That Sugar Sweet

     I still have all this cooking lavender from France, and have been reading about lavender sugar for a while, so I finally tried it. You should too. You don’t need to go to France to find lavender, though it helps. But so does Amazon. Why not go for some lemon sugar while we’re at it? YUM HERE WE GO.

 I started with a tablespoon of dried lavender for about three quarters of a cup of sugar, and quickly realized that would be too much. If you have a food processor, you can take some sugar and pulverize the lavender with it so it can mix better with the rest of the sugar. Or else, put your back into it with a mortar & pestle. I ended up with about a teaspoon of lavender for 3/4 cup of sugar, and it came out pretty strong, so adjust to your preferences!
I’ll agree that this unattractive pile of mashed lavender looks more like some herb (“herb”). But fret not! I promise it will do nothing but good and well fragranced things for you and your kitchen.

If you didn’t use a processor, it might look like you have ants in your sugar. If you did, I’m guessing your sugar may look different. If you want, you can sieve out the lavender when you’re satisfied with infusion, but you can also leave it. I think it looks kinda cool…#rustic. Not actually like ants.

I laaahve all things lemon, short of eating a slice of lemon. It has such a bright, strong flavor and it makes most every baked good better. Baked betters! Now it can make so much more, so much better. I put a teaspoon of lemon zest in a cup of sugar. Don’t worry when it gets chunky and moist – eventually the zest will dry out. Feel free to sieve the zest out too. 
     Now you have this weird spiced sugar. What the heck now? Goodness, the possibilities are endless! What do you usually use sugar for? Oatmeal (oatmeal forever <3), hot bevs, cold bevs, toast (lavender sugar is the new cinnamon sugar tbh), decoration. Just look at it, so pretty! And this works for refined sugar as well as raw cane sugar, which is what I used. It's better for you, by the way. Don't limit yourself to lemon and lavender – you can make other citrus sugars, spent vanilla bean pods, ginger…even more endless possibilities! Get creative and have fun with it.

ps – have you seen the video for “Sugar” by Maroon 5? I approve #onlyinLA

Easy Apple-Cran Crisp

     It is now clear to me that Fall is here to stay. Prepare for scarves, hoodies, and beanies on campus/elsewhere. I wanted to quickly share a really easy recipe for those still with some apples hanging around the kitchen from that one time you went apple picking. We have to make room in the fridge for pumpkin everything anyway. While you wait for an updated cookie recipe, here’s some soft-yet-crunchy apple-cranberry crisp! Really, the hardest part is cutting the apples.

Apple Cranberry Crisp, from Better Homes and Gardens
Here’s to recipes turning out the same as their picture!


Ingredients

5 cups thinly-sliced peeled apples
1 cup cranberries(frozen or fresh)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine apples, cranberries, and granulated sugar. Transfer to a 2-quart square baking dish or a 9-inch pie plate.
  2. In a small bowl combine oats, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle oat mixture evenly over apple mixture.
  3. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until apples are tender. Serve warm with a dollop of ice cream or whipped cream. Makes 6 servings.

     In other news, the (no longer) new school year has brought a new food blog! I’ve come together with other college bakers/cooks to bring you varying recipes and kitchen adventures. We call it College Bakers’ Collective, and you can find it right here. It’s been really cool getting to see what other college kids, who are just as busy as the next kid, are up to in their kitchens. Come say hi; if you’re waiting for something new from me, there’s a good chance something has already been posted @ CBC. Stay warm, kids!

Look! A Fridge! With Food?!

Home! Yay sleeping, yay parents, yay doing my homework before arriving! Also, yay real food, real appliances…real good. To kick start the Thanksgiving bake-a-thon 2012 (disclaimer: not a real tradition), I continued the use-up-all-old-ingredients theme and substituted the apricots in my Gourmet cook(ie)book’s “Apricot Chews” recipe for pomegranate-infused craisins. Yeah…definitely thought those were dried pomegranate seeds a couple weeks ago. Layer of cooked-ish craisins between layers of saturated fat and carbs (mostly butter, sugar, oats and flour). This dessert also called for some improv, as I did not have one pound of craisins, but I was successful once again.

Apricot Chews
p. 56, The Gourmet Cookie Book
**Makes three dozen squares
Directions:
Melt 3/4 cup butter, add 1 cup brown sugar, 1 1/2 cups each of flour and oatmeal, and 1 teaspoon baking soda.  Mix the ingredients thoroughly and press half the mixture into a greased baking pan about nine inches square.
In a saucepan, simmer 3/4 pound dried apricots with 1 cup water and 3/4 cup sugar for 30 minutes, or until the apricots are soft.  Add 1 tablespoon apricot liqueur after the mixture has been cooking for 20 minutes.  Spoon the apricots over the crumb mixture in the baking pan, sprinkle them with 1/4 cup grated coconut, if desired, and cover them with the rest of the crumbs.  Bake the mixture in a moderate oven (350°F) for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it is golden.  Cut the mixture into squares while it is still warm and turn out the chews from the pan when they are cold and set.
Recipe notes:
    •    For the best flavor and colour, use California dried apricots (or, like, any other dried fruit)
    •    Use apricot brandy (but lemonade is good, too)
    •    Puree the apricots in a food processor after cooking (even though there’s no shame in chunks)
    •    Grease the baking pan with butter, line it with two crisscrossed sheets of foil, and the butter the foil. (what?)
    •    Make 36 squares by cutting the bars into 6 rows each lengthwise and crosswise. (if you want fewer than 300 calories per serving, then definitely)

Gourmet cookie book of gourmet cookies for a gourmet cookie chef
“Simmer until soft”…or something
Potentially too much water
Had to halve the recipe; good thing too, these are fairly lethal
Ta-da! Chewy indeed