Friday, July 29, 2016

Skating Fridays

Rinks I've Visited

As a follow-up to last week's post, I thought it would be fun to keep a tally of all the rinks where I have skated. I believe I've skated in 21 rinks in 10 states across the country (including the one from last week). I'm keeping a list on my phone so I don't forget and can keep track as I continue to travel.

Some fun places where I've skated:
  • Location of former Winter Olympics
  • Paul Wylie's home rink
  • Brian Boitano's current rink
  • Kimmie Meissner's home rink

I hope to keep adding to this list and even get some international locations on there too!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Blueberry chia seed jam

A 5-ingredient jam that requires no canning experience or special equipment. All you need is a saucepan and a spatula and you can have a fresh blueberry jam! Goes great on ice cream! 
Can I tell you a secret? I am deathly afraid of canning. I used to be petrified of baking with yeast but have since gotten over that fear. Now it's canning. It just seems like it's a very involved process where you have to disinfect jars, buy fancy equipment and then have to store everything in spaces that I don't have to spare.

I'm intimidated by the candy thermometer aspect and either over or under cooking too. Maybe one day I'll get over my fear, but for now, I am steering clear of real canning.

In the meantime, you and I can make this jam. It only requires 5 ingredients and no fancy equipment or thermometers. You don't need to boil any jars or add pectin here. Just 5 wholesome ingredients and a little patience and you'll have your jam in no time.

This blueberry chia seed jam will appear runny when it's done. Never fear though - after it cools in the fridge, the chia seeds will plump up and thicken your jam. You can spread it on toast, bagels, pancakes or anything your heart desires.

Blueberry chia seed jam
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice 
  • 3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup chia seed
In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, cook the blueberries, lemon zest lemon juice and maple syrup until it comes to a simmer. Stir occasionally until the blueberries burst, about 5 minutes. Lightly mash about half of the blueberries to release their juices.

Increase the heat to medium-high until the mixture begins to boil. Stir occasionally until the liquid has reduced down to about half (about 5-10 minutes).

Take the pan off the heat and taste. Add more maple syrup if needed. Return the mixture to a boil and stir in the chia seeds. Cook for one more minutes.

Turn off the stove and take the pan off the heat. The jam will appear to be runny; this is normal. Transfer to a heatproof container and allow to cool before transferring to the refrigerator to cool completely. Jam will thicken once it has cooled.

Keep the jam stored in the refrigerator. It will keep for at least 2 weeks.

Yield: About 2 cups

Source: Bon Appetit, July 2016 issue

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Lemon curd

A simple lemon curd that only requires 5 ingredients! You won't need to separate eggs, use an electrical appliance or temper anything. Just one saucepan and a whisk and you're good to go! 
Have you seen the prices of store-ready lemon curd? My grocery sells one of those small glass containers for something crazy like $5. You can easily make this for much cheaper, and I will bet that it tastes way better. Plus, you don't have to ingest any crazy ingredients like shelf stabilizers.

This is a super simple, 5 ingredient lemon curd that requires no thermometers, tempering or even separation of the eggs yolks from the whites. All you need to do is dump everything into a saucepan and stir, stir, stir. Before you know it, you'll have lemon curd.

If you like your lemon curd a little sweeter, add more sugar. The version I have is perfectly tart and full of lemony goodness. It is a great filler for donuts, cake, or as an add-in for ice cream.

I hope you'll try making your own lemon curd. Once you find out how easy this is, you'll never buy the store kind again.

Lemon curd 
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (8 Tablespoons / 1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients and mix well. Turn on the stove to medium heat and whisk continuously until the mixture thickens.

Allow to cool before transferring to a container to cool completely. Store the lemon curd in a covered container in the refrigerator. It will keep for at least 1 week.

Yield: About 2 cups


Friday, July 22, 2016

Skating Fridays

Visiting Other Rinks 

I'm not sure how many of you follow me on my Eva Bakes Facebook page (if not, you should!), but I have been doing some traveling for work this year.  I've flown with my skates and skated at 3 new rinks during my travels in 2016. I've posted photos from those rinks on my Facebook page and have thoroughly enjoyed skating in different venues across the country and meeting different skaters.

This week I am traveling again for work and have already pre-paid for freestyle ice at another rink. This particular rink's ice is paid in a time block. I paid a set price for a 4-hour time block and can skate for any portion of it (or stay for the full 4 hours). Regardless of how much time I am there, I still pay the fixed amount. I have never encountered this type of practice ice before but find it intriguing. I hope to meet other adult skaters on this trip.

Do you travel with your skates?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Addie's chocolate biscuits

These easy, no-fuss chocolate biscuits come from the 6 year-old daughter of the chef of the famed Gramercy Tavern in New York City. Split the biscuits and top with Nutella for an extra special treat!

We were visiting my in-laws recently when I decided to flip through some of my mother-in-law's food magazines. I came across a story about a 6-year old girl who liked to cook with her dad. Her father, as it turns out, happens to be the chef at New York City's Gramercy Tavern. And the little girl's name was Addie.

I was instantly drawn to the story since it involved a famous chef and a girl who had the same name as my daughter. To top it off, the two girls are the same age. When I told my Addie about this little girl, she asked me to make her chocolate biscuits.

I halved the original recipe because I didn't need to have 12 biscuits around the house. Addie's dough was also divided into two halves - one plain and one chocolate. Since my household is mostly made up of chocoholics (namely Addie and I), I decided to forego the plain biscuits. Do you blame me?

The biscuits were perfect - nice and flaky and not too sweet. I spread a thin layer of Nutella to jazz mine up a bit. These would go really well with some sausage and scrambled eggs on the side. Or perhaps just more chocolate and sprinkles? No matter how you serve them, just make sure you bake some.

Addie's chocolate biscuits
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick (4 Tablespoons) butter, frozen
  • 1/3 cup milk of choice
  • 5 Tablespoons hot cocoa mix (I used Penzey's)
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Using a cheese grater, grate the butter into the bowl. Gently fold in the butter by hand. Slowly add the milk and knead gently until everything just comes together. Add in the hot cocoa mix and knead until no dry spots remain (do not overwork the dough; it should look spotty with some white and brown spots).

Flatten the dough to about 1/4" thick and cut with a biscuit cutter or using the top of a cup or mug. Re-roll any scraps and cut until all the dough has been used.

Bake in your preheated oven for 12-14 minutes or until the biscuits are golden. Split and serve with Nutella or your favorite fruit spread.

Leftover biscuits should be wrapped tightly and stored at room temperature. They can be reheated and will keep for a few days.
Yield: About 6 biscuits

Source: Barely adapted from Rachael Ray magazine, June 2016 issue

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Banana banana bread

This no-fuss banana bread recipe is a perfect way to use up all those frozen bananas in your refrigerator. With a dash of cinnamon, this banana bread is wonderful for breakfast or a snack throughout the day!

My family and I just returned from a trip and had nothing in the refrigerator to eat. We arrived home late one evening and did not have time to hit the grocery store. I had nothing good to eat for breakfast so I had to make do with some instant oatmeal. Addie had a granola bar. It was uninspiring and boring to say the least.

I remembered that we had frozen some overripe bananas before leaving for our trip, so it was definitely time to bake some banana bread. I wanted to try a recipe that I hadn't attempted before.

I found this recipe in my recipe stash and made 2 minor changes. I subbed half of the flour for whole wheat and then added some cinnamon for an extra flavor punch.

Initially, I thought that this bread would be a bit too dry, but I was proven wrong. The bananas provide some moisture and natural sweetness to the bread, and the exterior had a nice crunch. The interior wasn't dry at all, but instead remained intact and produced a few tender crumbs. This would be great as a slice of French toast too - just slather on some Nutella and wake me up later.

Banana banana bread
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour (can substitute all-purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 medium overripe bananas, mashed
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a standard 9"x5" loaf pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream together the brown sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the eggs and mix until well incorporated. Turn off the mixer and fold in the mashed bananas by hand.

Transfer the banana mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Fold everything together very gently and until no dry streaks remain. Do not over mix. The batter will be very thick.

Transfer the batter into your prepared loaf pan and bake in your preheated oven for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the bread to cool before serving. Bread should be stored in an airtight container and stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days. It can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: One 9"x5" loaf; about 8-12 servings

Source: Adapted from Allrecipes magazine; December/January 2014 issue

Friday, July 15, 2016

Skating Fridays

A Better Week (and a Double Salchow video)

Last week was very frustrating for me. Things weren't going well, and I had an epic fall from the "mohawk of doom." I've put that behind me and tried to focus on the positive this week.

I've been running my new freestyle program and am pleased to say that I actually have been finishing on time with the music. I've had to change my 2nd spin from the originally intended one because I'm not getting enough speed. A few times, I've ended about 3 seconds late but only because there were other skaters in my path and I've had to take significant detours around them. Had the ice been clear of skaters, I would have finished on time.

In addition, I am making progress on the double salchow. I've been trying to isolate the problem areas and committing to fixing them. My takeoff has improved tremendously, and I am actively crossing my legs. Now my problem is that I am opening up too early so I am landing 1/2 of a rotation short. I know this will fix itself over time, as I had similar issues with my axel when I first learned it.

Here is a video that I took this week:

I am relieved that this has been a better week for me and hope that this trend continues. Two more months until my first competition, so I have a little bit of time to iron out all the inconsistencies.


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