Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I need a vacation from my vacation!

Hello all! I've just arrived back from my trip to Eastern Washington. I didn't get much blogging done over there due to a forgotten camera cable and let's face it, food blogging without photos is a little dull.

While there was plenty of cooking this past week, I quickly remembered the difficulty of transcribing the off-the-cuff chaos that is Mother Humble's cooking. Still, I may take a stab at her cheese souffle...

Anyway, the reason I'm posting this is just to let folks know I'm still alive and well.

I'm aware it is rather unlike me to allow a week to pass without a post but I've been quite busy with family, travel, and non-blog related work. I've decided I'm going to take a few days to get things in order and wrap up a few projects before I start popping goodies into the oven again.

Have a happy holiday weekend (to those in the U.S.) and I'll see everyone next week!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Winning Pie!

Okay, getting back to the pie contest. Yes, I know it has been a while, but judging this one wasn't as simple as drawing paper slips. I actually had to cook and eat these pies, something that is usually best spread out over a few days.

So, earlier this month, after reading the comments regarding your selections for the pie contest, I chose a number of pies from them to test and taste. I baked those 'chosen-pies'--or in some cases didn't bake the pies--over the course of this week and finally, I have one pie that stood out as a winner.

It wasn't an easy choice, there were a lot of really great entries and they were notable for such a wide variety of reasons that judging them ended up being very tough. All the pies I made were great, but one stuck out. It was really easy to make (this wasn't a point I judged the pies on, though it is certainly a bonus), it is unique, the pie's background is interesting and of course, it is darn tasty.

I've never had anything like it. It struck me as a bit of a cross between pecan pie (minus the pecans), sticky toffee pudding and gingerbread. Gooey on the bottom, a moist cake-like layer and then a sprinkling of crumbles on top. I thought it was good plain... then I had some lightly sweetened whip cream with it. So good! I can only imagine what it would be like with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream... nom.

Anyway, if you haven't already guessed. It is Sallie's Shoo Fly Pie! Congratulations, Sallie!

I ate a quarter of the pie in one afternoon. Seriously.

That's one dangerous pie.

What surprised me about this pie was the sweetness, or rather, how not overwhelmingly sweet it was. With all the sugary syrups involved, Mr. Humble and I had both anticipated a really sweet dessert. However when we sat down with our slices of pie this week, we were pleasantly surprised by the pie's coy sweetness and how well balanced it is with the spices.

So making this pie...

Sadly, King Syrup or Golden Barrel Table Syrup isn't readily available in my area, so I followed Sallie's recommendation for a substitution. (I used roughly 1/3c Light Corn syrup, 1/3c Molasses and 2 Tablespoons Honey. Those outside of the U.S., one should be able to substitute golden or invert syrup for the corn syrup and dark treacle for the molasses.)

“Here's to you, Harold Jamieson" Shoo Fly Pie

by Sallie (Original post can be found Here)

Crust & Crumbs:
1 8"-9" pie crust

1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons shortening (or butter, which I used)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves

Preheat oven to 400°. Line an 8” or 9” pie plate with pastry and flute edges. Whisk together all of the above dry ingredients then cut in shortening or butter with pastry blender until it has appearance of crumbs.

(Optional note from Ms. H: You might consider a partial blind baking of the crust before filling and baking. Not all pie pans are created equal and with a wet filling like this, some may have a little trouble.)

3/4 cup King Syrup or Golden Barrel Table Syrup*
3/4 cup hot water
1 well beaten egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda

(*substitutions listed above, in the main part of the post)

Combine the syrup and hot water then stir in the baking soda, vanilla and egg. Place a third of the crumbs in a layer on the bottom of the pie shell.

Pour about half the syrup over the crumbs.

Layer in another third of the crumbs followed by the remaining syrup. Scatter the remaining crumbs over the entire top. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° and bake for 20-25 more minutes. Remove pie from oven and let cool on rack.

Marvel at how warm and cozy your kitchen smells for about 10 minutes before cutting a slice and burning your mouth.

I agree with Sallie that this pie is best served still slightly warm. Naked though? Certainly it is very good, but how can you resist an opportunity to use whipping cream?! LOTS and LOTS of whipping cream.

Mr. Humble helped himself to a huge slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Me, I'm partial to whipping cream with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

This is one recipe I'm happy to have added to my books. Now I'm off to have another slice...

Sallie (see, I'm spelling your name right this time around), I'll be in contact with you via email soon.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pomegranate Gelato

I will be blogging from the road again next week it seems. Just for a few days, don't worry. Mother Humble is in town again tomorrow and she will be dragging my three siblings and I to Eastern Washington. This is a annual method of Humble family bonding. Forcing us Seattle based offspring to get a little vitamin D.

Usually I melt the moment the mercury climbs over 70°F and develop an instant lobster-red sunburn (despite copious amounts of SPF55), while Mother Humble contently suns herself like a lizard.

Mother Humble tends to cook up a storm on these trips, so I will probably have a chance to share one or two of her recipes.

So, today's dish. Gelato. Yum! Though, I'm not exactly certain this is a "gelato" rather than an ordinary "ice-cream". Defining these things is complicated and I'm just happy to eat the stuff, so I'll leave it to the team at Gourmet Magazine (RIP) to label this dessert.

If you're a fan of Häagen-Dazs Pomegranate chip ice cream, you'll enjoy this recipe.

A few notes:

I know some of you will be tempted to omit the booze and use something else. However we're not just using it for flavor, like the air in the ice cream, the alcohol helps give this dish a softer texture. Alcohol has a freezing point below that of water, temperatures below those of an ordinary home freezer. So, where ordinary juice would freeze solid, alcohol stays fluid.

Also, if you don't wish to drop $50 on a bottle of PAMA pomegranate liqueur, feel free to use an off brand. I'm using PAMA's ridiculously named cousin: Luscious Pomegranate Pleasure. I don't really drink so I can't tell you if one tastes better than the other, but I do think the Lusci...LPP's garish red hue helps boost the color of the ice cream.

Gourmet's Pomegranate Gelato
adapted Gourmet 2006 as seen at Epicurious
yields 1 quart
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 cups Pom-Wonderful*
1/3 cup pomegranate liqueur
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
pinch salt

1/2 - 1 cup chopped dark chocolate (optional)

*You may use other brands of pomegranate juices, just make sure it is 100% pomegranate juice. I've seen several brands that are diluted with grape juice.

In a medium, heavy-bottomed sauce pan, whisk together the cream, milk, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally, then once boiling, whisk constantly for two minutes. Remove from heat, pour through a mesh strainer into a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients.

Chill this mixture in the refrigerator until very cold.

Once cold, add the mixture to your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions. If using, add the chocolate during the last 5 minutes of churning. Once finished, transfer to an airtight container and freeze until firm.

Soften gelato slightly in refrigerator, about 20 minutes, before serving.


Drum Roll Please!

I did it! I complied and cut out a million-billion little strips of paper yesterday! Okay, so it was closer to six or seven-hundred slips of paper. Still, that's a lot!

I started out hand writing each email address or ID on to the strips. I eventually realized that such a method isn't wise, given how my penmanship degrades the longer I write.

After about 230 strips, I realized that I had resorted to using my university-note-taking scribbling. Which I can read (usually) but I'm pretty sure no one else can. So, I'm looking at these strips and I can see what was going to happen when I finally got around to the drawing.

I am going to pick a paper slip and the name/email address was going to look like this:

[ ~w~~~%~~~r ]

So ambiguous that everyone is going to have the itching suspicion that they may have won, no matter what I tell them it says.

So I started over, typing this time (which, as we have all probably figured out by now, I am only marginally better at). This of course means I could have used the number generator, but by this point I was feeling really stubborn. I was bent on having my drawing and I finished it.

So I gathered up all the strips into a bowl... I fluffed, I shook and I mixed. Then I dug my hand deep into the bowl and grabbed one.


Congratulations on the $150 gift certificate. I'll email you today to double check the address then I'll send you all the details you need to start shopping for that new dutch oven.

To everyone else, the nice folks who take the time to read my blog. Thank you. I know we all have busy lives and that each of you pop by and take the time to read, comment and occasionally point out my typos is appreciated. Thank you to CSN too, for letting me give away your money.

I enjoy doing these giveaways and I'll do my best to arrange one that is accessible to all of my readers in the future.

Now, I'm off to scoop some ice cream and work on today's post.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Giveaway Closed!

Morning everyone!

I'm officially closing the giveaway. I won't be able to accept any comments posted after 11am PST today. Barring any disasters--like my daughter getting into the slips and eating them--I'll post the winner of the drawing tomorrow. I had planned on doing it today, but I am still filling out these little pieces of paper.

(Yes, would be simpler but with all the double and triple entries and the spread sheet I would have to create to list everyone, this feels easier and I can photograph a real drawing. Whereas a shot of me hitting the Random button feels kind of... hollow. Right?. Besides, my two year old has this instinctive pesky-toddler desire to come over and repeatedly palm slap my laptop's keyboard whenever I am working on important documents.)

Also, I apologize for not getting my usual Monday post up. Father's Day had me a bit busy this weekend and I ended up cooking for Monday's post on Monday (never a good blogger move). I ended up waiting for a batch of Pomegranate ice cream to firm up so I could scoop and photograph it. However, by the time I expected it to be ready, much of my light had faded so I decided to put off the shoot until today.

Of course, being my normal scatter brained self, I often return containers of ice cream into the refrigerator rather than freezer.

Which is where I found it this morning.

The refrigerator.

Yea, this batch of ice cream isn't looking so firm.

So, I'm going to make the ice cream again today, as it was absolutely delicious and blog worthy. Though, I may make a few adjustments since I have the opportunity to toy with it again.

For the pie contest folks. I still have 2/3 pies to test and taste. I'll try to whip out another one today. Hopefully I can squeeze it in between the paper slips, the ice cream, and the dentist... which is where I am heading off to now.

Hopefully my pearly whites have weathered the onslaught of Scottish Tablet and the Honeycomb Ice Cream reasonably well.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Science Cookie Roundup #5

Science cookie roundup time!

This month is a particularly good roundup. I had a ton of submissions, representing science themes from a wide variety of disciplines. Also a wide variety of baked goods. I have cookies, cakes, and even the first science themed cake pop!

So our first post comes from Jackie of Food-ology. You may remember her from last months pie contest, she submitted the yummy savory pie (er pudding!).

Love everything she submitted. I'm sure everyone will agree the mouse cake is fantastic. Though... is that needle-less syringe IACUC compliant?
"To explain the photos... I was in a Cancer Biology program so I've got a mouse cake with a (cupcake) tumor. (Yes, that's a real syringe. But it's OK- there was no needle- and it was sterile!)"

"I also have two cakes I made for two graduate students' qualifying exams: a cake with the life cycle of dictyostelium, since he was the first person in our lab to work on dicty, and a cake depicting the other student's thesis project on cell-cell adhesion."

"Finally, I have bio/ med related cupcakes I made for the the Stanford Association for Multi-disciplinary Medicine and Science (SAMMS) club. The chocolate decorations include: beakers, benzene rings, mice, graphs, radiation symbols, medicine logo, microarrays."

"FYI: I have the SAMMS decorations, demonstrating the chocolate technique, also on my blog here: The final product is here."

Cindy submitted our first batch of science themed cake pops! So happy to see the cake pop take a nerdy turn.
"I love to make cake pops; so for the final exam in Organic II class, I made these methane pops for my student (thankfully they understood the molecule!)"

Jennifer, a Chicago biology teacher sent in her gel electrophoresis cookies!

Penny sent in these sweet Emoticon cookies. I wish I had a chance to see the whole tray. Funny that only sad or rather nonplussed emotes are left uneaten. No one wants a sad cookie?
"Saw these emoticon cookies at the Literature.Culture.Media Research Slam at UC-Santa Barbara yesterday. I didn't catch the whole tray, only what was left toward the end of our session. Apparently the presenter (Zach Horton, a student at UCSB) brought a wide array of emoticon cookies."

Emily, who also submitted a pie to last months contest (the chocolate cream pie several of you are very fond of) also sent me some mice cookies with her pie submission.
"I attached some lab rat cookies I made a few months ago - thanks for this idea! I loved it and my friend (who indeed works in a lab with rats) appreciated the cookie gesture."

Catherine, a PhD student and a baker, sent me some fantastic cakes!

I study neurotransmission in C elegans, so I made this C elegans cake with GFP labeled nervous system for my lab picnic:

I've also had the opportunity to bake a couple of cakes for my friends' thesis defenses. My friend and lab mate Andy is in the neuroscience department:

My friend Stacey just defended her PhD in biomedical engineering. She makes nanoparticles that can be used in vaccines - she fills the nanoparticles with antigens and decorates the outsides with Toll-like receptor ligands. That way the immune system will easily recognize the nanoparticles and make antibodies against the antigens inside! Awesome!

I made a vanilla funfetti cake (baked in a bowl) and decorated the outside with colored chocolate squiggles (ligands).

Julie, Helie, and Melody sent me all these cookies. They went on a science cookie baking spree to give away to their teachers.

My favorite have to be the calculus cookies.
Math: Here we did e, phi, an matrix (which at first glance appears to be the identity matrix), and a graphical representation of a Riemann Sum.

Chemistry: The ideal gas law, complete with the value of R for (L*atm)/(mol * K) and an atom. Our Chemistry teacher also happens to be a music teacher, so we included the music notes.

Calculus: (top to bottom) The integration rule for 1/x dx, the First Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, and the Mean Value Theorem

Biology: Our Biology teacher loves to emphasize the role of form and function in biology, so we, of course, had to include that on a cookie. The yellow/white is our attempt at a petri dish with some bacteria. The last one is a karyotype (male).

Animal Cell: This is our greatest success yet--the cookie _is_ actually the size of that paper plate. We have the nucleus, surrounded by the blue endoplasmic reticulum. There are also yellow mitochondria, the green/blue Golgi body, and light blue free ribosomes! The green/pink blob is our representation of phagocytosis.

Science cookies are invading baby showers now!

Deena made these beauties and did just a fantastic job on the icing.

"There comes a time in life when it seems like almost everyone you know is having babies. At first, it kind of floors you every time you hear the news, and you struggle to come up with a gift commensurate to the occasion. In years past, I crafted ornate homemade cards, cooked obscene amounts of food, and stitched patchwork quilts and a stuffed pink satin armadillo. But as more and more friends began to have babies, I realized that keeping up with that sort of gifting protocol could quickly become a second job. I started turning to the gift registry, pairing a cotton onesie with a heartfelt card and calling it a day. For the most part, this seems appropriate. But every now and then, I hear about the pregnancy of a friend who is so dear that the registry just doesn't cut it. I start looking around for a more personal way to share the love. And recently, I hit upon these baby shower cookies."That's when sperm cookies are called for. Oh yes, that's right. Try to eat those in front of others with a straight face."
To read more about them, see her blog at

Yes that is a sperm cookie. Try to eat that around others and maintain a straight face.

I'm a sucker for anthropology cookies so I was pretty happy to see this set from Lauren, a lecturer and research assocaite at UC Santa Cruz, in my mail box. Homid fossil cookies!
"I am a biological anthropologist who wishes she were a baker. I dabble in cakes and cookies, the occasional pie, but certainly nothing as lovely or fancy as those items that you spotlight on your website. Nevertheless, the nerd in me just couldn't help not trying out some science themed cookies of my own. So I enlisted the help of a like-minded (i.e. nerdy baker) archaeology grad student in my department and we spent the day attempting to make some contributions for the science cookie #5 round-up.

I must confess that we found the royal icing to be a bit of a royal pain. We couldn't really figure out the stiffness so we either made too stiff or too runny for the job required. Hopefully next time that will go smoother. We also had an issue with our icing dyes. I purchased some gel colors from Sur la Table thinking that they must be superior to the old liquid drops from Safeway because, well, they cost more. And were at Sur La Table. But the dye gets all over your hands when you open it, and then all over everything else, and took a lot of washing (and lemons and vinegar to remove). Do share your secret for how you color your icing and if it is these gel colors, how do you open them and add color without looking like you have been tie dyed? Rubber gloves, perhaps?
(I just unscrew the tops and use a clean toothpick to move a drop of gel from the bottle to the icing. I learned quickly that squeeze bottles are unpredictable and gel color is dangerous. )

"These photos represent homologous chromosomes that have just crossed over during Meiosis 1."

"I have attached some photos of our first attempt. The first photo is a profile of the cranium of the newly described Australopithecus sediba (which I actually think is much more Homo-like, but that doesn't alter the cookie. But since you are a biological anthropologist, I thought some context may be important)."
(I may need to get out my calipers to double check this cookie... just kidding)

"Then there's a Darwin fish..."

"...and a skeleton representation of a javelina"

"And the last picture is where my cookie partner Cristie got really nerdy. She is a zooarchaeologist who specializes in fish bones. So there's a bony fish. And an otolith, which I learned is a bony sensory organ in a fish's inner ear that helps with balance. I'm sure that is the first otolith cookie to have been emailed in, right?"

Yup! That is most certainly my first otolith cookie. Great set!

Ruth sent me some really realistic mice cookies. I need to ask her how she gave the mice such a realistic furry texture.

"There are lots of really fat ob/ob mice, who have a genetic mutation that
means they can't produce leptin, so they never feel full and they never
stop eating ."

There are also the blue mice (I think maybe they're actually rats, I'm not
sure), who've been given the food colourant FD&C blue No. 1, which has
helped them recover faster after a spinal injury, also with a picture of
the mice from the proper research.

Definitely RA of sent me these sparkly binary cookies!

"On Tuesday, JG’s AP computer science class took their exam, and it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to make for them. The test is on Java, technically, but I don’t know enough about it to make a witty joke, and I sure as heck did not want to write out lines of code. So, I opted to go basic and made ones and zeros, hoping they would get the joke.

One problem: I aimed to make 3 dozen cookies and ended up with over 50, and there was no way I could outline and flood that many cookies after work in time for the next school day. Instead, I decided to experiment by covering them with sparkly sanding sugar."

Rebecca sent me these beautiful science themed cookies for her son's 2nd birthday

"... I found myself quite taken by the design of the Ishihara color blindness tests I remember doing as a kid (I was particularly inspired by #12, found here: I was thinking of doing the invitations with this design, but MY GOD, all those dots."
"So, I thought, let's do cookies and EAT THEM instead."
"I freehanded all the 2s, then did the dots around them in the contrasting color. Used your instructions and everything. My first time with this method of frosting cookies. Learned a lot. THANKS for the help!"

Isn't that just the cutest little boy?!

I think I got everyone in this month's round-up. If I missed you, email me at If you would like to be in the next round up, shoot me an email with your baked goodies.
Related Posts with Thumbnails