Gingerbread Cookies

The past couple of months have been crazy. I moved across the country and started my first job. And craziest of all… I had to learn how to bake in a tiny Manhattan apartment kitchen.

Gingerbread Cookies from Square Root of PieMy lack of counter space is almost painful… But I’m learning to deal with it. No fancy stand mixers anytime soon though.

Gingerbread Cookies from Square Root of PieIt took me awhile to get settled, but I’m finally starting to feel like I have a home! And now that I’ve gone through the whole mess of moving, buying furniture, blahblahblah, I can finally get back to what I love… baking!

Gingerbread Cookies from Square Root of Pie

Gingerbread Cookies
Makes 2-3 dozen.

Ingredients
3 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
dash salt
1 stick butter, room temperature
3 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 C brown sugar, packed
2/3 C molasses
1 egg

Instructions
1.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, soda, spices, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and coconut oil.
3. One at a time, beat in brown sugar, molasses, and egg.
4. Gradually beat in the flour until the dough is formed.
5. Split into two balls, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
6. Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Remove the dough from the fridge at let it come to room temperature.
7. Roll out and cut into shapes.
8. Bake for 8-10 minutes, rotating halfway through.
9. Let cool and decorate!

Gingerbread Cookies from Square Root of PieI made a quick icing out of powdered sugar and a little bit of milk, but these would be great with some more color, candy or sprinkles.

Gingerbread Cookies from Square Root of Pie

Happy Holidays!

 

Stress Baking part 4

This wasn’t really stress baking. I wasn’t baking because I was stressing out. This was more like reward baking. This was a Weekend Breakfast but on a Tuesday, after I took my final on Monday night. Then again, we baked these while simultaneously writing a report, so I guess you could call it procrastination baking.

I’m usually not a fan of pears, but I am a huge fan of chai tea. Something about the texture of pears is weird to me, but then again I’ve never had them baked before. You don’t usually think of pears as something to put into baked goods, but it worked so well in these.

Pear and Chai Scones
Makes 8-12 scones. Original recipe here.

Ingredients
2 C flour
1/2 C brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 bag chai tea (crush a bit before opening)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 stick butter, softened
1 pear, diced small
1 C buttermilk (or 1 C milk + 1 tsp cream of tartar)
applesauce, to serve

Instructions
1.
 Preheat oven to 400F.
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Fold in butter, pear, and buttermilk.
3. On a floured surface, pat dough into a disk about 10 inches across and 1.5 inches thick. Cut into 8-12 wedges, depending on how large you want your scones.
4. Place on a greased baking sheet and, if desired, brush tops with buttermilk. Bake 17-20 min.

These scones are light and fluffy, not hard and dense like scones sometimes are. I suppose you could eat them with butter, but I liked them with applesauce. Just spoon a little bit onto each bite.

They keep pretty well, too. Pop the leftovers in the microwave for 30 seconds and they taste just like they did fresh out of the oven!

The Final Countdown

My finals are over!! Finally. (Haha bad puns.) Glad I don’t have to deal with them anymore, but it does mean that this semester is actually over. Considering I was supposed to be studying all last week, I did quite a bit. Knocked out a few good bucket list items.

I finally had conveyor belt sushi – something I’ve wanted to do forever, but it’s a little difficult when you’re eating vegetarian. They did have one of those yummy egg sushis though. Basically the way it works is sushi on small plates comes around on a conveyor belt and you take whatever you want. The cost of each plate depends on the color – that purple plate was my one splurge item. Crab and crab roe. Yummy. No, I did not eat all those plates by myself. I’m not that much of a fatty, I was with a friend!

I also took a ferry out to Cheung Chau for a day, one of the smaller islands in Hong Kong. There’s a small neighborhood and a couple beaches and trails. It’s actually so small that there aren’t any cars on the entire island! Everyone just gets around on bikes, even little old ladies. Most of them use training wheels though, which I thought was pretty adorable. Cheung Chau is where they have the bun festival every year, but that isn’t until spring. I don’t actually know much about it except that people climb up this gigantic structure covered in buns. It sounds pretty weird. The buns were delicious though! Just steamed bread with red bean inside, my favorite.

Like most tiny little islands, Cheung Chau also has amazing seafood. We had a gigantic meal of ginger crab, clams with bell peppers in some sort of gravy sauce, steamed shrimp, some kind of fish, and mantis shrimp. Mantis shrimp are also called pissing shrimp, and they’re sort of purplish inside. Really good but not worth all the effort it took to get their shells open.

Whenever I have a really great meal here I’m always shocked by how cheap everything is. All the seafood I could possibly stuff my face with, and so fresh. It came out to less than US$10 per person. Really, the little places with folding tables and plastic chairs are always the best.

On Saturday I went to Ozone, the highest bar in the world. It’s on the 118th floor of the Ritz Carlton in the ICC building.

Super swanky, super expensive. The view was really nice, but honestly I more just went so I could check it off the list. I had an unbelievably overpriced “dragontini,” which was delicious, and got really sad when I remembered I won’t be able to do any of this when I get back home. I don’t turn 21 until next August, so it’s all pretty miserable.

Sunday was probably my best day ever in Hong Kong. The plan was: wake up early to watch the live stream of the dance show at CMU, go to Tuen Mun where my local friend lives for a nice lunch, study, and then finish up with a free concert. I made it through the dance show (which was AWESOME guys, so proud of you! and so jealous I wasn’t in it this semester!), but then about ten minutes before I was going to leave for Tuen Mun I started feeling really sick. Spent the rest of the day going back and forth between sleeping and throwing up my guts. It was a fun time. I still don’t know what got me so sick, but I woke up on Monday feeling great again.

So that was my week, besides two finals and an essay. The next couple of weeks until I go home are going to be absolutely crazy, so I don’t know how much time I’ll have for blogging. I’m off to Taipei tomorrow, then Bangkok and back to mainland China before I leave Asia for good. Well, not for good, but for now at least. I’ll be back.