.nommunism.

blathering blog of a bavarian baker

Balls of holly.

Now I could stick with my norm and make my first holiday blog a tribute to ‘Christmas is a refurbished pagan holiday‘. But I won’t, because you should know that by now. And if you don’t, I didn’t really want to be friends anyway. So instead I’m going to belt out a poorly vocalized homage to living, loving, and most importantly – eating, like every day is a holiday. Besides, I never said this was my actual Christmas post. You better go take a class or something and start preparing for that one.

Anyways, Check it:

If you’re reserving ONE day a year to be thankful for your life and your family…

If you’re reserving ONE day to give your friends and family gifts to represent your affection or appreciation of them…

If you’re scraping pennies out of your bank account to acquire the biggest, most awesome, most useless presents…

If you’re ramming your shopping cart into people in order ‘to get there first’……

Guess what? You’re doing it wrong.

I love the holidays. I love the way they smell. I love waking up and brewing coffee and secretly seasoning it with spices so that when people drink it, they say things like “I don’t know why your coffee always tastes better than when I make it at home.” I love the wide-eyed looks on little kids when the Christmas tree gets lit up for the first time. I love trying extremely hard to not tell my boyfriend everything I’m getting him for Christmas,  to the point where I’m pretty sure I’ll explode at the very seams of my existence if I have to keep it all a secret until the end of December.  I also, and most importantly, love the obscene holiday decorations.

Dick the halls with balls of holly.

My problem with the holidays is that they’re really just some elaborate masochistic torture device to the majority of the holiday practicing populous. Sure, there’s totally people out there that don’t buy in to the greeting card company versions of the holidays.. but for the most part, we seem to think that the only way to “show her that you really care” is to take out a second mortgage to buy her that chincy necklace from the corner plot jewelry store at ‘__insert whimsical tree name__ Mall‘. We think the only way to let our children, our grandchildren, our nieces and nephews, know that we love them is to stand in line for 18 hours to get whatever the flavor-of-the-year holiday gimmick toy is.

”It’s Turbo Time!’ /arnoldrawr

We get our mothers presents like sensible slippers, as if we never heard them swear at a gas station clerk. We get our fathers plaid sweaters and reading glasses marketed as being ‘for the smart father in your life this holiday season‘, as though we never witnessed him demand your mother ‘Get in here and look at this, would you? Have you ever seen something so gross?’.  We get our sisters subscriptions to Ladies Home Journal as if they were not the people who sat in the tub with us and giggled at fart bubbles, and our brothers football jerseys..because of how athletic they were with all that playing of Madden 10 for xbox.

Why not a Rick Perry chia pet? Slightly less practical than the Pet Rock.

We sit around a table covered in murdered animals that the women-folk have spent days laboriously preparing to a state of required perfection, so that our menfolk can parade in – exhausted and slightly drunk from football watching – and devour everything after a slight, insignificant saying of ‘grace’ to the same God that just won the game for the other team.

‘Dear baby Jesus, thanks for dead birds, a voluntarily oblivious wife, and my new secretary Bambi. Ahhhmen.’

We hope grampa doesn’t say anything embarrassing,  that funny uncle Marvin finally has his shit together, and that cousin Lorna really did miss her flight because lord knows we’ve had a problem making eye contact with her ever since the operation and it never ceases to piss her off that grampa refuses to acknowledge her as the preferred pronoun these days.

Hey ya’ll. I brought fruitcake!

I want a Paula Deen holiday season. Well. No. I want a Paula Deen holiday season that has mated with cast of Son’s of Anarchy. The kind where everything is photo-shop friendly (only real), the family hasn’t so much gathered because they have to, but because they’re just doing what they always do… stopping in to love each other. I want family laughing and drinking and taking un-posed family pictures. I want dirty jokes and confessional stories and I want a house the wreaks to high heaven of that amazing whiskey pecan pie that was made this morning… followed by the pumpkin one made this afternoon after the red wine and story telling condemned it to a fiery fate worse than death.

Pictured above: Gemma Teller Morrow.

And lastly..I want faces feeling fuzzy from whatever it is that’s really in that eggnog.

What’s Really In This Eggnog? Eggnog

Things you might consider having on hand:

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • A functioning, unoccupied stove top
  • Large metal pot (fer boilin’ in, ya’ll!)
  • Strainer or a sieve
  • Large bowl
  • Large jug or other beverage container
  • A wooden spoon
  • A whisk
  • Someone that is not you to clean up your mess and do your dishes.

What it takes:

  • 4 cups soy milk
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups rum
  • 1/8 cup brandy
  • 4 cups light cream
  • 2 teaspoons additional vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

What you do next:

Combine the milk, cloves, and single tsp vanilla in your boilin’ pot atop your lonely but functioning stove.

Being ugly doesn’t excuse your unemployment. Get a job, hippie.

Turn heat to low and stir. The low heat is important. Think Liza Minelli and David Gest, Sexy Marriage of the Century kind of heat.

If it wasn’t sexy, he wouldn’t be eating her face.

Stir at this scintillatingly low heat for 5 minutes, and then bring to boil.

In your large bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until fluffier than a guy named Esteban on the set of Saving Ryan’s Privates.

Then, add a small amount (let’s say 1/4 cup) of the boiling mixture of the fluffer, er, fluffy egg/sugar mess. Whisk this frantically for a few seconds, allowing the eggs to rise in temperature so that they don’t scramble under the sudden heat of being combined with the boiled milk sauce.

“Gross Culinary Terms for $200 please, Alex…. What is ‘boiled milk sauce?.”

Slowly pour the rest of the boiled milk sauce into the tempered eggs, then deposit into saucepan and return to stove top.

Heat goes up to medium, using your wooden spoon to stir constantly until the nog thickens. Don’t let the mixture boil…because that would be gross (again, remember the Minelli/Gest nuptials).

Strain your thick, still virgin nog over your mixing bowl to remove the cloves.

Google Image search results of “Thick Virgin Nog” were boring to say the least. Google, I am disappoint.

Next, stir in the booze, the cream, the vanilla, and the nutmeg until uniform. Pour into your jug/beverage container and refrigerate until chilled.

Serve sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg for presentation pizzazz.

In closing, presented without comment, Jersey Shore ornaments.

Fun fact: the D in Pauly D actually stands for ‘Destroying-the-few-things-left-untainted-in-this-world’. Also, Douchebag.

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Sir Purefat Butterfat, The Better.

Your body… is a primitive design.

I don’t know what this is… but Google swears it’s Primitive Design.

Since before we first stood upright (or according to some of you… were like, I dunno… divinely hatched), our body has served really only one purpose: To keep us alive. You’ve these organs and systems and squishy innards, all there to help you locate, dispatch and consume food products. We’ve done this successfully for quite some time now, but lately we’ve started making things a little too complicated for quite literally our own good.

Here’s the thing about being a ‘primitive‘ design.
Primitive means (accordingly to Webster online)

           1. being the first or earliest of the kind or in existence, especially in an early age of the world.

Which is to say… you haven’t changed much since being a Neanderthal (or, as the case may be, hatchling).
So what does all of this have to do with cooking?
Oh. Well. Allow me to bring my “Correct Calorie Crusade” to your face space.

“I hereby claim this land in the name of Sir Purefat Butterfat, The Better”.

As a baker – on a level of profession, not just recreation – there is one thing that brings out my rage face and one thing alone.
Food ignorance.
Ha! Who could be ignorant about food?
It’s delicious and I eat it and nom nom nom!
The truth is… a lot of people are food ignorant.

Oh Dresden. Why do you do this to us? You’re a caloric harlot, seducing me away from my Weight Watchers/Insanity/Jenny Craig/Fad-Pointless-Diet-of-the-Month! These delicious pastries, and I can’t eat them or I’ll get fat! You’re cruel.
Yes… I’m so good at my job that people treat me like I’m trying to break up their marriage.
And yes, I’m not above that kind of shameless self promotion.

But here’s the thing:

Pastries won’t make you fat.

Cake. Pie. Crumpets. Scones. Bread. Cuppies. Cookies. Tortes and tarts and everything you can think of looking for in the pornographic world of sweet treats.

Calm yourself. Everything becomes PG when made out of fondant.

None of them will make you fat as long as you don’t mess with their purity… and you sustain some self-control.

There’s two things that cause the perpetuation of the ‘sweets will make me fat‘ mindset.
Portion control.. and synthetic garbage designed to make you think that portion control doesn’t matter.
You know that whole primitive thing I was blathering on about?
Well being a basic design means your body likes really basic things.
Pure fats. Pure proteins. Pure sugars.

The flip side of that, is that this first grade draft of the human body really dislikes complex things, and has no idea what the hell to do with them.
Enter margarine, synthetic sugar substitutes and the like.

“Why must you make everything so difficult?”

Your simpleton body has no idea what to do with these complicated, pretend foods… so it stores them, or ignores them. Generally speaking, though – it stores them until it figures out how to process them (which it won’t, because it doesn’t know how).

Vicious cycle is vicious.

Words like “Butter” and “Sugar in the raw” are sexy… not only because you think they look good, but because underneath all that hype… the carpet matches the drapes.

Unless you’re one of our vegan friends (in which case, namaste. I admire your dedication to stealing the food of all the animals your claim to so vehemently adore…**), there’s no average reason to pretend that putting some hydrogenated space oil in your cupcake is going to make it any better for you. No no. Quite the opposite.

Portion control is simple. You know how everything you’ve ever purchased prepackaged from a legitimate food retailer has that Nutrition Information panel on the back? And you know how the very first things it says is “Serving Size“?

Exhibit A.

Well that, my babies, is portion control in action.
But… But… what about things I make at home that DON’T have that jazzy panel on it?
Common sense is your ally on that one.

Survey says that (while you may really really want to) eating an entire pan of chocolate peanut butter brownies is bad for you – and that’s accurate. So is eating half of it… or a slice larger than the width of your hand.

Rule of thumb: If you think it’s decadent… it probably is.

So enjoy the sliver of it that you have. Enjoy it like it’s the only tiny piece of brownie you can have today- which in the case of chocolate peanut butter brownies, it will be.
But enjoy it knowing that everything inside that brownie was designed with your design in mind.
Your body is going to eat the ever-loving hell out of that brownie, the moment it enters your digestive system. And everything gone means effectively nothing left, as the sustainable nutrients have been removed and metabolized by you (you sexy beast), and eventually you’ll physically discard the useless dry mass left behind.

Now that that really obscure (but totally there) parting mental image is in your head…
I present this entry’s recipe.

Totally Not Bad For You Because We Just Learned About Real Ingredients and Portion Control Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Things you might consider having on hand:

  • An oven, preheated to 350 degrees, capital F
  • Two mixing bowls, one large and one medium
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • An electric mixer or some kickass “I work out” biceps and a whisk
  • A wooden spoon
  • A knife you trust to assist you in making things classy
  • A strainer or a fine sieve
  • Something on hand to clean up your mess – you slob
  • And as always, someone that isn’t you on hand to clean up the mess left by your culinary prowess

What it takes:

  • 2 (3 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons soy milk
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

What you do next:

In the medium bowl, beat your cream cheese until subservient and smooth.

  • “You see what you make me do? DO YOU SEE? Shhh, pretty face. Don’t you cry.”

    Then, in the spirit of Waco, add the peanut butter, 1/4 cup of the sugar, 1 of the eggs, and the soy milk until smooth, completely mixed, and uniquely brainwashed.

    Take your large bowl and mix together melted butter, the remaining 2 cups sugar, and the vanilla bean paste with a wooden spoon.

    Mix the remaining 3 eggs into the large bowl, one at a time, single file – like the good little eggs that they are.

    Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into the large bowl. Add the chocolate chips and stir until one big happy fam.

    Being devoured by tiny cannibals is a super dooper swell time.

    Now here’s where it gets oh-so-technical (yes, that was sarcasm. no, I’m not sorry about it).

    Scoop 1 cup of the chocolatey batter from the large bowl and set it aside.

    Then take what remains and spread evenly into your greasy pan.

    Next, evenly shmear the peanut butter mixture from the medium bowl on top of the evenly spread chocolate mixture.

    Now take the cup o’ chocolate stuffs on standby and plop little teaspoon sized blobs on top of the peanut butter mixture. Drag a knife through these blobs, pulling them around into a marbled design.

    Marble: Making classy shit classier since 650 BC.

    Depending on your oven… bake about 35 minutes… or until it does not bleed its chocolate peanut buttery blood when brutally stabbed with a tooth pick.

    Eat it. Love it. Be at peace with it.

    Fin.

    ** : It’s all fun and games. I don’t really hate vegans, I love them dearly… unless they’re terrible people. In which case I hate them. I also don’t think them to be baby eating hippies – though I do believe hippies that eat babies exist. Remember, I’m not to be taken seriously. Except for the hatchling jokes. I meant those.

The ‘H’ in ‘Whisk’

There’s a couple of things I never thought I’d consider doing in my life.

These things include, but are not limited to:

  1. Dancing for a room of paying audience members (both with and/or without my clothing).
  2. Running, voluntarily. Which is to say without the incentive of pursuit by large rabid beasts and/or dinosaurs.
  3. Math problems that surpass the 2’s times tables in level of difficulty.
  4. Declining free chocolate based on worry about maintaining my girlish physique.
  5. Living somewhere so senselessly cold that I’d consider buying a Snuggie.

Yet… here I am. It’s hardly October (hardly as in… it’s not), yet it’s only a handful of measly degrees above freezing, and I’ve spent the last hour seriously debating the perks of purchasing a Snuggie.

Perks include: Cleverly disguising a human faced stomach tumor.

But being that last night, I ate so much free chocolate that I’m pretty sure I actually had a diabetic seizure, I feel as though I cannot cross two things off of my list of Don’ts in less than 24 hours. So I’ll resort to Plan B for preventing frozen winter boredom: Baking cookies designed to be eaten with the warming fuzzy assistance of Whiskey.

Going to be tasting so good, cravats are about to look cool.

Since it’s still technically fall, and therefore my harsh opinions on the flavors of fall being attributed to under appreciated spices remain in the front of my brain – I’ve decided to bring out another recipe that I consider an ode to the clove. Be prepared to pair these cookies with some special Irish Coffee and a swanky fireplace.

What Google images considers to be “looking cool by the fireplace”.

Soul Saving Spice Cookies

Things you might consider having on hand:

  • An oven, preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 2 bowls, one of medium build and one large
  • A fine strainer or sieve
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • A wooden spoon
  • A metal whisk, ‘h’ stressed
  • A cookie sheet, greased up and ready for action
  • Spatula
  • 1 fl oz of whiskey for personal consumption (to enhance maximum personal baking potential)
  • Paper towels or counter wipes to help clean as you go
  • As always, someone on hand that is not you to wash the dishes left behind by your whiskey maxed baking potential
  • 1 additional fluid ounce of whiskey for reasons unknown
  • A fabulously functioning fridge for firming dough (and for storing your appreciation of my arm akimbo-ing alliterations)

In case you didn’t know.

What it takes:

  • 5 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon clove
  • 2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups molasses
  • 3/4 cup soy milk
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla

What you do next:

Using the sieve, sift the flour, the spices and the baking soda together in your bowl of medium build.

‘My mom says I’m not fat, I’m fluffy.’

In the large bowl, whisk the brown sugar with the veggie oil, molasses, milk and vanilla. Whisk them. Into shape. Shape it up. Get straight. Go forward. Move ahead. Try to detect it. It’s not too late. To whisk it. Whisk it good.

Devo is silently judging you. And they… are not impressed.

Slowly add the dry contents of the not so big bowl into the whisked-it-good wet contents of the large bowl.

Mix these until they’re well combined, making sure that any awkward clusters of flour that occasionally form when mixing things are popped and mixed homogeneously into the rest of the mix.

Then, insert the large bowl of dough into your trusty fridge to chill the mix for easy handling. Chill for about an hour. In the meantime… enjoy those fluid oz of whiskey at your own personal discretion (perhaps while YouTube-ing Devo videos).

Once your dough is nice and firm, there’s a few difference ways to portion it out for baking. You can scoop out tablespoon sized balls of dough, place them on the cookie sheet about an inch apart and then use your fingers or a glass to flatten them slightly. Or, you can roll out the dough to a thickness of about a quarter of an inch and then punch out cookies with your favorite cookie cutter.

Angry Cookie has a chip (HA!) on his shoulder, and will not hesitate to punch you out.

Slide the greased up, cookie covered cookie sheet into the hot and ready oven… slowly. Slowly…slower…. Yeah. That’s nice. That’s real nice.

Bake for about 8 minutes, depending on your oven.

Ovens, like people, are all different. Some are fast, some are slow, but most are more burnt out than one might originally think.

‘I’ve seen a lot of hurt in my day. I’ve seen men do things… Things no one should ever see.”

Remove from oven when done, and let them cool on the cookie sheet for about a minute. Then remove them from the sheet using a spatula and allow to finish cooling on a heat resistant surface or cookie rack. You can eat them warm… and it’s my personal preference to do so.

As I mentioned before, these cookies are designed to pair perfectly with some Irish Coffee. Typically, I dole out recipes one at a time. But, because I feel that I might offer you a version of Irish Coffee more improved and far superior to that which you are used… Below is my “But I’m a pastry chef!” version.

‘I’m a professional. Or so says this hat.’

Irish Coffee, The Better Kind

  • 1 1/2 ounces of Irish Whiskey
  • 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 8 oz hot coffee (preferably from a French Press)
  • 2 tablespoons of cold heavy cream

A cup. You need it. Those things above, you mix in it.

Now. Retire to the fireplace (In the event that your fireplace was the one provided in this evenings Google Image search, please relocate to another fireplace.) with at least 2 cookies. One for each hand. Or one for each side of your mouth to chew on. Or better still, one as a reward for each shot of whiskey you’ve had by this point.  Enjoy the Old Spice level of awesome that emits from your every pore… and forgive me if you can for the Devo on repeat in your head.

1954’s OG Snuggie. Because… what the fuck, 1954?

.Septovember.

Dear Fall,

You skipped us.

It’s ok, though. I’m still going to get super personal with your delicious flavors.

 

Love,

Dresden

Oh pumpkin.

Why have you over taken Fall?

You’re the Lance Bass of the autumnal boy band of flavor.

Why do people remember you… Because you refuse to go away?
It’s not that pumpkin is gross or unusable, I just think it’s so over appreciated in the fall that other, better (in my opinion, naturally) flavors go on ignored. Furthermore, when most appreciated, pumpkin isn’t even the one doing all the flavor work.

Now call me weird, but I belive less in food by season, and more in spice.
Spice describes a season more than one might think.

*Please pause and take this time to visualize a CSI type crime lab. Pumpkin’s flavor face is projected in front of a room of serious, but sassily dressed 30 somethings too attractive to work in a crime lab. Alpha male #1 steps towards the projection and leans in to get a better look at something on Pumpkin. ‘Hey Chad, there’s something here. Can you enhance this area?’*

Also an over-rated pumpkin.

Enter the clove.
For years, it has been seasoning your autumnal favorites in a flavor that matches the swan song of the leaves on your fruit trees outside. It has been making those pumpkin breads smell less like moldy scotch tape (go ahead, smell pumpkin bread batter prior to seasoning, and then disagree with me), and more like the warm, sweet-spicey scent of pre-winter indulgence you’ve sat an enjoyed with some black tea and a tablespoon of milk. And here you thought it was all about the pumpkin.

‘I’m a magical cooking wand for a warlock!’

Being that I’m clearly a nutty kind of crazy for the wonderfully rich flavor of the clove, I figure I’ll take this time to share one  of my clove based concoctions.

I’ll keep it simple, as these days I need to keep my cooking on a plane of simple deliciousness. I’d like to remind you that my recipes designed to be executed in the kitchen while occupied (whether with work, stress, or a critter on your hip), I encourage you to step away from being constantly busy when having kitchen time. Slip off your shoes, get comfy and post a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign in your brain space. Make clove cooking your meditation time, because really… you need it. And so do I.

‘Esscuze me while I slip into my baking ensemble.’

Hot Honeycrisp Apple Spread

Things you might consider having on hand:

  • A larger baking dish
  • A paring knife
  • An apple corer (this is a luxury, not a necessity)
  • 2 mixing bowls,  one large and one not so large
  • A wooden spoon (if you’re afraid to use your hands…in which case… this frown I’m now wearing is for you)
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • A fine strainer or sieve
  • Paper towels or counter wipes to help you clean and you go along
  • Someone else that is not you on stand by to do your dishes when you’re done being a culinary genius.

What it takes:

  • 6 honeycrisp apples – peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup soy milk (you can substitute dairy based milk. Soy is simply my preference.)

What you do next:

Oven gets cranked up to 350 degrees (Fahrenheit, because I live in Americaland).

Grease down – or up, depending on your preference – a semi large baking dish with either unsalted butter or pan spray.
(Semi large in this instance means I’d like you to use one capable of holding around 2 quarts of delicious business on any given day.)

In case the ‘peeled, cored and sliced’ part on the apple ingredient wasn’t explanatory enough… you need to peel, core and slice up those apples. The thinner the slice, the better the bake. Plop those in a large mixing bowl and set them aside until I tell you to get them.

In the apple-less, not so large mixing bowl, grab your sieve and sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

Now collect your large bowl of apples (the time is nigh!) and sprinkle the dry mixture over them.

Using that wooden spoon or those trusty mitts of yours, mix apples with the dry powders until they’re all uniformly coated.
(If your brain just put provided you with a mental picture of a tiny Apple Man in Navy uniform, I applaud you.)

US Navy, Apple Division Class of ’47 photo is currently unavailable.

Next up, empty this mixture of happy, enlisted Apple Men into your prepared baking pan. Spread them out evenly, and then pour your soy milk  across the lot of them.

Then, into the oven.

Oven times vary by location, elevation, and how generally finicky your oven. Start at about 45 minutes, and then check for tenderness.

Otis would like you to tryyyyy a little tenderness.

Tenderness is determined by taking a dull object (like a wooden spoon) and poking to see if the baked apples have crisp to them, or if they’re nice and soft. Soft is what you’re going for. Soft, but not soggy.
If they’re underdone, give them another 7 – 10 minutes.

Out of the oven they come, and then you have some options.

‘Apple me like one of your French girls.’

Take some warm fresh bread (like my Pain au Lait, pictured above) and lightly butter it with salted, sweet cream butter. Then smear on some of the hot apple spread.

Or, chill the spread first. Hot or chilled, the spread can be paired with breads, ice cream, pork, yogurt… and even (if you want to spite me for my above listed anti-Pumpkin appreciation) improve some pumpkin pie by using it as a pie topping. (I know. That does sound amazing. You’re welcome).

‘I…am…redeemed!’

Post Script: Because I feel I must do this – please remember that ovens are hot and so is the food that comes out of them. Please act accordingly and be careful. If you burn yourself or your hands or your mouth… please exit the kitchen and leave future endeavors to Marie Callender.

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