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Simply Photos

I have been back for almost two weeks, and while I haven’t baked anything particularly new yet (I will be, soon!) I did manage to be the sole chef for Thanksgiving (a week long process that was oh so worth it). I made a brined turkey, cornbread stuffing (cornbread from scratch!), candied yams with marshmallows (just boil those sweet potatoes [ope! Did I not tell you? Sweet potatoes are ‘yams’ yet yams aren’t sweet potatoes…interesting…] and mash em up!), roasted garlic mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce, slow-cooked green beans with shallots and pancetta, Pumpkin Cheesecake (oh goodness I’ll have to remake and share THAT recipe with you! Soooo GOOD) and Pumpkin pie, both with homemade pumpkin puree, because my grocery store ran out of canned pumpkin yet had a plethora of sugar pumpkins? Pumpkin shortage my pah-tootay. Oh…and rolls that I made earlier this year, found no use for at the time, then tossed them in the freezer, I just tossed them in the oven for a few minutes to thaw and warm. No bigs.

Anyway, I am recovered from that all-week ordeal. The past weekend consisted of randomly falling asleep and waking up on the couch three hours later, bewildered, and wondering what time and day it was and why I was here. Okay, exaggeration, but you get the idea if you volunteered for the extreme responsibility.

I got straight A’s this quarter at school! For my tenure there, I have always had that ONE professor who simply WILL NOT give you an A (you know what I’m talking about) its as if they’re allergic to it. Not this quarter! It was certainly a toughie, I was so busy I just sat in my room for work, only to emerge from the depths to get breakfast, lunch, or dinner, then went back to disappear again. I cannot believe I got an A in my photography course that I took. It seemed like that professor wanted a certain thing out of the photography from everyone. When I take food photography, I want to convey a level of deliciousness (but of course!) as well as an artistic quality. My final portfolio consisted of a combination of black and white and color images of cupcakes, muffins, and cookies, while still maintaining a collective balance. Her critique was good, but had its points to it, stating that she didn’t find black and white food photography appetizing. I agree with her, it isn’t, but I put those images in to give an artful addition. I have my second thoughts on it, but I’m pleased overall. The critique was constructive, and so that was helpful. I thought I would show you some of the pieces!





I think I’m going to dig into my inner architect and draw plans out for a gingerbread house. I’ll post soon! I PROMISE!

Happy Baking!
Clara

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Graham Crackers


Graham crackers always seem to be a little daunting. They are crunchy, crumply, yet almost melt-in-your-mouth when they’re done right. I absolutely love anything graham cracker. Cinnamon flavor, nutmeg undertone, vanilla hint, and a slap across the face of honey. So yummy!
Well, I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, and I took Deb’s word for it when she said that they tasted exactly like the storebought, which is a GOOD thing! Not only that, they DO taste like them! That’s the best thing about it! Let’s get started by pouring out the honey.

Then combining it with the milk
And whisking it together with the vanilla until its combined and a bit translucent, set aside.

In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda.

Toss in les chunks of beurre (the only word in French that I will ever know for sure), or butter, and blend until the mixture resembles meal.

Pour in the honey mixture and blend,

Until the mixture comes together and forms a ball. If your a good kid, you’ll chill this for a little while so it can firm up, but if you’re impatient like Aunt Clara, then you’ll just go for it and roll it out.

Roll it out to about a 1/8 inch thickness (this will ensure a crispier, more cracker-like cookie, if its thicker, which is fine, it will be softer and more ‘cookie’ like texture after baking).

Cut and dock the crackers, then you need to freeze them for the butter to firm up. THis will help flake up the cookies.

Yum! Enjoy these!

    Homemade Graham Crackers


Ingredients

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (375 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour (a swap of 1/2 cup with whole wheat flour or 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour works well here, too)
1 cup (176 grams) dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon (6 grams) baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt (4 grams)
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 cup (114 grams) mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 tablespoons (77 grams) milk, full-fat is best
2 tablespoons (27 grams) pure vanilla extract

Topping (optional)
3 tablespoons (43 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams) ground cinnamon

Method

Make the dough: Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.

[Alternately, if you don’t have a food processor or electric mixer, you can cut the ingredients together with a pastry blender. Just make sure they’re very well incorporated.]

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour, then turn the dough out onto it and pat it into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Wrap it, then chill it until firm, about 2 hours or overnight. Meanwhile, prepare the topping, if using, by combining the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and setting aside.

Roll out the crackers: Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers. [This makes a traditional graham cracker shape. I rebelled and made mine into 2-inch fluted squares with one of these.]

Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes in the fridge or 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer. Repeat with the second batch of dough. Finally, gather any scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll.

Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350°F.

Decorate the crackers: Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough (again, this is for the traditional cracker shape). Using a toothpick or skewer (I like to use the blunt end of a wooden skewer for more dramatic dots), prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.

Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. [The baking time range is long because the original recipe calls for 25 minutes but my new oven — which I suspect runs crazy hot but have yet to confirm with the actual purchase of an oven thermometer — had them done in way less. Be safe, check them sooner. Nobody likes a burnt cracker!]

Happy Baking!
Clara

What do you do?

What do you do when you have a statewide burn ban and homemade marshmallows?

You get a kitchen torch.

In today’s economy, good investments can be the smallest things.

Mmmmm, toasty.

Happy Baking!
Clara

AHH FOOD?


Finally finished this darned thing! Now to start on the OTHER 3D assignment!

I’m still alive!! I love you all!

March 12, I will be returning for two weeks of Spring Break! Baking madly in that timeframe.

Happy Baking!
Clara

Check It Out!

Since I can’t post recipes on here for as long as I’m here at school, I have a daily blog that you can follow and I will post on it at least five times a week!

Hope to see you there!

Happy Baking!
Clara

Back at School. D’oh!

No new recipes for a while, oh well. But I have this one thing that was my first exercise/project for my advanced computer art applications class. I hope it goes over well! I had to use Adobe Illustrator for the first time ever and I’m going cuh-rayzay!

Happy Baking!
Clara

Tomorrow Fo Sho!

I am working on something truly sinful.

Truly.

It should be illegal.

It requires a lot of heavy cream

Happy Holidays
Clara