Wednesday, December 30, 2009

And so I rise

*begin angry rant*

Hey world! Guess what I had for breakfast? Toast, with actual carbs! And butter! Gorsh, I must be deeply unhappy with the world and my place in it. And the fact that the toast came from a loaf I actually baked? Aieeee, no wonder I'm morbidly obese! I have Issues with Flour! Somebody call somebody!

Please, Internet, tell me all the reasons I should hate myself and my body! Because I don't know how awful I look in clothes! Or how many years I'm taking off my life! Or all the Big Scary diseases I'm sure to develop! This is exactly the information I need to get motivated about Lifestyle Changes! I'm gonna go get one of those "30 Day Shred" DVDs RIGHT NOW, because you cared enough to tell me you don't want to sit next to me on an airplane! Thanks for caring about my "health," as you so euphemistically put it!

*shaking head* *end rant*

I should add that said toast was also garnished with honey, from a jar I received from my dearest friend, who was visiting from northern California and is a beekeeper in his spare time. The honey is incredibly complex in flavor; it's definitely sweet, but there are other notes in there as well. I'll have to work on describing it. It'd be great in savory applications, I bet.

This Christmas I actually got most of the baking done that I wanted to do, or at least all of the baking that was on deadline, for our families and a couple friends. Between last year (when I didn't do any baking, because I sliced a major finger open), and this year's Thanksgiving (when, at 2:00 in the morning, half of Dad's apple Bundt cake elected to stay in the pan), I guess some sort of vindication was in order.

*ahem* There were six kinds of cookies and two different breads. I made double batches of chewy chocolate chip, white chocolate-macadamia nut, and World Peace cookies. Most of the World Peace cookies (a.k.a. PMS Cookies, a.k.a. Chocolate Salty Balls) were eaten by me, since they came out looking like "cow pies," as one observer put it. Even if they were pretty I doubt many would have made it out of the house. (Issues!)

I made a pan of raspberry bars, mostly because with this recipe*, they are very satisfying to make: you take the shortbread dough and chill it in logs, and once they are good and cold, you shred the logs into the pan, using the big holes of a grater. So the dough ends up looking exactly like mozzarella cheese. Then you spoon out a jar of raspberry preserves, and then another layer of dough. Trying to even out brownie batter with a spatula makes me nuts, so I really love this approach. It's the kind of "Shred" I can actually accomplish. (Seriously, I'm done. Promise.)

I made a regular batch of oatmeal raisin with golden raisins, because my regular raisins were in brick form. And I finally busted out the pizzelle maker I got from Dad last year, which was actually kind of fun. Pizzelles are Italian cookies made on a device similar to a waffle iron. They actually taste a lot like waffle ice cream cones, and could conceiveably be rolled into cones themselves, but I haven't had the nerve to try that yet. My Italian grandmother was known for mailing out huge, insured packages of pizzelles and other goodies several times a year, and one summer when we were visiting I got to help her make them.

There were also 3 challah braids and two loaves of wheat bread. The wheat bread came out really well. I started it at 8 one evening so it didn't come out of the oven until (sensing a pattern here) 2:00 a.m., but the house smelled insanely good. ("Worth it!" she declared triumphantly, with BBC news on the radio and dough stuck in her hair.) I need to make bread more often, as Spouse loves the challah but all 3 were spoken for, and I really do like making it. My braids always look lumpy and frumpy at first but then they rise for another hour and even themselves out.

*Please note that mine do NOT come out perfectly distributed, like the ones pictured. Sheesh.