All done my qualifying exams.
They’re all graded.
And my classmate and I passed all three.
Alright, let’s get this post started.
First, it’s been a whirlwind of a semester at school. So much work! But also so much learning! From hierarchical linear modeling to fun new yoga poses, it’s been a lovely couple of months. So lovely that I haven’t been baking much (except for celebratory brownies now and then). With summer here, maybe that will change. *fingers crossed!*
While my baking may not have been advancing forward, my YouTube lists have been ever growing. It’s a constant search for music that I can play in yoga classes or boot camps. Current top picks:
Breath and Sound by Tom Goss
Hurts (Remix) By Mika
Also, to quickly respond to an email from my dad, I think I’m managing to clock enough time “Outside Upside Down”:
I was helping my friend set up for her new yoga studio (CONGRATULATIONS JAMIE!!). The rug you see was a goodwill find, and, while clean, needed some stain cover up. What better way than with blue paint? After tackling that job, clearly we needed a brief photo session.
Okay, now for the baking. This pie comes from the need to bake up some kind of delight that is easy and can be made with simple ingredients. We were having a going away party for some people in my lab, so our lab meeting was turned into a potluck lunch. I clearly signed up to bake a dessert, but come Sunday morning, I realized I had no idea what I was going to bake and had little time to figure it out, so with some googling around the interwebs, I found this super simple recipe that sounded pretty good. I sent the recipe to my friend Liz. She’s a self professed lover of pie, and so I trusted her opinion. She said she wanted to eat it all now, so I took that as a good sign. Now, without further adieu, here’s the recipe:
Sugar Milk Pie
Idea comes from this!
1/2 cup chilled butter
1 1/2 cup flour
Small handful of sugar
2 Tbsp chilled Grand Marnier
4-5 Tbsp ice water
- Chop butter into small cubes. Then add in flour and sugar. Taking your handy dandy fork in hand, begin to press the butter through the tines of the fork, effectively using it as a pastry cutter (I’ve actually never managed to get a pastry cutter to work properly). Keep forking away at the butter/flour combo until you achieve a course grain (about 5 minutes).
- Add in the Grand Marnier and 3-4 tbsp of ice water. Mix around with the fork. Maybe add some more water. I find that about half of the “dough” comes together because of the liquids. Then I use my hands to mush the rest of the crumbs into the dough ball. If you add too much liquid, the crust wont be flaky and tends to be rude to work with.
- Once you have a ball of dough, wrap it in plastic and chill in fridge for an hour… or in my case, as long as it takes to go get some heavy whipping cream, have and awkward conversation with your doorman about strip clubs, and eat some cheese and crackers.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Super simple: Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl with a whisk!
Next time I make this, I may try to add in a bit more flour to thicken it a bit more. Perhaps a half cup in total…
- Roll out your pie crust on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness. I tend to do a couple rolls, shift the dough around a bit, reflour everything, and roll some more. Helps ensure the dough doesn’t stick to the counter. I used a 9″ pie pan.
- Transfer the dough to your pie pan. Remove any extra crust around the edges
- Pour the filling into the pie pan and carefully transfer to the oven.
- Now, the original recipe called for a 40-45 minute bake time. I did not do this… I baked it about about 65-70 minutes. I was just waiting for a toothpick to come out relatively clean once I pierced the filling (at 40 minutes, it was still liquid). So… go with you instinct. Once it cools down, the filling will gel up.
- Once it’s out the oven, I chilled it overnight and then served it to my lab at lunch the next day. It was gone within an hour!
(yes, we’re a super classy lab with plastic knives for cutting and red plates for serving)
Happy Autumn, Everyone!!!
It’s my favorite time of year. Leaves are changing to beautiful reds, yellows, and oranges, and the temperature sits at a comfortable hoodie level. I also love the sound of leaves crunching under my boots as I make my way to school. And biking is perfect because you don’t show up at your destination looking like a sweaty mess (not that that has ever stopped me).
This autumn has been filled with classes, brains, and yoga. I’m actually enjoying my classes for the most part. Turns out when you kinda understand what’s going on, the material isn’t so bad. Who knew? The brains are coming along, one voxel at a time. And the yoga is great right now. I’m having a blast leading my boot camp at the yoga studio, and then teaching a heated vinyasa class as well as a slow flow class. All the students are so much fun. Even though they glare at me as I make them hold a plank for balance on one leg for too long, I know they are glaring with love. *gulp*
All this teaching also means I’m constantly surfing around for new music. My latest find is this:
What can I say? I’m a sucker for some Kelly Clarkson. And I’m a sucker for a duet. The song has a single verse that gets repeated the entire song, but it’s catchy and I find myself rocking out to it far more than I would like to admit… (maybe it’s playing right now… maybe…)
Quickly back to yoga: I taught my boot camp on Halloween, so clearly I needed to dress up. Sadly, I’m fresh out of drill sergeant costumes, but I did have my “sexy cop” outfit from my Jeerleading days. So pulled that out of the closet and had some fun getting my students ready for the zombie apocalypse by having them do many burpees and lunge kicks. (if you can’t tell, I’m posing with Jane Fonda). Needless to say, my students were ready to take on the hoards of creatures roaming St Louis streets last night. (and yes, I was one of the creatures roaming around the central west end… guess what I was!)
Autumn also means delicious comfort foods like pumpkin pie, warm apple cider, and roasted root veggies. Delicious! But, this post’s recipe has none of those. Nope. This recipe was chosen because of a memory of when I baked mini cupcakes for my brother’s Latin class during their midterm exam. Sadly, I have NO idea what I baked for that class. I just have a vague memory of it being spicy and may have had carrots or apples in the mix… Anyway, I wanted to try to make a spice cupcake again, so I did! And because pinterest has been showing me lots of caramel frosting recipes, clearly the spice cupcake needed caramel frosting. I didn’t know how the combo would work out, but I think it turned out pretty deliciously. At least, people said they were good. Then again, they may have been biased cuz they know me and I was standing right there when they ate it… whatever!
1/4 cup of butter (half a stick)
1 cup of sugar
1 1/3 cup of flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt (or two)
1/2 cup of milk
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon fresh ginger (grated)
2 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 12 cup cupcake pan with cupcake papers or whatever you like to use for your cupcakes.
- Combine sugar and butter in a bowl and mix until it resembles course crumbs. Then add in the two eggs and beat to your hearts delight.
- In a separate small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and dry spices. Then add half of the flour mixture to butter mixture. Add in fresh ginger, vanilla, and milk. Combine loosely and then add in rest of the flour mixture. Stir until completely mixed together.
- Divide batter into prepared cupcake pan and bake for 16 minutes (or until toothpick comes out clean). Let cool while you prepare the frosting.
- For the frosting, melt butter in saucepan. Add in brown sugar and bring to a soft boil, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Then add in the milk and bring back to soft boil for ~2 minutes, still stirring constantly. The sauce should still be fairly runny. Let cool for 30 minutes.
- Once butter/brown sugar has cooled, add in 1 cup of confectioner sugar and combine completely. Then add in some more until desired frosting consistency is achieved. I did a total of 2 cups, but wish I had only done 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups. My frosting, as you can see, was rather thick and crumbly. Still tasty but more of a fudge in the end.
- Frost those cupcakes with as much frosting as you want! I had extra that’s currently in my fridge still…. not sure what I’ll be doing with it…
It has been a whole summer since my last post. And it seems like every post in the past year or so has echoed the idea that I am going to increase my posting rate. This post is probably not much different, however instead of trying to do better, I think I have to just commit to rolling with the punches and posting when I can.
And that commitment actually drives the title of this post. Getting back to aspects of life that get lost when one is like me and runs through the days like there is something chasing him. This summer has been a whirlwind of travel, parties, work, and fun, but now that it’s over and classes have started again, I’ve had the opportunity to pause and reflect on the good, the bad, and the ugly. To highlight a few things:
- My lab work over the summer was rather awesome. Though I still do not have any results to show as of now, I learned a lot. In addition to the learning, I actually kinda liked having regular hours when I was expected(ish) to be at the lab. Yes, those hours were flexible and I took full advantage of that, but I appreciated not taking work home and juggling it with classes, meetings, and fun.
- Teaching yoga and boot camps this summer has been so much fun! Even though teaching responsibilities cause me to take advantage of flexible hours, I’m reminded that I really do love leading fitness classes. Being able to positively affect someone’s day with a simple hour of class is a great feeling that I’m in no hurry to give up!
- Outdoors! Outdoors! Outdoors! I’ve had the opportunity to go camping, hiking, biking, and racing this summer. I’ve loved it. Just being outside in the forests and mountains has reminded me that there is so much life to appreciate outside the city, and one should take full advantage of it whenever possible.
While I would not change any of this summer’s events, I realize that my favorite moments were when I stopped and took a breath. They were the times when I didn’t let the rest of life take up parts of my mind while engaged in another activity. Though I have no intentions of slowing down my everyday life, I intend to try to keep things more simple. More basic. Maybe that will be making dinner at home rather than going out. Or maybe that will mean finding a better balance between work, school, and fun. Maybe it just means I turn off my phone for a couple of hours. Who know? All I know is that I’m looking forward to it!
Now, perhaps it is just me, but whenever I hear the words “back to basics” of course I think of Christina Aguilera’s album. Here’s the intro to that album:
But since that song is a bit old, here’s a song off of Leona Lewis’ latest album that I’ve been dancin’ around to lately. It’s called “I am.” (yes, I realize I posted a Leona song last time… I’m okay with this)
Keeping with the theme of this post, I decided I would go back to the first recipe I remember learning. It’s my mom’s brownie recipe that I remember baking when I was probably 7? 8? Somewhere in there. My strongest memory attached to this recipe is that she gave it to me to bake, but made it into a lil math problem, telling me to make only an eighth of the recipe and then bake it in the toaster oven. Whether her intention was to teach me math or to get herself a fresh brownie is unclear. Regardless, it achieved both purposes and also taught me that I love baking! (I also remember trying to divide an egg in half and failing. We decided the whole egg was okay)
4oz Unsweetened Chocolate (I’ve always used Baker’s)
1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter
2 cups Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 cup Flour
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan or line pan with parchment paper.
- Place chocolate and butter in double boiler and place over medium heat. While chocolate and butter melt (stir every few minutes), mix eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl with whisk.
- Once chocolate and butter are completely melted, remove from heat and let sit for a minute or two. Then pour chocolate into egg mixture and stir a few times. No need to completely mix in the chocolate yet. Next, add the flour and mix, completely incorporating flour while avoiding over beating batter.
- Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading out towards corners as needed, and bake for 23-25 minutes. Check brownies with toothpick. I personally like the brownies to be a bit more dense, so my toothpick will have a bit of brownie on it when removed.
- Serve hot or cold. Or don’t serve them. Just eat them all.
I am ashamed that it has been so long since my last post. WORST! SORRY!!
I have been crazy busy with school and stuffs and haven’t had time to bake, much less post about baking.
What could I possibly be doing that would take time away from baking? A valid question.
As my last post mentioned, I was taking another yoga training. That is all done now, but certainly took more time from life than I originally anticipated. OOPS! But in the end, it was worth it as I’m now teaching yogas again! YAY! Once the training ended, it was right into midterms! And then apparently, after midterms, the semester gets even harder, and it’s all a lil Unicorn can do to keep his head above the sea of papers and projects that need to be completed by the end of the semester. Additionally, I decided to partake in 2 races, one at the end of April and one at the beginning of May, so training took up a fair bit of time as well (But was worth it as the races went quite well!)
But that’s all over now and I’m finally able to take some time to bake and blog about it. There is just one small complication… I currently don’t have a kitchen to bake in. Renovations started the week of finals and continue on. There was once talk of having things done the first week of June…. Something tells me we’re nowhere near that point, but hey! What do I know? So needless to say, the below recipe required very little baking and is actually not a baked good at all. But so it must go until an oven and stove top reappear in my life. Thank you to my mom for sending me a hot plate! This recipe wouldn’t have been possible without that as I need it to boil water on.
Before getting to the recipe, however, I would like to mention this video/song: Leona Lewis “Fire Under My Feet”
I discovered it this afternoon while reading some papers for work. LOVE IT!!!
I had been pondering what video I wanted to place in this post, but after hearing this song there was no question about it. I’m really hoping Leona makes a comeback with this one. Some other contenders for the video spot were:
RuPaul’s “Geronimo“- mostly I just wish I could move my ass like that.
Gin Wigmore’s “Black Sheep“- I heard this in NYC and loved it.
Miley and Ariana’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over“- I was surprised to learn it was the two of them singing. Quite lovely!
There are other songs I could throw on this list, most of which helped get me through the crazy that was this past semester (not bad crazy, but definitely crazy), but in the interest of not posting my entire playlist, I’ll cap it here. So onto the “baking ” part of the post.
I made this tabbouleh for a Memorial day party. Course I would have preferred to bake something, but again, no oven, no baking. So I went with the tabbouleh, mostly because I had just had a delicious tabbouleh at my friend’s restaurant and wanted to see if I could re-create it. I did not do the best job, but it turned out pretty good in the end. I think I need to work on my bulghur wheat cooking abilities. Next time I will use less water when soaking the bulghur wheat to allow it to be less like a mush and more like individual grains. On a side note, other than the bulghur and lemon, the ingredients came from the local farmers market which gives me some odd degree of satisfaction (and also makes it cost alot more).
gently based on the recipe my friend gave me and this
1 cup Bulghur Wheat
1 1/2 cups boiling water
zest of 1 lemon1/4 cup Fresh Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 bunch (~1 cup) Scallions (minced)
1 bunch (~1 cup) mint leaves
2 bunch (~2 cup) parsley
3 medium tomatoes
Salt and Pepper
1. Combine water, lemon juice, olive oil and ~1 teaspoon of salt together. Then add in blughur wheat, stir, cover, and allow to sit for an hour (again, I think I would use 1 1/4 cups water next time).
3. Allow to chill for at least 2 hours in the fridge to allow the wheat to cool off. Can let it sit longer if you want. I think the flavor significantly improves after it sits for a bit. I left mine overnight and was very happy I did so.
4. Enjoy with pita bread! Or just eat it out of the bowl like I did in the end.