Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cory's Coconut Macaroons

When I got home from work yesterday, I noticed that the power was out. Balls. So I started unloading the groceries and putting them away when, all of a sudden, BEEP BEEP BEEP!!! Electronics galore began turning back on. It was then that I realized that there might be a problem… a big problem. You see, our desktop computer, though hooked up to a surge protector, should still be unplugged before the power comes on to not fry the power supply. Sure enough, upon further inspection and multiple tests, the power supply is toast. Double balls. My plans of eating lunch and spending the remainder of the evening writing were, well, out. Sure, I could write on the laptop (as I’m doing for this blog post) but the thing about the laptop is that it, well, has sensitivity issues. By that, I mean it will randomly decide to place the cursor wherever it feels like on the page in the middle of writing, causing sentence structure problems (i.e. You see, our deskcture problems top computer…) It sucks big time, but alas, when the finances are too tight to replace or fix the problem, you live with them.

Anyway, writing was out. That meant I had two options: Quilting and Baking. I stared at the horrifying mess my quilting area and sewing machine is and said, “Eff this!” and decided to bake. I decided it would be best to make something I’ve never done before, and lately I’ve been craving coconut macaroons. Now, there are a plethora of recipes for coconut macaroons in various cookbooks and internet search results, but I couldn’t find one that had the flavor combination I was looking for. Since I had made Crème Brûlée for Valentine’s Day, I had four egg whites begging to be made into something delicious, so I opted for creating a meringue, adding a couple tablespoons of butter, some almond and vanilla extract, and folded the coconut in gently.

Figuring out the baking part was a bit tricky. I had originally thought that fifteen minutes would do the trick, but the insides were too gooey and the outside became sticky to the touch and they fell apart when you picked them up. That just isn’t any good. So I decided to treat them like I would a meringue since, well, that is what I used as a base. I baked them for five more minutes then turned the oven off, leaving the macaroons in the oven for about half an hour. When I checked on them, they looked much more like the macaroons I was trying to create. After allowing them to cool completely for about an hour, they were perfect; crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and delectable in my mouth. I seriously think I’m developing a coconut addiction!

Cory’s Coconut Macaroons

14 oz flaked sweetened coconut
4 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
¼ teaspoon sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. With the whisk attachment, slowly whip the egg white mixture, gradually increasing speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form. Turn down to medium and add the softened butter a tablespoon at a time until combined. Add the vanilla and almond extracts until combined. Fold in the coconut, careful not to deflate the meringue. On a parchment lined baking sheet, use a 2 tablespoon scoop and place macaroons 1 inch apart (they will not spread). Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn the oven off, leaving the macaroons inside for 30 minutes, or until crispy on the outside, they feel light and airy, and are no longer sticky. Allow to cool completely on a cooling rack. Keeps at room temperature three days, 2 weeks in the fridge, 6 months in the freezer.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Duck Eggs

Some decisions are easy to live with while others make you want to take back everything negative you ever thought or said. Ducks would be the latter.

After convincing my husband we should take our female duck, Trixie, to some pond somewhere and be done with her, I’m having second thoughts. Why? Because today I ate some of her eggs, and man, those ovas were delicious! Oh. My. Gawd. If you’ve never tried duck eggs, imagine the freshest, best tasting fried egg you’ve ever had in your entire life and quadruple that in richness and flavor. That, my friends, are what duck eggs taste like. If it is at all possible, they actually taste more eggy.

And so, now I have to convince my husband that we really do need to keep Trixie, and put up with her loud, obnoxious, constant chatter, because damn, those eggs are worth every last bit of annoyance we have to put up with her. Perhaps I should save the next couple eggs she lays so he can try them for himself. Unless, of course, I can’t fight the urge to eat them myself!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Blog Fasting and Novel Ideas

Sometimes you have to figure out what’s best for you. And sometimes you simply have to do what you do best.

I secretly made a New Year’s Resolution to not blog anything for a month. Not even write a blog to post later. I went so far as to not think about what I was going to blog about when I restarted in February. There were times I was tempted to disregard my fast and post a random tidbit or recipe (of which there are a few I’d really love to share soon!) but decided against it. Why would I stop blogging for an entire month? Quite simply, it was taking away from the entire reason I started blogging in the first place, which was a daily writing exercise to get my creative juices flowing towards young adult fiction or sci-fi or children’s books. Allow me to explain this perturbed troll logic.

Writing is writing, right? Apparently not so much. I’m not exactly certain as to when it happened, but somewhere along the way I realized that writing a daily blog actually sucked away any real creativity that I normally would have put towards storylines and characters. I mean, this isn’t the first venture I had into writing non-fiction, but it is the first time I was writing from my own perspective. I’ve written articles on important figures in history (such as Oliver Otis Howard and Sequoyah to name a couple) for a magazine about famous Howards. However, these are a bit different and more like writing research papers than, say, a novel. All of these different styles take different skills and when I was trying to force myself to write a blog about cooking and cleaning and quilting and chicken-keeping to entice my brain to write about murder and mayhem and drama and comedy, it just wasn’t going to happen.

To counteract the trap I got myself into, I decided the only way out was a fast. I had to put this blog on hold to get back to my roots. It was time to return to the fictional town of Ravenwood where a majority of my books for children, teens and adults are set. It was time for me to stop waiting for something to happen and start doing something to make it happen. It was time for me to start thinking about what I really want to be when I grow up… and that is a writer.