Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Everyone is Important and Shortbread Responses

The Tattoo

That tattoo is a bit of expanding art. I believe I wrote about it last summer but cannot remember for sure. My first tattoo was the oil lamp-I got it to celebrate my Ph.D. in 2006. Many universities use this symbol to stand for love of learning. In 2010 I added to my tattoo when I hit two milestones almost simultaneously. I had a turtle added floating in smoke that comes out of the oil lamp. That piece was in celebration of losing 100 pounds. I really had no idea at the time that I would manage to lose 50 more! The turtle is somewhat tribal in design (turtles are an important folk animal in Southestern tribal tales) but also matches the ticker symbol for slow and steady wins the race that I have always had on my weightloss ticker.

Finally in answer to your questions-the words are in the Cherokee language. In 2010 my father and siblings registered for and were accepted into the Cherokee tribe. I had wanted to do so for some years but it took ages to convince my dad and get our paperwork in order. The words are in the Cherokee language. They are pronounced-NeeGAHD UhlSGAYduh and they mean: Everyone is Important.

Amanda-yes do keep me up to date on any band get togethers and I would LOVE LOVE LOVE a good shortbread recipe. I am willing to keep trying until I find a good one.


tessierose said...

Fascinating, thank you for sharing!

amandakiska said...

He gave it up pretty quickly - lol!


3/4 C. butter
1/4 C. granulated sugar
2 C. white flour

Mix the butter and sugar and then add the flour. If the dough is too crumbly, add a bit more butter. Roll into a log and rub brown sugar on the outside of the log. Slice before baking. Bake at 350 for about 20 mins. Remove immediately from the cookie sheet. If they're stored, they can be refrigerated.

Sandy Lee said...

Love your tattoo. And love the Cherokee words.

Here is the shortbread recipe I got from my SIL. It's the only one I will eat:

2 cups of butter
1 1/4 cup of icing sugar
4 cups of flour
Cream until fluffy. Bake at 275 for 15 minutes. They can be dipped, decorated or eaten plain.

Tina said...

ohhh I feel a shortbread bake-off in my future


Libby said...

Love the tattoo. Especially love that each part has a significant meaning to you.

I nominated you for an award. It is posted here -

Jacquie said...

Here is a recipe I swear by! It is from Ina Garten. I have made them with and without the chocolate. Either way, they are delish!

3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 to 7 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with a 3 by 1-inch finger-shaped cutter. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
When the cookies are cool, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Put 3 ounces of the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. (Don't trust your microwave timer; time it with your watch.) Stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to heat and stir in 30-second increments until the chocolate is just melted. Add the remaining chocolate and allow it to sit at room temperature, stirring often, until it's completely smooth. Stir vigorously until the chocolate is smooth and slightly cooled; stirring makes it glossier.
Drizzle 1/2 of each cookie with just enough chocolate to coat it.

Nella said...

Very cool!

TheManInTheChair said...

Having looked at these recipes, I'm seeing a number of different ratios, temperatures, sugar types and preps. There are lots more on the interwebs.

What I understand is that the dough deserves the low and slow treatment to prevent excessive browning.

I'm willing to try a little pH lifting (bicarb) or flavour boosting (sodium citrate) to make it more betterer.

We have a prized but ludicrously expensive, tiny bag of British 'plain' flour. But it's reserved for making crumpets. So all shortbreads will be made with AP flour or pastry flour.

Tina will have to keep her nose out of the preparation, so she can do blind testing.

Volume measurements are no good to me. I demand weight for consistent measuring. So for 1 cup of flour I'm going to use 4.5oz.

I can only assume that recipes without salt mean to use salted butter even though they don't say so. The salt in different butters vary, so you're just taking chances if you use salted. So I will use unsalted butter and add a controlled amount of salt.

The test baking session will be done whenever I get around to it.

Tina said...

All I had to say was a bunch of you gave me recipes for short bread..and you can see the result...baking is happening now in the kitchen.

Amber said...

I have been thinking about getting a tattoo once I reach my goal. I like how yours has very deep meaning to you and represents you meeting goals in your life. what tattoo would I like...

Gen said...

Very cool.

Bunny said...

Nice one. I love the turtle thingymajig. I must have missed that post. I noticed that your ticker is UNDER goal. You skrawny devil you!!! lets hope by July I can maybe be somewhere lower than I am now. I am thinkign maybe going for 2 pounds! PMSL!! Oh heck, who knows, but you FREAKING ROCK LADY!

Oh and somewhere on these dusty English kitchen shelves lies an archaic shortCAKE recipe... I shall dig it Mmmkay?

luv ya

TheManInTheChair said...

Two recipes have been tried. The first was undercooked an crumbled on the way out of the oven, but the taste was spot on.

The second was crunchy and tasted good, but was a bit too hard.

Tonight I have two more. One is in the oven right now. Given the temperature and timing in the recipe, it was obviously undercooked, so I've left it in for longer. The second is waiting for access to the oven. It's a generic ratio recipe off the internet.

Following these two, I'll have the data to come up with my perfect shortbread recipe, with proper measurements (all in weight), the preferred sugar type (normal, caster or icing) and the right temperature an timing. I'll probably have to cook three or four different variants to work out the best ratios.

TheManInTheChair said...

The two shortbreads cooked this evening were an improvement,but not perfect.

One first one came out nice, but it was obviously not done after the prescribed time in the oven. It was done after about and additional 45 minutes in the oven. I assume this is in part because I'm shaping it in the traditional round, segmented slab, rather than cookies and it's probably thicker than the recipe was designed for. Anyway it came out tender, short and not too hard. But there was still a little chewiness due to it still not being completely done in the middle. So it would be better when made either thinner or cooked longer and at a lower temperature to avoid browning.

The other, of the interwebs, called for 1:2:3 Caster Sugar:Butter:Flour.
But they mean by volume, so by weight it's close to 1:2:2. I.E. Equal amounts of flour and butter.
This is assuming European butter (86% milkfat) rather than US butter (80% milkfat) but it's still a lot of butter to flour. So the dough got a lot thinner while cooking. It spread out as the butter melted. This was not part of the plan. It came out tender, short, crumbly and cooked all the way through. This was the best result so far, but it lacked the defined edge shape I want.

A side by side of these two with a real Walkers had the two home cooked beating Walkers on taste and the 1:2:2 with caster sugar beating walkers on texture also.

Next on the list is to have a shot at combining the best of these and apply a bit of logic to the process.

By weight I'm going to try 2:4:5 and 2:4:6 sugar, butter and flour. I will use caster sugar, since that's worked out best so far. I will add vanilla, since the one with vanilla had a better depth of flavour beyond the butter taste. To avoid the deformation and to be in keeping with the traditional methods of making it, I'm going to make a batch to reach the desired thickness (about 1cm) when squished into a 9" cake pan. In the cake pan it won't be able to spread.
I'm going to have to experiment with time and temperature, but I expect lower and slower will be what works out best.