Saturday, October 15, 2011

Another long over due update


So, you know when you get started on a project that you're really excited about at first and it just seems like the best idea you've ever had, then after you start working on it you realize that it really isn't something you're all that passionate about? That is what Little frosted adventures has become for me.

I like cooking, I like baking, I create tolerable edible things with those skills. But, it really isn't my passion. I don't wake up in the morning thinking, I really want to bake something today. All the non fun parts of cooking get on my nerves, washing the dishes, organizing my cupboards, packaging the finished products, and even decorating things. In the end if it tastes good I really don't care how it looks, and frosting/icing things is one of my greatest weaknesses, I can not use an icing bag to save my life. I have no desire to learn how to do things correctly, or open a bakery, I don't want to become a chef, I don't want to get a food handlers card. I wouldn't mind a fancy chef hat though.

The point is, this started as a neat idea and ultimately as a distraction from college which was driving me crazy. Then things started getting in the way and I easily cast it aside, then I tried to pick it up again after Nikolai was born thinking it would be a great way to pass the time as a stay at home mom, only to discover that being a mom was fun enough on its own.

I've tried time and again to stick with it for the sake of sticking with it but, this isn't going to lead to a predictable posting pattern or a great deal of my time. Sorry folks. It just isn't for me. Kelsey, however, one of the guest posters we had awhile back, she is making a business out of her baking. Lucky Cat Bakery, you should buy something from her. Her creations are delicious and beautiful.

As for me, I have found what I am passionate about, photography. I know the photos on here aren't much to look at, in fact all of them are pretty abysmal. (In my defense they were all taken before I had really learned anything about how to take good pictures.) When I was pregnant we took a birth class at Bella Vie where we met another couple, Leah and Bryan. Together they run Bryan Rupp Photography, Bryan is a very talented photographer and as we got to know them I came to see that artistic careers aren't a one way path to homelessville. It will be a really tough path, for sure, but I am looking forward to all of it. Cleaning lenses, checking exposure, post processing, learning to hike, hauling a baby and a ton of gear (be it the baby or camera variety) somewhere to take just a handful of pictures. Overcoming my fear of talking to people and overwhelming introversion, accounting, record-keeping, I am excited about all of it. I feel kind of silly, why couldn't I see it all along? Why did it take so many obviously wrong endeavors down different career paths to figure it out?  It seems so obvious now. Art has been my favorite thing to do forever, drawing, coloring, taking pictures, beading, sewing, I love making things beautiful. The problem is, I become extremely attached to the things I make, if I take the time to crochet a blanket it is going to stay with me forever or go to someone I know and love, because it has hours of my time and a piece of me in it. I want it to be cherished and taken care of. If I draw a picture I feel the same way, and paintings which I am so so bad at, they nearly kill me to create, I wouldn't be able to give one away for any sum of money without being heartbroken. Photography, however, I can create images that I can share without bounds. No matter what happens I will always be able to look back and see them, I can share them with the world without any detriment to the original. I don't have to worry about people caring for them because a print is replaceable. It seems kind of odd, I know, but I've always been overly sentimental, I'm weird.


During my life I've taken thousands of terrible pictures, but I've always loved it. When I was a kid I would go on drives with my grandparents all over Oregon. It meant lots of hours in the van, always on the scenic route, staring at trees, and more trees, and more trees. Eventually we'd get where we were going, usually to look at grass and gray skies, and some sort of attraction or another. I was little, I didn't appreciate most of the places we visited at the time, but I loved documenting the trip. Disposable camera in hand I took pictures of everything I could. Sometimes I got to use Gawa's camera, and very rarely I got to use my grandfather's special camera. In middle school before 8th grade they gave me my first digital camera, it was meant for me to take pictures of my final year of junior high. That camera stayed with me up until last year when I replaced it... twice. In its lifetime it took more pictures than I can count, broody teenager self portraits, fun friend outing photos, awful artsy pictures of flowers, trips, the first time I met my dad, my baby shower, everything. It served me well. The problem was that I never noticed, all of this photography was taking place in my life and it was so common place that I never thought about it, it didn't cross my mind as a possible career choice, it didn't strike me as something that I could pursue, it just was what I did when I wasn't doing homework or whatever else was going on.


When I tried to start blogging again after Nikolai was born I wanted to figure out why I couldn't get excited to write about baked goods, I figured I was just unhappy with out unprofessional my site looked. My first thought about how I should improve it was better pictures. So, I told Tim, we needed a new camera. We budgeted and worked one in right around black Friday. (I know, boo consumerism boo!) It was a fancy looking Nikon point and shoot, I figured that would be everything I could need. It wasn't a dslr, like I wanted, but it was only a fraction of the price. So, we went ahead and ordered it. Then it arrived, and for the first week I thought it was the best thing in the entire world, I could take pictures of Nikolai that didn't have a ton of hideous noise, I could change between so many different settings, it was so exciting. 


I started trying to take more and more pictures and really started looking into improving my results. Soon I was itching for a dslr again, I wanted to be able to control everything, focus, aperture, focal length, iso, I needed to be able to say that I was who took the picture not the camera. Tim and I talked about it, and I really started working on my photography, I read book after book about composition, exposure, lighting, posing, everything I could get my hands on. I researched cameras thoroughly, wanting to make sure that I got exactly what I wanted this time.

In May I was able to buy a used Pentax K-7 with a 18-55mm kit lens, I also ordered an old used manual focus 55mm f/2 prime off of Pentax forums. It took me awhile to get the hang of it, white balance was hard, getting the focus right was hard, figuring out how to actually set exposure on a real camera instead of reading about it in a book was hard, it all still is, but it is getting easier. And every time I get to pick up my camera and go out and shoot something (yes, that sounds kind of grusome) I am completely thrilled.

There is a lot of discouragement for beginning photographers out there, lots of name calling, Fauxtographers, mom with a camera, the list goes on, for the first time in my life I am not letting it get to me. I know I will be successful at this, even if it takes a few failures, It is as natural for me as being a mom, I've got plenty of things to learn but deep down I just know that this is perfect for me and nothing in the world could change that.

(Here is a picture from my first session with a client who I had no friend/family connection with)


I am not sure how this post got to be so long, it was just supposed to be the final, this baking blog thing isn't going to happen post, and then all the sudden I'm relaying my life to you. Sorry about that.

I may or may not post things in the future, but really, it's pretty much over, it has been fun, thanks for reading.

Love
-Jessica.
P.S.
My photography site is http://jessicality.com/
And you can reach me at Jessica@jessicality.com
Also! You should like my photography page on facebook, because we all love social media. Right?
https://www.facebook.com/JessicalityPhotography

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ramen - a guest post from Jamie of Insomniac Scribbles

Jamie writes Insomniac Scribbles, and I asked her to do a guest post many months back. Then I got overwhelmed and never got around to posting it. Jamie I am very sorry that this took me so long to get put up.

So, without any more adieu, here it is.

Top Ramen, the sustenance of American college students. Easy to make; just plop it in a bowel with enough water to cover the square of dehydrated noddles and nuke it for about 2:00 minutes or until the noddles have re-hydrated. Rip open the flavor pac (I always liked to drain out the water and just stir the flavor pac with the noddles), available in either chicken, oriental, or beef, stir and voila~ a filling, sodium packed carbohydrate bowel of satisfaction; all for only 10 cents a package. Or perhaps you're the kind that rips open the pack with the sole intention of only using the noodles to add a little crunch to your salad, some substance to that casserole, or whatever else you can think of that requires low quality dehydrated noodles.  

But where did this affordable deliciousness come from? How do they eat it there? Is it even really Asian? 

Well my friends, I have your answer! There are two main companies that sell these packs of noddles and neither of them are American but in fact from Japan. 

Everyone's favorite (or at least it was the one I always bought), Top Ramen:
*
Wow, they have Teriyaki flavor now?!

And the runner up (but probably no one even knew there are two separate brands because the two companies decided to confuse us with similar packaging), Maruchan :

*
Pork flavor too? Where have I been??? 

And yeah, they do sell both brands in Japan (or at least they sell Maruchan; now that I think of it, i've never seen Top Ramen here). 

Now, i've already explained how to prepare your average American ramen meal and here what it should look like (sorry, all of these pictures are off the web; no first hand here):

*
Although most of us probably eat it with a fork...


*
Or how I used to like it without the soup (dear god, lime chili shrimp?!?)

But back to the big question; how do they eat it in Japan? Nothing like the above, let me tell you. 

Here is what a typical bowel of homemade Japanese ramen looks like: 

*
These noodles are actually different but I couldn't find a good picture
with maruchan noodles.

As you can see, the main difference is embellishments. Now, how to get from your American microwaved mess to that? Simple. 

1. Pack of either Top Ramen or Maruchan
2. egg
3. dried seaweed
4. imitation fish (that white and pink circle thing)
5. Ta-ke ( pickled bamboo shoots)
6. Thinly sliced meat (beef, pork, what have you; cubed chicken would even work, though i've never tired it).
7. Sesame seeds
8. Choice of stock. 

I can already tell what you are thinking though; "where am I going to find bamboo shoots and dried seaweed??". Well if you have an Asian supermarket nearby then go there. If not, they might have these items in the ethnic section of any grocery. But pretty much you can substitute these things for items more to your liking ( pickled bamboo shoot is sort of an acquired taste). You should have any probably with the imitation fish, just ask the fish department and they can point you in the right direction. Here are some alternatives that I think might be tasty:

1. Imitation crab (instead of the pink swirly thing)
2. nix the dried seaweed and add green onions (or leaks) instead
3. Shrimp instead of meat (or shitake mushrooms for you vegetarians out there)
4. Carrots, bell peper, corn, red radish,broccoli even would be good.

You mainly want to pay attention to the flavor of the soup when adding in the other ingredients, which leads me to my next section; the soup.

You can use the flavor pacs but I recommend going the extra mile and using your own stock; the lesser the sodium the better. Chicken, beef, pork, vegetable, fish; all acceptable. Or if you're into Miso soup you can even make a Miso Ramen which is the recipe that I'll provide.

Recipe courtesy of of rasamalaysia.com (slightly modified)

INGREDIENTS:
Ramen noodles (one pack)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons white miso paste
1/4 teaspoon hondashi (Japanese fish stock)
 
1 hard-boiled eggs
1 narutomaki (Japanese fish cake with a pink swirl)
1/2 stalk scallion (finely chopped)
1/2 tablespoon white sesame seeds (for topping)
Light soy sauce to taste (optional)
Some seasoned roasted seaweed (cut into thin strips)

Directions:

Bring the water to boil and then add in the miso paste, hondashi, eggs. Bring the soup base to a boil. Add in soy sauce to taste. 

Put the ramen noodles in a separate pot of boiling water until they are cooked. Rinse with cold running water, drain, and set aside.

In a serving bowl, add the noodles and then take out the hard-boiled egg (sliced in half), narutomaki and chopped scallion from the soup base and top the noodles. Then pour the miso soup into the bowl and add the roasted seaweed and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

See, not so hard. Although a little bit more expensive than your average bowl of ramen it is 10x tastier. 

I thank you Jessica, for giving me the opportunity to share the secretes of Japanese cooking with your lovely audience.

PEACE OUTSIDE
Jamie

A little off topic

So, this is a baking blog. I however have no time to bake any more, I'm busy chasing around Nikolai trying to keep him from eating things he has hidden under the couch.

We're stuck in a rut of eating the same things all the time, because they're on autopilot. We get out the ingredients and then somehow dinner comes together without anyone dying or being gravely injured. I most certainly don't have time for the extravagant plans I had for you guys. Bare minimum cookies are a stretch to get completely.

I have been horrible neglectful with this blog, I tried doing posts with my phone, which were horribly horribly subpar. Really, they were atrocious. I might have continued doing that if my phone hadn't been hidden by a certain little boy. I seriously have no idea where it is.

I deeply apologize to all my readers and co posters, and guest bloggers whose posts I haven't put up yet. I am very sorry.

I don't know what my plans are for this blog, I need to figure some things out before I keep trying to make promises.

-Jessica

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ugly super moon cake

Well no big recipe tonight, but here is the hideous mistake of a layer cake I made this evening to celebrate the super moon. Happy moon parties everyone!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Trying to post about potatoes with my phone































Who doesn't love potatoes? Especially delicious ones that aren't deep fried?
This will be a short post because I am away from home and posting with my phone.
Basically to make these you will need potatoes (yukon golds are the best), a slicer, olive oil, and seasonings.


Either peel or not peel your potatoes slice them up fairly (this time I did 1.5 mm but usually I go thicker) then toss them with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and seasonings of your choice (I am a fan of seasoninf salt, but you can use whatever) lay them out on a wire rack above a cookie sheet and vaje at 450° for 10 - 30 minutes depending on thickness. Letting them get light brown spots will leave them soft but if you wait for them to get a bit darker they willbe crispy but have a stronger flavor.
Happy baking everyone!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Posting Will return soon!

I have several projects underway, the baby boy has just been keeping me extra busy with his new escape tactics. New posts will resume within the week! I promise!

And we've got exciting stuff, a guest post from Japan, all sorts of fun stuff!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

No recipe tonight


A few mornings ago I woke up to sirens, I assumed someone on our street had a small fire, today I found out it was because a family lost their two month old to SIDS. I don't personally know the family, I hadn't even known there was another family with a baby on our street, but I can't help but feel for them and imagine myself in their position.

So, tonight instead of a new post I'm going to cuddle Nikolai and be extra thankful for him and his health. I hope all of you can send your thoughts, prayers, well wishes (whatever you believe in) to the family in hopes that somehow they can get through this.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Charred yet gooey gluten free failure


So, with another attempt at gluten free baking I had every intention of making bread. I got all the ingredients ready, I started the bread machine, I sat and waited.

An hour and a half later I smell smoke, the breadish concoction had risen over the edges, spilled over and dripped onto the heating element. I removed the not fully cooked bread thing and it immediately deflated to half its size. It's now sitting looking pathetic and gross in my sink.

I'm not sure what I did wrong, I used a gluten free baking mix... I'll just have to try again.



Saturday, January 15, 2011

Smores mush for sickly bloggers


I am sick, baby boy has a cough and Tim is a bit more tired than usual, we're a grim bunch over here. This calls for comfort food and movies. Luckily I'm well armed, smores mush and the 10th Kingdom (a 7 hour long made for tv movie that I've loved since I was a kid).

4 graham crackers
4 large marshmallows
1/2 tbl butter
1 chocolate bar

  1. Smash up the graham crackers
  2. Grate up half of your chocolate, I use a vegetable peeler, but a fine cheese grater should work just as well, maybe a zester.
  3. Microwave your marshmallows and butter for ten seconds, take them out and mix and then repeat once more
  4. Dump in the graham crackers and mix well
  5. Next dump in the grated chocolate and mix some more
  6. Finally top it off with the rest of the chocolate broken up into bite size pieces and eat with a fork while wearing pajamas and being pathetic.
  7. If you wanted you can do this just like you would rice krispy treats and smooth them out into a pan then cut them into bars but you'd need to increase the amounts and microwaving time


Do you have any great ideas for while-you're-sick foods? If I could I'd live off chocolate and chicken soup. 







Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pizza! For lack of a better title...


Here's an interesting recipe today, pizza dough with apple juice, not as a beverage, but as an ingredient. Yes, that is what I meant. A bunch of pizza dough recipes call for beer, and that didn't work for us, so, I decided to attempt apple juice instead. You can usually substitute apple sauce for butter, so why not?

The answer to that would be, well it sounds like it would be terrible. But! It isn't, it's very good. I promise. 

Ingredients:
1 cup Apple juice
2 tbl olive oil
2 tbl sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbl yeast
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups flour
garlic powder to taste
1 bread maker or an electric mixer or a person with far too much patience and time
Pizza toppings of your choice

Directions:
  1. Microwave your apple juice until it is luke warm, 45 seconds did it for me
  2. In the mixer part of your breadmaker/mixer bowl/normal bowl (depending on how you're making this) combine the warm apple sauce and yeast, stir it up with a fork
  3. Measure out your other ingredients and add them to the apple juice/yeast.
  4. If you're doing this in a bread maker set it to dough and start it
  5. If you're doing this with a mixer mix it until combined and then let it rest for ten minutes, do this for 2 hours
  6. If you're doing this by hand mix it together, knead it a few times, let it rest, repeat until you're so tired of kneading bread that you're ready to give up completely (but in reality give it four cycles of knead then rest
  7. Separate your dough into at least two parts, (I did four and it made four personal pizzas big enough for an adult)
  8. Roll your dough sections into balls and then squish/pull/whatever until they're roughly pizza shapes
  9. Poke holes with a fork across the surface of the dough then let the dough rest once more while the oven preheats
  10. Preheat your oven to 350 ° F
  11. Bake for 6 minutes
  12. Remove from the oven and apply toppings, then bake it for 6-8 more minutes

    Nikolai was having a cranky evening so that is why this is late, sorry about that. Do you have any strange substitutions you use while cooking?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Not terribly healthy, but so very delicious breakfast biscuits.


In the mornings I rarely have time to make myself breakfast, and I'm not a cold cereal and milk sort of person. So, with Mr. Nikolai here to keep me busy I've been having pretty lousy breakfasts unless my husband helps me out. I needed something easy to make. This is just trial one, I have many other ideas for these, but for now they're so wonderful, the biscuit part is moist and them the cheese and the bacon and mmmm I'll probably gain ten pounds eating these and then die of a heart attack, but they're so good.

This includes the absolute best way to make bacon which I learned from Cooking for Engineers and their  bacon cooking tests (one and two). Whether you just make bacon or the whole biscuits, I really recommend trying this technique out.

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 inch of a tillamook cheddar cheese baby loaf (I would say two mousefuls but I doubt you all have mousey cheese graters)
1 package of turkey bacon
4 tbl butter (softened)
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup non fat powdered milk
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp lemon juice

Directions:
  1. You'll need to start out by preheating your oven to 200 degrees and set your package of bacon out for 15-20 minutes to defrost (if it was frozen)
  2. Lay your pieces of bacon out on a rack over a cookie sheet or a  makeshift grease catcher made of tin foil and put them in the oven for 3 hours (I did this the night before and kept the bacon in a bag in the fridge until I was ready to use it)
  3. Grate your cheese and separate it into two bowls
  4. Smash your bacon into little bits, either cut it or crumple it, it's really up to how hard you want to work here
  5. Mix the bacon pieces with one of the bowls of cheese and set it aside
  6. In the other bowl add in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and dry milk. Then mix it all up
  7. Zap your butter in the microwave for a few seconds so that it is soft and add it in, make sure you've got it all mixed in before moving on to the next step
  8. Measure out your heavy cream and add the lemon juice to it, stir them together and let them sit for ten minutes at room temp.
  9. After the cream is done sitting add it  and the milk in, it will take some strength to get this all mixed, I wish I had used my mixer. Luckily I could just ask Tim to do it instead.
  10. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F
  11. Get out you cupcake tins, and put the cupcake liners in it, then use a spoon or a cookie baller to separate out small portions of the dough into each of the cups.
  12. Squish the dough into the cups so it covers the bottom of each one
  13. Get your cheese/bacon bowl back and add a spoonful to each biscuit, then add more dough (I found it was easiest to roll out ball with my hands then squish it flat before placing it in the tins) Then top with more cheese/bacon
  14. Bake for 10-12 minutes and then enjoy


Completely off topic but do any of you have any genius teething tips? Nikolai is miserable, we've got the ice teethers and baby oragel for when he gets really bad (but I'd like to avoid using it as much as possible) and I guess I'm searching in vain for a magical cure all.  











Saturday, January 8, 2011

Gluten free isn't so easy after all...

Looks like a really nice yummy cake, right?

The same sister-in-law I tried making almond milk for I'm trying to learn to bake gluten-free for. I've read all about it and I've purchased several non-wheat flours and xanthan and guar gums and starches and all sorts of gluten-free baking stuff. I've got a list of recipes to try out. For some reason though, running short on time tonight I decided that it would be a great time to write my own recipe. This was not the best idea I've ever had.

Microwave cakes are pretty darn delicious, and so simple, I figured "Ooooh, wouldn't it be nice if I came up with a gluten-free microwave cake?" And sure, it's a nice idea, but this feeble attempt failed greatly. It might look like cake, it might even smell like cake, but it tastes like I imagine newspaper would.

Not that you should repeat my mistake, but here is what I did

Ingredients:
3 tbl cocoa powder
2 tbl sorghum flour 
1/2 tsp potato starch
1/4 tsp baking soda
3 tbl powdered sugar
1 egg
1 tbl butter
1-2 tbl chocolate chips
1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:
  1. I used my 2-cup liquid measure, and mixed together all the dry ingredients. If this were a tasty recipe you'd want to make sure they're well combined so that the starch and baking soda can make sure it rises well and to do that they need to be evenly distributed. This rose really well and made a very pretty looking cake...so I know I've got that part down.
  2. Cut the butter up into as small of pieces as you can and add it along with the egg and vanilla
  3. Use a fork and mix it for 1 minute, beating it as much as you can, to make sure it is mixed up really well
  4. Then I put it in the microwave on high for 2 minutes, but it was clearly done before 1.5 minutes.
  5. And now it's finished, don't eat, and please throw away
  6. This is only attempt one, and I'm sorry that all I've got for you tonight is a really gross gluten-free cake. At least my pictures turned out pretty well.


Do any of you bake gluten-free? Do you have any suggestions for successful baked goods? I'd love to hear what you have to say!
And did you see? I have a twittery thing now! Follow me and stuff.
    It really rose well, more than doubled in volume