Sunday, January 27, 2013

Daring Once Again!

It's still January and I have a right to talk New Years Resolutions if I want to. The first one of mine was to teach a yoga class to other humans, instead of just doing it in front of a mirror at home. I have been wrestling with my self-confidence in this matter, even though I finished yoga teacher training over a year and a half ago. Somehow, with the assistance of very good friends, I finally muscled up the courage to research and rent a proper studio, plan a full class sequence, and choose soothing music to play along to it. As of last Friday I felt like a real yoga teacher, and I got my friends to stick their ass in the air like they just don't care.  

Other resolutions were: 

1) to stop being a broke ass
2) focus on career only, therefore ending the "odd job cycle," as I like to call it
3) get all belongings under one roof and stop being such a gypsy wanderer, or keep the wandering gypsy vibe, but know where things are...I haven't quite figured this one out yet
4) pay off undergraduate student loan, and a credit card (very doable)
5) get back to things I love doing, so that I see more projects through from start to finish 

Now to be fair, it's still January so I have time for the biggies on the list. I'm off to a good start though, and very proud to say that I am re-committing after a lengthy hiatus to The Daring Bakers. Doing a monthly assignment in the kitchen was always fun for me, and always a positive experience even if the project ended up a deflated soggy inedible mess. I don't know why I ever stopped. My kitchen isn't as well equipped as I think many of the other bloggers, but hey sometimes it's good to work with what you've got. I think the act of doing is better than thinking about doing, so here we are. I'm determined to make 2013 a year of positivity. Therefore, I am daring once again to try various things I never have before......

Francijn of Koken in de Brouwerij was our January 2013 Daring Bakers’ Hostess and she challenged us to make the traditional Dutch pastry, Gevulde Speculaas from scratch! That includes making our own spice mix, almond paste and dough! Delicious!

I'll be honest. I've never even heard of a GEVULDE SPECULAAS, and still have a hard time remembering how to spell it. Part of the recipe required me to make my own almond paste, which I have never done before. The almonds needed the skin taken off first and normally I would just buy them at the store that way. However since I am still a broke ass and already had almonds in the house with skin on, I had to boil them and rub them off by hand. This turned out to be no big deal at all.  

I also had to mix my own Speculaas Spice concoction, which created a lovely aroma in the kitchen.  It also finally gave me an opportunity to use white pepper, which hasn't left the pantry since Thanksgiving.  

I had some ugly mishaps, but you can't tell from the picture. I am reluctant to admit this, but hey we can't all be perfect.  Sometimes it's best to celebrate the journey and not so much the end result. So, the fact is that I rolled the dough far, far beyond the limits of the pan. I tried to get it right a few times, but ended up taking the easy way out and flopping it over itself. Then I woefully misunderstood how to roll out the almond paste and lost about a third of it in the process. It just clung on to the wrapping and I don't know how I thought it would magically just unwrap and lay it across the dough. Then I forgot to add the water to the egg, so there was a distinct egg smell that permeated the kitchen at first. There is even a bit of an eggy like area on top, which didn't properly soak in. Weirdly enough it's very yellow and I purposely framed the photos so you can't see it clearly. Ha! How about that for perfection? 

I figured it helps to cut them into bars! The taste is great and I would definitely try it again. Thanks Francijn for daring me to make this! Here's to starting the new year off right!