Monday, June 28, 2010

A day in the life of The Hot Cookie

Hello everyone. I thought I would update you on the latest happenings of The Hot Cookie. Karli and I have had our hands very full. Life has thrown us many new challenges and opportunities. I don't know if you've heard, but our cookies were featured in the "I heart snail mail" section of the June issue of ReadyMade magazine. (Check out our friend, Neal's post about it.) It was a huge honor to be printed in such a flippin' cool mag. Because of this, we've gained lots of attention from all over the country. Our etsy store blew up with orders. It was an awesome turn of events, but is quite a challenge to keep up on baking and shipping.

So far, we're doing a pretty good job juggling our cookie business with our other jobs. I've been doing hella amounts of writing for Metromix Indy. I blog for them 5 days of the week and write restaurant reviews almost weekly. I recently had the honor of writing a review of the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange for VenusZine. I'm technically now a contributor for them. Sweet action! On top of writing and baking, I have two other jobs that keep me hopping. Sigh, there aren't enough hours in a day. My cookie partner in life, Karli, has been loaded with multiple freelance graphic design jobs. She's knocking them out like a champ. She and her hub have recently completed renovating their basement. It looks fabulous. Busy times, busy times.

Now for the big kicker: Karli's hub got a sweet-tastic job in Chicago. So, sadly, this means that my cookie partner in life must move to Chicago as well. She'll be sticking around until she weeds through and finishes all of those freelance projects, somewhere at the end of July. But this is only bittersweetness because Chicago is a short, three hour drive away, and this also means that The Hot Cookie will slowly branch into the Chicago scene! So, Chicago, look out, The Hot Cookie is coming to town.

We would like to thank everyone for their support. Owning a small business with literally no capital is no walk in the park. Props to those who make it look easy. Please continue checking on us. With time so tight, I will only be posting once a week - Mondays usually. I'll have a new, wicked recipe for you fans next week. Thanks again for your love and enthusiasm. Have a great week and a safe Independence Day!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Roast a Chicken!

I rarely cook meat. I don't like having to wash my hands every half second when I'm handling the raw product. I don't like the chance of under cooking it and poisoning my dinner company. Therefore I overcook meat often, then get ticked that I served meat leather to my guests. Having said this, it was a big step for me to roast a chicken - an even bigger step for it to turn out very well.

I picked up this simple recipe from a grocery store. It looked easy enough, and it turns out it IS really easy.

Get a fresh roasting chicken at the store, and pick up a lemon and an orange while you're there. At home, get out a roasting pan or a dutch oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Make a mixture of salt and pepper in a little dish. Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper would be ideal. Make about a tablespoons worth. It doesn't have to be exact.

Here's where the trickiest part comes in. Carefully loosen the skin from the meat. Don't remove the skin, just lift it enough so that you can get a hand or a few fingers in there. Once the skin is loose, on both top and bottom of the bird, liberally rub the meat - under the skin - with the salt and pepper mixture on both sides.

Cut that lemon and orange into wedges and fill the cavity with them. For crispy skin, roast on a roasting pan with the built in drainage thingy so that the juices can run off of the bird. If you don't care for the skin, you can roast it in a dutch oven - uncovered. The chicken will cook in it's own juice leaving the skin soft and easily to peel off.

Let it roast for about one and a half to one and three quarters of an hour or until the meat is no longer pink, the juices run clear, and the drumsticks move easily or fall out of the socket. If you have a handy dandy meat thermometer, your bird is ready at 165 degrees.

I was amazed at how well my bird turned out. It was delicious! Not a stitch dry, completely cooked, and was a hit with my roommates. I'm SO doing this again.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer INDIEana Handicraft Exchange

This past Saturday was the Summer 2010 INDIEana Handicraft Exchange. It was amazing! We got to catch up with a lot of crafty friends, meet some new cool people like the lovely ladies from So Silly and we sold out of cookies 2 hours before the event ended! Thanks so much to all the people that made it out and to everyone who stopped by our table to say "Hi" and purchase a bag of cookies.
This year there were a lot of new vendors who impressed us greatly with their handmade merchandise. It seems like at the IHE we end up spending more than we make because there are so many amazing things we want to take home.

Karli ended up with these lovelies:

Clockwise from top: Amazing hand-embroidered linen and velvet pillow from White Nest, up-cycled leather journal from The Binding Bee, sterling silver pebble hoops from Sara B Jewelry, screen printed shirt from The Bare Tree, felted sterling silver hoops from The Biggie, letterpress card from Paper Parasol Press, another screen printed shirt from The Bare Tree (this one for my husband) and a screen printed toddler tee from So Silly.

Sarah snagged these fine things:

Sweet T-shirt from So Silly, orange cream lip balm by Independence Natural Skincare, magnet and Scrabble pendant from Sunday Afternoon Housewife, and a Humpty Dumpty magnet from Backwoods Belle.

If you would like to get your hands on some of these items you will be able to starting July 10 at Indy's own homespun: modern handmade in Irvington. Check out their site for more details.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

INDIEana Handicraft Exchange - Article for Venus 'Zine!

A Handmade Extravaganza at the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange

Each June I look forward to spending every cent of my savings on one-of-a-kind, handmade goods from some of the craftiest folks in the Midwest. The INDIEana Handicraft Exchange brings modern craftspeople and indie art supporters together. Last Saturday, 100 vendors spread their wares across their tables and set to work, greeting and exchanging with enthusiastic customers. It feels like the return-to-craft and buy-local movement is growing. People really do appreciate homemade things now, and it’s comforting to see it unfold.

All things involving paper and ink suck me in. I don’t know if it’s the matte sheets, the crisp lines of the font, or the inspiration I gain from holding a blank paged book, but paper hits the soft spot. There were many printmakers, illustrators, and the like this year. This kind of (very affordable) stuff is what turns a bland apartment into a showcase.

I am tickled to see what un-jewelry-like objects can be transformed into wearable art. These artists seem to say, “Paper, not a problem. Felted wool, a cinch. Board game pieces, no sweat. Shrink art, why the hell not?” I agree; we liked it when we were kids, and we like it now. I love such out-of-the-box creativity. It fills life with whimsy and spunk. Don’t get me wrong, though. I dig a finely fabricated, silver pendant or a hand carved wooden ring. These pieces are timeless.

Even though I’m well into my 20’s, I’m still enamored with funky plush creatures. The little kid inside me wants to fill a Pet Net full of these completely unique…things. They’re not quite dolls or animals, but I wouldn’t call them monsters. Whatever you want to call them, I call them awesome.

Being able only to sew a straight line, my jaw drops at the sight of tailored clothing and accessories. Screen printed items always catch the eye. How could you walk away from the perfect printed T? T-shirts are the ultimate souvenir, but why stop at a T-shirt? (I say this as my wallet aches.)

Soaps scented so sweetly they seemed good enough to eat, cookies which were definitely good enough to eat, and ice cream served in bowls made by special needs kids kept our taste and smell senses alight. Some vendors demonstrated their skills right at their table. The deep connection of from hand, by hand, to hand is truly what the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange is all about. It’s a good thing my wallet has time to recover before next year.

Monday, June 14, 2010

NEW FLAVOR - Coffee Toffee Crunch!

Just wanted to give all of our fabulous fans out there a heads up that we debuted a new flavor at the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange and it was such a hit we are now offering it in our Etsy shop. It is called the Coffee Toffee Crunch and is our chewy oatmeal dough infused with premium roast coffee and chock-full of rich, buttery toffee. Pick up a dozen for yourself today!

Crazy Squash and Beet Casserole

I adapted this recipe from a dish I had while I was in Canada. It comes together in minutes thanks to a handy-dandy food processor. I would have never thought to put butternut squash in the food processor, but what a good idea!

Set up your food processor to grate a medium butternut squash, two beets, and a small onion (or half of a huge one like mine.) Even better, you don't have to peel the veggies. That's right. Leave that tough squash skin on. You'll never even know it's there. Just take the seeds out first and trim the tops off of those beets.

Grate them all up and toss the little pieces in a big bowl with a sprinkling of olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. I believe I threw in some sage, but I wouldn't suggest this. I wasn't a fan of the sage in this.

Spread it out in the biggest glass dish that you have and bake it at 350 for 45 minutes or so. It makes a great side dish and serves about 6 people. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ryaninjun Bread

Let me explain the name of this bread. The Book of Bread tells me that this New England born loaf was created due to the abundance of rye and corn produced there. Corn meal or Indian meal ("Injun" meal if you pronounce it with a racist accent - hence the name) was paired with rye flour, yeast, and water and baked in a brick oven. If only I had a brick oven. Sigh. I helped build one once. They are pretty nifty. On the the racist bread.

On the first rise (not pictured) the dough is very wet and spongy. It's left to rise over night. When the time comes to turn it out and knead, the directions said that it "must be kneaded only briefly". I was skeptical, but obeyed. I regret this decision later.

I love books with pictures. I firmly believe that every book should contain pictures. I get the gist of what they're doing...

Here's my attempt. Looks similar to the drawing. I'm hopeful at this point.

Flat flat flat. This is two hours later. I'm wondering if I let it rest for an hour too long.... Bread is so flippin' picky!

After baking: it didn't move a frickin' inch. Whatever bread, whatever.

Dense and half the height it should be, here's my Ryaninjun bread. It is reminiscent of beer bread in taste. I wouldn't make it again, honestly. Therefore, no recipe for you. Trust me, it's not worth your time. Chalk another win for the bread and another loss for me. I'll get you bread, if it's the last thing I doooooooooooo!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pseudo Hummus

I love hummus, and my Canadian vacation reminded me how easy hummus is to make. I've made it a handful of times, but never ate my own. At the time, I didn't care for it, so I was giving the gift of hummus to friends and family. This batch is just for me.

I like all flavors of hummus, so I looked for worthy ingredients in my refrigerator. I found: sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, green olives, and a lime. Perfect! I also added some pinto beans to the mix because I'm lacking in the protein department. A few dashes of salt, a clove of garlic, the juice of that lime, whiz whiz, whirl whirl, and hummus appeared.

As you can see, this is a far cry from hummus. I'd put it in the bean dip/paste category. Next time, I'm going to reserve some of the water from the beans and add it to the food processor until the dip becomes a bit runnier, like dip and hummus should be. Noted.

Though it's a tad thick, I really like how it tastes. I'm glad that I sneaked in the pinto beans for some added protein. I've eaten my pseudo hummus on toast and with tortilla chips, but you could add it to any spread worthy surface.

Pseudo Hummus
1 15oz can of garbanzo beans
1 15oz can of pinto beans
1/4 cup of sun dried tomatoes
1/4 cup of olives, green or black
1 clove of garlic
Juice of a large lime
Salt to taste
Paprika to taste
1 Tbsp of olive oil
Reserved water from the canned beans - use as necessary to achieve desired consistency

Combine all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Store in refrigerator.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Herby Baked Potatoes

I used to not like baked potatoes. I didn't like how the skin was tough and dry. I didn't like how I had to cover up it's bland flavor with mounds of sour cream, butter, and chive or cheddar cheese and bacon. I just wanted a simple, flavorful potato. Is that too much to ask? I think not!

Start with clean potatoes. Pierce them with a fork or knife several times. This will prevent a potato explosion and helps the flavors sink beneath the skin.

Start an assembly line. Foil on the bottom, pierced potato on top, drizzle of olive oil, hearty pinch of salt, and a smattering of your herb/s of choice. I'm down with rosemary and sage. Now, massage your potato into the flavor enhancers. Don't be afraid, get into it.

Wrap your spuds up and place them in a 450 degree oven - seam side up. Set the timer for an hour. For giant potatoes, allow for a longer baking time.

There you have it: soft, edible skin, perfectly seasoned, simple potato. Feel free to drizzle on another shot of olive oil. Enjoy!