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Archive for July, 2010

A couple of weeks in a row now, two of my friends have come over to my place and we’ve started cooking together.  One hasn’t had very much experience with cooking and she asked if I could help her learn how to make some things.  That’s how it started.  It’s always a good time of drinking coffee and tea and sharing our unemployed stories (neither of them are currently working either).

Creaming the Sugar, Butter and Eggs

We started off with blueberry muffins and chocolate zucchini pineapple muffins.  The blueberry muffins were amazing and jam-packed with blueberries.  The chocolate zucchini muffins were good, but not as amazing as the blueberry muffins.

Chopping the Nuts

This week, we made chocolate chip cookies.  For a long time I had been looking for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe.  Something crispy on the edges, and soft in the middle.  I found it a while back somewhere on the internet (not entirely sure where) and now I will share it with you.

Spooning Out the Batter

As this is a weekly thing that we’re doing, I’m hoping to get my fellow bakers to do some guest posts about learning to cook with me!  I might also teach them to knit.  But that’s a project for another week.

The cookies were perfect.  We didn’t stir in the nuts until we had already cooked a dozen so that we could have some nut-free cookies.  We accidentally made them GIANT and they turned into a giant pan cookie.  Or, as we called them, Cakies.  Still, they were delicious.  But we learned from that and made the cookies smaller in the next batches.

Cakies

The Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup white sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons hot water

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup walnuts

Directions:

1. preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.  Dissolve baking soda in hot water.  Add to the batter along with the salt and stir.  Stir in flour, chocolate chips and nuts.  Drop by not-too-large spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.

3.  Bake for about 10 minutes or until edges are nicely browned.  Let them cool on the pan for a minute or two, otherwise they break when you try to lift them off.

4. Don’t eat them all at once.

Bon apetit!

-a

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Sunflower

When buying seeds back in March, I whimsically picked up some sunflower seeds.  I am generally a very practical gardener.  Flowers are not something I usually plant.  Having said that, look at this!  I am in love with this flower.

(Those are chocolate chip cookies in the background.  More on those soon!)

-a

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It was my first wedding anniversary with my husband this last weekend and we went on an adventure together down the coast of California.

We left without much of a plan on Friday night, found places along the way to stay and saw lots of interesting things.

The California coast is beautiful.  Lots of rolling hills, mountains, greenery, ocean and neat little places to stop and gaze at the ocean.

We went to Hearst Castle.  What a strange experience that was.  Reminiscent of Versailles, and other museums and castles in Europe, but built in the last hundred years.  This room was my favourite.  I wish I could swim in this pool.

We stopped and wondered at the Elephant Seals.  These mammals are shear ridiculousness.

We ate lots of good food, drank some good wine, and generally enjoyed each other’s company.

-a

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Tomatoes

image

image

Beautiful.

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Garden Bean and Corn Salad

2 1/2 cups of beans

1 cob of corn

1 cup of cherry tomatoes

1/3 cup fresh basil leaves

1 clove of garlic

2 Tbsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Some slices of fresh mozzarella.

Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil.  Husk the corn and put it into the boiling water for about 5 minutes.  Remove and run under cold water.

While the corn is boiling, trim the ends off of the beans and cut into bite sized pieces.  When the corn is out of the water, add the beans to the pot.  Cook for about 3 minutes or until tender.

While the beans are cooking, start slicing the cherry tomatoes in half or quarters, depending on their size and how you like them.  Toss these into a medium sized mixing or salad bowl.

Cut the corn kernels off the cobs.  Put them into the bowl with the tomatoes.

When the beans are cooked, drain them and run them under cold water.  Drain and add to the salad bowl.

Chop the basil.  Put in bowl.

Finely dice the garlic with a pinch of salt and then paste it.*

Drizzle over these tasty ingredients the lemon juice and olive oil.  Sprinkle with some salt and pepper.  Toss thoroughly and make sure it tastes like you want it.

Gently slice the fresh mozzarella and lay the slices on top of the salad.  Chill until ready to serve.  On a whim, I threw in a handful of olives (I know.  Me.  Olives.  Who would have thought?), and they balanced out the salad with a bit of salty.  Extra delicious

Sorry there’s no picture.  We ate it all before I could get a shot of it!  The purple beans sadly don’t stay purple with cooking.

*I have never pasted garlic before, but heard about it from the Good Eats tv show with Alton Brown.  It helps bring out more of the garlic flavour and keeps me from eating a big piece of garlic, which is nice in a salad.  You certainly don’t have to paste the garlic, but make sure you chop it finely.

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Check it out!  The first harvest of my multicolour beans!  There are green beans, purple beans and yellow beans.  Why are they so curly?  I have no idea.  They just are.  My plans are to make a bean, corn, tomato, mozzarella, basil salad with them and things i bought at the farmer’s market this morning.  Nom nom nom.

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Lemonade/Iced Tea

Half and half has taken on a whole new meaning in my life.

Instead of being the thing that I add to my coffee, it has started to be my new favourite drink.  Half and half meaning half lemonade, half iced tea.  Most iced tea isn’t sweetened here, unless you ask for it and then it’s usually too sweet.  So the sweetness of the lemonade adds the flavour that I’m looking for and the lemoney taste is so refreshing.

I found the perfect recipe and am keeping a jug in the fridge at almost all times.  It does tend to disappear rather quickly, though.

Half and Half

8 cups of water

4 tea bags

1 cup sugar

1 cup of lemon juice

In a big pot on the stove, bring the water to a boil.  Remove from heat and add tea bags.  Wait between five and ten minutes.  Depending on how strong you like your tea, or how long you forget about it for.  Stir in the sugar.  It should easily dissolve because the water is still hot.  Stir in the lemon juice.  Let the whole concoction cool to room temperature, put into a jug and put in the fridge.

This would probably be extra delicious if some mint were added.  I’ll have to see if there’s any growing in the garden I can pilfer.

Enjoy!

-a

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