I Can’t Save Everyone

My last post was so cathartic I kinda wanted to do another one. I really feel nearly 10x better after writing that last post. Almost nothing has changed but I think expelling some of the frustration I’ve been feeling really helped me cope. So let’s do another one! As with my previous post there will be no editing, no going back to ensure coherency, nothing. This is just me, reminding myself of the things I’ve been working on the last few days.

Even after my last post I couldn’t shake the depression. That was, honestly, to be expected. I’m carrying a bit of weight here – it’s understandable I can’t shake it after one post. But I realized, in talking to my husband, that some of my problem came from carrying the burden of other’s choices. They wander around, not wearing masks, throwing COVID parties, screaming at store employees, gathering indoors, and protesting the very things that will save them. I read it in the news, I see it in my local town hall meetings, I hear about it from friends, I notice it every time I walk out the door. It feels like a slap in the face. I’m putting my life and sanity on the line for a bunch of people trying their hardest to ruin everything I’ve worked for, trying their hardest to kill (inadvertently, true, but still at fault) the most vulnerable in the population, including my family. It hurts me to see how much people disregard the truth because it’s inconvenient, because it sucks, because whatever.

And it hurts that their decisions could hurt the people I love. I have several immediate family who are high risk, several in-laws who are high risk, and the probability that myself and my son are high risk. There’s a lot riding on other people to do their part so my family can be safe. And I hate that the lack of respect and compassion that people feel toward one another will keep this nightmare lasting for a very. long. time.

But I came to realize the other day that I can’t save people. I can protect myself and my family the best I can – with knowledge, with advice, with recommendations, but they are ultimately going to have to save themselves. I can’t stop Karen from getting sick – I can’t even stop her from passing it along to my friends and family. All I can do is my best to educate, to test, to compile data, to do my job. I can’t save everyone.

There are several things I wish I could do. I wish I could ensure that the only people who get sick and die are the people making the bad choices. But that’s not how viruses work. Let’s say you wear a mask but Karen doesn’t. You’re risk of getting sick from her is not as high if you’re wearing a mask but it’s much greater than 0 if she’s not wearing one. And it’s not even 0 if you’re both wearing a mask but not social distancing. I can’t stop you from possibly getting sick if you’re vaccinated (vaccine’s have complicated protection factors, DM me on instagram if you want the long explanation) if Karen chooses not to get vaccinated. I can’t even protect the people who are trying to be cautious. But I especially can’t protect people who aren’t listening at all. People who are going to gyms, people who don’t wear masks, people who dine in at restaurants, people who stand right behind you in line at the grocery store, people who feel like concerts, like movies, like religious services, like barbecues are somehow safe. And then, in a league of their own, are the socializers. These are the people who have open social groups, who don’t know who their friend/neighbor/family member has been hanging out with but they think it’s safe to see them because they only hang out in groups less than 10. Or some other arbitrary number that actually means nothing to a virus. Because if you hang out with 10 people, but those 10 people all hung out with 10 different people a few days before you just spent an evening with 100 different infectious possibilities. Not 10. But somehow, no matter how often public health officials say it, no one is listening.

It’s extra hard with families. Family has always been safe -they’re familiar, they’re home. they’re comfort, they’re protection. But this virus doesn’t care about how safe your family is supposed to be. Family is not a safe zone. Because people let their guard down with family. They assume that family is safe, despite the fact that brother has roommates who don’t care about social distancing, or sister goes to bars because she’s young! what’s the harm? The virus doesn’t care that you love mom and dad and would never want to hurt them but I’m for sure going to visit for the weekend/have sunday dinner despite the fact that you aren’t allowed to remote work anymore. That’s the scariest part about family – you let your guard down, because family is supposed to be safe. But what you don’t know is that, because you can spread the virus for about 48 hours before symptoms even show up, or show up at all because you’re asymptomatic, you could be hurting the people you love and you don’t even know it.

I can’t save anyone who doesn’t want to be saved. I can’t save the neighbors, I can’t save Karen, I can’t even save my family. I have so much knowledge, nearly 15 years of experience, knowledge, and expertise, and despite trying my hardest and doing my best I can’t protect them. They call it “different circumstances”, “living your life”, “constitutional freedom”, “you just don’t understand”, “my rights”, “a conspiracy”, but what it really boils down to is choices and sacrifices. I can’t force people to make safe choices and I can’t force people to make the necessary sacrifices to ensure their safety. I cry nearly every day from the fear of losing someone I care about. I cry for the 140,000+ US fatalities whose families have already lost someone they cared about. I cry for the hundreds of thousands of people who are going to lose someone they care about before this is over. I wish I weren’t afraid for the people I love but it scares me so badly that sometimes I just feel empty inside.

I, alone, of everyone I know (outside of work) understand the reality of viruses and pathogenesis on a high level. I’m not THE expert, I’m not even a doctorate, but I understand it better than they ever will. And I have the benefit of my colleagues, my understanding of scientific literature, and the regular updates I receive in my job, to broaden and expand my knowledge. But it doesn’t matter – because my knowledge can’t save them. My example can’t save them. My pleading can’t save them. After all I can do the rest has to be up to others. I need to accept that. I need to accept that if and when something goes terribly wrong it’s not my fault. I did everything I could – to the point of people pushing me away, to the point of threats from the public, to the point of losing friends and family. The rest is out of my hands. I think if I can ever accept this truth I may, finally, start to feel okay.

Now, readers, I understand that this makes it seem like no one is listening to me. It’s not true. I have several family members who are taking this just as seriously as they should – I have several who don’t even need me to take this seriously. I have friends who want to learn and ask me questions all the time. I have people who give me hope that the others may come around. And I have you, who read despite the fact that this isn’t about gaming or food. So while I need to accept that I can’t save the people who aren’t listening as much as I wish they were, I also need to understand that there are those out there who do care and who are listening. Maybe focusing on them will help, too. Because if I can’t save everyone maybe I’ve helped save one.

It’s Been A While…

And I know you’re all looking for a recipe – this is a recipe blog, after all. But I’m going to take the next post (or two, or three, or ten) for myself. I’m well aware that I may lose followers (if, indeed, any of you still exist out there) or have some other backlash that I am completely unaware of but I think it’s time to take the advice of my really good friend Kim and purge some of the anxiety that I’m going through right now.

This is maybe not going to be a happy post – it may even be downright depressing. So be warned before you proceed. This is going to be a post where I work on just expressing how I’m feeling, acknowledging the realities of my situation, and attempting to cope with the overwhelming strain of the situation I’ve been thrust into. This is probably 100% going to turn into a stream-of-consciousness post and now you’ll get to learn that I’m not necessarily that great at writing. So good luck if you decide to read. If not, this was really for me, anyway.

As some of you know I work for my state public health laboratory. I’m a microbiologist who started working in microbiology in 2007. I’ve held a variety of jobs within that field but I specialize in infectious diseases that have a high mortality rate. I’ve studied the immune response to and infection mechanisms of those types of diseases for 13 years. I’ve specifically worked in public health for over 8 years and have specialized in diseases that cause outbreaks or have high mortality rates. I’ve been a part of the flu response nearly every year, was a part of the Ebola testing team during the Ebola crisis a few years ago, and was the head of the tuberculosis program for my state for over a year. I’ve had entire semester-long classes dedicated to vaccine study and have been trained in epidemiology and epidemic and pandemic response. I’ve also spent the last few years programming data tracking systems for my state and working with the CDC and Association of Public Health Laboratories on data transfer and collection between entities. So to say that the current COVID-19 crisis is literally my area of expertise is an understatement. I have been trained for a pandemic of this nature for over 13 years. Everything I know, everything I have been taught, has prepared me to understand and extrapolate data and information in a very real way.

And yet, being trained for this situation has placed a burden upon me and my coworkers that very few people in our modern time have ever had to bear. Every public health expert, every laboratorian, every healthcare worker assigned to COVID-19 has been given the burden of the world to carry on our shoulders and, at first, it was easy to bear. We were praised (well, not us scientists as much as the doctors and nurses, but we pretended like we were praised along with them), we were deferred to as experts, people trusted us and believed us and were willing to sacrifice for the good of the people around them.

But then things got harder and we were asked to continue to bear a burden no one should be asked to bear. We’ve been asked to work obscene amounts of overtime with, in the case of my state, no overtime pay. We aren’t even paid for hours over 80 per 2 week pay period – we earn “comp time”, which is essentially PTO we can use at a later date… What later date? It expires every 6 months and, well, if you haven’t noticed the pandemic hasn’t let up enough to allow us to take that time off. So our overtime hours expire and we’ve worked 60+ hour weeks for 5 months straight for nothing. And when we ask when we will have relief – a day off, extra help, or even just not having to work 7 days a week anymore the answer is always “when the pandemic is over”. Which could take up to 2 or 3 more years… So what we’ve been told is that, in 2-3 years from now, we won’t be breaking ourselves anymore. Trust me – we’ve already broken.

But still it felt okay – we had people praising us (or, at least, the healthcare professionals) and people still looked to me for answers. I am the expert, after all. The ACTUAL, REAL expert. Until that wasn’t what happened anymore. People in public health started receiving death threats for trying to protect people by mandating masks. A stupid, simple thing – just wearing masks. No shoes, no shirt, no mask, no service. There is NO DIFFERENCE between not being able to shop naked and not being able to shop without a mask. Yet multiple public health experts have been forced to resign because the death threats got to be too much. There have been threats coming to my team, my coworkers, to the testing site collection teams, to the people who are still putting their lives and their physical and mental health on the line to protect the public. Because of any and all possible stupid reasons you can think of. Because people are scared and selfish and inconsiderate and think that threatening us will make a plague go away.

And then the threats on our jobs have started coming down from politicians. Public health experts have been removed from their positions because they pushed back against the politicians. My job, and the job of my coworkers, is threatened if I don’t complete irrational projects by insane due dates. The politicians know this is an election year and demand more than we can possibly give. And all we are trying to do, all we have ever tried to do, is our best. Working long hours, giving up our health and sanity and personal connections, barely surviving isn’t good enough to those in the ivory tower who care more about their image than their employees. And that doesn’t even cover the discrediting that is being done by major politicians against the public health experts who are trying to avert an even worse tragedy than we’ve found ourselves in. We’re doing our jobs and getting absolutely hung, drawn, and quartered by the politicians and the citizens we are trying to protect.

But that’s okay, right? As long as our families are here to support us… Well too bad that train pushed us off the rails a few months ago, too. When they started questioning my expertise with their favorite news channel’s host guessing at what things mean. Or insisted that the knowledge of someone in any old scientific field was equal to mine. Or want to stop me right there, I obviously haven’t considered the impact these measures have had on one aspect of life or another. When the lack of trust, the attempts to discredit me, and lack of care so many of them have shown for me began to happen was the day I truly broke under the strain. It was the day I realized that most of my relatives had completely ignored me, and almost no one had attempted to check up on me, though I constantly tried to check in with them to make sure everyone was armed with knowledge and knew someone was thinking about them.

That was when I felt the last reserve of my strength drain. Going from being the hero to the villain in a story is unpleasant. Especially when nothing has changed – I’m still trying to carry the burden of the pandemic, along with my coworkers and fellow healthcare workers, just the same as I was in April. The truth and the scope of the pandemic has not changed. NOTHING HAS CHANGED on our side. What has changed is the rest of you. I’m exhausted, mentally and physically, from fighting – fighting misinformation, social media, the news, the public, the protesters, the threats, the bosses bosses, the politicians, and my own relatives. I’m fighting so hard to protect people and I just keep getting thrown to the ground and under the bus, over and over again.

This is easily one of the worst tragedies of modern history. over 130,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 since February. You know the last time 130,000 people died from an event in the US? World War II. Though, the US involvement in World War II lasted 4 years and had a total of 405,000, which brings the average deaths per year to about 100,000. COVID-19 has already surpassed that average in 5 months. And, if we aren’t lucky and people continue to ignore the true scope of this pandemic, it’ll definitely surpass the total number of deaths from WWII. If we do, in the next few years, surpass 405,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the US that will make this current pandemic the deadliest event to happen in US history since the 1918 Great Influenza. The worst thing that has happened for over 100 years. Think about that.

Can we all try to be a little kinder and more considerate of the people who are trying to prevent this from becoming the biggest loss of life the US has ever seen? Can we stop being so callused to the fact that this is not going away and resolve to change our behavior for the long run in an effort to save people? If you realize this is the worst thing that has happened in 100 years maybe we can all resolve to adjust our lives for the meaningless time frame of a few months, a year, two max, to protect each other. I bet, if you promised to help shoulder some of this burden, I’d feel mine to be a little less. And then maybe I could get the good night’s sleep I haven’t had since February.

A Little Bit Longer

Hey, everyone! Did you know you’re the best? Like, really, the best people? You’re patience and kindness is unbelievably relieving to me. What with one thing and another, I’ve had to take a longer break than I intended. I’ve been dealing with surgery, illness, and family and work issues. So instead of the regular recipes and exciting new things you’ve been waiting for I think I need another few weeks to recover all the aspects of my life. This will help me get back into the swing of things and back to regularly posting much sooner than just half-heartedly throwing things out there.

Again, you guys are the best for sticking around! Hopefully it won’t be too much longer until I feel up to posting again!

Houston Outlaws Macarons

Houston Outlaws Macarons

I’ve gotta be honest – Houston has some of the best colors in the Overwatch League. I love Boston, and I like their colors, but the sleek black and lime green of the Outlaws is just classic. Houston is my older brother’s team and while they’ve struggled a bit in this first stage of season 2, I think they’ll really pick up once the meta changes. I mean, they’ve got Jake-rat, after all. How much more of an advantage could you ask for when his best hero gets a massive buff?

Houston Outlaws Macarons

If you haven’t read the Boston Uprising Macaron post and recipe, please go do that now. I go into quite a bit of detail on how to make a macaron in it, the processes and the tricks. I’m not going to go through those things again, in order to make a shorter, more concise post, and a much easier read. So please, I’m begging you, go read that post!

Let’s start with the shells! One egg contains about 30 grams of whites, so this recipe will take about 3.5 eggs. Separate your egg whites from your yolks, placing the yolks in a separate bowl (to be used for the curd later) and place the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add a whisk attachment (or use a bowl and hand whisk and watch as your arm falls off) and turn on the speed, slowly bringing it up to high. Continue to whisk until the eggs are frothy, then add all the cream of tartar at once. Continue whisking until the eggs start to form soft peaks.

At this point add the sugar. You can either do it the fancy way, one tablespoon at a time, but I just add the sugar around the bowl (not all in one spot) and continue to whisk on high until stiff peaks form. These peaks should not, under any circumstance, fall over if you tip the bowl or the whisk upside down. You want the meringue completely stiff (though not overwhipped. It’s a fine line). In order to make sure it’s not overwhipped, just watch it. As soon as it’s thick, shiny, and holding stiff peaks it’s ready. The entire process should take between 8-10 minutes, depending on your mixer.

Mix together the dry ingredients. You really need to mix with your hands here. Add all the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and almond flour to a bowl and stir with your fingers. As you’re mixing be sure to rub all the large almond chunks out of the mixture. These will completely screw up your batter, so we definitely don’t want them in there.

Now we start the macaronage – the hard part. Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients and the food coloring to the meringue. Now gently fold by passing your spatula down the center of the bowl, scraping around all the edges, and around the bottom, finishing by folding that scraped-up portion back over itself. Down the center, around the edge, flip over. Repeat that process until the batter resembles lava. While you’re folding you should be trying to push a lot of the air out of the batter. To remove it simply push the batter up against the side of the bowl prior to you reaching the correct consistency. This video will maybe hopefully help you to see the proper consistency (even though it’s Uprising colors)!

Fill a piping bag fit with a large round tip with your batter. Pipe a big blob in one spot on a piece of parchment paper or silicone mat, trying to keep your piping pressure consistent. To get equal size circles you can either find a good template online or simply count the seconds you’re expelling your batter. The second method won’t be perfect, but it’ll be easier and close enough! It’s my favorite method.

Once all the macarons are piped simply bang the baking sheet on the counter a few times to remove any air that remains and allow them to sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes. This will allow a good skin to form on the macaron.

When the macarons are almost done resting preheat your oven. When it’s done preheating bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack for 12-15 minutes, or until completely baked.

After the macarons are baked leave them on your baking sheet until they’re completely cool. Then transfer them to a wire rack and prepare your fillings!

The ganache is the easy one. Add the cream to a small pot and heat on medium until the edges start to bubble. Stir the cream a bit and make sure the edges are lightly bubbling again. Pour the warm cream over the dark chocolate and allow it to sit for 20-30 seconds to melt the chocolate. Stir the ganache until everything is mixed, dark, and shiny. It’s gorgeous and delicious, but be patient while you’re waiting. It’ll feel like it’s taking a long time but it’ll come together.

Now to make the Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Separate your eggs whites from your yolks, add the sugar to the whites, place them in a stainless steel or glass bowl, and put them back over the double boiler we had for the curd. Whisk until the mixture reaches 160F to kill any potential Salmonella.

When the correct temperature is reached add the whites to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on high until the bowl starts to feel cool and the mixture gets thick and shiny. At this point you’ll start adding the room temperature butter, one tablespoon at a time. Once the butter in completely added, continue whisking until it becomes thick and smooth.

Zest one of the limes and juice all three limes. Add all the lime juice, lime zest, and the green gel food coloring. You may need to add some yellow food coloring to make the buttercream Outlaws green. Continue whisking until the buttercream comes back together. It’ll feel like it splits again, but be patient, it’ll come together, and get thick and creamy.

Now, all the elements are made! It’s time for assembly.

Match up the macaron shells to size. Turn one side over to prepare for adding the buttercream and the curd. Add the buttercream to a piping bag and pipe a ring on the outside of the shell. Fill the center of the ring with the ganache. You don’t need much ganache, you definitely want more buttercream than ganache. The dark chocolate is such a powerful flavor you don’t want to overwhelm the lime. Now cover with the other shell and make a sandwich.

One thing to note about macarons – they taste significantly better the next day. Everything looks so pretty you’ll be tempted to eat it right away. Don’t! Make these the day before you want them and then enjoy them the right way. When you let macarons sit the shells soak up some of the flavor from the fillings, making them seems more tender and less sweet. It’s worth the wait!

Houston Outlaws Macarons

  • Servings: about 16 2 inch macarons
  • Difficulty: difficult
  • Print

Lime and dark chocolate macarons, inspired by the Houston Outlaws

Macaron

  • 100 grams egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 75 grams sugar
  • 135 grams almond flour
  • 115 grams powdered sugar
  • 20 grams cocoa powder
  • black gel food coloring

Dark

  • 4 ounces heavy cream
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate

Lime

  • 75 grams egg whites
  • 75 grams sugar
  • 143 grams salted butter, room temperature
  • 3 limes, zest of one, juice of all 3
  • green gel food coloring
  • yellow gel food coloring, possibly

Macaron

  1. Separate your egg whites from your yolks, reserving one yolk for the curd. Place the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer
  2. Add a whisk attachment to the stand mixer and slowly increase the speed, bringing it up to high.
  3. Whisk until the eggs are frothy and then add all the cream of tartar at once.
  4. Continue whisking until the eggs form soft peaks. Add the sugar around the bowl and continue to whisk on high until stiff peaks form. The meringue should be stiff and peaks should not fall if turned over. The entire process should take between 8-10 minutes, depending on your mixer.
  5. Measure all the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and almond flour to a bowl and stir with your fingers. As you’re mixing be sure to rub all the large almond chunks out of the mixture.
  6. Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients and the food coloring to the meringue. Gently fold the dry into the meringue by passing your spatula down the center of the bowl, scraping around the edges, finishing by folding that scraped-up portion back over itself. Repeat that process until the batter resembles lava or honey. While you’re folding remove the air by pushing the batter up against the side of the bowl.
  7. Fill a piping bag fit with a large round tip with your batter. Pipe in a steady stream onto one spot on a piece of parchment paper or silicone mat, trying to keep your piping pressure consistent. To get equal size circles either find a template online or count the seconds you’re expelling your batter.
  8. Once all the macarons are piped bang the baking sheet on the counter a few times to remove any air that remains and allow them to sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  9. Preheat your oven to 320F. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 12-15 minutes. The shells should be stiff, the feet shouldn’t jiggle, and the top shouldn’t shift if gently moved.
  10. Leave the macarons on your baking sheet until they’re completely cool.

Dark

  1. Heat heavy cream in a small pot on medium until the edges are lightly bubbling. Don’t let the cream boil, you don’t want to curdle it.
  2. Add warm cream to the chocolate and allow to sit for 20-30 seconds to melt chocolate.
  3. Stir until the mixture comes together, is homogeneous, and shiny.

Lime

  1. Separate your eggs whites from your yolks.
  2. Add your sugar to the whites.
  3. Place the bowl over a double boiler and whisk until the mixture reaches 160F.
  4. Whisk until the eggs reach a temperature of at least 160F, measured with a candy or instant-read thermometer.
  5. Add the whites to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on high until the bowl starts to feel cool and the mixture gets thick and shiny.
  6. Add the room temperature butter, one tablespoon at a time. In the process, the mixture will start to look curdled, but keep adding butter and keep whisking and it’ll become smooth and creamy again.
  7. When the buttercream is smooth and homogeneous add the lime juice, zest, and enough green and yellow food coloring to change the color to bright a bright, lime green. Continue whisking until the buttercream comes back together.

Macaron

  1. Match up the macaron shells to size. Turn one side over to prepare for adding the buttercream and the ganache.
  2. Add the buttercream to a piping bag and pipe a ring on the outside of the shell.
  3. Fill the center of the ring with the ganache.
  4. Cover with the other shell and make a sandwich. Refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

A strong, female playable character in Legend of Zelda

A strong, female playable character in Legend of Zelda

It’s International Women’s Day and it didn’t even cross my mind that maybe, just maybe, I should write something.  I am a woman, after all.  But then Megan from A Geeky Gal wrote a great post about Underrated Women in games and I remembered a post I wrote nearly 2 years ago about my favorite underrated woman in a video game.  The one and only Zelda.  So here’s a reblog of how I feel about Zelda and the potential for her story.


I wish more video games had strong female leads.  Having said that, I’m definitely not one of those people who needs a strong female to take over every male role.  In the immortal words of George R R Martin “To me being a feminist is about treating men and women the same” (Salter, The Telegraph, 2013).  There should be, and needs to be, a balance.  There are games that should be about male characters, and that’s okay!  And there are games that should be about female characters, and that’s also okay!

What I don’t like is the trend of taking a male character, turning them into a female character, and calling it “good enough”.  We don’t need yet another female who reminds us more of our brother than ourselves.  What we need is a character who is a woman who was meant to be a woman.  With that in mind, I don’t need Link to be a girl.  I need Link to continue to be a boy (because he so obviously is) and I need a game from Zelda’s point of view.

Zelda is already the strong, intelligent, awesome female character we need in the Legend of Zelda series.  She is brave, always fighting alongside Link, like she does as Sheik or Tetra.  She is fleshed out, created as a person with thoughts, opinions, and struggles, as is so poignantly brought home in the memories of Link in Breath of the Wild.  And, more importantly, she’s been there from the beginning.  This is not some character Nintendo would create out of nothing to prove to the public that they, too, care about women.  This would be a way for them to show that, from the beginning, they have cared about women.  It would be a way to prove that, just because their main hero in this series is male, it doesn’t mean they had a completely chauvinistic point of view.  I mean, these are the people who created Zelda’s Adventure, one of the few older games I have played from a female’s perspective!

And not only is Zelda already created, expanded, and real to the story, but she already has an amazing super power – the triforce of wisdom.  How easy would it be to make more difficult, challenging puzzles focusing on the idea that Zelda has to use her triforce of wisdom to defeat them?  Instead of the regularly-encountered boss, why not bosses with a big twist, requiring some serious forethought and skills to defeat them?

Don’t you guys agree that the absolute best remastered version of Ocarina of Time would be to include the original mode from Link’s point of view and a newly released mode from Zelda aka Sheik’s point of view?  It’s not like she sat around doing nothing for 7 years while Link was sealed away!  So what awesome shenanigans did she save Hyrule from?  Or to have a new Skyward Sword utilizing her very particular role at the temples, with new maps, puzzles, and her own set of bosses?

So, in my opinion, we don’t need a new female, playable character in the Zelda series.  We don’t even (in fact, please don’t!) need to make Link into a girl.  Nintendo just needs to jump on the idea they’ve already started and use the amazing character they already have. Let’s make a new Legend of Zelda about Zelda.

So what do you guys think?  Don’t be afraid to weigh in!  I’d love to hear your opinions.

Sauteed Nuts

Sauteed Nuts

Hands up if you’re ready for me to be done recovering and get on with the recipes?  Anyone?  Oh, I see a few in the back!  I’ll take it.

Guys, this last month or so has been quite the adventure.  I went to Disneyland and forgot to schedule a recipe.  I had surgery and forgot to schedule a few recipes.  And now I’m finally able to get up, move about the cabin, and get some baking/cooking in!  But as I’ve been easing back into my daily routine I needed something simple, basic, and, well, delicious. So I’m teaching you how to fry nuts.

Sauteed Nuts

Most people do it on a baking sheet in the oven, but did you know it’s just as easy to toast nuts on the stove? Maybe even easier. Are you ready for possibly one of the shortest recipes to date?

Start by heating a pan on medium heat. Unlike all my other posts where I go on and on about my cast iron skillets, this can honestly be any pan. When the pan is warm, add all the nuts. The trickiest part of this recipe is making sure nothing is “crowded”. What that means, in chef terms, is that there is space around each nut to shift around and have even heat distribution. It also means everything is in a single layer, not heaped on top of each other. If there’s too many nuts either do it in two batches or get a bigger pan.

Slowly toast the nuts over the medium heat until they smell fragrant and, well, nutty. Stir every few minutes with a spatula or simply by shaking the pan and tossing around the nuts in it. It’s a fancy chef thing… I usually just use a spatula…

Remove from the heat and allow to cool before adding to your recipe! You can also add the tiniest bit of water and kosher salt to the pan to salt-roast your nuts! But if you’re using them in a recipe, like this Nutcake, you’ll want them plain!

Link’s Sauteed Nuts:

  • Any Nut

Sauteed Nuts

  • Servings: 1 Cup
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Toasted Nuts

Ingredients

  • 1 cup any whole, unroasted nut (walnut, peanut, pecan, etc…)

Directions

  1. Heat a pan on medium heat.
  2. When the pan is warm, add all the nuts, ensuring they aren’t crowded in the pan.
  3. Slowly toast the nuts over medium heat until they smell fragrant and nutty, stirring every few minutes with a spatula or by tossing.
  4. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before serving.

Hangzhou Spark Macarons

Hangzhou Spark Macarons

One of the new expansion teams, not many people knew what to expect from Hangzhou Spark. They swept into the first few games, overwhelming the competition and capturing the hearts of quite a few fans. Their bright, feminine colors didn’t hurt their appeal, either. They’ve tapered off a bit the last few games, but they’re still exciting to watch!

Hangzhou Spark Macarons

If you haven’t read the Boston Uprising Macaron post and recipe, please go do that now. I go into quite a bit of detail on how to make a macaron in it, the processes and the tricks. I’m not going to go through those things again, in order to make a shorter, more concise post, and a much easier read. So please, I’m begging you, go read that post!

Let’s start with the shells! One egg contains about 30 grams of whites, so this recipe will take about 3.5 eggs. Separate your egg whites from your yolks, placing the yolks in a separate bowl (to be used for the curd later) and place the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add a whisk attachment (or use a bowl and hand whisk and watch as your arm falls off) and turn on the speed, slowly bringing it up to high. Continue to whisk until the eggs are frothy, then add all the cream of tartar at once. Continue whisking until the eggs start to form soft peaks.

At this point add the sugar. You can either do it the fancy way, one tablespoon at a time, but I just add the sugar around the bowl (not all in one spot) and continue to whisk on high until stiff peaks form. These peaks should not, under any circumstance, fall over if you tip the bowl or the whisk upside down. You want the meringue completely stiff (though not overwhipped. It’s a fine line). In order to make sure it’s not overwhipped, just watch it. As soon as it’s thick, shiny, and holding stiff peaks it’s ready. The entire process should take between 8-10 minutes, depending on your mixer.

Mix together the dry ingredients. You really need to mix with your hands here. Add all the powdered sugar and almond flour to a bowl and stir with your fingers. As you’re mixing be sure to rub all the large almond chunks out of the mixture. These will completely screw up your batter, so we definitely don’t want them in there.

Now we start the macaronage – the hard part. Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients and the food coloring to the meringue. Now gently fold by passing your spatula down the center of the bowl, scraping around all the edges, and around the bottom, finishing by folding that scraped-up portion back over itself. Down the center, around the edge, flip over. Repeat that process until the batter resembles lava. While you’re folding you should be trying to push a lot of the air out of the batter. To remove it simply push the batter up against the side of the bowl prior to you reaching the correct consistency. This video will maybe hopefully help you to see the proper consistency (even though it’s Uprising colors)!

Fill a piping bag fit with a large round tip with your batter. Pipe a big blob in one spot on a piece of parchment paper or silicone mat, trying to keep your piping pressure consistent. To get equal size circles you can either find a good template online or simply count the seconds you’re expelling your batter. The second method won’t be perfect, but it’ll be easier and close enough! It’s my favorite method.

Once all the macarons are piped simply bang the baking sheet on the counter a few times to remove any air that remains and allow them to sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes. This will allow a good skin to form on the macaron.

When the macarons are almost done resting preheat your oven. When it’s done preheating bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack for 12-15 minutes, or until completely baked.

After the macarons are baked leave them on your baking sheet until they’re completely cool. Then transfer them to a wire rack and prepare your fillings!

Bring water to a simmer in a small pot. Zest a grapefruit into a stainless steel or glass bowl that will fit in the rim of the pot. Juice the grapefruit, leaving the pulp but removing any pith (the white parts) and any seeds. Add the sugar and whisk until thoroughly combined. Add the egg and yolk and whisk together. Once you add the eggs, whisk continuously to prevent the sugar from “cooking” the yolks.

Put the bowl over the simmering water and whisk until the curd thickens. It’ll happen around 180F. The curd will thicken, feel sluggish, and stick to the whisk and side of the bowl. When this happens, remove the bowl from the simmering pan and add the butter all at once. Whisk until the butter is incorporated and then allow to cool until the curd reaches room temperature. You can speed this up by putting the bowl in the fridge and whisk from time to time to release the heat.

Now to make the Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Separate your eggs whites from your yolks, add the sugar to the whites, place them in a stainless steel or glass bowl, and put them back over the double boiler we had for the curd. Whisk until the mixture reaches 160F to kill any potential Salmonella.

When the correct temperature is reached add the whites to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on high until the bowl starts to feel cool and the mixture gets thick and shiny. At this point you’ll start adding the room temperature butter, one tablespoon at a time. Once the butter in completely added, continue whisking until it becomes thick and smooth.

Add all the vanilla, coconut milk, and the blue gel food coloring. Continue whisking until the buttercream comes back together. It’ll feel like it splits again, but be patient, it’ll come together, and get thick and creamy.

Now, all the elements are made! It’s time for assembly.

Match up the macaron shells to size. Turn one side over to prepare for adding the buttercream and the curd. Add the buttercream to a piping bag and pipe a ring on the outside of the shell. Fill the center of the ring with the curd. Now cover with the other shell and make a sandwich.

And now for my favorite brainchild so far! These Spark macarons needed a little… spark. So once everything is assembles open the packages of Pop Rocks, place it in a pile on a plate, and roll the macarons in the Pop Rocks. They’ll stick to the buttercream and make a fantastic addition to presentation and flavor! Just make sure you only coat the macarons right before you serve/eat them. The Pop Rocks react with the buttercream and start to lose their spark.

One thing to note about macarons – they taste significantly better the next day. Everything looks so pretty you’ll be tempted to eat it right away. Don’t! Make these the day before you want them and then enjoy them the right way. When you let macarons sit the shells soak up some of the flavor from the fillings, making them seems more tender and less sweet. It’s worth the wait!

Hangzhou Spark Macarons

  • Servings: about 16 2 inch macarons
  • Difficulty: difficult
  • Print

Grapefruit and coconut macarons rolled in Pop Rocks, inspired by the Hangzhou Spark

Macaron

  • 100 grams egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 75 grams sugar
  • 135 grams almond flour
  • 125 grams powdered sugar
  • pink gel food coloring

Grapefruit

  • 98 grams grapefruit juice (about 2 medium grapefruit)
  • 85 grams sugar
  • 25 grams salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk

Coconut

  • 75 grams egg whites
  • 75 grams sugar
  • 143 grams salted butter, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • blue gel food coloring

Macaron

  1. Separate your egg whites from your yolks, reserving one yolk for the curd. Place the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer
  2. Add a whisk attachment to the stand mixer and slowly increase the speed, bringing it up to high.
  3. Whisk until the eggs are frothy and then add all the cream of tartar at once.
  4. Continue whisking until the eggs form soft peaks. Add the sugar around the bowl and continue to whisk on high until stiff peaks form. The meringue should be stiff and peaks should not fall if turned over. The entire process should take between 8-10 minutes, depending on your mixer.
  5. Measure all the powdered sugar and almond flour to a bowl and stir with your fingers. As you’re mixing be sure to rub all the large almond chunks out of the mixture.
  6. Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients and the food coloring to the meringue. Gently fold the dry into the meringue by passing your spatula down the center of the bowl, scraping around the edges, finishing by folding that scraped-up portion back over itself. Repeat that process until the batter resembles lava or honey. While you’re folding remove the air by pushing the batter up against the side of the bowl.
  7. Fill a piping bag fit with a large round tip with your batter. Pipe in a steady stream onto one spot on a piece of parchment paper or silicone mat, trying to keep your piping pressure consistent. To get equal size circles either find a template online or count the seconds you’re expelling your batter.
  8. Once all the macarons are piped bang the baking sheet on the counter a few times to remove any air that remains and allow them to sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  9. Preheat your oven to 320F. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 12-15 minutes. The shells should be stiff, the feet shouldn’t jiggle, and the top shouldn’t shift if gently moved.
  10. Leave the macarons on your baking sheet until they’re completely cool.

Grapefruit

  1. Create a double boiler by choosing a stainless steel or glass bowl that fits securely in the rim of a small pot. Add enough water to boil in the small pot, but ensure that the water level won’t touch the bottom of the bowl. It should be about 1-2 inches of water. Bring water to a simmer.
  2. Zest and juice the grapefruit, removing any seeds or pith, but leaving any flesh. Add the juice and zest to the chosen bowl and add the sugar. Whisk this together and add the yolk and whole egg.
  3. Put the bowl over the simmering water and whisk until the curd thickens. The curd will reach around 180F, will stick to the whisk, and feel thick.
  4. Remove the bowl from the simmering pan and add the butter all at once. Whisk until the butter is incorporated and then allow to cool until the curd reaches room temperature.

Coconut

  1. Separate your eggs whites from your yolks.
  2. Add your sugar to the whites.
  3. Place the bowl over a double boiler and whisk until the mixture reaches 160F.
  4. Whisk until the eggs reach a temperature of at least 160F, measured with a candy or instant-read thermometer.
  5. Add the whites to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on high until the bowl starts to feel cool and the mixture gets thick and shiny.
  6. Add the room temperature butter, one tablespoon at a time. In the process, the mixture will start to look curdled, but keep adding butter and keep whisking and it’ll become smooth and creamy again.
  7. When the buttercream is smooth and homogeneous add all the coconut milk, vanilla, and enough blue gel food coloring to change the color to bright baby blue. Continue whisking until the buttercream comes back together.

Macaron

  1. Match up the macaron shells to size. Turn one side over to prepare for adding the buttercream and the curd.
  2. Add the buttercream to a piping bag and pipe a ring on the outside of the shell.
  3. Fill the center of the ring with the grapefruit curd.
  4. Cover with the other shell and make a sandwich. Refrigerate overnight for best flavor.
  5. Place Pop Rocks in a pile on a plate.
  6. Roll the macarons in the Pop Rocks, coating the buttercream.

Boston Uprising Macarons

Boston Uprising Macarons

I’ve been looking forward to introducing this new series for a long time! I was inspired by Victoria over at Pixelated Provisions, who started a series last year featuring each of the Overwatch League (OWL) teams as popsicles. Such a cool project, right?! Well I love OWL probably nearly as much as she does and I’ve been so excited to try and mimic her brilliant idea. But instead of something easy and awesome like popsicles, I decided to choose something complicated, but delicious! Every other Sunday through this season of OWL I’ll be posting a new team-inspired macaron! So let’s learn how to make macarons! By the way – if you don’t already follow Victoria, please go do that right now! She’s incredible, her food always looks divine, her plating is unbelievable, and she’s super nice to boot!

But first, let’s talk about the Boston Uprising. When I first heard there was going to be an Overwatch city-based league I was ecstatic. And then they announced there would be a team from Boston. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been a Boston fan. My dad was a fan, which meant I was a fan – born and bred, live and die. So I knew the Uprising had to be my team. But stage one was so hard on my heart. They struggled, they lost, they, well, weren’t great. But I never stopped loving them, and by the end they proved to the world that they were a better team than you could have ever dreamed. They pushed through troubles and trials and came out with the only perfect stage and a place in the finals.

True to the Boston spirit, they are once again the underdogs in season 2. But as they’ve shown in the past, and proved on Thursday, they aren’t going anywhere but up. I’m so proud of those boys and all they work to accomplish. And I’m excited to continue to love them through this next season and the future! Boston UP!

Boston Uprising Macarons

Fair warning – this post is going to be a long one. Macarons can be intensely complicated things, and I didn’t go easy on you for this first one. There are three components to this macaron, but first and foremost, there’s the shell. Easily the hardest part. They may take you several tries to get it right (it took me 10 to be able to consistently make them), but don’t let that bother you. I have faith in your abilities! If you want an insanely good tutorial, check out Indulge with Mimi. I learned all my tips and tricks from her!

Let’s start with a few things that are very important for making a good macaron.

  • Your eggs should be room temperature. Most of the time I don’t think it matters, but with macarons it really does. There’s something about a room temperature meringue mixing with the almond flour and sugar that makes a big difference in your shell quality.
  • Everything should be free from water. This includes any bowls, whisks, or spatulas you use. Water can cause a meringue to split, and that would completely defeat the purpose of making one!
  • Folding in the dry ingredients to the meringue is called macaronage and it is the most important step in this entire process. If you fold too little, you’ll get grainy macarons that will be lumpy. If you fold too much you’ll get flat, crunchy macarons without any feet. It’s a really delicate process that may take you a few tries to get right. But I have faith in you. You got this. The final macaron batter should look like honey or lava, and should run from your spatula slowly and without any breaks.
  • Only use gel food coloring. The other kind has water in it, and we really don’t want to add any excess liquid to your meringue. It’ll completely ruin the meringue. So, for the sake of your mental health, only use gel!
  • The rest is extremely important. If your macarons don’t acquire a dry outer coat they won’t bake properly.  Never skip the rest.
  • In order to make sure your macarons are baked properly, the top shouldn’t move if lightly jiggled during baking. If there’s any major movement, the insides are still raw. Be patient – it can even be better to overbake than underbake a macaron shell.

We are making a french meringue macaron – probably the most simple of the meringues. It’s as simple as making a french meringue, folding in some dry ingredients, and piping into circles. So let’s start by separating your egg whites from your yolks. One egg contains about 30 grams of whites, so this recipe will take about 3.5 eggs. Put the yolks aside in a bowl (to be used for the curd later) and place the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Let’s make the meringue now! Add a whisk attachment (or use a bowl and hand whisk and watch as your arm falls off) and turn on the speed, slowly bringing it up to high. Continue to whisk until the eggs are frothy, then add all the cream of tartar at once. Continue whisking until the eggs start to form soft peaks.

At this point we want to add the sugar. Now, a lot of people add it a tablespoon at a time to prevent grainy meringues. Honestly, I’ve never had a problem, and with a macaron you probably can’t tell anyway. So just add the sugar around the bowl (not all in one spot) and continue to whisk on high until stiff peaks form. These peaks should not, under any circumstance, fall over if you tip the bowl or the whisk upside down. You want the meringue completely stiff. The entire process should take between 8-10 minutes, depending on your mixer.

Next comes the hard part – the part that’ll screw everything else up. We are going to fold in the flour and sugar. But first things first – let’s mix together the dry ingredients. You really need to mix with your hands here. Add all the powdered sugar and almond flour to a bowl and stir with your fingers. As you’re mixing be sure to rub all the large almond chunks out of the mixture. These will completely screw up your batter, so we definitely don’t want them in there.

Now we start the macaronage. Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients and the food coloring to the meringue. Now gently fold by passing your spatula down the center of the bowl, scraping around all the edges, and around the bottom, finishing by folding that scraped-up portion back over itself. Down the center, around the edge, flip over. Repeat that process until the batter resembles, as I’ve mentioned above, lava. While you’re folding you should be trying to push a lot of the air out of the batter. We actually, in spite of making a meringue, don’t want a ton of air in the batter. To remove it simply push the batter up against the side of the bowl prior to you reaching the correct consistency. This video will maybe hopefully help with your ability to see what I’m talking about!

Once the macaron batter is ready simply fill a piping bag fit with a large round tip with your batter. Pipe a big blob in one spot on a piece of parchment paper or silicone mat, trying to keep your piping pressure consistent. To get equal size circles you can either find a good template online or simply count the seconds you’re expelling your batter. The second method won’t be perfect, but it’ll be easier and close enough! It’s my favorite method.

Once all the macarons are piped simply bang the baking sheet on the counter a few times to remove any air that remains (to prevent weird holes) and allow them to sit out at room temperature, for 30 minutes. This rest will allow a good skin to form on the macaron.

When the macarons are almost done resting preheat your oven. When it’s done preheating bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack for 12-15 minutes. Just make sure you check it before you pull them out, like I talk about in the notes, to ensure they’re properly baked.

After the macarons are baked leave them on your baking sheet until they’re completely cool. If you don’t they’ll still be slightly sticky and the centers will come out of the shell and stick to the mat. It’s horribly annoying. So just be patient and they’ll come off really easily!

While the macarons are baking/cooling you can make your curd and your buttercream. Honestly, the curd takes a while to cool, so let’s do that first! It’s much easier than the shell – I promise. We need to cook the curd over a double boiler, so use a stainless steel or glass bowl that fits securely in the rim of a small pot. Add enough water to boil in the small pot, but ensure that the water level won’t touch the bottom of the bowl. It should be about 1-2 inches of water. Bring water to a simmer.

Then blend your blueberries until pureed. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but as smooth as you can get. Add the blueberry puree and lemon juice to either a stainless steel or glass bowl and add the sugar. Whisk this together and add the yolk (saved from the shells) and whole egg. Once you add the eggs you need to whisk continuously to prevent the sugar from cooking the yolks. It sounds weird, but the sugar can actually do that to the yolk and make it grainy.

Put the bowl over the simmering water and whisk until the curd thickens. It’ll happen around 180F, for those of you with a thermometer. But in reality, you don’t need one. You’ll be in the middle of whisking, feeling like it’s taking forever, and then you’ll feel it thicken. You’ll be able to see it sticking thickly to the whisk and to the bowl, it’ll feel sluggish and look delicious. When this happens, remove the bowl from the simmering pan and add the butter all at once. Whisk until the butter is incorporated and then allow to cool until the curd reaches room temperature. You can speed this up by putting the bowl in the fridge and whisk from time to time to release the heat.

Now, 2 elements down, let’s make the third! It’s one of my favorite things in the world – a lemon Swiss meringue buttercream. If you’ve never made a Swiss meringue buttercream it;s the most amazing thing in the entire world. I thought I hated frosting, even homemade frosting, but I realized what I really hated was American buttercream. A solid, Swiss buttercream is thick, creamy, and not overpoweringly sweet. It’s perfect, though a lot trickier to make.

Start by separating your eggs whites from your yolks. Guys, I’ve had to find a lot of new recipes for all the yolks I have leftover from the frosting I’ve been made… But I digress. You’ll add your sugar to the whites, put them back over that double boiler we had for the curd, and whisk until the mixture reaches 160F. This time you’ll want to have a thermometer – it’s very important the eggs reach at least 160F to kill off the threat of salmonella before you eat it. There’s not really a visual cue for this, either, so you’ll need something to help you.

When the correct temperature is reached add the whites to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on high until the bowl starts to feel cool and the mixture gets thick and shiny. At this point you’ll start adding the room temperature butter, one tablespoon at a time. It’ll take a while to get through all the butter. And, in the process, the mixture will start to look curdled. You’ll panic that something went wrong. I promise, nothing went wrong. Just keep adding butter and keep whisking and it’ll become smooth and buttery and delicious.

While this is wash and zest the lemon and juice it. You’ll be tempted to just use pre-juiced lemon juice. Don’t. Fresh-pressed lemon juice is a little sweeter and a little more acidic. Everything will taste better if you just get in the habit of always having lemons on hand.

When the buttercream is smooth and homogeneous you’ll add all the lemon juice, zest, and the yellow gel food coloring. Continue whisking until the buttercream comes back together. It’ll feel like it splits again, but be patient, it’ll come together, get thick, and creamy.

Now, all the elements are made! It’s time for assembly.

Match up the macaron shells to size. Turn one side over to prepare for adding the buttercream and the curd. Add the buttercream to a piping bag and pipe a ring on the outside of the shell. Fill the center of the ring with the blueberry curd. Now cover with the other shell and make a sandwich.

One thing to note about macarons – they taste significantly better the next day. Everything looks so pretty you’ll be tempted to eat it right away. Don’t! Make these the day before you want them and then enjoy them the right way. When you let macarons sit the shells soak up some of the flavor from the fillings, making them seems more tender and less sweet. It’s worth the wait!

Boston Uprising Macarons

  • Servings: about 16 2 inch macarons
  • Difficulty: difficult
  • Print

Blueberry and lemon macarons inspired by the Boston Uprising

Macaron

  • 100 grams egg whites- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar- 75 grams baker’s sugar- 125 grams almond flour- 125 grams powdered sugar- blue gel food coloring

Blueberry

  • 98 grams blueberry puree (about 1/2 cup blueberries)- 85 grams sugar- 25 grams salted butter, room temperature- 1 egg- 1 egg yolk

Lemon

  • 75 grams egg whites- 75 grams sugar- 143 grams salted butter, room temperature- 2 tablespoons lemon juice- zest of one lemon- yellow gel food coloring

Macaron

  1. Separate your egg whites from your yolks, reserving one yolk for the blueberry curd. Place the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer2. Add a whisk attachment to the stand mixer and slowly increase the speed, bringing it up to high.3. Whisk until the eggs are frothy and then add all the cream of tartar at once.4. Continue whisking until the eggs form soft peaks. Add the sugar around the bowl and continue to whisk on high until stiff peaks form. The meringue should be stiff and peaks should not fall if turned over. The entire process should take between 8-10 minutes, depending on your mixer.5. Measure all the powdered sugar and almond flour to a bowl and stir with your fingers. As you’re mixing be sure to rub all the large almond chunks out of the mixture.6. Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients and the food coloring to the meringue. Gently fold the dry into the meringue by passing your spatula down the center of the bowl, scraping around the edges, finishing by folding that scraped-up portion back over itself. Repeat that process until the batter resembles lava or honey. While you’re folding remove the air by pushing the batter up against the side of the bowl. 7. Fill a piping bag fit with a large round tip with your batter. Pipe in a steady stream onto one spot on a piece of parchment paper or silicone mat, trying to keep your piping pressure consistent. To get equal size circles either find a template online or count the seconds you’re expelling your batter.8. Once all the macarons are piped bang the baking sheet on the counter a few times to remove any air that remains and allow them to sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes.9. Preheat your oven to 320F. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 12-15 minutes. The shells should be stiff, the feet shouldn’t jiggle, and the top shouldn’t shift if gently moved.10. Leave the macarons on your baking sheet until they’re completely cool.

Blueberry

  1. Create a double boiler by choosing a stainless steel or glass bowl that fits securely in the rim of a small pot. Add enough water to boil in the small pot, but ensure that the water level won’t touch the bottom of the bowl. It should be about 1-2 inches of water. Bring water to a simmer.2. Blend your blueberries until pureed. Add the blueberry puree and lemon juice to the chosen bowl and add the sugar. Whisk this together and add the yolk and whole egg.3. Put the bowl over the simmering water and whisk until the curd thickens. The curd will reach around 180F, will stick to the whisk, and feel thick. 4. Remove the bowl from the simmering pan and add the butter all at once. Whisk until the butter is incorporated and then allow to cool until the curd reaches room temperature.

Lemon

  1. Separate your eggs whites from your yolks.2. Add your sugar to the whites.3. Place the bowl over a double boiler and whisk until the mixture reaches 160F.4. Whisk until the eggs reach a temperature of at least 160F, measured with a candy or instant-read thermometer.5. Add the whites to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on high until the bowl starts to feel cool and the mixture gets thick and shiny.6. Add the room temperature butter, one tablespoon at a time. In the process, the mixture will start to look curdled, but keep adding butter and keep whisking and it’ll become smooth and creamy again.7. Wash and zest the lemon and juice it.8. When the buttercream is smooth and homogeneous add all the lemon juice, zest, and enough yellow gel food coloring to change the color to bright yellow. Continue whisking until the buttercream comes back together.

Macaron

  1. Match up the macaron shells to size. Turn one side over to prepare for adding the buttercream and the curd.2. Add the buttercream to a piping bag and pipe a ring on the outside of the shell.3. Fill the center of the ring with the blueberry curd.4. Cover with the other shell and make a sandwich. Refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Happy Valentine’s Day! To tell the truth, my husband and I don’t actually celebrate this one… Not that we have anything against it, but with birthdays and holidays so close to this date it just feels like too much to celebrate yet another holiday where giving gifts is recommended. So tonight we will be celebrating by eating take out and watching Overwatch League, which has finally started up again (YAY!). But, in honor of the holiday, I have the least romantic dish possible to share with you. Guys, I don’t know why I didn’t plan this better, but I totally spaced that this post would come out on a holiday celebrating love. So instead of sweets, dessert, or even a romantic dinner option, I bring you Cream of Mushroom Soup…

Cream of Mushroom Soup
time and difficulty

I need to admit something. I relied heavily on the recipe of Cafe Delites for this one. I’ve never in my wildest dreams thought of making cream of mushroom soup from scratch. Frankly, the only time I use it is in my stroganoff recipe. So I needed a lot of guidance to even know what direction to head in. I changed a few things, made a few additions of my own, but definitely check her recipe out if you want the pure, unadulterated version!

We start by chopping mushrooms, dicing onions, and mincing garlic. All pretty basic stuff at this point.

Next, heat some butter in a pot… or dutch oven (you guys know me so well) over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until golden and shiny. Then add the garlic and stir for just a minute or so. Garlic burns so easily and we don’t want to overdo it. When everything smells nice add the mushrooms and salt and pepper and saute until they start to change color and become soft. We don’t really want to cook them too much or they’ll be rubbery at the end.

When everything is ready add the seasonings and flour and stir until everything is completely coated. Then we deglaze the fond. I’ve talked about deglazing before and it’s my favorite way to ensure that all the seasonings stay in your dish. Just add a few tablespoons (or splashes, we aren’t fancy here) of your chosen broth to the pot and scrape the bottom until all that delicious brown stuff comes up.

Once it’s all off the pot add half the remaining broth to the pot and stir continuously until it heats and starts to thicken. Then add the remaining broth, stir until combined, and allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes. It’ll start to thicken up and smell delicious. If it doesn’t look thick enough for your tastes at this point simply add some flour to the pot and whisk it until there’s no lumps. Allow to cook for a few more minutes until it thickens.

Add all the milk and allow to heat until barely simmering. Add more salt and pepper as needed and serve while it’s hot! This soup will even save for a few days to add to other recipes you may have (like the aforementioned stroganoff). It actually turned out way better than I thought it would! I’d eat it as it is next time, just because it smelled so delicious!

Link’s Veggie Cream Soup:

  • Fresh Milk
  • Rock Salt
  • Any Mushroom
  • Any vegetable, herb, or flour

Cream of Mushroom Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A savory, fragrant cream of mushroom soup

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons salted butter- 1 medium yellow onion- 2 garlic cloves- 1 pound fresh mushrooms (can be white or brown)- 1 teaspoon kosher salt- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper- 1/2 teaspoon oregano (or 1.5 teaspoons fresh oregano)- 1 teaspoon thyme (or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme)- 10 fennel seeds- 1 bay leaf- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour- 4 cups vegetable broth (for vegetarian) or beef broth- 1.5 cups milk

Directions

  1. Chop the mushrooms into bite-size pieces. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. 2. Heat the butter in a pot over medium heat.3. Add the onions and saute until golden and shiny.4. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.5. Add the mushrooms and salt and pepper and saute until they start to change color and become soft.6. Add the seasonings and flour and stir until everything is completely coated.7. Deglaze the fond by adding a few tablespoons of your chosen broth to the pot and scrape the bottom until all the brown bits are removed.8. Add half the remaining broth to the pot and stir continuously until it heats and starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. 9. Add the remaining broth, stir until combined, and allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes. If it doesn’t look thick enough at this point simply add some flour to the pot and whisk it until there’s no lumps. Allow to cook for a few more minutes until it thickens.10. Add all the milk and allow to heat until barely simmering. Add more salt and pepper as needed and serve while it’s hot!

Dad’s Sugar Donuts

Dad’s Sugar Donuts

When I was a kid I wanted to be just like my dad. I wanted the same glasses my dad had, I pretended to read the same newspaper, I ate the same cereal, and loved the same history he loved. Things haven’t really changed as I’ve gotten older – I still want to be just like my dad. Still just as strong, patient, humble, sacrificing, and understated as one of the most important people in my life. So it just makes sense that I would dedicate my pre-valentine’s day Thankful recipe to my first valentine – my loving father.

Some of my favorite memories of my childhood were moments spent getting donuts with my dad. We would get up really early and drive the 30 minutes to the nearest Krispy Kreme to bring dozens back to the family for breakfast. And every Saturday morning I would head off to the hardware store with my dad, to buy whatever materials he needed for his next home improvement project, and eat one or two of the sugar donuts the store would provide to us early-risers. And still, to this day, whenever I eat a donut, I’m reminded of the special moments I had, just me and my dad, involving one of our favorite treats.

Dad’s Sugar Donuts

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, this is one of the recipe’s I worked on for weeks to perfect. And now I share it with you! These donuts are incredibly light and fluffy, melting like sugared air in your mouth. But, in order to get them that way, they’re a bit tricky. Trust me, it’s definitely worth it. You’ll just have to be patient with yourself! I know you can do it!

We start by mixing the dough. Now, this dough is very wet. I mean, very, very, very, very wet. We want it that way – it makes the final product lighter. So don’t be tempted to add any extra flour to this recipe. Otherwise you’re donuts just won’t be quite as good. But it does mean I can’t recommend highly enough using a stand mixer for this. You can knead by hand, but if you’ve ever seen The Great British Bake Off, you’ll know it’s very tricky to knead by hand. So if you can simply use a stand mixer, it’ll save you bunches of time and stress.

Add the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast and the salt on opposite sides of the bowl. Salt is a yeast inhibitor and we don’t want to start the process off by prematurely ruining our yeast! Give it a quick spin with the dough hook.

Next add the warm buttermilk, egg, and melted butter. PS – here’s a bit of a tip – you can warm the buttermilk up slightly in the microwave instead of waiting a million years for it to come to room temperature. We want the buttermilk to be about 100F, or slightly warmer than lukewarm. Turn on the mixer to low speed and mix until a dough ball starts to form. It should still be shaggy at this point, with bits of dry ingredients still dry. We just want the gluten to start forming before we add the rest of the liquid and make it super wet! Once the dough reaches this stage add the warm water (again, about 100F) to the bowl, scrape down the sides, and turn the hook on low.

Mix until completely combined, scraping down the bowl as needed, and then knead on low for 5-7 minutes. It won’t feel like it’s being kneaded normally, the entire mass will not wrap around the dough hook, but I promise it’s working. Keep this up until the edges of the dough start to form a rounded shape. It’ll still look flat and attached to the bowl, but it sort of balls up. It shouldn’t be more than 5-7 minutes.

Scrape the dough down to the bottom of the bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled. Depending on your altitude, the quality of your yeast, and the temperature of your room this could take a while. Be patient!

When the dough is doubled flour a surface and turn the dough out onto the surface. Flour a rolling pin and roll the dough out to 1/2 inch height. We don’t want to push too hard to roll too thin because we want to keep some of that lovely air trapped inside. Flour a round donut cutter and cut donuts from the rolled dough, trying to space them close to get as many donuts as possible out of the dough. You can, if you feel guilty about throwing away dough, knead the scraps slightly, re-roll, and cut more donuts. However, these donuts will be heavier and not have the characteristic white line down the center of the donut. Re-rolling scraps incorporates flour, which adds weight when you fry them. I, personally, don’t. But if you do you can expect to get another 3-4 donuts from the batch. If you don’t have a donut cutter, simply use a 3 inch round cutter for the donut and a 1 inch cutter in the center for the donut hole. It just takes an extra step!

Place the donuts on parchment paper and cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel. It’s very important to use parchment and NOT silicone. We will be cutting up the parchment and I don’t think you want to cut your nice silicone mats! Make sure you’ve spaced the donuts far apart to allow for a rise and a cut around them.

Allow to rise until doubled – they should be light and fluffy, but not over-risen. If they look like they’re starting to sag they’ve risen too much and they’ll be flabby, flat donuts out of the fryer. Watch them very carefully. You can also retard this step by placing them, covered, in the fridge. If you do this simply remove them from the fridge 30 minutes before frying to warm them up to room temperature.

Heat 2 inches of vegetable or canola oil in a heavy-bottom pot or dutch oven. Dutch oven’s really are the best, since the cast iron retains heat, and therefore temperature, much better than any other material. Using a candy thermometer, heat the oil gradually up to 175-180F. You don’t want to over-heat the oil or under-heat it. It’s important to get it to the right temperature to prevent the donut from either A) soaking up too much oil and becoming yucky oil sponges (too cold) or B) burning on the outside while still being raw on the inside (too hot).

When the oil is nearly at temperature slowly and gently cut around the donuts and donut holes so they each sit on their own piece of parchment. Make sure you do this slowly! If you move too quickly and shake things up too much you could deflate the donut, and nobody wants a deflated donut.

When the oil reaches and maintains the right temperature (I usually wait 2-3 minutes to make sure it’s right) gently add 2-3 donuts to the oil on the parchment. This will prevent any major splashing and keep the donut from deflating as you add it. The oil will bubble and could splatter, so always use caution when deep frying anything. Remove the parchement, which should have come slightly away from the donut, and set it aside. When the donut becomes golden brown flip it using tongs, a spatula, or those nifty deep frying mesh spoons. When the second side becomes golden brown remove the donut and place it on a paper towel-lined plate to remove the excess oil.

Lather, rinse, and repeat with the remaining donuts, making sure the temperature of the oil rises to 175-180 between each batch. When you add donuts to oil the temperature will drop, so you want to be patient or you’ll end up with a soggy mess.

When cool enough to handle, coat the donut in a generous helping of sugar (or a combination of cinnamon and sugar!). I usually make a pile of sugar on a plate and then rub the donut around in that pile. A lot of people do a bowl and toss the donut in the sugar in the bowl. Whatever works for you will work for the donut! But whatever you do, try to enjoy at least one while it’s hot! You won’t regret it!

Dad's Sugar Donuts

  • Servings: 8-12 donuts, 8-20 donut holes
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

A light, fluffy buttermilk donut covered with sugar

Ingredients

  • 395 grams all-purpose flour
  • 50 grams sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 g instant yeast
  • 150 ml warm buttermilk, about 100F
  • 1 large egg
  • 57 grams salted butter, melted
  • 100 ml warm water, about 100F
  • oil for frying, about 3-4 cups
  • sugar for coating donuts, about 1/3 cup

Directions

  1. Add the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer, with the yeast and the salt on opposite sides of the bowl.
  2. Add the egg, melted butter, and buttermilk.
  3. Turn on the mixer to low speed and mix with a dough hook until a dough ball starts to form. It will still be shaggy at this point.
  4. Once the dough reaches this stage add the warm water to the bowl, scrape down the sides, and turn the mixer on low.
  5. Mix until completely combined, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  6. Mix on low for 5-7 minutes. The dough will be very sticky at this point but do not be tempted to add more flour. Continue kneading until the edges of the dough start to form a rounded shape.
  7. Scrape the dough down to the bottom of the bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled. This could take between 1-2 hours.
  8. When the dough is doubled flour a surface and turn the dough out onto the surface. Flour a rolling pin and roll the dough out to 1/2 inch height.
  9. Flour a round donut cutter and cut donuts from the rolled dough, trying to space them close to get as many donuts as possible out of the dough. You can knead the scraps slightly, re-roll, and cut more donuts. However, these donuts will be heavier and not have the characteristic white line down the center of the donut. I do not re-roll scraps, but merely cut smaller circles for smaller donuts for children. If you don’t have a donut cutter, simply use a 3 inch round cutter for the donut and a 1 inch cutter in the center for the donut hole.
  10. Place the donuts on parchment paper and cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel. Do not use silicone mats. Make sure you’ve spaced the donuts far apart to allow for a rise and a cut around them.
  11. Allow to rise until doubled – they should be light and fluffy, but not over-risen.
  12. Heat 2 inches of vegetable or canola oil in a heavy-bottom pot or dutch oven.
  13. Using a candy thermometer, heat the oil gradually up to 175-180F.
  14. When the oil is nearly at temperature slowly and gently cut around the donuts and donut holes so they each sit on their own piece of parchment.
  15. When the oil reaches and maintains the right temperature gently add 2-3 donuts to the oil on the parchment. The oil will bubble and could splatter, so always use caution when deep frying anything. Remove the parchement, which should have come slightly away from the donut, and set it aside.
  16. When the donut becomes golden brown flip it using tongs, a spatula, or a deep frying spoon. When the second side becomes golden brown remove the donut and place it on a paper towel-lined plate to remove the excess oil.
  17. Repeat with the remaining donuts, making sure the temperature of the oil rises to 175-180 between each batch.
  18. When cool enough to handle, coat the donut in a generous helping of sugar or a combination of cinnamon and sugar. Try to enjoy at least one while it’s hot! You won’t regret it!