Sunday, March 17, 2013

Winter Disapearance, But That's Normal (Blackberry Cobbler Again and Chocolate Cherry Tart)

My original plan for this blog was to post once a week, most likely over the weekend but maybe during the week if work was slow or boring. The last time I posted an entry was January 23rd (Oldest Sister's birthday) but I also made a draft for another post on the 27th.  And then I disappeared.

Winter makes me tired, slow, unhappy, depressed, irritable, and sloth-like.  All I want to do is to curl up in bed with a heating pad on my freezing cold feet, read a good book or watch some good TV, and eat cookies (or raw cookie dough or cake or candy).  I force myself to get up and go to work so I won't get fired, and I try all of the fixes that people suggest for seasonal issues: vitamin D, light boxes, massage, more exercise, etc etc etc (but not colon cleanses).  So far nothing has worked, and like pretty much everything else in my life, this blog doesn't get touched.

And then last week the weather got better.  There is sunlight.  It's not snowing.  I can wear sandals outdoors, I can ride my bike to run errands, I don't have to wear a winter coat with snow boots and earmuffs.  All of a sudden I want to go out with friends or do some exercise.

So obviously I need to move to a city that doesn't really have winter.  I hated living in Los Angeles but I never got the winter blues in the eight years I was there.  Although it's going to take a while to get the social part of my life back together, the current result is that I'm baking for three potlucks this week.  This blog is about to get a whole bunch of posts in a short amount of time, especially since the draft from January is already halfway done.

For yesterday's potluck, I made a blackberry cobbler and a chocolate cherry tart.  The cobbler is a recipe that I've made before and it's very reliable, while the tart was an experiment with a new recipe.  I chose these two recipes for several reasons.  One, if I want to try a new recipe and I'm going to a potluck, I make a reliable recipe as well in case the experiment fails.  You don't want to show up to a potluck with nothing but excuses about how the dough didn't come together right or the filling never solidified.  Two, one of my friends really doesn't like chocolate and I figured he would enjoy having a chocolate-free dessert option.  Although I didn't plan it this way, both recipes have something in common: blind baking/parbaking.

Blind baking and parbaking are different applications of the same idea.  When you want to bake a recipe where the different parts need to bake for different amounts of time, you bake each bit separately at first and then combine them for a final bake.  Although this sounds complicated, it is usually easier and more time-manageable than it seems because you can mix together the second part of the recipe while the first one is being blind or parbaked.

Cobblers are a fruit filling with some type of dough topping, usually biscuits or pie dough.  According to the almighty wikipedia, cobblers are an American invention to use less butter than some of the traditional English desserts.  Basically, if you don't put a layer of dough on the bottom of the pan but only on the top, you use half as much dough, which mean half as much butter, flour, etc.  We have many different types of cobblers over here but I like the good old-fashioned blueberry or blackberry cobblers.