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Posts Tagged ‘baking’

Now for something a little different in the Christmas cookie department. How about gingersnaps that look like ancient clay tablets? With cuneiform inscriptions.

As Jennifer A Kingson writes at the New York Times, that’s what Katy Blanchard of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology brought to her holiday party a few years ago. Now everyone wants to try it.

“Ms. Blanchard, whose passions are archaeology and baking, used chopsticks, a fish knife and a gingerbread recipe that came packaged with a Coliseum-shaped cookie-cutter she once bought. Not only did her cuneiform cookies beguile her colleagues at the office party, they also gained some measure of internet renown after a Penn Museum publicist posted an article about how she made them. (Sample comment from the public: ‘Mine will probably taste more like the Dead Sea Scrolls.’)

“From there, cuneiform cookies started to become — as the newspaper The Forward put it — ‘a thing.’ Bloggers were enthralled, including one who said she was taking a class in Hittite and opted to practice on shortbread. …

” ‘It really struck the world in just the right nerdy place,’ said Ms. Blanchard, noting that a number of people, including home schooling parents, classroom teachers and scholars of ancient languages, had taken the idea and run with it. …

“Inspired by Ms. Blanchard’s cuneiform cookies, Esther Brownsmith, a Ph.D. student in the Bible and Near East program at Brandeis University who has been studying Akkadian for years, went all out: For a New Year’s party, she baked four tablets of gingerbread, each on a 13-by-18-inch pan, and copied part of the Enuma Elish, a seven-tablet Babylonian creation myth, onto them. A stunning step-by-step description of this feat has drawn thousands of ‘likes on her Tumblr blog.”

More here, at the Times.

Photo: The Forward and Kay Blanchard
The online world is snapping up recipes for these gingerbread cuneiform cookies by Katy Blanchard of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

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Here’s a nice story by NY Times reporter Dan Bilefsky about a British Muslim bake-off contestant who is a winner on many levels.

Bilefsky writes, “Prime Minister David Cameron praised her coolness under pressure. Bookmakers monitored her performance as they do election candidates.

“Television watchers admired her raspberry mille-feuille and soda-flavored cheesecakes — along with her blue chocolate peacock, and a mountain of éclairs in the form of a nun.

“The victory of Nadiya Jamir Hussain, a petite 30-year-old, head-scarf-wearing mother of three from northern England, in a wildly popular reality show called ‘The Great British Bake Off’ on [Oct. 7] has been greeted by many in Britain as a symbol of immigration success …

“Ms. Hussain’s popularity, bolstered by her self-deprecating humor and telling facial expressions, helped the final episodes of the baking program, in which contestants vie with one another to make a variety of desserts, attracting well over 10 million viewers per show, according to news reports. She has also become a darling of social media, with more than 63,000 followers on Twitter as of [Oct. 8]. …

“Ms. Hussain’s triumphant final dessert, a ‘big fat British wedding cake,’ offered a multicultural message of sorts by fusing her Bangladeshi and British identities. The lemon drizzle cake was decorated with jewels from her own wedding day in Bangladesh and was perched on a stand covered with material from a sari in red, blue and white, the colors of the Union Jack.”

More here.

Photo: Mark Bourdillon/Love Productions, via BBC
Nadiya Jamir Hussain, the winner of “The Great British Bake Off.” 

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On days when you are thinking a lot about a faraway relative in need of heavy doses of good vibes, it may make sense to do some baking.

Fortunately, I worked at home today, so I was able to spend the time between 5 and 6:15 baking rather than running for trains. The no-peel apple crisp recipe I attempted was one that Lisa posted recently on Facebook. Although it didn’t specify an oven temperature or size of pan, I guessed 350 degrees and 9 x 13, and it came out great. The ingredients include dried apricots, an orange, and walnuts. Oh, boy. Here’s the link.

More constructively, many of us sent loving messages both for the relative and her son in San Francisco, and posted and contributed to a GoFundMe site. I especially liked Suzanne’s recommendation of a visit to Glide Memorial, a comforting San Francisco church she learned about when a former colleague suffered something dark. (I have mentioned the church a few times on the blog.)

What else can you do but let people know you are thinking of them a lot? In spite of everything, I think my relative will be deeply thankful at Thanksgiving for two Good Samaritans who chose not to pass by.

Photo: http://food52.com/blog/11755-no-peel-apple-crisp

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I remember many days with Carole on the playground at recess playing house and gathering “grain,” which we pulled off a common weed and sometimes pretended to eat and sometimes buried — in case we might need extra food someday. Carole was a great kid to play with.

Asakiyume, whom I met in adulthood, is the kind of person I would have wanted to play with in childhood. She has a wild imagination that seems to fire on all burners 24/7. And now that she is old enough to carry out some wishes from age 10 or so, she is going right ahead with them.

For example: acorn cake. At Asakiyume’s blog, followers watched her leach the tannin out of her acorns over a period of days, changing the water repeatedly. We kept tabs as she next roasted the acorns, made acorn flour, and finally baked a cake.

“Today I baked an acorn cake,” she wrote on Nov. 3. “I used my ground-up, leached acorns, and a recipe from Hank Shaw (posted here). The body of this cake is equal parts acorn flour and wheat flour.

“And–it tastes fabulous. It has a flavor like molasses with a hint of ginger, and your tongue tingles a little afterward, like when you eat something peppery. …

“It’s a tiny childhood dream come true–feasting on the abundance of acorns! (Okay, helped by honey, oil, and eggs, not to mention that wheat flour, but still.)”

Read more here.

Photo: Asakiyume
Acorn cake with sugar outlining an oak leaf.

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Photo: Tracy Lee’s Signature Apple Nut Cake

The other day I realized that since I have no plans to go apple picking this year, I better come up with a substitute apple activity to fill that seasonal need. Tracy Lee Karner had a yummy-looking apple cake recipe at her WordPress blog, here. I made up my mind to try baking it.

With the understanding that I, too, require only ingredients and utensils I happen to have handy, I baked it in an 8-inch-square glass pan instead of Tracy Lee’s 10-inch round — for 43 minutes instead of 40. I can’t be sure it was as yummy as Tracy Lee’s because I haven’t tried it in the 10-inch round, but it was pretty darn yummy.

P.S. You may have received random photos from me with no text. This will pass. I’m getting used to the Lumia 1020 phone Suzanne gave me for uploading pictures directly from the camera to the blog, which as you know, is part of Suzanne’s birthstone jewelry company, Luna & Stella. Sometimes I hit the wrong button.

tracy-lee-karner-apple-cake

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Getting in the spirit: listening to carols on the radio, decorating the fat tree my husband found, attending my friend Alden’s holiday concert at the Melrose Symphony (a whole post on that to come), and baking cookies.

Even though I try new recipes, I find the sugar cookie recipe John got in nursery school to be the most reliable, and I love the worn cookbook he made, held together by yarn, and his scribbles on the cover.

I especially love this line in recipe: “use good-sized cookie cutters so children can be successful in handling shapes.”

Here I am working away. Please note my five golden rings, Suzanne’s creation.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Still the best sugar cookie recipe comes from the cookbook John made in nursery school, age three.

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