Friday, September 28, 2012

The Keebler elves brought some team USA cookies but the Spanish treats were better

As previous posts might show we were a bit dependent on the Keebler elves over the last week.  Thanks to a special sale at CVS, a Rhode Island based business BTW, we got our hands on some of their products at a considerably more reasonable price than what you normally have to pay in a supermarket.  Keeblers Chips Deluxe is a pretty good commercial cookie. It is pretty thick and usually has a lot of chocolate chips.  These ones are deluxe because in addition there are M&Ms or something approximating them also on top of each cookie. In good mass produced fashion there managed to be exactly three on each of the cookies.  These were also a special Team USA edition to go with the Olympics so the M&M-like candies were red, white and blue. They could have been totally anal and put one of each color on each cookies but perhaps in the spirit of spontaneity they just let the chips fall where they may - get it?

The Keebler Elves are back
Supposedly rainbow but here just the red, white and blue!
A limited edition!  Should we have saved them?
Sponsoring the Olympics
Three rows of cookies...
...with exactly three M&Ms
Can't remember why his mug his here.
We had begun to dig in to the cookies when we were reminded that we had some other special Spanish sweets also available.  These were brought out and quickly supplanted the cookies as the goodie of interest.   We had two types empanadas and quesitos.  Many of you are probably familiar with empanadas.  However most times we encounter them they are stuffed with meat or vegetables and are served as appetizer or part of a regular meal.  It was explained to us though that depending upon where in the Spanish-speaking world they are made would also determine what they are stuffed with. In some places apparently they are a sweet treat and that is what we had today.  If you don't know they are dough that is stuffed with something and then closed to be like a turnover and then they are baked. The ones we had today featured tropical fillings of guava, coconut and pineapple.  They were very good although there probably could have been some more filling in them.

If they look familiar they are empanada with a sweet instead of salty filling!
In addition to the empanadas we had something called quesitos.  If you know that queso is the Spanish work for cheese and...ito at the end is a diminutive then you would have guessed correctly if these translate as little cheese things.  It was suggested the we warm them up a bit which we did. They were very good.  They tasted a little bit along the lines of a salty cheese danish. Of the two Spanish treats this was the favored one.  Nonetheless it was nice to tray both of them and we are grateful to the provider for continuously expanding our horizons.'

And these are quesitos!
They kind of look like small cheese danishes.
We girls have had these things for years!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A white nectarine gallette. Oh, if you're going bald it means you're smart!

One of our dedicated bakers came through again today with what appeared to be a free from pie made with nectarines.  In this case there was no pie pan and no top crust The nectarines were placed insided the dough which was curled up around the edges and then the whole thing was baked. There actually is a name for this - a nectarine gallette. We are not sure if the chef was aware that this is what it is called but we know our stuff.

Nectarine Gallette
This was very good.  It was not too sweet which is the way we like things. The nectarines were cooked but not to mush and the crust was very well done and from scratch to boot.  It did not come out of a box.  The whole thing is pretty simple and easy as pie - or technically easier than pie.

Nicely browned!
Plenty of fruit!
Well cooked but not turned to mush!
Lots of filling and a delicious crust!
A recent photoshopped image of one of our associated that gave him more hair on his head was a favorite with a lot of people including his wife.  We learned. however, that the Chinese consider hair loss as a sign of intelligence. It was explained that the brain actually gets hot from all the thinking and smartness so that the hair can no longer grow.  We take this to be one of those old tales from the past to explain something like male pattern baldness since there are not too many people walking around with hot brains. There are a lot of hotheads however.

I'm hot and I'm smart - just ask my follicles!
We also learned there is a well known Chinese hair loss treatment called Dr. Zhao's Fabao 101. ON the website it says - developed by the renowned dermatologist, Dr. Zhangguang Zhao, Fabao 101™  formulas for hair loss had received seven international awards. As reported in New York Times and Newsweek and other mainstream media, Fabao 101™ formulas are natural, safe and effective treatments proven to promote normal hair growth and rapidly improve existing hair. Given the price $150 for 100ml - we don't think we will get many takers especially when you can just Photoshop yourself a nice head of hair for posterity.
For only $150 you can maybe get some hair back!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Maybe she went to Portland after all...

Another of our research colleagues is graduating her pediatric gastroenterology fellowship program and moving on to a position in Maine.  Apparently her arrival at the new facility has been delayed and lo and behold she has been nominated for young investigator award as part of an upcoming research celebration for work tied to obesity and lower school performance in children.  Fatter kids may turn out dumber in other words. Nonetheless it was supposedly confirmed that she would be around today at cake hour so our provider went out and bought a special cake at the Vienna bakery - one of our favorites - in honor of the graduating fellow.

Always a favorite!
We were happy to combine our time for sweets with honoring our associate and friend.  There was only the slightest little problem in that she did now show up.  So there we were sitting with a cake with a congratulatory message and an absent honoree.  Oh well - that didn't stop us and we dug in.
Good looking chocolate mouse cake!

Well decorated with a special inscription!

Crushed chocolate on the sides adds to the joy!

Special message for our colleague..wherever she was!
The cake was a chocolate mousse cake.  This is always a good choice and a bizarre nutritional argument could be made that because the mousse is made largely of egg whites this is a source of protein in addition to a crap load of carbs.  That is stretching it, however.  Vienna Bakery does this cake well, however.  It uses a light chocolate whipped cream frosting, garnishes it with chocolate and white chocolate shavings and then has two cake layers surrounding the mousse.  It is sweet but not heavy and goes great with a cup of java.  We easily enjoyed it even in the absence of our graduate.

Not too much cake bu lots of mousse!

Just imagine all that protein!
That is interesting is that the person being feted is one and the same as the person who brought in the lovely fruit and ice cream for last Friday's cake hour as sort of a final contribution.  On that day she had to leave due to a problem with an infant child so we missed her then too.  This makes now two times that she was featured and not present.  Maybe she finally made it to Portland. Think of all the lucky children!  If not---where the hell was she!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Homemade Apple PIe with tales post colonoscopy

One of our amateur bakers has come through again.  She has bestowed upon us many a cake hour creation of various kind. Most of them have been very good cakes made with creativity and ambition.  Today however she tried her hand at a good homemade American Apple Pie.  This was made from scratch crust and all.  It is tempting to just pick up one of those premixed pie crusts but our baker would have none of it.

Nothing like a homemade pie!

Nice golden crust on top...
...and all around!  No burnt crust to be had here!
As you can see it looked gorgeous.  It fit perfectly into its dish and was evenly browned on the top and the bottom.  This in itself is admirable as these things tend to get overcooked and burned a lot. The apples on the interior were nicely cooked with appropriate cinnamon and were not overly sweetened.  The latter being a flaw in a lot of apple pies. Also, all too frequently the apples are not well cooked but that was not the case here.  The crust was soft and moist without being mushy neither on the top nor on the bottom.  Pie crust is not an easy task so kudos to the cook for taking on learning how to make the perfect one. We'll be the guinea pigs any old time.
A bit of ice cream would have been perfect!
Ample amounts of cinammon apples!
Today we heard either the sorrowful or comical tale of what not to do post-colonoscopy. Presuming one undergoes the procedure and afterwards is still under the influence of some anesthesia, who would opt to go to a meeting and discuss a manuscript for publication.  Not many but apparently there is one out there who did.  As the item was the first thing on the agenda it probably did not seem like such bad idea - in there and then out to rest up and let the aftereffects of the procedure wear off.  Unfortunately the discussion of said manuscript got moved to a later slot on the agenda meaning a quick visit turned into a prolonged one. Watching the unfortunate person try to stay awake must have been interesting to say the least.  It was probably more fun than checking your electronic device at cake hour again or was he just checking to see if his coif was okay.
Mirror, mirror on my iPhone...
In case a hospital in Portland, Maine comes looking for a pediatric gastroenterologist we have no idea where the person is but apple pie might figure in.
Portland? I'll get thee someday if I'm not researcher of the year!

Monday, September 24, 2012

German Chocolate Cake and what's with homecoming?

German Chocolate Cake is sort of an American tradition. It doesn't really show up anywhere in Germany and I have been there a lot. But that's not surprising because it is actually named after a man named Sam German and was originally called German's chocolate cake.  We have had this several times before but haven't seen one recently so it was a nice surprise to encounter at cake hour.
Bringing back a favorite!

It's the all American German Chocolate Cake
As you should know it s a layered chocolate cake filled and topped with a coconut-pecan frosting. The filling and/or topping is a caramel made with egg yolks and evaporated milk; once the caramel is cooked, coconut and pecans are stirred in. Usually a chocolate frosting is spread on the sides of the cake and piped around the circumference of the layers to hold in the filling. 
The classic caramel coconut pecan topping.!
Nice ridge of chocolate frosting to finish the top!
Today's offering fit the bill and was largely as expected however there was a variation that we had not encountered before which had crushed chocolate and shaved coconut added to the outside of the cake that gave it a speckled appearance different from the usual chocolate frosting.  This was creative and since it added more coconut to the cake a tasty addition.  This was a commercial cake but fresh and moist as it should be.  We did notice that it said it was made with Belgian chocolate so does that make this German Belgian Chocolate Cake.  Who cares?
Crumbled chocolate, coconut and nuts on the sides - a new twist!
Moist chocolate cake with frosting between the layers.
This is/was homecoming weekend for the University football team with all the celebration that ensues. Apparently it is not as festive as it is in some high schools and is to some extent mainly to get the alumni to show up to make donations.  In high schools there is the game and then the obligatory homecoming dance that some places take very seriously. This caused some to wonder out loud why the football team is showered with this homecoming tradition and not the other sports teams.  When they come back from the road is that also not a homecoming? If you have a crappy football team but a champion lacrosse team why wouldn't their homecoming be the featured event.  Could there also be a basketball or baseball homecoming especially since those sports play more games anyway.  And why is there only one designated homecoming when the team is back and forth.  This could be some basis for discussion but chances are it would go nowhere. It is just one of those ritual things that gets done with no questions asked..until cake hour that is!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Thanks for the treats - sorry you weren't there!

Instead of a cake today we had a lovely fruit medley of berries and grapes and with it some nice vanilla ice cream.  It was a nice treat and we are fine whenever someone opts not to bring a cake but some other wholesome sweet instead.  This also allows those with a gluten allergy to join in. Not that we are insensitive it's just the way that it is that cakes are made with flour which contains that pesky gluten!
It doesn't have to be a cake!

Good old Friendly's!
Great fruit mélange in a bowl from Ikea!!
The berries were nicely presented in a wooden bowl courtesy of Ikea. They were good and sweet as were the grapes and the ice cream was a hit complement.  As our colleague who brought the goodies is going to be leaving soon we were looking forward to enjoying her largesse and her company prior to her departure. Unfortunately family life intervened and because of concern over an accident involving an infant child our friend had to rush off for reassurance so we got to enjoy the goodies with the colleague in absentia. But family comes first and cake hour somewhere else down the list of priorities - for some. Fortunately the kid was fine so we could enjoy everything without any subsequent guilt feelings.
Fresh and delicious!

A tasty gluten free treat!
The merits of regular routine checkups was part of the discussion today.  Some people were questioning the value of going to the doctor and being weighed or tested too frequently.  The scenario was described thus - you go to the doctor, you are weighed and find out you weigh more than expected and respond "why did you do that, now I'm depressed."   The same could be said for blood pressure monitoring. So is it better to know or would everyone feel better no knowing. The answer to that could have grave consequences for the health care system.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Some new cookies to try out!

We occasionally stop by and pick up some cookies at a local gourmet store..."Gourmet Heaven".  The name is a bit of a stretch but they do have some good products and also a decent variety of imported things.  Some of them are like Ritter Bars that are somewhat plebian in Europe but become "gourmet" when brought over here.  They also become a lot more expensive!
Two types of cookies today!

Cookie Place doing social service work!

We have no idea who Cindy is but we'll try the cookies!
They usually have some different kinds of cookies. Today we sampled a few from "The Cookie Place" and also some from "Cindy's Homestyle Cookies". The two made for a good contrast.  We got a mixed selection from "The Cookie Place."  This is a nonprofit that makes cookies and  does social work in the process. The selection included some obligatory flavors including chocolate chip, macadamia chip, oatmeal raisin, and peanut butter.  These cookies are good and indeed are deemed best in Rhode Island by some.  They are good and pretty standard in size, texture and taste. They are not extraordinary but a good investment if you are hankering for some sweets and they serve a good cause.

We went for the assorted!
And this was the assortment!
Can you guess the types of cookies!
Cindy's Homestyle Cookies we had not seen before. The packaging, which consisted of a plastic cylinder, was interesting and allowed you to see what was inside.  These were different than those from The Cookie Place.  We suspect that they probably had a proportion that leaned toward more butter and sugar and away from flour.  As  result they were flatter and had a bit more of the brown or caramelized sugar taste.  They were regrettably a little light on the chocolate chips but most commercial cookies are.  We did like these and the two made for a nice contrast.

Seemingly baked well done compared to The Cookie Place!
A few more chocolate chips might be in order!