Showing posts with label ginger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ginger. Show all posts

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bittersweet Celebration

I'm settling into my unemployment quite well.  Though I'm not technically unemployed, yet.  Due to Warn Act laws in New York State, companies of a certain size must give their employees 60 days notice before they can just shut down.  So technically, I'm still employed by my company.  They just don't want me to come to work.


If only I could get paid indefinitely to not come to work, I'm quite good at this not working thing.  The house is clean, the dishes are done and all the laundry is folded.  Yesterday I got to sleep in, I headed to my 9am Crossfit class and did some grocery shopping.  I even got a pedicure, something my running weary feet loved.

It's not all fun and games though.  As much as I want to imagine this will last, I realize I only have a few months before they won't be paying me to sit at home.  I've been dusting off my resume and contacting all my friends and former advisers.  I am so thankful for all my friends and colleagues that have reached out to me.  I have had the privledge to work with some amazing people over the years, including those that I have just parted with at OSI.


I know that all my friends will come out of these sad times even stronger.  While I don't want to say that it was a good thing, the site closure, but I'm sure there are opportunities out there for all of us.  The world of pharmaceuticals is strangely tiny, I know it isn't the last time I see my friends.


This is a celebration cake.  Not of the end, but of a new beginning in my life, a new chapter.  Full of sweet, early summer peaches, and covered in tangy, sharp ginger cream cheese frosting, this cake is a little bittersweet, just like this week.  Make it for yourself.  If you're having a rough week, it will totally cheer you up.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Why Bother 2012 - Crackers

Before I can get started on those 2013 goals, I have to finish my 2012 ones!  We've only got two challenges left in the Why Bother, make it at home challenge!  I'm almost 100% recovered from my bout with bronchitis (Did you know the cough from bronchitis can last for up to three months!???!  Boyfriend knows all too well) and I spent the weekend making crackers!


Crackers are a very prominent snack in the Wilde household.  About an hour after dinner, every night of the week, boyfriend heads to the cupboard and brings a box of Wheat Thins to the couch.  He proceeds to eat about half of the box.  I'm thinking I need to feed him larger portions for dinner.


For the Cracker Challenge, I thought that I should try to replace Boyfriends favorite snack with something a little healthier.  The first recipe I made was a simple wheat cracker, with a hint of salt.  They were beyond easy to make and came out just like the plain store bought brand!  The trick?  Sizing bands for the rolling pin.  I use a Wilton brand fondant rolling pin with the ring guides.  The 1/16-inch guide gave a nice even dough for cutting the crackers.  They came out crispy and delicious!


Did boyfriend have any of them?  No, he did not.  He is a fan of the highly flavored variety of the crackers and I am at a loss at how to make a powdered sun-dried tomato flavoring.  The whole wheat crackers are all mine!


I thought that I would try to ply BF with a flavored cracker, since it's his vice.  Rather than make him something that we could pick up in the cracker aisle, I decided on something fresh and flavorful.  We both love Indian food, so when I saw this recipe for ginger and curry crackers I knew it would be a winner. 

The dough for these crackers came together just as fast as the first batch and they came out such a beautiful yellow color!  The apartment smelled warm and inviting and it made me want to order in some curry.  Topped with a smidge of cream cheese and red pepper jelly, these crackers are the perfect snack.


So, will I stop buying crackers at the store?  I don't think boyfriend will let me, he loves his nightly Wheat Thins too much.  I am happy to know how easy it is to thrown a batch of crackers in the oven.

One more challenge to go before we head into the Restaurant War!  Stay tuned in two weeks for our final homemade challenge - soft cheeses!  It's going to be so exciting, maybe I'll make some bagels to pair up with my homemade cream cheese.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chai Cupcakes with Chai Cream Cheese Frosting

When you collect your race packet and written in large red letters is the following "There is a real possibility that YOU MAY DIE or be catastrophically injured," you may be wondering what you got yourself into.  I was staring at these exact words this Saturday when boyfriend and I got ready to run our very first Spartan Race. 

Registering for the Spartan Race was not my idea.  Four months ago, Boyfriend found the race through a Living Social deal and signed us both up.  I went to the website and was presented with a video of fit looking people crawling under barbed wire, scaling ten foot walls, leaping over fire and jumping into giant pits of mud.  On top of all of this, the runners were confronted with armed gladiators in the last 100 feet.  What did I get myself into?

Saturday morning we drove through rainstorms and wound up at the Mountain Creek Ski Resort, in beautiful and sundrenched Northwestern New Jersey.  We donned our race numbers and lined up at the starting gate.  I jumped up and down, arooing at boyfriend.  He stood there and told me I was acting crazy and to stop it.

The siren blared and we were off and running!  For the first 500 feet.  Then we were faced with a very daunting, very steep, very tall hill.  A black diamond ski slope to be exact.  The 250 racers in our heat quickly turned from a group of excited, cheering athletes, to a mass of red-faced, short-of-breath ninnies.  What am I saying, I was right there with them.  This hill just kept on going up, it took me 2/3 of the way up to control my breathing and get into a good place.

After the first two miles, boyfriend and I found our pace.  He pushed me to keep going up those hills and I kept him running through the woods.  We swam through a lake, climbed over wall, flipped huge tractor tires but at mile 7, I was on my own.  Boyfriend was struck down by a serious migraine and I had to finish the last four miles on my own.

Luckily there was lots of fun to be had in the last four miles, including a 200-foot rock scramble to the top of the last hill, 9 & 10-foot walls to climb, monkey bars, mud slides, A-frames and...  a torrential thunderstorm.  With only two miles to go, the heavens opened up and the racers and I were sprinting to the finish line through sheets of rain, it was way dramatic.  Good thing I didn't know about the tornado warning.

I crossed the finish line, accepted my fancy medal and located my sad boyfriend.  Now I'm nursing my wounds and walking very slowly down the stairs.  And I'm eating cupcakes.  Because I ran eleven miles on Saturday and totally deserve them.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Curried Chicken with Coconut Rice

I have been cohabitating with boyfriend for just over a year now and while we have lots of fun and it's great to see him every day, there are some things that I miss...

My mess.  When living on your own, any mess you make is your own mess.  It's your own responsibility to clean up, or not clean up, your living space.  My apartment was tiny, so it got dirty and cluttered pretty quickly.  During the week, I would treat my apartment as a landing pad.  I would throw down my stuff, eat a bowl of salad, change into my PJs and go to bed.  Things would pile up.  Dishes, clothes, books.  Come Sunday I would clean it all up and start fresh.  Now there is my mess and boyfriends mess.  You don't even want to see our apartment right now.


My big fluffy bed.  I bought a grown-up bed my second year of graduate school.  It was a full size, double-pillowtop cloud of a bed.  I had to climb into it at night and jump down in the morning.  I piled it high with pillows and covered it in a white, king size, down comforter.  While it was the most amazing bed ever sewn, it would be a little cozy for two people.  I sold my beautiful bed to a fellow grad student and moved my fluffy pillows to New Jersey.

My all day cooking sessions in my tiny studio kitchen.  When living in 300-square feet, with a kitchen that took up half of that space, the cooking took over the entire living space.  I would have marshmallows setting on my TV stand, a cutting board on my tiny cafe table and two burners running on my stovetop.  With working long hours in the lab all week long, I had to cram all my cooking into one day.  These days I can cook dinner every night and spend my weekends with boyfriend.

All in all, I'll take the two-person mess, less fluffy bed and spread out cooking schedule.  Boyfriend is a pretty fun roommate.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Why Bother? - Homemade Jam

Back in the early eighties, my mom tried her hand at making jams and jellies.  Unfortunately my dad dubbed the products "Not like my mom's jams."  The canning materials went into the basement where they gathered dust for the next twenty-five years, until I went poking around.  Which is why last year, I inherited a large canning pot and three boxes of vintage Ball mason jars. 


I have fuzzy memories of my grandmothers basement.  It was dark, dusty and scary for an eight-year old.  It was full from front to back with old furniture, boxes of Christmas decorations and musty vintage clothing.  One corner also held a make-shift shelving unit, built into the stud of the walls, that was filled from floor to ceiling with dusty mason jars.  From what I remember, they were all filled with peaches.  I have no idea why.  My grandmothers house was in Upstate New York, where there are a dearth of peach trees.  If she had jars of jam in her basement, they looked like peaches to my young, frightened of the dark, eyes.

This weeks challenge was to channel my jam-making grandmother, using my moms vintage canning supplies and churn out modern preserves.  There are so many varieties of jams, jellies and preserves available in the grocery store and at the farmers market, I didn't want to make a plain, single fruit jam.  Why make plain strawberry jam when I can buy fresh, locally made strawberry jam at the farmers market right around the corner from my house?


There are a few reasons why you could make all of your own jam.  1. Using fresh, in season, organic fruits gives the most flavorful product possible.  2. Jam-making and canning is a simple process.  3. Make a batch of homemade jam - you have presents for everyone!

For my canning-fest, I chose two very different flavor combos.  First - fresh and bright Strawberry-Lemon preserves.  Next - tangy ginger-pear preserves.  Yes, I decided to go with preserves for both of my jams.  Personally, I like a bit of chunky texture to my spreads and therefore I'm not really a jelly fan.  I also didn't want to go with any tricky recipes that required added pectin from apples or the baking aisle. Maybe I'll give jelly a go once we finish these jars of jam!


Results - the strawberry-lemon jam was bright and fresh.  The recipe was super simple to follow and the jam came together very quickly.  This was exceptional on my morning English muffin and I will have no problem finishing the two jars that I made.  The ginger-pear preserves took a bit longer to make because the pears were very juicy.  Once complete, this jam made a striking change in a traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

When it comes to jams, jellies and preserves I have two suggestions - Head to the farmers market or "Pick your own" farm and stock up on local, in season produce.  And, when making your own jams, try something a little different, you can get strawberry jam anywhere.

One Year Ago: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Ice Cream

Important!  When it comes to canning, you want to be sure to follow canning rules to ensure a safe product.  To sterilize your jar and lids - Bring a large pot of water to a boil, it will probably take between 15-30 minutes for your water to boil.  Get it ready in advance.  Add your jars to the pot and boil them for 10 minutes.  Remove with tongs and pour out the water.  Let jars cool on the counter top on a kitchen towel.  Place lids in a heat-proof container and pour a few ladles of boiling water over them.  Try not to touch the inside of the lids with your fingers.

Once the jars are full, return them to the water bath and process for the required amount of time.  Remove them from the water bath and set them on a kitchen towel.  Let the jars sit at room temperature for 12 hours.  You should hear the jar lids pop closed after a few minutes.  If the lids haven't sealed in an hour, put those jars in the fridge.

Strawberry-Lemon Preserves
Adapted from Canning for a New Generation

2 pints strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped
2 lemons, washed
1 cup sugar

Cut the ends off of the lemons.  Cut lemons in quarters and remove the seeds.  Slice lemons very thinly, about 1/8-inch thick.  Gently toss strawberries, lemons and sugar in a large bowl.  Cover and put in the fridge overnight.

Prepare 2-3 1/2-pint jars and their lids.  Combine fruit with 1/3 cup water in a large saucepan with high sides.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Pour fruit into a colander and collect the liquids in a bowl below.

Return liquids to the pan and bring to a boil.  Cook for 15 minutes until the liquids are reduced to a syrup.  Return fruit to the pan and bring to a simmer.  Stir frequently and cook for about 20-25 minutes.  The strawberries should hold their shape, but be shiny and glossy.

Remove jars from the water bath and ladle hot water over the lids.  Add preserves to the jars.  Wipe the lip of the jars clean with a wet paper towel.  Place lids on the jars and screw on collars.  The lids should just be finger-tightened.  Process in the water bath for 5 minutes with the lid on the water bath.  Remove jars from the bath and let sit on a kitchen towel.  Do not disturb for 12 hours.

You can store the jam in the pantry.  Store opened jars in the fridge and eat within a few weeks.

Ginger-Pear Preserves
Adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

6 pears (choose your favorite type), peeled, cored and chopped
Zest of 3 limes
Juice of 3 limes
2 1/3 cups sugar
1 tbsp grated gingerroot

Prepare 3-4 1/2-pint jars in a water bath.  Place 3 spoons in the freezer.

In a large, non-reactive, saucepan, combine pears, lime zest, lime juice, sugar and ginger.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Stir frequently and cook for 15 minutes. 

Test the gel - Take one of your frozen spoons and scoop up some of the liquid from the pan.  If the liquid drips off in small drops, the gel is not ready.  Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly and test again.  If the liquid falls off the spoon in a sheet, it it ready to can. 

Remove jars from the water bath and ladle jar into the jars.  Wipe off the lip of the jars with a wet paper towel.  Place lids on the jars and screw on the collars.  Process jars in the water bath for 10 minutes the the bath lid on.  Remove the lid and let boil for 5 more minutes.  Remove jars from the bath and place on a kitchen towel.  After 1 hour, check to see if the lids have sealed (the tops should not pop when pressed down).   If any jars have not sealed, place them in the fridge immediately.  Do not disturb the sealed jars for 12 hours. 

Sealed jars can be stored in the pantry.  Opened jars should be stored in the fridge.  Try this with peanut butter for a new take on your classic PB&J!

Friday, March 2, 2012

My Macaron Method!

Wednesday I left you with the question of whether I could reproduce my workshop macarons at home.  Today we have the answer.  Yes, I can! 


Sure, it was a little more difficult to do this on my own.  I was wishing that I hadn't gotten rid of my hand mixer while I was whisking the meringue.  All on my lonesome, my arm got pretty tired!  I had to keep switching between left and right arms.  I also learned that I am not ambidextrous when it comes to whisking things.  My left arm is terribly uncoordinated and not at all good at whipping egg whites.  I'll have to give it a bit more practice.

Boyfriend helped to style this particular photograph

The batter was flowing like lava, I think.  I'm still a fan of the disappearing line method for testing the batter consistency.  The batter piped well, forming nice round shells.  The shells dried up in thirty minutes and when I put them in the oven I was hoping for the best.  With my fingers crossed, I set the timer for seven minutes and walked away. 


When I came back to turn the pans I was thrilled to see round tops and pretty, frilled feet!  I can do this at home!  While this isn't simplest recipe, requiring you to heat the meringue over a water bath, I choose to go with a consistent recipe rather than an easy, unreliable one.



Haven't found a favorite macaron recipe yet?  Give this one a try!  I know that this is my go to recipe from now on.  Thank you DessertTruck!

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