Sunday, October 23, 2011

Stories for Children

I used to write stories for children.  While they were not published, I did receive a few ceremonial rejection letters in 1997.

Two of my favorite stories were Persnickety Fickety Foo Jones - The Man Who Couldn't Stop Singing and Dancing and The Booger Who Lived on My Leg.  

Persnickety Fickety Foo Jones was a gangly guy who went to the cobbler and the baker for help with his ailment that presented itself in constant dance and perpetual song.  The cobbler built him shoes of concrete and stubbornness, and the baker built a cake of peanut butter and bubblegum, both in an attempt to keep Persnickety's feet stuck and lips shut. 

The "Booger" story was a tale of independence when Sammy the Booger, who was wiped on the leg of the girl who pulled him from her nose, didn't want to leave the luxury of flesh as all the boogers before him had done.  And why would he? Sammy enjoyed attending school, playing with the dog, and taking baths.  Soon, though, he packed a bag of snacks and hopped from a knee to descend into a life full of new friends, of the Booger sort, and new adventures.  

Books for kids need, or at least benefit from, illustrations.  Meg was asked by the President of the Nebraska Food Co-operative's Board of Directors to draw up a couple of illustrations for a marketing brochure that will be targeted to families.  And once I saw the contour drawings (below) I thought to myself that maybe along with baking, Meg and I should dive into the book industry, or at least the coloring book world! 

So, what baking related stories for children would you most like to read? I'm sure Meg can manage to provide a visual narrative that will make kids high on hunger.  Here are some initial possibilities:

The Half Baked Muffin - A story about why if you don't get enough sleep, then your brain will be soft and no one will want to eat you.

The Muffin in Pleats - A story of two muffins; the girl who is praised for the pleats in her skirt, and the boy who bucks fashion trends by wearing pleats in his pants. (See, a lot of muffin liners are pleated!)

The Muffin with One Too Many Chips (or Berries, or Nuts) - A story of deformities, or a story about what to do when you have too much, or too many people, on your plate.

The Cookie Who Refused to Crumble - A story of learning that admitting your mistakes will make you an easier to digest person.  

What stories do you think we should write?

~ Trilety

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bacon and Cooking Bacon

So, I generally don't eat meat, but these Two Birds know that people have a great fondness for it and to each his own of course. I will gladly cook some locally produced meat products for others. Bacon is no exception. That is no secret. It's full of flavor and has a nice texture when cooked just right. But how does one cook bacon just right?

Bacon can be fried, microwaved, boiled and baked. My mother used to microwave it using one of those fancy-shmancy bacon cookers. My grandmother would fry it. Generally I don't recommend boiling it. I only mentioned it because I have added it to soups. But I have learned through a few good sources and some trial and error that baking it results in even cooking and a really nice and consistent crisp texture. It is the crispy bacon bits that make our Two Strips and a Short Stack muffin so good. Limp, soft, or chewy bacon bits would not be good. They would be kind of gross.

I always prepare by cooking the bacon (which is purchased locally from the Nebraska Food Co-op) in mass quantity the day before I do my baking so that it has ample time to cool down. It is much safer to chop up bacon when it is not hot and greasy. Ok, makes sense.

If you want crispy easy bacon, do this:

1. preheat your oven to 425.
2. optional: prep a small cookie sheet by covering it with foil. This allows for easy clean-up. Also, the cookie sheet should have a lip around the edge so that the grease produced does not drip off of the cookie sheet.
3. Lay the uncooked bacon strips flat on the cookie sheet. They should lay side-by-side. It doesn't matter too much if they touch or even overlap a little bit.
4. Put the pan in the preheated oven and bake for about 7 minutes, then rotate the pan 90 degrees and bake for 4 to 10 minutes more, until all bacon strips are a nice deep brown. (The time will depend on the amount of bacon you are cooking)
5. Promptly transfer the cooked bacon strips from the cookie sheet to a towel-lined or paper towel-lined plate. This allows the grease to drain and the bacon will crisp up nicely.
6. After the cooked bacon has cooled, store it in the fridge or freezer in an airtight container.

this bacon is ready to go into the oven

Is there anything I'm missing? I wonder if there are more ways to cook bacon...


Monday, October 10, 2011

Let's Communicate

"Communication is key," or so I've heard.  But a key to what exactly? A key to understanding? A key to camaraderie? A key to love?  Having been always a bit more intrigued by the key than the lock, I just enjoy the process of communicating.  

But even with my love of writing and talking, sometimes my mouth is so full of words that I think they are teeth; and I must just swallow and digest.  These days, when I feel no desire to speak or write, is when I communicate through my eyes, my fingers, or food.  

Say I am feeling melancholy, I will bake something with a bit of lemon around the edges.  And if I'm happy, I will bake muffins bursting with blueberries that stain your tongue like the memory of a love yet to come.  If I am angry, I will run and then I will come home and enjoy the exercise afterglow while baking a cookie of the peanut butter variety.

Today, I'm having a day where I need to choose an alternative form of communication, and while I can't yet give taste through the Internet, I will speak via photographs of stumbled upon signs, both painted and printed. 

Cuts and burns can come in the kitchen, and I have been stitched up three times.  But burns don't only come from baking, they can come from experience too.  You can endure a burn from love or loss, but it will become shiny and taut and look like a splotch of paint on your arm and soon you will think, "I would go again into the jaw of that dinosaur, and I would feed it muffins until his belly was full and he had no need to eat me."  But we know the truth; it feels good to be devoured.  Isn't that what this sign says to you?  Maybe I'm getting my words back.

They may say "don't," but I say "do."  Yes, risk the break or confiscation of the snow globe for the joy of the imagination contained in its viscous liquid orb.  Do!

Actually, this is advice I would follow.  However, being that the sign is on the container that will soon be hoisted off the ground, it doesn't really do that determinedly oblivious guy any good unless he saw the sign prior to the lifting.  So, instead of reading every dumpster you pass, just make sure to always look up - there's much to see up there besides the bottom of boxes.  

This says it all. . . . Living. . . follow this sign first - always.  

And lest I forget this is the blog of a couple of baking birds, check out the Nebraska Food Co-op as they've made some great changes to the website that make shopping and becoming a member a much easier process.  Plus, it's the one place you can get our baked goods until we find some certified kitchen space. . . . speaking of which. .  . stay tuned!

~ Trilety

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Camping and Cupcakes

October 1st! Today is Satid's birthday (he's my main squeeze). OH I love birthdays and I LOVE the fall and I double-love fall birthdays!!!

For the last couple years we have opted to stay at home for Satid's birthday. We'd have a gathering of friends and I would make a cake for him. His favorite is 'strawberry wedding cake', which is a fluffy white cake with whipped cream frosting and fresh strawberries. It's a bit like strawberry shortcake, but much more decadent, if you can imagine.

This year we are going camping! Well... 'car camping', which is different from camping in that we'll drive to a campground, park the car at the campsite and unload and set up camp right there. It allows us to bring coolers and heavy stuff that would not be appropriate for any other camping expedition. It also allows me to bake up and bring along a bunch of cupcakes for Satid!

I used the white cake mix and made a really yummy cream cheese frosting for the topping. I also bought a bag of those high fructose corn syrup-filled mellowcreme pumpkins to decorate the cupcakes.

I know, I know. Tsk tsk and shame on me for providing such an unhealthy baked good for my man and our friends. I don't usually use the box mixes, but in the case of a fluffy white cake request, I obliged. I have great recipes for chocolate and yellow and pumpkin cakes, but have not yet perfected the fluffy white cake. I do feel a little guilty... but not too guilty. All I can say is that today is a very special for a very special man and he can have whatever he wants. Love love love!!!

fluffy white Satid birthday cupcakes