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Posts Tagged ‘lemon’

Sometimes, I need to be reminded that in order to grow I need to move out of my comfort zone.  Whether that would be grueling through an intense strength-building hatha flow yoga classes or challenging my culinary techniques through daylong baking projects.

Most of the time, I feel good about my effort.  I mean, it’s one thing to have to waddle for a whole week from a challenging series of hip-opening poses, but at least, I know I will have increased my range of motion!

Other times, I wonder why I try at all.  After trying the Pierre Herme’s Italian meringue method for macarons last week, which failed despite careful monitoring of the temperature, I felt totally defeated and hopeless.  None of the cookies had the characteristic feet, and two of the batches stuck to the paper due to my erroneous substitution of waxed paper for parchment paper.

Literally, it was a waste of time, ingredients, and energy.  Somehow, I managed to convince myself it was okay to try another grueling baking project this week.  This time I devoted my Monday afternoon to the well-raved but tricky Flo Braker yeast coffee cake.

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Tartine is arguably the most famous San Francisco bakery I never heard of prior to going to college, and I have heard many of the local institutions growing up due to the fact that Mom’s family is from the City.  Mama’s.  Mitchell’s Ice Cream.  Golden Gate Bakery.  It took me a friend who raved about it, and then the hordes of food bloggers documenting their every visit to finally visit this San Francisco institution.  Of course, now I regret all of that stalling.  Tartine has become the place for me to go to while in the Mission.  No questions asked.  Tartine has become my source and inspiration for many baking projects.

One of my closest friends has seen this obsession with Tartine manifest into rambles about Tartine every time I mention San Francisco and bakery in the same sentence, I might as well have a hard copy of the book instead of combing through these loose leaf copies I have of the cookbook.  Thanks again, Julia!

Because Julia is traveling abroad for the next two weeks, I decided to mark that event by making something from the Tartine cookbook that is also quirky in honor of getting the hard copy.  Yes, I always celebrate with food!

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Between the scribbles of numbers and account titles, I can taste the freedom from school.  I have one semester left to go, but that’s all I have been thinking about as of late.  I am not sure what that cliche is supposed to taste like, but I envision it to be something like stepping out onto a beach.  The slow inhales of salty zephyrs.  The gaze across the shimmering blue expanse.  Alas, the tickle of spring breeze and dash of sunlight is getting to me!

That case of spring fever brought me to the Ferry Building’s Farmers’ Market, where all sorts of tantalizing produce and food were ready to be oogled and bought.  Verdant greens abound, including some gorgeous asparagus :)  Then, I thought of this pasta recipe I had tucked away for a while that highlighted goat cheese and asparagus.  Time for a cooking project study break!

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The problem with trying new recipes is that they often call for irregular amounts of food.  That’s fine for pantry items and common ingredients, but what about recipes that call for 2 1/2 cups of not-so-common perishables?   What kind of items sell only 2 1/2 cup containers?!

Then, the whole stopping-by-the-ingredient situation at the supermarket gets hairier.  You know, the kind you’re already in when you have to ponder which brand to pick from. Do I buy more than what the recipe calls for?  No, that might ruin the ratio of ingredients.  Okay, then what do I do with the excess? Haha, as comfortable I am with doing mental math, it does get annoying.  Too many questions, no exact answers…

That was the situation last week.  My friend protested against buying excess ricotta since she didn’t know what to do with it.  She argued that she wasn’t be cooking or baking anytime soon, so buying an excess amount seemed like a waste.  I told her to go ahead and buy the extra ricotta because I can make lemon ricotta muffins for her.  Haha, she immediately perked up since lemon and ricotta is one of her favorite flavor pairings.

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I think I have been seduced by Bi-Rite Creamery’s honey lavender ice cream.  Although it has been almost a year since I had it, I still remember how soothing it was on that hot summer day.  Their ice cream was creamy, and the lavender element adds a bit of aromatherapy (if you will), as it is known for its soothing qualities.  (It’s commonly used to aid sleep and remedy anxiety.)  Now that it is warm out again, I am tempted to swing on down there and buy myself a pint.

In any case, I know culinary lavender is one of those things that you either love it or don’t.  Some people feel that the lavender component is overpowering and reminds them of being in Crabtree and Evelyn, but I like that bit of Victorian romanticism it provides.  It gives food a little something special because it’s not everyday that you have lavender in food.

As you can imagine, I spent quite a bit of time bookmarking recipes involving lavender.  That’s right–everything from lavender spice cake to honey lavender biscotti.  Over time, I forgot about my fascination with culinary lavender, as I moved on to different projects since I didn’t feel like I had an audience for making such food.  Still, they remained bookmarked, reminding me every once in a while that I want to try playing around with this floral and sweet ingredient.

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I always thought poppy seed had the same whimsical quality as bubble wrap because they both went POP.  Yes, I was that child who tore open packages, left the contents inside, and walked away with the bubble wrap.  In fact, I even hid all the bubble wrap I hoarded away from my little brother because I did not want to have to share.  Alas, that boy managed to find the stash anyway, and we ended up splitting the stash in half.  (Darn his curiosity and determination!)  My parents who were postal workers could not understand how some material they deal with everyday could fascinate their children for hours.

Nowadays, the shippers pack things with giant air balloons to cushion the contents.  Those are definitely not so much fun, as they remind me of inflatable life vests.  The bubble wrap days are of yesteryear, which makes me sad.  Part of my childhood has largely disappeared, and I now feel relatively old.  Obsolescence does that to people…

However, I still have my poppy seeds to bring me back to those bubble wrap memories!  I am partial to such whimsical things even though I will admit nibbling on a lemon poppy seed muffin does merit a less-than-attractive smile.  It’s probably the only reason that keeps me from constantly grabbing at lemon poppy seed anything…

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