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I came, I saw, I baked. I’m going to bed. December 23, 2007

Posted by jeninmaine in food.
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Whew. Round One complete, well, sorta.

I have baked. (by jeninmaine)

What you’re looking at are eight mini spice loaves, which my darling husband so adorably wrapped in plastic wrap, then parchment paper and tied with twine. The small containers in the front hold about 4 dozen sugar cookies with red and green sugar sprinkled atop. Lying about are the other who-knows-how-many sugar cookies to which I have applied royal icing and need to dry overnight.

I have baked. (by jeninmaine)

The royal icing ended up being a challenge…first I added too much sugar, then too much egg white to compensate, then too much more sugar, back and forth. I really don’t know how many egg whites I used by this point, all I do know is I have a shitton of leftover icing in airtight containers in my fridge that I will probably never use.

I have baked. (by jeninmaine)

Anyway, after wrestling with the consistency I think I finally got it down. We had quite a few casualties that were cheerfully disposed of. I discovered that adding sugar really should be done very gradually, and that using a teaspoon to spread the icing works a lot better than a knife. I was able to spread it in a circle, leave it sort of streaky on top, then after setting it down it smoothed out quite a bit. It definitely takes practice and I got better as I went. You can see some of the runnier too-much-icing culprits at the top of the picture.

I have baked. (by jeninmaine)

AND I took a break to make dinner complete with beer-battered chicken fingers, which if I may say so myself came out awesome. Thankfully dear Michael cleaned up after all that.

Theoretically I’m supposed to pipe snowflake shapes atop these, which I should probably do tonight, but I’m too damned tired so we’ll see if I get to it tomorrow. If I don’t, it’s not the end of the world and I’ll just gift them as-is. Screw it.

Of course, I have other scavengers to worry about while the cookies sit out.

Uh oh... (by jeninmaine)

This is from last night. I had the camera on the wrong setting so the picture is terrible, but once I got it set properly he had already curled up back onto the bed. I walked into the hallway next to the bathroom, peeked in to kidlet’s room to check to see if he was asleep and found this.

Kidet masters acrobatic sleeping (by jeninmaine)

Maybe it’s time to find the kiddo a gymnastics class.

It’s late. Night, all.

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Baked. December 22, 2007

Posted by jeninmaine in food.
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Today I have baked. I’m not yet done, but I have baked, my friends.

All sugar cookie recipes should go like this:

1. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.
2. Go ahead, eat some of it. No one is going to notice.
3. The next step is going to tell you to add eggs, so eat a little more before you do that.
4. Add eggs and vanilla, beat until well combined.
5. Add flour and baking powder, mix well until firm dough is formed.
6. Okay, have a little of this, too. Let’s hope the eggs from the farm stand are fresh and you won’t get salmonella.

Kidlet helped me with the first batch of four mini spice loaves, as it turns out the pan I have works perfectly with a single batch of batter. That worked out nicely. He wanted to help measure everything so I put one of Michael’s undershirts over his clothes and pulled a chair up to the counter. It took about four times as long to accomplish anything with him helping but I think he had fun. I let him smell all the ingredients and he gave me his assessments for each one: ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. He really wanted to taste the cinnamon even though I explained that you use spices in things to flavor them and you only need a tiny bit, but he insisted so I sprinkled a little on his palm and he enthusiastically licked it. He said, “Mmm!” but then a second later stuck his toungue way out and got a really sour look on his face. After he had drunk some water and washed his hands he declared it tasted “like my vitamins.” Once that batch was in the oven we had a quick lunch and then he miraculously went down for his nap.

While he was napping I prepped two batches of sugar cookie dough, wrapped them in waxed paper and put them in the fridge. Those will be for baking after dinner – I’ll let the kidlet help me with a few and when he gets bored I can crank out the rest of them. Then he woke up and occupied himself well enough while I made another batch of spice loaves. That’s eight down, the ones we absolutely need, but I’d like to make another eight or twelve to mail to relatives. Xmas will be late this year for anyone from away but that’s just the way it is. I’m actually completely okay with this. I decided to send out some xmas cards, but only to people who send one to me first, so all of those will be late, too. That’s just how I roll these days.

After I got the second batch of spice loaves in the oven I started thinking I should make dinner. I’m quite surprised, actually, that I’m not sore – most times when I bake or cook for hours on end I get really sore and tired, but today I seem to be doing all right (knock on wood). I threw together a quick ground turkey and leftover roast chicken stew which is currently bubbling away on the stove and smells great. I’m going to serve it “poor redneck style” over slices of toast. Ha.

I have to take a moment right now to say just how much I love my KitchenAid mixer. I am so very thankful that Michael got it for me last xmas, it has been absolutely invaluable the times I have used it. I don’t use it every day, not even every week, but when I do it makes the job a hundred times easier. Washing the bowl and all the implements between every batch is a fine tradeoff for not exhausting myself creaming butter and sugar together for the umpteenth time. Love.

Recipe links:

The spice cake recipe was one I pulled randomly from Google and it had good reviews plus it uses half a pound of butter. You really can’t go wrong with cake that uses a lot of butter ;)

Moist, Tender Spice Cake from AllRecipes.com

The sugar cookies are the same ones I mentioned in a previous entry…I already have a ton of tried-and-true sugar cookie recipes and to be honest they don’t really vary all that much, but I figured I’d try this one out since the woman took such great pictures.

I haven’t actually baked them up yet but the dough is a bit firmer than most drop sugar cookies and Snickerdoodles I’ve tried but it has a nice flavor to it (yes, yes, I ate some, I know, OMGSALMONELLA). I’m excited to try the Royal Icing (again, OMGSALMONELLA) and I hope mine come out even half as adorable as hers did.

Iced Sugar Cookies with Snowflakes from Ooh, you tasty little things

See, proof I was baking:

I have baked. (by jeninmaine)

Here’s one batch of spice loaves. Yum. They make the whole house smell great while they’re baking.

Mini Spice Loaves (by jeninmaine)

Our ancient xmas cactus has one pink flower on it. There are about five other buds that I hope will eventually bloom.

Xmas cactus (by jeninmaine)

The other less hardy xmas cactus has mustered the strength to put out one soon-to-be white flower.

Xmas cactus (by jeninmaine)