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If you had asked me a few years ago what I thought of when someone mentioned Bon Appetit, I would have said it was complicated foodie recipes for people who cared more about talking about food than they did actually eating food. Harsh, but for the longest time, it seemed so unapproachable and needlessly fussy. Then I started watching the YouTube videos being put out by the BA Test Kitchen and I had to admit I was wrong. Are there people there who take themselves a little too seriously? Absolutely, but there are plenty of others who genuinely enjoy food and are interested in exploring all that our current culinary renaissance has to offer.
This weekend I decided to dip my toe in the BA baking pool and try out a pretty straightforward cookie recipe that I’ve been eyeing for a while now. Miso-Almond Butter Cookies.
- 1¼ cups whole wheat flour
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- 10 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- ⅓ cup smooth almond butter
- ¼ cup miso
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips or wafers (*see note)
- Flaky sea salt
- Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350°. Whisk flour and baking soda in a medium bowl.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling occasionally, until it foams, then browns, 5–6 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool 5 minutes. Add brown sugar and stir until well combined, about 1 minute. Add egg and continue to stir until mixture is smooth, about 1 minute longer. Add almond butter, miso, and vanilla and stir until well combined. Mix in dry ingredients, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until combined. *If you aren’t feeling the chocolate dip (instructions below), now is the time to stir in ½ cup chocolate chips. Let dough rest 10 minutes.
- Scoop 2-tablespoonfuls of dough and roll into a ball (you should have 16 balls). Arrange on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2″ apart. Make a crosshatch pattern with a fork across tops of dough (if fork sticks to dough, dip into water before continuing). Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until lightly browned and firm around the edges, 12–14 minutes. Let cool.
- Melt chocolate in a microwave in 20-second blasts, stirring in between, until completely smooth. Dip 1 side of each cookie into chocolate and return to baking sheets. Let sit at room temperature until chocolate hardens, about 2 hours. Sprinkle with sea salt.
I think I built these cookies up a little too much in my mind. I was certain that they were going to be unusual, but hands down the most incredible cookie I’ve ever tasted… but they turned out to be merely okay. Probably a little better than okay, but still, I was kind of disappointed.
They were unique though; I don’t think I’ve ever had a cookie that toys with the savory, sweet balance in quite the same way. The miso added an earthiness that worked really well with the almond butter. I expected the browned butter to play a stronger roll in the flavor profile, but I think it just brought out the depth of the miso flavor and added a little more richness to the cookie overall. I let the cookies cool overnight before dipping them in chocolate, and my personal opinion is that they are better without the chocolate. I would like to pair them with some really great vanilla ice cream and maybe turn the two into an ice cream sandwich. Andy, on the other hand, thought the chocolate was the perfect addition and was of the opinion that it “made the cookie.”
Overall I am pleased that I gave the recipe a try. It took away a little of the intimidation that I felt from the BA recipes, and although the cookies weren’t my favorite, it was really nice to experience something I’d never tried before. Maybe I’ll do a deep dive and come up with another cookie recipe I just have to try.
As vast as the YouTube library is, two months of quarintine is making me wonder if there are enough videos to see me through to the other side of this thing. Since I am fairly certain I am not the only one feeling this way, I wanted to share another of my YouTube Obsessions with you, just in case you were feeling starved for content.
Rachel Maksy, formerly the Pinup Companion, is a quirky filmmaker, storyteller, illustrator, cosplayer and proud pet mom. Her deep and abiding love for vintage fashion was the initial inspiration for her YouTube channel, but as she has progressed as an artist, her channel has evolved into a delightful refuge for those of us who like a little twist of something unexpected in our making, sewing, and general living. Maksy lets her geek flag fly in her videos in a way that makes the rest of us weirdos feel like we’re sitting across from a long lost friend, and one can’t help but feel a spark of inspiration flicker after watching her fight her way through the creative process to another wonderful idea realized.
One of the first videos I ever watched was her video on recreating the Book of the Dead from the movie The Mummy. I LOVED that movie when I was younger – hell, I love that movie now! And to watch the best prop in the movie slowly take shape from a cereal box, foam sheets, and craft paints was fantastic. I also liked that there wasn’t lots of hand waving and movie magic – the process was involved, time consuming, and at times, frustrating, but Maksy still managed to make it all look very do-able and keep her sense of humor along the way.
Another one of her videos that really got me was her attempt at recreating the elaborate hairstyles of the French Court during the time of Marie Antoniette (one of my favorite periods of historical dress and when the Sofia Coppola adaptation came out, I bought it immediately). I’ve always wanted to make/wear one of those wigs myself, and it was interesting to see exactly how much work it was going to be and some of the tricks I can use myself/pitfalls I can now avoid.
This channel isn’t all making and cosplaying – if you’ve ever even considered wanting to dress vintage, there is a wealth of knowledge to be found in these videos. Everything from tutorials for hair and make up to thrifting and how to get that vintage lewk when all you have available is modern clothing.
I also love how much the Maksy pets feature on the channel. While the kitty is sneaky sneaky and is only caught on camera on rare occasion, Frodo, Rachel’s faithful puppo, does his best to keep his fans happy and provide his human with constant love and support. Not to mention lots of wonderful outtakes at the end of the videos. And he protects her from the mailman as well as the UPS guy. He is best protector, and no one can perfectly time a squeak toy chomp or a pattern piece scatter quite the way he can.
Not that it’s necessary, but I will say that Maksy’s film school backgroud definitely elevates the quality of the videos she makes. Her look books are absolutely stunning, her vlogs are wonderfully composed, and her b roll footage is never dull. So if you find yourself intrigued, head on over to her YouTube page and get to watching. I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.
I know that the title is a mouthful, but it fits – these cookies are incredibly extra in all senses of the word. Inspired by the Milk Bar cookies created by the incomparable Christina Tosi, these cookies are chewy, melty, sweet, rich with a little salt and crunch. I will warn you – they’re a little more involved than your average cookie, but the results are well worth it. I like to whip up a batch of these when someone is having a bad day; they’re so indulgent and a tiny bit nostalgic that they have never failed to produce a smile in the recipient. I think they’re one of the best things I have made to date.
* 2 Sticks of Unsalted Butter (plus an extra 2 tblsps if needed)
*1 Cup Brown Sugar
*1 Cup Granulated Sugar
*1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
*1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
*1/4 Tsp Baking Soda
*2 Cups All Purpose Flour
*1 1/2 Tsp Salt
*2 Cups Toasted Frosted Flakes
*1 Cup Mini Marshmallows (I used Dandies)
*1 Cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
*Smoked Sea Salt for Finishing
1. Pre-heat oven to 350F
2. Spread Frosted Flakes on a cookie sheet and toast in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes tossing occasionally. Set aside to cool.
3. Place 2 sticks of Unsalted Butter in a medium sauce pan and heat over medium/medium high heat stirring occasionally. Once the butter has melted the mixture will start to bubble and foam, stir the butter gently and the butter fats will start to turn brown. Once the butter has browned to a dark gold or hazelnut color, remove immediately from the heat and transfer into a heat-safe bowl. If your butter reduced significantly during the browning process, add the additional two Tblsps of butter. Allow butter to cool to room temperature.
4. Once the butter has cooled, cream together both sugars and the browned butter on high for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.
5. Add in the egg and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated.
6. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
7. Combine wet and dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Do not overmix.
8. Fold in the toasted Frosted Flakes, Marshmallows and Chocolate chips.
9. Use a cookie scoop to place dough on a silicone mat lined cookies sheet (I did 6 cookies at a time since they spread) and at bake for 9-11 minutes. *You may have to adjust the time depending on the size of your cookie scoop.
10. Sprinkle with smoked sea salt as soon as you remove them from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the cookie sheet.
I like clothes and shoes and pretty adornments of all types. I used to hit every sale rack in every single store I went into, hunting for a deal, looking for something cute that I never knew I needed. After I turned 30, I looked at a wardrobe full of “stuff” vs. curated pieces and thought that it was time that I started being more selective about the things that I purchased. I still enjoy the hunt for the bargain, but now I try to make sure it’s an item that I would either 1 – be willing to pay full price on if I had the resources, 2 – something I don’t already have, 3 – something I could honestly see myself wearing. It’s made my closet feel more special, if less full. Now I am trying to take things a step further and see if I can stretch myself a little more and try to minimize the amount of waste my consumerism is generating. One of the things I wanted to do in 2020 was decrease the amount of “fast fashion” I purchased; with reputable second hand and consignment shops popping up all over the internet I wanted to see how much a woman who falls into the plus size category could utilize these options and participate in the mantra of “reduce, reuse, recycle”. My first foray into this world was Poshmark. Of all the sites I visited, they seemed to be the easiest to navigate and carried a lot of brands I was already familiar with. After much searching, waiting, and bargaining (aka months of keeping an eye on various items) I curated what I am calling my very first Poshmark haul. I started with shoes -I wear between a 10 or an 11 depending on the shoe-, and it felt quite luxurious to find so many options with a few simple clicks.
Wooden Stacked Heels $18: These heels were my very first purchase from Poshmark. I used to wear heels as much as every other type of footwear, but somewhere along the way I started to feel self conscious. I’m 5’10”, and with heels of any substantial height, I usually tower over most people. I had a boss that used to like to make fun of me, probably because the heels made me taller than he was, but between his comments and a few of clients I was meeting with greeting me with a variation of “Jesus, how tall are you?”, I just stopped wearing them. My therapist pointed out that this was absolute bullshit so I’ve been working my way back into taller kicks.
Kenneth Cole Lania Open Toe Booties $28 – I stalked a similar pair on ALTO for months, but they never had my size, in the color I wanted, at the price I wanted, so I thought I was out of luck. Then I found these, and they are even better than the ones I lost out on.
Torrid Gold Brocade Ankle Booties $14: These were a late night add to my “like” list, and I wasn’t sure about them. I would add them, remove them, add them back… far more hand wringing than the situation warranted. Then the seller offered me the discounted price and reduced shipping, and I just did it. They are surprisingly comfortable, and I regret nothing.
Bamboo Brocade Sneakers $18 – Of all the shoes I ordered, these were the only ones that didn’t really fit. The bad thing about the second hand sites is that returns aren’t always possible, but they’re still beautiful and I will find them a good home.
Mossimo Supply Co Satin Sneakers $8 – I actually looked at these when they were at Target originally, but they never stocked my size. I was so pleased when I found these new and at a very reasonable price.
Of all the shoes I’ve ordered, I was most excited to get my hands on these. I bought a pair years ago when they were on store shelves. I believe I even paid full price for them. I wore those bad boys until they literally fell apart, then I glued them back together and wore them some more. I did this multiple times until the feathers and one of the tassels started to come off and no amount of E6000 could hold them together. I thought I’d never find anything like them again. THEN I happen to find a never worn, in the box pair IN MY SIZE! They even had the cardboard inserts still in the shoes. I was FLOORED. I haven’t been able to bring myself to wear them yet. I put them on the top of my “special shoes” rack, and I touch them reverently whenever I am in my closet.
As we slide into May, things seem more uncertain now than ever. How am I doing? Oooof… that is a very complicated question that usually changes several times a day. I imagine I am doing the same as most everyone else right now. Some moments are great – I feel like I am making progress on my different projects and can maintain the illusion that things are at least somewhat “normal” -, and others? Not so much. I typically present as this laid back go-with-the-flow kind of person, but in reality, I am a planner. I like knowing what is happening when so I can have contingency plans. Having established that, to me, like many others, the struggle is very real; here is what is going on in my life currently.
Cleaning – I’ve been on administrative leave for the past few weeks so I have been working on larger projects around the house, but I found out late last Friday that my department is being set up to telecommute in an effort to keep us all at home and safe for a little longer. Which is fantastic news frankly. I am going to miss admin leave, but I am 100% behind making the telecommute work if it means I don’t have to go back into a government building with hundreds of other people.
Wishing – Things weren’t so crazy. Usually my mom spends Mother’s Day here in Tallahassee, but even though Andy and I are both honoring the “stay at home” directive, Tallahassee has a much higher infection rate than where my mother lives. She is in her sixties, and as much as I miss her, I would rather her be as safe as possible. We are hopefully going to be seeing her in late July, early August for her birthday. For now, we make do with phone calls and text messages.
Craving – Face time! Not the sort that comes with your phone, but legit sitting across from a friends and inhabiting the same space. Missed birthday celebrations, postponed projects, cancelled trips… it’s nice that we have so much technology to keep us connected, but I want to be able to hug my friends and throw a big catch up party. Safely though: as strong as the urge is, I won’t be doing any of these things until I can be sure we won’t be putting anyone at risk. We gotta keep each other safe.
Wearing – All of the comfy clothes. I have two baskets in the bottom of my closet for “house clothes” which are mostly stretchy shorts and yoga pants and old tank tops and t-shirts. I don’t know if they’ve ever gotten this much of a work out. I put on real clothes maybe once a week? I recently heard someone in a similar situation, refer to their regular jeans as “hard pants” and had to grudgingly acknowledge that it is going to suck when I have to start worrying about things like zippers and waistbands again.
Sending – Snail mail. Along with texts and Facetime, I have been sending letters and care packages to loved ones. I don’t care how old you are, it’s still exciting to open your mailbox and find something unexpected and positive.
What is going on in your life currently?