Thursday, January 26, 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Oatcakes and Orange Flower Water

Greetings, Friends.
The ship may no longer be going Full Steam Ahead, BUT it is not idling away in dry-dock, either.
For all you non-nautical types out there (including me), please refer to my disclaimer about overworked metaphors. While I do have a broken right arm, I'm planning on sneaking my way around that obstacle at least a few times over the course of the next 3-5 weeks. Probably with the help of my friends.
As for my two main goals for the beginning of 2012- training for the 10-miler and increased pace of writing- they will both be put on hold. Tuesday I get fitted for my cast, and I plan to pepper the orthopedic surgeon with questions about what I can do to promote healing and what I shouldn't do to prevent further problems. I dunno, team, do we think I can ramp from nothing to 10 miles in 5 weeks?
Since I am right-handed, typing cack-handed severely slows down the flow of words. I suppose I could still invest the same amount of time and just get half the anticipated output, but I kind of don't want to slog through that. Or am I really just scared that nothing will come if the spigot isn't all the way open? Could be.
I guess we'll find out in the coming weeks!
But now to think back to a time when I had two working arms, when I could multitask like nobody's business, when I could pump out three recipes a night... 
That's right, more Scottish food! I actually made these the week before Christmas, as a balance to all the Cookie Swap sweetness. I found a link to the Leftover Queen's recipe, and found that she was quite the blogging queen, coming much belatedly to that party. The dough was quick to come together, easy to manage, simple to scale. The oatcakes' texture was nubbly, toast-y. The flavor was mild and wheat-y and heartland-y, if that makes sense. Pretty great! It made me think more on what a culture's food says about its people... fascinating speculative exercise...

The same day, I thought I'd better get my mojo going on the cookie swap recipes I'd bookmarked. Two that I was closest to having all the ingredients for shot to the top of the list: HungrySquirrelCakes' Chocolate Orange Chunk Cookies and Mrs. Galvan's Dark Chocolate Cafenelas. Here I've got the first one, which got more oooh's and ahhh's from the officemates (even though they were both fab, I think this one was more unique).
Standard mix-and-drop cookie, with one out-of-the-ordinary ingredient (orange flower water, which can be found in Middle Eastern/ Lebanese groceries or near syrups and jams in a Whole Foods), and the need to keep a close eye on the oven exposure- you want to nab these guys before they're fully cooked to avoid going to the Crispy Side.
**Helpful Note for Americans looking to convert this recipe from metric measurements: 225g = ~3/4c butter; 200g = 1 1/4c sugar; 175g = 5/6c sugar; 350g = 3c flour; 175g = ~5/6c dark chocolate; 170 deg C = ~338 deg F ** I think.
Yum. Next up: Cafenelas and what to do with Black Radishes!

Sunday, January 8, 2012


 As you may no doubt be able to surmise by the above photo of an X-ray, I've had an accident.
I don't want anyone to think that I've lost my zeal for my new initiatives so quickly- much the opposite!- but I won't be able able to experiment, bake, dry dishes, slice bread, or otherwise use my right wrist for 4-6 weeks.
Who knew the wrist was the lynchpin for all these daily activities??
Seriously though, I hope to be writing, cooking, and running again after I change this plaster splint for a cast and survive a busy next couple of weeks...
Oh, and my first dozen cookies go to the person who can come up with the most entertaining or outlandish use for the device above! :-)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Creative Endeavor Year

 What a delicious last couple of days.
Beet greens rescued from limpness, crisped up with bacon goodness

With New Year's Eve on a Saturday and New Year's Day on a Sunday this year, some may have groused about losing days off work, but I made the most of the celebrations not being smooshed into a few tired late-night hours, only to be confronted with the office coffeemaker the next morning. Ha!
I successfully kick-started my Creative Endeavor Year! I've stated lately what I'm interested in, and how differently I want to orient myself, so you maybe have an idea what I'm talking about. No? Ok, then I'll go first with activities from the last few days, and then would you please chime in?

Lists. Yes, I made lists, in different places, on different-sized scraps of paper, and with overlapping topics. Maybe a little overzealous, but now I get to synthesize! Places I want to travel, places I might want to move, key areas of focus for my new work, my annual review, and goals. Totally exciting, right? Well it is for an introverted organizer.

Slowly Scrambled Eggs (you're allowed to zone out while scrambling!)
Writing. Yep- as the new tagline indicates, I'm going to let writing take up a lot more space in my life this year. The focus will be on this blog, as I navigate the transition, and on the novel, which will give me a product and some experience in creative process (little out of practice).
Outdoors. A long run, several moderate-length walks in the cool air- clearing the clutter that tends to clump onto my brain if I spend too much time inside. You know what I mean: meant-to-do's, errands, shoulda-coulda-woulda's. Unless these get out and on a list, they just hover over my shoulder and make me unproductive or regretful. For me, moving at some speed outdoors tends to banish these thoughts. I return refreshed, like my brain had been through a permanent press and spin-cycle!

Apple, cinnamon-sugar, and perhaps a little butter was involved
Back-to-Basics. Return-to-Roots. (I like alliteration, OK?) On NYE, I made my first loaf of bread in the bread machine I received for Christmas, and have been finding ways to appreciate the simple white slice since then. Today, I tried out my first batch of plain yogurt in the new yogurt-maker, and await the results tomorrow morning. While there are a lot of blogging cooks out there who know how to combine many beautiful exotic ingredients for amazing dishes, I like to take the more minimalist approach. Because really, life is what you make of it. So if you don't have pimenton de vera or spelt flour or fresh cilantro when the urge to create in the kitchen strikes, don't fret. Take what you've got, and figure out how to honor that. In fact, I think that'll be the philosophy for this Creative Endeavor Year.

Stale croissant, melted chocolate = uncomplicated souffle
I've been cooking pretty simply in the past month, both because of the desire for wintry comfort food and the need for something simply being enough. Call it an overworked metaphor if you like, but here are a few photos to inspire you to take a stab at this philosophy. Whatever you've got, honor that.

You may see several of the items listed in my Favorites List, which is no accident. What's on your List?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Let the New Year begin!

Happy New Year, faithful readers (and chance-encounter-ers, too)!

Are you excited about 2012? Are you weary already? Are you feeling guilty about not yet goal-making and resolution-listing? Or on this January 1, are you feeling bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready for anything?

All of the Above is, of course, an appropriate answer.

I've been on a bit of a buzz from recent changes, one obvious one to any observant folks out there being the blog's New Look. It's only a slight physical change, but behind it is a lot of thought about priorities, commitment, direction, ... you know, all that serious Life Stuff. I am hoping to rededicate myself to efforts I've defined or started, including:

the novel

the cooking and baking

the running and yoga

Plus, two new areas where I'm branching out in 2012:
educating myself on the business of NOT working for The Man (e.g. freelancing- two blogs which I've been keying onto in the past couple weeks for this are The Clear-Minded Creative and PuttyLike)
volunteering my skills for good causes (reinforced by Rose's sage advice!)

If you've got ideas you've thought about, or thoughts on how we bloggers set goals, feel free to leave them in the comments. I'm inspired by others' passionate efforts, and you just might get a buzz from sharing your positive intentions!

Best wishes for all of 2012.