Sunday, February 7, 2010

Keeping the fat-faith

It has been living hell trying to do everything. I find myself fighting against time but mostly motivation to keep going. When the weekend rolls around I'm so tired I just want to lay in bed and not do anything. The days go by so fast and then it's Monday and I stop and think okay what did I get done? It's a never-ending battle. I spoke to my sister who is just a couple years older than me, she informed me she is going to start taking classes so she can get her RN like me. I was thrilled to hear her say this. I have felt so all alone and wondered how other people like me work full-time and go to school. We are going to take classes part-time and it may take us a while but we are committed and will call each other to keep our spirits high. I'm going to need this.

We won't talk this week about exercising and the fact that I do little but never stop thinking about it. It was very warm today and I wanted to take my bike off the trainer and go for a long ride. If the weather stays nice I think I'm going too. Spring is right around the corner and I long to ride on the rode and feel the burn in my legs. I am exhausted and exillerated at the same time when I finish a 30-mile bike ride. It comperable to what they call "runners high."

Like exercising, the same goes for writing, I do little but think about it and have started to feel down because I cannot get to everything. Someone told me baby steps, rather than write a paragraph choose to write a few sentences a day. I sent my draft to work so I can write on my lunch break. I'm going to start and see if I do better. The best time for me to write is early in the morning when everyone is asleep. I'm going to dedicate Sunday morning for this time. That means every day during lunch and Sunday morning are dedicated for writing my book. Good goal!

Baking is wonderful as ever. I have time to bake because we have to eat dinner so I can easily bake a batch of cookies while I fix dinner. The latest chocolate chip cookies was a recipe from Cook's Illustrated. I was anxious to try out this new recipe because they do in their cooking magazine what I am doing in my own kitchen. These cookies were just as promised big and chewy but they lacked flavor to me. The recipe called for not even a cup of butter and 2 1/8 cups of flour. I was hesitant to add so much flour and felt the cookies would be too dry. I believe this is where the "chewy" would come into play but as I thought the cookies are good only for a day, maybe two then they turn hard. I was disappointed to be honest and my conclusion is search is still on for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe.

The latest word about the bread recipe is that until I have purchased a wheat grinder and some of the bread cook books I cannot start the process. I should say not just wheat bread because I would truly like to learn how to make other types of breads that aren't wheat based. I will keep all posted as I progress with the bread baking. I have so many other recipes that I am trying I have plenty to keep me busy. I will be posting pictures from now on with results from each batch of cookies I make so you can see how each turns out along with the recipe. The first recipe is below (sorry no pictures of the elephant skin cookies), remember that's how they appeared after cooling. I hated these cookies as soon as I peeked in the oven and saw them flaten out as pancakes. This recipe was entered in some baking contest and woman was a finalist in the competition. It does state in the notes that the butter will cause the cookies to be crisp. If you are into elephant skin as I have started to call it then this recipe is for you. I am in search of something between crispy and chewy. If you notice in this recipe they tell you to preheat oven to 375 degrees. I usually end up turning the oven DOWN because that high of a temp just burns the cookies and the middle is still doughy.

Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe #1
2 cups plus 4 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed firmly
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup butter, softened
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Sift the flour with the baking soda and salt. Add the sugars, eggs, vanilla and butter until mixture is smooth and well combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoons onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

One final note, because every oven is different when it comes to temperature it is difficult to know how long you should bake your cookies. For this reason alone I never leave the kitchen. Because I have a very keen sense of smell I can tell when the cookies are done but then I've been baking for years. However, even the keen sense of smell can burn cookies which is why I never stray far from the oven during baking. I took the first batch out around 7-8 minutes. They were extremely over cooked and immediately turned down the oven. Imagine what they would have looked like if I had left them in for 10 minutes - crispy critters!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe #2
2 1/8 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled slightly
1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 oz chocolate chips

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Mix in egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients; mix until just combined. Stir in chips. Place dough onto parchment paper. Bake, reversing cookie sheets positions halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes.

I salute the first two contenders and appreciate their willingness (even though they had no choice in the matter) to be a part of our quest...moving on!

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