Tag Archives: baking

things i’ve been meaning to tell you: june 2017

7 Jun

One: I’ve come to the conclusion that 87% of children’s books are F’d. Up. I’ve already mentioned the fact that Jamberry? Motherf-ers had to be hiiiiigh when they wrote that shit. And now, I have to say I take umbrage with the book Frederick.

Do you know the story? A little family of field mice, getting ready for winter, and while most of them are running around collecting wheat and corn there’s little Frederick, collecting words and colors.

Words and colors.

Words and colors aren’t going to feed you and keep you warm in the winter, dammit!

Please don’t misunderstand me. Whether you can tell or not, I’m a writer. Words are incredibly important to me. Colors, too. But you know what? I’m pretty sure that I could gather some words and colors at the same time I was gathering some of the harvest for our winter hibernation. It’s called multi-tasking, Frederick.

Two: The other day my gym was celebrating its 12th anniversary. There were balloons! And free giveaway things! And food! And booze! And all I have to say about that is if my gym gave away food and booze regularly I would go there a hell of a lot more often.

Three: There has been a significant lack of learning in my life. Sure, sure, I know what you’re thinking: Every DAY is a new learning experience. And it’s true! It is! And that’s great!

But I still want to learn things.

So I signed up for a cake decorating class.

All About Buttercream!

If that’s not a class description that will lure you in, then I’m not sure you and I should speak anymore. That would be like turning your nose up at a class called, “Let’s Eat All The Melted Cheese.” If you can’t get behind that then you and I will have to relegate ourselves to curt nods in passing when we see each other.

I said good day.

Anyway, I’ve picked up quite a lot in this short, four-week class. I can make rosettes! And roses! And primroses! And daffodils! I can make all the flowers! And swag-things that go around the edges of a cake! And shell-borders!

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Making buttercream roses? Surprisingly easier than I anticipated. I’m going to flower the hell out of all the cupcakes near and far.

But you know what I haven’t yet learned?

How to straight up frost a g-d cake.

And so I continue with the learning.

Four: I went for a massage last week and it was wonderful. But there’s always that strange moment when the massage therapist leaves the room, you get undressed and get on the massage table, and then the therapist knocks to come back in. At that point—when she or he knocks—what am I supposed to say? “I’m ready”? Or perhaps, “Come in”? I feel the same way when I’m at the doctor’s office, sitting in my paper gown, waiting for the physician to enter.

Neither of those phrases seems right to me. “I’m ready” sounds oddly bizarre, when you think about the after part of that statement. “I’m ready…for you to start digging your elbows into my back!” Or, “I’m ready…for you to palpate my stomach to make sure there are no foreign objects lingering about.”

“Come in!” doesn’t seem right either. It’s not my home, for God’s sake. It’s a massage studio. Or a women’s clinic. I’m not about to serve my massage therapist tea, or offer my midwife cookies.

Maybe I should go with, “Door’s open!”
What say you, Interwebs?

from the file pit: beer bread

3 Feb

It’s February, which means, yup, still winter. Still going to be for awhile now. Which is awesome, because February is full of days that end in Y, and days that end in Y are perfect for eating bread.

Unless you’re gluten intolerant. And then every day that ends in Y is a horrible day for eating bread, but because I am a nice person I will eat your bread for you. You’re welcome.

I’ve long been interested in making bread, but on my few attempts it has turned out less-than-stellar. Usually super dense and not well-risen. Edible, yes, but not boulangerie-worthy.

Then again, sometimes life is not about perfection, but rather about getting shit done. And if that shit is getting bread into my mouth, then I have achieved success.

ANYWAY, I have some very exciting news for you: I have found a bread recipe that even I can’t screw up. It has three ingredients.*

 

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As per usual, my incredibly thorough directions, if they can even be determined through the chicken scratch. God only knows where I copied this recipe from. For all I know it’s off the side of a metro car. 

THREE.

3.

Trois.

That’s it.

Granted, one of the ingredients is quite specific,** but if you can manage that, you’ll find success. I promise you. Perhaps you’ve heard of Tastefully Simple, and their beer bread that I think you just mix together the dry mix and some beer? Sure, that’s only two ingredients, but this three-ingredient beer bread is just as easy. I like to call it Stupidly Simple.

I made two of these loaves in one day, in the span of about two hours, actually. THAT is how simple this recipe is to throw together. One for Swede and me, and one to give to his sister who had just had surgery. Because nothing says recovery like warm beer bread and narcotic-strength pain meds.

I should be a doctor.

This may be one of the greatest File Pit findings yet, you guys. Seriously. Easy peasy and delicious. Would I make this again? Do I even need to answer that? No. No I do not. Instead I will answer you by saying you should drop whatever you’re doing and go home and make this.

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More butter, please. 

(And if you also choose to pick up Kerrygold salted butter to slather on it fresh from the oven, no one will judge you. Nay, they will applaud you.)

*Four, if you count the egg for the egg wash. Five, really, if you count the melted butter you’re supposed to brush on top when it’s done. But now you’re just being nit-picky.

**Self-rising flour is the key here. I think you could pretty much use any light-colored or amber ale you so choose, but I can’t guarantee success if you try and use a different kind of flour. I could go into the science behind the self-rising flour in this recipe, but I won’t. Because I don’t really know it. I just know it’s different and clutch in this bread.

photo friday: can’t stop won’t stop (baking)

13 Nov
Oh, you sweet thing, you.

Oh, you sweet thing, you.

Inspired by my rabid fangirl love of The Great British Baking Show, I took to the kitchen a few weeks ago to make cupcakes for my oldest sister’s birthday. The cake itself–vanilla, as requested by the birthday girl–was only meh. (I have a better recipe that I will return to. If I can find it. Entirely possible it’s somewhere in the File Pit.) But the frosting, well. That may be my favorite and best frosting to date. Not only did it taste good, but I also whipped out my ancient cake decorating set and gave the cupcakes some flair on top. A little messy, for sure, and I wouldn’t win any bake-offs, that’s for certain. But not bad for a girl who is notoriously bad at frosting cakes, eh?

things i’ve been meaning to tell you: november 2015

11 Nov

1) I don’t care for the term “start a family” when referring to having kids. Whether or not you have kids does not determine the start date of your family. When you and your partner committed to each other, you started a family right at that moment, no? That moment of commitment is for you to decide, of course. Maybe it was the day were married. Or on your eight month dating anniversary. Or more likely, it was a Tuesday morning and you were eating toast and you looked at your person and thought, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, I do not want to be without this person.” I can’t decide that moment for you, no one can except you. The point is, THAT is when you created your family–and continue to create, because family can be very fluid–with your person, and your extended family, and their extended family, and all the dogs and goddamn cats that might come along with that.

So kids? Kids are expanding your family, not starting it. They are starting a new chapter for your family, if that’s a chapter you want to write.

2) I got myself a Divvy membership and every once in awhile—yes, even now that it’s getting colder—I’ll Divvy to or from work. Chicago has put in an ever-growing system of bike lanes, which makes for a protected ride, or as protected as you can be, riding city streets next to crazy asshole drivers, and I can say that because I am a crazy asshole driver when I’m not riding a bike. (It’s considered part of your driving test when you get your license in Illinois—how much of a pleasant asshat can you be? Highest score gets the finger.)

Let's roll, bitches.

Let’s roll, bitches.

Anyway, it’s pretty awesome to be able to commute via bicycle. Not only do I get to sing, “I want to ride my bicycle! I want to ride my biiiike!”* much to the confusion and/or chagrin of other bikers and some drivers, it’s freeing to pedal along, the breeze rushing over your helmet, your cheeks pinked with exercise. It’s like being a kid again, except with much more traffic, and an increased level of perspiration. (Hence why I typically ride home from work, and not to work.)

3) Swede and I are hooked, hooked, I tell you, on The Great British Baking Show on Netflix. Have you seen it? It’s extraordinary. It surpasses American reality television in just about every way, namely that they don’t create a lot of artificial drama—the natural drama of baking is what drives the show and keeps viewers engrossed. On top of that, they’re just so nice to each other, so civil, even when, say, a judge is telling a contestant that their bake isn’t terribly good. And the contestants are nice to themselves—they’ll say, “That was disappointing” after getting a bad review, but then typically follow it up with some sort of live-and-learn, I’ll try harder next time type of comment. No one is bitching about anyone else, or catty-talking what this bitch said to that bitch over there and who does he think he is and blah blah shriilllllll scrreeeeeeching polluting the airwaves omg please be quiet only dogs can hear you now. You know? It’s just civil. The icing on the cake (pun completely and utterly intended) is that some of these bakers are just terrifically talented, and their creativity is simply stunning to watch.

So if you haven’t watched, do so immediately. Even if you’d rather eat a cake than bake one.

*Please note that I am fully clothed when divvying to or from work.

photo friday: hello, muffin

11 Sep
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Mmm…muffin-y

Sometimes you look in your fridge and wonder why and how and when it came about that you acquired three—yes, three—large tubs of Greek yogurt in your life. Hard to say, really, but there they are and you’d better do something with them before they go moldy.

(Whoops, too late for that one there. Into the garbage you go, pal.)

So in a fit of I WILL ACTUALLY TRY ONE OF THE 4,000+ RECIPES I’VE PINNED ON PINTEREST!, you pluck one from your boards and make some banana muffins that use Greek yogurt instead of butter and oil, because as luck would have it you have some over-ripe bananas that need to be used, too.

And sometimes these things turn out quite deliciously, and you can enjoy them with a cup of tea while you zone out in the morning before work.

(Recipe can be found here.)

photo friday: what the?

28 Aug
Oh, you know, just monkeying around in the kitchen.

Oh, you know, just monkeying around in the kitchen.

Sometimes (re: frequently) I come across photos in my files that make me think, “Now that looks like fun!” (re: Why the hell did I take a picture of that? What the hell was I doing?) This is one photo that definitely fits that bill. There’s a strong chance I snapped this while I was making some sort of zucchini-infused baked good, as evidenced by the grated zucchini photos that followed this one in my files, but really, your guess is as good as mine.

I am astounded, sometimes, by my lack of awareness of what goes on in my kitchen in relation to the things created by…me.

I hope, at least, that whatever I was making turned out well.

from the file pit: chocolate poundcake

19 Aug

Welcome, friends, to the second recipe plucked from the obscurity of my messy, messy recipe files. I’d like to begin by telling you that unlike the Rocky Road cake, where I could harbor a guess as to how the recipe came to be in my clutches, today’s recipe for chocolate poundcake? I have absolutely no idea. It’s handwritten, as you can see—and yes, that’s definitely my scrawl—and in classic McPolish style it has very few actual instructions. Your guess is as good as mine as to where I dug this one up.

Very detailed recipe, folks. Very detailed.

Very detailed recipe, folks. Very detailed.

Seriously, do I have an aversion to instructions that I don’t know about? It’s entirely possible, and something I will have to think about at a later time. Maybe. But today, right now, at this moment, instructions are inconsequential because what’s important is that this chocolate poundcake is delicious. I’m declaring it a winner (Of what I’m not sure. The file pit? My tastebuds? The entire Chicagoland area?), and a repeater recipe for the following reasons:

  1. It’s stupidly easy to pull together, few directions or no.
  2. It has a lovely, deep chocolate flavor.
  3. Butter.

If I had to add a fourth reason it would be because I can make this cake in bundt form, rather than loaf form, and let me tell you something about loaf form that you probably already know:

I DON’T LIKE MAKING LOAF THINGS.

EXCEPT MAYBE MEATLOAF.

(SERIOUSLY, I LOVE MEATLOAF.)

(THE FOOD, NOT THE ENTERTAINER.)

Loaf-type baked goods hardly turn out well for me. They’re either raw in the middle, burned on the top or bottom, and in general are a disaster. And not even a good disaster that I could take and reformat into a delectable treat. Loaf-style baked goods, with the exception of mini-loaves, are just a straight-up shitshow for me, more times than not. 

But bundt cakes?

Now you’re speaking my language!

If, for some reason, you’re not into bundts (Why? What could you possibly have against bundt formations? Is it the hole? Do you not like the hole in the middle?) but you like chocolate poundcake, my suggestion to you is to suck it up, buttercup, and make this cake anyway. And then, to save yourself the misery of having to look at a bundt cake (Is it the fluted sides?) or eat a bundt cake (Okay, now you’re just weird) once it’s cooled you can chop it up and turn it into some sort of trifle. Because this cake would make for an amazing trifle layer. Slap gobs of whipped cream in between the layers, perhaps douse the cake with Kahlua or amaretto, maybe toss in some fresh berries, whatever you have on hand or whatever’s in season, you know? Go to town, have some fun, let it all hang out if you really can’t stand a bundt cake. Or even if you are a fan of the bundt cake, this trifle idea might still have legs.

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Seriously. How can you not love a bundt?

I really don’t think you can go wrong either way.