The Calm Before the Storm and Then the Storm: Back to my Kitchen for Spring Break

21 Mar

Before coming home for Spring break, I wanted to get rid of some perishable ingredients like butter and eggs, even if they would have probably been good after my short break anyway.  I thought making some cookies and cake would be a good idea, since everyone on my floor would make sure they were gone before they left for break.

So…I made some really random giant cookies: they had a hint of ginger, chocolate chips, walnuts, and (drumroll, please) LUCKY CHARMS!   Even though I’ve always found lucky charms a mediocre cereal, it looked fun in the cookies.  The marshmallows’ colors did a lot more for my cookies, at least, than they do for a bowl of cereal milk.  The latter effect is pretty repulsive in my book, but we’ll save that rant for another time.  I did throw up rainbow from eating Trix, once, but that is both beside the point and TMI.

chocolate chip, walnut, and lucky charms cookies.

So back to my baking.  I made a cake inspired by the ingredients I would miss most if stolen from the kitchen cabinet and fridge in my dorm over break: lemons and olive oil.  It was a way for me to hypothetically say goodbye to them–just in case.  My olive oil and lemon cake came out moist and tender, tart from the lemons and intense from the olive oil.  It was too delicious to give up fully, so I packed half of it in my carry-on bag for the bus home.  Let’s just say I was lucky the cake was so tasty, because it was sure unsightly after a ride in the bus smushed up against the seat in front of me.  My family still ate it.

lemon-olive oil cake

So why is this post called the calm before the storm, you ask?  Because the last of my dorm baking before I came home for break was the calm before the storm.  When I got home, you see, things got a little…”cray-cray,” as my sister, Madison, would say.  (Cray-cray=crazy, if you didn’t put two and two together.)

me with my favorite saucepan!

When I set foot in my home kitchen again, I was psyched.  You can probably see that in the picture above, where I am fondly reunited with my favorite saucepan.  My whole life, that saucepan has served me well.  It is fucking perfect for everything!  I love it, and therefore, to celebrate the pan’s and my reunification, I made pudding in it.  Chocolate curry pudding.  You see, my mom was jealous that I had so much E. Guittard chocolate from the competition I had participated in earlier this semester.  So I figured I’d bring some home for the fam, since I could not bare to watch them switch down to Hershey’s/Tollhouse during the economic crisis.  So I made pudding with some of it…and what is one of the best flavors to combine with chocolate?  Curry!  It was silky, smooth, and punchy.  Love at first bite.

chocolate curry pudding=happy taste buds

After that, I felt that I could keep on with my baking streak, so I made ice cream.  What flavor would I make?   Something unusual?  I toasted up some whole almonds and ground them in a blender.  Then, I made a lemon ice cream base, substituting 3 whole eggs for 6 yolks in a traditional creme anglaise.  After blending the base with the nuts, straining the mixture, and freezing it, I came out with a smooth, interesting ice cream.  I thought it went really well with olive oil drizzled on top.  I’m guessing if I don’t eat this ice cream before I go back to school, it will sit in the freezer until I come home for summer break along with other unusual but delicious flavors–beer; salted chocolate; chocolate with peanut butter and pie crust–that my family members shun for Breyer’s Crap Fest Brand.  Does this look so abnormal that you couldn’t finish the container?

lemon-toasted almond ice cream

I have been making dinners, too, but let me finish my baking tangent before mentioning them.

I love making brownies, but I also love making blondies.  However, I like to put lots of fun things in blondies, and at school, I always find myself lacking brown sugar or excessive amounts of add-ins.  So, I went all-out when I made blondies with white chocolate chips, Ritz crackers, marshmallows, cinnamon, and peanut butter.  They are not just gooey.  They are on steroids, they are salty, they are rich, and they are just f*ing interesting.  I could eat them all day, but I think my younger sister might eat them all before I get a chance.  I used Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for the base–it can’t be beat–but the add-ins were random.

pretty fucking legit blondies

My last baked good happened last night while my sister was talking to me about her life at Northwestern, the college she currently attends.  Had I been baking alone, I might have grown impatient with what I was doing, but her distracting and interesting stories of debauchery and craziness (just kidding, Mom!)  kept my mind off the ridiculous mess I was making and the time it was taking me to make this freakish treat.

What the hell did I make, you ask impatiently?  CHOCOLATE WHOOPIE PIES WITH BACON CARAMEL AND BANANA FILLING.  Yes.  The whoopie pie cakes came out well, which was lucky, because I didn’t take the time to dig out my favorite chocolate whoopie pie recipe.  As for the bacon caramel, it is exactly what it sounds like: I make a wet caramel and add bacon instead of butter and some cream.  I made a meringue buttercream and mixed in some crushed bananas and then spread it on one half of each whoopie pie.  The other half got the caramel.  Even though the unfortunate cell phone picture does them no justice, the whoopie pies were insanely addictive.

whoopie pie with bacon caramel and banana filling

Finally, dinners.  It must be the fact that I’m making so much fattening snack food that is making me cook more healthily for dinner.  Maybe I would feel bad if I made my family fat.  Eh, nevertheless, I find myself cooking healthily at dinner.  I should get on that.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll just serve butter.  Anyway, the first night I was home, I made cod with a beurre-blanc-type sauce that had tomatoes and spinach mixed into it (OK, not sooo healthy), and the night after that, I made miso-sake sauteed vegetables with a cold cucumber-tofu salad on top.  Not too sure this was an exciting meal for anyone besides my mom and me.  I love fresh peas, fennel, and tofu, and I think everyone else in my family despises them.  If there was a dislike button on my dinner table, they might have clicked on it.  Still, I found my meal refreshing and appropriate for the first day of Spring!

miso and sake sauteed vegetables with cold tofu-cucumber salad

Again, a cell phone picture, but at least I wiped the bacon off the camera lens this time!  Yay progress!

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