Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Because I admire cookbooks and blogs with excellent food photography, I long to use the new camera to create my own. Below is one of my early attempts. They're sugar cookies with a faint taste of almond, and while the photography will need work, I like the cookies just the way they are. They were made for Valentine's Day, and I gave some of them to friends and kept a few for us. But unless those friends can control themselve around cookies lots better than I can, they're gone already.

Valentine Sugar Cookies

Truck Stop Cinnamon Rolls

Big Fat Cinnamon Roll

I found the recipe for these great cinnamon rolls in the cookbook Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Traditions from Around the World by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.

I highly recommend this cookbook, and all cookbooks by Alford and Duguid. Even if each cookbook did not contain outstanding recipes collected from all around the world, I would recommend them for the photography alone. Home Baking, like every Alford & Duguid cookbook, would suffice as a coffee table book even if you never used it to actually bake. However, I wouldn't recommend the book to a first-time baker, because of the complexity of many of the recipes and because I've found some mistakes.

This recipe, for instance, contained a small error. If you use their proportions you will need to roll out your dough in two batches and you will create a couple of cookie sheets full of gigantic cinnamon rolls, not the single tray-full of twelve the authors describe. I halved the recipe to begin with because of the huge proportions, and not only was I lucky to squeeze all my rolls onto one large baking sheet, but, as you can see, each roll is the size of a large grapefruit. Cinnamon rolls don't get much bigger than this, even at truck stops.

I also made a mistake when I rolled the dough out. I always try very hard not to use unnecessary flour, which can toughen bread, but I went too far this time. As a result, the dough stuck to the board when I went to roll them up. If you've ever tried to make such a huge piece of dough covered in damp sugar and cinnamon into a jelly-shape roll you can appreciate that you don't need the extra level of difficulty caused by sticky dough. As a result, the rolls don't have the perfect spirals you see in the commercial version. But that's the great thing about baking. Even imperfect products can be delicious, and these were.

Next time, however, I might quarter the recipe or cut the rolls smaller. I found that a single cinnamon roll made for an almost too-filling breakfast.

Some of our more Elusive Pets

Spook Gives Rocco the Boot

Of course it would be nice to show pictures of each of my animals, but some are more difficult to photograph than others. Above you see our cat, attention-junkie Spook, nosing our gray cat Rocco aside. Spook, whenever possible, would rather not relinquish any human attention or camera time to another cat.

On the other hand, Jasmine, our calico cat, is very affectionate. In the following picture she's glad to have me pet her and photograph her, as long as it's okay for her to embed her claws in my hand:

Love Jasmine-Style

And finally Mr. Bear, below, would prefer to nap. He's got nothing against photography, he just wishes I would make an appointment with his secretary first.

Bear's Nap, Rudely Interrupted