KitchenAidophobia

I’m afraid of my Kitchen Aid.

I know, I know, it’s completely irrational. My teal colored machine is pretty, super practical and has all kinds of fun attachments and buttons, begging to be played with. But, maybe it’s because it has all those buttons, knobs and movable parts that it scares me a little. Maybe I’m scared because it seems to be primarily for baking which I don’t have much experience with. Maybe because it was a wedding present, I associate it with the grown up, adult world which I may not be ready for, and now I’ve made it into an existential crisis. Great.

 

My-menacing-kitchen-aid

Obviously I don’t run away shrieking whenever that sleek, silver bowl and whirly, weapon-like attachment come into view. I’ve even purposefully placed it in a prominent location on my countertop as a sort of a guilt trip that it sits unused. While I whip up dinner, I’ll occasionally eye it warily as if it sits in judgement at my timidity. Well, recently I decided to finally conquer my fear. This came in the form of the realization that if I mixed up a bunch of ingredients in my Kitchen Aid, scooped up said mixed ingredients and placed them in a hot oven, I would have cookies. “Obviously”, you are thinking. Well, I’m a nervous baker. I love the freedom cooking gives me with its vague measurements and flavor extravaganzas. Baking has always seemed to be a strict science, rigid in its rules of butter temperature, kneading, sifting and precise quantities. Fearful that I’d screw up, I avoided it altogether. But how could I allow hestiaphobia to win? Was I going to allow my cute, innocent Kitchen Aid gather dust and be forever unloved? No! I declared 2014 to be the year for courage in the kitchen!

 

My-Oatmeal-Chocolate-Chip-Cookies

 

 

So with great resolve and trepidation, I gathered up ingredients to create oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I underestimated how heavy my Kitchen Aid was upon lifting, but continued undeterred. Ultimately, I discovered that baking is basically thrilling. Throwing in my carefully measured ingredients – pretending I was on the Food Network with lots of little bowls – the dough changed colors and textures throughout the process. My first attempt at cookie creating resulted in gooey, scrumptious rounds of pure happiness and pride. Nothing compares to the excitement I felt while breathing in the chocolatey, doughy fragrances that filled my tiny apartment. It was an all around powerful experience, to put it mildly.

 

Next up, yeast! What foodish fears have you conquered lately?

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Olive Oil Cake

Lemon-Olive-Oil-CakeI’m not much of a baker. At all really. It was a major feat of courage to make chocolate chip oatmeal cookies a few months ago. But, in my quest to be fearless in the kitchen, I’ve been dallying with some simple baking recipes and the results haven’t been too bad. I’ve made a version of Molly Wizenberg’s French Style Yogurt Cake a few times and once, at The Pantry’s holiday party, she tried it which was quite nerve wracking. Luckily she was very gracious.  That cake is super simple to put together, hence it being my practice cake.

The other night, in a deal made with the spouse that I would make an olive oil cake if he did the dishes, I searched about the interwebs for some new olive-oiley, lemoney, cakey inspiration. Some of the eye catching ones that are on my list for future attempts:

Smitten Kitchen : Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake

Cup of Jo: Best Olive Oil Cake You’ll Ever Have

Maialino’s Olive Oil Cake

Unfortunately, I didn’t have any fresh thyme on hand, but I made an herbless version of the “Tea Thyme Yogurt Lemon Olive Oil Cake” from Chindeep.comWanting to use my kitchen aid so I’d feel more “bakerey”,  I used it to mix the sugar and eggs for about five minutes to get them nice and creamy. This type of cake is incredibly basic. Mix the wet ingredients, add the dry and pour it all into a baking pan. Top off with a simple lemon glaze and there’s dessert! It came out bright and light, not too sweet. I bet some fresh, macerated raspberries would seriously add to the enjoyment factor. 

Lemon Olive Oil Cake

– Adapted from ChinDeep.com Preheat your oven to 350 and butter a baking pan or simply cover in parchment paper. Mix up 1 cup sugar and 3 eggs until creamy and smooth. If using a KitchenAid keep it going on low as you add ingredients. Add in 1 cup of cream or half and half or plain yogurt.  I used half and half  this time. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1/2 cup of olive oil.

Separately, mix up your dry ingredients: 1.5 cups of all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of salt and the zest of a lemon or two, depending on the size. If you wanted to add thyme, like the original recipe calls for, add in about a teaspoon or so. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and combine till just mixed.

Pour it all into a baking pan and into the oven for about 50 minutes. Check on it after about 40 just to be sure its turning golden and not getting too brown. Once its done and cooled, mix up a glaze with lemon juice and some powdered sugar to taste. Pour over the cake, slice and serve with hot coffee.

Edible Art

India

These food themed maps are stunning. They also make me hungry.

I’m a sucker for the typography. It’s incredible right?

Chine

Says the artist :

“These maps show how food has traveled the globe – transforming and becoming a part of the cultural identity of that place. Who doesn’t know the saying ‘throw some shrimp on the barbie’ and not think of Australia? Who goes to France without eating bread and cheese? And who makes a Brazilian caipirinha without a fistful of limes?

“These maps are a playful representation of our interpretation of food from around the world, painstakingly created with real unadulterated food. This project speaks to the universality of how food unites people, brings us together and starts conversation – just as we hope these beautiful maps will do too.”

Italy

 

Which is your favorite?

 

Australia

 

 

USA

 

UK

France

South America
Africa
typography by Sarit Melmed

Cozy Cabin

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If you haven’t already heard of Airbnb, let me enlighten you. All around the world people list their extra rooms, apartments, castles, airstreams etc. on Airbnb.com where you can rent them for just a night or up to a few weeks. There are some spectacular options on there. We rented a huge luxurious apartment in Budapest to fit 8 people during Christmas a few years ago, and my husband and I rented a few apartments on our Grecian honeymoon last June. They all had so much more character than a hotel room and were usually better priced for their location. When visiting a new place, I strive to be the least touristy I can. It gives you so much more of an actual feel for a place you know? Plus, you usually get some recommendations from your host that you’d never find on your own.

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We’ve been antsy to explore more of Washington since its so beautiful and full of nature wherever you look. We have a list going of all the locales to check out.  As a mini birthday trip a few weeks ago, we found a Cozy Cabin through Airbnb about 90 minutes from the city.  This cabin was adorable and, once we got the wood stove going, quite warm and comfy. There was no electricity, but a few propane lanterns and candles everywhere gave us enough light. A light dusting of snow started as we drove down the rustic logging road to the cabin.

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For me, of course, the most exciting prospect of this trip was planning a delicious spread for our dinner. I bought a few cheeses, crackers and some quince and fig jams from The Calf and The Kid as a small dessert spread. For dinner I had prepared toppings for 3 types of sandwiches. I had slow roasted cherry tomatoes for a few hours in olive oil, salt, pepper and fennel seeds till they basically tasted like candy. There was not enough of that to go around and there was only two of us which should tell you something about its addictive properties. Adding some fresh basil and mozzarella to the tomatoes gave us our caprese sandwich. Avocado,goat cheese and arugula with black pepper made another. The last was super simple, but tasted lavish. We spread a healthy slab of unsalted butter on a baguette slice, added a few thin radish slices and sprinkled a tiny pinch of Maldon sea salt on top. I tell you, I could have eaten those all night long. Unfortunately my stomach was satiated way before my tongue was. A mixed green salad with some homemade tarragon shallot vinaigrette gave us the illusion that we were eating healthy.

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After dinner we munched on cheese and crackers and sipped wine, cozily snug inside blankets since we had inadvertently let the wood stove go out. Apparently, you have to pay attention to those things and keep feeding them wood or they stop burning. Science.

As Brandon worked to get the fire burning again we brought out our entertainment for the evening, a few Choose Your Own Adventure books. Their titles promised rich gems of hilarity: ” The Lost Jewels of Nabuti”, “Prisoner of The Ant People” and “My Zombie Pen Pal”. However, we kept dying almost immediately no matter our choices which was super lame. We consoled ourselves with more cheese and wine, adding a few chocolate squares to the mix.

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Paul, our amazing host, had stocked the kitchen with potatoes, onions, garlic and eggs so we created a feast for breakfast the next morning. Brandon has great egg technique so I relinquished cooking duties to him. He made some crunchy hash browns, topped with cheese which creamily melted and topped it all with two over easy eggs. There was a funky contraption that turned out to be a coffee grinder, so we made a french press with the beans from the cupboard. The coffee was atrocious, but it set the scene for our lazy rustic morning. We’ll just have to bring our own beans next time.

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After a lazy morning spent eating and chatting, we decided it was time to get back to some sort of civilization. However, that charming snow dusting that had greeted our arrival the night before, had steadily grown and created a winter wonderland that was growing more wintery by the minute. The driveway to leave the cabin complex had a tiny incline which was insurmountable by our poor little Honda Fit, Huck. Poor Huck got stuck almost immediately. Thank God that our host, lived in the complex and saw our car get stuck. He and his neighbors worked selflessly for 2 hours to get us unstuck, pushing us and using their 4 wheel drive truck to basically plow the two mile logging road so we could get out. They were incredibly kind. stuck-in-the-snow-to-post

When it first became apparent that we would not get out for a little while, Paul sent us back into the cabin to get warm. We had obviously gotten hungry again in the meantime, all that sitting in the car and watching them push really took it out of us. We used this opportunity to  finish off our leftover salad and butter radish sandwiches along with the rest of our Prosecco. This helped our attitudes immensely. Isn’t it incredible how medicinal food and drink can be for the mood and the soul?

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At last we were free from the snowy driveway and drove with great trepidation down the logging road to civilization. The trees lining the road groaned under their snowy weights and occasionally dropped them on our roof as we inched along. Finally we reached a real, live paved road and made our way to Bellingham.  There we found a gorgeously maze-like bookstore and  I spent almost all of my birthday money adding to my Agatha Christie collection.

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Thankfully that was basically our first and, most probably, our last snow experience of the winter here in the Pacific Northwest. Sorry to all my Chicago pals for the constant winter hell you’ve been going through. I hope spring comes soon! We’ll definitely stop by this cozy cabin again in the summer time when we can explore the surrounding woods and perhaps have a little bonfire and summer cocktails.

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