Kitchen Confidence

Model peanut butter chocolate chip cookie

The only thing I’m able to make properly right now, it seems, is peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. My other baking endeavours haven’t been successful in how I expected them to be.

On Tuesday I tried making rice crackers. The flavour was there, but they were so hard that I feared someone would break a tooth.

Yesterday I tried making chocolate meringue cookies, but had to make them into cupcakes: the batter was too runny. I think it was probably something to do with using honey instead of powdered sugar. The cupcakes turned out well, though, dense and fudgey, with an intense chocolate flavour suited to only the best chocolate cake you can imagine. Nothing half-fast. The kind you’d want to eat with vanilla ice cream. I wrote a beautiful post about those cookies last year (it’s in my drafts), when I first discovered the recipe around this time last year. Now I’m not sure if that post will see the light of day – I mean, your screen. Anyway.

(Allow me to move on before I start confusing myself over whether that last sentence makes any sense.)

My main reason for writing this is that I don’t know where my baking mojo’s gone. I’m generally confident in the kitchen, I don’t often make mistakes or have things flop on me. My ultimate testament to that is that I made gluten-free puff pastry perfectly the first time I tried.

I wouldn’t be concerned about it too much, except I’m blogging and understand that I primarily write a recipes blog although I have tackled other food- and gluten-free related topics before. Mostly, though, this blog relies on my cooking and baking output! It’s been a week since I posted any new recipes – there could have been two new ones posted, if they’d worked out the way I wanted.

Sometimes I fluster myself over it. I feel like, I have to make something new. I look at the last time I posted and think, what could I make this time?

I still have to work on those rice crackers more until I feel confident enough to share them here.

Those cookies-turned-cupcakes I’ll be posting the recipe for, after I’ve made it again and I’ll talk about the recipe more then.

The recipe for the peanut butter chocolate chip cookies has been posted before here. It’s from Everyday Food. What I’ve done differently the last couple of times I’ve made them is using some brown sugar instead of all honey. I use 1/4 cup honey and 1/2 cup brown sugar and I use crunchy peanut butter. (Whatever peanut butter’s already on hand. If you use crunchy PB, you don’t need the roasted, salted peanuts.) The cookies are still moist, the sweet balanced with the salty, and they don’t spread as much. They’re a little craggy, which I like.

Finally, I’m going to share with you some things I’ve been enjoying. Some are online, some are not. None are food related. Some of these things belong more on trend & chic, really, but since I have more followers and readers of Z’s Cup of Tea than t&c at the moment, I’m putting them here.

Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy – I’ve been watching this series since it started, back in January (and might I add, two days before my birthday!) and it’s been more than delightful. I’ve watched every episode so far every week as it airs on Thursday (using a live link) or catching it on YouTube later in the evening or the following morning, whenever it’s uploaded. I dance to and join in with the intro song as soon as it starts. It makes me happy. Ideally, in a child-like fantasy, I would watch Luxury Comedy while eating multi-coloured cheerios.

– Plus, check out The Velvet Onion’s Luxury Comedy documentary. I sincerely hope that it’s included on the DVD release! Well done. TVO is a fansite of all things in the world of Boosh (not just Luxury Comedy) and a dedicated one at that. Most of all, though, they’re decent folks and they’re professional and objective and I respect them for that.

– Speaking of Luxury Comedy, this is the next nail art manicure I’m doing for myself (sorry, it isn’t a permalink! I don’t know how Tumblr works), maybe combined with this one from Polish You Pretty (my favourite new nail polish blog). It’s full on Art Attack!

Doctor Sax by Jack Kerouac – I’ve never read Kerouac before and, unfortunately, I had to return it to the library before I could finish reading it. It’s a slightly more challenging read – punctuation is not conventional and the storytelling is nonlinear so it takes some time to ease into, but I like it. If I didn’t bookmark the page, I’d forget where I’d left off. My favourite part from it isn’t even a passage, yet it captured me in a way that only poetry dares – “breathing winter fogs”.

The IT Crowd – Hilarious! It’s a sitcom set in an industrial company’s basement, where the IT department is: Maurice Moss and Roy, two socially inept “standard nerds”, as described by the company’s boss, and their relationship manager, Jen (who was initially hired to be the head of the IT department but knows zilch about computers and technology). Their basement office is decorated with a geek fest of paraphernalia. I first started watching clips on YouTube, then bought the first episode from iTunes, and now have the first DVD borrowed from the library. As much as I like and appreciate the ease and convenience of digital downloads, if you’re serious about The IT Crowd you must check out the DVD. The design is digitally endearing in its pixelated glory and charming. I even enjoyed the copyright warning because of the graphics.

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke – This was the first piece of work by a poet that spoke to me deeply, as I was writing poetry when I first read it. (I’d started writing poetry as a child and picked it up again in my early/mid-teens when I found my juvenile poems. I’d only write poetry for a year, my other creative writing (prose) taking a backseat.) It was also my introduction to Rilke, and I still go back to it. I read the Stephen Mitchell translation. You don’t need to write or read poetry to appreciate it.

10 thoughts on “Kitchen Confidence

  1. We all lose our cooking or baking mojo from time to time, Zoe. I’ve written about it before on gfe. It’s frustrating, and you don’t want to necessarily stop baking completely, so you have to fall back on old standbys, as you have with the your PB choc chip, cookies. We turn to other things for a bit, stop trying so hard, etc. and the mojo comes back. 😉 Thanks for sharing all the other items of interest. The poetry book sounds the most fascinating to me. I rarely read poetry, but when I am exposed to good poetry, I’m always surprised by how powerful such few words can be.


    1. Thanks for your support, Shirley – like I said, I wouldn’t be fussed about it too much if I wasn’t blogging and posting recipes. I’d like to read your post on gfe, if I could.

      Letters to a Young Poet, speaks on a wide variety of topics not just restricted to poetry. There aren’t actually any poems included, a few (at least) are referenced but only are detailed in footnotes. They aren’t reproduced in full. I think you’d like it, Shirley!

  2. Ahh, sorry nothings been working out in the kitchen for you. I’ve had my share of failures too! It can get discouraging at times … I will have to check out IT Crowd … I work in IT, so I’m sure I would find it amusing! Have a great day!

    1. Jane, the IT Crowd is great! I’m going to be borrowing the rest of the series from the library. 🙂 You can find several clips on YouTube, which is how I started as I mentioned.

      Hopefully I’ll get back into my groove soon!

  3. Zoe, I have had the same battle many times in the past. There have even been periods where I have been so flustered with failures that I was left thinking, “why do I do this at all?” and was ready to throw in the towel.

    But don’t worry – it’s a phase! I promise you’ll find your baking mojo again soon 🙂 Just keep trying and don’t let it get you down!

    1. Hi Kaitlin, thank you! While not specific to this temporary blip, I don’t know how many moments I’ve had of considering throwing in the towel. I’ve been taking a break from new baking ventures and have just been doing old favourites, like the PB chocolate chip cookies and I’ve been in a baking powder biscuit storm. I’ve made five batches within the space of yesterday and today – all eaten!

  4. Hi Zoe, I just had to comment on this post because I have had several things fail lately too. It seems to go in spurts. I have been converting many of my older good recipes to gluten free, and it seems like many of the cookie recipes convert easier than anything else. Many times I don’t have to do more than change the flour. Last week I made banana muffins and used too much banana puree- I never did get rid of the runny middle so I threw them away. I also made a new coffee muffin and put xanthan gum in them (I hardly ever use it). Umm- they were pretty springy, to say the least! If you have mastered GF baking powder biscuits, then you are way better than me because I have tried them 4 different times. I am lucky to have a super supportive boyfriend who reminds me that most of my recipes turn out great- between that and a nice big hug, I go right back to my experimenting!

    1. Hi Andrea, I hope that you have a turnaround soon! I hardly use xanthan gum as well, so I try to make a recipe that already uses it until I’m more confident in experimenting with it on my own. (I’ve been baking gluten-free for about five or six years, I think, and it was mostly grain-free/SCD as well until 2010.) If you try making the gluten-free baking powder biscuits, I’d love to know how they worked out for you.

  5. I know exactly what you mean, Zoe! I’ve had several running experiments going on and I can’t quite seem to get them just right. The only recipes I’ve been able to post lately are for smoothies. I know I have some I worked on, wrote down, but never blogged because it was during the holidays. I’d have to make them again before posting them since I’m so far removed from them right now.

    😀 I hope you have a breakthrough soon!

    1. Thanks, Debi! Gosh, I almost feel like these experiments and recipes flopping is a virus going around. I’m glad I’m not the only one. 🙂 Hope you have a breakthrough soon, too!

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