Archive for the ‘high altitude’ Category

posted by on baking, cookies, high altitude, homemade

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chewy peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

These delicious, easy to make cookies went over so well with friends + family that there was zero time to grab a just-out-of-the-oven shot! This makes about 3 dozen cookies but if you’re a huge fan of fresh baked goodness, make up the cookie balls ahead of time and freeze. When you’re craving a cookie, set out a few cookie balls on a baking sheet to thaw, preheat your oven + bake!

Another reason I love this recipe? It’s all about the ½ (for the most part) + it uses only one bowl! || Read more

oatmeal scotchies

Feb
2015
10

posted by on baking, family, high altitude, homemade

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Oatmeal scotchies

When I started transitioning my recipe book from high plains to high altitude, my mother’s oatmeal scotchies were high on the list to be converted first.

The recipe below is simple and works great whether you’re somewhere in the Midwest or living high in the Rockies.

More brown sugar than white sugar keeps them soft and a little bit more flour allows for them to rise and stay even after they’ve cooled. The combo of cinnamon and butterscotch is simply perfection but feel free to get adventurous and mix half butterscotch, half chocolate chips and maybe even some dried cranberries! || Read more

posted by on baking, Colorado, family, high altitude

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High Altitude Double Chocolate Cookies

This recipe was one of my favorites I used a lot while I lived in Denver. My sister was nice enough to take a picture of her batch she made this weekend so I could share this cake-like cookie recipe with you! Double the recipe to make a full batch. This one will be a hit with you chocolate lovers. Enjoy!

Cream together:
1 stick butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla

In another bowl mix:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s Dark Special Edition)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt

Add 2 teaspoons of water into your flour mix and mix well.
Mix the dry ingredients with the wet.
Stir in one cup of chocolate chips + bake at 350 degrees for 9 minutes.

**This is for a half batch, otherwise double all ingredients**

posted by on baking, Colorado, Denver, high altitude, homemade, Phoenix, Q&A

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Questions & Curiosities logo

This is the first part of a small series I’m starting. I want this to open up conversation with people I’ve met along the way who inspire me, share similar interests (like Valerie below) or just have a great story to tell or recipe to share.  If you know of someone with a great story or want to have a chat with me, let me know! I’d love to do a post with you. Email me, Facebook, Twitter… ya’ll know how to reach me by now, don’t you? Let me know what you think! 

Valerie, I “met” you somehow through Twitter, right?I had just moved to Phoenix from Denver and you had just moved from Phoenix to Denver. We both love to cook and bake and we both love beer!
Although we have yet to meet IRL I can imagine how much fun you and I would have! You are always posting on Instagram photos of your awesome homemade meals fit for a queen now that you’ve moved to Denver. I appreciate you taking some time to chat with me! Tell us a little about yourself.

High Tea at The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa shortly after she moved from Phoenix to Denver.

Valerie enjoying High Tea at The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa shortly after she moved from Phoenix to Denver.

Yes, unfortunately I discovered you on Twitter the month I was moving from Phoenix to Denver, and learned that you had just moved to Phoenix from Denver… crazy! Not unfortunate that I discovered you, just unfortunate timing – because we would have been beer and baking soul mates!

I left the Wasatch mountains (Utah) for desert dwelling about five years ago in January, and after almost five years of cactus and monsoons, I returned back to higher altitude to explore rocky mountain living. As sweltering as the desert was, I really enjoyed my time there and met a lot of interesting people. I did feel that my adventures started becoming one-dimensional, though, and now I’m really thrilled to be living in 4-seasons once again. The thrill of the first week of a new season is one I’d never be able to live without again. The tiny, colorful buds in the spring, my first adult garden this past summer, raking golden leaves in the fall, and now tumbling (very ungracefully) down a giant snow-covered mountain in the winter. These are all the reasons my husband and I are enjoying our new Colorado life. We definitely feel lucky to be here.

For me, being in the kitchen while my mother was baking was something I loved as a kid. I guess it stuck!  When/how did your passion for cooking/baking start for you?
Looks like we have even more in common! I come from a homemade, from-scratch family, and watching my grandmother and mother cook were common occurrences from a young age. I think a lot of people may come from that kind of background in some way or another, but it only resonates with a small number of us – mostly because you have to keep trying despite the kitchen fires, over/undercooked food, and straight up colossal disasters that seem to happen weekly during that first year – and regularly every year after as well!

When I moved to Arizona, I discovered that cooking and baking seemed to equate with meeting new friends, so I jumped on that wagon and never looked back. Food brings people together in a really basic and important way – it’s a method of forging friendships over meals, learning about other people’s cultural backgrounds, and sharing the harvest that is unique to a particular region throughout the year. Sharing my cooking failures/triumphs with others has been, hands down, the easiest way for me to meet new friends, and to go out in the world with confidence – knowing that I have something to share with others. I think once you’re passionate about something, your hobby will take you places you never could have imagined!

Who are some of your culinary inspirations? 
Of course I have a million cookbooks and read a million food blogs, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandmother and the way she carried herself in the kitchen. She did a lot of preserving – peaches & pears, strawberry jam, etc, and that is now becoming one of my favorite hobbies. Also, she made food that was memorable without being overly complicated. A rustic vegetable stew and homemade chocolate cake are two of her specialties that stand out to me.

I think we get caught up in the newest trends and forget that food is meant to be shared and enjoyed by everyone – you don’t need a degree in molecular gastronomy to create a dish with soul. My grandmother always cooked with soul, and that seems like an emotion I’ve been trying to capture recently in my own dishes.

I used to live in Denver and making the transition from baking in what my dad calls the “high plains” to high altitude was something I talk about on my blog. Many tears have been shed over a recipe I had worked long and hard on to try and get to work in a high altitude atmosphere. Tell me, what’s one cooking/baking experience you wish you could forget?
Oh dear… honestly I’m savory over sweet – so baking is something I do occasionally, and usually only for parties and holidays. I do enjoy breads, though, and I’ve had decent success at altering my recipes for the high altitude.

Every single cake and brownie I’ve attempted since I’ve been here has sunken in, though, and despite my efforts they don’t seem to be getting any prettier. I hosted my cousin’s birthday party this summer and found a gorgeous strawberry shortcake recipe with a delicious strawberry glaze and whipped cream. I did everything according to the recipe and the cake just collapsed.

I scrambled to put it together in a way that actually looked like a cake with candles for the birthday song, but it was mostly a sloppy mess. The one photo I caught that night shows a strawberry shortcake blurred by candle-lit flames, and it actually looked really pretty. So I’m happy with that photo – and it telling a very different story of the strawberry shortcake. I will try that recipe again this summer and I WILL get it right! 🙂 (Val, I address my issues with Angel Food cake and other high altitude problems/recipes in these blog posts )

What’s been the biggest challenge/transition in your kitchen moving from PHX to Denver? 
This question makes me laugh, because it’s been one challenge to the next! I thought the kitchen in our condo at Papago Park in Tempe was pretty damn small. Like really, really small. Then we showed up to Denver and walked into the house we knew would be ours. I turned the corner and saw the kitchen – even smaller than my shoebox from Tempe – and no dishwasher! I couldn’t say no to the house, though, because it was charming and had Griswold written all over it.

For the most part, I really do love cooking in a small kitchen. Everything you need is within arm’s reach, and there’s a real ownership over the methods and the organization that plays into everything you do in that space. I love my kitchen – I love that I’ve discovered myself as a home cook here. I love that I need a step-stool to reach just about everything above the sink, and that I sometimes spend 5 hours a week doing dishes. Actually, I really hate that last part. That’s my attempt at a joke.

Favorite dish right now? Favorite ingredient you can’t live without in your kitchen? 
This is an easy one based on the weather – soup! I made one batch of soup a year while I lived in Phoenix, during that one really rainy week in January or February every year. I got really excited this fall dreaming about all the soups I was going to make on cold winter’s nights in Denver.

Dan and I took a little weekend trip to Winter Park and I found the Ski Town Soups Cookbook. I’ve been making my way through that book and having a lot of fun with it. Soup is not only comforting to eat, it’s comforting to make. Standing over my dutch oven, taking in the aroma of spices, broth, garlic and onions is my happy place.

Do you have a personal recipe you liked to share?
I know I just admitted to being savory over sweet, but there’s only one dish that really completes me and tickles all my taste buds – spice cake. My mom made a flavorful and dense spice cake growing up, and I’m pretty sure I was the only child out of 5 that was even remotely interested in it. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger – these are the things that make my heart sing! The hills are alive – with the smell of spice cake! Yes, it turns me into a version of myself that’s rather embarrassing. Sorry.

I’ve made many different recipes, but since my mom never remembers to email me her recipe, I’ve come up with two favorites on my own. America’s Test Kitchen has a nice version that is clean and balanced, and Martha Stewart has a molasses spice cake that is over the top in every way possible, which means you should all put your weekend on hold and make it right away: Martha Stewart’s Molasses Spice Cake

posted by on baking, Denver, high altitude, homemade, Phoenix

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Out of curiosity, I wanted to know the history of the snickerdoodle. I can’t remember the first time I tried one, but if I could only take one cookie with me should I ever get stranded on a desert island, it would be the snickerdoodle.

Many sources say that the word snickerdoodle may have come from the German word “schneckennudeln,” which directly translates to “snail noodles”. Go and Google that word and pictures of  cinnamon pinwheel pastries that resemble snails come up.

The recipe I have for snickerdoodles is one I used while I lived in Denver and it held up beautifully at the high altitude. I made them a couple of nights ago, here in Phoenix, and they were just as cakey & sweet as ever. Mine don’t turn out as flat as other recipes, but I like that when you bite into them, there’s a slight crunch from the sugar and cinnamon on the outside and the inside is soft, moist and tender from the cream of tartar.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons sugar & 2 teaspoons cinnamon (to roll the dough in)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2¾ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  1. Combine the softened butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Blend in the vanilla & eggs and mix until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda & salt.
  4. Pour the dry ingredients a little at a time into the wet mixture and blend with a mixer well after each addition. You may have to finish mixing the dough with a wooden spoon, it will be thick!
  5. Shape the dough into 1″ balls and roll in the sugar and cinnamon mixture. (These don’t flatten out a whole lot, so you should be able to fit a dozen on a baking sheet with no problem)
  6. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes. The tops will be cracked and slightly golden. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on a wire rack.
  7. Keep the snickerdoodles in an airtight container to keep the insides moist! *these also keep well in the freezer if you roll the dough into balls, freeze on a flat sheet and store in freezer bags for later use.*

 

posted by on baking, Colorado, Denver, high altitude, Holidays, Phoenix

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I hate making things from a box. Cake mixes, cookies, brownies – they will never compare to baking them from scratch. The one exception? Angel food cake. I refuse to attempt this from scratch when the boxed version reminds me of so many good things from my childhood.

When I lived in Denver angel food cake was the one baked good I really missed. I could never get the cake to cooperate with the high altitude even after making the suggested adjustments. (If any of you out there can help out with this or have some tricks of your own, let me know!) 

This was our first 4th of July in Phoenix so I ran to the store and picked up a box of angel food cake mix and was ready to go! Here’s my version:

What you’ll need:

  • 1 angel food cake mix
  • fresh or frozen strawberries
  • sugar
  • cornstarch
  • vanilla
  • whipped cream (made from scratch or not – it’s a holiday for crying out loud!) 
  1. Follow instructions on the box to make the angel food cake, letting cool upside down on a bottle as shown.
  2. In a small sauce pan add strawberries, sugar (I don’t really measure this, just sprinkle a good amount on) and heat until bubbly.
  3. Stir in vanilla extract and 1-2 spoonfuls of cornstarch and mix well. Simmer for a bit then remove from heat and let cool until thickened.
  4. Cut the cake very carefully in half, letting the sawing of the knife do the work for you. Spread the bottom half with whipped cream, top with strawberry sauce & put the top of the cake back on!
  5. Finish off with whipped cream on top and around edges and remainder of the strawberry sauce.

Don’t worry about it being messy – it’ll be gone quick!

 

posted by on baking, gripes, high altitude, homemade

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One of the first things I remember my mother teaching me to bake is the forever-loved chocolate chip cookie. After moving to Denver this was another favorite that failed to turn out due to the high altitude. It took a long time and a lot of compiling of recipes to come up with this version that worked beautifully in the land of 5280.

What you’ll need:

  • 2½ cups flour – *add 2-3 tsp. water to the flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter (I use margarine), softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 oz. chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli’s 60% cacao bittersweet chips) 
  1. In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda & salt. Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the butter, sugar & vanilla until smooth.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix until combined.
  4. Gradually beat in the flour mix.
  5. With a wooden spoon, stir in the chips.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

**Just to compare to my “high-plains” version**

You use ¼ cup extra flour &  2/3 cups of both types of sugar instead of the normal 3/4 cups. More flour, a bit of moisture (the water to the flour) and less sugar is a general rule of thumb when baking anything in high altitude.

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