August 23, 2013

Tea biscuit attempt number three - inventing a recipe and closing in

UPDATE! 9/12/2013 Tea biscuit attempt number four

The search continues for the recipe for Termini's tea biscuits.  This time I invented a recipe of my own.  While I have made up my own recipes for cooking, the is the first time I've invented a recipe for baking.  This is tea biscuit attempt number three, and these are much closer than both previous attempts.

These tea biscuits are still bordering on savory, rather than sweet.  They need more sugar.  There is definitely vanilla extract in the tea biscuits.  I suspected it before, but having baked a batch with it in there, I'm sure now.  There needs to be more.  A tablespoon may already seem like a lot, but it's going into a dough with five cups of flour.  The dough is a mess.  Next time, I'll try chilling it, like I do with any other sticky, messy dough.  It usually makes it easier to work with.  I need to find a way to make the dough more workable.  Adjustments will be made.  I may cut back on the milk.  Oh, and Termini's tea biscuits have raisins in them.  I have to add those in a future attempt as well.  These aren't right, but I feel like I'm moving in the right direction.  I got eleven biscuits out of this recipe.  

5 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 1/2 tbs. baking powder
1 stick butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1 1/3 cups milk
4 eggs
1 tbs. vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
2.  Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse to mix together.  Add the chilled butter and pulse to cut the butter into the flour mixture.
3.  In a medium bowl, mix milk with three eggs.  Make sure the eggs are thoroughly mixed with the milk.  Then add the vanilla extract.  (I do all this in a liquid measuring cup instead of a bowl.)  
4.  Transfer the flour mixture to a large bowl.  Make a well in the center and pour the milk mixture into the well.  Use a fork to bring the dough together.
5.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed it together.  Pat it out to about an inch thick.  (It's too sticky to roll.)  Use a three inch biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits and transfer to baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  
6.  Beat the final egg for an egg wash.  Brush the top of the biscuits with the egg wash and bake for 14 minutes, until the tops are browned and the biscuits are baked through.  Transfer biscuits to a wire rack to cool.  

August 21, 2013

Sweet white scones - tea biscuit attempt number two

UPDATE! 9/12/2013 Tea biscuit attempt number four

I still need to figure out how to make Termini's tea biscuits.  These weren't good.

I would say that making these helped, in that it helped me get closer to the actual recipe.  The texture of these was closer, but the taste was bad.  These had way too much butter, but the wetter batter from extra milk/cream was good.  I think the texture of these is closer to the texture of Termini's tea biscuits than those from attempt number one.  I think the next attempt will have more sugar.  I'll add vanilla, too.  Attempt number three will be a recipe completely invented by me, so it may turn out to be the worst yet.  Onward!

August 20, 2013

Huzzah, New England!

A couple of weekends ago I made a trip up to New England to visit some friends.  In fact, I have two friends in New England whose names are Tim.  Henceforth, they shall be known as Boston Tim and NH Tim to differentiate between them.  I headed up on Thursday to Boston to see Boston Tim and his wife and daughter.  I got there early enough so that I had a few hours to kill before they got home from work.  Cambridge is awesomely walkable, so I parked at their place and headed to Harvard Square.  Of course I went to the Harvard Book Store.  I can't resist bookstores, and this one is pretty great.  It's huge, and the basement is all used books.  I didn't get to go to BerryLine last time I was up there, so I walked around the corner from the bookstore and got a smoothie.  YUM.

I spent some time wandering around a bit.  I popped into two different comic book stores looking for The Thrilling Adventure Hour graphic novel.  Success!  I was excited to find it.  The Thrilling Adventure Hour is, I will quote from their website, "A staged production in the style of old-time radio."  I listen to the podcast.  Many thanks to NH Tim for recommending it.  I can't mention The Thrilling Adventure Hour without pointing out my favorite bit, "Beyond Belief."  This part focuses on a pair of married mediums, played by Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster, who drink too much and are always having a good time.  I'm determined for some future Halloween to find someone to be a Frank Doyle to my Sadie.  Anyway, I bought The Thrilling Adventure Hour's first graphic novel and set out to find a place to read it.  This is when I came across Peet's Coffee.  I had only ever seen Peet's in the supermarket.  I was surprised to stumble upon an actual Peet's Cafe in Cambridge.  I got myself some coffee and sat outside.  I started reading the book and realized that I must have looked like an insane person, sitting there laughing out loud.  It was time to head to Boston Tim's place, anyway, so I put the book away and walked back.  For those familiar with Frank and Sadie Doyle:  CLINK!  

When I got to Boston Tim's, his daughter gave me a big hug.  I didn't think she would remember me.  It has been a few months since I've been there, and she is fairly young, but maybe she did.  Boston Tim had a contraption called Yonanas on his kitchen counter.  When I asked him about it, he wouldn't tell me what it did.  Instead, he got out some frozen fruit and made us mushed frozen fruit.  Okay, it tasted like sorbet.  I liked it.

Boston Tim and I both like to bake, although he is a much better baker than I am.  Hanging out with him usually leads to us discussing recipes and techniques.  This time was no exception.  He tried to give me some advice on my blueberry pie disaster.  He also made hot chocolate for me.  He did this because he knew I was going to Burdick's with NH Tim, and he insisted that he could make hot chocolate that was better than theirs.  Boston Tim's hot chocolate was excellent, but was it the best?  Keep reading.  Most of my friends don't like sports, so I had to get in lots of sports talk with Boston Tim while I was there.  Who doesn't want to talk about soccer?!  I don't know.  We played a soccer video game, too- FIFA '10.  Needless to say, Boston Tim kicked my ass.  He always does.  It reminded me of when we would play NHL '99 in college.  Tim was the master of NHL '99.  In FIFA '10, I played as Liverpool; Tim played as Arsenal.  Liverpool didn't humiliate themselves too badly at Anfield.  I lost by fewer goals each successive game.  I'm pleased that in the final game, I only lost 2-0!  Believe me, that's good against Tim.

Visiting Boston Tim also means that Boston Tim and his wife stuff me full of food.  We had some good stuff- lahmajun (Armenian pizza), mouhamara, Indian food, and the previously mentioned hot chocolate and Yonanas.  We also had some chocolate chip cookies that I had brought with me.  I'd like to point out that Tim didn't drink any of the hot chocolate himself.  He said it was crazy to drink hot chocolate in the summer.  I think it's crazy not to drink hot chocolate any time.

I got to spend some quality time with Tim's daughter, too.  There were lots of hugs.  I had stickers put on me.  I read to her, and we played catch.  She is a great kid.

I've known Boston Tim for almost twenty years.  It was great to be able to see him in person.  It was nice to be able to talk to an old friend.  Sometimes you need to talk in person instead of through texts and emails.

On Saturday morning, I left Boston and drove to New Hampshire to see NH Tim.  NH Tim packed lots of goodness into my visit.  We went to the fabled Burdick Chocolate for the previously mentioned hot chocolate.  They have several choices of hot chocolate.  I got a mix of milk and dark.  So, how was it?  It was amazing.  It was the best hot chocolate of all time.  That's right.  It was better than Boston Tim's.  I could drink this hot chocolate every day.  I want to try all of their hot chocolates!

NH Tim drove us around his section of New Hampshire.  It is incredibly beautiful there.  We went to an orchard on top of a huge hill, from which the view was spectacular.  We drove through a few local towns.  We stopped at a cool flea market.  Oh, and I saw the house where Ken Burns puts together his documentaries.  I thought that was neat, although I think NH Tim thought I was just humoring him when I said that.

Tim had some family stuff to do, so I snuggled with his kitties and watched a Too Cute! marathon at his place while he was out.  (NH Tim has an awesome dog and several awesome cats.)  That night, we played Cards Against Humanity with some of his friends.  After that, we watched some Rifftrax before calling it a night.

Sunday morning, I left the magical land of New England and drove home.  I had a great weekend.  Hooray to Boston Tim and his wife and NH Tim for having me stay with them.

August 4, 2013

Super fun weekend

Last month, I went to stay with my friends Josh and Jen for the weekend.  Our friend Tim was also there visiting.  It was a great weekend all around.


The Mutter Museum - Josh, Tim, and I went to Philadelphia to go to the Mutter Museum.  It's a museum of medical oddities.  We had talked about going together for some time, and this weekend, we finally got there.  Josh blogged about this himself, so I won't add much.  We saw the MEGACOLON.  It was cool.  I think I may have liked the dog and cat brains more, though.  Their brains were smaller than I would have thought, but their eyes were very large in comparison.

Capogiro - We got gelato at Capogiro.  It's only the best gelato ever.  I think my raving about it is the reason we ended up there.  Tim took a photo of his in which the gelato looked just as delicious as it tasted.  He posted it online somewhere, but I don't have the link for that.  Oops.

Cards Against Humanity - Cards Against Humanity is a card game that we played more than once over the weekend.  It's a lot of fun.  You play cards to make funny answers to questions or to fill in the blank sentences.  I can't explain it- follow the link to the website.

Adventure Time - I had never seen the cartoon Adventure Time before this weekend, but Tim changed that.  It's fantastic!  Josh may disagree with me on this.  I don't understand how anyone could not enjoy the adventures of Jake the dog and Finn the human.  Ahem.

MST3k - We are all fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000.  We had a mini-marathon of episodes late into the night.  Both Mike and Joel were represented.  I can always watch MST3k.

I had an awesome weekend.  My friends are the greatest.
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