Thursday, June 28, 2012

French Vanilla Ice Cream

Even though school doesn’t officially end until the end of June, for us students, summer starts the second we finish our last exam. Last year I’d had a measly five exams, which ended the first week of exams. This year, I had six exams—seven if you count the English exam I’d already written in May—spaced out in the span of two weeks.

By the time I completed my second last exam, I was pretty worn out. My last exam—biology—was the next day, and I’d only covered half the text-book, but my heart wasn’t it in. After two weeks of committing myself to the desk, studying, I felt restless. My fingers itched to play with Jenny’s ice cream machine, which I’d borrowed from her.

After staring aimlessly at my textbook for twenty minutes, I decided that I’d be able to study more efficiently if I made some ice cream first. My brother Kyle and I went to work, separating the eggs, cooking the custard, and preparing the ice bath. An hour later, we had luscious soft serve French Vanilla Ice Cream, a beautful ice cream yellow from the egg yolks and flecked with flavourful vanilla bean seeds. This ice cream is so rich and creamy that it tastes pretty much like creme brulee, but frozen. 

I have to say that it actually was easier to study knowing that I had homemade ice cream waiting for me in the freezer, should I succumb to another ice cream craving. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Blueberry Galette

Does your inner blogger and baker always seem at odds with one another? Does the blogger in you ever forsake time to snap a photo when time is of the baker’s essence? Do you ever wish that your brother wouldn’t borrow your camera and change the settings without changing them back? Do you ever contemplate breaking into your brother’s room, which he conveniently locked, to retrieve the camera so that you can take an essential process shot of the Blueberry Galette that you decided to make on a whim?

I do. All the time.

As a blogger, I’m always trying to take a couple process shots during the actual baking process. It’s become second nature to me, switching back and forth from the camera to the spatula, but remembering to stop periodically to take process shots was probably the most difficult aspect of blogging that I encountered when I first started. Suddenly baking a batch of cookies took twice as long because I felt compelled to stop every minute to wipe my hands, take a photo, and wash my hands again before continuing. The baker in me was impatient and didn’t want to wait for process shots.

Now, not taking process shots feels strange, almost, as if I’ve forgotten an important step in the recipe. After I assembled this Blueberry Galette, I realized that I had forgotten the camera upstairs in my bedroom. Drawing up a blank, I remembered that my younger brother had borrowed it and still had it in his possession. As I knocked on his locked bedroom door, my frustration growing, my other brother explained that Kyle couldn’t hear me because he was taking a shower and that I should “wait ten minutes”.

This is the kid takes hour-long showers, who sings in there (and probably does air guitar) when he thinks we’re not listening.

The blogger in me really wanted the before shot, but the baker side of my brain knew that waiting for ten minutes for the camera— while the frozen blueberries thawed and released juices, and the butter in the pie crust warmed up and melted—wasn’t practical. Annoyed that I didn’t have the camera, I popped the galette into the oven and went up to my room to pout.

The very simple solution to this blogging woe: make another galette and reshoot. Another blueberry pastry made for my own consumption? Count me in.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Exams and Instagram

After the death of my iPhone in a tsunami a couple months ago, I finally got a new phone: a Samsung Galaxy. It’s my first android phone and I have to say that I’m really into the simplicity of the music/photos/documents system. I think I’m a convert. The thing that’s really got me, though, is Instagram.

(Okay, so Instagram isn’t novel anymore and it existed on the iPhone first, but social media isn’t really my thing. I’m that girl who didn’t get Facebook until ninth grade, and even then, it was because friend had grudgingly signed me up for it. I still don’t understand the concept of Twitter.)

Follow me on Instagram: kyleensixteenbeans

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It’s kind of amusing that come time to study for exams, everything, everything—laundry, washing the bathroom, vacuuming my room—is suddenly more urgent, more pressing, more interesting than hitting the books. Those chemistry and French exams, those ones which are on the same day, one after the other, get pushed into the recesses of my mind while I’m dusting away.

Oh, how I envy the semestered kids. They have three, maybe four exams tops, whereas I’ve got seven, maybe eight different courses and exams. Back in May, we juniors wrote our English exams, so now I’m down to six exams. But, let me ask you: have you ever tried cramming for six different subjects, at the same time? It’s pretty brutal. 

additional texbooks not pictured here: history, french
I spent the last weekend studying for my history exam on Monday. Then I spent all of Tuesday cramming for my chemistry exam on Wednesday. It was after 10 PM when I finally felt sufficiently studied that I began to skim my French notes for my French exam, which was right after the chemistry one. Needless to say, Wednesday was not a good day for me. 

But I, I feel sorry for the poor fools who took SAP (Introduction to Sociology, Anthropology, and Psychology) in addition to history, chemistry, and French because the SAP exam was on Thursday.

Monday, June 11, 2012


I love watching the Barefoot Contessa on Food Network. It’s one of my guilty pleasure shows because all the food on her show is just so indulgent. Ina Garten cooks like Paula Deen, but with less butter and a different style. A couple months ago, I borrowed one of Ina’s recipe books from the library and saw this great recipe for making gravlax. Gravlax is basically salt-cured salmon, flavoured with sugar and spices. It is sliced super thin and then eaten with bread and mustard or cream cheese. It tastes almost like smoked salmon, but saltier.

I knew immediately that I wanted to try it, but I also knew that there was no way my mom was going to shell out the cash for salmon unless it was on sale. So I waited and waited and waited. And finally, on our weekend driving lesson/trip to various grocery stores, we came across salmon which was on sale for $5.99 a pound. My mom bought me a fillet and I began my salt-curing adventure.

Using a mortar and pestle, I crushed up the fennel seeds and black pepper corns. Then I stirred the salt, sugar, and spices together and generously covered the blushing peach-coloured salmon with the rub. I set a bunch of dill into the bottom of my ceramic dish and lay the salmon over. I topped the dish with the remaining dill and covered it with plastic wrap. The final step was to lay some cans over the fish and set the entire dish in the fridge. 

After one day, I checked on my gravlax. The thin part of the fillet had already over-cured. It looked almost translucent and was chewy and overly salty. I basted the rest of the gravlax with the liquid that had collected in the bottom of the dish and set it back in the fridge. The next day, I checked the salmon again. I didn’t know whether the salmon had cured long enough yet, but I was dying to try it anyways. I sliced the gravlax (with my very dull knife) as thin as I could and served with bread and mustard sauce and a couple garnishes of dill. It was delicious and so fresh-tasting; it didn’t taste fishy at all. The gravlax was great in sandwiches and with a generous smear of cream cheese. 

over-cured gravlax.

Click below for the recipe.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

I eat a lot. I eat when I’m bored, I eat when I’m tired, I eat when I’m stressed or upset. I even eat (on occasion) when I’m actually hungry. I’m actually a little bit worried about what will happen to my body when my teenage metabolism slows down in the future. All those muffins I eat will probably turn into a muffin top (ha).

I eat whenever I’m studying and stressed. Usually, I don’t bat an eye at school tests, as long as I’ve studied enough. But studying for some tests make me want to tear my hair out because there’s just so much material that I have to cover and only so much brain-space that I can allocate. The SAT World History Subject Test is one of these tests.

I love history, but just thinking about the plethora of different facts and figures that make up history makes me want to hyperventilate. There’s just so much material... Commencing hardcore cramming... right now.

Whenever I need to study intensely for something, I find that a snack always helps. These Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies? Oh so, peanut buttery and delicious and good. The thing I love the most is that these cookies are made from only five ingredients and can be whipped up in no time. Perfect for getting through those rough patches in your life.

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