Monthly Archives: January 2007

You don't need to look outside to know Austin is getting some Winter today

Austin is getting lots of ice and even some snow today, but even if you haven’t read, seen or heard about it you could tell one other way:

Almost everyone I know in Austin is logged on to AOL Instant Messenger, GoogleTalk and Microsoft Messenger.

Ah, internet people, weather does affect us.

(I predict a winter-related rise in Austin blogging today.)

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Attack of the Ginger Creatures!

Of course, the holidays mean many things to us, but it definitely means cookies.

I looked over dozens of recipes and ended up taking ideas from several, but the core recipe was from (of all places) Martha Stewart Living web site. (Keep your “jail house cookies” comments to yourselves.)

Here’s what I came up with for a final recipe, including some post-facto edits that I would do next time:

  • 6 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
  • 6 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 6 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup unsulfured molasses.

Supposedly, this makes 16 large cookies, but we did a double batch and made cookies of various sizes so I can’t verify that. I edited the recipe to add nutmeg, more cinnamon and ginger as I wanted even more flavor in the cookies. I also changed to a smaller amount of black pepper (it gives a nice after taste to each cookie bite). The dough turned out to be very dry so I think we cheated and added about two tablespoons of milk near the end of the mixing.

I whipped up (literally) some standard buttercream-like icing:

  • 1 stick of unstalted butter
  • one small box of powdered sugar
  • vanilla to taste.

As you can see, we also divided up the icing and added food coloring. With some hastily-fashioned wax paper icing bags we were in business. Here are the results:


Not pictured was the favorite, literature-themed cookie. The white whale. As you can see, creativity reigned, but we also kept the original goal in mind: get as much icing as possible on many cookies. (Mmmm, icing.)

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What am I doing with a whale, bunny, elephant and zebra cookie cutter? Like you don’t have some?

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Some cookies had a personality of their own and these three jumped out at me. Note the resemblances to Zoidberg at the Beach, a funky, hypnotized Santa and Sluggo (respectively).

Zoidberg at the Beach Cookie Funky Santa Cookie Gingerbread Sluggo

Don’t bother asking, they’re all gone.

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Home Made Pizza 2007

Another round (ahem) of home made pizza, this time with an ace, guest pie-maker at my place.

The dough was courtesy of the now famous “no knead” bread recipe:

No-Knead Bread
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1 1/2 hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Apply your pizza shaping skills to lay out the dough.

We used two kinds of pizza stones, a store-made pizza stone and some unglazed tiles from your favorite home supply store. (Yes, we went to your favorite home supply store, where were you?) Even better – I used my new, wooden pizza peel to drop the pies right onto the hot, waiting stones. (Lessons learned: it’s quite possible that the metal peel would be better, certainly less likely to warp after cleaning. I’m going to get one and try it out. Also, be sure and have some cornmeal handy to put on the peel before placing the dough on it to enable easy sliding into the oven.)



As you can see, they turned out great. We went for mozzarella and fresh tomatoes and basil on the first one. The second pie was thinly sliced parmesan, more fresh roma tomatoes, red onions and some spices (pepper flakes next time too).


Amazon's secret price guarantee

Timothy Noah for Slate Magazine has a great post-holiday spending article about Amazon’s secret price guarantee.

If you have purchased anything from in the last 30 days (Amazon themselves, not an affiliated merchant) and the price is now lower, they’ll refund that amount to you. Call Amazon at 1-800-201-7575 and dial 7 right away to get to an operator. Ask her about Amazon’s 30-day price guarantee. Have your Amazon order number handy too. If you get an uncooperative (or hard to understand) operator, just hang up and call right back.