Baking & Cooking

Sometime during college, when I had my first introduction into Korean media, I watched what is now one of my favorite movies.  The movie is called Madeleine, and it is your fairly typical Korean movie/drama storyline about a girl and a boy and how they fall in love.  (Not to be confused with the English movie Madeleine, which is about a little girl.)

It’s pretty cute, and I’ve been meaning to rewatch it one of these days.  I don’t quite recall how madeleines even tied into the main storyline (I don’t think it did), but the male lead in the movie enjoys baking and at one point makes some madeleine cookies.

That movie was the first time I had heard of madeleine cookies, and for some reason I fell in love with them and have maintained a happy, longing relationship ever since.  They are incredibly adorable and surprisingly sophisticated.

My first taste of madeleines was supremely disappointing, however.  I saw them once at a Starbucks soon after I watched the movie and was incredibly excited.  (Note: I don’t actually drink coffee, so I never go to Starbucks; hence, I’d never seen them there before.)  Of course, commercialized food is one thing, but I had not quite learned how to eat the madeleine cookies and had expected a completely different taste/texture.  The one from Starbucks had a kind of funny taste, I thought, and I stopped eating them soon after (mostly because I never saw them again).

I’ll pause at this point to explain what madeleine cookies taste like, if you’ve never had one before.  I would describe them as a dense sponge cake: fluffy but heavy at the same time, moist, and sweet, with a distinctly “egg-y” flavor.  They can also be flavored; the most common ones I’ve seen so far are orange, lemon poppyseed, or chocolate chip.  They can also be served plain or dipped in chocolate, as pictured above.

Despite my slavish love for baking (and making ice cream), I don’t enjoy eating most pastries or desserts much and am as picky with what I do like as I am with most food.  Sometime later on, I learned that the cookies could also be eaten dipped in coffee or tea.  That turned out to be supremely tasty in my opinion and is the only way I eat the cookies now.  You may enjoy them by themselves, if you like that kind of texture.  It all depends on preference, but I hope that if you get a chance to try them, you’ll like them one way or another :)

This year was my first time to try baking them.  I made them for someone as part of a Valentine’s Day package, and I must say I was probably most excited to make these because they’ve always been so special to me.  (I still don’t know why, though…)  They turned out pretty well then, and it was then that I first tasted them dipped in tea.  Although they have a relatively simple ingredient list, I’d say that they are easy but not beginner’s level-easy to make, as the process can be arduous and easy to mess up.  Still, they’re not hard, and they’re worth it!

My second time baking them was this past weekend, as I had a sudden whimsical desire to do so and even brought my madeleine pan home from my apartment just for that purpose.  I made Sunday breakfast for my parents, complete with espresso and jasmine tea for dipping (mom made the tea — but I made the espresso).  We also had some fruit on the side, mainly so that they would remember to eat the lone orange I zested for the madeleines.

I don’t have process pictures, but I’ll make sure to take some the next time I make them.  Meanwhile, here is the recipe I used this past time.  You can get a pan either online ( or from a store that sells a little big more specialized kitchen stuff.  I got my pan from Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and I really like it.  It’s easy to clean and doesn’t stick, which is always a concern for anything that is baked with a shape.  Highly recommended.

I’ll leave you with more pictures from this past breakfast (because I like taking pictures of food XD).  The recipe provided makes two pans’ worth of madeleines, so I made one set of plain madeleines and a second with orange zest.  My parents liked the orange one better with tea and the plain ones better with the espresso.  Enjoy!

Oops, they’re kind of hole-y.  I think it might be because I left the batter in the fridge for too long (overnight) — the second batch came out prettier, and I had let the batter sit on the counter for a while.

So ends another month, exactly the way every other month has ended. Which is, really, un-noticeably. If you didn’t look at the calendar, you would think that my last days of the month are just another day, and probably a day that went more bad than good.

More than a year has gone by, but with no such commemoration of my apartment one-year, job one-year, or church one-year. In fact, probably nobody but me remembered anything about those at all, even out of the (expectedly, and for good reason) few who like to say they care a lot (more than others; but in fact they care about the same, they’re just louder). I’m beginning to understand now one of my previous roommates’ attempt to pass the year more intentionally with goals and a new blog to record each week’s deliberate adventure. Maybe I should have one of those? I was thinking of a baking project. In a vaguely Julie&Julia-esque fashion? Though I haven’t anywhere to get rid of the goods once I’ve baked them, and anyways I really don’t have anywhere to bake.

Which sort of brings me to my catalyst for this post. Among other things, the last hour has been pretty suck. Because I hate bugs and I hate cleaning, and after getting home from church dinner that’s all I’ve been doing. SOMEHOW a colony of ants decided to take over my cat’s food space, and it was disgusting. Swarms of little ants all over my poor kitty’s bowl, and him none the wiser so I had to plop him in my room whilst I began ant-ocide. Ants are pretty hard to kill; the little buggers would survive my attempts to drown them in toxic carpet cleaner (probably did me more harm than the colony, unfortunately). And then they’d be all inside my carpet, and… anyways, I’ll spare you gruesome details. Point is, WHERE DID THEY COME FROM????? I haven’t figured that out since I got severely harassed by a line of them in my kitchen coming from seemingly no where in particular and going really no where in particular.

I’m not a very clean person, to be honest. I’m lazy and I leave stuff out. But on the other hand, I don’t really have much stuff, so usually the only thing left out for bugs is cat food and dishes in the sink. (I’m getting into the habit of putting every food item into an airtight container, and also of not having much food around — my previous/current bug problem was/is roaches and whatever those little rice/flour bug things are). Anyways, these ants have a vendetta against me or something, because I live on the THIRD FLOOR. What kind of ant colony crawls up to the third floor for cat food? And not just that, but these ants were coming, of all places, from some vague area behind my washer/dryer and back wall of my bathroom. It’s a pretty far trek to that cat food, and the only thing back there is the adjacent apartment.

Which brings me to a totally unfounded and baseless but somewhat logical accusation — I wonder if the bugs are coming from said adjacent apartment. I’ve seen my neighbors, and while not really nice or sociable, they’re you’re pretty regular neighbors. The lady/wife was pregnant when I last saw her. But all of these bugs are coming from that wall. My bathroom and kitchen are adjacent to that wall, and while it makes a lot of sense for these bugs to be in my slovenly kitchen, I’m not convinced that that would then lead them to cross my mini dining room into my bathroom for… hm, shampoo? soap? Need to wash critter hands before bug-handling my sealed and/or refrigerated food? At best, I’m thinking they had an ant farm that leaks or broke and they just sort of neglected to mention anything. At worst, perhaps their kitchen is more slovenly than mine. And what can I do but suffer the consequences of whatever the reason?

I’m learning now to be meticulously clean, and I’ll probably have to tornado around my apartment cleaning up and then having willpower to maintain it as such, and MAYBE that will help. Not sure what to do about my cat’s food, though. I’m wary of leaving the food out as a buggy buffet, so I may have to feed him periodically (which sucks, because I’m not always home and I worry he’s not getting enough to eat).

Tomorrow I’m driving back home, and I think I’m going to have to bring my cat with me. I wouldn’t mind, except (1) there’s a dog at the house now, and (2) kitty tends to throw up on car rides unless he’s sitting on my lap (which he can’t really do whilst I’m driving). Soo… dunno. But I can’t leave him here, because I can’t leave food out.

GRRRRR. BUGS. It should just be a cold front and kill all of them already. Not going to happen in this state in this lifetime, though. Guess that means I need a change of scene?

Oh, right. None of that relates to baking unless you look closely. Namely, bugs and baked goods don’t mix. It’s just gross. Like my kitchen. And no kitchen means no baking, means no fun, means I’ll just have to continue daydreaming about madeleines and pumpkin cupcakes with marshmallow fondant ghosts and zebra cake and whatever else ridiculous things I enjoy looking at but won’t have a chance to make anytime soon T^T

I think I need to run around on Morrowind for a bit and smack some things… please excuse me.

This is SO cute.

(I stole the picture from the website, so you can understand the next part, if you don’t want to go to the link >__<  BUT YOU SHOULD.)

I tried to make some today with white peaches.  Note that it is considerably different, because peaches are squishy (even hard ones) while apples are firm, so mine actually ended up looking more like sushi T__T;  But at least my mom has this flat plate with a grass print on the background, so the whole “bunnies in the grass” thing makes my attempt look less like a fail XD

By the way, if you haven’t seen the MY MILKTOOF site yet… check it out.  It’s amazing.




My parents and I took Alli (short for Alligator) — our new black lab, who’s about a year old and 75 pounds of whiny, overly excitable, largely untrained, has-more-energy-than-1,000-Energizer-batteries puppy — to the park to fish and walk around this morning.  Although the sky was lit by the time we got there, I still got some nice pictures of the first sun rays across the cloud-spotted sky :3  It’s so beautiful!  I could even see the edges of the clouds glowing from the backlit sunrise.

We think the park is probably too distracting for the dog, so we didn’t get to train her much (we’re trying to teach her to “stay” and “heel”).  She was pretty good though, just far too excited for me XD  I’ll take my cats, thanks.  Or maybe I’m just not used to dogs >__<

We also caught 2 fish, a crocker and a fairly large catfish, one each by my mom and dad.  It was really windy and apparently late in the season (something about the lake waters being too warm), so I’m surprised we caught anything at all.

So this weekend is Father’s Day, which is why we went out so early.  Part one of “Father’s Day weekend” gift, I suppose?  My dad enjoys fishing, so it’s nice for us to go out bright and early on Saturday morning as a family so he can relax and fish :)  Part two of the “gift” is lunch/dinner, I suppose, though we’re all so lax that we have no idea where to go :P  That’s okay.

Otherwise, my only decent gift tends to baking or making ice cream XD  My mom recently got an ice cream machine, so we’re planning to make some mint ice cream — hopefully it’ll be ready by tomorrow.  I’m also planning to make basil & Parmesan scones for breakfast tomorrow ^w^  I’m a slow baker/ice cream maker, so I hope they turn out well and don’t take the whole day >__<

Happy π Day!

Today is 3/14, otherwise known as Pi Day (π ≈ 3.14159, rounded off is 3.14).  Because of the English equivalent homonym, this day is often celebrated by the consuming of pie.  So here is a pie for you :D

How much of “pi” do you know?  (I only know up to what I wrote up there, which is not much XD).

π is a mathematical constant, most frequently used for calculations involving circular objects (circles, spheres, etc).  It’s important stuff.

Pie is a type of baked dessert that usually has a dough or graham cracker crust and filling.  Usually the filling is made of some kind of fruit, but you can also have chocolate or other (richer) fillings.  There are also “savory” pies (note that I don’t understand the use of sweet versus savory, because technically those aren’t really in the same category, so I would just say sweet versus salty…) — for instance, pot pies.  Pot pies are probably the only kind of pie that I eat, and they’re very yummy XD  I especially like the Marie Callendar’s frozen ones… because I haven’t really had anything else XP

There is a place in Houston called House of Pies.  I’ve been there once with some friends, and it’s pretty good food — it’s basically a little diner.  My friend told me that they have specials for Pi Day, so if you’re in the area, you should check it out :)

For Pi Day, senpai and I are making some mini strawberry rhubarb pies.  I’ll update with pictures when they’re done.  This will be the second time I’ve ever made pie, so I don’t know how they’ll turn out XD  Rhubarb is kind of hard to find, though > <

Happy Pi Day!

Side Note:  For the romantically inclined, today is also White Day.  See the Valentine’s Day post for more details :3

The other day, I made cupcakes for the very first time, because a friend of mine had requested some.  As with most desserts, I’m not really a fan of cupcakes — the result of that is, I have no idea what makes a “good”-tasting cupcake, how the batter should be, what it should look like… etc.

The good thing is, you can’t tell what the cupcakes taste like from the pictures XP

Just for fun, I made three kinds of cupcakes.  The first kind, lemon meringue, was specifically requested by my friend.  I also made red velvet and vanilla cupcakes because I’m an overachiever like that.  Please find the recipes for these cupcakes below:

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes

I’m not really sure what my friend thought of them, because he didn’t say anything about it, so I’ll just have to assume that they weren’t up to par.  I did get some feedback from others (since you can’t just make two or three cupcakes, you have to make a whole batch, so I had leftovers), and it sounded like some people liked it… I guess that means I’m not totally hopeless in the cupcake department?

I like to pride myself on baking, so it’s kind of depressing to think that I’m actually not very good at it.  I feel kind of like this:

But it’s okay, I’m also really stubborn, which means that as terrible as it is for my sanity, I’ll probably try to make cupcakes again… and make them BETTER.

On the other hand, someone please explain to me the hype about cupcakes.  Are they particularly tasty relative to other desserts?  Or are they just too cute to look at?  (I can agree with that, cupcakes lend themselves very well towards a wide variety of cute and fanciful decorations.)  Maybe I’m just not sophisticated enough to enjoy them ;;

For anyone interested in making/decorating cupcakes, I used a Ziploc bag rather than a professional piping tube.  A Ziploc bag suffices as a decent substitute, although I think if you want any really fancy frostings, you’d  do better with the real thing.  To use a Ziploc bag, just fill the bag with the frosting, snip off an edge, and decorate.

Anyways~  I’ve decided to post the results of my escapades here, for your viewing pleasure :3  Although I think I’m not terribly good at decorating, I think I did a decent job this time (and of course, camera angle and stuff helps).  Please enjoy :D


First, the cupcakes I gave to my friend, in their boxes.

Cupcake box #1: Lemon Meringue Cupcakes.  They are all frosted and then topped with lemon zest and/or sugar pearls.  For the swirly one, I just took a toothpick and dipped it into some yellow gel food color and then drew it onto the frosting.

Cupcake box #2.  The top two are red velvet with buttercream frosting and red velvet crumbs.  The bottom two are vanilla cupcakes with colored frosting and sugar pearls.

The boxes together and closed.  I got these cute boxes from Michaels, but I’m hoping to make my own boxes next time :3



Now for some pretty(ish?) close ups of some of the left over cupcakes that I had my taste tester try for me before I gave my friend those cupcakes.  (Thank you, taste tester XP)


My special blue marble frosting (it’s really hard to get it appropriately marbled… only this one turned out okay >__<) with sugar pearls, atop a vanilla cupcake.


So I had attempted to do a pretty layered frosting like in the picture on the Vanilla Cupcakes recipe and… uh, obviously that didn’t turn out so well.  Instead, I ended up with what I call a purple elephant octopus frosting sitting on top of another vanilla cupcake.


Lemon meringue cupcake, topped with lemon custard (underneath the frosting) and sprinkled with lemon zest for decoration.


Last but not least, a seductive red velvet cupcake, decorated with red velvet crumbs.  Another point of confusion: what’s so hot about red velvet?  It’s just cocoa powder and red food dye.  But I guess the red makes it look really outstanding.



And there we have it.  Cupcakes!  Please tell me what you think of these and any comments/suggestions for what I can improve on or how to decorate… >__<;  And stay tuned for future adventures and pictures XD

Okay. This video, despite it being utterly ridiculous, is actually pretty true.

1: Anytime the guy tells the truth about anything to his girl, he’ll probably get in trouble. Because guys are dumb like that sometimes XP

2: Girls like doctors.

3: Girls like guys who can cook. And it’d be cool if they are interested in culture and art, along with cooking.

4: Delivery pizza and $0.50 burritos are NOT good date foods. At least, not in the beginning, and not until you’re sure she likes those foods. (But girls can like those things too >__< I like pizza and burritos… but not for a first date kind of thing.)

5: Girls do care a lot about thought and effort. But personally, I think the final product is pretty important, too.

6: "I just finished cooking. I apologize for the mess, but it's because I wanted to make it special… because you're a special girl." If you say this, then YES, SHE WILL BE GOOGLY-EYED. XD;;;

Next Page »