Category Archives: Irrelephant

Non-fooding news

A very busy start to Autumn

Hooooboy, it’s been busy around here. There are lots of transitions going on at work, and I’m doing what I can to keep everything right on trucking as it should. I’m also trying to ensure that I make my baked goods on schedule. Let me tell you, it’s been a little hectic at times, but I’m keeping up with it. It’s a great exercise in time management and keeping-myself-sane. It’s fun.

In the mean time, I have been getting a jump on planning what I will make for the holidays to send to people. So far I have two Bake-a-Sundays planned, and there’s gonna be a whole lot of baking going on. To give you an idea, among the items planned are…

  • cardamom-orange sugar cookies
  • almond roca
  • apple cider caramels
  • pumpkin molasses cookies
  • pumpkin fudge
  • peppermint bark snowflakes
  • nutmeg maple butter cookies

And many more besides. Luckily I have some friends that are joining me for this adventure, so I think I’ll actually be able to stick to this whole little plan thing. It might even be a lot of fun.

Wait, it’s December WHAT?!

That’s pretty much been my reaction since…. about a week before Thanksgiving. I totally thought I had another two weeks to get ready for everything, including Mikal’s dad coming down for the week. Three days before Mikal’s dad was due to arrive, I was speaking with a client and they said something about Thanksgiving being the following week. I said, “You mean in two weeks then, right?” and they agreed with me, and then we both looked at the calendar to verify and I ended up having a mild panic attack in front of my boss. It was quite amusing, really.

Between that sense of not really knowing what day it is, and the complete lack of “slow” season in the office, I’ve been stumbling through the last three weeks or so just trying to get my bearings. I don’t think I’ve ever had the holidays sneak up on me, so to speak, but I understand what that phrase means, now.

In the mean time, I have still been baking, though not as frequently as I may like. I made my first Baked Alaska by request, and it didn’t turn out totally horrible. It had a great taste, even if it looked more like a rendition of Global Warming Alaska. I’ll post that on here at some point – it’s an awesome recipe.

Additionally, I have been plotting out my gift boxes. Last year I started a somewhat-tradition of sending boxes of baked goods to people I wouldn’t see over the holidays. The days and my timing got away from me last year – two weekends before Christmas I pulled a bakathon over the course of two days so that I could everything sent out on time. It was after twenty hours of baking and decorating, and feeling amazingly exhilarated, that I realized that this baking thing is pretty amazing. It is actually from that realization and moment that this blog was born, as a way to keep me baking and thinking about what I do. Holy buttons, it’s been a year, or close enough to one. I kind of have to process that.

More posts to come, specifically around the goodie boxes.

Autumn Exists Here

I have been baking up a storm as often as I can, but I keep putting off offloading the pictures from the camera so I can put them up here. Ultimate laziness!

But I’ve been wanting to post, and yesterday gave me the perfect excuse to. Mikal and I were walking out to a pet food store to get Ginger more noms; it was late in the day, still a bit sunny, but chilly in the shadows. Mikal has a habit of kicking leaves on the sidewalk when they are in large enough quantities, and the path there obliged us with that a few times. The leaves made a nice crisp-crunchy sound and went flying, or just skittered out of the way. I realized at some point, as I had realized a few times since coming down to the Bay Area, that this suits us – there are actual seasons here. In Olympia, even if we did get a somewhat crisp fallish time of year, the leaves might be dry for a day or two before we would get enough rain to make kicking them much too unpleasant for my taste (not that this discouraged Mikal from doing so). We’ve had a few rainy/cloudy days, and it is getting chillier, but it feels like we’re getting a real autumn season. Perhaps it is because I grew up on the Bay Area and this is what I am used to for the progression of the seasons, but it felt like we had about two, perhaps two and a half seasons in Olympia: winter, which might last 50-75% of the year, the occasional spring, and summer, which would never last long enough. It just never felt like the year progressed quite right.

The weather is different here. I like it.

Revisiting Pumpkin Scones

The pumpkin scones I made a week ago were such a hit at the office that I couldn’t pass up an excuse to make them again. I won’t rehash the whole recipe, but this time I added a quarter cup flour to the mix right off the bat to prevent the stickiness. I have a feeling that I would take it down to 1/8th cup next time, because they didn’t turn out terribly dry, but they seemed dryer than I was expecting given the first batch. The dough was much easier to work with time, though it did eventually get to being sticky again once all flour was worked in. At least I was able to pick up the wedges without a spatula to get them on the baking sheet this time.

Also: picture!

Also, just so you know… I’m getting totally addicted to pinterest. I have been on it for the last couple of weeks getting ideas for various holiday items/decor/sendables I could make. The ribbons on the plate was a pinterest inspiration. I have a problem with giving away goodies on plates, and keep having to chase the plates down. This is a great alternative – disposable, but has a little interest with the ribbons. Makes it not seem so much like a paper plate. I do need to invest in smaller plates, though, so that I don’t have to give away whole big platters of things.

Fall is upon us!

I love fall. I love the colors, I love the smells, I love how the weather gets a bit crisper and you have to wear a bit more clothing. I love everything about it. Fall and winter bring out my baking with a vengeance. On top of that, I love throwing parties. I find them to be amazingly fun. I love decorating, and I love making themed foods. I love it all.

Today is not so much a baking day, though I have been doing a fair amount lately. I just haven’t had much time or energy to actually sit down and write about it. I keep wanting to put photos up but I just haven’t gotten my stuff together quite enough to do it.

Anyway, I woke up today burning to bake a couple of sugar pie pumpkins I have, and finally getting around to syruping and canning some strawberries we have in the fridge. With one pumpkin in the oven and the strawberry juice cooking, I realized…. I have no idea where my jar lids are >< Not that I can find that many of my jars – I have four that I know the location of. So I dashed out the door to grab more jars and some more half-and-half because I was out, and that makes me sad.

It’s one of those beautiful days out – it’s going to be pretty warm today, because it’s decently warm already, but it’ll be beautiful and perfect, and I want to take advantage of it because it’s my day off. I took my time walking to the stores, looked at the succulents outside of Orchard Supply, as well as the fall/halloween decorations. I have so many ideas! At one point on Thursday when it finally slowed down toward the evening at work, I started looking through the Food Network and Sunset websites for ideas – my halloween party is just a month away!

I know I’m going to make a really awesome pumpkin soup I made last year – you cook a soup of broth and spices, possibly some other stuff (can’t quite remember), then you hollow out a pumpkin and serve it in the pumpkin with gruyère cheese on top. Amazing! I’ve also decided on leaf-shaped cookies, probably the cardamom sugar cookie recipe I have made for xmas before. I want to figure out a good molasses cookie recipe – if anyone has any that are tried and true, I’d love to see them – because those are amazing for fall. I might even do whoopie pies, not sure. Never made them before >.>

I may attempt a pumpkin cheesecake, too. I’m not really a fan of flavored cheesecakes; I like my cheesecakes nice and naked, thank you very much. But I have a feeling that the flavor of the pumpkin would actually do really well with the cream cheese, and compliment it rather than making funky with the texture or flavor.

Other thoughts on things to try: pumpkin caramels, pumpkin waffles (need wafflemaker), pumpkin seed brittle, pumpkin pie parfait, pumpkin punch, etc.

The one thing I’m not so certain on are decorations. I know I will be bringing my witchy Domo down – can’t have a party without him. But other than that I have no solid ideas. I don’t want to have to put down too much money on it, so it’ll probably be home-made, but I don’t want to be spending forever on it. I know Mikal has volunteered to put stuff together, but we haven’t made any solid plans yet. I would definitely welcome ideas – both for fall and halloween themes.

And now for the good stuff. 🙂 I have a pumpkin bread recipe that I have been using for three years now, and it’s just perfect. The only hiccough I had with this batch was that my ground cloves came out a bit more densely packed than my other spices – kind of like brown sugar does – and so there was a bit of a strong hint of cloves. Oh well – it was still amazingly awesome.

Pumpkin Bread or Muffins

3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil or 2 sticks butter (I use butter)
3 large eggs
2 cups pumpkin purée
3 cups flour
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two loaf or muffin pans (or use baking cups). Beat sugar and oil/butter in a large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs and pumpkin purée. Sift flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda, salt and baking powder into another large bowl. Stir into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions.

Divide batter equally between prepared pans. Bake until tester inserted into center come out clean – about 1hr for loafs, 1/2 hour for muffins. Transfer to racks and cool 10 mins. Remove loaves from pans using a knife around the sides (and perhaps a spatula on the bottom – sometimes sticks even with butter/flour). Turn loaves out onto racks and cool completely.

Eat. Eat more. Share. Eat more.