If you don’t already have mini ice cream/cookie scoop in your kitchen, treat yourself to one of two. They are a time saver when working with a wet cookie dough or when trying for consistent-sized cookies. I prefer the small one often used as a melon baller for this recipe (1/2 tablespoon). The cookies with spread during baking so a little dough goes a long way.
A Vlogmas Spin-a-long with a Sweet Treat at the End
The countdown to Christmas is fully underway. This year for Vlogmas, a YouTuber’s countdown, I decided to find a way to take a break from the hectic pace of Christmas, at least for a few moments each day.
With that goal in mind, each day I am spinning a small bundle of fiber, enjoying a tiny chocolate treat, and choosing a rejuvenating suggestion from a jar I filled with suggestions back before Vlogmas began. So far in the first days of December, I have crafted with beads, made a savory treat, tried a new embroidery design, and started reading a new book. Today when I withdrew the small folded paper from the jar, I was delighted to see that it suggested I make a sweet treat. I’ve been looking forward to this suggestion appearing because I have a brownie recipe I have been wanting to share.
A few months back during the heat of summer, I invested in a small convection oven, marketed as an air fryer, it really is just a fancy toaster oven, but with excellent versatility that past toasters lacked. There didn’t seem much sense in heating up the house by using the large oven during the summer months, now that my husband and I are empty-nesters again. A smaller oven would heat up the house less and would correspond with our smaller food preparation needs. It was the perfect solution with just one hurdle to cross – smaller batch recipes. Cooking, and especially baking, just for two is not the easiest thing to accomplish. Most recipes are designed for feeding 4-6 people. Cakes and pies are especially difficult. The humidity and the heat of Virginia makes sweets treats fuzz up quite quickly unless they are refrigerated, and there is nothing that makes a crisp pastry go limp like refrigeration.
So with new mini-oven and a goal to make smaller portions of favorite foods, I embarked on an Autumn of culinary experimentation. In my previous blog, I share some of my Autumn favorites, but now the temperature have turned cold chocolate is what is needed.
After years of a love-hate relationship with the classic American dessert, the Brownie, I have finally figured out a recipe both my husband and I will consume with joy. It has both crisp bits and gooey bits, and is small enough to bake in an 8″ x 8″ (200mmx200mm) baking pan that fits just perfectly in my Instant Vortex Air Fryer. I am sure the recipe would also work in a regular oven or full-sized convection oven with just the minimal baking time/temperature adjustments.
I hope you find joy in this basic, but tasty comfort food.
If you choose to take a few moments and watch my Vlogmas video, you will also hear how I stumbled upon a second chocolate delight when a foggy brain necessitated making a second dessert.
By simply adding extra sour cream (about 3 tablespoons total) and steaming it in a pressure cooker for 60 minutes, rather than having a Brownie, you will have a Chocolate Steamed Pudding instead. If you have never made a cake in a pressure cooker, I highly recommend looking up Instant Pot recipes by Amy & Jacky at https://www.pressurecookrecipes.com/
The spices of the holiday season evoke memories of family get-togethers, fresh-from-the-oven baked foods, and warm beverages. Recreating these tastes and smells can lead to an overabundance that is not always a good thing. Figuring out how to make smaller batches of spicy treats has been my goal these past few months, and I am ready to share the results.
This blog coincides and supports my latest vlog where I talk about the fun I have had making pies for a household of two. As I mention in my vlog, I use an Instant Vortex Air Fryer, which is just a fancy name for convection toaster oven. There are other mini convection oven/toasters on the market, but this is the brand I have used. The recipes I am sharing can easily be made in a regular oven or convection oven, but during those hot late-summer months, it was so very nice to have recipes that could be made in a small oven and didn’t heat up the kitchen.
I hope you check out my video and enjoy these spiced up treats.
After three months of spinning and knitting, I not only have a finished shawl, but I also have a pattern. I love how this worked out and I will be making another just as soon as I spin up another fleece.
Check out my latest video where I show-n-tell this capelette and share some of my unwinding with fiber and fabric.
Regardless of whatever caused the need to heal, learning that it is okay to laugh even as the healing continues is an important lesson. Laughing can be a way to cope and a way to reconnect with joy. As long as there is empathy, and there is no malice, laughter can be just the medicine our bodies and minds need.
In a world where we are becoming more conscientious of how our actions affect those around us, we need to pause and consider how laughter can be a harm rather than a help. Empathy helps us recognize that even with the absence of malice, laughter can hurt rather than heal.
Empathy is vital for healing laughter even when the only one in the room is ourselves.
I spend a good deal of time laughing through my struggles, especially in my little videos/vlogs. I have had time to face and process my body’s rebellion over the last few decades. I have cried my tears, gnashed my teeth, and shouted my anger. I allow myself to acknowledge frustration rather than bottle it up like I did for so long. My family can attest to the fact that I suffer in relative silence when I am in physical pain, but I am a mess when I have a head cold – a completely sad mess. I can laugh at how ridiculous I behave when the sniffles prove to be from a virus rather than seasonal allergies. I can laugh at myself, and I can even encourage my family to chuckle with me because I have learned that I don’t always need to be strong, resilient, or stoic in the face of illness or infirmity.
Empathy is the ability to share the feelings of another.
Life is teaching me that in order to have empathy for others, we must have empathy for ourselves. We cannot have empathy for another if we do not allow ourselves to feel empathetic to our own struggles, pains, and frustrations. If we are always trying to feel perfect, look perfect, or be perfect, we will struggle to have empathy. Our laughter, even when lacking malice will not heal, but will have real potential for harm.
When I record and publish a vlog, I challenge myself to focus more on self-empathy and focus less focus on the blunders. It is my hope that as I joyfully laugh though my struggles, others can learn to give themselves permission to laugh as well.
I laugh, and I struggle, and I laugh some more in my latest video.
Sometimes when the mojo seems lost, looking at the everyday items around us can often provide inspiration. In this case, the packaging that made a frozen desert appealing, inspired a wooly fiber project. Working through the project helped the mojo resurface.
The mojo wasn’t lost, it was just buried under world-weariness and needed a lift.
The wise speak and quote truth, often universal truth that transcends time or has evolved due to time.
The manipulative misquotes, takes soundbites out of context, and re-writes the words of the wise for the purpose of self-interest.
Those seeking to become wise will spend time evaluating a source for its honesty, clarity, and truth. Those seeking to be led will simply believe that which confirms their desired state of being whether it is truth or falsehood.
Both will believe they have found truth, but only one will know that they have.
The journey of life can lead us to the certainty of the truths we seek, but only if we avoid the pitfalls that can come due to expectation.
Expectation can often be the biggest roadblock faced on any journey. Expectation can even scuttle a journey before it begins. Remember, expectation is only a belief in something, whereas, it is on the journey that certainty can be found.
Truth is both simple and complex – the greatest of all paradoxes. Truth is more than just a belief, it relies on a preponderance of evidence. Sometimes this evidence has little value or certainty for anyone other than ourselves, but that does not mean the evidence is not valid. It may simply mean that we are seeking a small understanding of something much greater than we are yet ready to perceive.
If we remember that expectation is simply the starting point – the hope, the belief, the dream – and that the journey provides the data, the trial, and the proof, then we should move beyond belief and gain the true knowledge life offers to teach us.