Friday, June 19, 2009

Craft: along June - What I should have been doing when it was not hot

Dear Donk,

The weather this month has me all backward and my brain is having a really hard time reconciling what it wants to be doing with what it should be doing.

See, it was unseasonably cool the first few weeks of June, and so you'd think this would have been the perfect time for doing things like finishing long overdue sweaters and baking things like this month's Craft: along project - carrot cake cookies.

But no.

I dillied. I dallied. I spent full days fucking around in the yard (which, granted, is a great thing to do when it's not blazing hot, but still). I rode my bike around town to the library and such. I went to lunch with friends. The dog and I went to the beach.

You know - I did things that you do when it's HOT out, not when it's cool out.

What I should have been doing was finishing this sweater while I could still stand being within arm's reach of wool and baking things in my oven while I could still stand to be in my house with the oven on.

But I think this is where my Bizarro World Psyche steps in and makes my life silly.

It says stupid shit like, "Oh, it may be nice and breezy cool outside, but you want to go sit in the air conditioned library and dork out on beekeeping books."

And when you try to drag your knitting outside to work on it, you realize that you've just run out of yarn and DAMMITALLTOHELL will have to go to the Innernets to order it because SADNESS all your LYSs are out of business due to the suckass economy.


It begins to feel like my brain has a master plan for me and, when I try to defy it, it lays the smack down on me so hard that I sit back in my chair and go, "Fine, stupid brain, I give up. Let's go sit in the air conditioning even though it's only 68 degrees. FINE."

The best part is that when it warms up again, like say TODAY, I get all revved up to bake a million things and work in the yard and ride my bike to Pilates and and a hundred things that you should avoid when it's hot out...

But thankfully, I've come to terms with this backward way of my brain's, so I just let it happen. And then I sweat a lot and bake some things I've been thinking about for a long time.

The first thing being the carrot cake cookies from this month's Craft: along.

Usually I have some sort of anecdote that goes along with my crafting type projects, but this was pretty cut and dry. Follow the recipe and enjoy. I did however learn two things which I will share with you now.

  1. I saved myself some aggravation and used canned cream cheese frosting and found it to be excellent and way easier to deal with than making cream cheese frosting from scratch. And for those of you who are all super excited to make your own frosting, don't be deterred, I'm known for this kind of behavior.

  2. I learned how to use the shredder/chopper blade for my food processor which is excellent given that I intend to make pickle chips using this contraption and whoopsy had not ever used this attachment so had relegated it to the Mystery Tool pile in the back of my cabinet. Thanks to my sister, who reminded me that this thing came with a special slicing blade, I can now shred carrots in THE BLINK OF A GODDAMN EYE and, I imagine, slice cucumbers into chips with similar swiftness.

    The other thing about this attachment is the warning label. Scared the shit out of me. RAZOR SHARP! DO NOT TOUCH!

    This took 3 seconds. Wow. I'M DRUNK WITH POWER! Nope, wait, that's gin. Moving on...

    Unfortunately, with this new-found skill came the realization that I will need to come up with something drastic in the recipe department if I want to ever get to the bottom of our carrot stash. This recipe used only 3/4 cups (or the big 1 heaping cup I shred without measuring FUN!) of carrots which came out to about 3 good sized carrots.

    That only left, like 50 or so in the bag.

    Oh to be able to see to the bottom of this bag...

So, the other thing I've been wanting to bake for a really long time but waited until it was 80+ degrees out to start was challah. My mom's challah.

For Hanukkah, the blessed woman gave me a loaf of her homemade bread AND AND AND her recipe, all printed out nicely so it'd fit into my recipe binder.

Do you love this woman yet? I know I do.

Anyway, today the stars (and heat - yay.) finally aligned so that I had all the ingredients under one roof and the time and Brain Go-Ahead to make it.

And then I realized why my mom's challah is the best challah in all the land and also why it's that pleasing shade of yellow unduplicated in the rest of Challahdom.

Also, don't let me catch you using something other than poppy seeds on your challah. I will hit you.

And it's not what I thought.

If you'll recall, I went on a brief rant about how most challah you'll find out there is a big fat fraud because it's not yellow enough. My theory was that it didn't have enough eggs in it so someone back in the Challah Department was cheaping out when they were putting the eggs into the big corporate Kitchenaid and now we were all suffering the consequences of substandard white and bland challah.

Notice this has a nice yellow hue. Even from the outside.

No. I will not have it. I will only accept the genuine article and that is my mom's challah in all its yellow eggy glory!

It's almost like it's winking at you.

Except that the lovely desirable shade of yellow in my mom's challah comes not from eggs (even though there are plenty of eggs in there! This Kitchenaid doesn't cheap out!), but instead from turmeric.


So, you know, sorry people whom I previously offended with my accusations of egg-cheapness. It's not the eggs you're missing, it's the turmeric. I still won't eat your bread and call it challah, but I'll stop calling you really mean names in public. Also, start adding turmeric dissolved in 1 cup of warm water to your challah dough as its mixing - makes all the difference.

So, now I have carrot cake cookies and proper challah and my house is its own oven, so feel free to swing by and put your cookies out to bake on my living room floor.

Excuse me while I go turn on a fan or something.



  1. So. The other day I printed out the recipe for the carrot cake cookies and wa-la had no carrots. Did you know you cannot fake carrots. You either have 'em or you don't. So. Yea. I have no carrot cake cookies to eat now. And you do and you still have carrots. I guess I will just have to get my ares down to the local grocery store and pick me up a bunch of them.
    Challah...never tried it. Are you able to share your mother's recipe? Or is that a family secret?

  2. A food processor is the next Big Present I have requested for the next Big Gift-Giving Occassion to befall me. Because if anyone deserves a machine that will take some of the goddamn WORK out of processing all this goddamn FOOD, it's ME. GODAMNIT.

    Can you tell I spent about two hours in the kitchen today picking slugs out of and spin-drying the huge dishpan of lettuce, in addition to washing and chopping spinach and basil?

    Also, I bet your challah would be nice and yellow even without turmeric if you had the eggs from my chickens with their nice orangish yolks (uh, the eggs have the yolks, not the chickens). But you don't, so rock on with your turmeric.

  3. Finny Bakes. And it looks fantastic! I see carrots in your evening dinners this weekend. (That cool blade grates cheese in nothing flat btw -- it takes longer to clean the thing than to mess it up.) I don't think I've ever had challah, but I've seen recipes for french toast with it -- have you ever tried that?

  4. Ah yes. Just yesterday, I realized I totally had no idea what this month's projects were, and printed them out. I was undeterred by the baking involved, despite the fact that it's so hot I feel like I'm making my own gravy as I steam in this house. Oh, and the grating disc? THE BEST! I try to find as many recipes, so I can just keep shredding once I get the whole thing put together.

    Man, that challah looks good! Look at you, carrying on the family recipe so well.

  5. Your carrot cake cookies and the challah look awesome (the tumeric ingredient is very clever, your mom is brilliant). I really have to get busy on my own Craft:Along offering as time is flying by. Of course, all I've been doing this month is loafing (not!). You've reminded me I need to get this done this coming week as we leave next Friday for vacation -- I cannot stand the idea of not doing my bit for the Craft:Along.

  6. So are you going to share this amazing family challah recipe for those of us who have been scouring for the perfect challah recipe and come up short?

  7. CANNED cream cheese frosting??? CANNED? The Horrors! Nothing beats Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting. CANNED is nasty shit. Which you obviously disagree with me about - as does a certain child of mine. You are both wrong. So. very. wrong.

  8. Cookies and bread? Homemade challah? Seriously? I swear, i don't know why I am ever surprised anymore when I see your amazingness.


[2013 update: You can't comment as an anonymous person anymore. Too many douchebags were leaving bullshit SPAM comments and my inbox was getting flooded, but if you're here to comment in a real way like a real person, go to it.]

Look at you commenting, that's fun.

So, here's the thing with commenting, unless you have an email address associated with your own profile, your comment will still post, but I won't have an email address with which to reply to you personally.

Sucks, right?

Anyway, to remedy this, I usually come back to my posts and post replies in the comment field with you.

But, if you ever want to email me directly to talk about pumpkins or shoes or what it's like to spend a good part of your day Swiffering - shoot me an email to finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom.