Tuesday, April 29, 2014

recipe modification: montreal style bagels

Bagels -- Level Up!

Okay, my baking buddy and I made bagels again, and this time we used a different recipe.  Honestly, we used this recipe because 1) it didn't call for the elusive barley malt powder, 2) they're literally 2 hours from start to finish (where our last recipe was overnight!), and 3) I'm infatuated with Canada.

However.  Just to offer some constructive criticism...that recipe needs some help.  We sort of had to make it up as we went along...but they still turned out really good!  A little pretzel-y, honestly.  Which is a good thing in my book, but...I guess I'd have to try a real Montreal bagel to know if it's supposed to be like that or not.  Anyways, here are my notes so if you want to make them, you'll have a little more predictable success!
  • Count on needing a good 1/2 cup more flour than the 4 they prescribe.  This bugger was sticky as heck.
  • I would definitely let the dough rise for more like 30 minutes.  The bagels puff up during boiling, which is nice, but a few of ours tried to sink, which means they didn't rise enough.
  • Definitely don't shape them the way she describes--authentic or not, they will more than likely come apart.  The best (most fun) way to shape them is this: make a roughly circular ball shape, poke a hole through the center, and spin the dough around your finger like it's a teeny tiny hula hoop.  Stretch and shape consistently.
  • She forgot to list the amount of baking soda for boiling.  We put in about a tablespoon and a half.  
  • I believe boiling them for less time on each side would produce a less-pretzel-y bagel.  I leave it up to your discretion.
  • Don't use parchment paper, just grease your pans.  Parchment paper is liable to spontaneously ignite above 450 F.  And you're cooking these at 500 F.  You do the math!
  • You don't need to flip them.  You don't need that extra 5 minutes in the oven.  You barely need the 10 minutes.  Just keep an eye on them.  And for heaven's sake, DOUBLE UP YOUR POTHOLDERS.  These pans get hot.
  • Toppings-wise:  If using sesame seeds or minced onions, like we did, put those kinds of dry toppings on immediately after boiling.  The bagels will still be moist, which will make the topping stick to the surface better.  I highly recommend topping some with shredded cheddar cheese, but make sure the pan is well greased.  Cinnamon and sugar is a fun combo, but I don't really recommend it because the 500 F will make your sugar smoke and harden!  
  • When you're done, pour some hot water in those pans immediately!  Anything cooked on at 500 F is no fun to clean off, and soaking them ASAP will make it much easier.  
  • Of course, I highly recommend serving these with butter, avocado, and a poached egg.  Accompany with an episode of West Wing.  

Saturday, April 26, 2014

one white tulip: reprise

Happy Weekend!  Mine is sunny and warm and I hope yours is too!


And After:

P.S.  My thoughts on flowers.  And I love this kind of long-term photography project.  Also, would anyone be interested in a post about freelensing?  Let me know in the comments or on Facebook!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

quick review: maybelline color tattoo

I've noticed a bit of a trend as far as my cosmetic purchases go...  I stick with a few staples, and I don't really get anything new until I've heard consistently good things about it for months on end! Well, that's what happened last time I went to +Walgreens, and that's what happened last week.  I picked up the +Maybelline Color Tattoo in Tough as Taupe.

Can I just say.  If you're looking for a good taupe color to go with brown eyes--this is it.  If you're looking for a cream eyeshadow--this is it.  I don't think I ever want to mess with powder anything ever again.  Okay, maybe that's going too far...  But really.  I wear eyeshadow about once a week, but I'm so into this product.  I haven't noticed any creasing problems, and this blends easily if you get to it quick.  Want to know just how much I like it?  It's graduated from my "eye" bag to my "favorites" bag!  And for blue eyes, I would definitely recommend the shade Bad to the Bronze instead.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

my photo-editing routine

I've got this routine pretty much down to a science, and even though style may change over time, this is quick and simple--perfect for blog photos.  Read on for my personal tips!

Step 1: The first thing I do is stick my camera's SD card into my computer and copy over the files.  I organize my pictures by month and year, but that's totally up to you.  I just move the files, and when that's done, I immediately delete them from the SD card.  This ensures that I always have maximum space for taking photos.  I also pretty much always move and edit pictures right after taking them, so I don't get behind.

Step 2: I give all the pictures a once-over in +Google Picasa.  I flip through them to delete any blurry ones, narrow down choices between similar shots, and fix any rotation problems using the "Straighten" tool.  Hint: to mark your favorite photos as you sort them, hit the Spacebar and they'll get a gold star!  If I've made any changes to the pictures, I hit the little "Save" icon under the folder name.

Step 3: Once I've weeded out all the rejects, I open GIMP.  I click "Open" and then select 4-5 pictures that I want to work on, opening them all at once.  They appear in little tabs above the image.  Then I start working through them!  For blog pictures/pictures that don't need much work, this is my routine: Duplicate the photo layer, and set that layer's mode to "Overlay."  Then click "Colors" --> "Desaturate."  Try out the options and pick one.  Then I just export as a JPEG, exit out of that picture, and click "Close without saving" since I don't need the .xcf file.  The end!

That's it!  All of the programs I use are free...because college student...but they work great, in my opinion!  All that's left to do is upload to the blog post!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

dorm room breakfast

Now I'm the first to admit...my breakfast is often just a cup of coffee...but that's not good!  If I can get them, bagels are my first choice, but a little variety is good!  Here's what I had for breakfast this morning--quick and easy:

Cut an avocado in half and scoop out any bruises/bad spots.  Then take your knife and make long, uniform slices without piercing through the back skin.  Use a large spoon to scoop out the avocado in one piece, leaving you with a bunch of nice slices!  Slice a piece of baguette in half and lightly toast it.  Arrange your avocado slices, and sprinkle with salt.  Don't waste the other avocado half! Coat the cut surface with lemon juice, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for a snack later on.  

And just because we're having a real breakfast does not mean we neglect our cold brew coffee!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

one white tulip

Tulips are one of those flowers that I always snubbed as a kid...but now, after a long (long long long long) winter, I couldn't appreciate them more.  Hope you enjoy these pictures!

 (These are freelensed.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

currently reading #4

Galileo Goes to Jail Edited by Ronald Numbers.  This book is hands-down an absolute necessity for anyone anywhere who holds any view that might be considered controversial.  Please please please everyone read this and stop spreading these myths!  Anyone who loves the truth will love this book. 

George Herbert and the Seventeenth-Century Religious Poets Edited by Mario Di Cesare.  I can only attest to the George Herbert and Henry Vaughan parts of this book.  However, the selections from The Tempest are worth the price of admission alone.

P.S. This post from reading my tea leaves.  It's just striking a chord with me.  As someone with an interesting and very anthropomorphic relationship to color...can I just say I like it?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

tennessee river

I had the chance to spend this weekend in a cabin on the Tennessee River, surrounded by friends, great discussions, and amazing food.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

stuff i wanna make #1

I want to make soap:

I want to make shea butter lotion:

I want to make bagels again:

What do you want to make?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

elephant ring holder

I apologize in advance about the lack of details in this quick diy...but I think you'll get the gist.

I made this little guy out of Crayola Air-Dry clay while I was at home on Spring Break.

Step 1: Start with about a palm-sized chunk of clay.

Step 2: Shape it into an animal.  I did an elephant.  All I really had to do was roll a little, pinch a little, flatten off some ears...yep!

Step 3: Let it dry for two to three days.

Step 4: Search your house for some metallic spray paint.  I didn't find any.  Resort to creative alternatives.  I used a metallic calligraphy pen I found to paint my elephant gold.

Step 5: Search your house for some spray-on polyurethane.  I didn't find any.  Decide to use clear nail polish as a sealant.  It works great!

Step 6:  Finished!  He's so handy!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

four eyes

I got new glasses!  I haven't really worn glasses for years, but I have astigmatism in my left eye, and three years of college has worn out my peepers.  I felt like I was constantly straining to see the board.

Do I look even nerdier now?  Was that even possible?

For dryness (which isn't helped by my allergies) my doc recommended Refresh Optive.  I know, I know, random, but it's helping me.  I just figured if anybody out there was having eyeball problems, these eyedrops are over the counter.

Friday, April 4, 2014

how i studied for the GRE

Here is a kitty picture because pets make studying better:

So I took the general GRE yesterday!  And I'm going to have to take a specific GRE for math as well...the things we do for grad school!  I don't know if any of you guys are gearing up for grad school apps, but if so, here's how I studied:
  1. Kaplan practice test.  A free one was offered at my school, so I walked in without studying or looking up any strategies.  I wanted to do a no-prep base trial to see how much time I would need to devote to preparing over the next semester.  I did pretty well, but for example, I found out I needed to brush up on some statistics formulas!  It also gave me an accurate sense of how testing day would actually go.  
  2. POWERPREP II.   This software lets you take two more practice tests.  These are again good for getting a real sense of the feel of it, especially the time limits.  The only problem is they don't tell you the correct answers, and you don't know what you got wrong, so I also took...
  3. this written practice test.  That let me pinpoint exactly what I missed and figure out my mistake.  Very handy, but not an accurate representation of your probable experience.
  4. These sample questions with explanations of the answers.  They help you get a sense of why the right answer IS the right answer.  Especially helpful for the Verbal section.
  5. Sparknotes tips on the essay writing.  My writing score won't matter too much to grad schools, since I'm going into math, but these tips are super helpful!
  6. Math Review for a basic review of the stuff that'll be on the Quantitative section. 
Now that I look at it, it seems like a lot!  It really didn't take me too long, though.  My scores turned out great, so there's that.... :) Good luck!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014