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Dithering and Delays

11 Mar

As some of you may have noticed (and many of you may not have until I point this out), I have been MIA for three months.  Clearly, there has been a lot going on since we last met in December.

Christmas was a big deal. It was the first I spent in Scotland.

Not that I got the Gos… It’s just so festive.

Then there was Hogmanay (as they call New Years Eve here in Scotland).

Hogmanay Bonfire

Ringing in the New Year with a Bonfire.

A snow-less winter occurred.

Minimal baking happened. (Mostly this and this and some largely mediocre Mary Berry cakes.)

My thesis writing became an even large part of my life.  Basically, it’s consuming the time that I would generally spend updating my lovely little blog and keeping my friends, family, and followers entertained and abreast of my successful cooking/baking endeavors.

I also tried to come up with things to write about that wouldn’t be boring, but was mostly bored with them myself… So this is the slightly less boring account of my blogging failure.

I would love to promise, yet again, that I’ll do better, but it’s going to be pretty intermittent for the next month and a bit until I submit the thesis and finish some prep for my upcoming job.  Hang in there readers, good things are on the way! (Who knows, maybe even a recipe in the next week or so?)

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Holiday Time

26 Nov

The holidays are rapidly approaching, my dear readers.  How did it get so late in the year so quickly? How do I still have so much to do in SO LITTLE TIME?  I have my own reasons to be asking myself these questions (think a long lingering cold and 30,000 words to write in 3 months), but I’m sure you all have your own.

The end of this week will begin my mad dash to purchase all of the holiday gifts I could possibly want to send to my friends and family in the USA from stores in Britain to ensure receipt on or before Christmas.

Starting tomorrow I will be comfortably enveloped in my kitchen for 2 days cooking Thanksgiving dinner for twelve! This is the biggest group I’ve ever single-handedly cooked for, so wish me luck!

Finally a rush to finish Christmas shopping and the lovely deep breath that is Christmas morning.  A deep breath inspired by my lack of stressful things to do.

Here are some things that indicate “that time of year” is upon us to me:

Those red cups

I know, I know. I’m playing into corporate America’s takeover of the season, but they’re just so festive I couldn’t help myself.

I can see my breath all the time.

This is a new thing for me.  In California, I would mention that this would happen in the mornings, but in Glasgow it’s an all the time, even from my nose kind of a thing.

Canned, pureed pumpkin en mass.

So much pumpkin-y goodness

That’s right. That is four cans of pumpkin on my kitchen counter. NBD.

Corn Chowder Cravings.

I know this one is just me, but my dad always makes it in the winter time. No matter how old I get, when it’s chilly, this is a food I wish I had.

Twinkly lights are everywhere.

Glasgow Loves Christmas

Glasgow has a whole marketing campaign for its lights and shopping called “Glasgow loves Christmas.” It’s totally true.

My desire for butter and carbohydrates.

mmm... butter

My body really wants to bulk up for the short, cold, dark days that lie ahead.  It’s both wonderful and rude.

This sweater.

Reindeer Jumper!

I’ve been looking for a reindeer sweater for literally two years.  I saw this one and needed it.

What are some of your cues that the holidays are upon us?

Living Life Cameraless

31 Jul
Test Kitchen Cookie+Trusty Spreads

Test Kitchen Cookie+Trusty Spreads

Remember that recipe I promised would be up by the end of last week?  Noticed a lack of recipe?  Well, I have come to defend myself for my own inconsistency.  I made the cookies,  I ate the cookies, but the cookies should stay in the “test kitchen” portion of my life.  I took a tried and true cookie recipe, substituted peanut butter for 1/2 the butter and things got sticky.  Literally, the dough was thick and sticky.  Not sticky in a good way though, but in a the-chocolate-chips-won’t-fold-into-the-dough kind of way.  I did, however, put peanut butter and nutella between two this afternoon, and was pretty happy.  Decent cookies, just not cookies I’d encourage others to make.  A shout out to a friend of mine who stayed with me last week though for telling me that I’m a good baker anyway!

I realized today (while spreading my two favorite things on cookie, mind you) that I’ve become a person that doesn’t really document things.  When the flash on my camera broke over a year ago, I never bothered fixing it.  Because I’m terrified of breaking my precious iPhone, I don’t whip it out and take pictures unless I’m nearly guaranteed its safe return to my handbag.  I don’t mind this though.  I know it makes for less entertaining blogging (sorry guys), but I’m happy to say that I’m able to live my life without constantly needing to take 18 pictures of myself eating and walking and baking and doing yoga and studying and writing and reading.  And, though I may have been converted to just about every social media platform, I don’t need to take and share photographic evidence of my life.  Thanks little blog for teaching me that.

I leave you with a John Mayer song that sums up my feelings very neatly.

P.S. check out this wonderful vegetarian fajita recipe my friend Emma sent me- healthy and reducing the impact eating meat has on the planet! (It’s my dinner tonight!) http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/roasted-chickpea-fajitas/

Nutella Swirl Banana Loaf

15 Jun

Earlier in the week, I did something I never thought I would do.  I added something to my banana bread.  Now, I’m not really a fan of things in my breads.  I don’t generally like nuts or chunks or chocolate chips in them (except walnuts in my pumpkin bread, which, honestly, is amazing) or cream cheese or butter or any other spread on them.  Just give me plain fruit/vegetable loaf.

But let me tell you, I’ve been converted.  After seeing nutella added to just about every baked good on Pinterest and trying some very mediocre no-flour-just-sugar-and-nutella cookies there, I decided to take  inspiration from Pinterest (or should I say PINspiration, eh? Right, never again) and add nutella to my banana bread recipe.

IMG_0439

The bread was a huge comfort for the two days it lasted between two people- whoops- as I’ve been agonizing about my thesis.  Now the angst is over, I’ll give you fewer stress recipes and, hopefully, more interesting ones.  I feel that all you know I can bake is various breads!

Note that this is a loaf and not a bread.  As much as I like to delude myself about banana bread not being a dessert, but an acceptable snack, the added nutella makes it very cake-like in terms of sweetness and sugar content.   I didn’t use quite enough nutella when I made it (an obviously foolish mistake), so use the full amount! Best enjoyed with someone you really love because you won’t want to share!

Nutella Swirl Banana LoafNutella Swirl Banana Loaf

Subtract the nutella and you get my regular banana bread recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (113g) butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 mashed bananas (mashed to your chunk preferred level)
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cup sifted flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup nutella

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and grease/butter a loaf tin.  Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the eggs and mix until combined.  Mix in nutmeg and bananas.  Sift in flour, baking soda, and salt.  Heat nutella in microwave for 15 seconds or pop in oven for a few minutes.  Pour alternating layers of batter and nutella into the loaf tin.  Swirl with knife to give pretty marbled look.  Bake for about 1 hour.  Leave to cool.  Slice and enjoy!

 

 

Happy Spring!

21 Mar

It’s not really Spring yet here in Glasgow, although we did see some sun late yesterday and earlier today.  The daffodils are threatening to bloom, the weather is nearly in the 40s, and the sun is almost out more often.

I have an interim review coming up for my thesis, which is mildly terrifying.  I can’t believe I’m halfway through my research period.  Am I half way done with my research, you may ask.  Not at all.  I suppose I am close to a third of the way through, but I feel like the first 3 months were such a bust.  Now that I know what I’m doing, I’m moving so much more quickly, I wish I could pretend that I had started in January rather than October!  Oh well.  I’ve been working a lot this week (hence the multiple blog posts for a break) and am looking forward to a weekend of completing the prereview things I need to do and doing a round of spring cleaning.

Fresh out of the oven

Fresh out of the oven

While I’ve been working, Matthew has also been killing himself to finish up his term.  I can’t get over how early classes end here.  The students at UCLA still have a full 10 weeks of teaching plus finals.  From here on out for Matthew, it’s all about studying for a mass of exams that cover a year’s worth of topics.  Because of his stress (and my love of baking), today I made a giant batch of chocolate chip cookies.  Around 60, in fact.  Our neighbors might love me as much as Matthew does soon because I might just leave small parcels of cookies in their mail boxes to get rid of some of them…  I tried out a new recipe from, yet again, Deb on Smitten Kitchen and it turned out wonderfully!  I usually add or subtract little things from recipes, but I decided to bake straight from the recipe today and damn was it a good choice.  I don’t want to know how many Matthew has consumed and I’ve already eaten 4.  Thank god tonight we’re eating a salad for dinner…

Food for Thought

The Way Mom Makes It

10 Feb

As a child, I was an extremely picky eater.  Fortunately for me and everyone around me, I had a list longer than 10 foods,

but I was difficult to please.  Going to restaurants was always interesting if they didn’t have something pretty basic, chicken strips for example, because burgers and grilled cheese were out of the question.  I always wanted things to be the way my mom made them.  For most things, I’ve grown out of this.  I can handle a ham that someone other than my mother has prepared or a cake that someone else baked with love.  Like many adults though, some things just aren’t right unless it has Mom’s recipe attached to it.

As I mentioned in my last post, I found a good recipe for banana bread on (shock) smitten kitchen- you can check it out here. It was good, very good even.  The texture was perfect and it was a lovely compliment to my morning coffee.  But it wasn’t my mom’s.  It didn’t hold the just banana flavor that I was looking for, the wonderful simplicity of childhood.

Friday I decided that I couldn’t deny the urge any longer.  I made myself a most unnecessary, but long held out for, loaf.

Mom's Banana Bread

Mom’s Banana Bread

And boy is it good.  I did make a few tweaks (sorry Mom) based on my own preference or instinct.  I substituted butter for shortening, because I am a butter devotee, and I added extra mashed banana and a pinch of nutmeg, to add a little extra flavor.  Because I ran out of granulated sugar, the last little bit I filled in with brown, which turned out swimmingly.  Enjoy the adapted version of my mom’s recipe!

Mom’s Banana Bread

  • 1/2 cup butter (shortening if you prefer)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (I did just under a cup and added 2 tbsp brown)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup mashed banana
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cup sifted flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350° F, 175° C.  In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Add the two eggs and beat until combined.  Add the mashed banana and nutmeg to the mixture.  Sift in flour, baking soda, and salt.  Pour into buttered loaf tin and bake for 40-50 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Cool on wire racks and serve!

Pumpkin Bread Round 2

22 Jan

After several days of delay, I have finally recreated the pumpkin bread.  It’s pretty enough to take a picture of and yummy enough to put  the recipe up.

IngedientsPumpkin Bread Recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups (200g) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (240 ml) pumpkin purée (I just used canned, but be warned, this is over half of a can, so either make a second smaller loaf or use the leftovers for something else!)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) olive oil (I use less and it’s definitely still moist)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) chopped walnuts
  • Butter for pan

Preheat the oven to 350 (180 C)Sift the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda together in a large bowl.  In a second bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, olive oil, eggs, water, and spices.  Combine with the dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix.  Stir in walnuts.  Pour into well buttered loaf pan.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.  Turn out of pan and set on wire rack to cool.  Enjoy! (My thanks to Elise on Simply Recipes for this one!)

The Finished Product

The Finished Product

Pumpkin Bread

18 Jan

Not only has it not snowed today, it’s actually sunny.  This afternoon promises a long walk through the Glasgow Botanic Gardens with Matthew and a cold nose.  I’m excited to bundle up and go out.

As noted in last night’s post, pumpkin bread was in my near future.  I spent the early afternoon baking (and making a mess) in my sunlit kitchen.  While I may have mentioned that my kitchen is tiny (at least by my standards, although certainly not by New York apartment standards), I may not have mentioned that it has a window that is nearly floor to ceiling.  Typically, this makes the room cold and not terribly bright, as it is Glasgow in January (or October or November or December as the case may be).  But today it was calling my name as place to enjoy the sun, but stay relatively warm in the heat of my oven.

The bread turned out wonderfully. I made the first batch without walnuts and it was half eaten before I could take a picture, so I’m posting the one from simply recipes instead.    Tomorrow, the plan is to make a second loaf with the other half of the pumpkin can and walnuts.  I wanted to do it tonight, but I’ve run out of flour and am super low on olive oil.  I’ll post the recipe, the tweaks I’ve made, and my own photos tomorrow, assuming I can keep Matthew away from the finished product long enough.

Mmmm… Pumpkin Bread

Happy Thanksgiving!

22 Nov

I hope everyone out there is having a wonderful day with their families and/or friends!  I started my baking last night, but let the cooking commence!

If only I had  a dining room table so that I might have a normal eating situation…

A Peanuts Thanksgiving

Salmon Monday

12 Nov

Mondays are slow days for me here in Glasgow.  Today, for instance, I’ve done some laundry (excitement!), had some tea while watching a TV show and again while talking to Matthew (thrill!), and read a few articles on autism’s representation in the media between working on a spreadsheet to document my “texts”- that would be all books, films, and shows I use- for my thesis (fascination!).  Basically, on Mondays I do a lot of work that is not fun to read about.

My latest cooking attempt, though, is slightly more entertaining.  Yesterday, Matthew acquired some salmon from his mother and one of his brothers.  As students, free food is never turned down, but free salmon!? I don’t really know how we got so lucky.  Because it was fresh, it was important to eat it quickly, so tonight was the night!  As much as I wish we had been clever enough to have had Salmon Sunday, alas, Salmon Monday will have to do.  Unfortunately, I neglected to take any photos of it, so no exciting food shots for you, my dear readers. I’m sure you won’t mind that much though, because it really wasn’t all that pretty.  I’m not the best at pretty cooking yet, but at least it’s tasty!  I am including the recipe to make up for the lack of photos and hopefully provide you with a night of easy cooking.  Happy Monday!

Brown Sugar Salmon- from cooks.com

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (packed) + 8 tsp brown sugar for later (I only used 2 here, but I recommend 4,  one per fillet, so you get the taste without over doing it.)
  • 4 salmon fillets (I used a large side here, so basically 3 or 4 servings worth)
  • 1 tbsp butter- melted
  • 4 slices of lemon (or enough for one per fillet)

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Pour the lemon juice into a, 11×7.5 glass baking dish and evenly distribute the brown sugar around it.  Place salmon in baking tray and drizzle with butter.  Pop in the oven for 15 minutes.

Remove the baking tray and turn the fish.  Place the lemon slices on the fish and spread the brown sugar on the tops.  Place back into the oven until the fish breaks apart easily with a fork, about 15-20 more minutes.

Serve! Bon appétit!