Thursday, July 30, 2009

So you think you can dance!?

With my wedding day looming (46 days away and counting) and my dress currently being altered into a slightly-tighter-than-skin-tight-won't-be-able-to-get-on-without-the-corset-or-the-jaws-of-life version of my dream gown, I've been having weight anxieties. What's a girl to do? Dance of course!

I've been exercising every day. I used to be more obsessive about keeping a strict exercise program (cardio 3-5 times a week for at least 45 minutes, weight training 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes, and some sort of extensive stretching exercise (ie pilates) at least once a week for flexibility). But I never really lasted on such a program. I could make it work for 1-2 weeks tops. Now, I just try to get 30 minutes of some form of exercise in to keep the guilt away. Lately, I've been very in to dancing. There are three forms of dancing that I really love and practice regularly. My favorite is probably ballet but I don't do it very often because I've only taken a couple classes in high school and only have a few ballet based workout videos, my second form of dance is bellydancing, and my third is pole dancing! That's right, there is a stripper pole at my house. I suck at it because I just started doing it a few months ago but it is so much fun and I'm amazed at what it has done for my arms.

Anyways, if you ever get a chance to take a pole dancing class I highly recommend it. Don't be shy. Think of it as vertical gymnastics. ;-)

Baking Bread in Five Minutes a Day?!

As I mentioned in a previous post, Nick's mother loaned me a book about making bread in five minutes a day. While I feel the title is misleading (it takes at least seventy minutes from the time that you decide to turn the pre-made dough in to fresh baked bread to the time it comes out of the oven and that's not including the time it takes to make the initial dough) the book itself is pretty amazing. Baking bread is easier than making pancakes! Seriously, you just mix dough, flour, water, and let it rise. Put it in the fridge and let it rise some more. The next day, cut some of the dough off, let it rise for 40 minutes and bake it for 30 minutes and just like that you got yourself some delicious bread.

The funny thing is, we screwed up the recipe in every conceivable way and it still turned out great. We used bleached flour (when it calls for unbleached), we don't have any of the proper equipment (pizza peel, bread stone, serrated bread knife, etc.) so we improvised with two baking sheets and a steak knife, and we cooked it too long because Nick was worried it wasn't done. We have since made two more loaves out of the pre-made dough in the fridge and we still have enough dough for about two more. Good thing, too, because the bread doesn't even last a day in our house.

Weddings galore

My sister's wedding is in two days and I am thrilled! Okay, truth be told there has been a lot of drama associated with her wedding. First, she got engaged four months after me but chose to have her wedding one month before my wedding. I'll be honest, that irked the crap out of me at first. I felt like she was stealing my thunder but I quickly got over it because of drama reason number two which is...(drum roll please) it's her fourth wedding. But nothing compares to the last piece of drama. She's not even officially divorced from husband number three. So, you may be asking yourself, how is she getting married in two days? Well, technically she isn't. But she is having a wedding in two days with paperwork to follow. I'm still very excited because it should be a fun party and I really like my fourth soon-to-be brother-in-law. He's good people.

Anywho, back to the reason for this post. My sister is having a multi-colored citrus themed potluck wedding. So, I gave a lot of thought to what I should make to go with the wedding theme and after careful deliberation I decided to make layered jello. It's easy, can be made in advance, and is definitely colorful. I'm very happy with the finished product.

For finishing touches I plan on adding some whipped cream to the top and a cherry (with stem, of course). I was planning on having another layer of cherry jello but I ran out of room. Oh well, it's still plenty colorful. And, although gifts are not required for aforementioned reasons, I got my sister a beautiful picture frame, photo album (which I added a picture of the two of them to) and a bottle of wine.

It's funny how this whole event is making me feel so grown up. I believe this is the first of my sister's weddings that I have picked out a gift and purchased it with my own money (a task that normally would have been handed down to my mother) and I even made a side dish. It's such a small thing, I know, but it is a reminder that I am fully in charge of my own life. What a great feeling.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Old-fashioned Raspberry Tart Recipe

Yesterday, I decided to make a raspberry tart in an effort to use all my delicious fresh raspberries. I've had a fruit tart only once in my life and have never attempted to make what better opportunity for me to grow as a baker, right?! A google search brought me to this simple recipe and I decided to give it a go.

Sweet Pastry Dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1 egg
1 tablespoon cold water

Pastry Cream:
4 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 cup fat-free milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 pints raspberries, blueberries or strawberries or a combination of fruit
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

To prepare the pastry dough, place flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a food processor; pulse to combine. Add butter; pulse to combine. Add egg and water; pulse until dough forms a ball. Shape into a disc; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours to overnight. (The recipe says that it is not necessary to refrigerate but I put my dough in the fridge over night.)

Preheat the oven to 350F. On lightly floured surface, knead dough lightly to soften. Roll into a 12-inch circle; press on bottom and sides of a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Prick with fork. Bake 15 minutes or until light golden. Cool on rack. (I do not have a tart pan so I used a springform pan instead. The edges didn't have the beautiful scalloping that you get from the tart pan but it worked perfectly fine in all other regards.)

To prepare the pastry cream, combine 2 tablespoons sugar and flour in a medium bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition. Combine milk and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over low heat. Whisk about one-third of the milk into egg mixture. Gradually whisk egg mixture into remaining milk in saucepan. Whisk and cook over low heat until mixture comes to a boil. Boil 20 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and butter. Pour into a bowl; press plastic wrap directly on surface. Refrigerate until cold (I prepared the dough and the pastry cream the day before and let both sit in the fridge over night).

Stir pastry cream to lighten; spread in tart shell, cover with berries and sift confectioners’ sugar over top. The final product:

The verdict:
Nick and I both thought that the recipe turned out great. It was easy to make and had very simple flavorings that worked well together. As an added benefit it is only 200 calories per serving (not bad for a yummy dessert). I would rate it a solid A. My only complaint is that I wish there was more of a wow factor. I think I might try it again someday but add some rosewater to the custard and a sprig of mint for presentation. Or maybe I will try making a syrup to go over the raspberries just to add a little excitement. Still, this recipe is a great basic and with a little imagination has the potential to become amazing. I would very much like to thank relish magazine for sharing this recipe.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


So after the disappointment of Coburg Golden Years, I decided to salvage my day by going with my family to Detering Orchards where I picked out delicious raspberries, plums, nectarines, and peaches.

My fiance, Nick, and I then went to his parent's house where they promptly added to our haul with home grown zucchini, green beans, and beets (as well as some smoked salmon which I only mention as an aside because I hate fish. I'm sure the majority of you think I'm crazy at this point). Lucky for us, his mother had just finished making homemade bread and so we each got a slice. Mmm... I have never made bread before but am very eager to do so. Knowing this, his mother loaned me a book on how to make bread (without the use of a bread machine) in five minutes a day. I am going to be experimenting with it in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned. In the meantime, I have to figure out what I'm going to make with all this delicious fresh produce.

All Things Golden

Today was the last day of Coburg Golden Years, an annual fair celebrating the history of the small town of Coburg (for my fellow Gilmore Girls fans, Coburg is a dead ringer for the town of Stars Hollow). As a child, I have fond memories of walking in the parade (in a victorian style velvet dress complete with hoopskirt in 90 degree weather), participating in Pow-Wows, visiting the various arts and crafts booths, and eating delicious chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick (Yum!). For at least 24 years it was the same celebration, the same pow-wow, the same booths, the same parade. It was a constant in my life that I could always count on.

However, it now appears that the good times are over. I don't know what was the catalyst for this unfortunate change but last year they decided not to continue on with the pow-wow and, subsequently, all the vendors decided not to participate in Golden Years. This year, a total of 4 food vendors and a temporary tattoo booth were all that comprised what used to be a glorious event.

What a sad day.

Oh well. You know what I always say...when life gives you lemons, you should get a temporary tattoo.

I live dangerously.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Welcome to my blog

I am a blogging virgin. Please be gentle.