Friday, December 4, 2015
Have you ever made strawberry shortcake and thought to yourself, "Why do I whip the cream, and what happens if I don't?" Probably not. The difference between a dollop and a drizzle of cream is so obvious, no one thinks to question the necessity of it. Yet the value of creaming, a closely related process, is harder to grasp. See, unlike stirring, mixing, or beating, creaming isn't about combining ingredients—it's about aerating them. By bashing butter against the sides of a bowl, whether you're going at it with a spatula or with a stand mixer, you're folding it over and over, creating little pockets of air with every turn. Add sugar, and suddenly that process is way more effective, building up an expansive network of sugar crystals, fat, and air. In pastry-speak, this process is described as "mechanical leavening": physically cramming air into a dough so that it'll puff up in the oven like a hot-air balloon. Google around, and that's what you'll be told, time and again. Creaming adds air. Air is fluffy. Fluffy is good. Good is great. Yay, cookies! While some recipes may only ask you to cream the butter and sugar until well combined, most invoke the phrase "light and fluffy." Both techniques have merit (the former intentionally cultivating a denser dough), but here I'm gonna stick to addressing the mysteries of "light and fluffy" alone. Butter doesn't begin to melt until it reaches about 90°F, but its ability to stretch and expand during the creaming process tops out at a mere 68°F. Anything above that, and you're flirting with disaster. If your butter is creeping above 70°F, you might as well not cream at all—the warm butter won't retain any air, leading to a dense dough and collapsed cookies. The common explanation of that process suggests the benefits of creaming only kick after you pop those cookies into the oven and they puff up. Until then, all that air's just waiting around for some heat to get it going, right? Wrong. Before you even start scooping the dough, something's already happened. Something miraculous. Something no one ever tells you: Creaming just added five to ten extra cookies to the batch. The actual number of bonus cookies will vary with each recipe, but the phenomenon is very real. I start by creaming the butter and sugar together for five minutes, until everything is light and fluffy, then add an egg and beat it for a minute longer. After five minutes of creaming, the mixture will warm to about 67°F. A cold egg added at this point isn't simply convenient; it's strategic, ensuring that the butter never tops 68°F. Given the typical ratio of ingredients and the sheer power of an electric mixer, it's virtually impossible for a single large egg to break a cookie dough, so fear not. Peek into the mixing bowl, and it'll be hard to tell just how drastically I've altered my dough. Air is almost impossible to visualize, even when you're looking at it. Watching butter and sugar as they're creamed together is about as dramatic as sorting through shades of beige at Sherwin-Williams. "Snow White" sugar and "Daffodil" butter lighten to "Antique Ivory," then "Elegant Ecru," shifting colors so subtly that some part of you screams, "It's all the same!" But it's really, really not. When you first mix butter and sugar together, they have the heavy and dense texture of wet sand. After a minute of creaming at medium speed, the paste begins to feel more like clay—damp and compact, but still not very sticky. Another minute, and it begins to soften, clinging to whatever it touches. From there, the network of sugar and air continues to stretch and grow. When properly creamed, my sugar cookie dough can be divided into 26 two-tablespoon portions, weighing one ounce each. When the ingredients are simply mixed together without that creaming step, the number drops to 21, at a heavier 1.25 ounces each. And before you shrug, remember this: They're not bigger cookies, they're denser cookies. Those dense lumps behave very differently on a hot baking sheet in the oven. For starters, they conduct heat better, which means that the butter and sugar melt faster, spreading the cookies flatter and thinner. On top of that, the tightly packed dough traps the carbon dioxide produced by leavenings like baking soda and baking powder. With nowhere to go, those pockets of air don't just gently lift the cookies; they smash their way through them. Cream the butter and sugar properly, though, and the cookie dough will be loaded with micro pockets of air. That air is a poor conductor of heat, which means that it helps insulate the dough from the hot baking sheet in the oven, slowing the rate at which the butter and sugar melt. Meanwhile, those air pockets begin to swell with steam, a gentle upward draft that helps hold the dough aloft. When the cookie finally sets, the air's footprint forms its crumb. The extent to which you experience the effect of those air pockets depends on a comical number of variables. Did you use a hand mixer or a stand mixer? What was the horsepower? Did the butter come to room temperature? What is room temperature? Where do you live? Is the A/C on? How many lights are there? Ultimately, it's a game of averages. That's why so many recipes keep things vague with instructions like "room-temperature" butter or mixing until "light and fluffy" without any indication of time or temperature. By providing flexible parameters, recipes can guide you to your destination with a reasonable amount of success, while leaving you to sort out the details of your journey. Whatever your recipe, remember that creaming is a process, so it can produce a spectrum of results. You may never experience anything so dramatic as a cookie that goes splat and wrinkly or weird, but the more consistent your approach, the more consistent your finished product.
Thursday, December 3, 2015
There is a #season in everyone's life when things may #fall apart in order for even greater things to Fall together.
December has always been that month to reflect, and think back over the course of the year. A time not just to enjoy the Holidays with friends & family but a time to really re-evaluate learned lessons, encounters, and set goals. 2015 was the year to move out of an old apartment I had lived in for six years. That was it. My main goal, and I got out. To say I felt like a new person after shedding the old would be an understatement. I've thoroughly loved living downtown and what the city has had to offer. The job scene has been a bit of a challenge to me, as I've been restless in a few different positions, because I know I'm capable of doing so much more. I truly have more to offer than just the ordinary. The last three weeks have been great because I'm learning to, Be Still. God is ahead of me and knows exactly what I yearn to do, yet I had to go through the process of getting to where I am today. Even with past dead end jobs. I've still learned a lot. Nothing was ever by mistake. A few interviews in the past few weeks have proven successful. A call from a co-worker that I worked with at the first brokerage I was at, has decided to also leave that company recently, and start his own Team. It's good that I built a good relationship, and proved myself to be worthy because he has asked me to be his Office Manager. I currently work part time on the weekends at a really great restaurant in which I hope to continue enjoying. Opportunity awaits for me as I embark on this journey of life. I still have my love for the restaurant industry, since food is really my first love. I'm excited to see what this next year will bring. I figure I'll give it another shot here in the city of Atlanta. I don't believe my time here has come to an end, yet.
Saturday, November 21, 2015
If today had a ranking, it would be a 12. Beautiful day in Atlanta. I spent it productively, and explored a few new places. Ponce City Market was just as I expected if not more, I loved it. The industrial building, it was nice to walk through and be able to reminisce about what it was at one time. The history of Atlanta is so rich. And I, I get to live in the older more historic part. I've always wanted to live somewhere more historic, I love Savannah, very raw, and even the more refined city of Charleston. I feel like I finally get to experience where I've always wanted to live. Just a little history; from 1926-1979 Ponce City Market was a Sears Roebuck & Co. retail store, warehouse and regional office. The Atlanta regional headquarters was closely linked to Sears' efforts to capture the market of Southern farmers through the Sears agricultural foundation. The building continued to operate as a Sears regional office until 1987. In 1990 the city of Atlanta bought the building for $12 million with plans to put 2000 police and fire employees there. Twenty years later, the building closed its doors to the public in 2010. In 2011 it was then bought for $27 million by Jamestown, a private-equity group to start renovations with the goal of being the fourth nationally relevant food hall in the U.S., alongside of Pike Place in Seattle, the Ferry Building in San Francisco, and the Chelsea Market in New York. I truly believe that this is going to bring in many from all over, not to mention it's exactly what the downtown has needed! After leaving here, I decided to get a mani/pedi at Buff Nail Bar located in the Studioplex building off Auburn Avenue, in which was also featured in the October issue of Allure magazine. I also discovered it's a 5 min. walk from my place. Another win win! I had a great experience, and will definitely be back! After returning home shortly just to let my dog out, I decided I would put my heels on and discover some more of my neighborhood. I went to Krog Wine Bar. Very intimate cute little spot, great wines, and apps. After having just a glass of wine, I then walked to Krog St. Market to have dinner at The Cockentrice. The Ox Tail I had completely blew my mind, I didn't expect all the flavors to come together as they did. Not to mention a beautiful presentation. The meaning of the restaurant fits well with the atmosphere. Cockentrice- noun: One of the more fanciful and imaginative dishes of the Middle Ages, made most often by sewing a pig and a capon together to create a single creature, a "new" animal that would not only feed the masses, but amuse and amaze them as well. I definitely was amazed by this dish. Chef Kevin Ouzts presents a decisive menu utilizing the preeminent ingredients he's become known for at The Spotted Trotter. I must say, I'm really loving the restaurant scene out here. Impressively Superb.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
It was like any other day except this was the end of a week, and the weekend was just a few more hours away! Going into work, to do the usual mundane office stuff that is never very exciting, and yet I was still ready to take on the day. Addressing any issues that may arise. Assisting the Listing Coordinator, Management concerns regarding maintenance usually, and helping with Agent needs, etc. Being present, always aware of what was going on. It was a part of my job. It's funny because I had met with a friend for Brunch on October 24th, three weeks ago. We talked about so much. I was able to vent about certain things that I needed to talk about, and keep in mind, I only have a little group of people I can truly connect with and talk to. Well, he reminded me of some things considering how far I've come and how far I still need to go and encouraged me to do other things on the side, doing what I really enjoy. I basically came home that Saturday and felt, refreshed. Grateful I had a job, remembering that this was just temporary until I got to my true destination of where I was supposed to be in the end, and reminding myself it was a priveledge just to be able to wake up knowing I had a job to go into every day. I decided I would look for a part time job Hostessing on the weekends and this would be my "fun" job. Although, there was something deep inside of me that was still soul searching. I worked for a real estate company known around the globe who in Atlanta offered competitive pay and company paid health insurance. According to people & society, I really had the perfect job. I mean, in this day and age so many would give anything to have the office job that's a nine to five with weekends off, going in the right direction towards a career. Me? I wasn't overly impressed with the working environment. Beautiful office mind you, yet still feeling very restless and not happy with even the co-workers I had to work with. I just knew in my gut that this was NOT for me in the long run. To have to wake up bright & early, and come into a place to do mindless work, with such high expectations, I really was starting to feel dumb and unproductive. What I did wasn't stimulating enough. I wasn't absorbing and learning great things. This is a company that may as well be Corporate America, there were people I had to be careful with what I talked about, had to tip toe around certain topics. It was hard for me to swallow most days, a very stagnant work environment to say the least. I knew I was much smarter than the tasks that needed to be executed throughout the week but there were days when I was confused about certain procedures, and the level of comfort to go to my peers was not there. It just wasn't. Communication was the worst I've ever experienced, and the Boss always stressed "team work" but that really wasn't there either. Everything was aloof and just awkward, always. I truly believe that although the company I worked for had certain expectations of me, I had certain expectations of them as a whole. Obviously, this was never delivered. I critiqued a lot of what was going on around me and in my mind, I was honestly disappointed in this so called "amazing company." I started having those thoughts of regret from leaving my previous employer. I may not have been in love with what I did but I still had bills to pay. After losing my job on Friday and coming home to my typical evening routine of turning on the T.V. and letting my dog out. I came inside to watch the BREAKING NEWS about the attacks in Paris. I immediately sat down, thought, reflected, and was just grateful to be in the peace of my own home. Glad I was alive. What a crazy day! I've never been one to be suspicious of Friday, the 13th but I am officially now considering how the day unfolded. Life is strange, I've become so numb to the losses in my life that I look at it as another step closer to doing what I truly love the most. I mean you can only "fake it 'til you make it" for so long. I'm still a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. My divorce may have given me some doubt about myself, I struggled with some depression and anxiety but I still knew my self worth and that I was smart. I just want to encourage any out there that may struggle with getting out of their comfort zone because of fear or those that are living paycheck to paycheck because we all know there are still many that absolutely hate what they do for a living yet need that paycheck to either support themselves or their family to just press forward and do the best that you can. Most employers don't care about what you may be going through in life, maybe they don't have compassion for you, they just need you to be present and happy at ALL times no matter what. No excuses and that's that. I don't know about you but I have zero tolerance for a Boss that I cannot go and comfortably talk to about ANYTHING. It's like being in prison. You're confined. Can't move. Can't talk much. You're heard but not REALLY heard. You gotta tell the Boss what they wanna hear. Only in a perfect world. No thanks, office life..... It's not for me. So. Here is to a new journey in doing what I truly love the most. I've taken away so much from working in this kind of environment, and I will be able to apply some of it to my future endeavors but to sit at a desk all day, for the rest of my life? I felt lazy. You cannot be lazy in life. You have to give everything your all. Like Ron Swanson says, "Never half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing." Oh, and here's to getting back into shape again from all that sitting.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Meaning "I" (to stay) "sakaya" (sake shop), a type of informal Japanese drinking establishment that serves food to accompany drinks. They are casual places for after work drinking. Izakaya dining can be intimidating to non-Japanese with the wide variety of menu items and the slow pace. Food is normally ordered slowly over several courses rather than all at once. The kitchen will serve the food when it's ready rather than in formal courses like Western restaurants. Typically a beer is ordered when sitting down before perusing the menu. Delicately flavored dishes such as hiyayakko or edamame are ordered first, followed with progressively more robust flavors such as yakitori or kara-age, finishing the meal with a rice or noodle dish to fill up. This seems to exuberate my persona. In the sense that I love a casual establishment with great food and drinks, incredible atmosphere, a hidden gem to go after work for just a drink or two, being able to walk in a restaurant alone and to feel very comfortable in my environment is very important. But who doesn't love that? A niche that you can just go to and feel like you can call it "your place." It's always nice to go someplace by yourself and just relax! So I've discovered two Izakaya restaurants next to me... Two completely different atmospheres. One extremely casual and the other more casual upscale. I like them both for different reasons but I love how close I am to one than the other. One is perfect to go out with your friends and just have a great time, the other.. PERFECT place to go for date night. Both very small and intimate. Again, it all really just depends on your personality. I'm loving the discovering of all these great little restaurants in my neighborhood and I have to say it's always tempting to go out every night, enjoy all these little places that I'm sure a lot of people don't even know about. Why I love Atlanta. GREAT restaurants. Until next time! ❤️
Sunday, November 8, 2015
I own the movie but decided I would start reading the book. Hey, why not? Perfect time of the year to start reading this fascinating adventure! In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want-husband, country home, successful career-but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This book is the story of how she left behind all those outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. In the movie they really couldn't have picked a better person to play the role. The Oscar Winner Julia Roberts, formally a Smyrna, Georgia native. She has always been one of my favorite actresses. Down to earth, under the radar, loves to be with her family, her husband a great Cinematographer. She was also featured in last months issue of Allure and says in her interview, "I have a huge amount of giggly gratitude for what I've accomplished in my work, but I have a pretty clear perspective about it. It's not the defining aspect of my personality." Roberts says over lunch at a Malibu restaurant. As for the public's interest in her family, "Every day isn't exactly how we hope it turns out in that respect of being... viewed, as it were. But we're lucky that our life is relatively quiet." If I were ever famous, this is exactly how I would want my life. Far from that of the, well, Kardashians. I'm really really looking forward to seeing her new movie, "Secret in Their Eyes," which comes out on November 19th, costarring Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor. In this thriller, Roberts plays a rising FBI investigator whose life unravels after the brutal murder of someone she loves- her daughter and who, years later, sets off on a quest for justice. The role was an intense emotional workout for Roberts, who felt fortunate to have her Husband on the set as the film's cinematographer. She goes on to explain that she's not sure she could have been successful in the efforts of playing that role if her Husband hadn't been there. There's something about having the safest place in the world for you in the same room. I couldn't agree more. Another thing I noticed during her interview when asked the question, if you could be famous in a different way, what would you want to be known for? She replies, "I would be a great writer or painter. It's the CREATING something out of nothing that I find astounding." Then it really hit me, there's that word AGAIN and I see what my problem is. I'm not so much of a painter, never really have been very good at drawing or painting objects, people or buildings. I could do a flower but that's about it. I'm far more into the art of Hair, Food and Writing. If I could be a chemist I would CREATE scents for perfume! Now that would be fun :) Creating something out of nothing. Ok, enough of that, it's back to reading my book and winding down before getting ready for Monday's mundane.
Saturday, November 7, 2015
So it was the end of March and I had to make a quick decision as to whether or not I was going to stay yet another year at Lincoln Hills. I had already spoken OUT LOUD that I WAS moving in May when my lease was up and that was that! Well, I started sinking back in my despair because I still had a seed of doubt. I said to myself, "Screw it, what's another year in this depressing, run down apartment complex. I mean I've lived here six years why not go for seven!?" I was already pretty depressed so it didn't matter either way. The last Sunday of March I ended up going to a Women's Day that was at the Church I attended pretty regularly while I was Married. Not really knowing what to expect, I knew I would get something out of it and at least run in to "old friends." I also knew that God was nudging me to go. By the end I had taken a lot away from it. The stories of all the women who shared, hurts they had gone through and endured, never feeling good enough, putting their focus and energy on all the wrong worldly "things" and that they were always getting their self worth through the eyes of men, etc. but in the end God loved them through it all. Compassion. Real Love. The kind that you can only get from ONE and that is Him. Well, I left feeling really full and more hopeful than I had in a pretty long time. April came and so much good happened in that month I didn't even expect it. I got a raise from my job and I signed a new lease at the end of the month. NOT at Lincoln Hills. Immediately all I could think was, do I even deserve this? Counting up all my past mistakes and selfishness. Maybe I need to torment myself and make myself feel guilty!! Yeah! Why not? You see I'm really good about letting the Enemy get to me. Letting those inner demons tell me different. We all have 'em and it's so easy to slip into depression when you're continually doing that to yourself especially when you are listening to the crap, re-living your Past that you CAN'T change or trying to take back what may have happened and who you used to be. Maybe friends judged you? Family? Co-workers? Ex-boyfriends or girlfriends? I've definitely learned who I need to "let in" and who doesn't even deserve that priveledge. Words, actions, your Past will ALWAYS be brought up. Even if it's only you that's bringing it up in your head. Don't let it define you though. You can't change anything, move on. Learn from it. Seriously, Thank God I'm not running for President. Oh dear God. Every one of those canidates, their Past always gets brought up! Makes for juicy judgement and gossip right? I've also learned to do my best with just getting through the day sometimes. Not stressing about the next day. I'm not an uptight person so I also can't be around others with crazy anxiety and restless energy otherwise it physically makes me ill. A challenge I'm learning to get around where I work right now. I'm pretty compassionate so I really do my best to not go crazy when I listen to the anxiety of others. In my head, I may be but I try and bring balance and keep my calm around those that are having mental breakdowns at work. I also struggle with being around people that are OVERLY positive, it can have the same affect on me not to mention it's super annoying. Every day really is a battle of the mind. We have to be careful to not let our brains get the best of us. Grateful. Grateful for this day, even though it's now day 7 for rain. At least when I see the sun again I'll be even more grateful for that light. As a reminder that we may go through a lot of rainy days in our lives but at some point the sun is gonna shine. Learning to always be grateful even through the storms of life. You never know when your day will soon come.☀️
Friday, November 6, 2015
It's here. The month of November. We meet again. Again and again I always feel like it's still the year 2011. Only in this month though. When things were, well, normal. At least I thought. Baking cupcakes, not having to worry about a boring, stressful job, dealing with co-workers that didn't mesh well with my personality or having to listen to the bickering of others. I was able to sleep in until late mornings and would watch my morning show, The View, an afternoon favorite was The Talk. I would write out some recipes or blog and maybe even talk to a friend. Some days I may even be able to get out and enjoy a great Brunch with my friend Jenny Chesser. At this time it's already been one year that I've not worked. My Husband at the time worked non-stop, he was a man with a plan, always had our best interests at heart, knew how to save for the worst of days and we normally would spend our "time" together for our Anniversary which was.. well, in November. Visiting a few great cities with just enough time to do it in, a short 4 days worth and it was back to reality. Fast forward 4 years later. It's now November 6th 2015. To say a lot has happened in the past four years, heck even five would be an understatement. Now, divorced and currently working in an office setting. Monday through Friday, early mornings, ok you get the picture. Before I was at a Country Club for about two years working 6 days a week as a Hostess and having to do very long days and maybe even getting a nap in either my car or the restaurant booth. Getting here hasn't been easy. At all. 2015 has been a great year for me overall, I truly believe I'm finally reaping the benefits of my hard work, so I really can't complain. I moved out of a suburbian area I had been dying to get out of for YEARS. I finally get to experience real Atlanta. Old Atlanta. A great area that is the "new up and coming." I also got a dog back in April. Not that I needed any more pets but I really wanted a dog after getting into a extremely stressful industry and not being able to sleep because of the anxiety. Charlie has been my saving grace. So, with lots of great new changes that have taken place and being able to hit a couple of my goals because I was so determined to NOT give up, I truly believe I am able to apply so much I have learned independently on my own now. I've come to realize that even though the industry I'm in now isn't my passion it's given me the financial stability I've needed since my Divorce. I've learned to push through when I don't feel like it. I've cried a lot. Yet I still fight. I don't give up. I'm a fighter and even a survivor. Sometimes I can't even believe it myself, that I've made it down here considering my family is still up North and I have very little of genuine friends I can connect with. I probably don't give myself enough credit as maybe we all don't at times. Life's tough. Life always goes on but it's tough and we all deal differently with the obsticals that may come up in our lives. My dream is to get to where I need to be. Sharing my gifts, being a joy for others to be around, giving advice and listening to others, seeing what their gifts are, pointing them in the right direction, knowing that I'm not the only one struggling to figure out how I need to get from Point A to Point B. So what is my passion? What am I in love with that gets me so excited to talk about with others? That would be, CREATING. Cupcakes? Duh. Of course, always, but other things as well. Wow, it feels so good to write again...