Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fall 2010 Semester Baking Wrap Up

I baked a lot during the fall semester of senior year, and while I plan to feature most of those recipes as individual posts, there are a few that don't necessarily need or deserve such detail for various reasons.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being
by Milan Kundera

This book did not grab me immediately, and I was tempted to walk away about twenty pages in, but I persevered and was rewarded. It's somewhat difficult to sum up the plot of The Unbearable Lightness of Being--essentially it revolves around lives of four people and a dog. Through exploring the relationships between the characters, Kundera offers up a lot of food for thought about the nature of love and how our decisions reflect both the lightness and the heaviness of our nature.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being was not always an easy book to read, and sometimes the characters made me angry or frustrated. This is proof that I can get a little too emotionally involved with books, but that is only because the issues discussed are so weighty (forgive my pun)--from the nature of fidelity/infidelity, to our dependence upon those that we love. I also struggled at times to relate to the characters, as their approach to love and relationships is so different than my own. The Unbearable Lightness of Being was challenging, and it left me with questions.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Stollen (German Christmas Bread)

In light of my recent interest in bread baking, my curiosity was piqued when I came across a recipe for Stollen. It's traditional German Christmas bread, I'm German, and I like to bake stuff. Decision made.

After some Wikipedia-ing, I discovered that Stollen usually has nuts, in addition to the traditional fruit and spices. A few more searches led me to this similar adaptation of Peter Reinhart's original recipe and the Food Network's version of Stollen.  I decided to make a slight combination of the three versions, using the basic Peter Reinhart recipe, that would also include a cinnamon-sugar filling (because I'm a sucker for anything cinnamon-sugar). The one catch? I really don't like dried fruit of any kind and was tempted to leave it out entirely. Let's not address how ridiculous that is considering that fruit is a critical element of Stollen, but eventually I compromised by baking one loaf with raisins and one without.

The verdict? Since the directions didn't specify an exact time and I lack a thermometer, I over-baked my loaves slightly, making them a little too dry. As expected, I greatly preferred the loaf without the raisins, but my dad seemed to like the more traditional take. Making this was a lot of fun, but next time I think I'll stick to some kind of cinnamon bread!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


by Orson Scott Card

People have been telling me to read this book for years. I finally listened. And I'm glad I did.

I read Ender's Game for the first time in 8th grade and really enjoyed it, but until Enchantment this past week it was the only one of Orson Scott Card's novels I had read. I wasn't quite sure what to expect; honestly, I had a hard time picturing a science fiction author writing fantasy, much less good fantasy. But Enchantment is good fantasy, and it happens to be one of my favorite kinds of fantasy--make believe that still has some links to reality, leading the reader to wonder if such a story would be a possible in our own world.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chocolate Pretzel Cupcakes

Oh my. I found the recipe for these cupcakes over the summer and immediately knew that they would be perfect for my roommate's birthday (we both share a deep love of chocolate-covered pretzels). Needless to say, they did not disappoint. They did take a bit more time than the average cupcake, but they were so worth it. They are perfect for anyone that loves chocolate covered pretzels (or anything sweet and salty really).