Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A new approach.

Lately I've been doing a little bit of creative spring cleaning. I've been thinking about all the projects I've taken on in the last 10 years or they've evolved, where they've gone, how they've helped me, inspired me, frustrated me, destroyed me, and kind of made me who I am. Amidst the online magazines (before there were blogs, kiddies!), t-shirts, shows, lyrics and songs, research papers, journal articles, photos, and recipes, there was one thing I couldn't identify. A break.

I've basically been going full speed for as long as I can remember (maybe since kindergarten?), each next project being born out of the current...sometimes from whatever way the last project wasn't fulfilling me. I hit the ground running with Effing-Delicious a year and a half ago, and (almost) without fail have posted every week, for you kind and lovely people to read.

But I've hit a bit of a wall, writing the same kind of post every week. There's pressure that I never intended would be there when I started this project. I should have realized it was unavoidable - I jump into everything I start with both feet and am relentless about achieving whatever I feel my creative goals should be. I usually don't realize I've worn out a project until I'm past the point of no return, and end it. But I think I stopped in time with Effing-D.

So I'm not abandoning you - I'm just going to spend the summer looking for a new approach. I want to vary the kinds of postings I bring you. Work on my food photography and post a lot of that. As one friend pointed out I live in a place that is far too interesting food-wise to just commit to the style of postings I've adopted. So I'm not going to make any specific promises. But I do know this: I love food and cooking. I won't post every week, but when I do it's going to be inspired. Something I want to show you, that I'm stoked about. Something that's really truly effing delicious. Like the bread in the photo above (with the inspirational light shining through it). Sally Lunn Bread. So good. Recipe here.

So see you soon - it might not look like me, but I promise it is. My "projects" this summer will include reading a lot of fiction, going to the beach, cooking and gardening...and seeing what kind of writing and photography pop up on their own. Sigh. Feels good just thinking about it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Pantry Raid!

Spring is always really inspirational for me for cooking – I want to put peas and pea shoots and asparagus and early carrots and lovely baby lettuces in everything. But not so much for baking. No fruit has really hit its stride yet – strawberries still don’t taste like strawberries, I’m bored to tears of citrus…good rhubarb is hard to find and my Mom is the reigning queen of that feisty rhizome, so I’ve yet to really adventure there.

As far as dessert goes in early spring to me it’s a time of pantry-emptying...a yummy way to spring clean I guess. That makes it a perfect time to make some of my favorite cookies…I call on peanut butter, cinnamon, roasted salted peanuts, milk chocolate and a nice dose of salt to come leaping forth from my cabinet to create layers of flavor in this Mexican-inspired cookie. I’ve been making them forever and the recipe has definitely changed a bit from Martha Stewart’s original that I started with years ago. They’re perfect to get you through this brief period of fruit/baking boredom until we explode into summer.

Peanut Chocolate Cinnamon Cookies
slightly adapted from Martha Stewart

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (BUT - I like these a little saltier so I substitute at least a 1/2 a stick of salted butter here instead. They're really fantastic like this.)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
2/3 cup roasted salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350˚. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Put butter and peanut butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on medium speed using the paddle attachment until combined, about 2 minutes. Add sugars, mix 2 minutes. Mix in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture, mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips, peanuts and vanilla with a mixing spoon until well distributed. Refrigerate dough until firm, 30 minutes to 1 hour (or overnight even, just cover tightly!)

Roll into generous 1-2 in balls (I like to go for a bigger cookie.) Space balls 2 to 3 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly. Bake until just golden - more so on the edges, about 12 minutes. Transfer to wire sheets to cool.

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