Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

(Mis)Adventures with Choc Chip Cookies

May 31, 2011

I had a craving this morning. And no, before you ask, I’m not pregnant.

I had a craving for good old-fashioned chewy choc chip cookies. So, naturally, I went onto the internet in search of a good recipe.

Here was the source of my mis-adventure.

I like Foodgawker. I have got many many many great recipes from there, and I use Foodgawker because the recipes cannot be posted to the site without an awesome photo in the original blog posting. Photos are essential for my recipe searches, as I am a very visual person, and will rarely try a recipe unless it has at least one photo of the end result. (Some recipes have automatic immunity however. Julia Child’s original Boeuf Bouguignon recipe is an exemplary dish which rose far above the modest tone of the printed recipe.)

So I searched on Foodgawker, and selected a bunch of delicious and chewy looking recipes to look at. I wanted something simple, just with chocolate chips, so I closed all the ones that had nuts or oats or peanut butter or salted caramel or cranberries or raisins. I closed all the ones which were egg/dairy/gluten/sugar/salt/cholesterol/whatever free, and closed the ones for which I didn’t have ingredients (I am not leaving the house today. That would require a certain level of kempt-ness that was beyond the scope of my effort levels today). As I was reading & closing recipes, one thing stood out to me like a hamantash in a row of kourabiedes.

On more than one of the recipes I was browsing today, this was listed in the Ingredients section:

1 package instant vanilla pudding mix

Begin rant.

It is a total cop-out for anyone professing to be a so-called “food blogger” to publish recipes touted as the best/chewiest/tastiest/moistest/amazing cookie recipe when a significant portion of the “ingredients” are a commercialised replacement of a once-traditional foodstuff, like “pudding” (which, as far as I can gather, for Australian audiences is most similar to our cartons of custard. So imagine that, but in power form.). It is an insult to real cookery masters everywhere to pass these kinds of short-cut recipes off as the bees knees of cookie recipes, and do you know what the really sad thing is? New cooks make these recipes and it shapes their understanding of home cooking from then on! These new cooks, these unwitting victims to short-cut cooking, have no concept of the skills, guts, and sheer brilliance of traditional do-everything-from-scratch cooking. And that really saddens me.

Yes, I take shortcuts. Yes, I make my chicken laksa from store-bought laksa paste. But, combined with my homemade chicken stock, homegrown herbs and vegetables, my laksa still possesses a lot of the traditional elements authentic laksa has, and furthermore, my desire to learn how to make my own flavour pastes is just waiting for when I have enough time to dedicate a day or two to learning how to do it. You have read before on this blog about my love of the long way round to gastronomical bliss, and when I eventually learn how to make my own flavour pastes I know this will open up a whole new world to me. But I digress.

So I made my feelings known to the whole of Twitter (with liberal use of the exclamation mark and the rage hashtag), and I was not prepared for the overwhelmingly positive outpouring of support of my statement. I made the pleasing discovery that I was amongst like-minded people, and was blown away by all the offers to share their tried & true choc chip cookie recipes. My #rage quickly subsided, and I went about choosing the recipe that I made this afternoon.

This recipe was generously given to me by my knitting friend Sheralynn and with her permission, I am going to share it will all of you lovely readers.

Regular Run-Of-The-Mill Traditional Choc Chip Cookies

Ingredients

125g butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
4/5 cup (that’s four fifths) self raising flour
1/2 tsp salt
200g chocolate chips

Method

1. Cream butter and sugars, add egg and vanilla and combine.
2. Sift in flour & salt and mix, then stir in choc chips.
3. Roll into a long tube about 1-2 inches in diameter and wrap in saran/glad wrap. Chill the log of dough for at least 1 hour in the fridge.
4. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 180oC and slice hockey pucks from the log, place on baking tray and bake for 7-10 mins.
Cookies should be golden.
5. Leave to cool on sheet until hardened then move to rack to cool.
So I made these and they were delicious! Chocolatey, sweet, chewy, nom! The only little hiccup I had was when chopping the log into “hockey pucks” (I just love this term) they didn’t hold together very well, and I think this was because I was using chocolate chips that were a bit on the large side, and the knife couldn’t cut them easily. But it didn’t matter, I just pressed the mix back together for each cookie. Also, one of my Silpats made the cookies stick, but the other didn’t. I’m not entirely sure why!
So, what have we learned today? I have learned that blog sites are sometimes not all they are cracked up to be. I have learned that twitter friends are amongst the bestest friends one can have. And I have learned that there is at least one recipe that I want to try on a different day, for it requires some pre-bake planning.
I have also learned that while the cookies might be mangled from getting them off a sticky Silpat, they are still delicious!

30 Interesting Things About Me

February 20, 2011

Well this is a bit of a departure of what I normally post on this blog, but hey since I’ve neglected it for so long I thought why not? A lot of my friends (real-life and online) have done the same thing and I always meant to, but never got around to it until now. So here it is, enjoy!

30 Interesting Things About Me

1. I was born in Cape Town, South Africa. My family moved to Australia when I was 2 months old though, so I don’t remember anything about it.
2. I have actually seen most of coastal Australia as my parents took me on a year-long caravan trip when we were looking for a place to settle down. I was so little however I don’t remember any of it.
3. Eventually we decided to settle down in Adelaide, South Australia, in the Adelaide Hills. I loved it there & would totally move back if the stars aligned correctly.
4. My parents got divorced when I was 11. In hindsight, I could see this coming, but my sister couldn’t as she was too little to understand it. I don’t think she’s ever emotionally recovered from the divorce and the aftermath.
5. My sister is 3.5 years younger than me. We’re different in almost every way, looks-wise and personality-wise. We don’t really get a long. In fact that’s a massive understatement.
6. I used to play the saxophone, piano, oboe and violin.
7. I used to be a self-harmer. I was a pretty emotionally fucked up early teen, and my dad was gone, me and my mother do not get along one bit, even today, and cutting myself seemed to comfort me like nothing else would. I continued to self-harm up until I moved out of home when I was 16. I never want to be back in that emotional place, and every time I look down at the scars on my arms I am reminded of this.
8. I was a pretty fucked up teenager. As well as the self-harm, I got pretty into drugs and dropped out of school. I moved out with a man 10 years my senior, got a job at a Subway restaurant in the city and didn’t talk to my mother for two whole years. I moved 11 times in these two years, drifting between cheap rentals and friend’s couches. My lowest point was when I lost my job at Subway, had to go on the dole, was living on cigarettes and coffee, my electricity got cut off & there was 6 of us living in a 2 bedroom apartment.
9. My last year in Adelaide was spent working at a Lenard’s poultry shop, which I genuinely enjoyed. Somehow I moved into a sharehouse right across the street from work, detached myself from the group of people in my past, and did some good things, like getting my license.
10. I came to Tasmania on a whim really. My dad called me out of the blue one day saying he was living in Launceston with my sister, he had a job at the uni and my sister was going to school. He casually joked that I should move down there with him and go back to school, and, surprisingly for dad, I thought that was a fantastic idea. Within a couple of weeks I’d packed up my meagre possessions, sold everything I didn’t want to fund the trip (including my precious Conn Saxophone) and booked my flights to Launceston.
11. I quit *everything* when I moved to Tassie. Cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, boys, and for the next two years school was the only thing in my world.
12. So, when I was 19 I started grade 11, or college as they call it down here. I graduated when I was 21, with pretty good marks.
13. In 2004 I moved to Hobart and started a Science degree at UTAS. However I didn’t enjoy it, really hated it actually, so I stopped going, not really thinking that all my failed units would be on my academic transcript forever.
14. I started working at Subway again, working up the ranks over the next 3 years and eventually became manager of the Sandy Bay store.
15. It was during this time, in 2006, on Australia Day, that I met my gorgeous Man Friend, now Man Fiance. We had our own set of dramaz, broke up & got back together, but we’re an unstoppable team now.
16. In 2007 I bought my first house, in the southern suburbs of Hobart. I LOVE my house, its really “me”, and all the renovations me and dad have done ourselves. I think this has put a unique Bertoni flavour to the house!
17. I don’t live with my family, my family lives with ME! They pay ME rent to help me get through uni without dying of malnutrition.
18. Oh yeah, uni. I started again in 2008, a double degree in Information Systems and Business. I’m majoring in Human Resource Management, which is all about managing and directing your workforce to get the most benefit to the organisation as well as managing the welfare and morale of the employees.
19. I fast-tracked my degree and am due to graduate in August, a whole semester ahead of schedule, go me!
20. At least I will graduate before I’m 30, woohoo!
21. I am extremely crafty. If you follow me on Twitter you have probably noticed that I knit an awful lot, I also sew, quilt, cross-stitch, long-stitch, scrapbook, weave, and dye. However it takes me forever to finish anything because I have so little time between work, uni, and having a social life.
22. I also love to garden, and its my dream to one day have a vegetable & fruit garden large enough to never have to buy fruit & veggies ever again. I love the idea of freezing, storing, and preserving produce that will last us through a Tasmanian winter.
23. I also love to cook, which goes really well with my love of gardening.
24. Other things I love: open fires, tiny frying pans, real custard, cats, coffee, my bed, girly movies, the radio.
25. Some people call me a Grammar Nazi.
26. I think its hilarious people call me a Nazi, mainly because my mother’s side is Jewish and by default that makes me Jewish. A Jewish Nazi, what is the world coming to!
27. My dad is a published author.
28. I love my dad, we have the best relationship. We’re very similar and have the same sense of humour. I really am dreading the time he’s not around any more.
29. My computer’s desktop is a perpetual mess.
30. I really really like sex. I believe sex is a really important aspect of a couple’s relationship, and I also believe that incompatibilities in the bedroom can be a reflection of incompatibilities in the relationship as a whole. Similarly, frustrations in the bedroom can spill over & spoil the rest of the relationship, and I think having a good sex life can be a really positive thing for a couple. Needless to say I’m very happy in my relationship 😉

And that’s it! Thanks for making it this far, and if you skipped to the end, well, lets face it, its probably not going to make a massive difference in our lives. Thanks for stopping by 🙂