Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Brown Sugar

I made peanut butter cookies last night with my kids.  I love peanut butter cookies, but even better than the cookies themselves is the dough.  I think it is the best cookie dough of all.

I struggled a little but with my dough this time, though.  A while back, I accidentally left my brown sugar bag unsealed, and it got rock hard.  I wrapped the hard rock with wet paper towels and resealed it, hoping this would bring the moisture back to the sugar and save it.  It sort of worked.  There was a lot of sugar that became loose and moist, but there were a ton of little hard sugar rocks.  If I picked them up with my finger, they wouldn't crumble.  I tried sifting them...I actually tried three times with different sized strainers, but the sugar was too moist; it didn't sift well. 

So finally I gave up and decided to use white sugar and molassass.  I read on wikipedia that if you mix one tablespoon of brown sugar with one cup of white sugar, it is the same as one cup of brown sugar.  I tried this ratio, but the result was not nearly dark enough for me.  I doubled the molassass, and the mixture was sufficiently dark, but still not as good as brown sugar. 

Mmmmm, I love the way brown sugar mixes with peanut butter.  Sometimes when I'm craving peanut butter cookie dough, I'll dip a tablespoon in peanut butter and then dip it in sugar, and then eat it up.  :)

Anyway...I was concerned about my cookies because they seemed too light in color, but they actually turned out great.  They are really moist, and they didn't seem to get hard the next day.  Maybe the extra molassass made it softer?  I've definately consumed more than my fare share in the last 24 hours...but the kids don't seem to complain.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Making Yogurt, part 1

I am on doctor's orders to eat yogurt every day.  Well actually, she told me to eat yogurt three times a day, but I just can't consume that much yogurt.  She recommended that I try to make my own yogurt because it's easier, cheaper, and tastes better than store bought.  I bought some freeze dried yogurt starters, and I finally got around to trying it out.

My first attempt was a total failure.  What I ended up with was essentially stinky milk.  Why didn't it congeal?  You are supposed to heat up the milk to the boiling point and let it cool to 108 degrees.  Then you add the packet of bacteria and let it incubate for four hours. 

I think this is where I failed, "incubate".  Am I supposed to have some sort of yogurt machine that keeps the milk warm while it is incubating?  Great, one more appliance to clutter up my cupboard.

What do you all think?  Have you tried this before?  What am I missing?  Your advice is much appreciated.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A little break

March is a month of longing.  We know that spring is around the bend, but winter seems interminable.  My husband and I like to go to the Carribbean for spring break, but we decided we had to take a few years off until our kids are a little bit older.  Desperate to get away, we decided to do something simple:  a mini hotel vacation right here in town.  Our plan was to head Dowtown St. Paul after naps, check in, go for a swim, have dinner, swim again, sleep in the hotel, and then swim one more time in the moring before we left.  We decided to stay at the Embassy Suites.  The pictures on the web showed they had a nice pool and affordable prices.  We like staying in a suite because we can put the kids in the "living room" in their pack-and-plays and we get the "bedroom" to ourselves.

When we arrived at the Embassy Suites, we were more than happy with our choice.  The pictures on the web had not done justice to the beauty of this hotel.  It's a very classy looking building.  It is designed in courtyard style; all the suites have windows on the inner courtyard and on the outside of the building.  The inner courtyard is centered around a pretty waterfall and includes a patio for the Irish pub attached to the hotel and the hotel's breakfast dining area.  But what really sold me was the duckies.  I knew as soon as I saw them that I would have two well-entertained kids for the weekend.  "Look, duckies!" I told them in a dramatic whisper, and they were hooked.  When we weren't swimming, we were in the courtyard, running around and watching the ducks swim, prune themselves, and eat. 

We had a really nice weekend, and it was a great way to get away without going away.