Tender cookies!

One of my favorite, exceptionally tender cookies! Fatty nuts (pecans) make them even better, but other nuts also work. The recipe is from The Joy of Cooking (my mom said it might be from Betty Crocker).

Mexican wedding cakes/Russian teacakes

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped nuts

Thoroughly mix butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add flour, salt, and nuts. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10-12 minutes at 400°F until set but not brown. While warm, roll in powdered sugar. Roll in sugar again once cooled.

I gave up a while ago on my gray linen shirt, after extensive patching failed to halt its rate of degradation. I still really like it, though, and I’d like to recreate it in the future, so I’m trying to trace its pieces to make a pattern!

Tracing the yoke! The pattern paper is from my grandmother’s sewing collection (or, y’know, maybe it’s a really low quality tablecloth that I failed to identify correctly).

Cutting the garment apart wasn’t as easy or as clean as I would have hoped, so a copy-cat shirt might end up a little wonky… We’ll have to see. I also tore the sleeves into strips before deciding to make a pattern, so… I’ll have to wing those when the time comes.

Decluttering art supplies!

Here are some old projects I found. I think I made them in middle school – I was really into beading and jewelry then.

Collection of pendants made out of polymer clay!
This is a waterfall jungle scene, complete with vines and reptiles. You’re supposed to hang dangly things from the bottom holes.
Some abstract thing I actually turned into a necklace. It looks kinda like corn…
My mom’s grade-school watercolor kit (we did not get rid of it), and her scientific drawing dip pen! Vintage~

Both of my siblings are strangely attached to crayons. Although they allowed many of our crayons to be given away, the compromise was that we had to keep the 96-color set. As sibling C said, “Who knows when the world will end and we realize we need crayons”.

Estate sale find: safety razors!

Sibling C and I went to a cool estate sale in Austin a few weeks ago! It was particularly well-organized, and much of the normal junk that clutters estate sales (old food, low-quality mismatched silverware, low-quality pans, etc) had either been hidden or sold.

I was excited to find a small collection of old shaving accoutrements. I have a straight razor (that I need to get sharpened), but I’ve also been interested in trying out safety razors, with the particular goal of being able to recommend them to friends in good faith.

I bought 2 of the razors from the sale for $3.75 each, which seemed like a good price 👍

On the left is a Gillette “Tech” made in the ’40s. It is stainless steel and essentially the same design as modern razors. On the right is a Gillette “Old Type” made in 1914 (105 years old!!). It is silver-plated brass.

Deviled eggs

My mom’s favorite deviled egg recipe, from the Better Homes and Gardens 1981 cookbook! Perfect for picnics and potlucks.

  • 6 hard-boiled eggs (aim for mostly-crumbly yolks)
  • slightly less than 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp prepared mustard (most commonly, the non-fancy smooth yellow kind)
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Halve eggs lengthwise, removing yolks and mashing with a fork. Stir in mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, and salt. Fill eggs halves with mixture, garnishing with paprika or parsley.

Using up: baguette

I got a free baguette from somewhere a few months ago. It’s been sitting in my freezer since then, desiccating, apparently. I got it out to make banh mi yesterday and discovered that it was rock hard. I would’ve given up on the whole idea except that I’d already bought all the other ingredients.

To attempt to rehydrate the bread, I… steamed it. It mostly worked. Soggy on the outside and still pretty hard on the inside = delicious, right? Fortunately, panfrying got rid of the sogginess.

Bread down, onto the hacked-together filling! The main components of banh mi are some protein (I used fried tofu and scrambled egg), cilantro, mayo, fish sauce, and marinated veggies. I had trouble with the fish sauce (don’t have it) and the marinated vegetables (don’t have vinegar), so I made some wild substitutions like usual.

Julienned carrots and radish are supposed to be marinated in a combination of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. I didn’t want to buy a whole container of vinegar (and it’s not available in bulk) just as I’m about to move out, so my plan was to use lemon or lime juice in place of vinegar. Lime would be especially fitting – it’s commonly used as a topping. But… the grocery store didn’t have either 🙁 The closest alternative I could find was grapefruit. I still don’t know if that was a good choice.

I added bonito flakes to the marinade to substitute for fish sauce.

The final banh mi-like sandwich. (This nice plate was a bulk-trash-pickup-day find 🙂

The sandwich was actually pretty good, considering. The vegetables only have the faintest hint of grapefruit-bitterness flavor… 😀

Another using-up recipe: cream biscuits

A while ago, I need to use up a pound or so of sour cream (left over from some event) and some over-cooked sweet potato. I steamed it into sweet potato mush 🙁 I had the bright idea of making pancakes (really good, super tender and fluffy) and biscuits (not so great, but edible).

At least they have a good color. Any suggestions on how to use up a ton of biscuits?

The original biscuit recipe, which is much better than my modification, is from Joy of Cooking:

Cream biscuits

20 2-inch biscuits

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (might need more salt)
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  1. Mix dry ingredients. Add the cream all at once. Mix until the dry ingredients are moistened.
  2. Gather the dough into a ball and knead it gently 5-10 times, adhering any loose pieces in the process, until the work area is clean.
  3. Roll or pat the dough out to 1/2-inch thick. Cut into desired size (2-inch squares is standard). Reroll and cut any scraps.
  4. Bake in center rack at 450°F for 10-12 minutes until biscuits are golden on top. Set biscuits close together on baking sheet for joined biscuits with soft sides.
  5. (To cook on a griddle, roll dough out to 1/4-3/8-inch thick. Cook in griddle until brown on one side, 3-4 minutes, then turn and cook until brown on the other side.)

Mostly-free cornbread

I don’t really use cornmeal for anything, so I decided to make cornbread to use up the haul-cornmeal. It had the added benefit of using up the rest of my flour. I’m moving out in a month and am trying to not have any food left. I’m down to my freezer stash of carby foods, like biscuits, brownies, low-tier garlic bread, low-tier baguette (which is gonna be upgraded to banh mi :).

Anyway, my mom provided the Cook’s Illustrated “Northern cornbread” recipe that she likes. (The “Southern cornbread” recipe has more cornmeal and, I believe, less sugar.)

Why is the browning so square?

Ingredients

  • 1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk (I used yoghurt)
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Instructions

  1. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat to 425°F. Grease a 9-by-9 pan.
  2. Stir together dry ingredients. Stir in wet ingredients until just combined.
  3. Pour batter into greased pan. Bake until top is golden brown and lightly cracked and edges have pulled away from side of pan, about 25 minutes.
  4. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes.

Free food!

I discovered a neighbor was moving out when I discovered trash bags full of dry goods (gasp!) outside their door. I couldn’t keep myself from asking if it was fine for me to take what I wanted (the answer was “yes” and I was even offered my pick of furniture), so I ended up with this haul:

Let’s see, from left to right, there’s cereal, spaghetti, butter, cornmeal, cashews and almonds, water chestnut flour (used as an alternative to cornstarch, I think?), a “string” of fig “buttons”, various Indian spice mixes, salsa, jaggery (unrefined sugar), olives, chickpeas, cooking oil.

I love getting stuff I wouldn’t normally buy. It’s a treat 🙂 I especially enjoyed the salsa.

The day the neighbors moved out, I dug through the apartment dumpster, and additionally got a chair (for putting my “in use” clothes on), an apparently never-used yoga mat, laundry detergent (never get Gain original scent… On the plus side, I hear Gain is super strong), and a single handkerchief.

Hot cross buns

For Hot Cross buns, use the cinnamon roll dough recipe. Add some amount (just eyeball it) of candied fruit and currants when you are ready to shape the dough and make about twelve rolls.  For Hot Cross buns, the egg wash is very important to give the right look.  Whisk together a whole egg with a bit of salt; this is brushed on just before baking.  You can use the other half of the egg or a previously saved egg white can be used.