Let’s be real.

Last weekend I didn’t write a post. I know….every week, not really setting myself up for goal crushing. Here’s the thing. I love making and baking. But when things don’t turn out exactly how I want them to I chuck ’em, or I have a small adult meltdown, or I start over, or I don’t give the baby blanket, or pout (again, like an adult), or I swear off baking.

I don’t do “failure” well.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that my description of failure allows for no imperfections. I can turn out a great product but I will see all the flaws. I am working on being less critical, of myself mostly. I seem to have much for grace for others. Imagine that.

I am writing this blog to share recipes but also as a creative outlet. I have created recipes over the years that give the consistent results I want. I have added this or that to a recipe of my mom’s, my grama’s, or my food idols (like Julia, and Ina, and Ree). Sometimes I just keep their recipes, because they are classics. But I love to experiment in the kitchen. I love to look at few recipes and then make my own. This works well with cooking. With baking, it can be more dangerous.

Let me be clear. You can make the same recipe multiple times with differing results. Let me repeat myself: you can make the same exact thing multiple times with a differing result. Let me say it a different way. You can get a recipe from someone else and follow it very strictly and get a different result than they did. Then you think to yourself- “what did I do wrong?” or “why doesn’t taste like hers?” You could follow a recipe loosely, add your own spin, sub something, forget something, and it might turn out even better. You can throw things together and make something spectacular and look back and think, “huh, wish I remember what I put in that”. You can also follow a recipe perfectly and have outside factors like weather, altitude, your oven, or that butter that you didn’t realize was salted affect your outcome. You can also follow a recipe and create perfection. What I am really trying to say is that everything does not always turn out. That is life and I am still actively trying to learn that lesson.

My flat loaf “failure”

Let me tell you about last weekend. I was going to post on bread. Because I love bread and I love the process of making my own sourdough. I have a “go to” sourdough recipe that is 4 ingredients. Super simple: starter, water, flour, salt. Now, in the spirit of honesty, lets talk about my 4 ingredient sourdough fiascos. I have been making sourdough for just over a year. I don’t make it every week, some weeks are feeder weeks- like this weekend. I find I make it most in the summer and in the winter. Bruschetta season and soup season. Now I would say I have probably made 30 sourdough boules or round loaves. I would say roughly 5 turned out absolutely perfect. That is the reality. I would say 10 were under proved, 10 were over proved, probably 2 were under baked, and 3 were absolute disasters for reasons I cannot explain. Rock hard, inedible, chuck it in the bin bread loaves. Last weekend I made a loaf style sourdough. I don’t make it often but I have a few recipes and they have turned out in the past. I was looking to make a healthy toast/sandwich bread. Now, I find that whole wheat flour can be more difficult to work with in a sourdough situation. I like the nutty taste of whole wheat and the health benefits to it. I do find that it makes a more dense dough and the dough doesn’t rise as much as I’d like. I will admit to sometimes adding yeast to get the rise I want.

Last weekend I did not add yeast and I ended up with a loaf that didn’t rise well. I was frustrated and almost threw it away without even tasting it. I put it in bag and set it aside. A few days later I decided to taste it. Even thought it didn’t look how I wanted, the crust was good, the crumb was good, the texture when toasted was good. It just didn’t have the lovely dome on top. I don’t know how many times I have to let the universe remind me, but just because it didn’t turn out exactly how I planned doesn’t mean it is a failure.

Cookies can be a meal

Today I made cookies with my niece and nephew. Anyone who knows me might know how challenging it is for me to relinquish control and allow them to do all the mixing, measuring, scooping, etc. Also, the messes… We did have to review that it is important to read what the measuring cup that you are using is labeled as. Say, for instance, if you use a 2/3 cup when you think you are using a 1/2 cup….things can get a little wonky. Over all, they did great and we did not destroy my mother in laws kitchen and the cookies turned out.

My niece told me about these yummy “peanut butter jumbo cookies” her dad brought home once and she wanted to attempt to recreate them… initially… but I was not provided all the information and our shopping list was lacking. I mean, of course I should have gotten Reece’s pieces m&m candies but she didn’t tell me we needed those until we were scooping our dough out onto cookie sheets. I went with an oatmeal chocolate chip monster cookie type vibe, but alas no Reece’s pieces.

Ingredients

  • 2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Several generous shakes of cinnamon
  • 2/3 c dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1 c butter, softened
  • 1 egg, room temp
  • 1/3 c peanut butter
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1 c chocolate chunks
  • 1/4 c mini peanut butter chips
  • 1/4 c Heath pieces
  • 1/4 c pecans
  • 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 1 c corn flakes cereal
  • course sea salt ( save for sprinkling)
  • Get Reece’s pieces, add them, 1/2 c

Now before we start, I want to clarify part of my ingredient list. Room temperature eggs are important, ya hear? Take it out. Put it in a bowl. Do it. Softened butter is important too and it is not the same thing as melted butter. Melted butter does not cream. Heat a mason jar or a glass by filling it with hot water multiple times. Put your stick of butter on the counter and flip the hot glass over the butter. Please note- this will soften cold butter from the fridge but it will not defrost butter. Thank you for your attention to this public service announcement. Moving on…

Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

Cream butter and sugar. Have your brother hold the bowl for you. Isn’t that the sweetest thing you ever did see? Add the egg, peanut butter, and vanilla. Continue mixing until combined.

Prep all your other ingredients. In our case, we needed to chop up some nuts and chocolate chunks. Teamwork makes the dream work. In our case, the nut chopper.

Add in your dry mixture along with “the good stuff” (your rolled oats, pieces, chunks, chips, and nuts). Add the cereal last of all.

So now

Once combined, set out cookie sheets and scoop dough onto the cookie sheets, space the cookies at least 2 inches apart. Sprinkle judiciously with course sea salt (much needed concept). Bake at 350 for 13 minutes. Cool on the cookie sheet at least 2 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks. Enjoy! I vote you add Reece’s prices, we agreed they would have been real yummy.

Now you know what I meant when I said cookies can be a meal…. look at all that goodness jam packed into that cookie! I know what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow with my coffee!

Chocolate deserves its own holiday.

I love chocolate. If I ever crave something sweet- it’s chocolate. I have been making truffles for holidays for a while now. Mostly for Christmas and Valentines Day. Today it’s Valentines Day and I obviously made truffles. Love language. Some for work, some for friends, some for family, some for my man. We don’t actually celebrate Valentine’s Day… but I mean, chocolate.

I figured you all might like to know how to make these sweet bite size treats sure to please anyone. This year I made 3 flavors: chocolate on chocolate, white chocolate on cookie dough, and Oreo in white chocolate.

I make the insides on one day and roll and dip them on another. They need to set in the fridge for at least a few hours. You could technically do them the same day- give the insides 4 hours to firm up though.

Aren’t they purdy?

Chocolate on Chocolate insides:

16 oz chocolate- ( >60% cocoa, chips or chopped)

8 oz heavy whipping cream

1tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp espresso powder

Combine all ingredients in a double boiler or a bowl over a saucepan with about an inch of water- turn burner on medium, melt, stir intermittently. When combined and melted the mixture should be smooth. Transfer to fridge. Chill overnight.

Cookie dough insides:

1 1/2 cup yellow cake mix

1 cup flour

1/2 cup melted butter

1tsp vanilla

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Pinch of salt

2-3 tablespoons milk or 1/2 and 1/2

Combine everything excluding milk in a bowl and mix. Slowly add milk a tablespoon at a time until mixture comes together like cookie dough. Chill overnight. (You can add mini chocolate chips in the dough or sprinkles-if you want)

Oreo

24 Oreos cookies

1tsp vanilla

6oz cream cheese

I think this is the easiest one- I literally put all the ingredients into the food processer. Start with cookies- pulverize them. Add the cream cheese and vanilla. The machine does the work. Transfer mixture to a bowl to chill overnight.

Time to dip!

Choose what you want to dip in: dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate and what you want to decorate with. I made some little white chocolate hearts, I used sprinkles, I did chocolate drizzle, I did chocolate heart drizzle

Side note: I made truffles for my wedding favor when Matt and I got married- just like these with the little heart- but I forgot about them and never set them out or assigned anyone to do something with them. I was distraught! But then I had leftovers, it wasn’t all bad.

Back to business. I use a teaspoon and dig out dollops of the insides then roll them to perfect circles. I have fancy small scoopers but the dough is a little hard and they struggle: things get stuck, you have to keep digging the insides out, they don’t make perfect circles, then I waste time and it annoys me. That’s what plain Jane spoons are for. Don’t need no fancy equipment.

I roll my truffles and place them on parchment lined sheets. I refrigerate them for about 1/2 an hour. This step isn’t absolutely necessary unless it’s hot for all the types. It is ABSOLUTELY necessary for the Oreo truffles or they melt in the chocolate. I melt about 16oz of chocolate at a time. Use what ever you want: bars, melts, disks, almond bark. I drop the truffle ball into the chocolate and use a fork to swirl it around to coat it. Then I slide the fork underneath and tap it on the edge of the chocolate bowl to get off the excess. Lay the fork on the parchment and jiggle/ slide the truffle off. Jiggle/slide is a technical motion. Then I sprinkle!

I like to drizzle chocolate on top, I think it is really fun. Or draw chocolate hearts. Make them your own! You do you. Sprinkles alone look very cute. Now, the dipped truffles need to set up in the fridge for a bit. Don’t skip this- the chocolate gets dull or they crack. Finally, nobody is perfect, trim the feet! Use a sharp sharp knife. Careful how much you handle the chocolate- especially if you don’t have icicle hands like I do.

Ok that’s about it! I love chocolate! I love love. Happy chocolate love day!

What if I started a blog?

This blog endeavor has been far more complicated that I anticipated. Building the site alone, has taken me about a month on and off. Watching videos and reading about things called widgets. Who knew? Creating a domain…. they don’t teach you this stuff in nursing school.

Eventually I am hoping to have a Saturday morning ritual where I write a blog post every week. In between Saturdays, I will post on pages I have created on the site, but not the blog itself. I made some pages about things I make weekly, like kombucha, granola, sourdough anything. I also made a food page called flavors and a baking page called flours. I can tell I am on the right track because for the first time I am writing down what I use: progress.

When I talk to people about baking and cooking I realize that I really am not as type A as I always thought I was. I will look at 10 different recipes for the same thing. I take one thing I like from one recipe, one from another, add my own twist, add something I feel like should be in it, and for whatever reason, luck maybe, things typically turn out. I will admit to flops. I have thrown out entire cakes and loaves of bread in a fit of rage that they didn’t turn out how I wanted. In that way, I tend to be a perfectionist. I will not serve it to anyone unless it is perfect. But, my path to that perfection? Its about as far from type A as you can get.

I love to take my creations to work or gift them to people I love. I love to share them and see them make peoples day a little brighter. It saves me from myself too, then I don’t eat all of my goods. I love comfort foods and bread. I love birthdays, I’m a birthday cake maker. I did recently have a disastrous cheesecake incident. It was my nightmare. My cheesecake recipe is foolproof, or I thought it was. I have probably made it over 30 times and had it turn out perfectly each time. The last time I made it I must have been rushing: lesson learned.

I am a goal setter but I want to be realistic about how I approach this blog. I work full time as a nurse and I also have a life. This blog is meant to help me to create a space where I can organize my recipes and one day compile those into a cookbook.

Hello Reader

My name is Liz.

I live in a little old house with a teeny yard nestled at the base of the mountains in the queen city of the rockies with my husband, Matt, and my chocolate lab, Archer. I am a nurse by trade, a baker by choice, and maker of all sorts of things. My real passion is baking for people I love. Someday I would like to write a cookbook. I like to live as sustainably and organically as possible. Matt and I have a small but productive garden and we like to grow/make as much of our food on our own as possible. I brew my own Kombucha, make my own condiments, ferment my own kimchi, and bake my own sourdough bread.

I am a lover of the great outdoors and I live in the last best place. I love to hike, camp, fish, travel, practice yoga, garden, cook, read, craft and crochet.

Baking is a hobby. Baking is stress release. Baking is my love language. I love to bake for others. Whether it is my family, friends, coworkers, or husband.

Baking is a small thing I do with great love.

We cannot all do great things. But we can do small things with great love” -Mother Teresa