Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I'm ashamed of myself. But I'm baking again.

I truly am ashamed of myself.  I hate the part of me that starts projects, does them for 2 or 3 days, and then quits or forgets about the project all together.  The past week or so I have been OBSESSED with reading baking/cooking/crafting/DIY blogs and feeling the urge to make a blog.  And then I thought "Um..Jill?  You DID do a baking blog.  For 3 days." 

I found that baking my way through the Baking & Pastry book was quite a lofty goal. And as much as I believe in setting big goals, I think I need to just do what makes me happy right now. And not let a goal become a stressor. So I'm going to not only write about baking on here, but other things that make me happy. Who knows what that will be? We'll just have to find out.  But I do know, I'm not quitting this time.

So, let's recap for the past 20 months or so.  In a nutshell.  I hated my job.  I found another job (which I LOVE) about a year ago.  I moved to Tampa 7 months ago.  I've been barely making ends meet, what with living in the "big city" and taking a pay cut with my new job.  But it's all been worth it.  I'm happy.  But lately, I've found that something is missing.  And that's baking.  See, with all of this relocating (and working lots of overtime to be able to afford to live here!) I've been pretty broke.  And I'm so tired on my days off that I don't feel like doing anything.  But maybe that's because I'm just not doing something I love.  Baking relaxes me.  It puts a smile on my face (and inches on my waist...).  So I've been reading baking blogs.  And I've had the urge to bake again.  And write about it (besides baking, another thing I love to do is write; I just haven't found my niche). 

A few nights ago, I decided that I was going to bake.  And I started with...No-Bake Cookies.  Riiight.  Well, I was just hemming and hawing around in my kitchen and saw that I had all the ingredients for No-Bake Cookies.  Just about.  Instant oats, peanut butter, cocoa all I needed was a recipe.  I found what looked like a pretty good recipe on Brown Eyed Baker  (one of my current blog obsessions).  However, I had to make a few substitutions- and this just goes to show you how I've lapsed in my baking.  I used to keep REAL butter on hand at all times, just in case the baking mood struck.  No more.  I had margarine in a tub.  The recipe calls for a stick of butter, so I figured I would just use 1/2 cup of margarine in a tub.  I had all of the other ingredients except milk.  I don't drink it and just use a little bit in cereal (and I had just come home from a 2 week trip) so I didn't have any on hand.  Keeping in mind I had NO money to go to the store, I improvised.  I had a little bit of sour cream in the fridge.  So, I just mixed that with some water until I had some milk-like substance.  Seemed to work out fine.  So I followed the recipe with a few alterations and the no-bake cookie batter looked and smelled DELICIOUS.  I heaped tablespoons of batter onto cookie sheets and put them in the freezer to set (I was in a hurry to eat them!).  I popped in a movie and watched for about 30 minutes, then went to check on my cookies.  Still sticky.  Went back to my movie for another 10 minutes, then checked again.  Still sticky.  At this point, I couldn't wait and put a couple on a plate to eat with a fork anyway.  They tasted quite yummy (and just what I was craving). 

Maybe it was my weird milk substitution, or the fact that I used margarine instead of butter- I don't know, but those cookies never set.  I left them in the fridge overnight and the next day, I plopped them in a plastic container, spread them out, and made a fudge-like treat.  Still tasted great, but just not in cookie form.  Anyway, here is the REAL recipe- maybe I will try again with the CORRECT ingredients and let you know how it turns out. 

No-Bake Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Oatmeal Cookies
Courtesy of Brown Eyed Baker

Yield: 2 to 3 dozen cookies
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooling Time: 30 minutes

½ cup (1 stick) butter
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup milk
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
½ cup peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups quick-cooking oats

1. Add the first four ingredients (through the cocoa powder) to a 4-quart saucepan.
2. Bring to a rolling boil and let boil for 1 minute.
3. Remove from heat.
4. Stir in the peanut butter and vanilla until smooth, then stir in the oats.
5. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto wax paper-lined baking sheets.
6. Let cool until set.

***Hopefully yours turn out to be more cookie-like than mine!!***

Sorry I didn't take any photos.  I truly didn't get the chutzpah to re-start my blog until tonight, so photos weren't in my mind at the time. 

Well, tonight the baking bug hit me again.  A few days ago I came across a recipe on another new blog obsession of mine, 17 and Baking.  (TANGENT ALERT!) First, let me just say that I started at the beginning of this blog and am reading it the whole way through.  This girl is amazing.  Elissa started her blog when she was 16 years old and she's 19 now.  To read the passion she has for baking truly inspires me.  Her blog almost reads like a biography- I can't wait to find out what keeps happening in her life! 

Back to my story.  I was kind of keeping an eye out for recipes that I had all the ingredients for, since again, I'm pretty broke until the next pay day.  I found a recipe for Yam Biscuits and drooled.  I had all the ingredients (with the substitution of a sweet potato for a yam...close enough) and they seemed pretty simple to make. 


Sweet Potato Biscuits
Adapted from 17 and Baking

1 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 cup mashed sweet potato (about one large sweet potato)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder

1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
2.  In a large bowl beat together butter, sugar, and salt, then egg and sweet potato (make sure your sweet potato isn't too hot- if you just cooked it). Stir until smooth.
3.  Sift together flour and baking powder. Stir into sweet potato mixture until flour is completely mixed in. Dough will be sticky, but it shouldn’t be wet – add a couple tablespoons more of flour if that’s the case.
4.  On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough a few times before shaping it into a circle about 3/4″ thick. Cut the circle into 8 equal triangle shaped wedges and separate. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden.
I did actually take some pictures of these, and they turned out very pretty! 

And they taste wonderful!  First, let me tell you I will eat anything with a sweet potato in it.  These totally got me in the mood for fall.  They're a pretty golden-orange color with a crispy outside and a cornbread-like texture inside.  They're dense and just sweet enough.  Almost like a scone, but not quite as crumbly.  These will be perfect for breakfast when the weather gets cooler (which won't be until December for us folks here in Florida, but I like to make fall come early).  Overall I'm very pleased with them.  Although next time, I may add some cinnamon and replace some of the white sugar with brown and see what happens. 

I know I wrote a lot.  I guess all of this has been waiting to get out for awhile.  And I have to say, I have a lovely sense of calm from baking and writing.  And a smile on my face.  Almost as effective as a great yoga class.  Almost. 


  1. I never even knew you started this blog in the first place! RUDE! Can't wait to keep up with what you're cookin! Love (and hearts and smooches), Michael

  2. By the way I hear they have some great bakers in Savannah... we should go check it out. I'm free in October.