Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Thank You Cookies


I'm just going to come right out and say this -- I am SUPER LUCKY to have the friends I do. You all know that I just moved to another town in South Korea. And you probably know that I have three kids. And you may as well know that I don't speak Korean that well. And also, my husband is in the army.

What you don't know is that my husband was gone the entire week before the move. (Which is when we found out we would actually be moving.) He was also gone the entire day of the move. And most of the rest of the week as well. I think it would be an understatement to say that this was a little stressful for me.


It would also be an understatement to say that I have AMAZING friends. One of my friends got up super early in the morning, made a breakfast to bring with her, got her children up (super early, remember?) and brought them all over to my apartment to be there while the movers finished packing things up because I had to be at my new location at the same time. Another incredibly giving friend who does speak Korean called the moving company for me. Many, many times and set everything up. And THEN came to my new place and stayed with me while they moved my stuff in. And on top of that...she had a house guest who she lovingly abandoned to help me out. I am SO LUCKY. And SO HAPPY to have these people in my life. And since I'm all sorts of socially awkward, I'm making them cookies to say thank you. So -- you people who know who you are -- these cookies aren't actually for you, they are for someone else -- but I WILL be making your cookies later this week. Probably.


Also, (and this is totally coming from too many hours unpacking and arranging and finding things alone) I have this great THANK YOU COOKIE idea.

You know how when you go to rent videos, the cashier always tries to get you to buy a giant box of candy that only has three pieces of actual candy on the inside and they want you to pay $4 for it? You should do that with cookies. Only, not the over-priced part. When someone orders baby shower cookies you should ask if they want to order matching "thank you" cookies for the mother-to-be to send to guests. You could attach a little card to the bagged cookie even. It could be a real thing. I'm serious, this could be wildly popular and super trendy. We just have to get someone really famous to think its adorable. Any chance one of you are the editor to a major magazine?

And, also, also, I can't figure out how to take photos in my new place. The lighting is all weird. I might actually get a light tent or a "natural" light. Do any of you have a favorite I should look at?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Shopping Options in South Korea...and a giveaway -- CLOSED

 WINNER, WINNER, WINNER!!!
 
Diane -- send me an email with your contact information to LilaLoa (at) ymail.com!!




 
I live in South Korea. I used to live in a very small town in South Korea that looked like this

and this.

This is the local shopping center.

And then I moved to a town that looks like this

and this.

And they have actual malls and giant department stores. The store closest to me looks like this. (And my son is wearing a jacket in July because he is not used to air conditioning.)

It's really exciting to live in a place where I can purchase things. So, although I spent most of the last two weeks unpacking and finding things in my house... It took me exactly 2 days before I could justify going shopping. Which, for the record, was just enough time to find my bed and some unwrinkled clothing.

I'm going to take you on a little grocery store tour. And you have no choice but to come with me because its my blog. I mean, I guess you could just click over to facebook or something instead....but don't, okay? I have a fun surprise for you at the end. (Even though its not really a surprise because I totally gave it away in the title of this post.) (Don't scroll back to the top if you already forgot. Just let it be a surprise.)


This is the baking aisle. They sell powdered sugar in 2 cup pouches and you CAN actually buy Hershey's chocolate chips if you want to pay $6 for them. Also, they have powdered food colors!

This is the spice aisle. I don't know if you can tell, but its all red pepper and sesame seeds, in various forms.

My favorite thing about Korean grocery stores is that instead of having a "Buy One Get One Free" sale, they just tape the free item to the other item. Sometimes it makes sense, and sometimes it doesn't. We have seen t-shirts taped to cereal boxes and laundry hampers taped to bags of chips. This is my favorite. It is a box of diet cereal taped to a larger box of Oreo cereal.

 And, the moment we've all been waiting for...cookie and cake decorating things! It's actually crazy to me that there aren't more options because I'm pretty sure that Wilton products are made IN THIS COUNTRY. 

I'm sorry my pictures are all kind of fuzzy and weird. I couldn't find my camera and had to use my cellphone. My point is that if you look closely in the middle of all the novelty kitchen tools...you will find a butter knife. And it is $4. 

I haven't really had the option to just go shopping in a long time. My willpower has taken a 2 year break and it pretty much couldn't run a mile if its life depended on it. So I bought a few a lot of things and brought them home. And then I looked at my house that was covered in even more stuff and nothing had a home and I wanted to throw everything out instead of organizing it but I couldn't because they were things that we actually needed like clothes and diapers and food.

So I'm going to give it all to one of YOU!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED.~~~~~~~~~~~

1-- Leave me a comment telling me something they sell in your country that you wouldn't want to live without if you moved to Antarctica. 

2-- Share this giveaway on facebook or twitter and come back and leave me a comment in a foreign language. You can make up that language if you want to. I don't mind.

In case you were wondering ...



1. Plastic cookie cutters -- dog, pig, and squirrel.
2. Plastic cookie cutters -- weird shape, star, hippo (MOST ADORABLE CUTTER EVER!!), bear, heart, fluted circle.
3. Plastic cookie cutters -- flower, star, heart, heart, tiny armed gingerbread man, star.
4. These have nothing to do with cookies. They are mopping slippers. You just put them on and mop your floor while you walk around. And then toss them in the washer. Repeat as desired. 
5. Powdered food colors -- pink, yellow, and blue. They have a picture of macarons and cupcakes on the front. So...I'm assuming those would be fantastic options to make with these colors. 
6. Jar spatula. Guys -- it has a hard tip that is slightly bent. It sole purpose in life is to get the stuff out of the bottom of a jar or...ICING BOTTLE?! Genius idea, if you ask me. Which you didn't. But you should have.
7. Condiment cars. They even come with a little spreader. You need these.
8. Another oddly shaped spatula. 

I also bought you some barbecue flavored Cheetos. But I ate them. I needed the space on the shelf. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Summer Squares


I don't have any kind of normal-person special skills. I can't run a mile in 5 minutes or paint a picture of a mountain that actually looks like a mountain. I've tried to learn to knit, twice. And failed, twice. I try to keep things scheduled on my calendar so I can stay all organized and on top of things, but I keep losing my calendar. I don't have meal plans. I don't clean my children's rooms or even my house with any kind of regularity. I get someone else to do my taxes and honestly, I don't even know HOW to change the oil in my car.

But you know what I'm really good at? Moving. I've had all sorts of practice in my life and I've got it down to an art. I don't even start getting ready until 48 hours before the big event. And I usually have everything unpacked and in place 48 hours after. USUALLY.  I was so ready for this move. I posted right before the move, and had a post waiting for the week after. It was going to be seamless. No one was going to know I was gone. Except that you did. Because, as it turns out, I'm only good at moving in America. Who knew that this one special talent of mine was geographically limited?

The moving system here is slightly different. The company brings in giant plastic bins and throws (gently places) all your highly valued materialistic goods inside of them, transports them to your new place of dwelling, and then unpacks them for you. The unpacking was my downfall. Every flat surface area in my house was covered with items. Even the floors. There was no organization to it. There were kitchen items in at least 3 different places. Bathroom items were located in every single room of my house. (House. I live in a house. It's so exciting I can hardly stand it.) I found my watch in a pile with party balloons and laundry spray, next to the toothpaste and candles.

I'm totally not complaining. It was fantastic not having to deal with packing paper and boxes. It was even more wonderful not to have to figure out how to move all of my worldly belongings down 5 flights of stairs, across the country, and into a new house. And my very favorite part of the entire process is that picture right up there. Can you see that all of those things are being held in that truck with -- packing tape?! They drove that packing taped truck on the interstate, through Korea city traffic, and right up to my new house. That's some high quality packing tape right there. I'm so glad I didn't see that until it got safely to the other side. Now the memory can reside safely in the category of "hilarious" without being tainted by "worried for hours that I will never see anything on that truck again."

My point is that I couldn't find my camera until two days ago and I didn't find my card reader until last night. These cookies are from my "no oven" days in the old apartment. In case you can't tell....they are graham crackers.

When I made them, I thought I was being so clever. But now that I'm looking at the pictures, I realize they are a little more on the cryptic side. My husband could only identify three of them, which was only one more than my 5 year old. They both got the watermelon right. What do YOU think they are? 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cookies That Look Like Waffles



Remember that super funny joke from last week about my oven being broken? Still true. It's the electronic spark thing that isn't working. I really wanted to make a certain set of cookies last week that I had been planning, dreaming, sketching, and basically decorating in my sleep this entire summer. I thought that if the gas was working, I could maybe just light the oven myself. You know, with a tiny lighter that I would have to get right next to the gas to be able to use. It seemed like a perfect plan. I took out the oven racks. I took off the metal shield. I looked at the gas distributor and the lighter in my hand - a hand, might I add, that I am particularly fond of...and I gave up.

Also, the electric transformer box for my microwave blew a fuse. My only options for replacing it is to speak Korean. Or buy a new transformer box in the next town over. Neither of which is likely to happen. Because...and here's my big secret reveal...I am moving. Okay, it's not that exciting. I will still be in South Korea.

Since I'm not about to replace or repair anything 4 days before I move, my main form of heating/baking/cooking anything is the stovetop.  While I did figure out how to bake chocolate cookies in a pot this week, it's not so great for sugar cookies. And after a couple of years of making decorated cookies... this super crazy thing happened...my kids are a teensy bit hooked on them. They have lost their innate ability to eat dinner in a completely civilized manner-- that does not include food in their hair, on the wall, or carefully applied to the table-- without a frosting covered cookie waiting somewhere for them. It's a little depressing to be honest. I thought my children were so well-adjusted, so polite and charming, and now, to find that it all boils down to the lure of a delightfully decorated sugar product... it's a bit overwhelming. I'm not really sure where to go from here. At least I wasn't until I remembered this fantastic concoction from my childhood.

Waffle Iron Cookies


1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups flour

Pre-heat waffle iron. (And by that, I mean -- plug it in.) Cream butter and sugar in a small mixing bowl. Add eggs, salt, and baking powder. Mix well. Add cocoa powder and stir gently to combine. Mix in flour. Lightly spray waffle iron with pan spray. Drop 2-4 little blobs of chocolatey cookie dough goodness on the iron. Bake for exactly 60 seconds. Use a fork to lift out of the waffle iron. Serve as soon as they are cool to eat.

Or...wait for a couple of hours and put some butter cream and sprinkles on them. It's practically guaranteed** to convince your children to behave appropriately at meals.

**This statement has not been tested by a third-party  or even a second-party really, and as such can not be construed as an actual guarantee or warranty or anything at all that would make you think you can get mad at me if it doesn't work. But you should totally try it, because seriously, what could be more fun than making cookies in a waffle iron and then covering them with a sweet buttery happiness and sprinkles?!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Making Cookies From a Mold


Remember that super funny joke I told you last week where I said I wasn't going to leave you hanging on the whole "making molds and making cookies" thing and that I would be RIGHT BACK to tell you the rest of it? That was hilarious. Best joke of my life.

Even better than the joke I told my husband about how I'm going to fill my kids' days with super fun and exciting learning activities that engage their minds and inspire them to reach their full potential as amazing little human beings of amazingness ...and then I let them watch Korean cartoons before breakfast.

It was also better than the joke where my oven broke.

And better than the joke where I told myself I'm going to go to sleep early. And not read cookie blogs and cookie facebook posts into the wee hours of the morning. (Although, that one really was funny. Ha ha ha. I still laugh just thinking about it.)

Wow. When you put them all together like that...it kind of makes me realize that I am telling a lot of funny jokes these days. I bet that secretly, my kids just love being around me all day long. They probably just want to pretend that I'm not any fun at all because they are hoping to someday become big, famous movie stars and they need to practice. I should go tell them that they are really talented. And then maybe I should tell them another joke. Ooh, I'll them the joke about how they have to pick up their own toys because I'm not going to do it for them. That's a good one.

You know what's NOT a joke? You can make these cookies from start to finish in under an hour. Seriously, I don't kid around about stuff like that.


1) Grab a ball of cookie dough. Roll it around in your hands a couple of times so there aren't big ol' gaping crevices. Little crevices are fine.
2) Mush it down on top of your mold. (Instructions to make your own HERE.) You can use a rolling pin if you want to. I didn't want to. I wanted character in these cookies. Good old fashioned American character in the form of lumpiness and unevenness. The kind of character that puts hair on your chest and umm....that was awkward....
3) Flip the mold and lumpy cookie dough over onto a baking sheet. The cookie dough should just plop right out. (Plop? That's kind of a weird word when you say it out loud.)
4) Use a scalloped cutter, or a round cutter, or any shape cutter really, to cut around the molded part. Bake. Allow to cool.


This is my very favorite part of all. Buy some Americolor gold AIRBRUSH color. Pour some into the lid. Grab a food-safe paintbrush and quickly brush the gold color over the raised part of the cookie. The design will pop right out. (In a good way. Not in the way where you have to pick it up off the floor and try to re-attach it, but it never quite fits back together.) If you want to, you could also add a nice gilded border.


HINTS:
** It is REALLY important that you use a NON-SPREADING recipe for molded cookies. I used my vanilla recipe, but my chocolate recipe works just as well. (I used the chocolate with THESE cameo cookies.)
** I baked my cookies for an extra 2 minutes because the center part is thicker than I usually roll my cookies.
** The cookies looked puffy right when I took them out of the oven and I thought the design had been ruined. But as they cooled, the design stood out more and more. So...you know...remember that. 
** Make your own mold using THESE INSTRUCTIONS.
** If you don't want to make your own molds, you can always buy some. You can buy this design, or many others HERE at Decorate The Cake.

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