kindkit: Rupert Giles drinking a mug of tea and reading (Buffy: Giles and tea)
Yes, I know I've been gone for about a thousand years. I have returned to share an opinion about this week's Great British Bake Off.

Spoilers! )
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
Sorry I haven't posted for ages. At first I felt there was nothing interesting to say, then there were too many things to say and yet I still wasn't sure any of them were interesting. So I'm just going to post, regardless.

1) I keep reading everybody's Yuletide posts with envy and ruefulness. I'm not doing Yuletide this year, because I defaulted last year and I haven't managed to finish a story in a painfully long time. I'm looking forward to reading a bunch of new stories come Christmas, though.

2) Still not king feeling very fannish about anything. I continue to love most of my more recent fandoms (e.g. Hannibal, all the world wars-related stuff), but it's not an excited, "I want to write and read all the fic" sort of love. I guess this is just a fallow period for me. I'm trying not to worry about it.

3) The Great British Bake Off has got me baking again (the onset of autumn and cooler weather has also helped) but I don't feel the same intensity of interest in the competition as I did last year. Those who've made it to the semifinals all deserve to be there, but I'm not as impressed by their baking as I was by last year's semifinalists, and I don't feel the same attachment to any of them as I did to Ian, Nadiya, and Tamal last year. Still, it's fun to watch.

4) What have I been baking, you ask? In recent weeks I've made a (semi-successful) Victoria sandwich filled with strawberry jam and lemon curd; a rather good apple, walnut, and raisin cake; a savoury sweet potato pie; some very nice pumpkin cream cheese muffins (brought to work for potluck--I want to make another batch to keep for myself); some anadama bread made with cornmeal and molasses (horrible--I ended up throwing half of it away); and some proper cornbread with bacon, cheese, chipotle chiles, and no fucking molasses, which was delicious. Today I've got the dough for a four-grain pot boule resting in the fridge, since I want to start baking my own bread again instead of buying it like I did over the summer.

5) much, much more food talk underneath, including discussion of past weight-loss attempts, body shame, and disordered eating )

6) I've been reading Mark Billingham's series of mysteries featuring Detective Inspector Tom Thorne, and just finished the most recent one today. It's a series I like a lot despite often wanting to give the protagonist a very hard slap. The early books are fairly standard serial-killer stories, but they have enough character development that they kept me interested anyway. The later books are much more driven by the characters and by an interest in the social and personal aftereffects of violent crime. My favorite, The Bones Beneath, features no detective work at all. Don't start with that one, though, because it refers heavily to things that happened in earlier novels.

There's a recurring queer character who gets good development, and a number of interesting women (though I'd note that the two women Thorne has romantic relationships with during the series are much more compelling when the relationship stuff is backgrounded and they're doing their own things).

7) I acquired the first two series of Penny Dreadful for very cheap ($6 for both) and will probably start watching today.

Comments are welcome, unless they're concern trolling about weight/food issues, in which case I will delete them with extreme prejudice. I'd love to hear what you've been cooking/eating/watching/reading or whatever--we almost all seem to post less these days, and I miss you!
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Default)
I'm baking an apple pie at the moment, based on a recipe from my recently acquired copy of Paul Hollywood's Pies and Puds. I adapted the crust slightly by adding a teaspoon of cider vinegar--a trick I got from one of Rose Levy Beranbaum's books and which makes a very flaky crust--omitted the cheese layer Hollywood adds to the filling, and added a little bit of nutmeg. Just nutmeg, no cinnamon or anything, because I wanted a pie I could eat with cheese even though I didn't want cheese actually in the pie. I also got ambitious and decorated it with pastry leaves and grapes. The leaves look fantastic, far beyond the slight effort it took to make them. (Use a round cutter to cut out pastry circles from the dough scraps, then use the same cutter to cut from each edge to the center, making two leaves. Score to make the vein pattern.) It just now occurs to me that I could have made pastry apples instead of grapes, but oh well. It looks pretty and makes me feel almost like a person who can bake.

Pies and Puds is full of recipes I want to attempt, such as bacon and egg pie; cheese, potato, and onion pie; "Hollywood's Temptation" (a riff on the Swedish dish Janssen's temptation) which features potatoes and smoked salmon in filo pastry; choux buns with mushrooms; lemon and lavender posset with lavender biscuits; and so on. I'm especially drawn to something called Bedfordshire Clangers, which are individual pastry rolls with a ham filling at one end and an apple and pear filling at the other, so you've got your main course and dessert all in one neat package. There's also a game pie recipe, which falls in nicely with my tentative Christmas dinner plans.

more about baking, possibly more than anyone wants to read )

In life outside of baking, work is . . . work. This week was a bit of a nightmare as we received a ridiculous amount (pretty much a truckload) of Christmas stuff that we can't display yet but have no room to store, also because corporate haven't authorized extra hours yet even though there's a lot of extra work to do. I was so tired yesterday that I went to bed at about 5:30 pm--this is slightly less ridiculous when you consider that I get up M-F at 4:00 am--and slept until almost 8:00 am. I was awake for about an hour at around midnight, but still.

There's not much else going on. I re-read my four preferred Jane Austen novels (Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Persuasion, in that order) again, and loved them as I always do, and then wished again that there were m/m slash AUs where Darcy courts Bingley and Mr. Knightley adjusts his snobbery enough to realize that he loves his steward, William Larkins. M/m isn't really possible for S&S* or Persuasion, but if there was an AU where Elinor doesn't marry Edward and Colonel Brandon doesn't marry Marianne and the two of them are unconventionally best pals for life, I'd be happy.

*Brandon/Willoughby could be attempted, but I hate Willoughby more with every re-read. Colonel Brandon is too good for him by far.

I've also read Philip Purser-Hallard's The Pendragon Protocol, which is sort of like Kingsman with fantasy elements and more intelligent politics, and enjoyed it enormously. Need to get the second in the series.

We had a book sale at work and I got copies of several of Mark Hodder's novels for cheap. The Burton & Swinburne series ought to be perfect for me: Richard Burton (the explorer, not the actor) and Algernon Swinburne investigate weird crimes in a steampunk alternate Britain. Alas, the one I'm reading is not well written at all--how is it even possible to make Burton and Swinburne boring?--and I'm having to slog my way through. I keep hoping it'll get better.

ETA: Some pie has been eaten. The filling is delicious. I used four Golden Delicious apples and three Honeycrisp, and the combination is gorgeous. The nutmeg added just the right aroma without overwhelming the apples--much better than cinnamon.

Unfortunately the juiciness of the apples rather overwhelmed the pastry. The edges were lovely and crisp, but the bottom crust especially got soggy. I should have cut the apples a bit thicker and also used more starch in the filling. The recipe didn't call for any, but I used a bit of tapioca starch. Not enough, apparently. Also, to compensate for the high altitude I baked the pie at a slightly lower temperature than called for, so that the crust wouldn't brown before the apples cooked. This may have been a mistake. Using Honeycrisp may also have been part of the problem--it's a very juicy apple--but the taste is too good to want to change.

Definitely not a bad pie, but there's still room for improvement.
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
1) Baked some biscotti yesterday. They turned out well, but it has made me realize that I just don't like biscotti enough to want to go to the effort--and it isn't even that much effort--of baking them. Ah, well, that leaves several thousand other kinds of cookies/biscuits to bake.

2) Also yesterday, used my new soup pot for the first time. I made some chili, because for about two weeks I've been craving it. And not proper Tex-Mex chili, which is made with just meat and chiles and absolutely NOT beans. No, I wanted midwestern chili, made with ground beef and kidney beans and tomatoes, mildly spiced. Like my mom used to make, only better, because my mom wasn't much of a cook really. In the end I did a few slightly fussy things--I used ancho chile powder (because I couldn't find whole dried anchos) and a couple of whole, toasted, soaked, chopped up guajillo chiles, and freshly-ground cumin seed and Mexican oregano, and I added a bit of espresso powder and cocoa powder for depth, and some worcestershire sauce because it needed a certain something, and beans I'd previously cooked and frozen instead of beans from a can--but I got the result I wanted. And now I have lots of leftover chili in the freezer. I like having food in the freezer. Convenient + anxiety-easing.

3) Have finished watching Rejseholdet. Am pleased with highly slash-friendly ending. Am wondering if slashiness was deliberate on writers' part, because WOW. Am amused that around the middle of S3, the cinematographer discovered the blue filter and the whole look of the show changed, and also all the characters started wearing all black all the time. Still recommend it to those who like police drama, strong m/m slashiness, nuanced female characters, and strong female friendship with slashy potential; all previous caveats apply, however.

Definitely requesting it for Yuletide.

4) Two of my Yuletide nominations (Grantchester and The Thrilling Adventure Hour) have been approved. Still waiting on approval of the Bake Off.

5) Speaking of the Bake Off, spoilers for the semi-final )
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
Today I baked Paul Hollywood's Eight Strand Plaited Loaf. It was both more and less difficult than I expected. The dough is somewhat sticky--I did the math just now and it has a 68% hydration, which is quite high for a dough you're going to braid--and this ruined my first attempt at braiding because all the strands stuck together. So I rolled it back into a ball, kneaded it with a bit of flour until it was less sticky, then managed the braid on the second attempt.

click here if you want the details )

I'd also meant to make a cake today (coffee and walnut, topped with some caramel-dipped walnuts), but the bread took longer than expected. Plus, I failed in my attempt to make caramel for the walnuts, which was a bit disheartening. Next time I will take more seriously all those warnings about how easily caramel crystallizes.

I still haven't made the lemon cake with lemon curd, either, because even a half recipe requires eight eggs and every time I have the time and inclination to make it, it turns out I don't have enough eggs. And I can never bring myself to make a special trip to the supermarket just to buy them.

In news which will probably surprise none of you as much as it surprised me, I seem to have developed a crush on Paul Hollywood. Why, libido, why? Even the truly frightening color that too many hours on the tanning bed have given his face is no deterrent. I don't normally go for big men, either.

I have a little crush on Mary Berry, too, but of a very different kind. I'd like to imagine her as a slightly intimidating but favorite aunt, the sort who doles out good, sensible yet quietly daring life advice along with tea, G&T, and cake.

And now I must away to bed. Did I mention that my workday now starts at 6 am?
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
Have survived first week of new job responsibilities. It was a long week.

I owe comments/replies to a bunch of you, but right now I'm tired.

About all I've done this last week that wasn't work-related was watch The Great British Bake Off )


kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Default)

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