Friday, April 27, 2012

Click the picture to view an absolutely hilarious retelling of one woman's adventure to replicate her mom's tasty pecan shortbread cookies. And they sound delicious to boot!

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cheesecake tips and tricks

This post at The Kitchn has some great tips for baking a great cheesecake. I heartily agree with all the tips, and I had never heard the tip to chill your cheesecake for at least six hours. I always just let it come to room temperature on the counter and only chilled it if there were leftovers. I will definitely have to try chilling my cheesecake before serving next time.

I think the most important thing to remember about a cheesecake is that it's basically a custard pie, so it should be handled with care. It will not take kindly to overcooking or too high temperatures. It definitely follows the cardinal rule of cooking eggs - if it looks done in the pan, it will be overdone on the plate. I'll admit; I have had difficulty with this one. But, once I got over it, I could enjoy creamy, luscious cheesecakes and smooth, moist, even custardy, scrambled eggs, and omelets that don't taste like styrofoam.

A lot of people swear by baking cheesecakes in a water bath, but that's a problem if you use a springform pan. The great Alton Brown gets around this by using a 3" tall cake pan instead, but I'm rather attached to my springform. I get around it by putting the two racks in my oven in two adjacent slots with the top rack in the middle of the oven. On the bottom rack, I put a sheet pan filled with water. (Put the pan in first and then fill with water.) I put the water pan in the oven as soon as I finish baking the crust so the water has time to warm up and get the oven nice and steamy while I get the filling ready. Once the filling is ready and in the pan, that pan goes on the rack right above the water pan. It's protected from the harsher radiant heat from the coils at the bottom of the oven, and the cheesecake gets to cook in a nice moist environment. It doesn't coddle the cheesecake as much as a water bath would, but I think it's a good compromise.

The next thing is to not let the cheesecake overcook. I think this is where most cheesecakes go wrong. If you're paranoid about undercooking, you can turn off the oven when you think it's almost done. That will allow you a little more room for error. Although you're more likely to overcook it this way, it won't be as noticeable and will give you peace of mind if you're worried about eating undercooked eggs. (I say to get over it, but that's just me.)

If you're more worried about overcooking, like me, take the cheesecake out of the oven when the outer half is set, but the center still jiggles when you shake it. So, if you're using a 9" springform pan, you're looking for a jiggly circle between 4" and 5" in diameter when you shake the pan. And by shake, I mean wiggle back and forth on the oven rack horizontally, just so there's no confusion. I don't want anybody picking up the pan and shaking it up and down. That sounds like a good way to get boiling hot and probably pretty sticky cream cheese on yourself. Yikes!

If you're looking for a good recipe, I would highly recommend this one from Tigers & Strawberries. It has never failed me, and it's easy to customize.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Best mold buster I've found

Baking Soda
photo by [F]oxymoron
I used to swear by cleaning my bathtub with Comet. I didn't think anything could kill the mold or get rid of stains in the tub as well. I mean, it made sense. It's basically scour-y bleach. But, no more. I tried a cleaning tip I saw online (can't remember where exactly or I'd attribute it), and I can tell you now, I will not be going back.

The tip I read online just said to sprinkle the tub with baking soda, but I added a little something to it. After I let the baking soda sit for a little while, I sprayed it with some vinegar and then scrubbed the tub with the mixture. I was shocked by how easily the discoloration from mold disappeared. I honestly didn't know my tub could be that color! And how dirty the water was when I rinsed everything away! And jeeze, a four pound box of baking soda cost, like, $2.

Cheap, effective, and no bleach fumes? Sold!

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Breastfeeding, talk about your ups and downs (NSFW?)

I found the hilarious image below on this post at How to Be a Dad with the caption, "Breastfeeding: Got a problem? Suck it." I've seen my LO do exactly this and then pull away and look at me with brows furrowed because he cannot understand why Mama is laughing so hard.

I love breastfeeding. I will miss it so much when it's gone. It's been great to have the special bonding time between me and my son and to know I'm doing at least one thing that's unequivocally best for him. It's so sweet when he cuddles up and his eyes get heavy when I'm nursing him at bedtime. It's so cute when he stops in the middle of eating just to smile and talk to me before finishing his meal. I laugh hysterically when he dive bombs my boobs because he's hungry or when he plays with my bra strap while he nurses.

But, I'm also ready for it to be over. He just started crawling a couple of weeks ago, so it's a struggle to get him to settle down to nurse. He also grabbed a nipple the other day and got his sharp little baby fingernails nice and dug into it before I could get him to let go (oh, and then he bit the same one two days later). I also took pseudoephedrine, which decreased my supply, which never bounced back. I under-produced (by half) for the first two months of his life, which came along with a host of other problems, so the low supply has me seriously stressed out. Throughout breastfeeding, I've experienced most problems possible: low supply, latch problems, nursing strikes, sore nipples, clogged ducts, etc. There were a few times in those first couple of months when I almost quit.

So, do I love breastfeeding? Usually. Do I hate breastfeeding? Sometimes. Has it been difficult? You bet your ass. Am I glad I stuck it out? Yes.

I guess I wanted to share this because I don't think people hear the full story of what it's like to breastfeed. I thought it would be a lot easier than it was when my baby was born. People talk about how natural and wonderful it is, and it is. But, it's difficult. It can take a few weeks until things start to go smoothly, and it is a lot of work up until then. I wish they covered that aspect of breastfeeding in the birthing classes and baby books. I'd be willing to bet more women would stick it out if they knew that it would be tough at the start when they made the decision to breastfeed. I also think hospitals could be a lot more supportive to breastfeeding mothers - most women go into labor planning to breastfeed but leave the hospital feeding formula - but that is another post.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Hunger Games, indeed

This brilliant person came up with a recipe for Katniss's favorite dish from The Hunger Games, lamb stew with dried plums. It looks absolutely delicious and incredibly rich, just as it should be for a Capitol dish. I can understand why Katniss took a liking to it. There are so many mentions of delicious sounding food in that book; one could write an entire cook book based on the trilogy. (Dear anyone considering doing this, please omit any Greasy Sae dishes.)

After seeing this, I must say I'm a bit inspired. I'm feeling like taking a stab at the chicken and oranges in a cream sauce, myself.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

I actually made something I pinned!

Indeed, it's the third recipe I pinned that I actually made. I'm so proud of me. I made Pasta with Cauliflower and Sausage from The Kitchn. I loved it, and my husband, who hates cooked cauliflower (but likes it raw, go figure), loved it as well. I made a half recipe, and there were still enough leftovers for both of us to have a meal of leftovers (and for me to cut up a little to give to the little one. He liked the cauliflower. He makes Mama proud.).

Sauteing the cauliflower really brings out the sweetness of it, and it goes really well with the slight spice of the mild italian sausage. I thought the flavors balanced really nicely, and it had a nice sweetness to it without having the over sweet taste you can get from a jarred sauce. Plus, I cannot resist fresh mozzarella. I like to buy the little balls to snack on in lieu of string cheese.

I used onions instead of shallots (because it's what I had around) and parmesan instead of bread crumbs (because I was too lazy to make breadcrumbs). All in all, I'd say it is definitely a repeat.

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The resurrection of the blog

If anyone is actually out there to read this, I commend you. This blog has been dead so long, you've probably forgotten that you followed it in the first place. Well, I'm here to tell you that I'm bringing it back from the dead.

I've decided to expand the scope a bit. I'll continue to post about food, and that will be my main focus. But, I've discovered a couple of new loves since I stopped posting here. I started crocheting about two years ago, and I had a baby nine months ago. So, I plan to post a bit about crocheting and yarn and a bit about parenting.

I hope you'll enjoy reading what I have to share. See you again soon!

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