At first glance it might seem that I am just a happy, normal girl who loves to bake and walk her dog. However, I have suffered with an eating disorder since I was 13. It was only in May 2014 when I realised that this Voice in my head was slowly but surely trying to kill me. And so began the long, hard, and painful journey which is recovery...

I want My Cocoa Stained Apron to be a special place...a place for reflection, memories, shared stories...and of course a little bit of cocoa-staining ;) Recovery might be the hardest thing you ever choose to do in this life. But it is also the bravest and best decision you will ever make.:)

Sunday, 17 August 2014

A very, very quick update on recent baking activity.

Ganache-Elf wishes to apologise to her readers now: I did after all claim, in my first entry, that I was going to explain a bit more in my next post what exactly motivated me into creating this blog and what I hope to achieve in doing so. And of course I am going to, in the post which will follow this one. But after all, this is a baking blog and so I thought, since I have been particularly industrious in the kitchen of late, I had better give you a little taste of what I’ve been up to recently in the baking and cooking line. Through my baking and cooking movements, perhaps, you will begin to get a sense of what sort of cook the Ganache-Elf actually is.
Well…ok this isn’t quite as easy as I thought. Where do I begin? You see my problem here is that ever since we finished for summer on the 22nd of May I’ve been baking away in the kitchen as if the currently uninspiring Irish summer weather (uninspiring being a bit of an understatement right now, espiecally on this particular night. As we speak I can hear the rain drumming down upon the conservatory roof and the wind howling with such unnerving ferocity through the eucalyptus tree beside the kitchen window, anyone would think we’re in the middle of November or something. But that’s summer in Ireland for you.) is going to result in flour and butter shortages. (Which better not EVER happen, actually. A truly frightening consdieration for a baker like me.) So it’s difficult for me to even begin to tell you about what I’ve been baking recently, for what, after all, is recently? Does the term refer to the past few hours, days, weeks, or months??
 Here I go again, making a supposedly “quick” blog entry anything but that. Ok, perhaps it would be best if I just told you, for now, about what I baked and cooked yesterday (it’s now Saturday…the paragraph above was written last night. I did intend on finishing this then but all the blogging and baking had worn me out and so I went to bed early instead. Sorrrryyyyy!) and the day before that. Starting with Thursday. I did bake Wednesday but if I go into detail about what I made that day then my promise of being short and sweet with this second blog will look even more farcical than ever. So on Thursday I made something which I have wanted to make, by myself, for ages: ever since I tasted these gorgeous savoury treats in September of last year, when I moved into my new house in Dublin for the second year of college. My wonderful roommate - who is one of the most awesome bakers I know - had whipped up a batch of fragrant, soft, golden goat’s cheese buns a few hours before my arrival; and immediately offered me one as soon as I had dumped my bags of junk upon my new bed. I was hesitant at first- well, for one thing, you have to bear in mind that this was while all the eating disorder stuff was going on; and my first immediate thought on seeing the bun was “oh god I bet that’s fattening”. (I will go into more detail later on about these abnormal thoughts that I had, as I believe it’s important for me to clarify them to you if you want to understand exactly how a person with an eating disorder thinks and behaves.) And also, I had - well, not until recently, anyway - never been a fan of cheese and I had never ever had goat’s cheese before.
But I tried one anyway - and oh I’m so glad I did. They were absolutely delicious and unlike anything else I had really had before. To this day, goat’s cheese buns always remind me of my roommate, and those lovely evenings we spent together at our rented house. We were both bakers and chocolate-lovers so making something we both liked was never difficult. The contents of the little rubbish bags that served as waste-paper baskets in our room usually consisted mainly, alongside the usual piles of discarded scribbly notes which studying English inevitably brings, of Cadbury chocolate bar wrappers, Chocolate Finger packets, bun cases, and such like. We both loved to bake, though each of us had our own unique, individual style of baking and we often, during our special “baking nights” which I will forever look back upon with fondness, were to be found making entirely different things. And so, producing my own goat’s cheese buns in my own kitchen at home brought the memory of the time I spent with her and the fun we had. And, of course, from a more greedier point of view, I really wanted to make these for myself because I absolutely adore them. I love the soft sponginess of these buns; and the delicious studs of goat’s cheese which are distributed throughout each one. The cheese has a distinctive and delightful flavour and texture of its own which I love; and the way in which the top of each bun becomes wonderfully molten during baking - extra goat’s cheese is pressed gently into the uncooked balls of dough before they are placed in the oven - makes them oh-so-hard to resist. While they cooked, the tantalising smells that filled my kitchen could only be described as magical.
But! I have to be honest with you now and tell you that I wasn’t COMPLETLEY satisfied with my batch of buns. I’m not going to be too hard on myself, for it was, after all, my first time ever to make them; and I fear that I was so excited about getting them actually made I may have rushed a bit along the way and, consequently, wasn’t quite as attentive as I usually am when in “baking mode”. So why was I a little disappointed? Well, for one thing they didn’t taste quite as nice as my roommate’s did - they were still delicious, for sure, but I felt that my roommate’s were by far superior - and also, mine were HUGE. About the size of a hamburger!!  I wanted them a good size, but these ones were much, much too big. Eating one of these for a snack would be like having a small meal!! I’m not sure quite why they turned out like this. My recipe was supposed to yield nine buns, and I thought I’d make ten. And then I ended up with buns the size of cobs! Did I put too much yeast in? Or did the dough just rise more efficiently than usual as it was such a warm day? Well, hopefully I will be able to find out what went wrong on my second attempt at making them. Baking is after all like many things - practice really does make perfect and we have to learn from each and every little mistake made along the way.
Oh, dear, so much for “very very quick”, again. Well, I’ll try not to go into too much detail about what I made the following day so. The cookies whose aroma I was describing in the conclusion to my first post - they were the fruits of my labours on the Friday. I say cookies but I usually refer to this particular cookie recipe as Chocolate Drops. Why? Well, as you can see from the picture these scrummy little treats have a “drop” of chocolate ganache in their centre. I use the dampened handle of a wooden spoon to make an indentation in each cookie before baking, and, when they are cold, I fill each little groove with that wonderful, amazing, heavenly conconction known as GANACHE.
I sometimes am never really sure whether to assume or not whether people know what ganache is. Some don’t you see, whereas others are as crazy about it as I am. But let’s not get me started on the matter of Ganache now; as I believe that Ganache is such a fundamental aspect of my baking that it deserves a post entirely to itself. Let’s just say for now that if you have never eaten, made, or heard of ganache - well, I am determined to change all that on your behalf, if I achieve nothing else with this blog.
I cooked those days, too, of course - I will be quick, I will be quick, honest - : Thursday, chicken and coconut curry, and Friday, ham and chicken lasagne. Whenever I cook a chicken curry for my family, there’s always this little challenge for me to get the hotness of the curry just right. My Mam loves a bit of spice, but my poor Dad struggles a bit when it is too hot. With this particular curry, the hotness really depends on what chilli I choose to use. We buy the variety packs from Aldi so we get a mixture of chillis in each packet with varying levels of hotness. This particular time I used a very small yellow Scotch bonnet (on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the hottest, the Scotch bonnet ranks nine. Please don’t make the incorrect assumption that I’m an expert on chillis, as
I’m not. I’m only reading the little slip of paper stuck in with the chillis in their little box.). The chilli itself is tiny, but if your curry or spicy dish has one of these little beauties in it, you will know, trust me. Ham and chicken lasagne is one of my Mam’s favourites. Instead of the traditional lasagne made with ragu bolognaise, this one has layers of cooked chicken and ham in a creamy sauce instead. The lasagne sheets and the gorgeous covering of bubbly melted cheese on the top are still there too, of course. Surely a lasagne wouldn’t be a lasagne without those, now.
Ok, I think I’m done. Maybe I should just stop claiming my posts are going to be short - they never seem to turn out that way, after all. Perhaps for me, this blogging thing is going to be like baking. Once I get started, I just can’t stop.

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