Saturday, October 24, 2009

Autumnal treat

Baking is such a soothing activity. There's just something wonderful about eating something warm and tasty right out of the oven.
One cranky morning while getting stuck on homework, I decided to ignore schoolwork for a while and make something sweet and autumnal. Combining apple recipe ideas, I adapted this apple cake/tart recipe from the Traveler's Lunchbox. I believe this vaguely resembles a clafoutis, as it is unleavened batter sitting on top/around fruit, and the whole thing turns out quite thin, and slightly crispy on the edges.
As an aside, pots and pans that can also go into the oven are one of the best things ever. Who needs extra clutter with bakeware when you can just use a pot or pan? 
(I'd have taken a picture to post here, but with only 3 servings and 3 roommates, well, it's gone now.)
With the first bite, my grumpiness melted away and I felt as if I were tasting the essence of all the cozy parts of autumn. 
Makes 3 small, 2 medium, or 1 large serving of Apple Autumn Tastiness.
1 medium-sized apple
(I think it was a Gala but really, all I know is that it was red.)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup melted butter
(mine was salted - if I had unsalted butter I'd add a pinch of salt as well)
2 tbsp plain yogurt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
1 egg
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. 
  2. Peel, core, and thinly slice the apple and place in a layer to cover the bottom of the pan (mine was probably 8"), and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  3. Combine the sugar, butter, yogurt, vanilla, egg, and flour and pour on top of the sliced apples.
  4. Bake for 30 min or until slightly brown and crispy on the edges. 
As you can see, it is incredibly simple, and as you will discover, so incredibly tasty. People tend to like coating their apples with lemon juice/sugar/flour, but I don't care and am too lazy about that stuff. My stomach doesn't care if the apples are brown. Besides, they're hiding under a thin cake blanket so you can't see them.
I will totally be making this again. Maybe tomorrow.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Surplus sales

I just found out about Government of Alberta surplus sales which are apparently on every weekday.
I'm going to have to check it out sometime - I think it'll be a great place to go when you need a desk or chair or something utilitarian without having to pay hundreds of dollars.

Physics update

Good news. I passed the physics midterm... with a whopping 57%. This would normally be terrible, but in this case, the class average was 50%. So really, it's not so bad. 
In fact, I feel pretty jubilant about both passing PLUS beating the class average.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Ginger oatmeal flax spice cookie bars

The "Cornerstore" on campus sells large, individually packaged cookies which are very tasty, and very expensive ($1.50 each). I can't remember the brand but I know they are locally-made. At first I scoffed at the price, but on closer inspection, the flavours intrigued me so much that I caved in. Cookies that I have eaten or want to eat:
  • Ginger flax cookie - chunks of crystallized ginger, molasses, flax, rye flakes. They also used canola oil, which I felt made it tasty kind of greasy. I enjoyed the chewy texture and the "healthiness" of it, but felt I could do better. More on that below.
  • Lemon poppyseed - like the muffin, but in cookie form. No complaints but not a favourite. More crumbly than chewy, tending more towards a shortbread.
  • Green tea cookie - green tea, dried cranberries, possibly some nuts, (I nibbled on this during a lecture so I wasn't paying attention), and a chunk of chocolate in the middle. This one was tasty and I'd consider buying another one.
  • Hot! chocolate - a spicy chocolate chip chocolate cookie! Ooo. I haven't seen this again since the one day I happened to notice it, so I'm waiting impatiently for them to come in again so I can try one.
To take a break from doing chemistry and physics homework yesterday, I did some research online and came up with my own recipe for a better version of the ginger flax cookie. Of course, I'm too lazy to dole out cookie dough on multiple cookie sheets, and plus, I only have one sheet, so I decided to make bars instead, using a combination of recipes I found online and hoping for the best. My roommate said I was brave to invent baking recipes, having screwed up too many recipes. What can I say - I bake on the edge. Well, not really. But in the end, they turned out very nicely indeed. (Unlike this photo taken by my phone camera, which is pretty bad.) 

Sweet, chewy, soft, and full of autumny flavours: ginger, cinnamon, cloves, apples.
And now, about the recipe. 
  • It is quite heavy on the crystallized ginger, but I feel that their natural chewiness makes them perfect for bars. There is quite a bit of sugar on them already, so I didn't need to add any extra - only a little honey, since I needed a little extra moistness. 
  • You'd think with all the oats and flax that they'll turn out like a granola bar, but there are enough other cookie-dough ingredients that make them turn out very oatmeal-cookie-ish in texture. 
  • Instead of gross tasting canola, I used a combination of applesauce and butter. Mostly applesauce, really, since these are all oatmeally and healthy. But a little bit of butter is always necessary for that je ne sais quoi in baked goods.
  • As a side note, it seems I can't seem to stop making bulleted lists anymore. But you gotta admit, they do make for easier reading...
Ginger oatmeal flax spice cookie bars
1.5 cups old fashioned (big flakes) rolled oats
3/4 cup flax meal
1.5 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Mix dry ingredients together. And preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. Make a well and add wet ingredients.
3. Mix well with a spatula and/or hands.
4. Press tightly into an appropriately-sized greased pan (I think mine was 8" by 8"). 
5. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the edges start to brown a little.
6. I cut this into pieces while it was still warm, though they aren't hard, so it probably doesn't matter.