Food Experiment Explained

So at the beginning of this semester, I faced a very serious dilemma: Take a high-level Culture of Food class that would go towards neither my major or my minor and had nothing to do with my fields of study, or take a high-level Spanish class that would contribute to my Spanish minor.

Apparently, I care more about food than I do about Spanish.

Anyway, one of the assignments for the class is to do a personal food experiment and write about it.

My experiment, as per suggestion by Amelia, is to cook for 2 weeks without recipes.  This is proving to be more difficult and easier than I expected.  No matter what, I can always fall back on pizza and macaroni and cheese, my know-it-by-heart staples, but I figured why not branch out and try some harder things?

Week One of the two-week project is over, and the following blog posts will outline my cooking hooventures (my little sister’s old word for “adventures”).

An Aside Written Out of Fear

I recently signed up for housing again at school…housing for my senior year. When Amelia and I went to go sign up, we were hoping to get into a smaller apartment (fewer random flatmates to gamble with) but we ended up with something far better. A close friend of ours is rooming with two other girls and invited us to join them in a nice large, five-person apartment!
One of the girls immediately dubbed it our future “Love Nest” and I received the name of “Sugar Pixie.” Since we’re only acquaintances, I was surprised how well the name actually fit me.

All of that aside, though, in the excitement I sort of forgot about what applying for my last apartment on campus means. It means that come next May I have to LIVE. Somewhere else. Somewhere else out in the real world. The world is so big!

I have a few options, and my boyfriend and I are still deciding and feeling them all out. I might:
Terrifying Option #1) move to Chicago! Go to pastry school! Get an apartment on my own! And a job! Exciting!
or
Terrifying Option #2) go to grad school. Somewhere. Maybe. If they’ll take me.
or
Terrifying Option #3) Get married in Sweden (Denmark won’t let me in on a marriage visa until I’m 24) and get a job there while Andreas finishes up school
or
Most Terrifying Option #4) Something Else.

And I thought choosing a college and going off to live “on my own” in the dorms was scary.
At least I’ll always have cookies…and socks. No matter what, I’ll have cookies. And socks. That’s all that matters, right? (Right?!?!)

Blogging is Hard

I never thought that blogging would be easy, don’t get me wrong.  I just never thought it would be quite this hard.  Granted part of my problem might be my ever-waning brain-juice and concentration skills (it’s just hard to function when you don’t eat all day!), but I’ve been having more issues with picture alignment and templates than I ever thought I would.  Do I have to learn HTML?  CSS?

I’m a very confused beginning blogger.

Spur of the Moment Cake

So, Amelia’s birthday was last week, and she came back from a day with her parents laden with new kitchen gear!  Since we’ll be living together again for the next year, her boon is my boon and I shared her new baking pan, spatula, cooling rack, candy thermometer joy.

She now has a 9-inch circular cake pan, a shape our combined kitchen supplies had been missing, and after we washed it, I’d just put it on the counter, since I didn’t know in which corner of our scant cupboard space she wanted it to belong.  As we were both sitting on the couch, watching America’s Next Top Model, she saw it on the counter and asked me if I was going to make a cake.  I said no, much to our mutual disappointment and told her I just wasn’t sure where she wanted me to put it.  Ten minutes later, we’d reached the conclusion that we really should make a cake.

We mixed up a quick “Lightning Cake” from Joy of Cooking (written rather illegibly into my rubber-duck-covered recipe book) and baked it in two parts (since we have only one pan). Here’s a rough version of the recipe:

Cream 1/2 C butter until…creamy.  Sift together 1 3/4 C flour, 1/2 t. salt and 1 C sugar.  Add to butter adn beat for one minute.  Scrape the bowl.  Add 2 eggs and 1/2 C plus 1 Tbs Milk.  Beat for 1 1/2 minutes on higher speed.  Fold in 1 1/2 t. baking powder and 1 tsp vanilla.  Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

We were surprisingly patient throughout the entire process, considering that we both had a strong craving for cake the moment if was accidentally mentioned.  Amelia started the ganache while I started the butter cream:

Ganache Recipe:

12 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
1 C heavy cream

Scald the cream (bring almost to a boil).  Pour over chocolate chips.  Let sit about 10 minutes, then stir until smooth.

Butter Cream Recipe
1/4 C Butter
3 Tbs. flour
3/4 C milk
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 C butter
1 C granulated sugar

Melt 1/4 C butter over low heat.  Blend in flour.  Gradually stir in milk.  Cook and stir until mixture thickens and comes to a boil.  Cool to room temp (this is very important!  Otherwise you end up having to chill the final product before you beat it and you might get scared that it’s not working…or else that was just us.)  Add vanilla.  Cream remaining butter with sugar until fluffy.  Gradually add milk mixture, beating about 5 minutes.

Then we sandwiched and glopped to our hearts’ content.  We saved the leftover butter cream frosting to decorate, but when there was even more extra than we could use, we ended up doodling with it on our hands and licking it off.  In my defense: I’m losing weight from fasting, and I’m really not supposed to lose any weight at all!  Also, butter cream frosting is just the best ever.  Final product montage!!!

While trying to decide how to decorate it, we relied on our expert doodling skills and covered the sides with very technically named “swirly trees,” and put on the top the ever-classy “S-thing that we used to draw in elementary school.”  I think the overall effect is quite charming, and just cute.

We decided, after eating the leftover frosting that we needed something a little more savory before we tasted the cake, so we cleared out enough room in our over-tenanted refrigerator and our precious spur-of-the-moment cake is waiting to be sliced and eaten!  I’m confident enough to say that it’s going to be quite tasty!

Fasting

There’s another aspect of my life that I have yet to mention on the blog, and now is as good a time as any.

Since I was little, I was raised as a Baha’i.  Without going terribly into detail, it’s basically the newest world religion.  We believe that all of the prophets (including our prophet, Baha’u’llah) were sent from the one same God, so in essence, all religions agree in the same main principles (basically, be nice and loving), and are only set apart by their various social laws which have changed over the years as humanity progresses.  We mostly focus on spirituality, discovering the Truth for oneself, and being virtuous.

I actually met my boyfriend while I was serving at Louhelen Baha’i School a couple of summers ago, and he’s the reason I went to Denmark over winter (and plan to again next December.)  He also happens to be one of the reasons I actually gathered the courage to start a blog. 🙂

Anyway, the reason I’m talking about it at the moment is that this month is the month of fasting for the Baha’is.  Baha’i months are nineteen days long (and there are nineteen of them), and the month preceding our new year (which is on the first day of spring), we do not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset every day.

It is hard.

Not only is it physically difficult, but it’s incredibly challenging to try to concentrate on schoolwork instead of counting down the minutes until the sun sets every day.

And I really like food.

I really, really like food.  Food is what I think about when I’m bored in class.  It’s what I think about when I’m browsing the internet (*cough*foodgawker*cough*).  It’s what I think about all day, planning what I’m going to make for dinner, what I need to buy at the grocery store, what I can bake so that I’ll be stocked up on sweets for a few days.

I’m not complaining, it’s really my choice.  But…it’s difficult to want to post entries on a food blog when your stomach is grumbling and you still have….four hours and thirty minutes until sunset (four hours of which will be spent at work.  Catering.)  So excuse me if I put off my Nutella Pocket Cookies post until one of these days after the sun sets.