Tuesday, June 30, 2009

During a respite from the rain

I know I've been talking about the weather too much.

I'm like that person in the elevator or another confined space that you have absolutely nothing to talk about with, so one of us brings up the weather and suddenly are forced to talk and hypothesize about the topic that is usually at the back of people's minds unless they have an upcoming event. Do you think it's going to stop raining soon? I heard that its rained more than double what it typically rains for this month. 

And so on.

It rapidly comes to the point where you are wishing that you hadn't brought up the weather in the first place. But had you brought it up? You can't even remember at this point, and are uncomfortably trying to think of ways to get out of the situation. 

Why, oh why don't elevators have more accessible escape routes?

So yes, I know that I have beaten this topic into the ground. But this is not me promising that I am going to stop. Because the rain hasn't stopped. And who am I to argue with the persistence of weather? 

Anyways...the first day of July is tomorrow. And in honor of that, I thought that it would be appropriate to post something bright and colorful. 

Hi there, bright and colorful
Bright orange

My, you are quite bright and colorful.
I wish I knew what kind of flower this is

Breathing in the essence of the bright and colorful.
close up

I'm not sure what kind of flower this is. 

What kind of flower is this?

Whatever kind of flower it is, rest assured that it is being incredibly well-watered.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rain, rain...haven't I told you to go away enough times?

Shockingly, it rained for most of last week.


There were a few exhilarating breaks in the precipitation, however, where a small flicker of blue sky would peep through the clouds, and we would smile, stare at it, and call others over to see too, as though we had never seen the sun in our lives.

Well, it had been awhile.

One of the storms last week brought with it foreboding dark skies, hail, and those raindrops that are so big and heavy they sound like hail (you know which ones I'm talking about), and the general attitude of "isn't this entirely unnecessary? Could the weather at least pretend to let me fathom stepping outside for a refreshing breath of air, as opposed to the refreshing gust of whipping winds and rock-hard rain that I know would greet me?"

The storm, as storms tend to do, did end, and after that we relaxed on the porch to take in the dripping wet scenery.

Chillin with a frosty Poland Spring
frosty water bottle

As a short amount of time passed, we noticed that the sky was turning colors that it did not normally have a tendency to turn. Pinks and oranges and purples filled the sky. 

Oooh. Pretty. 
sky after the storm

The clouds look so much less threatening when they're pink and not dumping buckets of rain on you, don't you think?
more sky

colorful clouds

As I speak (er, type) the sky is once again blue, it is 75 degrees and partly cloudy, the birds are chirping happily, and the foliage is dry. Call me optimistic, but I'm holding out hope for the weather today. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

There's always a first time for everything

Not too long ago for the first time I entered the kitchen with actual intent to cook.

Soon after followed the first time I made blondies, and the first time I made a cake with multiple layers (hey, two is a multiple). 

And now, for your viewing pleasure...

The first time I made a pie. 

A Key Lime Pie, to be exact. 

Ready for the oven? 
Ready for the oven

That was my personification of the pie, which immediately then bothered me that I was giving a personality and the ability to answer questions to an object that was about to be put into a 350 degree oven.

Let's move on, shall we?

Adam, or the King of Zesting, as he deemed himself during this baking session, took my camera at this point. 
Adam took this picture

Regaining control of the camera, I then temporarily forbade Adam from eating in order to take this picture.
Slice o' pie

And this picture as well. 
A little closer...

And to mark this adventure up on the proverbial baking experience scorecard...it looks like pie...tasted like pie...fairly obviously IS pie...

I'd say that this was a successful branch into another slice (get it?) of the baking world! 

Monday, June 22, 2009

A family tradition

Originally uploaded by Kitchenphobe

Some families may have traditions involving a certain sport, or a holiday. One of my family's traditions is balancing eggs on end on the solstice.

Yes, this can be done.

No, seriously. 

What is a solstice, you may ask? In my entirely un-technical and un-scientific means of plodding through the definition, it is an event two times a year when the earth is turned farthest or closest from the sun. 

And that is how you can balance an egg. 

ta da!!!

If you would like to read a much more specific and detailed explanation of this astrological phenomena, Wikipedia provides that, charts, diagrams, and images. 

Also, it is said that with enough patience, you can balance an egg any day of the year on its end. But you can also have an easter egg hunt or count down the seconds until midnight any other day of the year as well, but it is certainly not as fun. 

Also (also), I'm not a very patient person. I like to wait until the planets are tilting and aligning for when I defy gravity. 

Thursday, June 18, 2009

M&M Shortbread Cookies UPDATE

This wouldn't be tales of a Kitchenphobe if there weren't mishaps to report. Then it would be "tales of someone who knows entirely and completely what they are doing in the kitchen and never has any issues," which I do think would be a good blog as well, however and again...not me.

Normally when I bake, I will do so ahead of time, and will freeze the cookies for later. I had not done this with the original version of this recipe, as I had made them the day before, however, I had decided to freeze the M&M variation

Irony of ironies, does everyone remember my little confident quip I was happy to see that the color did not spread out too much on the cookie

When, oh when, am I going to learn to keep that mouth of mine shut? 

The cookies went into the freezer colorful and lovely.

The cookies emerged from the freezer colorful and lovely.

Gradually, however, during the defrosting phase, the color of the M&M began to fade. 

Oh, this wasn't supposed to happen
Slightly faded colors

These looked much more attractive before

They may not look as good, but they still do taste as good
No freezing these cookies

It is noteworthy that the freezing did not affect the taste, just the aesthetics of the cookie.

It is also noteworthy that the appearance of the cookies did not deter the recipients, and every last one was eaten. 

The moral of the story is: don't judge a cookie by its cover. Also, don't freeze these cookies. 

Monday, June 15, 2009

A variation on a theme...

Since making these cookies, I've been thinking of other various items that could be put in the middle. 

The first "alternate item" idea I had was M&M's. 

I actually thought of this the day after Mothers Day (the occasion I originally made the cookies for), and was slightly disappointed that I had not thought of it earlier so there could have been an "M for Mom theme". But the originals worked out perfectly well anyways. 

So FINALLY, I decided to experiment and make these M&M Shortbread Cookies.

Before baking. As with the raspberry version, I indented and "M&M-ed" before refrigerating to avoid cracking.
A variation on a theme

Post-baking. I was happy to see that the color did not spread out too much on the cookie.

Cookies in all of the colors of the M&M package rainbow. 
Colorful cookies

So were they good?

M&M's and shortbread? I really can't see how that could be a recipe for anything but goodness. 

Any other suggestions for what would be a delightful addition to the shortbread? 

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Enjoying the warm weather

Ah, lovely springtime weather. I know I don't get to spend as much time as I would like to outside. Not that I am the type of girl that is lacing up her hiking boots, packing a nutritious yet energizing snack, and carabining across a stream. Not that there is anything remotely wrong with being that girl, more power to you.

I just really don't like bugs. Or anywhere that's disconcertingly far from a coffee shop.

Not that I even drink coffee, a coffee shop just seems to be a good marker of a populated area.

I didn't even have to leave the sidewalk to find this little nugget of nature. 
Pinecone on the concrete

Closer...closer...closer...it's probably a good thing this leaf isn't a person, because it could be slighly awkward at this point.
Oh hi, leaf. Am I in your personal space?

A branch in the grass. Not clever, I know. 
The grass is just as green on either side

Hope everyone has a fantastic day! Enjoy the outdoors (however far outside you choose to travel)!

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Do you believe in magic? 

More specifically, do you believe in cookies that require no mixing?

Imagine a toss of sparkly dust into the air and a wave of a wand over a hat here...fanfare...and...TA DA!!!! Magic Cookie Bars

And without further ado, I present "Cookies in 6 Easy Steps" (well, 7, if you include the actual act of putting them in the oven).

Step 1 - Butter
Step one: Butter

Step 2 - Graham Cracker Crumbs
Step two: Graham cracker crumbs

Note: Here, there is supposed to be an additional step involving the addition of walnuts. However, my dad is allergic to nuts, and I wanted these cookies to be a happy and magical experience for everyone. 

Step 3 - Butterscotch Chips
Step three: Butterscotch chips

Step 4 - Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Step four: Chocolate chips

Step 5 - Coconut
Step five: Coconut

annnnd lastly, Step 6 - Sweetened Condensed Milk
Step six: Sweetened condensed milk

And with a wave of my oven mitt, 1, 2, 3...they're done! 
Magic Cookie Bars

Is anyone getting sick of my magic humor?

Too bad. 

Oh, alright. 

Cutting the cookies into squares. I cut them while they were a bit warm still, so that is why the chocolate looks all ooze-y. 
Cutting the bars apart...

Warm magic cookie bar, fresh out of the oven. 
Hot and melty out of the oven

Even though I was impatient to taste this, I would recommend waiting a bit until the cookie firms up and holds its shape. Unless you're okay with having your fingers covered in chocolate and butterscotch.

It's alright, I am too. 

Cooled down, ready for its closeup
I bet you're gonna taste really good, aren't you

The verdict? I thoroughly enjoyed these cookies, they are definitely sweet, but I think that its okay once in a while for a dessert to not be subtle in its flavors. Too often you get a kiss of chocolate, a hint of vanilla. This dessert is more of a WHAM! POW! of sweet and chocolate and butterscotch and graham cracker. 

It's in your face.

This dessert would absolutely tell you its real opinion on that outfit you're wearing. 

Now then, I'm going to go about making them disappear (couldn't resist one last one). 

Friday, June 5, 2009

Breakfast for Dinner

Admittedly, I do not cook dinner a lot. I'm more of a dessert gal, as can be seen from most of the cooking adventures on this blog. 

What can I say, I like a recipe. (Yes, I know dinners have recipes too, but I also like sugar and chocolate and whipped cream and fruit. Show me a dinner with that.) 

Left to my own dinner devices, well...breakfast went so well this morning, why not do it again?

Oooh, how I love when I can conjure up justifications for my behavior. I totally thought out my actions in a thorough and rational manner, as opposed to I cracked an egg and ate.

So one night, I decided to make an omelette. Crowd, how do we think this went?

Well, typically, omelettes do not have sugar or chocolate or whipped cream or fruit in them, so I'm not sure why she's even going here. 

Let's read on, shall we?

Tomatoes are totally a fruit. Ha. 

Ham, for some meaty goodness.

The eggs, stirred, salted, and peppered. 
Eggs...stirred, salted, and peppered

Things went fairly swimmingly (or egg-cellent, if you're into food puns), until it came time to move the eggs around the pan. Were you to attempt this food combination in an omelette, I would recommend (now based on experience), that you use only the solid portion of the tomato, rather than that plus the seeds. The seeds and gelatenous center of the tomato seemed to add too much moisture to my poor little omelette, and it swiftly fell apart.

No worries, we'll call it scrambled eggs! 
I know this may not look incredibly attractive, but it did taste good. Really.

That doesn't look too bad, does it?

Ok, it probably looks awful, BUT IT DID NOT TASTE AWFUL. It actually tasted pretty good. And before people think that things went terribly, horribly wrong, I added mozzarella to the mix at the end, because 
a) I am a wild and crazy girl
b) things had already fallen apart (literally), so really cheese couldn't hurt things at this point. 

The next breakfast for dinner adventure was french toast. This dinner contained sugar AND fruit (and technically could have included chocolate and whipped cream as well if I were so inclined), so it was absolutely an acceptable dinner in my book. 

Being a wild and crazy girl, I like to also french toast apple slices (I'm not sure if "french toast" can count as a verb or as a cooking style, but I am using it as such) to go along with the party. My usual method is to french toast the bread slices, then dip apple slices into the batter and pan fry them until they get soft and slightly browned on the outside.

They are quite delicious. 

And look at me, having a "method" of doing things. Ooh. Don't I think I'm fancy. 

Whole apple

Sliced apple
Apple slices

Bread, being french toasted
During the french toast process

Sizzling and cooking away

Even though this dinner came out slightly better looking than the previous breakfast attempt, it was no less tasty. 

Does that make sense in the least?

Okay. Ahem. 

Both were good. Breakfast is good. Especially when they are passed off as dinners. The only thing that could be better is dessert for dinner. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Blogging makes me hungry

Originally uploaded by Kitchenphobe

It's a hard job, but somebody has to bumble around the kitchen and take random pictures of the surrounding foliage.


(By the way, this is one of these cookies that I had been keeping in the freezer. Still good!)