Thursday, February 4, 2010

Baking 1-0-1...

I started this day like most others.
Carefully trying to ease my body out of bed :). Getting more and more pregnant every day (well, that's misguided. I've been 100% prego the whole time, but my belly is getting bigger, bigger BIGGER all the time!) this is becoming more of an olympic challenge. Especially when I need to step AROUND the sleeping sick child on our floor. Or need to move nimbly down the hall as to NOT DISTURB the toddler who is finally sleeping. Or when I tend to walk into more door FRAMES than door WAYS (ouch. it hurts. stop laughing :P).

I digress.

But, I didn't spend this day like most others.
I spent this lovely day... baking.
I even wore an apron, just to keep in the spirit of things :).
AND I kept these words close to my heart :)...

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
       be pleasing in your sight,
       O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

For some, baking and cooking up a storm is simply no challenge at all. Even in my own family. Somehow, I received the genetically modified gene in this camp, and though I can assemble a decent meal, and maybe even a nice sweet, it doesn't come a) naturally or b) joyfully :).

Then again, we don't get cable OR satellite, so maybe I'm just not as inspired by Rachel Ray as I could be :).

However, some cookie-commitments kept me bound to this task at hand, and so I decided to tackle it with ENTHUSIASM. GREAT MUSIC. NO LITTLE HELPERS :P.

First up. As a care group, we've decided to arrange meals for a couple in our church who've had a really tough year. This is a timely reminder to me that though the crisis may pass, the care and concern, expressed in a variety of ways, is essential to character and community. I am grateful for this lesson, and have looked forward to assembling this food gift for a while. Next. Cookies. Lots of 'em. Required for a local mom's group (which I so much enjoyed being a part of for so long!!!) and another couple whose whole family is also going through a serious time.

1. I had already selected my recipes and had MOST of the ingredients at hand. That's the toughest part! I even pulled out all my margarine squares, lined them up according to recipes, to ENSURE that I would NOT RUN INTO A MARGARINE SHORTAGE SITUATION!!!

2. I decided to use my new handy dandy cuisinart bad-boy to process the doughs for the various recipes. I actually took time to review the manual, FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS (probably one reason why I find baking so difficult :P), and figure it all out. I was a little ... concerned ... that the dough looked a bit over-processed, but the cinn buns turned out spank-tacular, so here's to hopin' that the cookies will be soft, fluffy, and perfectly circle (or heart-shaped, as is the case). (I HATE it when my cookies turn out flat and wafer thin. It makes me hoppin' M.A.D!!).

3. I keep my messes tidy. Weird, but true. Argh. Clutter eckles me. SO. If I can keep my workspace clean (or at least organized!) I am a much happier .... cook :). Plus it helps me keep the flour separate from the sugar (nothing like swappin' ingredients to really screw it all up!!).

4. I realize that I simply don't like baking (as opposed to vacuuming the floor, one of my favorite chores :P, or cleaning the washrooms, not enjoyable but the shiny white surfaces are worth the scrub!!!) is because of a lack of PLANNING and PRACTICE. Sigh. It's irritating when you realize you've run out of the most essential ingredient OR you spend time, money and serious patience-control putting it all together and it turns out ultra-crispy, under-baked (can't always blame that on the funky oven, sometimes I forget to set the timer!!), or so hockey-puck-like the NHL would love 'em !!! I don't take colossal failure very well ;).

But today I actually had FUN! I blame it on the apron, really. Not only did I look the part, it accentuated the prego belly, which makes me feel all maternal and nesting-like :).

Here are a few recipes I whipped out today. Enjoy!!

Vanilla Cinnamon Buns
3.5 c. flour (I used almost 4)
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 package vanilla pudding mix (turns out to be 1/4 c. of the crystals)
2 Tbsp. yeast

Blend well :).

Add liquids:
1/4 c. warm water
1/4 c. melted marg
1 c. warm milk
1 egg

Mix and knead until dough is smooth and a nice consistency.
I let my dough rise for 45 min. or so.

Roll out dough into a big rectangle. 
Cover with melted marg., brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins!
The more the merrier :).

Roll into log and cut into 12 equal portions. 
I used waxed dental floss to make a nice, neat cut.
(Place string under roll, bring up on either side, cross over and pull. SNIP! VOILA!)
Set into greased 9x13 pan and let rise again.

Bake at 350 for 15-20min. 
Take remaining pudding mix (approx. 1/4 c.), add 1 c. of milk, and drizzle it over warm buns.

Peanut Butter Chip Chocolate Cookies
1 c. marg
1.5 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla

Mix separately then add, mixing very well :)...
2 c. flour
2/3 c. cocoa
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix mix mix mix mix.
Add 1 package of chipits peanut butter chips.
OK. Set aside a few for the kids and a small handful for yourself :).
More mixing!!
Drop by tsp. (or the infamous Pampered Chef cookie scooper :P) onto greased cookie sheet.
Sometimes I press mine with a fork, other times I don't. 
I haven't figured out the science to this yet (any pointers :P?).
Bake at 350 for 8-10 min.

There were a few more recipes I polished off, but I'll save those for a different day.


Home Grain Mills said...

Wow, vanilla Cinnamon buns... I know what we'll be doing on Saturday morning...

Robin Fehr said...

Ooooowwww. Sounds good! You should post pictures of the cinnamon buns! Even if they are half eaten... ha ha! I can almost smell them from here.
I have a weakness for those things.


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