Tuesday, October 25, 2011

M&Cs: The Chewiest Peanut Butter Cookies

Keeping in line with the Mount Holyoke theme below, I made some peanut butter cookies on Sunday in honor of the MHC tradition of Milk & Cookies (AKA M&Cs), with a recipe stolen from Ramshackle Glam (via Adeline), which I absolutely love.

For cookies, I almost always exclusively follow American-originated recipes: the cookies turn out soft, moist, and most importantly, CHEWY, like the beloved Toll House variety I used to have as a child.  British recipes tend to result in cookies that are slightly too crispy and crunchy to my liking (more akin to biscuits), though if I'm making a cake (especially Victoria sponge), I definitely turn to the wisdom of Mary Berry.

After a very yummy yoga class taught by Lauren on Sunday morning, she, Bindy, John, and I indulged in a sumptuous Sunday roast at The Winchester in Islington.  And while our stomachs groaned at the sight of the dessert menu, I insisted that we needed something sweet and decided to fulfill a craving for peanut butter cookies.  John muttered something about "time constraints", so in an act of defiance, I unfortunately bragged (rather loudly, in fact) that it'd take "20 minutes flat" to produce a batch of warm, chewy cookies.

I spent about 10 minutes looking for my mixer.

So it actually took me thirty minutes, but in the end, I ended up with some delicious, chewy, mouth-wateringly-aromatic peanut butter cookies.  WIN.

Though, when I took them into work, they were enjoyed by all but one - who remarked that they "could be crunchier".  I glowered.

So that got me thinking: how do YOU prefer your cookies?  Crunchy or chewy?  Leave your comments below and I just might send you a batch - just the way you like 'em.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Alumnae Elfing: On The Second Day Of Elfing ...

My elf is full of surprises.  I loved my first elfing gift below, but I didn't expect this to continue!

Sorting through yesterday's post this morning, I found a thick envelope with my name and address written in an unmistakably artistic scrawl accidentally tucked under one of our wooden placemats; turning the envelope over confirmed that it was from Anna and I smiled.

Enclosed was a card:

And a handful of handmade envelopes by Anna, who has her own shop on Etsy:

They're fun, beautiful, and one of the best gifts I've ever gotten across the Atlantic.  I love my elf.  Thanks, Anna!

Alumnae Elfing: It's a Women's College Thing

Recently, Vicky Chu of Wesleyan College came under fire after writing a rather scathing summation of women's colleges in her school paper (she transferred from Bryn Mawr), including the statement, "It really isn't normal."

As I sit with a cup of hot coffee in my Mount Holyoke hoodie in my London apartment, five years after graduation, mulling over Chu's comments (I have a few favorites - check out the Jezebel article I linked above and you'll know what I mean), I'm smirking.  Sorry it didn't work out for you, honey.  I hope you found "normal" real quick as soon as you transferred.

But I'm not normal, so I suppose MHC and I were a perfect fit.

And best of all, it's totally not normal to receive this amazing package on a Monday morning from a fellow MHC alum, two class years above me:

I was elfed.  You wouldn't get it, Vicky.  It's a women's college thing.

It ain't normal.

My elf was Le Petit Elephant AKA Anna.  Why the Peeps? You see, good elves know what their recipients like: Anna picked up on clues via Twitter, and knew to send me these amazing Halloween Peeps all the way from Cambridge, Massachusetts to my office desk, accompanied by an equally fantastic Halloween card.  It was a little too much kindness for a Monday morning and I must admit, I got a little teary (read: NOT NORMAL).

WARNING: Vicky, you might want to stop reading at this point, as I'm going to explain the elfing tradition and you might vomit at all the utterances of abnormality I'm about to make.

Elfing is a tradition that began in the Mount Holyoke residence halls sometime in the mid-60s.  Around this time each year, when the leaves on campus begin to turn a vibrant red, orange, and yellow and carloads of students flock to Atkins Farm for cider apple donuts, two sophomore roommates will quietly sneak down to the room of their two assigned first-year "elfees" - preferably when they're already asleep. As any elf can relate, this often means a) not sleeping, EVER b) setting an alarm for some bizarre time, like 3:17 a.m. or c) waking up very, very early.  They'll be armed with gifts, candy, cards, and magazine cutouts of celebrities whose thought bubbles contain compliments about the elfee, which are then taped to the walls of communal bathrooms (not quite what Chu might expect to find - see article for explanation).  Elves cover and decorate the dorm room door with streamers, newspaper, and banners.  Elfees awake in the morning to confusion, surprise, amusement, and then happiness.  This goes on, oh, every day for about a week, until the elves reveal their identities to their elfees at another MHC tradition called - wait for it - Milk & Cookies (or M&Cs, as true Mount Holyoke students refer to them).  I can't even fathom explaining that now because I can actually sense the disgust seething from Chu's person, even though we've never met (if we ever do, I suggest it be over a plate of chocolate chip cookies and a glass of ice cold milk).

IT'S NOT NORMAL.  But it sure is fun.

By the way ... have you heard about Mountain Day?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Going Back To My Coffee Roots: St. Martin's Coffee & Tea Merchants, Leicester

Lately, I've been refraining from my "You know what? I DESERVE IT!!!" purchases of soya vanilla lattes in the morning.  I actually don't deserve it if my bank balance is nearing zero.

I've never been a serious coffee drinker, which sends many into an incredulous state when I tell them that I hail from Seattle (or at least, a suburb south of Seattle).  "Isn't that like ... the BIRTHPLACE of STARBUCKS????" Brits ask in their distinctive intonation.  Sure, I visited the Starbucks drive-thrus in high school - but not because I particularly liked the stuff, more so because it was cool.  Cool to show up to first period AP American Government with a venti skinny double-shot caramel mocha in hand.

Now that I'm an A-D-U-L-T, I find that I increasingly require coffee to get me going and wine to help me unwind.  I call this: G-R-O-W-I-N-G U-P.  My mom likens it to dependency and is probably counting down the days I'm going to end up in rehab, either catatonic from caffeine overdose or in a permanently drunken state.

None of that's going to happen, of course.  But in order to tighten the purse strings, I've taken to making my own delicious coffee at work every morning in my shiny new, red Bodum cafetiere with coffee from St Martin's Tea & Coffee Merchants in Leicester - all courtesy of John's lovely mom, Alison, who bought me these lovely gifts on a shopping excursion to Leicester's city centre.

Cheers me up just looking at it (even though I'm still in my robe as I write this and will very well be late to work).

Back to the coffee: St. Martin's is, well, it's great.  I don't know anything about coffee, but it's the type of laid back, non-pretentious environment that makes all coffee appreciators - experienced and non-experienced alike - comfortable.  They hold regular "coffee tastings" outside the shop and you're always welcome to try before you buy, which is always a plus (and a must, if you don't know exactly what you like).  The staff is friendly, helpful, and chilled out.  They stock a variety of loose leaf teas as well, so if coffee isn't your thing, you're certain to find something that will appeal.  Location is also helpful: tucked in St. Martin's Square, the shop and cafe is situated between several quirky and artful boutiques, far removed from the hustle and bustle of the high street.  It's feasible to drop by just for a coffee with a friend and browse the shops for the rest of the afternoon without having to step foot into the busy shopping center if you don't want to.  And that kind of sums up what I love about it.

Though there's an online ordering facility available on their website, I'm tempted to make repeat trips up to Leicester just so I can stop by - it's that good.  More importantly, I'd rather support an independent establishment like St. Martin's in a city like Leicester, where the baristas' passion for coffee is inclusive, rather than the blank stares I receive on the other end of the counter in London - indie or not.   
© angloyankophile

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services - Click here for information.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig