Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More Cookies

Here's another group making what I think was my favorite cookie of the bunch, a shortbread with nuts and jam.  It shows up on the platter at 6 o'clock, the bars without chocolate.  Yum!  But, wow, did they have a lot of dough to spread out.  And several whole jars of jam.  I think that one might have been the most work.  It was worth it, though.

Here's a couple shots of the Florentines being made.  You can barely see it in the top pic at the very right edge, how tiny the cookies start out when being put on the pan to bake.  Now look how much they spread out compared to the bottom pic where she's putting the chocolate drizzle on top.  I'm glad I got to see that, so when I try making these, I won't think, oh, that's not enough dough.  And I saw the caterer showing them how to do the drizzle, too: you really don't do it slowly.  You kind on zing your arm back and forth across the pan over and over and over to get those lovely stripes.

Here's the ladies working with the Palmier cookies, the ones that look kind of pretzels.  Don't they look serious?  Hey, cookies are serious business. 

Here's my partner, S., chowing down on the snack table they had set out for us.  Quite a spread!  No veggie sandwiches, alas.  But great hummus and cheese.  And fresh pineapple.

 Behind S. you can see another group working, with the only male member of the class.  Aw! I was surprised there weren't more men, and that John didn't want to take this class, since he's really the major cook in our family. 

Not a great picture of me.  But a nice one of the class teacher.  And look how much bling she's wearing! Here I thought she'd have no jewelry or nails, like me, because she was cooking.  Nope, she had long painted nails and bangly bracelets on, and somehow none of that got in the way. I don't know how some people pull that off, but she did. 

And that's the end of the cookie class.  It was two hours of mess and fun and divine smells and yummy cookies.  Thanks, Betty Crocker.  Oh, and we got to take home a cookbook, Good Housekeeping The Great Christmas Cookie Swap Cookbook: 60 Large-Batch Recipes to Bake and Share.  My complaint about it is rather spoiled of me: I want a picture for every recipe so I know how it's supposed to look. Wah.

Cookie Exchange Class at Willie Wonka's

Okay, it wasn't really at Willie Wonka's, but it was at General Mills, in the Betty Crocker Kitchens, so it was kind of like getting to go inside Willie Wonka's.  And here's what I went home with!  Avert your eyes if you don't want to gain weight just thinking about all the butter on that plate.

Here's the huge mixer we got to use.  We were making double batches of already large yield cookie recipes, so these were fab.  There were about 20 of us in the class and we split into groups of 2 or 3 and each made a different kind of cookie.  Mine was a cinnamon roll cookie, the little circle cookies on the left at 9 o'clock on the platter.  This is my partner scraping the bowl after we mixed in, er, well, twice as much flour as we were supposed to use.  My bad!  But they let us start over and use a whole 'nother pound o' buttah.  Nice!  I wasn't thinking when I was measuring 5 cups that the "cup" I was using was in an industrial kitchen, so it wasn't really a cup, but a 2-cup measure. Oops!

It was kind of fun to mess up, tho, because at first I didn't realize what I'd done but we didn't think the dough looked right, so when we asked for help from the woman who was running the class, a professional caterer, gave us some tips on how to figure out what might be wrong, or even what the recipe is trying to accomplish.  Like our "cinnamon roll" recipe was really trying to be like the leftover pie crust dough mom used to roll up and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.  At least my mom did that, did yours?  I remember it fondly, even though it was more than 30 years ago.  And as we went along making the cookies, we figured out together how we would change it if we did it again, which I think I will for Christmas this year. 

Here's another group mixing, I think egg whites, with the biggest whisk (attachment for the mondo mixer) I've ever seen in my life. 

Here's the later stages of their cookies.  You can see a finished one on the platter at 3 o'clock peeking out in between one of the huge florentines and a curly palmier.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Film Week in Review on KPCC

I"m stuck with a bad headache and can't read or watch a movie, but I've been listening to one of the podcasts Chris mentions in her comment on my post about The Frank Truth, and I love it.  I've tried a lot of different podcasts about film, and most of them stink.  Either they're just some guys almost talking and giving ridiculous reviews like "it was cool, very cool," or they argue about who was in it, or they are in love with their voices and believe that the great thing about podcasting is that you can prattle on as long as you want without saying a whole lot.  Phew!

Film Week in Review is well-produced with real film critics who know their stuff and use their knowledge for good instead of evil, as in they share information related to the film they're critiiquing insted of making asides that only the "in" crowd will get.  They also review a wide range of films, everything from The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest to Ticked Off Trannies With Knives

Thanks, Chris!  I have to go crawl back under my ice pack now.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

There Oughta Be A Law

on how many times a DAY you can use your frickin' leaf blower.  I mean, MY GOD.  This eejit neighbor of mine who has too much time and not enough brains uses that thing an average of 4 times a day!  Even if I wasn't having a migraine I'd want to kick his heinie.  Can I get an Amen?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A New Book Review by Moi

One of my recent book reviews  of a young adult novel called Siren has just been posted in the Fall 2010 Online edition of Rain Taxi, who I frequently write for.  You WANT to read it. Oh, and there's a really well-written down-to-earth, no-hype review of Jonathan Franzen's novel Freedom . I think Franzen stinks, for the exact reason that this reviewer pinpoints.  All whinging, no joy.  I read part of The Corrections, his first novel, and finally put it down because I could not stand the characters.  And I wasn't even repulsed in an interesting way.  Just bleah.

Frank Dose

I listen to podcasts, yes.  But they have to be quirky.  One of my favorites right now is The Frank Truth, all Frank Sinatra, all the time.  And it's not just music, which is fabulous enough.  There's also radio dramas, news about recordings and new (old) releases.  It's really fun.  I just listened to Episode 132, in which we hear the Lux Radio Theatre drama Wake Up and Live.  It's so funny, it's about this guy who is a singer but is afraid of the microphone.  Of course, it's Sinatra playing the "dope" who faints in front of the mike, says "gee" a lot, and works in the radio station as a tour guy.  When he does sing he fumbles in front of the  mike and can't sing and then faints, and you can hear the real radio audience laughing, because of course Frank Sinatra is about as far from stage fright as you can get.  And even though it's a cheesy radio drama, he's actually a really good actor, playing up the sweet dope role.

No, Really, I'm Sorry

I'd just like to apologize to everyone in advance, for all the stupid crap that will come out of the insane wingnut Michelle Bachmann's mouth, now that she has been, argh, reelected.  I didn't do it, I promise.  She's not from Minneapolis, that's all I can say.  We wouldn't have elected her.

And, yes, it looks like we'll be having a recount for our governor.  I know, just like 2 years ago with Al Franken.  Except that Dayton is is .49% ahead, and Franken was only .001% ahead.  So really it's just a formality for a sore loser (Emmer).  But hopefully it won't take 8 months this time.  Oy.