I just looked and was shocked to see that I have been contributing to this here blog for almost two and a half years. It's funny because it feels like forever and no time at all, both at once. While I'm still not a rock-star churning out Martha Stewart worthy recipes and photos, I am able to say that I'm learning and that over the years this little space of the web has seen a lot of improvement. Though I do NOT encourage you to look that far back at my posts...too scary.
A while ago, when I finally decided to pour more time, love and dedication to this blog, I joined a little community known as FoodBuzz. It was a great place to meet other like-minded cooks and bakers out there, find out what was going on in the foodie world, and get inspired by all the wonderful recipes freely shared among the members. Oh, and maybe earn a few pennies to pay for the few cups of coffee my friends and relatives can't stop me from buying. Apparently I'm not very sane or reasonable when I'm hyped up on caffeine, but this way I can always argue that I earned it.
A few weeks ago, I got an email from FoodBuzz talking about a blogging contest they were organizing for their members, and throwing caution to the wind, I tossed my name into the hat and signed up. Well, the contest is now in full swing (see my little widget on the right?) and the time has come for the very first round, which asks the following question:
What defines you as a food blogger and why should you be the next food blog star?
I believe that the answer to both those questions is curiosity and a willingness to always keep learning. I read cookbooks, food blogs, cooking magazines, and old note cards stained with oil with the same enthusiasm some people devote to fiction. Remember the Harry Potter craze? Like that. I look for ingredients or recipes I haven't seen or tried yet and I can't wait to get into the kitchen and give them a go. In the kitchen, I hover just to the side of not just my mother, but mothers, grandmothers and aunts of all my friends, pestering them with questions and sneaking in a spoon (or if I'm not watched, a finger) into the pot. I love tradition and I love innovation, and I'm always excited when I can meld the two together into something both comforting and new. But most of all I love coming here and sharing what I learned with all of you. In the beginning it was just a place where I could keep track of my own experiments, just meant to be seen by me, but over time I've discovered that I try harder and I write better when I'm trying to share my creations with someone who shares my passion for cooking.
Through my blog I am able to extend a virtual invitation to a new or an old friend to come in, sit down, and chat for a bit over a cup of tea and a treat. I only share the very best recipes I find and through my blog there are no judgments, suggestions and ideas flow freely, adaptations are encouraged, and even when things don't go right there are friendly words of support offered. It would be a wonderful thing to reach out and share my findings with and maybe learn something new from even more people.
So if you like what you see, take a minute and please vote for me via that widget on the right that says FoodBuzz Contest, the one with a picture of me drinking a BOWL of coffee (best day ever!). Voting starts on 9/20, so please come back then. I'm sure I'll have something fun to offer then anyways.
Oh...and since I'm not really above bribery, especially when I know first hand what people are willing to do for cookies, I'd like to share with you my newly discovered, just in time to be perfected for Halloween, favorite cookie ever:
This recipe also comes from Sophistimom's Bake Sale ideas and it was probably the easiest and the most fun cookie I've ever made. Even forming the huge burger-like patties and slapping them onto a cookie sheet was satisfying! And when I finally scraped up the very last of the batter for the last cookie, the chocolate chips sticking out of it looked like eyes. Doesn't it look cute up there with it's head cocked to the side? I think that top cookie is flirting with you, he's saying "please vote for me, won't you?".
And because I still have marshmallows and because I am who I am, I just had to play with it and give my monster some teeth, paws and a cape
Monster Cookies, a.k.a. Eat It Before It Eats You Cookie
Note: I would highly recommend you use the scale and weigh everything out instead of using cups. For one, the peanut butter is so much easier to deal with when you just pile it onto a piece of wax paper then trying to coax it into and then out of a cup. And two, um...you can skip the sifting of the flour step if you just weigh it :D
1 cup (100g) sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 cups (480g) quick oats
1 1/2 sticks (172g) butter
2 cups (400g) brown sugar
1 cup (190g) granulated sugar
1 pound (450g) peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup (170g) semi sweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and oats. Set aside.
2. Cream the butter and sugars together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add in peanut butter and mix until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Add in eggs, one at a time, incorporating well after each addition.
3. Slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture, and mix until well incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in chocolate chips.
4. Use a large ice cream scoop or your hands to form balls of dough the size of a baseball. Place 6 on a cookie sheet, and press down slightly with your hands. Bake for 15 minutes, or until slightly brown around the edges, and not fully set in the middle. I made some of mine a bit bigger and they needed an extra minute, so use your judgment.
They will be puffy when you take them out but they will deflate as they cool. Let them cool a bit on the cookie sheets before you transfer them to a cooling rack or they might break. Stack them up really high with a small slip of wax paper or parchment between each cookie to keep them from sticking to each other. It will look impressive, I promise.