Sunday, January 28, 2018

My best recipes: Cranberry Sauce Coffee Cake

Lightly adapted from Cranberry-Nut Coffee Cake, page 428 in New York Cookbook by Molly O'Neill. Original recipe by Marilyn Froim. 

1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain yogurt (whole-fat) or sour cream
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 1/2 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce, preferably home-made

1) Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Butter (and flour?) a 10-inch tube pan. 

2) In a nonreactive large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until blended. Add the eggs and almond extract and beat well. 

3) Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat into the creamed mixture alternatively with the yogurt. Add the almonds and stir to combine.

4) Spread half of the batter evenly over the bottom of the pan. Spread half of the cranberry sauce over the batter. Spoon in the remaining batter. Top with the remaining sauce. (Don't smear it out... you want it to sink into the batter as the batter rises around it.)

5) Bake the cake until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Remove from the pan and finish cooling on a rack. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

My best recipes: Molasses Cookies with Chopped Candied Ginger

Molasses Cookies with Chopped Candied Ginger

Adapted from Great Cookies by Carole Walter
  1 1/2 sticks, unsalted butter
  2 cups all-purpose flour
  2 teaspoons baking soda
  1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1 teaspoon ground ginger
  3/4 teaspoon salt
  1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, plus more for rolling cookies in
  1/4 cup dark molasses (85 g)
  1 large egg
  1/3 to 1/2 cup finelychopped candied ginger
1.Melt the butter in a 3 quart, heavy saucepan over low heat.
2.Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and cloves and then set it aside.
3.Using a wooden spoon, stir 1 1/2 cups of the sugar, molasses, and egg into the butter, mixing until smooth. Add the dry ingredients, one-half at a time, and blend well.  Put the dough in a large plastic freezer bag, or wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm.
4.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two cookie sheets with parchment.
5.Shape the dough into 1-inch balls or you can use an ice cream scoop to form the balls. (or you can make 2/3 inch balls, which don’t spread quite as much.) Place some sugar in a shallow bowl, and roll the dough balls in the sugar to coat them. Place the balls on the prepared cookie sheets 2 inches apart from each other as they will spread. 
6.Bake the cookies for 8-12 minutes until the tops begin to crack. Remove from the oven and leave them on the cookie sheets for three minutes and then remove the cookies with a thin metal spatula to cool on a rack.
Makes 24 big cookies or 48 small ones

These cookies freeze really well. You can store them in an airtight container, just layer the cookies with wax paper in between and they should last up to 3 weeks.
All cookies need to be the same size so that they will bake evenly. To insure that all your cookies will be the same size, use an ice cream scoop.
If you’re shipping your homemade cookies for the holidays, these ship extremely well.

The dough keeps in the fridge for at least a week. 

You can order finely chopped candied ginger at 

Original version of this recipe at Mama's Gotta Bake. 


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Winter Storm Grayson

We're in the process of digging out after Winter Storm Grayson. I forgot to get pictures, but we received about 12 inches of snow. It's cold, blustery, and beautiful out. I loaded up all the bird feeders, squirrel feeder, and suet cage, because holy heck this is a lousy winter for the wildlife.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Preview to viewing for the Hugo Awards (movies and TV shows)

The category "Best Dramatic Presentation (Longform)" is the only one where I've usually seen all the finalists before the final ballot comes out. I don't watch that much TV these days, and what I do watch is usually just police procedurals. I keep meaning to watch The Expanse or The Magicians... I saw Person of Interest about two years too late and really enjoyed it, so maybe there's hope for me?

The movies I would nominate right now are as follows:
Wonder Woman
The Last Jedi
Blade Runner 2049

Movies I've seen that would technically qualify, but aren't in my top 5:
Beauty and the Beast
Power Rangers
Guardians of the Galaxy 2
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
The Dark Tower
Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Movies I should probably see before nominating:
Get Out
Justice League
Alien: Covenant
Marjorie Prime
Ghost in the Shell

Any other movies from 2017 that I should try to see in the next month?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Preview to Reading for the Hugo Awards (novels)

This year, my older son has decided that he'd like to be a Hugo voter, so we bought him a Supporting Membership as one of his presents. I showed him where we keep the stack of novels to read, and have started texting him with links to cool short stories.

These are the Hugo eligible novels that I've read thus far:
Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty
The Stone Sky by N K Jemisin
Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee
Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn

Novella length:
The Dispatcher by John Scalzi (edited to add: not eligible, because audiobook was 2016)
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
And Then There Were (N-One) by Sarah Pinsker

I've developed a bad habit of dipping into books and then losing track of them, and hence not finishing them. Included on that list are

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson
An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King
City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett
River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey
Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys
Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

Then there's the books I've purchased but haven't read yet...

Artemis by Andy Weir
The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden
Provenance by Ann Leckie
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
The Last Good Man by Linda Nagata
The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente

I really need to buckle down and start reading! 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Favorite Movies from 2017

Hidden Figures: started 2017 off right, by watching this with a few friends. I absolutely adored it and nominated it for a Hugo.

Logan: really good, really sad, loved the character of Laura.

Wonder Woman: loved the first 2/3 of this. Last 1/3 devolved into a more typical action movie, but was still good.

The Big Sick: absolutely wonderful, heart-breaking movie about inter-racial love and traumatic illness

The Last Jedi: I have mixed feelings about Admiral Holdo and the entire subplot of Canto Bight, but Carrie Fisher rocks, Kelly Marie Tran rocks, Oscar Isaac (amusingly) has chemistry with everyone he meets, and the porgs are adorable.

Deadpool (late to the party, I know): finally watched this and loved it, as expected.

Murder on the Orient Express: nothing very new in this new version of the classic, but the acting is great and the cinematography is gorgeous.

Blade Runner 2049: I never quite bought the hype about the first one, with its many different versions, so I went into this with realistic expectations. Sadly for me, I spotted one of the the major plot twists far too early. But I did like most of the plot and the scenery was gorgeous and yes, I'd totally watch it again.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: I really like Cara Delevigne and she made the movie sparkle in her (unfairly limited) role as Laureline. The sets were gorgeous and the first major scene of the agents in action was truly mind-blowing. After that, the movie devolved into "meh" territory, including the insta-romance and the half-baked conspiracy plot. But I'd still watch it again...

Coco: look, I'll be honest... despite loving the music, I'm that one person who made major issues with this movie. Of course, seeing a Mexican family centered in a major motion picture is a huge step forward for Disney. But I kept thinking about how the kid was pretty clearly being physically abused, and how terrified he was of his older relatives, and how his wishes were completely ignored by them. It's not a pretty picture, when viewed through that lens. Also, the religious view of the movie is that you can't ever get away from your family, even in death... which means that if your family include your abuser(s), you can never get away from them. Grim stuff in what's supposed to be an uplifting children's movie. But I'll watch it again just for the music.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Welcome to 2018

How did I do with last year's resolutions? Well, the whole "more people less screens" resolution worked out so well that I've watched ZERO new TV shows this year, and barely kept up with my old ones. In fact, I felt like I was looking for excuses to drop shows.

Hawaii 5-O loses both its Asian leads? GONE.

Code Black cans Raza Jaffrey after the first season? BYE-BYE

Losing interest in NCIS? (but really, the interest had been fading ever since Cote de Pablo left the show in 2013) SO OVER IT.

I didn't particularly get healthier, but I don't think I got less healthy.

I read 211 books, tried 66 new recipes, and watched 26 movies.

This year's possible resolutions are to get savvier with technology, find a way to get more exercise, and make better use of my physical cookbooks. (I tend to work straight from cooking blogs.) Plus, of course, the usual trio of reading, movies, new recipes.