Five Fandom Friday: Geeky Tattoos!

I’ve already written posts on this subject, but it’s one of my faves so let’s keep going. My very first tattoo was the old school script lettering Wonder Woman logo. It sits on my rib cage, just around my bra strap. But, this is the only geeky tattoo that I’ve gotten so far!

A lot of the time I think up cool tattoos that I’d love to have. I have ideas of where life could take me and I’m not entirely sure that my path looks highly on tattoos, so I have to pick and choose what I’m doing. I know I’m going to be working hard this summer and I want to treat myself to a tattoo eventually.

One idea I have is actually a cover up. I have three, small black bats on the front of one shoulder and three, small black birds on the other. They did not heal well at all, scarring in some places and completely falling apart in others. They are just not pretty anymore.

On Pinterest (or somewhere online) I saw a traditional swallow tattoo. Or, at least, it was in the shape of a swallow. The inside of the bird was a galaxy. It would be insanely cool if I could cover the shoulder tattoos with matching galaxy swallows. They’d hurt, but they’d make me feel so much better about myself.

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Another idea I toyed with lately was a Sailor Moon themed tat. I drew up some concept designs, mixing a traditional dagger in the rose design with a Moon Wand. It might end up being too big for me in the end, but it’s a really cool idea.

I’m huge into Norse mythology and really love Freya. She’s the goddess of love, marriage, AND war. She’s a total badass and I’d love to find room for her on my body. My upper right arm is totally empty and Dani Green did a rendition of Freya that totally inspired me.

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I’ve always wanted something to signify my love for baking and cooking. One of my favorite concepts was a whisk and a spatula tied together with a pretty ribbon. Other concepts included a pencil, paint brush, and a pen for all of the other things I love to do. That would go on the inside of my right arm if I had the guts.

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Finally, and this will happen some day, will be my Studio Ghibli thigh piece. This will cost hella dollars, but I’m so intent on getting it done that I don’t think anyone could change my mind. I’d like it to include not only Haku and the Bathhouse, but Calcifer, Howl and Sophie, Kiki and Jiji, as well as San.

My skin is where I can carry the things I love around for the rest of my life. I have my love for my husband inscribed on my ring finger (which is great when m y wedding ring doesn’t fit). I have my own art embedded into my foot. I carry a reminder of my grandmother’s gardens around on my arm. I can have the joy of Ghibli movies, the feminine strength of a Sailor Scout, a freaking goddess, space birds, and a reminder of the power of my creativity on me at all times.

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Golden Snitch Macarons

I first fell in love with macarons back in Monterey. While hubs was perusing a game shop on a side street, I ventured around and found myself in a tiny french bakery. I want to say that it was a small Parker Lusseau, but I really could be mistaken. Anyways, I left with three macarons and readily devoured them on the two minute drive home.

They were such heavenly little cookies. About a year later I found myself yearning for them in the middle of Maryland. I hated traveling anywhere in that part of the state, so I decided to attempt to make them myself. Despite having such simple ingredients, they were frustratingly difficult to even get a few right.

This time I have a bit more experience and a craving for the world of Harry Potter. What was one of the most iconic, round objects in the books? The Golden Snitch of course! It seemed like a no brainer to make my own Golden Snitch macarons at home.

Golden Snitch Macarons

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Prep time: 30 mins
Bake time: 15-20 mins
Yeild: 24 sandwich cookies

Ingredients:

2/3 Cup Almond Meal, sifted

1 1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar

3 Large Egg Whites (aged 3 days, if possible) <— I didn’t

5 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Yellow Food coloring (I used a paste food coloring bought at Wal-Mart)

  • Begin by separating the yolks from the whites. Be very careful not to get any yolk in your egg white because this will keep it from gaining the volume you want. You could do this by cracking the egg into your slightly open fingers, by moving the yolk from one half of the cracked shell to the other so that the whites fall into the bowl, or by purchasing a device meant for separating eggs. Personally, I chose the egg shell method. Set this aside, preferably up to three days in your fridge to allow some of the excess moisture to evaporate.
  • Cut a piece of parchment paper to the size of your cookie sheet. Using a pencil and a round object (I used the base of a K-Cup), draw your templates about an inch and a half apart on the parchment paper. Flip it over to keep the pencil marking away from your cookies.  NOTE: Do Not use permanent marker. I did and it left rings on my pan. Also, don’t use Wax Paper. Entire batches of the cookies stubbornly stuck to the wax. If you have a silicone baking sheet, use it. You forgo the templates, but have a better chance of getting them off it.     photo 1
  • If you have a stand mixer, now is the time to begin beating your egg whites. Set it to medium high speed and leave it alone. If not, move directly on to sifting your almond meal and powdered sugar. The almond meal may clog your sifter. Just give it a good smack on your hand to remind it who is the boss. Once the sugar and almond meal have been sifted, use your hand mixer to beat the eggs. NOTE: You could do this by hand, but it will take a very long time and will inevitably hurt your arm. Borrow a mixer or con someone you don’t like into doing this job for you.
  • Once the egg whites have begun to froth, getting bubbly at he surface, slowly add the granulated sugar one tablespoon at a time to the eggs. This creates a glossy egg that will hold it’s shape. After a while the egg should become white and somewhat stiff. If you stick a rubber spatula into the egg mixture it should have a peak that curls at the very tip. That means you’re good to go. Add your yellow food coloring and mix just until blended.
  • Remove the egg mixture from the mixer and fold in your teaspoon of vanilla extract. Don’t mix in circles. Instead, use your rubber spatula to cut through the mixture and fold it on top of itself. Once that has been mixed, add half of your almond/sugar mixture to the bowl. Fold it into the mixture. Once it has been incorporated, add the other half of the almond/sugar mixture and fold it in.
  • By now you should have a bright yellow mix with little to no lumps. At this point if you don’t have pastry bags your welcome to reach for a gallon sized ziploc bag. Angle a lower corner into a tall drinking glass and fold the excess bag over the rim. This should make it easier for you to pour the macaron batter into your bag. Don’t zip the bag. Instead, push the batter into the corner and twist the top of it shut (kind of like I do with my sandwich bread bags). Go ahead and snip half an inch of the corner off the bag using your kitchen scissors.
  • Pipe the batter onto your pre-drawn circles in a clockwise motion starting from the outside and going in. Flick the bag away from the cookie when finished piping to reduce the peak. Once you’re done piping all your cookies on the paper, give the cookie sheet a good tap against the counter top. Lift it about an inch off the counter and drop it. This softens your peaks and removes excess air bubbles from the cookie.
  • Here’s the slightly irritating part. Leave it out. Give them twenty to thirty minutes to rest on the counter. In this time the macaron is forming a film across the surface that will provide the unique shape and rise that they’re famous for.
  • About five minutes before they’re finished, pre-heat the oven to 250 Fahrenheit. After the last five minutes are up, set the cookie sheet on the center rack in the oven. Bake around 15 to 20 minutes. Now, they should rise and create the “foot” around the bottom. Some will crack, that means there was too much moisture in the batter, but you can cover that up later with some chocolate.
  • Remove from the oven to cool on the cookie sheet. Use a second prepared cookie sheet to bake another batch, or remove the first batch after they’ve cooled and pipe another batch onto the parchment.

“Butterbeer” Buttercream

Prep time: 20 min
Yeild: 2-3 cups buttercream

Ingredients:

1 Stick REAL Butter (1/2 Cup), brought to room temperature

2-3 Cups Powdered Sugar

1/2 Cup Powdered Peanut Butter (or 1/4 to 1/2 cup creamy pb)

1/2 Teaspoon Root Beer Concentrate

  • Whip the room temperature butter and peanut butter in your stand mixer, or with your hand mixer. (Personally, my hand mixer did a better job of whipping the butter and leaving little to no chunks). Add the scant amount of root beer extract. Trust me. It turned out delicious.
  • Once it has been creamed together, add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, careful not to pour it directly onto the beater. You’ll have a cloud if you do. Continue adding the powdered sugar one cup at a time until you get the desired consistency. It should be creamy and fluffy.
  • Once your cookies have cooled you can scoop it into a pastry bag or ziplock bag the same way you did with the batter. Flip half of the cookies and match them up with an unflipped cookie of similar size. Pipe a tablespoon of buttercream onto the flipped cookie and top it with the un-flipped cookie like a sandwich. Be careful not to press too hard or you will crack the fragile cookie.
  • Repeat for all of your remaining cookies. Use your straggler, the odd cookie with no match, to sample your creation for yourself.

 

Meanwhile:

White Chocolate Wings

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Ingredients:

2/3 Cup White Chocolate Chips

1 Tablespoon Vegetable Shortening

Yellow Sanding Sugar

Wax Paper

Pastry bag/Ziploc bag

  • Using a marker, draw your wing shapes onto the paper, accounting for both the right and left wings. For 24 cookies, you will need 48 wings total. I didn’t give all of mine wings and you don’t have to either. Just give the ones you want to show off wings (insert wink).
  • Melt white chocolate chips in the microwave with a tablespoon of shortening. Do this 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between. It might only take 1 minute total.
  • Pour the chocolate into a pastry/ziploc bag and snip the end, leaving a rather small hole. Using this you can pipe the wings directly onto the paper.
  • Using the leftover chocolate or extra melted chocolate, pipe hatch lines across your cookies. I finished mine with some yellow sanding sugar from the baking aisle of my supermarket.   photo 3
  • Once the wings dry completely, you can peel them off the wax paper and slide them into the buttercream center of your cookie.

Voila! You’ve made Golden Snitch Macarons to show to the world you aren’t just some muggle. You’re a boss ass Kitchen Wizard. Send me photos of your creations and let me know what you think of me recipe, fellow Wizards and Witches!

For a little help here is a Master Ingredient List:

2/3 Cup Almond Meal, sifted

1 1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar

3 Large Egg Whites (aged 3 days, if possible) <— I didn’t

5 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Yellow Food coloring (I used a paste food coloring bought at Wal-Mart)

1 Stick REAL Butter (1/2 Cup), brought to room temperature

2-3 Cups Powdered Sugar

1/2 Cup Powdered Peanut Butter (or 1/4 to 1/2 cup creamy pb)

1/2 Teaspoon Root Beer Concentrate

2/3 Cup White Chocolate Chips

1 Tablespoon Vegetable Shortening

Yellow Sanding Sugar

Wax Paper

Pastry bag/Ziploc bag

A Geek Girl’s Guide to the Art of Baking

Last time we spoke, I let you in on my little secret: that I’m a science geek, too.

Science is really important when baking. It gets you the form that you want. On the other hand, there is also an art to baking. Especially the kind of baking you’ll find on here. Of course, you might think of art as re-creating our favorite geeky icons, but there’s a bit more to it than just that.

Totally Not Me, But Totally Cool
Totally Not Me, But Totally Cool

Flavor. I mean, they can be pretty, but we also have to eat what we make in in the end.

Here’s where you can have fun. There’s a lot of ways to add flavor to something these days. There are extracts and concentrates for everything. You can use citrus zests, flavored liqeurs, jams and jellies, as well as anything else you could think of. Add them to your batters and dough. Add them to your icing. You can use only a single note, like plain vanilla, or you can play mix and match to create depth of flavor.

We all know some tried and true flavor combinations that no one should be afraid of. For example: Peanutbutter and Jelly (or Chocolate, duh), Chocolate and Coffee, Lemon and Raspberry. Honey and Lavender is delicious in bread. Sage and Blackberry is deceptively good in tea. Sage and Lemon, even, is good in a shortbread cookie. I had a friend single-handedly devour that batch when I made it. Even, bear with me, Strawberry and Balsamic Vinegar is delicious. It so is.

Just make sure that when adding these flavors you account for any extra moisture or dryness in your recipe. Adding too much liquid flavoring can cause your batter to become too runny while a bevy of dry flavor can create something too crumbly. Finding the sweet spot is key in all things, right?

Once all is said and baked, then comes the art of decoration. As I displayed with my Sailor Moon cookies, I used wax paper to draw and cut out a template for my cookie shapes. This kept me from spending a lot on cookie cutter clutter. Feel free to print your desired shape off the internet and trace over it with the wax paper. Then you have a reference photo nearby when decorating!

For piped cookies, draw your templates directly onto the paper with enough space between each so that the cookies don’t touch each other while baking, but don’t cut it out. You can simply lay the (preferably) parchment paper onto the cookie sheet and pipe your cookies directly onto the paper before throwing the whole shebang into the oven. This works well with Macarons and Spritz cookies.

Later, once all is cool, you can use buttercream frosting, royal icing, sprinkles, edible glitter (yeah, that’s real), and fondant to make your cookies geeky and pretty. I saw a DIY where one baker used fondant to cut out and make her own Sailor Moon inspired sprinkles. With a few supplied from your craft shop we could do something cool like that, too!

All in all, have fun in the kitchen. There will be failures. It happens with any venture. Just be sure to laugh it off and try again. For Christmas, Mom and I (both seasoned bakers) left a pan of cookies in the oven for about an hour. We laughed, tossed them away, and went on with our baking. Shit happens.

 

A Geek Girl’s Guide to the Science of Baking

While I am a huge fan of all things magical and fantasy, I have another side that not a lot of people get to see. I’m secretly a science geek. Sure, I suck at the math of science, but learning how the world’s “magic” works is really exciting to me.

Baking isn’t much like cooking. Most of the time, you can’t Bob Ross a little fuck up. Baking is, in fact, the magic of chemistry. Measurements have to be precise in order to obtain a desired rise, glaze, or crumb in your baked good.

Surely, this is why I’d rock at Potions at Hogwarts.

Hermoine

We start with flour. That’s kind of obvious in most cases. Usually we work with All Purpose flour which has a middle of the road gluten. This is great for cookies, quick breads, and the such as it won’t become too tough if you treat it right. There’s also cake flour which simply has a finer texture, high protein flour for chewy breads, and alternative flours like almond meal and rice flour.

Most of these have wheat which means they have gluten. This is a kind of glue that pulls together your baked good. This is produced by adding moisture to the flour and mixing correctly. Like Hermoine teaching Ron the correct Swish and Flick technique, there is always a trick to gluten. Never over mix because you’ll end up with a tough bread or a runny batter.

Another very important aspect of baking is the rise. In some cases you don’t want a rise at all, like pie crust. In other cases, like cookies and bread, we need a chemical that will react with the other ingredients and cause pockets of air to form within the product. This is where yeast and baking powder/soda come into play.

Yeast is a fickle creature, an actual live bacteria. It needs just the right temperature to wake up and a decent amount of sugars to get going. Sounds a lot like myself. The best way to awaken the beast is by adding it to luke warm water with a dose of sugar or honey.

Baking Soda, or Sodium Bicarbonate, is a base. This leavener requires some kind of acid within the recipe to work. Think back to your elementary school days when you made the volcano. What did you put in it? Baking soda and vinegar (the acid). Most times the acid comes in the form of brown sugar (who knew?), buttermilk, or lemon juice.

Baking Powder, on the other hand, is a mixture of baking soda and cream of tartar (a dry acid). Sometimes it has cornstarch as well, but not always. This is nowhere near as strong as baking soda, but it is a base and an acid that activates itself once wet. This means that you cannot simply mix and forget a baking powder batter. It will activate once more once heat is applied to the mixture.

Other ingredients create structure. Eggs are moisteners, tenderizers, and binders all at once. An egg means things are going to keep together as you bake. Milk often provides moisture and tenderness. Oil and butter keep the product from going stale by coating the flour and protecting it from the air.

It all seems like magic when you beat together strange things, add heat, and come out with a solid product. Sometimes I feel like a witch brewing up things in my kitchen. Other times I feel kind of like a mad scientist. Either way, I try to enjoy myself in the kitchen. Knowing a bit more about the how and why of baking might ease some of your kitchen worries and let you have a little more fun, too.

Binge Baking Because I Can

This weekend I made another attempt at making geeky iced cookies and you know what?

This time they turned out 99.99% better!

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Hubs purchased something for himself on Amazon so he let me pick out these sweet socks!

I won’t post a recipe for these because, really, I just used the Lemon Sugar Cookie recipe in Ro Pansino’s Nerdy Nummies cookbook. I tweaked it a little bit because I didn’t have lemon available. Instead, I added a mixture of vanilla and almond extracts to both the dough and the icing. It turned out so freaking delicious that I’ve been eating them for breakfast every morning.

That’s okay when your husband makes you do cardio, right?

Annnnyway, I’ve found a sugar cookie recipe that I like and nearly have the icing down pat. The icing was much thicker than the first test, but still had a habit of running. That’s why the moons turned out a bit derpy. Still, I was so impressed with the cookie flavor that I didn’t care. Because it can be cute as shit, but you still have to eat that cookie. It better taste like a freaking food orgasm at the same time.

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Using wax paper I made a cookie stencil and cut the shapes out with a paring knife. Suck it expensive cookie cutters.
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Totally ignore the mess in the background. Please?

I originally wanted to make my favorite cats, Artemis and Luna from Sailor Moon, into cute macarons. (Cute French cookies not to be confused with macaroons. No, seriously. Don’t.) I didn’t have almond meal on hand so I began another batch of sugar cookies. This time around I have a bag of what looks to be really fine almond meal (purchased in the baking section of Wal-mart).

My mother-in-law has celiac disease and cannot have gluten or dairy. She bemoans the lack of good gluten/dairy free cookies in the world and I immediately thought of these. I haven’t yet decided what geeky fandom I’d like to approach with this recipe. Comment down below with your ideas and I’ll be sure to share an actual recipe next time.

Also, I applied for the Library job and received a kind of mini interview upon resume delivery. I was the first to apply. I’m filled with so much trepidation and excitement.

Lessons Learned in the Kitchen Today

I recently purchased Rosana Pansino’s Nerdy Nummies cookbook as inspiration. Flipping through the pages reveals a plethora of the cutest and coolest baked goods decorated as some of our favorite things. one recipe I particularly liked was for iced sugar cookies that looked like old fashioned Ninetendo controllers.

Silly me didn’t use the cookie recipe in that book or completely follow the royal icing recipe as well as I should have. The result was sugar cookies with too much spread as they baked, turning into a sheet of cookie, and icing that ran right through my piping bag.

Cookies

Needless to say, I have some lessons to learn before I get this blog re-vamp up and running. I promise I’m not always this incompetent. (Though I promise they’re tasty and don’t they kind of remind you of Wildberry Poptarts?)

  1. I really need to understand the science behind ingredients before I begin swapping them around. I replaced shortening with extra butter and baking soda and tartar powder with baking powder. This definitely had to do with the spread of my cookies as they baked.
  2. Follow directions the first time you make a recipe, then tweak after you get the basics of it down. My icing was runny because I didn’t add nearly enough powdered sugar to it before I deemed it “finished”. So, when I began to pipe on the initial color it just ran into a gooey mess. All details were lost.
  3. Write notes. If I’m going to share recipes that I’ve tweaked and methods that I’ve learned I should write them down as I do them. During the process I thought of lines to describe why or why not I’d do something then promptly forgot them after the whole shebang was over.

Today I learned that I’m not immediately ready for what I planned on doing. I’m infatuated with iced cookies so I really want to master them before I share the process with you guys. Hopefully, I’ll be able to post other recipes that I’ve already mastered, tweaked to bring out the geek in all of us.

I had a really sweet Rat Queens idea the other day. If you haven’t started reading Rat Queens yet, you really should. It’s a rollicking good time through some feminist sword and sorcery… or as they call it “Sass and Sorcery”.

Bakers Gonna Bake

One by one I want to share my 2016 blog goals with you guys. The first one that I seem to be obsessing over is actually a kind of blog overhaul. I feel as though I am kind of scattered with the kinds of posts that I share with you guys. I love each and every post, but I feel as though there is a cohesiveness that seems to be lacking.

That being said, I’ve come up with a plan that brings in something that I’ve always wanted to do: Food Blogging. I’ve begun the attempt a few times, but never followed through. Cooking and baking are things I absolutely love to do!

But I always doubted myself somehow.

For the new year, I want that to change. Hopefully, I’ll be bringing a geeky recipe to the blog perhaps once a week. That seems totally doable. Right? Please, have faith in me.

In the meantime, here are some tees from Look Human that I’m obsessing over. I kind of need these for blogging inspiration, right?

6733-heathered_black-z1-t-live-fast-die-young-lick-the-spoon

3200bc-white_neon_pink-z1-t-if-it-involves-baking-count-me-in

3200bc-white_neon_pink-z1-t-pet-cats-drink-coffee-bake-things

394-heathered_gray_aa-z1-t-they-call-me-darth-baker

I kind of want ALL of the Baking themed things from Look Human. The site is chock full of really cute takes on humor and pop culture, including awesome Magical Girl inspired anything, from tees to blankets and phone cases.  (Click the link to the right and I’ll receive a commission on your purchase.)

I really hope I have the balls to follow through on my idea this time. I’ll keep doing book reviews, Five Fandom Fridays, Funko Fridays, and peeks into my (boring) life, but food  will take the center stage.

Does anyone like this idea? Anyone have any advice or things they’d like to see?