Not in but not out!

About a month ago, I signed up for the Project Food Blog contest and today was the announcement of the result. Me? I didn’t advance to the next stage BUT it’s not the end of the world!

Through this contest, I realised there were MANY out there who were interested in food, be it cooking or baking them, eating (but of course!) and taking photographs and writing about them and there is really a BIG community out there! It was indeed an eye-opener and I was inspired by them in many ways.

So, I’m not in but I’m still cooking/baking all the same! Having received the gift, I decided to use it just to make sure it functions well. It’s blueberry muffins, following MS’ recipe. Easy bake and I’m all set for a day trip tomorrow! To my friends who have been working real hard for the Olive run and fellow contestants who have advanced, here’s s treat for you! Enjoy the next stage! I’ll be following closely! =)

I’m the proud owner of…

…a KitchenAid standmixer! Woohoo! It finally came!

Some of you may know that I have been looking forward to owning a KitchenAid standmixer for months. A few entries ago, I wrote about the possibility of purchasing one here since the price is much cheaper in the US. Of course, the dilemma was to make a choice between sending it back home and risk damaging it (different voltage) or to sell it off online. I have not made a decision yet.

So, I was brooding over it when the hubs decided to buy anyway. I decided to choose a refurbished Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer since according to most review, they work really fine. In fact, these factory-reconditioned ones may not be spoilt in the first place. According to one reviewer, the main reason why they are returned to the factory is a result of people receiving the 5-Quart Mixer as a gift (Wedding Shower, Wedding, Anniversary, New Home, etc.) and deciding that they already have one or that they don’t have the need for a new mixer. Thus, the product is returned, often never opened, to the retail store and then shipped back to the factory. Of course, there will be some that are out of order or facing some damage and have to be refurbished. Since they go through strict QC, I reckon it won’t hurt to buy a re-conditioned one as it MAY only be in my hands for a year only. =(

In any case, I’m happy that the hubs supported me by buying for me. It is a dream come true really!

The dream unfolds here.

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In my reading of the cookbooks, I came across terms/methods which LOOKED familiar but didn’t really make sense to me. So, I resolved to look them up! These are taken from CIA’s Culinary Boot Camp.

Basket method
A method for deep frying in which the food is placed in fryer baskets, which are then immersed in the fat. The preferred deep-frying method for breaded items and many small items such as french fries.

To cook an item briefly in boiling water or hot fat before finishing or storing it. Blanched food is usually cooled, or “shocked”, immediately after cooking in an ice-water bath.

A cooking method in which the main item, usually meat, is seared in fat, then simmered in stock or another liquid in a covered vessel. The cooking liquid is then reduced and used as the basis of a sauce.

To cook by means of a radiant heat source placed above the food.

To cook an item until the sugars in it brown. The temperature range in which sugar caramelises is 320 F to 360F.

To rapidly boil a food (usually a vegetable) to minimise cooking time and retain colour and texture. An item is never parboiled longer than 7 minutes. Parboiled vegetables are usually shocked in ice water and held to be finished before service.

To cook gently in simmering liquid that is 160F to 185F. Shallow poaching is gentle cooking in a shallow pan of simmering liquid. The liquid is often reduced and used for the sauce. Deep poaching is gentle cooking in which food is completely submerged.

To cook quickly in a small amount of fat in a pan on top of the stove.

To brown the surface of food in fat over high heat before finishing by another method (e.g. braising or roasting) in order to add flavour.