Sunday, June 2, 2013

Macaroons: Revisited

One thing you have to know about me is that I never give up. Once I put my mind to something, I don't stop until I reach my goal. Two blogposts ago I attempted to make macaroons. I felt utterly defeated. I then took on the challenge of defeating the temperamental recipe. For a little over the past month, I have used the same Martha Stewart Recipe to make 5 new batches and slowly, slowly I've made my macaroons!!!

Attempt 1: Buttercream Filling
You all saw this mishap already.

Attempt 2: Buttercream Filling
The same thing happened this time except they were blue.

Attempt 3: Nutella Filling
Then I made these! They looked super professional and totally awesome. Then I bit into them and they were hollow! A hallow shell! It was like eating air. What a tease. At this point I bought a real sifter and beat the eggs for about 10 minutes in stead of the 8 minutes I had previously tried.

Attempt 4: Chocolate Filling
These ones were also hallow and I think I made them too small. And I think they spent too much time in the oven. However, my roommate's family was over and managed to eat a majority of the cookies before I could even put in the filling. At this point, I bought a thicker cookie sheet. I think that has helped a little bit.

Attempt 5: Apricot Filling
Like the recipe suggests, after 5 minutes of baking, I rotated the pan. When I did that I was so excited because these babies were looking absolutely perfect. When they were finished I opened the oven and they had totally bottomed out! They were also hollow. I think the problem here was that I didn't let the dough sit for 15 minutes after I had piped the dough onto the baking sheet.

Attempt 6: Raspberry Filing!
I made these babies yesterday! I took them out of the oven and bit into a warm cookie. They were prefect!!! Not hollow at all! This time I decided to not add any food coloring, thinking that the food coloring might be hurting the recipe. I also tried a new brand of almond milch. I decided to try Trader Joe's Almnod Milch and I think it worked better. They also tasted a lot better. The other brand I use to use was Bob's Red Mill. Trader Joe's is also a lot cheaper than Bob's Red Mill so I think I will be sticking to my new almond milch.

I put a few in the freezer and tried them this morning. There were really good a little frozen too. I then set them out on the table. They had thawed a little and they tasted even better than straight out of the oven. I still think these ones need to be a little bigger but I'll totally be making these again and trying other fillings.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Urban Garden

So, I've been a little busy. I took a 10 day trip to Disneyland with my family and the flew straight to San Francisco for work. It was great traveling around California and it was awesome to see the Bay Area for the frist time. I mainly worked while I was there but I'm going back in 17 days for a little vacation and a design conference so I'll have more time to get to know the city.

All this traveling just means that is is summer! And the one thing that I associate with summer is gardening. I grew up in Utah and my family always had a garden. Since I moved to Chicago almost 5 years ago, I have tried my hand at keeping a few plants but they all died. Last year, near the end of summer, I hit the Home Depot just in time to get the last minute sale on flowers. This year, however, I made it at the beginning of the summer and decked out my "yard." I live in a city which makes it hard to have a conventional garden or yard. For the first 4 years I lived in the city I lived in high rises which enabled me to grow plants outside of my apartment. Last year I moved to a basement apartment in a small building on a cute residential street. The building has a back yard but it is shared. Someone planted a few things back there this year. Since my apartment is in the front of the building and I have my own private entrance through the front, I just assume that the front is my domain.

Along time ago the street level in my neighborhood was a lot lower. All the homes along the street were actually at street level. (My apartment buiding was built in 1899) Since then, the street level has been raised leaving the entrances to homes and buildings below street level. You can walk along my street and in order to get to the main door you either have to go down stairs or go up stairs. Technically my apartment is on the first floor but after the street raising it is now a basement apartment. That is why when I look at my front window, I see a cement wall and the ankles of dog walkers. This is actually kind of cool It provides a little bit of privacy to my urban street facing apartment. It's even cooler because I get to make my "front yard" look like this: