Monthly Archives: September 2012

Frosted Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies

Food blogger by day, ninja superhero by night! That’s my new adopted motto. Or at least it would be, if I was, you know, famous enough to have a motto.

Right now my motto is “get through these next 24 hours and I’ll give you [you being myself] a cookie.”

Pretty sweet (ha ha yes I’m sufficiently hallucinatory to find that funny) deal, right?

Speaking of alter-egos and frosted goodness, though, every good superhero has an alter-ego. Nobody in their right mind is just a superhero. They’re usually your plain average Joe or Jane, only endowed with extraterrestrial or gadget-inspired awesomeness that’s a smidgen above the rest.

Batman had Bruce Wayne. Spiderman had Peter Parker. Sailor Moon had Serena/Usagi, although how anyone ever fell for that is beyond me. Alter-egos abound in the superhero world, and it’s only a matter of excruciating amounts of suspended disbelief that keeps that balance safe.

But what about the rest of us? I mean, how many times do we come home ready to face-to-bed from work, only to have to slap on a huge smile (or at least an apron and a frown) and play the mom/dad/chef because, oh wait, you are the mom/dad/chef of the house and you have hungry mouths to feed?

I haven’t been the mom, dad, or chef. I’m just saying. It could be a hard life. I’m sure some of you generously patient child-rearing souls out there know what I’m talking about.

Even without the responsibility of another human life on my conscience, I go through so many personalities day in and day out that it certainly feels that way. If Clark thought he had it hard trying to juggle two measley personae, imagine what the rest of us average people must feel juggling, say, fifty.

Anytime I get unduly stressed, as is happening at this very moment as I stand here before you as a newly-inducted undergraduate teaching veteran (I had my first discussion sections today!… Read more

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Pumpkin Spiced Granola

Do you all know what it means to feel hurt by someone you thought you could trust?

It feels a little bit like you’re sinking, a little bit like you’re falling, and a little bit like somebody’s tied you up by the extremities and thrown you into the water, all at the same time.

This isn’t an angry post, or a vengeful post, or a gossip-y post. This post is just a little…disappointed.

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this way about anything. The last time was in eighth grade when a guy I’d wanted to get in touch with because we used to be good friends hung up on me when I told him who was calling.

Something happened a while back that I didn’t think I’d have to deal with again. Past life, meet present life. I won’t go into the details, but believe you me–the feeling stinks. It’s times like these that I stop laughing at the cartoons of grown men crying for their mommies, and I curl up and cry for my mommy, too. There’s nothing like a phone call to that ever-loving maternal source to keep you feeling, well, worth something.

Cinnamon helps, too. Cinnamon always helps. I think it’s something about the warmth and feeling of nostalgic autumn days that it lends the kitchen when you’re around it.

Accomplishing things helps, too. I swam the 1.5k today in open water for the first time, then proceeded to get KO’d by food coma via some epic dim sum afterwards. Swimmers’ stomachs. Gotta love ‘em.

Flour Power: No matter how alone or down you feel, remember that the moment passes–but true friends are forever! Go look for a new activity or meet some new people in areas unrelated to your main interests; this will keep your identities from all blurring together, and prevent you from storing too many of your self-esteem eggs in one basket.
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Pumpkin Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

Ever feel like you’re being pulled apart by the seams from all the stress?

You know…the stress that always seems to converge on the very spot on which you happen to be standing at any given moment? That stress?

I feel that way all the time. Fortunately, this bread does, too. And I always say that there’s nothing better than food that understands exactly what you’re going through.

With the minutes ticking down to the first day of the school term, I can already feel the jitters creeping up all around me, as if someone’s broken into a museum of entomology and set loose all the live specimens.

I didn’t want to bog down this (truly wonderful!) post with my pre-term anxiety, but I’ll get to this amazing recipe in a second. Pinkies! But there are some major changes going on this autumn that make it different from the rest.

First off, I’m going to be teaching this year! Scary, right? Anybody who has ever been a teacher, thought of becoming a teacher, known a teacher, or had a teacher (all right, do we have everyone on board now?) knows at least something of how nerve-wracking it must feel to get up in front of an entire classroom for the first time.

Sure, I’ve been a teacher and workshop instructor before. This past summer, I taught enrichment high school writing and media classes that totally sucked up my life and threw my soul back bright and shiny new–that lesson planning does some major buffing on your self-esteem! I had a total blast, and I know I will be fine as soon as I set foot into the classroom and actually get this teaching gig on the road.

But.

Until then.

Did I mention that the kids (I say “kids”–I mean “people who are probably an average of 1-3 years younger than me; in many cases, they may be older) are all college-age?… Read more

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Black Sesame Tahini Hummus

“He bent down and pulled his wand out of the troll’s nose. It was covered in what looked like lumpy grey glue.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to funny-looking foods at my dinner table, I have a hard time keeping my imagination in check.

So when I peeked into my fridge this afternoon and noticed the woeful lack of Trader Joe’s Mediterranean hummus inside, and when I made up my mind right there that I was going to whip up my own batch of hummus with what I had on hand–black sesame seeds for tahini instead of regular white ones–you don’t need a vivid imagination like mine to imagine what happened next.

Flour Power: Making your own hummus, nut butter, or cookie butter from scratch helps you and your family avoid all those pesky preservatives lining your local store shelves. Plus, it’s a cinch! All you need are a few key ingredients, a food processor, and an active sense of adventure!

You can probably see where this discussion is headed. If you’re faint of stomach (don’t worry, I won’t go into anything actually explicit!), you might want to consider jumping to the recipe and forgetting the rest of this post ever happened. Yeah?

Still with me? Okay, here it is…

Troll bogeys.

Okay, there. I said it.

Looking at this black sesame tahini hummus, that was the first thought that popped into my mind.

It’s delicious troll bogeys, though! And the hummus doesn’t actually look like a grey lump of glue–it actually looks, feels, and tastes like your average hummus…only gray.

You can eat it with anything you like–fruit, veggies, cookie butter (okay, maybe not cookie butter, but I do have a great granola recipe to share with you guys soon that you can use it in!).… Read more

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Cookie Butter and PB Cookie-wiches

Let’s talk about Commercialized Holiday Mania.

Funflour Fact #1: Did you know that according to some studies, the number one fear in the world is not death, but public speaking? (I totally empathize!)

It’s catching. It’s contagious. And it’s extremely, rampantly…

Annoying.

You can probably guess who’s been receiving copious amounts of unseasonable (literally) emails as of late.

The great big Disney corporation has been sending me notices about its Halloween Bash since July. July, as in, the month of summer sunshine and the-only-place-that-sees-anything-remotely-autumn-like-is-Australia-where-it-SNOWS. And snow is considered winter, folks, not autumn. Don’t get me wrong: I love Disney. If I had to get a tattoo in an unnamed place, it would probably pay tribute to the cartoon version of the 100 Acre Woods inhabitants (sorry, A.A. Milne!). But when I get emails with a royal fanfare that trumpet at me, “Get your Halloween Bash tickets now, before time runs out!” while I still have my air conditioner blasting and sweat is dripping off the edge of my nose…

I don’t know what it is. Sometimes the holiday season cheer just feels sort of, you know–lacking.

Flour Power: I just signed up for a 1.5k open water swim to raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness this weekend. What have you done lately to help your community?

I say this as I drink out of my Disney-sponsored mug with a great ol’ picture of Grumpy on it and the caption: “BENEATH THIS GRUMPY EXTERIOR BEATS THE HEART OF A DASHING HERO.” I stole this mug from my dad…to whom I had given the mug as a birthday present earlier this year.

Did I mention that my life ambition is to become either the world’ greatest pirate who only steals gifts she’s already given to other people, or else a bigger grump than everyone else around me?… Read more

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Individual Kahlua Chocolate Cakes

There are two types of parents in this world.

There are parents like my roommate’s. When asked what their daughter does as an English grad student (she’s in the same program as me), they happily expound on the importance of her literary choices and defend her to the core from the most cynical attackers.

And then there are my parents.

Oh, yes. My parents are absolute gems.

They’re what I call type B parents.

B as in “Bahahaha…I have no idea in holy tarnations what my daughter does. Why don’t you ask her? Then tell me when you find out. English lit-er-what, what’s that?” (That’s my dad.)

Or B as in “Baking–why do you do that? And when did you get so fat? Here, eat more.” (That’s my mom.)

Okay, I’m partly kidding. I love my parents more than I love a great jello cheesecake (which is saying a lot). They’re possibly the funniest, most loving people in the world.

But–and this is the other big B–they do have their share of slightly sardonic parenting moments. And when I say “share,” I mean a whole whopping whipped cream-sized dollop of them.

How many of your parents proudly tell their coworkers or friends that their children bake? I know you’re out there. All I have to say is…

Boy, you lucky bugs! Are any of them looking for surrogate children? Because I volunteer! At least for the confidence boosting part.

The biggest example of this parental cynicism at work is when it comes to my baking. My mom absolutely swears to everyone and anyone that she will not eat anything I’ve made. She says this in the same voice that uses when I used to bring home A exams from school.

“A! What happened to A+? HA HA HA!”

When applied to my baking:

“No no no, my daughter made it, yeah?–I won’t touch that!… Read more

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Brownies & Chocolates, Cakes & Cupcakes

Cookie Butter Bad Boys

Awkward questions are funny. Hilarious, sometimes.

They are less funny when they happen to you.

They are even less funny when they happen to you in “real time,” a.k.a. real life, where you aren’t allowed one full week in which you painstakingly type out messages, scrap drafts, cobble together 3 sentences that sound almost civilized, and finally panic as you check your Sent Mail box right after you hit the send button.

You can probably guess who’s feeling slightly mortified at the moment.

To be fair, I’m a currently a certified patient in the Hospital of  Awkward Social Circumstances. I can’t help it.  My dad once wanted to ask a lady “how many months along” she was…Thank god I was curious and craned my neck for a glance of her first.

Verdict?


Yeah. Totally not preggers.

Genes. I blame genes.

Symptoms include laughing when things aren’t meant to be funny, going to the bathroom five times in an hour in order to avoid conversations at a party, and agonizing for hours in bed over whether or not you sounded too desperate when you were talking to your crush that afternoon.

Fortunately, my Socially Awkward Interaction of the Day (SAID) was neither meaningful nor particularly malignant in nature. I will probably not have to change my name after this encounter, although I do have an alias in case the need ever arises (it’s Rosie-Posie Foxburr of Loamsdown, in case you’re interested–courtesy of this fantastic Hobbit name generator!).

The telephone conversation:

Private number calls.

Me: Hello?

Caller: Hi. May I speak to <something like my name, sort of>.

Me: <trying to be all sly and loop-holey> There’s nobody here by that name…

Caller: I’m sorry, I said that wrong. Is Ala there?

Me: Who’s calling?

Caller: I’m calling from the National something-or-other-that-you-probably-wouldn’t-care-about-anyway. … Read more

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Pumpkin Pie Bars (and Hello from Yellowstone!)

I consider myself a fairly open-minded kind of gal.

Okay, sure–there are a few things that I tend to stereotype about. Whenever somebody says that word “Texas,” I immediately imagine a plump southern lady carrying a homemade batch of hush puppies and telling “y’all” to try a bite.

Anyone who seriously uses Twitter to update more than once a day is uncool. Anyone who still has an active Neopets account, on the other hand, is quite awesome.

And people from Idaho?

Tater farmers.

All 1,584,985 of them.

Okay, maybe 1,584,984 of them. I’m sure there’s got to be at least one kid who’s broken free from the tater chains and become a yam farmer.

I kid. I won’t deny that the thought didn’t cross my mind as I crossed into Idaho this week, though–oh yeah, did I mention that I was in Idaho? Wyoming, too. And Utah. And Montana. Doing what, you might ask?

Having a grand old family vacation!

And looking at sights like these day in and day out:

Does this photo look as insanely unreal to you as it does to me? Because this is the real deal. Midway Geysers in Yellowstone National Park. (Remember, I’m an amateur photographer who couldn’t do that sort of photo editing even if somebody set a giant grizzly on me and commanded me to do it.)

I love, love, absolutely love the feeling of being away from civilization and all of its busy buzz.

I love knowing that I can round a corner and not be bombarded by zillions of senseless advertisements telling me how a miracle detox plan is going to change my life.

I love getting in touch with my inner wolf/coyote/fox/bison/elk/whatever-the-heck-I-feel-like-being.

I love knowing that all of my cardio work on the treadmill and elliptical actually amounted to something when I descended (and climbed) the equivalent of 40 flights of stairs to see this view:

I also love the feeling of standing in the middle of the world’s first national park and feeling just the tiniest bit smug that I’m not running around with my head buried in insignificant-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things things like deadlines, grading, and life concerns.… Read more

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Bars