Monthly Archives: February 2014

Tea Party cookies.

This year I volunteered to make cookies for a carnival themed gala at R’s school. The theme colors are vibrant greens and blues with a touch of sparkle thrown in. While I was making those cookies (pictures coming soon), a request for another batch came up. Only these were for a coffee morning at the same school with the same theme. Now, I like decorating cookies but I’m not yet so far gone as to want to make many separate batches of icing within the same week. Hence, these not-so-delicate tea/coffee party cookies were born.

ImageIn my mind, tea parties are elaborate and delicate affairs, throwbacks to a bygone time when tea breaks provided a valuable hiatus to people’s days, and much was made of them. In privileged India, in those days, families would gather around a patio set in their lawns waiting for a domestic help to arrive with a tray laden with a kettle and matching cups perched on saucers, doilies, some snacks. Tea time was a chance to take some time off in the day, catch up on some gossip after a hot afternoon siesta. The British had left us with arguably their most pleasant custom: the ritual of late-afternoon tea.

ImageIdeally, I’d have liked to use a color scheme of soft pink, light green, maybe pastel yellow, for these cookies. Could. Would. Should.

The other thing that I didn’t do before decorating these cookies was to research lots and lots of cups-n-saucer cookies. Since these were a last-minute idea, I realized I had no clue how to create the illusion of a drink inside the cup or what designs I wanted to make on the kettle, so I just winged it.

Truth be told, these aren’t my most favorite batch of decorated cookies. I’m just glad I had the foresight to make some chocolate dough to give this collection a little bit of variety. I learnt something: some empty spaces on a cookie actually look good. Consider the chocolate cups on the bottom (blue with froth). I quite like how the space actually looks like a design element.
ImageI also (re)learnt another thing: You can’t rush into taking pictures without giving these babies enough time to dry. (See above.) This time it couldn’t be helped though; I either could have slightly damaged icing in a picture (which no one would probably notice while eating the cookie) or have no pictures at all. Ah, well.

Anyway, these went out into the world slightly unloved by their maker, but still managed to make someone happy. And that’s exactly what sugary treats are meant to do. 🙂

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Sports and Valentine’s Cookies.

A quick post today.

V turned 8 a couple weekends ago. His superhero obsession is gradually giving way to an interest in sports, which is what he requested his birthday theme be. Naturally, that amounted to the simple but versatile ball cookies to be baked for distribution at school.

ImageI briefly thought about icing team logos on there but freehanding them is a feat that I’m not ready for yet. I’ve tried these balls once before, but I’m infinitely happy with how they turned out this time!

Valentine’s Day isn’t a holiday that’s big in our family. The kids do, however, are expected to write up cards for every other kid in their class and exchange small gifts. Cookies to the rescue again.

ImageSimple scalloped-edge hearts in white and chocolate, covered with sprinkling sugar. Doesn’t get much easier than that. And they’re sparkly!

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Now the bummer: we’re snowed in for V Day! No school, no exchange, no party. The sparkle will have to wait until next week. Oh, well.

5 Mysteries of the Kitchen explained.

If you’ve reached your current level in life thinking the kitchen to be a place where angelic kids gather to finish their homework while you hover over deliciously bubbling pots awaiting your darling spouse to waft in at some point and gather your domestic goddess into his thankful arms, you’re wrong.

So wrong that wrong isn’t even the word you’re looking for.

The kitchen instead is the very cesspool of mystery and intrigue where implements vanish without a trace, every button has a dual purpose invisible to you, and your independent kids turn into whiny savants demanding a snack while you harry about preparing supper.

However, stress no more. I’m here to explain away 5 mysteries of my own kitchen that have baffled me for some time. I now have theories about them, which I will generously share with you. I do not promise a solution, no, only closure.

Where do my best knives GO?

If you’ve ever felt like this, it’s normal. Best knives disappear; it happens. It takes weeks, even months, to get attached to a new knife.  After spending all that time molding the knife to your palm, perfecting the blade angle for maximum efficiency, getting used to its presence in the dishwasher, it’s hard not to mourn its loss. As hard as it is to bear, know that it was likely you who threw it into the trash. I’m not accusing anyone here, it was purely accidental. You were absent minded one day and while sweeping the vegetable refuse off the cutting board swept away your favorite knife as well. This amnesia probably lasted until the next garbage day —  the point of no return — after which, kicking yourself doesn’t help. Move on.

Who clutters my counters?!

ImageIt’s not elves, it’s not trolls. It’s your own flesh and blood gone riotous. If your kitchen counter is centrally located (like mine) and is often a scene of family activity, consider its clutteredness a given and your expectation otherwise a naive fallacy. As soon as you find a place for everything on it (rightful or not) and dare to wipe it down, your counter will develop magnetic properties and attract everything within its vicinity again. You had no idea, you say? Well, now you do. Know also that there is no point in cleaning your kitchen counter after 3pm on weekdays or any time on weekends.

Why are there so many settings on my KitchenAid mixer?

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Don’t know about you but I’ve never gone beyond setting #6 on mine. I haven’t needed it, plus at a 6 the machine behaves like a maniac toddler trying to get his pants off, hissing and trembling precariously on its hinges. What needs so much beating/aerating as to use the highest setting, #10? Egg whites? Heavy cream? Dreams? I do not have a clear answer for this one, but apparently at least 0.02% of amateur cooks use that setting so it must be feasible to have it there. Use it at your own risk.

What does an empty dishwasher look like?

Probably like a machine with racks and stuff. I haven’t had a chance to confirm this yet since mine is always loaded — either smelling of clean, sanitized dishes or of myriad meals. If you like the look of an empty dishwasher you will need to invent a machine that unloads clean dishes as soon as the cycle is up. I haven’t done this yet, so unfortunately I have to complete this “character-building” exercise myself* every time my sink groans under the weight of its dirty load. The way I see it you have a choice: the sight of a loaded sink or a loaded dishwasher. Which do you prefer?

(*Asking the hubby to do this chore makes me nervous. The next time I go to grab a serving spoon, I will reach the butter knife instead. Cussing at that moment doesn’t help; he hasn’t realized the importance of putting everything in its right place, and probably never will.)

Why is it called a self-cleaning oven?

Technically, self cleaning works when the oven heats whatever you’ve dropped in there to a burnt mess making it easy for you to scrape/wipe it out of there. The key word here that you’ve been missing is YOU. You’re not the only one who expected a sparkling oven after running it through the “self cleaning” instead of ending up with exactly the same dirty oven as before only now with a broken fuse. If it makes you feel any better, you’ve got company. Lots and lots of it. In fact, you’re lucky if you got out of it with only the frustration of a failed experiment rather than an unusable box of charred crumbs. Next time, YOU should just wipe down your oven after a baking session and call it a day.

**All pictures courtesy Google Images.