Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thermos envy

Matt has had this thermos for years. It's the perfect size to bring a hot beverage to work in, and it keeps your drink warm all day. I have to admit, I've been a little jealous. Until one of my early weekend morning garage sale runs this fall, when I found an epic thermos for $3. This baby holds over a quart of warm deliciousness and probably will keep it warm until the apocalypse. The weather forcast for my Ultimate games last weekend was not too favorable, so I decided it was time to bring the big guy into service.

I've always had a sort of love/hate affair with hot chocolate. As a non-coffee drinker and only occasional tea drinker (because I feel like its good for me), hot chocolate has always been my drink of choice. I grew up drinking Swiss Miss out of the huge carton, and frequently ordered hot chocolate when my family went out to dinner. But unfortunately, there is a wide range of qualities. There's the gas station hot chocolate that tastes awesome for the first half, until you get to the cloying, grainy bits. There's the chalet hot chocolate that tastes good because you're freezing. And there's the hot chocolate at home from a mix that you stir into hot water. I didn't realize just how chocolate-confused I was until I lived with some French girls in Beijing, who were appalled that I made hot chocolate from water and a mix. My friend from Brittany then proceded to make me hot chocolate with whole milk. Epiphany! Milk from dried milk powder is nasty. Thus, hot chocolate made with milk powder (i.e. those from a mix to stir into water) will be nasty as well. My second epiphany occured in a Swiss grocery store, where the only hot chocolate mixes instruct the user to mix them into milk. So mix + milk is ok.

On another note, I think it's a scam that food companies can sell some things in boxes when it is so easy to make them yourself. Salad dressings, brownie mix, spaghetti sauce. Same for hot chocolate mix. So I set out to make my own hot chocolate mix to be mixed into milk for steamy cups of deliciousness. I made this recipe this weekend for my Ultimate tournaments, and it's a winner.

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • dash cinnamon and/or cayenne
  1. Muddle it all up in a bowl or bag and store
  2. To serve, mix 2 Tbsp into 1 cup warm milk.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A change in seasons

We had our first snow of the year this week. I love the snow. It's peaceful, silent, and it reminds me of home. We went up to the mountains and took one run at the resort last weekend. Four of us up from Boulder on our teles. Bunch of hippies. I'm looking forward to ski season this year with the hopes that the snow doesn't suck like it did last year.

Matt started a new job this week, and is happy to be working with better people in a more positive environment. And in a field that people actually give a damn about. I guest taught two lectures to a roomful of young engineers, which was quite rewarding and entertaining.

I will be home for a whole week over Thanksgiving. As I get three different food magazines and religiously peruse food blogs, I've come up with a lot of new-fangled holiday recipes to test out on our 30 or so relatives who pop in. I love this hobby.

I've been baking every week for seminar (it beats buying the crap from the supermarket) and have the enviable task every Tuesday to bake anything I want for 30-40 people. It's been great for my stress levels. We had some stout leftover because no one actually likes stout. It turns out that stout and chocolate are a delicious combo. And as an added bonus, we got a new camera in the mail, so I don't have to turn it off and on between every photo. Score! I got an awesome new camera and was so excited to put up pics from it, but the SD card was bunked. So here's a lovely pic from my building to make you jealous that you don't live in Boulder.

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 20-24 cupcakes
  • 1 cup stout
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour cupcake tin.
  2. Bring the stout and butter to a simmer over medium hear. Whisk in cocoa powder. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Mix together dry ingredients in a small bowl.
  4. Whisk together eggs and sour cream in a large bowl until thoroughly mixed. Whisk the chocolate stout mixture into the eggs and cream. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until combined.
  5. Spoon into greased pan (3/4 full) and bake for about 18 minutes.
  6. Let cool completely before frosting.