And now, a break from cookie tips for this important news bulletin.
We have sold our house back in Beaverton. Yay!! The buyers signed the final papers today, and we should see a deposit in our coffers soon. We did pretty damn well, I think. We sold it for about $10,000 less than the Zillow.com price, but we did complete a sale. There are several other houses in the area who are asking near the Zillow price, but they remain unsold. After only 2 months on the market, the hubby and I have a small down payment for one of the ever-so-overpriced houses in Seattle.
Here come the tips - things to know before hand, and things to keep you somewhat out of trouble.
- Your butter temperature matters. The only way around this is not to use butter at all. So, take your butter out of the 'fridge, and put it on the counter at least 4 hours before you start baking. The butter needs to be soft enough that it takes an impression when you press it, but not greasy.
- Bake a test single cookie first. It's tempting to stick a whole dozen in the oven at once, but the text cookie will give you an opportunity to fix your cookies, instead of ruining a whole dozen. Patience has it's rewards.
- Once you're baking, you'll probably be alternating between two or more baking trays. You really do need to let the fresh-from-the-oven tray cool before you put more dough on it. To expedite the cooling, run the metal tray (just the metal tray, even if using a silpat) under cold running water. This will chill it quite quickly. You can then dry it lightly and be back to baking!
- If your cookies are too flat, or your dough is too sticky, put it in the 'fridge for a bit of time. Try five minute increments for the best results. Dough at the proper temperature is very easy to work with.
Since I've been elbow deep in cookies lately, I thought I'd share some of my cookie making secrets with you. The first topic is tools. You need good tools for any project.
- Silpat - It's the magical French baking tray insert. The silicon pad goes a long way towards preventing cookie burns. They are spendy, but you can save $5 if you get one from Linens N Things with one of their 5$ off coupons. (Or Bed, Bath and Beyond. They accept each other's coupons, and have practically the same inventory.) I recommend getting 2, so you can always have some cookies in the oven.
- Baking tray - just get something over sized enough to fit the Silpat. The trays without lips work well. Get as many as you have Silpats.
- Mixer - OK, you could use a wooden spoon, but this isn't the dark ages. Use an electric mixer! The best is the KitchenAid stand mixer. Another thing that's soo worth the money.
- Cooling Racks - Yup. You need these. When a recipe says 'cool completely' it means it. I've got some nice stackable ones, but any cooling racks will do. You'll need about 2 racks for each batch of cookies.
- Baking Powder / Soda / Cream of Tartar - Do yourself a favor and go look at these in your pantry now. If yours are more than a year old, go buy new ones. You'll be sorry if you didn't, when your cookies come out all sad looking and flat.
Well, that's it for now. More tips later. Happy shopping!
You may have heard about this big horking storm we had here in Seattle. The torrential rain started at my office building downtown on Thursday night. It rained so hard that the President's and CTO's windows started to leak water, and there was a large puddle in the lobby. When I stepped out of the building, I was assaulted by the strongest winds I've ever felt. They nearly knocked me over, and I am not of slight frame.
The heavy rain (which co-workers observed made the Rainier building look like a waterfall) on my pantslegs reminded me of a pellet gun barrage. When I finally did get on a bus, it took 45 minutes to get 5 blocks downtown. We were crammed into the bus Japanese-style, but I did luck into a seat after 10 minutes of standing in a 'Walk Like An Egyptian' position. Eventually, I did get to Fremont, and I had some mostly good sushi and a stiff drink. (OK, it was pink. Any amount of booze is stiff for me.)
Many many trees fell down due to last nights' winds. Downtown mostly powered, but there are tons of dark blocks in the city, and the suburbs are in a bad way. One coworker got a free skylight, another's neighbor's house burnt to the ground, and many folks lost power at home.
Our apartment stayed lit, (probably due to the underground power cables into our apartment complex), though we encountered a few off streetlights during the drive to work in the morning. But drive home from work tonight was very creepy. The sun had set, and as we got further away from downtown, fewer and fewer blocks had electricity. We took the back road into the apartment complex to avoid several out-traffic-lights. As we drove through the stretches of dark blocks, it felt more like we were on some kind of forestry service road than a developed city street. It would have been a great night for stargazing, with the dramatic drop in light pollution.
When we got home, our power was still on, unlike every other block surrounding us. But the cable (and hence the internet) was out - so I won't be able to post this until the internet is back. All in all, we're pretty lucky. Thousands of people were without power all weekend, and some are still without power.
This weekend I made some lovely chocolate shortbread cookies cut into Christmasy shapes. The cookies were great, but I ran into trouble again when I tried to decorate them with frosting. The frosting took forever to dye red, and even then it was too thick to sqeeze through my decorating bag, even with the thickest tip. It was really frustrating to have no frosting, no beautiful cookies like the ones I'd imagined, after two hours of working with the damned frosting.
I later asked the moms for some frosting recipes. Hopefully one of those will help me make something like this flash cookie.
The 'Code Monkey' song now has a WoW captured video to accompany it. If you haven't seen or heard, check it out.
The guy who makes the videos (not the song) is a Program Manager at Adobe. I bet that helps with the video editing. Anyhow, he's got a pile of similar videos on YouTube. "Eat Your Brains" allows me to re-use my awesome "song" CSS:
All we want to do is eat your brains
We're not unreasonable
I mean, no one's gonna eat your eyes
Excerpt from "re: Your Brains" by Jonathan Coulton
Gah! The Dory Cove, home of the best clam chowder in the world, burned down. This chowder could heal just about any bad feelings. It really is a shame. I do hope the owners rebuild, maybe expanding just a tad. I am glad that the hubby and I took and chance and got a fabulous bowl of chowder the last time we were at the Oregon Coast, even though there was a small chance our car wouldn't start again. The car did start, but the chowder was worth it either way.
I might just be getting the hang of this Seattle thing.
Yesterday I took another exploratory walk around downtown and found a fancy-chocolate shop just a block and a half away from the office. I bought two truffles to compare them with the immaculate hometown Moonstruck Chocolate. Initially, the Neuhaus was surprisingly good.
Today, I was feeling slow and sad so I walked right into the mini-Starbucks and, with no hesitation or waffling, I ordered a Peppermint Mocha. It just felt like some kind of milestone - to be able to order something I knew I would like and would pick me up.