was stuck with what I had. I improvised and it came out looking okay. We’ll see.
Then I did the rolls correctly. Now I’m taking a quick break before I go back to make the last few things.
On Sunday night on the way home from the match I was able to witness the powder blue Cadillac from hell.
At my freeway off-ramp I wait for a light to make a left. The right going traffic has a yield sign.
Blue came off the freeway at high speed going right and did not yield. Horns honking. He then made an illegal u-turn and came back the way I was going.
My light turned green. I waited. He blew through a completely red light at high speed.
I made my left. At the intersection ahead of me, he passed the car waiting at the light on the left. He pulled into the gas station.
I wondered if I should do something. He had his window down and was talking to someone at the gas station.
I’m not the type to do something type plus my team had blown a lead in the 93rd minute so I was moping.
This is just a preview of the tulips. They have barely started coming in.
This is a rock in the road on Highway 96
Every time I’m in my car I remember what it was I wanted to write about and the minute I get in front of my computer I can’t remember what it was.
Here are two items I remember:
One good thing about winter is that I don’t see any snails. Yes, I am thinking about snails. I bet they just hunker down in the dirt and reproduce all winter long so in the bigger scheme of things I’m not winning. But I’m going to pretend I am.
The second item is I made yet another loaf of fail bread this weekend. I received a huge bag of currants from the California desert for Christmas and I found this bread recipe where the liquid is carrot juice and you add currants and walnuts.
Here is the recipe. There’s a 15 minute video clip, too, but I don’t have the patience to watch it so I’m not going to recommend. I think that every video clip ever is too long, except for those involving the Portland Timbers. (Did I mention pre-season starts February 17? Don’t worry, I’ll remind you again. The opening match is March 3 on ESPN2 in case you want to put that on your calendar. We play New York.)
Back to my recipe, I’ll omit the details but I made two baking things at once and both failed so I’m pretty confident the problem was the yeast. The yeast packs in my cupboard all say good until 2014 but I go through it so quickly I don’t check so I probably had an old packet in there and didn’t notice.
The first rise was not too impressive but I went ahead and did the second rise and baked it. There’s no question it was a brick. But isn’t what makes bread fluffy, air? So really didn’t I just save us from having to eat a lot of air?
It tasted decent. According to Bob it’s terrific with nut butter and since there’s only one tiny wedge left, I don’t think he’s lying. I’m going to do a giant do over this weekend to either shore up my confidence or stab it in the face.
Yesterday I made a charred strawberry-rhubarb pie. No that’s not a typo from some creative (and most likely ill-advised) chard pie – I burned the top crust.
It wasn’t completely ruined but close. I thought about posting a picture but decided I didn’t want that floating around in the world.
I have completely lost my baking mojo. The last three loaves of bread were disasters. Now this pie. The crust was also among my worst efforts but we’re all used to that by now.
I think the main problem is that I am always rushing and/or trying to do ten things at once. There is no solution. If there was, I’d have figured it out by now.
Yesterday I had a short window to get the pie done and I tried to hurry and why not turn the broiler on for a second to get the top nicely browned while I finish sweeping the floor? Never do this.
While I was rushing around making my pie my cellphone rang. I’m not a big phone person and get few calls and most of the ones I get are wrong numbers. This call was a wrong number. The caller had a heavy accent and sounded like she was traveling in a tunnel with all the windows down so I could hardly understand her. She asked for Maya and I told her she had the wrong number. Then she went on and on wanting to make sure Maya wasn’t there and was I sure and maybe someone else there knew her because that’s the number she gave them. I was starting to think she was punking me but I’m not sure what the joke was.
NYC photostream still not ready. I’ll let you know when it’s up.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one:
I’ve had this post partially finished and saved in draft for days but haven’t had time to finish. The weekend got away from me and I’m behind on everything. My yard is out of control. The rain is destroying my will to live. I made *another* loaf of fail bread. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.
It’s the same post every week.
I’m going to queue it up to post itself over and over and save myself from the existential despair of discovering that I am living some sort of twisted and ultimately unsatisfying version of Groundhog’s Day.
Here’s some news: I saw two movies in one week and neither one was The Avengers (which I’ve seen 3x and I would cheerfully go see it again tomorrow, if you asked).
First: Rock of Ages.
When I saw the trailer for this movie, I wanted my 3 minutes back. I thought it looked dreadful. I did not think I wanted to see Tom Cruise in that role.
I went on a movie date with my cousin and we saw this. It is totally off-the-rails crazy and also completely genius. Tom Cruise is amazing. If you enjoy 80’s hair band music, you should run to the nearest theater. If you hate 80’s hair band music, you might be happier if you stayed home.
The other movie I saw with my sweetie: Moonrise Kingdom
Wes Anderson is in danger of becoming a parody of himself but I loved loved loved it. This movie is brilliant. I loved all the acting. The kids, Bill Murray, Francis McDormand, Bruce Willis. Tilda Swinton plays a cold bitch — but it’s a different flavor of cold bitch than you’ve ever seen her do before. Bob already downloaded the soundtrack for me. I can’t quote my favorite line because it’s a spoiler so here’s one:
Watch out for turtles. They’ll bite you if you stick your finger in their mouths.
Kira these are the raspberries. I found a few ripe ones today.
Since the beginning of the year I keep thinking I have one more big project to finish and then I’ll have a weekend where I can take it easy and catch up on all these loose ends that are getting looser by the minute.
This weekend didn’t work out with extra time either.
If I owe you a phone call or note or said I’d do something for you — maybe next weekend. I have one more big project to finish.
I haven’t even had time to watch all my soccer. One game a day is all I’ve managed to cram in. And none of the games I’ve seen so far has blown my socks off. Who should we root for in England v. France tomorrow?
Every time there’s a once in a lifetime astronomy event, I never pay much attention because it’s cloudy here 385 days a year. There was that venus across the sun thing happening and it was not cloudy so I went and did the homework to see how I could go about viewing it. The instructions said to go some place where they’re projecting it and watch it there.
I’m thinking: watch it projected or wait until tomorrow and look at it on the Internet, what’s the difference?
I also tried just looking at the sun even though the directions said not to. It just looked bright and hurt my eyes.
I baked another loaf of total fail bread. The crust is like crumpled concrete. The inside is dense and tasteless. I can’t understand what I’m doing wrong. I need to get out all my bread notes and see if I can troubleshoot it. Baking bread used to be my super power.
I can hardly keep my eyes open so I’m going to bed.
I thought I killed my sourdough. After years of taking care of it, it got wedged in the back of the fridge and I neglected it. When I finally took it out it had a weird chemical smell and I dumped it.
Later I found out it was fine and with a couple of good feedings it would be good as new. Or good as old. You only have to throw it out if it gets mold or weird stuff growing in it.
When I was in California in February Auntie gave me some more starter and I fed it this weekend. I decided to bake a loaf of bread. I’ve done this a lot. I use the regular no-knead recipe and throw in a dollop of sourdough.
This time my sourdough feeding was more liquidy than I usually do. I fed the sourdough in my bread mixing bowl and I was too lazy to wash it. Honestly it occurred to me that this was a terrible idea as I was doing it but I did it anyway. I just scraped out most of the sourdough for the fridge and made the bread in the bowl with the remaining sourdough.
Within a few hours I had a bowl filled with bubbling “dough.” I left it overnight and in the morning tried to shape my loaf with what was actually a wonderful sourdough batter. When I took that baking class the teacher managed to make a loaf with really wet dough so I thought I could do it. But mostly I just swirled sticky batter all over my kitchen counter until I got mad and scraped it into the trash.
I’m sure when we get home tonight it will have taken over the trash can.
Earlier this month I wanted to do 12 Days of Christmas with the Rentz girls but I could only find 3 photos. I just picked up another giant bag of photos on this trip so next year, watch out. I love this one because of the lederhosen and also the delighted expression on both our faces. We always had a really cool swing set in the backyard when we were little.
This morning I tried on my test pants. You know the pants you use to test how far gone you are? If you can zip them, you’re still okay.
I could zip them. Whew.
I think what saved me is the 10 lbs. of Fisherman’s Friend I’ve eaten in the last 2 months for the never-ending cough. They keep me from coughing and I can’t say they kill my appetite but they don’t do it any favors. It also helped that no one ever got around to making cookies.
Christmas was all good. California was great. I’ve enjoyed my time off. I accomplished about a third of the things on my list which is pretty good.
I even did the thing that’s been on my xmas vacation list for about 5 years that I always put off. I cleaned out my pantry. I took everything out and scrubbed down all the shelves and tossed all the outdated stuff. It’s always funny to find something that says Best By 2005 and you can’t imagine it’s been there that long.
Here’s a question: why do baking mixes come in goofy quantities? The instructions for making will call for 2 1/2 cups of mix but the package will have 3 1/2 cups of mix? What do you do with the extra mix? Yeah, duh, you could buy another mix but I’m not falling into their trap. I’m going to combine all our leftover mixes and make date muffin-cornbread-12 grain pancake something.
Bob and his new friend Shyboy having a Christmas nap.
I also finally tried that recipe for Ocean Rolls that I’ve been sitting on since summer. As usual I biffed it up a bit. I guess I need my recipes a little more hand-holdy than that one. After it was too late I found a site where someone had posted feedback and said that it was too much flour. My dough was pretty dry.
Then I couldn’t understand the instructions for shaping them so I wung it. When I opened the oven door to check progress, they’d all come unrolled and it looked like Medusa’s nightstand if she takes her snakes off when she showers.
They tasted terrific so I will definitely try again.
Tonight I’m having my favorite New Year’s Eve — the one where I stay home and reheat leftovers then go to bed by 9pm. I woke up at 5 this morning so I might go to bed earlier.
Happy New Year.