Archive | August, 2008

Repeats

25 Aug

The only reason I have ever made a recipe again, exactly the same way as the first time, is if I am trying to conquer it. If, and only if, I think I have followed a credible recipe to every detail and it doesn’t [insert problem: set, taste right, bake through, retain moisture], I will make the dish, again exactly following the recipe, thinking that some circumstance I was unaware of [insert conundrum: accidentally set timer wrong, baking soda had gone flat, mixing bowl wasn’t totally dry to begin with] sabotaged my first go.

If I am making a recipe for a second time simply because I liked it, I always change it up somehow, first for sheer variance, and second for experimentation. If this was so good to begin with, think of how much better it would be if I added [cinnamon, cilantro, more nuts, less nuts, fleur de sal] to it.

I pride myself in these characteristics of stubborn determination and drive for narcissistic improvement. I humbly admit that the cookies I am going to share with you now…I have made five times in the past three weeks. FIVE TIMES. Four times with the exact same recipe, and once when I didn’t have brown sugar so I went with all white sugar instead and they just weren’t the same. I have thought about adding cinnamon or changing up the flavors, but each time I go to make them, all I can think of is why take such a risk on such an impeccable cookie? I come up with nothing, and I make the same recipe again.

These cookies are a result of the NY Times doing a study on cookie dough, and figuring out the optimum time of cookie dough refrigeration prior to baking. The NY Times came up with 24-36 hours, and for reasons I am just explained, I am not going to mess with that timing. Refrigerating cookie dough makes the outside of the scoops of dough on your cookie sheet bake faster than the inside, giving you cookies with a crisp, done outside and a soft (less-done) inside. Freezing balls of dough gives an even more drastic difference between the inside and outside of a cookie (but don’t do that for this dough. Just follow the recipe. Please?)

One thing I am not sure about is the flours. This recipe calls for cake flour (low protein, makes cakes soft) and bread flour (high protein, makes breads more firm and tough than cakes). I am not sure why it doesn’t just call for all purpose flour (middle-of-the-road protein content) but I haven’t brought myself to try it with just all purpose flour.

I use the Whole Foods 365 Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips–they’re rich, not too sweet, sans high fructose corn syrup and still so chocolatey. I also end up with about three less cookies than expected, as I eat that much dough over the 24-hour period. It’s the salt that brings out and ties together these flavours, so don’t negate it!

Chocolate Chip Cookies.

From The New York Times

Makes about four dozen.

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour

1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract

1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see note)

Sea salt.

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

on boring, normal-ness…

21 Aug

Today seems dull. It’s drab outside and though impossible, it seems that silence of blah is causing me to fill my head with a cacophony of thoughts and noises, making the silence more evident. I want to do something fun, something different. Not sure what that is, and even if i were doing it, that I would feel fulfilled.

 Timely qoute hit my inbox this morning from my dear aunt:

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are… Let me not
pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. One day I
shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in my pillow, or
stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than
all the world, your return.

I will bask in my normality and pray that the latter day does not come any time soon.

 

Here are some photos from the last two months…as I post them, I realize that this sweet life is all but boring.

celebrating family…at saltlick.

 

celebrating love…central market for a date night.

 

celebrating friendship…roommates, best friends.

 

celebrating marriage…weddings.

 

celebrating youth…first time at the ocean.

 

celebrating suffering…new life.

 

celebrating wisdom OR potentially burning down the house. you choose.

on righteous suffering…

18 Aug

Parts of an email I had the privilege of writing earlier today…

Yesterday at church, Halim talked about the first 18 verses of chapter 9 in 1 Corinthians. In those verses, Paul defends himself for his ‘inalienable’ right of being supported by the church to which he gives all of his own money, time, and efforts. Paul validates himself as an apostle, and then asks relentlessly, “since we [Paul and Barnabas] have planted spiritual seed among you, aren’t we entitled to a harvest of physical food and drink?” This seems like a rhetorical question and I read it and want to scream, YES! Paul, you have done so much for the church…you are surely entitled to so something to eat…you spend your days writing and preaching, instead of working in the town, but that doesn’t mean you should be depraved of food or shelter…I would surely feed you.  And then Paul goes on, “If you support others who preach to you, shouldn’t we have an even greater right to be supported?” Again…yes….. But also again, Paul goes on.

“But…” – But what, Paul? I said I would feed you! Come! Sit! Eat! But Paul doesn’t want to eat, he says “But we have never used this right. We would rather put up with anything than be an obstacle to the Good News about Christ.” Ahhhhhh…and there it is, suffering for the gospel. Suffering? Yes. Suffering. But this…is not suffering for our own Glory, or for our own demise or selfish sorrow, rather, it is suffering because whatever that particular suffering is, will bring more glory to God that not suffering.

This made me think about some dear friends. Childbirth. The beauty in the unrequited suffering that is childbirth. My God was brought sweet glory when my friend endured and brought her daughter into this world, as family and friends sat in awe, anxious in excitement. She and her husband have taught us so much about living wholly for God. They’ve poured resources and wisdom into us and then challenged us to figure out how it is that we think God wants us to live. Their pensive thoughtfulness through medicine has led us to think carefully – not to effortlessly negate simple sufferings with a quick fix, but to endure them, and to learn from what God is telling us.

And in conclusion, Paul finishes, “If I were doing this on my own initiative, I would deserve payment. But I have no choice, for God has given me this sacred trust. What then is my pay? It is the opportunity to preach the Good News without charging anyone. That’s why I never demand my rights when I preach the Good News.”

Right now, as suffering is endured, preach the Good News in your joy for your family. Encourage with your genuine care and love, and your restlessness and determination not to wallow in your suffering.