discs of happiness

Before we get started I'd like to present my Valentine's Day card from Christine.  Yep, she made it herself.  Though Valentine's Day is not a holiday we celebrate like most people, we still make small gestures to each other.

The inside was even sweeter naturally.

I was alerted by my mother to a program called America's Test Kitchen which is put on by the same folks behind Cook's Illustrated Magazine.  I caught the episode on Saturday and what do you know, it was about cookies!  Not bad timing.

The conceit of the show is they cook variations of the same recipe and present us with their favorite.  They claim that they baked chocolate chip cookies for 6 weeks.  I believe them because I would too.  And they were so confident that they dubbed the result Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies. (free registration required to see recipe)

Well, with that claim out there I had to test it out.  Monday night I nearly exhausted my supply of flour and used 3 1/2 sticks of butter to make these...

A taste of heaven?

I sampled, er, one or two and took the rest to work for the lucky taste testers there.  Reaction was very positive.

  • "I'm savoring every bite"
  • The best baker in the building (no, not me) demanded the recipe.
  • "OMG, these cookies are the best chocolate chip cookies ever!"  <-- she did not know the story behind them
  • One guy desperately rooted all over my area when they were gone in case I had stashed some.

So I guess I can't really argue with the Test Kitchen; they really are perfect.  Maybe I'll ask my Socrates Cafe if cookie perfection can truly be achieved.  If you are curious but didn't feel like registering, here are some of the differences.  (1) Brown (most of) the butter.  It's a little tricky if you've never done it before but it enriches the flavor. (2) Increase the ratio of brown to white sugar.  (3) Let the wet mixture rest a couple of times and re-whip to dissolve the sugar better.

Since food is the topic of today, I snapped a couple of pictures of dinner.  I decided to try a new recipe, Sweet and Spicy Chicken and White Bean Stew.  It's not really winter weather any longer in San Diego (sorry  East-coast folks) but I decided to go for it anyway.  Being the first time out, I pretty well stuck to the recipe.  I swapped out a couple of spices, chicken broth for the water, and forgot about the cilantro entirely though I have some. Speaking of spices, I have some pretty fresh stuff from Penzey's.  So I figured it would come out bold and tasty.

Grinding up the spices old school.

And adding to the onions.

Eventually, I ended up with this...

I liked it a lot.  This goes in the winner file.

Finally, I got a late birthday present from my sister.  Can I still celebrate my birthday 11 days later?  Why not!

More Fireworks Popcorn! I will use that.  Yes I will!