to make a macaron

so you want to make some macaron. first, let’s say it right. not macarOOn. it’s not even technically macarahn or macarohn (although those are both better than macaroon). it’s frenchie. macaroh – and end on a nasally frenchie sound from the front of your throat.

the first two batches of macaron i made were bad. yes, they tasted good, but the macaron is as much about the aesthetic as the taste. you’ve got to get that foot on there. without the foot, you’ve got a bad macaron. on my third try, i found a good recipe, and i had watched a tutorial on youtube on how to prepare the batter. my feet arrived.

the first and foremost thing you need to make macaron? a kitchen scale. this makes all theย difference in the world, because you can get your ingredients exact. and macaron are picky, so you need exactness.

scale

 

the ingredients are pretty minimal.

120 grams egg whites, divided
35 grams white sugar
150 grams almond flour
150 grams powdered sugar

you will also need to make sugar syrup:
150 grams white sugar
50 grams water

ingredients

making macaron starts the day before. as much as conventional wisdom says not to, you need to let your egg whites sit out on the counter overnight. this thickens them up and helps maintain the meringue. you can cover them – they just need to be room temperature for about 24 hours.

start off by whipping 60 grams of egg whites in your mixer until you get soft peaks. then add the 35 grams of sugar. let this whip away while you make the sugar syrup.

you can use your smallest pan for the syrup. throw in the sugar and water and whisk to combine. let it come to a boil and once it reaches 230F on a thermometer, you’re golden. pour the boiling syrup slowly into the mixer as it’s still whipping your egg whites and sugar.

syruplet that whisk for about 10 minutes or so while it cools down and creates a nice, shiny meringue.

in the meantime, you can get your almond flour and powdered sugar measured out. it helps to push the almond flour through a sifter, just because there are occasionally still larger chunks of almond in it.

once everything’s measured, combine the almond flour, powdered sugar and remaining egg whites (60 grams) in a bowl. mix it together.

dough

this is also a good time to prepare your pans. i use cookie sheets with parchment paper. you can also use those silpat things.

by this time, your meringue should be pretty cool. fold in the almond/sugar mixture into the meringue. this is where diligence is key! once everything’s combined, you need to continue to mix the batter. this is called “macaronage” – you push the batter up against the side of the bowl until it runs off your spatula like magma. too little and your foot isย nonexistent. too much and your foot will run all over the place (hahaha).

not quite there.

not quite there.

once your batter is good to go, stick a little bit into a pastry bag to pipe onto the cookie sheets. i put some food coloring in the bag itself to get the swirly look. had a couple weird ones when some of the food coloring splattered out. if your macaron don’t flatten out to a smooth, shiny surface, you haven’t macaronaged your batter enough.

flat

in the past i’ve made my macaron about 1″ wide – this time i made them wider because i hate filling so many macaron. smaller macaron take up 3 of my cookie sheets, but these wider ones only took up 2 sheets. woo! now it’s time to let them sit. yes, leave the macaron out on your counter for about an hour – the top should turn from shiny to matte.

matte

once they look like this, time to turn the oven to 320F. put them in for 15-25 minutes. the smaller macaron i make take about 13 minutes, while these guys took close to 23 minutes. you can test them by grabbing the top of a macaron and shaking it to see if it kind of slides against the parchment. if the top comes off and leaves the foot on the parchment, not done yet! (i did that today…oops.) check in 2-minute intervals until they’re good.

look at the foot!

look at the foot!

let them sit on the parchment for a while before unsticking and filling. i made a cream cheese/almond butter/powdered sugar filling this time. try to match up the cookies with like sizes and fill away. this time i used a piping bag to fill – much easier than a knife!

doneput them in the fridge for the first 24 hours at least. and above all, make sure you don’t store them with any other kind of cookies – they will take on the flavor of the cookies around them. and if you don’t have a perfect macaron the first time around, my experience has been there are always many people willing to eat your mistakes ๐Ÿ™‚

food reveal!

today was a good food day! i was asleep by 11 last night, so i ended up waking up when nate came home at 7:15. fine, fine, i’ll get up. rolled out of bed and promptly went to the strawberry farm where i picked 11 lbs. of strawberries. it was cool and had just rained, so there weren’t a ton of people there (but still a lot!). later today i’m going to make jam.

IMG_9362after i brought the berries home, i went to the food co-op to get almond flour and almond butter for my macaron making tomorrow afternoon. while i was there, i picked up my first CSA box! woo!

IMG_9351i got a half share because it’s just me and nate. or rather, just me, since nate sort of eats whatever whenever and will only occasionally eat what i eat. hrm.

IMG_9352 IMG_9355i think this is the red russian kale.

IMG_9354

this i believe is arugula.
IMG_9353and this is spinach! also got some garlic scapes and ….

IMG_9359an egg share! woo!

ok, now i’m off to take a nap and then time for some jam making.

zzzz

i

am

so

tired.

this week has been an awful week for sleeping for me. not sure if it’s the weather, the anticipation of vacay coming up, or what, but i’ll bet i’ve averaged about 5 hours a night all week, a lot of it interrupted (i know you with kids are rolling your eyes, but i like my 8 hours at least). tonight is the night, however. i’m taking a sleeping pill at 9:30 (like, now), and hopefully conking about by 10:30. that will give me 9-ish hours? which is a good start at a recovery.

this weekend is my first CSA box! i’ll take pics and post what i get.

strawberry season!

crisp

strawberry season is a couple weeks behind due to the cold spring, but it’s finally arrived! i picked up a quart at the farmers’ market today and made a strawberry-rhubarb crisp. on tuesday, the pick-your-own will open, so i’ll head over there and get some to make some jam.

quick recipe for 8″ square pan

slice berries and rhubarb – about a lb of strawberries and a cup of chopped rhubarb. spread in pan and sprinkle with white sugar and flour – about 1 tblsp each

crumble:
1/2 c flour
1/2 c. oatmeal
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c melted butter
mix and sprinkle on top of fruit. bake at 350ยบ for 20-25 mins.

this will be juicy!

ps – i’m tired of paying a premium to buy ice cream made with real sugar.

curse you minnesota!

via http://www.captureminnesota.com/photos/960907

via http://www.captureminnesota.com/photos/960907

from a non-existant spring to a constant state of tropical storm warning. it’d be nice to have some decent weather so i can go out for a run without sweating half my weight by the time i’m done.

meanwhile, my AC hadn’t seemed to be working. finally today i asked the upstairs neighbor if hers was working. nope. so i called our landlord, who called the guy who installed the units. after an hour and a half, he got them working.

whoever had done the finishing work was an idiot (not him, he said) – they hooked up the units to the opposite apartment. on top of that, the gal upstairs hadn’t flipped her breaker to turn hers on, so no one was getting any cold air. plus mine has a freon leak (what??).

no worries; now the AC works, and nate will hopefully be less crabby.

the fourth

fireworks

i am planning on *finally* going to mandan for the fourth of july. my parents and various siblings have been going to mandan, north dakota, where my aunt and uncle live for the fourth of july for years, and i have never had or taken the opportunity to join them. apparently it’s the best fireworks display a person can see on top of a whole lot of other fun. I have the days on the vacation calendar at work, i’ve told everyone i’m going to be gone that week, and barring a disaster, i will finally be inducted into the mandan independence day club.

and a relevant prompt: tell me a memory from the fourth of july.

my early independence days in austin seemed to be full of pomp and circumstance. it seemed that every fourth was the same, even though the concrete memory i have in my mind may be the result of only one year, or a melding of different years. after waking up excited for the parade, my family walked down to the end of the driveway where our tall flagpole was and hoisted the flag up the pole. ย whilst watching old glory wave, or just lie still against the pole, we sang “america the beautiful” because it was a much better song than the actual national anthem, argued my mom. then one year, or every year, as my memory is sketchy, my aunts and uncles stopped over for coffee cake, and my mom made eggs benedict for breakfast.

then it was off to the parade, where horses and floats, bands and fire trucks marched past us, throwing candy out their windows* and from floats. it was at these parades that some animosity was fostered among the different supporters of the hormel plant in town. a strike in the mid 80s had effectively divided the town, which you can still see from time to time today.

after the parade, we stopped by our parents’ friends’ place, who had a garage with a screen over it in the summer time so they could sit in their garage and not worry about bugs. they also have THE COOLEST fisher price little people toys. they had a castle! it was awesome. alice was also a really good cook from what i can remember, and we probably had lunch there.

then it was a waiting game until fireworks. after supper we got antsy for darkness to fall, and finally it was time to pop popcorn to place in a paper bag with lots of butter and salt. we stashed bottles, and later cans, of pepsi in a small hard-top cooler and drove over to the kmart parking lot. my mom popped the tops off the bottles of pepsi on the car’s hubcap, and we sat on the hood of the car waiting for full dark. we chomped halfway through the bag before the actual fireworks started, but once they started, we forgot about the popcorn anyway.

*did you know that they can’t *throw* candy anymore? they have to walk to the kids and hand it to them. good grief.

flab

here is a prompt i came across in my goldberg book: “ten minutes on being fat, chubby, flabby, stout, bulky, paunchy, pot-bellied, fleshy, blubbery, plump, round, or corpulent.” i guess i can write to that.

i have never been skinny, or thin. i’ve heard stories of my dad’s comment, when he and his sisters were watching me run as a two year old, “well, she’ll never be a sprinter.” true enough.

the thinnest i felt while growing up was during a growth spurt – i must have added a bunch of inches to my weight around the time i was 12 and 13, because i was able to fit into a size 12 jeans and a medium shirt.

the most i’ve weighed was right before i started running. the scale was tipping way too close to a number that was too close for comfort to another number. the number was one thing, but another was how uncomfortable i felt with myself. i never felt bad about myself, or had low self esteem because of my weight; i just felt physically uncomfortable. after losing the weight i did, i remember how annoying it was to find clothes that fit the way i wanted them to and didn’t make me feel like i was always having to tug something somewhere. on top of that, the boobs were (well, still are) ginormous. that doesn’t help matters.

then there was the matter of chairs. i remember going to a lecture at scsu for a class and we had to sit in the theater chairs, which were built many years ago. after about half an hour wedged into the chair, i was starting to get clausterphobic. i don’t run into that that much anymore, although i wouldn’t be surprised if i still did.

the thing is, now i feel more self conscious about my flab, probably because it really is more flabby, in that it’s looser skin that jiggles around because it doesn’t have as much fat underneath it to keep it taut. the two places i wish would tighten up are my upper stomach (above the waistband) and my inner thighs. my butt can jiggle all it wants, and we all know my boobs will jiggle til the day i die.

so that’s what i know about flab, fat, chub, or corpulentness.

gutter

every time i watch a star trek movie that features spock’s mother, i keep trying to think of her name (amanda grayson) and all i can think of is the gray part, and so i think of sasha grey, who is a porn star! so when i do a web search for sasha grey, i get a bunch of porn! ack!

#nerdworldproblems

missing!

as most of you know, i’m working my way through the hercules and xena episodes again, very slowly. while perusing episodes, i noticed that a couple of the seasons have less episodes than others. i already knew that “lyre lyre” (one of the best xena episodes) was missing, but i didn’t know there were more.

so i did a comparison, thank you wikipedia.

missing herk episodes:
yes viriginia, there is a hercules (season 4) (great episode)
greece is burning (season 5) (another great episode!!)

missing xena episodes:
lyre lyre (season 5)
antony and cleopatra (also season 5)

why these episodes?? i could possibly see some weird copyright thing with lyre lyre since it uses a bunch of tunes that are copyrighted, but the others? i’ll have to watch them and see what’s going on in those episodes that would get them booted off netflix.

ETA: omg i had to pull out my dvds. watching virginia episode now! #nerdworldproblems