thoughts.

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a few days ago, i decided to take some time out my day to get out of the school bubble because the last few weeks have been a physical and emotional whirlwind. i wasnt sure where i wanted to go, i just wanted a change of scenery. with only my camera and a couple of quarters, i hopped on a bus and when i got off, i found myself in downtown LA near LACMA.

ive always really enjoyed being alone, but ever since ive come to school, ive had very few moments where i was actually completely by myself. i didnt realize how much i needed this time until i began walking around, with no particular destination in mind. it was strangely relaxing to not have to speak, to just observe the vibrancy around me but not partake in it.

i started from LACMA, then somehow wandered to the farmers market near 3rd and fairfax, passed through the la brea tar pits, and then ended up on wilshire near the berlin wall memorial. it was a good couple hours of wandering through the crowds and observing the passerby’s on the street. i was taken aback by the beauty i found in the most unexpected places, distracting me from my thoughts as well as helping me focus on them.

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there’s been a lot of jumbled things inside my head. ive been feeling…somewhat uninspired and lost and uninterested. since school started, ive been keeping myself busy with work, classes, people, and extracurriculars, and yet, at the end of the day, i just feel empty. its affecting my schoolwork, my creativity, my relationships. my classes are challenging but not engaging. i struggle to make time to contact my parents, much less my friends back home. im constantly in an inner battle to find some sort of direction in my life, something to point me to a more concrete path. i kept questioning my actions, feeling like i was running out of time and options.

the strange thing was that this trip didnt get rid of the negative thoughts i was having, but rather, it helped put them into perspective and view them in a different light. this conversation with myself allowed me to recharge and reflect, which is what i guess i needed all along. not an answer to solve my problems, but just a better understanding of them. i feel more at peace, more focused somehow, which is more than i could have asked for.

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*update: sorry i’ve been so MIA from this blog! i swear im still alive and well, hang in there while i craft upcoming posts ❤

blueberry cornbread muffins

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i love experimenting in the kitchen, adding a pinch of this, swapping out that, deviating from the recipe to try something new. more often than not, however, i turn out loaf cakes more akin to bricks than bread, frostings that separate and refuse to whip into the silky smooth mixture its supposed to be, as well as macarons that are cracked and feet-less. *cue meltdown and tearful cleanup of the kitchen

i used to get really discouraged when this happened because it made me feel like baking was limiting, in the sense that my creativity was stifled. i couldnt add or substitute certain ingredients for fear that the finished product would be inedible, a waste of time and ingredients.

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blubs

now that i think of it, all my failures weren’t in vain. sure, baking requires a certain level of precision, but an understanding of basic templates allows me to create my own recipes, a valuable skill i wouldn’t have learned without all the trial and error that i go through every time i create something.

these muffins were born out of multiple mistakes on my part. after throwing away one too many batches, i found that having a solid base recipe where i could build off of made all the difference in the world.

blueberry cornbread muffins

makes about 10-11 muffins

ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • (optional: 1 tsp lemon zest)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (i used almond milk + lemon juice)
  • 1/3 cup yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled til warm
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

directions:

  1. preheat the oven to 400 F. line a muffin tin with paper cupcake liners or grease well so they dont stick.
  2. in a large bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt til combined.
  3. in another bowl, whisk together sugar, (lemon zest), honey, egg, buttermilk, yogurt, and melted butter til everything is well blended.
  4. add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and mix together lightly. a gentle hand will ensure you get soft muffins with a nice crumb. fold in the blueberries.
  5. spoon the batter in the muffin tins and bake for about 12-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out without any crumbs attached. enjoy warm with a pat of butter or a smear of jam.

peach pie cookies

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when school ended in june, i packed up all the things i brought with me to the dorms – which turned out to be much more stuff than when i moved in due to my hoarding tendencies – and moved back home for summer. it was nice at first, having a room to myself, reuniting with my baking supplies (and fully functioning kitchen!), as well as seeing many familiar faces again. summer was here, and i was to make the most of it.

…and then a few weeks in, i was itching to return to school and september was ages away. after months of living away from home, it was as though i couldnt pick up where i left off. things were different somehow, and i knew it wasn’t just the physical location.

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this feeling is still nagging at the corner of my mind, but at least i have these cookies to remind me of past summers. i would spend my mornings rolling out soft dough, then assembling the little cookies before the heat made them tacky and difficult to work with. however, its all worth it because this is one of the few treats my entire family loves, as they’re perfectly flaky and just sweet enough.

peach pie cookies

-the trick is to work quickly once the dough is rolled out, especially in a hot kitchen, because soft and sticky dough is a pain to work with and might result in the addition of too much flour. whenever my dough began acting up, i just put it in the freezer for about 5 mins or until cold and happy :3

makes about 24, plus a few pie dough cookies from the leftover scraps

adapted from and inspired by here

for the dough: i used this recipe here, refrigerated, and added an extra tablespoon of sugar. it’s my go-to and pretty much foolproof

for the filling:

  • 1 large peach, or 2 small-medium ones
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or more, to taste
  • a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, each
  • 2 teaspoons of cornstarch (i used tapioca starch because that’s all i had and it worked beautifully

 
to top:

  • couple spoonfuls of heavy cream
  • turbinado sugar, or other raw coarse sugar

 

directions:

  1. dice the peach into tiny pieces, 1/2 inch or smaller. put into a bowl and add the rest of the filling ingredients, stirring to combine evenly.

 
to assemble:

  1. preheat oven to 350 F. take out one of the halves of pie dough from refrigerator and let soften for a few minutes. on a well-floured counter or some other clean surface, roll out dough until thin, about 1/8th inch. get a round 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter and stamp out as many circles as you can. re-roll and cut out more, until you can’t get any more rounds. reserve dough scraps for pie dough cookies if you want! repeat with the other half of the dough. make sure that you leave the rounds in the freezer or refrigerator when youre not using it
  2. on the half of the rounds, use a small knife to make a cross shaped slit – this will be the tops of your cookies. now begin assembling! on the plain rounds, spoon about 1-2 teaspoons of the filling and then seal with the top dough rounds. use a fork dipped in flour to crimp the edges. repeat until all rounds are used up
  3. transfer the cookies to a baking sheet, then brush the tops lightly with heavy cream and sprinkle generously with the turbinado sugar.
  4. optional: now if you have scraps of dough, roll them out, cut into whatever shapes or leave as is, then brush with the heavy cream, then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. yay pie dough cookies!
  5. bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. let cool and eat, or dont do what i did and burn your tongue on them :3

ladyfingers

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these were supposed to be my segue into making tiramisu. i had all the ingredients lined up. mascarpone cheese, check. espresso and a few shots of rum, check. eggs and cream, check. ladyfingers, well, never heard of them, never tried them either.

after a quick google search and looking through recipes with surprisingly short ingredient lists, i figured, why not at least try? If i screwed it up, i could just cover it up with copious amounts of cream and coffee, and the party would still go on.

i knew as i pulled them out of the oven that these were something beautiful. oddly shaped, but pillow soft, just sweet enough, and a lovely compliment to a cup of dark coffee, they had a air of simplicity to them that made them irresistible. i guess i wasn’t expecting to like them so much, and it felt like a shame to tuck them away into tiramisu.

ladyfingers

makes about 30-40 4 inch cookies

adapted from a bunch of sites, mostly from here

ingredients:

  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 6 tablespoons of sugar
  • smidge of vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup of flour, sifted
  • powdered sugar, for dusting

directions:

  1. preheat to 350 F. in a bowl, place the egg yolks and 3 TBS of the sugar, and beat with the paddle attachment (if you don’t have a stand mixer, a handheld mixer will do just fine) for about 5 minutes, or until they are pale yellow and form a slow ribbon when the beaters are lifted. add the vanilla.
  2. get the flour and sift over the egg yolk mixture, BUT DONT MIX TOGETHER, then set to the side.
  3. in another bowl, place the egg whites with the pinch of salt and beat with the whip attachment until foamy and beginning to turn opaque. add the remaining sugar slowly and then whip until the whites form stiff peaks.
  4. add the beaten egg whites to the egg yolk mixture and fold gently until everything comes together and is mixed evenly.
  5. fit a pastry bag with a half inch piping tip (a ziplock bad with the corner cut off works just fine too). add the batter and pipe them 4-inches long on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. now have some fun with the powdered sugar: sift the sugar over the piped ladyfingers until coated evenly, then pop them in the oven for about 8-10 minutes. they’re done when they’re golden brown around the edges and spring back to the touch. let cool then enjoy :3