Friday, May 27, 2011

Cooking Adventures. 1

Being deployed is hard.  When you aren't near your favorite stores with all your favorite things.  Or sometimes you don't even have the means to make things happen, like cooking.  For over 2 years, I only had a microwave and mini fridge.  I have microwaved eggs, I've trekked in the rain to a community kitchen for cupcakes, I dealt with no ice cream because a freezer was optional..  Being deployed sucks.

At work, we are in communication with some of the vessels in the AOR.  We do the same jobs, just somewhere else.  I try not talk about civilization to them, because I've been in that situation where people talk about their "real life" aka their American life and I don't have the same things that they have (my own bedroom that didn't include a bathroom, a kitchen, etc).  It sometimes feels like they are rubbing it in, despite knowing that isn't the intention, really I know, they were just telling me about their normal life, which happened(s) to be better than mine.. :)

One day, I accidentally brought up the fact that I was eating an enchilada for dinner while chatting with someone.  I received the standard, you asshole comments, and immediately felt pretty bad, so I offered a compromise, what could I send?  Its nice when people send you things that you've asked for.  Sugar cookies was the solution.

So, I went on a baking spree.  When I went to the NEX the other day to pick up ingredients, they also had marshmellows for $1.  Woot!  Rice Krispy Treats!  And since there was no cheap rice krispy cereal in a bag I was feeling experimental, I got chocolate rice krispy cereal instead of the regular kind.  There was also some Jello No Bake strawberry cheesecake thingies on sale, which I also purchased, but decided to make another day.

All the supplies.  Including the ipod dock, which is one of the most super-de-duper items I own.  This cooking session also served as a jam session.
Yes, I'm lazy, I use prepackaged stuff, like sugar cookie (which I didn't find at the NEX, siigh) and brownie mix.  While I appreciate the effort that it takes to make something from scratch, sometimes its hard to find all the necessary ingredients to make something from scratch here.  Teh Ginger's wife challenged me once to make a rainbow cake, which essentially is white cake mix with food coloring, placed in the pan in layers..  And while it looks awesome, I don't have that much free time on my hands, nor the kosher food coloring kit that I could buy from amazon.  Maybe one day when I'm a housewife domesticated goddess (both options are so ludacris).

Peppermint Brownies..  oh does that have alcohol in it?  my bad.
Recipe for peppermint brownies:
Follow the directions on the brownie mix, except for the add water part.  Add peppermint schnapps till you think there's enough minty smell.  Not too much cause you'll make your brownies all watery then they won't be fudgy and delicious.  The recipe called for 2 tablespoons of water per package (I used 2 packages), so I put prob over 4 tablespoons but less than 1/3 of a cup in the mix, but who was measuring?

You can also substitute your own flavor, I've also done these with amaretto, but I didn't use enough so you couldn't really tell it was there, although there was a slightly nutter than normal flavor, even though there were no nuts in mix.
this photo is awesome, mostly because of how hard it was to take the photo... and how delicious the batter smelled.
The best part about making brownies is making sure you got all the batter out of the bowl...  Waste not, want not.
For rice krispy treats, I followed the generic directions you can find online.  6 cups rice krispies, 10 oz marshmallows (although apparently these bags are actually 16 oz, but I helped the first bag out by eating several), a few spoonfuls of butter, and for the PB part, the recipe called for 1/2 a cup, but I had a little more than 1/2 a cup of PB left, so I just used the rest of it.  Yeah, thats how I operate, I do what I wawnt!  Take that directions!
PB chocolate rice krispy treats ingredients.

melting too many marshmallows for the rice krispy treats.  wooden spoon = bad idea, lesson proved several times.

Trying to get them to go in the pan proved difficult with a wooden spoon.  I smartened up and used a silicone spatula for the 2nd batch.

While it looks mostly disgusting.. its so delightful!
It made me keep thinking of the spider webs in Tol Barad where you have to kill the spiders.
(WoW reference for those of you that didn't get it).

The brownies finished right as I finished the 2nd batch of rice kripies.  So beautiful!
  And the ipod dock remote sneakin into the picture (which is why I bought this particular dock).

Mixing up the sugar cookies.  Baking isn't fun unless you can play with your hands get dirty.
These are the most awesome pants I own, btw, my Merry pants.

Look at those beautiful golden edges.
What I learned from all this:
My oven is environmentally friendly and after about an hour of being on, it decided it weren't gonna work no more (intentional bad grammar that goes back to a story about a printer and my college roommate and her Eastern NC talkin that I failed to understand once).

This sucks because my oven is kinda cool in that you turn it on for a certain amount of time, say 45 minutes, and then it starts to cool down after 45 minutes.  This doesn't mean if you don't take your stuff out of the oven it won't burn (lesson learned the hard burnt way), because it will still be hot.  But after 2 batches of sugar cookies not getting my beautiful golden edges because they weren't cooking at all, I had to just set the oven to stay on and not use the timer... Siiiiiigh, keeping up with time is soooo annoying.  I should probably invest in a timer if I'm going to keep caudling the inner Betty F-in Crocker.

Baking in mass quantities seems easier than baking one thing at a time, like sugar cookies one day, brownies the next day, etc.  I was prob in the kitchen for less than 4 hours for all of this.  Now I just need to get it packaged and boxed up so I can ship it out.  Its good I have so many boxes hanging around in my storage room.  Ah, moving every year has its benefits.... /roll eyes.  And hopefully, the mail will get there quickly!

**All photos are personal, and using a dslr one handed is VERY difficult while you're trying to do other things with the other hand, like not pour brownie batter all over the counter or get the blob of marshmellows and cereal into the pan and not on the counter..  While tricky, I'm amazing, so I make shit happen.  :)


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