Over the next couple of weeks as we head into High Baking Season, I’m giving shout outs to my go-to ingredients that instantly transform standard baking recipes into something infinitely more crave-worthy. It’s not necessarily about spending more on exotic items (although Ina is right–sometimes the “good” vanilla really does make a difference!), it’s about easy swaps that you might already have in your pantry, or simply handling ingredients in a different way to get the best out of them, leaving you with baked goods that will blow minds and take names. As the old saying goes, “Bake smarter, not harder”…or something like that.
To kick off this series of Baking Boosters, I can think of no better, easier baking ingredient upgrade than switching to dark brown sugar. Any recipe that calls for light brown sugar will be 50 times more flavorful (roughly–what do you think I am, a flavor scientist?) by simply swapping out light brown sugar for dark, and it won’t cost you a penny more at the supermarket. These days, I typically only keep dark brown sugar in my pantry, and have raaarely run into a situation where light brown sugar would have been a better fit.
So let’s begin with the elephant in the room:
Does the Internet really need another chocolate chip cookie recipe?
Upon realizing that I’ve never really shared with you my go-to chocolate chip cookie formula–the base recipe from which I’m forever riffing–could I sleep another night without telling you about it (not that I’ve experienced an actual full night’s sleep since last February, butheywhateverthanksbabyboy)?
I know we’re barely into September, but I am READY for fall, friends. Although I’m generally a fan of the fall season (having been a November bride once a upon a time, my husband still claims that I love him more September through December. Probably?), this year I’m particularly pumped about the passage of time. Could it be that it’s because I’m very type A and relieved to finally be falling into a new routine now that Little C is in Real School? Or maybe it’s that I’m desperate for San Francisco Summer, which is to say September and October, when we finally get temperatures above 65 degrees and the skies become sunny and clear (true story, if you’ve never visited)? Or it could just be that I”m counting the hours because my baby is teething like a mad man, sweaty and sobbing and only happy when he’s being held and gnawing on all my slobbery body parts and I really know I shouldn’t be wishing this time away with my baby, but hey, at least he’s six months old now so LET’S BRING ON THE IBUPROFEN, SUCKAHS.
Ahem. What I mean to say is I’m excited for fall because pumpkin. Yes, that’s what I mean. Autumnal pumpkin treats for all!
In case anyone’s counting, we’re ten days into the kindergarten year and I’m still holding strong to my That Mom intentions, all on the quest for healthy homemade lunchbox treats and what not. This is three days longer than I thought I would last. This could become a real, ongoing thing, people. I just signed up for a PTA committee this morning. It’s getting serious, is what I’m saying.
Oof. This WEEK. I-yi-yi.
Can’t we just stop everything and do coffee and cake and not think for like an hour? Excellent.
So! I’m just going to come out with it, before I start to weep. Little C, who was already clearly no longer Baby C, is well on her way to becoming Kinda Big C. Today marks my baby girl’s First! Day! Of! Kindergarten! She also turns FIVE at the end of the month. You guys, I can’t even. It’s all so crazy. But we are all very excited about the whole thing around here. School supplies, sturdy new shoes, and an arsenal of navy, white, and light blue clothing articles (I never thought I’d say this, but hallelujah for school uniforms. The less thinking I have to do before 7:00 a.m. the better). We are SET.
The next few weeks will be full of all kinds of exciting changes for my girl, but I can’t help but be a total jerk and think of all the ways my personal day-to-day life will change. For starters, adjusting from her three-days-per-week preschool schedule, which meant we were often all still in our pajamas at 10 a.m. on her off days (glorious!). And then there’s shifting the baby’s sleep and nap schedule, too, which might be the most painful part of the entire thing–he may still be up to party half the night, but will easily sleep until 9:30 in the morning, creating ample coffee/e-mail/plan the day time. No longer, son. So basically what I’m saying here is that I can no longer be a lazy morning person. Oof.
But! I am, at least for now, really looking forward to one thing, which is packing C’s school lunches. And to kick things off, I’m starting with her lunchbox treats. Tasty but wholesome, preferably low-sugar lunchbox treats. Because I have every intention of becoming That Mom. At least for the first week.
I can’t stand our kitchen cabinets. Although made of solid wood and relatively enormous in size, they drive me batty on a daily basis. Yes, I realize this is a First World Problem of the highest order, but still. I can count on one hand how many of the drawers and doors actually line up and/or close neatly. I can also count on one hand the number of times I’ve been whacked in the head by turning into a cabinet that has somehow swung itself open after I’d closed it just seconds before. They are Attack Cabinets.
As it happens, said cabinets were designed and built decades (and decades) ago by a former owner of our house, who apparently fancied himself a cabinetmaker. When I picture this man building the cabinets, I also picture his wife, who was apparently a much more supportive and tolerant spouse than I, occasionally passing through the kitchen, observing her husband’s work, shaking her head a little, and yet somehow never once reminding him of the mantra “measure twice, cut once“. I wish I could go back in time, find that woman, and beg her to please speak up because those cabinets would be driving me crazy 50 years later.
The one thing I don’t mind about the cabinets? Their color. Sure, I’d love to have a tricked-out, modern, bright, and airy kitchen with gleaming white cabinetry (that actually stays closed, and opens with a glide rather than a sputter). But I guess the one bonus to having cabinets designed during the Mad Men era is that it’s been long enough that their golden hue could almost be considered Retro Fabulous. If you squint. And also if you stop calling the color Totally Nonfunctional Ancient Cabinet Maple Stain, and instead call it something like Mid-Century Modern Dulce de Leche Gloss.
I’m trying to work with what I’ve got, people. I’m really trying, here.
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