Sammy the Seal

Archive for November, 2011|Monthly archive page

Brown cake-y cookies

In delicious on Tuesday, 29 November, 2011 at 23:55

cake cookies

So this is more along the lines of what I hoped the first attempt would look like. I nearly doubled the amount of flour, decreased the amount of sugar by a couple of T or so, and substituted brown sugar for granulated to ensure a dense product. However, these are a little too big and fat for my liking, I would’ve liked more spread. Clearly the issue was flour (more is needed when substituting cake), so I didn’t need to use brown, which will also allow the cookies to not come out brown. I didn’t think brown sugar would have too much effect on the color, but it was the only dark ingredient, so it must’ve been that. (In the past, I’d always used whole grain flour, so I figured it was only the flour, not the sugar, that colors dough or batter.) It’d also be nice to have a cookie drop (a luxury, I admit) one day. These were formed with a tablespoon and my fingers.

My favorite part about these,? The light, fine crumb, which was still a little moist even after 36 hours. When I pull one in two, not one crumb falls. Each severed bit stays together- nothing dangling, nothing loose. I was amazed. Now that’s structure for you.


Make-up apple pie

In delicious on Monday, 28 November, 2011 at 20:03

This is what was supposed to go with Thanksgiving dinner, except things got a little mucked up. I think the apples were sliced a bit too thick, but mainly it was the crust that was a chore. Not sure where precisely I went wrong with it (I did use a recipe that used egg for moisture, instead of ice water and vinegar– tsk, should’ve stuck with what I knew, especially with company involved), but I was unhappy and ashamed, especially since my hosts held up their end of the deliciousness bargain. Rather than figure out what happened, I wanted a guaranteed success, so I went with my proudest apple pie recipe from a couple of years ago. Except this time, I wanted to have interwoven lattice top. Even if it is four days late, I still felt I should atone.

I use seven apples total, not too big though, as they all have to fit. It should heap, but not overflow. When filling the crust, I arrange the apples, fitting the curve of the apple slices to the  curve of the dish, and pack them lightly. As you can sort of see, it’s generous, but not excessive:

raw apple pie

raw apple pie glazed


two Granny Smith, two Braeburn, one Rome, one McIntosh, one Winesap (the first time I made it, I did two Romes, no Winesap, which I only just found)
2/3 c brown sugar
cinnamon, allspice
at least 3 T cornstarch

I used all-purpose white wheat flour (the species, not the color) for the crust instead of pastry, turned out just as great. That crust recipe has yet to disappoint. However, I also like to think I’m pretty good at my mixing and kneading technique. The interweaving was pretty easy, the trickiest part is probably rolling the dough thin/thick enough to be handled without breaking.  cut the strips to the desired width with my scraper, then laid the strips going one direction. Then, I crossed the other direction, going over and under one at a time from the far side to the near. It was pretty easy, for something that ends up looking so pretty. Then, as I almost always do, I put on a coating of egg wash (egg white and a little cold water) to protect the crust and give it a glaze, then sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Then, 400º for 15 minutes, drop to 350º for the last 30-35.

make-up thanksgiving apple pie

make-up thanksgiving apple pie 2

The only thing amiss was that I didn’t press the crust together well enough at the edges. Oh well. A little imperfection helps the homemade aesthetic, doesn’t it? I’m so proud of this one, I’m even including photos of the flakiness of the crust and the lattice. The crust recipe I use is always flaky, I just wanted to show off this once:

apple pie flaky crust 1

apple pie flaky crust 2

apple pie flaky crust 3

If only I’d had this last Thursday, boo hoo. My fair hosts, I am truly penitent. Given those great sandwiches, even more so.

“I don’t care what you want, I want to marry you”

In vinyl on Sunday, 27 November, 2011 at 21:05

Song: Marry Me
Artist: St. Vincent
Album: Marry Me

Lovely, light as air, playful, and a bit wry, for good measure. (Also, jingle bells for good measure.) I suppose the amount of irony contained is up to the listener, though I think any lyrics that are so straightforward tend to have twisted, if not completely ironic, undertones. I like the use of handclaps on the choruses (chori?), especially the restraint shown on the first couple. They’re not spilled on every beat like one would expect or hope for, they’re constantly dropped, just like the beat. But then, towards the end, they’re everywhere. You can’t always get what you want immediately, it’s important to wait sometimes. Annie Clark may seem like a tease, but she’s trying to teach us life lessons before she gives in. Or, she’s just trying to mix it up musically.

“Marry me, John
marry me, John, I’ll be so good to you
you won’t realize I’m gone
marry me, John
marry me, John, I’ll be so sweet to you
you won’t realize I’m gone, you won’t realize I’m gone

Many people wanna make money, make love, make friends, make peace with death
but most mainly want to win the game they came to win, they want to come out ahead
but you, you’re a rock with a heart like a socket I can plug into at will
and will you guess, when I come around next, I hope your ‘open’ sign is blinking still

So marry me, John
marry me, John, I’ll be so good to you
you won’t realize I’m gone
marry me, John
marry me, John, I’ll be so good to you
you won’t realize I’m gone, you won’t realize I’ve gone

As for me, I would have to agree I’m as fickle as a paper doll
being kicked by the wind, when I’ve touched down again, I’ll be in someone else’s arms

Oh John, come on
we’ll do what do what married people do
Oh John, come on (I don’t care what you want, I want to marry you)
let’s do what Mary and Joseph did without the kid (I want to marry you)

So marry me, John
marry me, John, I’ll be so good to you
you won’t realize I’ve gone
marry me, John
marry me, John, I’ll be so good to you
you won’t realize I’ve gone, you won’t realize I’ve gone
you won’t realize I’ve gone”

“By pressing down a special key, it plays a little melody”

In vinyl on Saturday, 26 November, 2011 at 21:17

Song: Pocket Calculator
Artist: Kraftwerk
Album: Computer World

Another wonderful little nerdy technopop nugget from Die Deutschen Roboter. I shied from “Computer Love” this time, for fear of wasting time talking about Coldplay; instead, I present this thing. What a fun song. I say this with no irony,  I like how the special “melody” is pretty much a bunch of boops and beeps. Hell, I don’t have a button that does that. For piffle, it’s pretty darn good, and humorous. And we say Germans are no fun.

Nice album cover too, green screen and all. Retro is in these days, I hear.

computer world


Thanksgiving Sandwich Island

In delicious on Thursday, 24 November, 2011 at 23:00

All the goodness of mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing (with apple, onion, celery, and cranberry), and whole berry cranberry sauce– in a sandwich! I preferred it all separately, in terms of flavor and neatness, but this was still quite a good nosh, and had quite a lovely appearance as well. Before the applesauce tide:

thanksgiving sandwich 2

thanksgiving sandwich 1

thanksgiving sandwich 3

Then, the floodwaters came in. I bet those two cranberries above wish they hadn’t tried to escape:

thanksgiving sandwich applesauce sea 1

thanksgiving sandwich applesauce sea 2

thanksgiving sandwich applesauce sea 3

thanksgiving sandwich applesauce sea 4

Lonely sandwich, trapped in an applesauce sea. I did drain the moat, though, and was pleased at how admirably the sandwich resisted sogginess. I salute the crust, it protected very well. Its role certainly did not go unnoticed.

Cake flour chocolate chip cookie mass + fried plantains

In delicious on Wednesday, 23 November, 2011 at 9:58

Yeah, these didn’t come out so well, but I thought it’d be funny to include a picture of my failure. They taste great, but they did melt together. Hello, dough scraper/cutter. I wonder what I did wrong. More flour needed perhaps? I read that cake flour is supposed to make thicker, cake-like (of course) cookies, but the batter wasn’t even that thick. It was sort of creamy. I’d like to get it right next time. Meanwhile, have a good laugh:

cookie mass

On the other hand, the plantains turned out great. Unfortunately, the presentation leaves something to be desired:

plantains on a paper towel

I did make them just before running out the door this morning, so I didn’t have time for aesthetics. I tried making these a few weeks ago, but with underripe plantains. I was impatient. They were, uh, not successful. Fortunately, last week I bought one that was mostly ripe. The key, regardless of color, is softness. The softer and riper, the better. The inside should be pinkish. Fried with a little oil at medium heat until golden yellow and delicious. Don’t worry about slightly charring, as seen above, it’ll still be great. I think it adds to it, even. Next time there will be a plate, I promise. Those paper towels aren’t helping.

One-stage cinnamon cardamom cake flour muffins

In delicious on Tuesday, 22 November, 2011 at 0:55

The first result of my new cookbooks, specifically the baking science textbook– hooray! As the mouthful of a title suggests, these were the cinnamon cardamom muffins I’ve made many a time, but with the added excitement of using cake flour instead of pastry flour, and using the one-stage mixing method– all dry ingredients blended, then all liquid ingredients blended, just until moistened– instead of creaming the butter and sugar first. I was going to do creamed, but since I absent-mindedly sifted together the sugar and flour first, obviously I couldn’t then cream the sugar with the butter and so was forced to do one-stage. Since the method says “all liquid ingredients”, I melted the butter first, of course. The result:

one-stage cake flour muffin

As you can see, it, uh, browned quite a bit on the bottom. Next time I’ll put the other muffin pan beneath it to even out the browning speed. And maybe less butter. Since cake flour is bleached (for various reasons), it came out rather white (which I’m not used to), despite the fact that I’m using a yellow cake recipe. I kinda like the glossy look, and the inside was pretty good too:

cross-sectioned one-stage cake flour muffin

Not to state the obvious, but it’s quite cake-y. Lighter, sweeter (a bit much for me, actually), softer, and more moist than when I’ve made it with whole wheat pastry flour. The difference was instantly noticeable, the latter being more dense, dry, and therefore a bit more crumbly. Still good, I’m only speaking comparatively.

I’m curious to see how much the mixing method affects things, like doing pastry flour one-stage, and cake flour creamed. Not to mention cookies. The only way I can get cookie dough to not spread and blob together is with oats, which thicken the dough, and likely absorb a fair amount of moisture. (Also, I don’t use as much sugar, so there’s not as much melting going on.) Without going into the science, cake flour cookies should retain their shape well, rather than flattening. And of course, the texture should be pretty cake-y, as well. I like cake-ier cookies better than crumbly ones, anyhow.

Of course, one can’t get too carried away, as cake flour costs about twice as much per unit as the others, at $3-4 for a two-pound box. (Most five-pound bags of flour cost $4-5, depending on how fancy or picky you are.) Not to mention, experimenting with all-purpose and bread flours, and white vs. whole wheat flours. I still would like to get the hang of bread, or at the very least, working with yeast.

So much experimenting. We shall see.

“Those fucked-up fuck-ups fucking suck”

In vinyl on Monday, 21 November, 2011 at 17:38

Song: Told You Once
Artist: The Mr. T Experience
Album: Short Music For Short People compilation

Gee, Apple, thanks for the upgrade, my iPod works better than before, certainly better than just before installing the new o.s. Don’t worry about the scratchy audio, listening to music is more a secondary function of this device. How can we ever thank you? We’ll drain its battery daily for you.

At least the first time I went in, the guy was nice and told me it was corrupted (of course, where do we get our updates…?), and reset it for me. I went in the second time, a different guy said it’s not the software, it might be the hardware– and, of course, pitched me on options for getting a new device. Not that I bought his shit at the time, all I could think was “I’m not stupid, bitch, I told you: before the update, I had not one issue. Therefore the new o.s. is the problem.” The fact that he was selling me on top of that kind of annoyed me further, I’m surprised no sarcasm came out, not even a dirty look. They didn’t even seem to know there was an issue, even though I’ve found many complaints online.  The least they could have said was “yeah, we’ve heard about these issues.”

I can’t believe I’m griping about technology, much less in a post. Pathetic. After toying around, I may have found my own fix, I turned sound check ON, unlike normal. Unfortunately, this means the volume is lower, which means I’d have to crank it to get it audible, so it’s not really a fix.

Word of caution: just because update software is available, you don’t have to install it, especially if everything is running perfectly as it is. See what features are to be installed, then decide whether or not they’re worth it. What I wouldn’t give to downgrade operating systems….

Too hungry to photograph

In delicious, You're a kitty! on Friday, 18 November, 2011 at 21:12

Bean and cheese taco, Mexican rice, and cream “tarts”, it should’ve shown here, except for my negligence. For something everyday and down-to-earth, the presentation looked pretty nice. (Thank you, cilantro.) Refried beans easy, just cook some pinto beans, then fry them in a little oil, then mash and season them, with a little water added to get a desirable consistency. The rice is relatively easy as well, it’s just a cup of rice toasted in a little oil for a few minutes, then add crushed garlic and a 1/2 cup each of chopped bell pepper and onion sautéed all together with a little more oil, then add a 15-oz. can of peeled whole tomatoes (hacked up), cumin, chili seasoning, and two cups of vegetable broth. Actually, it’s the only thing I got a photo of:

mexi rice

I actually doubled the recipe to feed more people, that’s a photo of 2+ quarts. Upon serving, each portion was garnished with cilantro, which sure did spruce up the appearance, no offense to the rice. What a useful little thing. The dessert was made out of leftover pie dough from the worm pies, which was rolled and cut into four-inch circles, molded into the cups of a muffin tin, weighed down with dry beans, then baked about 20 minutes at 425°. They were then filled with whipped cream folded into whipped cream cheese. It’s a good idea to whip the cream first, then chill it for a bit so it sets and holds form, before whipping the cream cheese– which can sit out and soften during that time– with 1/3 cup of sugar and a little almond extract. The cream cheese needs to be whipped up enough to be able to fold the cream into, so softening is pretty important. After folding the cream into it, chill for a few hours so it sets. Then it was spooned and plopped into the shells, and returned to the fridge. I also made dulce de leche to drizzle over it, which I learned is merely condensed milk slow-cooked. Simple. There’s many ways to do it, I used the oven method. It wasn’t a great work of art, but still kinda cute, a nifty little single-serving dessert. A shame I didn’t record for posterity. However, this did lead me to the hours-old decision to just make a batch of dough once a month, to have on hand for when I get the creative itch. I’d love to do it again, plus you can fill the shells with anything!

Since I failed utterly by not taking any photos of them (sorry, I was impatient!), here are more photos of my cat:

resting kitty 1

resting kitty 2

resting kitty 3

My darling.

“Go on and sweep, knucklehead”

In celluloid, funny ha ha on Wednesday, 16 November, 2011 at 22:19

First the parody. I love his move at 0:12, whatever that arm twirl is:

Just before that clip begins, Dave remarks, “I look like Turbo from Breakin’.” And here he is. It’s a shame about high-definition these days, you can see the strings at one point. Back when everything wasn’t crystal sharp, it was no problem. Of course, now you’d digitize it. Long live the practical! Check the moonwalk just after 1:45– hot.

Music: “Tour de France”, Kraftwerk