The Delightful Dutch Dish

How one can cook oneself back into local reality

Measurements April 19, 2010

Filed under: baking,cooking — orangepumpkin @ 19:39

If there is one thing in cooking that I’m a total loser at, it has to be measurements. Give me a recipe and I will not get one measurement exactly right. If I do manage, though, it has to be something like eggs. Throwing in an extra egg is a little much, most of the time. The thing is, measurements are hardly ever exact. In my opinion, they’re guidelines. If a recipe says ‘one pinch of salt’, and you taste it, and it needs more salt, what do you do? I know what I do, I throw in more salt. If I have to five more pinches. The thing that matters in the end is the taste of what you’ve just made. So exact measurements are not for me. I usually have a little too much of this, and too little of that. And no ones complained, hence my conclusion: they’re just guidelines. Don’t fret about it, it’ll be fine.

One thing in cooking (or baking, for that matter) that is important, is proportion. If you throw in too much flour, you need to throw in too much butter, too. And at some point too much also means another egg. I’m not too exact at that, either, I’m not fretting about the egg or the butter too much. Usually whatever I’m making is turning out fine, despite the fact that my measurements and my proportions are slightly off.

But sometimes, I get it all wrong. Sometimes my measurements are way off and I lose sight of the proportions. That is a recipe for disaster. Guaranteed. I would love to say that usually I’m fine, and maybe I am, but I’m off, way off, too often, to my liking. And I feel bad when that happens. I have some really disturbing little examples, and I’m not planning on keeping them from you. The things that I call cook-ups have to do with something gone wrong in the measurements and proportions department. Even when I’m not sure what went wrong exactly. It separates me from the real cooks. I will always be just some desperate loon trying to cook something up. And then failing. I have many failures to go, in my life. Ah well…


Blueberry Muffins December 5, 2009

Filed under: baking,dessert — orangepumpkin @ 22:56

My birthday is in the fall. I’m not the biggest fan of fall. It’s kind of depressing to know that nature’s taking a rest because of what’s yet to come: winter. The rest of fall isn’t too bad, only in November do the horrible rains start and does the temperature drop below anything reasonable (well, usually it’s October, but due to global warming it’s been November for the last few years). I love the colours, I love the blue skies, I love the sun, I love almost everything, it’s just the prospect of winter that gets me down. I’ve learnt a few things about fall: you do have fruits (ah, the lovely apples and pears!), vegetables don’t get so depressed that they abandon the earth. You can even have lettuce. So, fall isn’t at all bad. Especially because during fall there are blueberries. I’m not really fond of blueberries themselves, but I’m a freak when it comes to fruit. I prefer my fruits cooked or baked. So never mind me, just trust me on this one: blueberries rock in anything baked. They do!

For my last birthday I decided to get really childish and bring something for my fellow pay-slaves. But what to bring? Candy? Some cheap-ass cake from some horrible big chain? No, I wanted to do it like the olden days, bake something myself. When I was a tiny little girl, my mother would bake something, but I’m all grown up now (I’m almost as old as my mum was when she had me, so, yikes, that’s old!), so I can bake my own treats. But what to bake? And I remembered two things I had in London when I was stalking Starbucks: carrot cake and blueberry cake. Carrot cake is nice, but the blueberry cake Starbucks served was… well, to die for! So I decided on blueberry muffins (easy to hand out to all kinds of people, not really messy, until you start munching them down). Which posed a very important existential question: how on earth do you make those things? Which is when I use Google. And Google provides the best of answers to the search query ‘blueberry muffins’: the first hit is a recipe for ‘to die for blueberry muffins‘. That honestly sounds like something worth my while. I’ll keep it short today: they were absolutely to die for. Oh my, oh my! They were so incredibly delicious, I almost die again just thinking of them. Because of my poor math capacities I made so many of these delicious muffins that I lived on them for days. I could have shared them with more people (like my family), but… I didn’t. I got greedy, I ate them all. I had them for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner. And I doubled my weight, but it was so worth it!

I don’t think that blueberries are still in season, but I must admit that I haven’t checked if they’re still available. It’s because they’re crazy expensive. Don’t get me wrong, they’re more than worth every cent I spent on them, but it’s not something I should do on a regular basis, I’d be so broke I’d live in a cardboard box on the street, but with blueberry muffins. I just haven’t decided yet if living on the street is worth it, it might be. But I’ve practiced restraint, and I’ve managed to live on.

Today I figured something else out. These muffins were absolutely great with blueberries. But maybe, just maybe, these muffins would be quite alright with apple? So that’s what I’m trying out now. As we speak the beautiful smell of cinnamon and baked goodness is filling the room, while I’m listening to Christmas songs. And all is right. I have a sneaking suspicion that these apple muffins will be just as great. And if you’re not totally freaked out by the thought of raisins, you might want to add those, as well.

So, they’re done, and I’m sorry to say that apple isn’t quite the same as blueberry. Blueberries are a bit sour, tangy. Apple lacks that. Still, the crunchy top layer and the smooth and soft and mushy rest of the muffin are still brilliant. My next try will include raisins. Since I’ve got enough ingredients, my next try will be later this week!

You’ll find the original recipe here. It’s just great the way it is. What I did was I left out the blueberries, I put in one apple (regular size, haven’t weighed it) and lemon zest to the muffin dough. The rest of the recipe was left the way it was. Oh, and I bake them for 30 minutes, somehow that’s what they need in my oven.

Oh, and you’ll never believe it: I screwed my measurements up BIG time. I wrote down the recipe a few months ago with the amounts I needed to feed an army (which I didn’t, I just fed myself for ages). And today I took those measurements and started. Only realising a little late that I had more than twice as much as I needed. I already mixed up the dry ingredients, so I totally did something you’re never supposed to do: I mixed the ingredients, took half out, and continued on my merry way. It probably doesn’t matter, but still… don’t do that!

How local?
Flour:  Germany
Sugar: Netherlands (who knew we made sugar!)
Apple: France
Oil: packed in Belgium
Butter: Netherlands
Cinnamon: far away
Salt: Netherlands?
Baking soda: Netherlands
Eggs: local farm (2,5km)