Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Baking Wednesday: Turbo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Baking Wednesday: The tradition that my friend and I started this summer.  It's pretty simple.  If the day of the week is Wednesday, you bake something. That's really it.

Being pressed for time, but not wanting to break tradition, I decided to make a quick batch of chocolate chip cookies.  How quick? From gathering ingredients to the last dish washed, cookies on the cooling rack: 30 minutes.  The trick is only baking one batch, and putting the rest of the dough in the fridge to bake later.  The recipe is basically the same as the one on the back of Tollhouse chocolate chip bags; I've had it memorized since I was 10.  The only difference is that I cut it in half tonight to save a bit of time on mixing, and I think I add a bit more flour than the original.

The cookies are not giant.  It's just a very, very small plate.
Turbo Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes: Cookies (probably 24-30 of them)

1 stick of butter, softened (not melted)
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F.
2. Get out all the ingredients, so you're not running all over the kitchen in a minute.  The point is to get this done fast, so we spend less time baking and more time eating cookies.
3. Cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar. This means mix it until it's creamy.  No chunks of cold butter, no hard pieces of dried out brown sugar.
4. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix it all together.
5. Add the salt and baking soda.  Mix it all together.
6. Add 1/2 cup of flour.  Mix it all together.  Add another 1/2 cup of flour.  Mix.  Add the rest of the flour.  Mix.  Add chocolate chips.  Mix it all together.
7. Put spoonfuls of dough onto a baking sheet.  Only fill up one sheet. Bake it for 10 minutes.
8. Place extra dough in tupperware in the fridge.  Or eat it raw.  Whatever makes you happy.
9. Wash all your dishes while the cookies bake.
10. When the cookies are done, pull them out, let 'em cool for a minute, and then EAT THEM!

Seriously, if you don't dawdle while you make the dough and only bake one tray of cookies, this should take about 30 minutes.

Pull-up bars: They rock.

A few months ago, I made an impromptu decision to buy one of those in-door pull-up bars while shopping at a big box store. I try hard not to make last second purchases like this very often, but it was only $10. That was the best $10 ever spent.

Now, the type of pull-up bar I have is the kind that can be installed in like, 3.72 seconds (on average) because it just locks onto the door frame with some combination of physics and awesome. I'm sure it was designed like this so you can pull it out and install it whenever you want to work out, and then immediately take it down and put it away once you're all hot and sweaty. Don't do this. Put it up in a doorway and LEAVE IT THERE! Even if you still only do a full workout once a (week, month, year...), you will be inspired to do a few pull-ups here and there on a far more regular basis. I'm pretty sure I do at least one every day because, well, it's there. Why not play on it?

You may be wondering why I am writing about some piece of exercise equipment I purchased several months ago, or what it has to do with beer or circus. I'll tell you. Today, I discovered that I can thread my feet through the gap in between the door frame and the pull-up bar and hang from my knees. And then I can do inverted crunches from that position. Holy shit, I'm gonna get so ripped. Which is a good thing, because I have a circus gig coming up in about a week, and I'm kinda outta shape.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen...

...Welcome to the show!

I was recently asked by a friend to attempt to describe myself using five, and only five words. I took a minute, thought about it, and this is what I came up with:

"Domestic circus freak who brews."

We decided that, given the limitation, this was a fairly good fit for me. Let me see if I can explain why.

I can sew. I can cook. I can bake. I can (though often choose not to) clean. I keep house plants alive, play in gardens, paint houses, fix drains, and generally am not the worse person to have in your house. But the big one (two, really) is cooking and baking. As of yesterday, I started classes at the Great Lakes Culinary Institute, and will, in two years time, finish up with an Associated degree in Culinary Arts.

...circus freak...
I am one. I joined a circus club while enrolled at Kalamazoo College. We called ourselves Cirque du K. From them I learned all manner of circus skills: juggling, poi spinning, rolla-bolla, aerial silks, partner acrobatics, and a few other tricks. Now I work as a part time circus coach for a program called Starfish Circus. I use circus to teach children self-esteem and how to just play and have fun. While stressful at times, it is an incredibly rewarding job.

...who brews
This is my main hobby. I love brewing beer. I love reading about it, I love talking about it, I love doing it, and I enjoy drinking the finished product. Like so many hobbies, you can simply dabble in it, have some fun, and try something new, or you can geek out to the max, studying in-depth topics and advanced techniques, pushing consuming every bit of available knowledge and discovering completely new things. When it comes to beer, I venture down this second path.

So that's me in a nutshell. Also, that pretty much sums up the topics of this blog. I will try to keep posts limited to food, beer, and circus-related topics. I may even succeed.