nalohop's blog

French macarons; almost Paradise

The wrist I injured a week ago has been feeling much better today. It's still a bit swollen, but nowhere near as painful, and I can type again.

I declared this weekend one of forbidden foods. In other words, foods that aggravate my fibromyalgia and that I mostly avoid. I've been taking advantage of the temporary shift in diet to practise making French macarons. No, not macaroons. Those are made with shredded coconut. Macarons are made by combining meringue (whipped egg whites & sugar) with ground almonds to make little cookie sandwiches which are then filled with, for instance, flavored buttercream. Macarons are crunchy on the outside, a little chewy farther in, and then sweet and creamy at the centre. And addictive. There are only a few steps to making them, but they are finicky. It usually takes a few tries to get the hang of making a delicate meringue that's slightly glossy and perfectly smooth on top, not cracked or overly browned. Today was my fifth try. Here's how mine, alas, did not look:

But I'm getting closer. I'm finally getting something that looks more or less like macarons, though cosmetically, they are flawed; rough and matte on top, some of them cracked, many of them too browned, and none of them have the characteristic "feet" of a perfect macaron. But they look approximately right, and they taste delicious. There's a pic below. I made three flavours of buttercream filling; lime (added lime juice & zest), ginger (infused with fresh grated ginger), and balsamic sour cherry (sour cherry preserves mixed with cherry bordeau balsamic vinegar).

Recipe; gluten-free lemon raisin cookies

GLUTEN-FREE LEMON RAISIN COOKIES

(Typing thanks to Windows Speech Recognition)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

DRY INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/4 cups sweet rice flour
  • 3 tablespoons potato flour (not potato starch)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • WET INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon or lime zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup raisins
  • INSTRUCTIONS

  • Blend dry ingredients.
  • In separate bowl, cream butter & sugar.
  • Add eggs. Blend well.
  • Add vanilla and lemon zest. Blend.
  • Mix dry ingredients into wet.
  • Stir in raisins.
  • Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Scoop up cookie dough by the tablespoonful. Place onto cookie sheets. Flatten each slightly with the back of the spoon.
  • Bake until golden brown (about 10 - 12 minutes).
  • Cool before eating.
  • Gluing pixels together

    Spent the evening mocking up a page for the comic I'm oh, so very slowly working on. Just to give myself a sense of how I might use my source images. (I plan to use a lot of historical ephemera.) It felt as though I was cheerfully wasting time, but then I realized that this is my work. Sometimes I remember that I have one of the best jobs ever.

    Learning curve in yuh rass!

    I've been working for about an hour, but I doubt I've even written 200 words. Microsoft speech recognition and I are trying to train each other. It's being a job of work. Look at that! It got "job of work" in one go, but I still can't get it to understand "train each other". Only now it has. Bugger learns quickly. (I am also trying to teach it swear words, since I use so many of those in my writing.) It doesn't do so well with contractions, but I'm impressed that it's dealing relatively well with my speech patterns and accent. That's better than Siri can. Her speech recognition is so U.S.-centric that I've given up trying to talk to her at all. She can't help me with shite. (Now I'm having to teach the programme that "shite" isn't the same as "Shiite.")

    But I will have to teach it my Caribbean British spelling conventions, much as I have to do with many American copy-editors. I wonder whether it does HTML? Something to research. I've already learned that it doesn't work with Open Office. I guess it's no surprise that a Microsoft programme doesn't work with a rival open source programme.

    Using the MVR feels like when my teachers in primary school used to give us dictation. I'm trying the programme out, not only because my hands hurt, but because when I'm stuck in a writing project, it can help to switch modes. It can give you a new perspective on the piece, thus showing you a new way in. For instance, going from writing on the screen to writing by hand in a notebook. And perhaps going from visual to audio. We'll see. I've been teaching it the names of my characters in Blackheart Man, and also any neologisms I've created for the novel. I guess that's an issue peculiar to science fiction and fantasy writers.

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    Fascinating brain tricks

    In my ongoing ADHD-fuelled drive towards writing avoidance, I just, um, wrote. 500+ words, only not in the ongoing novel, but in a new short story altogether. Weird thing is, I think it's nearly done. I thought it'd be much longer than this. Mind you, I've been mistaken before.

    Sunday morning fruit salad

    Diced watermelon and cactus pears, shaved ginger, torn mint leaves, splash of tequila. I prefer the magenta cactus pears. To me, they have a slightly more mellow taste. Besides, I can't resist that vivid colour!

    Sister Mine is $2.99 on Kindle today!

    Sister Mine, my most recent novel, is a Kindle Daily Deal for today, September 20, 2013. $2.99 USD. Click the link to download.

    The Chaos wins Canada's "Copper Cylinder" Award

    I learned this past Monday that my novel The Chaos is one of the winners of the Copper Cylinder Award, voted on by the members of the Sunburst Award Society!

    The Copper Cylinder Award derives its name from the first Canadian scientific romance, "A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder," by James De Mille (1833-1880). See how cool that award looks? It's about as steampunk as steampunk gets.

    Congratulations to my fellow winner, Lesley Livingston, in the Young Adult category, for Starling. The Chaos is also a Young Adult novel, but it won in the Adult category. That confused me a bit, but the members have spoken, and I'm glad of it. Young Adult books are good reading for adults, too.