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David T. Cole

Small Talk: Afternoon Tea

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The Small Talk topic is for:

  • Introductions
  • Off-topic chatter
  • Having virtual tea with forum buddies

This is NOT a topic for actual show discussion. When you want to talk about the show:
  1. Figure out the nature of the topic you want to talk about
  2. Look for an existing topic that matches or fits
  3. If there is NOT an existing topic that fits, CREATE ONE!


Examples of topics that populate show forums include (but by no means are limited to):

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Happy trails beyond Small Talk!

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There are plenty of artisan bakers around, although please no Jim Lahey.

 

I'm curious, shandy, why not Jim Lahey? I've only seen him in those NYTimes videos with Mark Bittman.

 

Speaking of which, I did his no knead bread this month and I'm enjoying the technique. I have no counterspace in this new apartment and I do like to knead. It's just that I don't have the means so the no knead technique is wonderful for me.

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If I hadn't found the no knead recipe, I don't think i would've ever tried making bread. Not only do I not have space, I was nervous about having to do more with yeast than measure it. After a while, I got tired of the taste and found a recipe that used beer. All beer and no water didn't work well for me--the dough didn't rise enough and the crust was too thin. Now I'm using another recipe--half beer, half water, 1 T white vinegar. And then add more water because I was getting clumps of dry flour. I have no opinion of Jim Lahey, I've never seen or heard him, but I appreciate the no knead bread recipe that got me started.

Edited by ABay
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No huge reason, I like his easy pizza base, but he mumbles through his TV appearances which is a pet hate of mine, especially in cooking shows.

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No huge reason, I like his easy pizza base, but he mumbles through his TV appearances which is a pet hate of mine, especially in cooking shows.

 

I just took his pizza book out from the library actually. I don't eat a lot of pizza (rarely to be honest), but it's always good to have a go-to pizza crust just in case.

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Hi, Is this an appropriate place for general baking talk that springs from watching episodes?  For example, in watching season 3, I'm curious...what's the difference between creme caramel and flan?  

 

(sorry if this is the wrong place)

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Hi, Is this an appropriate place for general baking talk that springs from watching episodes?  For example, in watching season 3, I'm curious...what's the difference between creme caramel and flan?  

 

(sorry if this is the wrong place)

 

Yep, we can talk general baking here. PTV forums also has a Food forum.

 

Wikipedia has this answer about the word flan and creme caramel:

 

 

Both crème caramel (French 'caramel pudding') and flan are French names, but flan has come to have different meanings in different regions.

In Spanish-speaking countries and in North America, flan refers to crème caramel. This was originally a Spanish usage, but the dish is now best known in the United States in a Latin American context. Elsewhere, including in Britain, a flan is a type of tart somewhat like a quiche.

 

In Britain, I didn't really hear the word "flan" used for a quiche-like tart that often though. To me a flan = creme caramel.

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Here in the UK, although it can refer to a savoury quiche, generally when we hear 'flan' we think of a fruit flan like these: 

 

Pastry base

c76d835906d25b29f6e6300794682849.jpg

 

Sponge base

red-currant-peach-flan.jpg

 

Now you may cry "but they're tarts!" - indeed yes they can also be called tarts, (the only difference between a flan & a tart in the UK is that flans can also be savoury but tarts are always sweet) I offer no explanation for the logic behind it!

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When I lived in Austria you could buy bases made from spongecake for filling with fruit - called Obstboden, and the makers translated it as flan case on the packet, obviously for the British and Irish markets. I've seen these sponge shells in stores in Canada but can't remember what the 'official' name is! 

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I just read Emma Forth's blog post on the Princess cakes and have questions about the ingredients, mainly what is the US version of the British ingredients:

I saw three types of sugar:

Caster sugar - what is this? I thought maybe it's cane sugar until...

Cane sugar was also pictured

Icing sugar - my guess is that it is the same as powdered sugar

Then there's corn flour. Is that the same as US corn flour because that is not usually used in regular baking unless it's for gluten-free baking. But I know that what in the US is "wheat" can be called "corn" in other countries, and what is "corn" in the US can be called "maize."

I also saw a bag of "plain" flour. What is the difference between this and corn flour?

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I just read Emma Forth's blog post on the Princess cakes and have questions about the ingredients, mainly what is the US version of the British ingredients:

I saw three types of sugar:

Caster sugar - what is this? I thought maybe it's cane sugar until...

Cane sugar was also pictured

Icing sugar - my guess is that it is the same as powdered sugar

Then there's corn flour. Is that the same as US corn flour because that is not usually used in regular baking unless it's for gluten-free baking. But I know that what in the US is "wheat" can be called "corn" in other countries, and what is "corn" in the US can be called "maize."

I also saw a bag of "plain" flour. What is the difference between this and corn flour?

 

Caster sugar is superfine granulated white sugar. I usually substituted regular granulated sugar and it generally works.

 

Yes icing sugar = powdered.

 

Corn flour in UK recipes generally mean cornstarch. Not corn/polenta flour.

 

Plain flour is regular all purpose. In the UK, they often sell self-raising flour which has added baking powder and salt. To differentiate the two, plain denotes regular flour or AP flour for North Americans.

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What is a cream cake? I read this in British mysteries and the mystery to me is: what is that?

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What is a cream cake? I read this in British mysteries and the mystery to me is: what is that?

 

Depends on the context and region, but cream cakes can sometimes be a catch-all term for little cakes or small desserts you have with afternoon (high) tea such as scones (where you split in half and put cream or clotted cream), cream filled buns, choux pastry with cream in them (french horns, eclairs), etc.

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Caster sugar is superfine granulated white sugar. I usually substituted regular granulated sugar and it generally works.

 

Yes icing sugar = powdered.

 

Corn flour in UK recipes generally mean cornstarch. Not corn/polenta flour.

 

Plain flour is regular all purpose. In the UK, they often sell self-raising flour which has added baking powder and salt. To differentiate the two, plain denotes regular flour or AP flour for North Americans.

 

Agree with all of this with one caveat; depending on what you are using the sugar for, if you use granulated instead of caster, it can sometimes cause the finished product to have a grainy texture. 

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This is pretty far off topic but I have been puzzled by this for years.  During the course of the television show "Jewel in the Crown" (which I saw when it was originally run years ago) there was a gelatinous food that they called "shape" which looked like a blob to me.  I don't know if it was baked or not.  I am not sure what refrigeration was available during the period the "Jewel in the Crown" was filmed.  Searching for "shape" is a little daunting, as you can imagine.  Does anyone have a clue what this food is and what it tasted like?  I don't intend to cook it (it was pretty unappealing looking) but I have been curious for decades about this.  Any clue?  It showed up on their dinner table repeatedly so I assumed for them (the English in India) it was a common food, but my memory may be playing tricks on me.  Many thanks.

 

Maybe it was common in India, because I've never heard of anything like that called 'Shape' or even anything similar sounding, what course of the meal was it? 

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This is pretty far off topic but I have been puzzled by this for years.  During the course of the television show "Jewel in the Crown" (which I saw when it was originally run years ago) there was a gelatinous food that they called "shape" which looked like a blob to me. 

 

Was it a jelly? Jellies were very common in Victorian times (and even earlier). Queen Victoria loved them, and they came in all sorts of crazy sizes and they weren't always eaten either.

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I see that the Jewel in the Crown is in the middle of a rebroadcast on PBS. I'm fascinated by your question and hope someone gets to the bottom of it! I'll have to see if the already aired episodes are available on demand.

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All I can think of is something like these perhaps?

 

21eOAY0.gif

 

This is known as a Flummery.

 

mu2NYch.jpg

 

This one is called a jaunmange (spelling varies) which appears very similar to a blancmange.

 

The Victorians were partial to savoury versions of 'jellies' like these. 

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I know, I know! Pick me, pick me!

 

"Shape" is blancmange. Read all about it here.

 

(Slightly OT: The Jewel in the Crown has recently been remastered and re-released on DVD (with Alistair Cooke's episode introductions). I replaced my old DVDs with the new ones. I thought I'd just watch the first episode; I did, and it sent me straight back to the books for, I think, the fourth time. SO good. And the remastering looks significantly better, although it's not quite HD quality.

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I also recall encountering the word in my reading of classic British mysteries. I think it was in Josephine Tey's The Franchise Affair (1948). Marion, the accused, says to her lawyer on the phone something like "I'm rather glad you're not coming for dinner after all. I made a 'shape' but it didn't hold together." What I imagined turns out to have been pretty much right, but now I know for sure. Thanks!

 

One US/UK difference that I'm noticing in the series: when it comes to pies and tarts, in the US little tartlets are usually served and displayed free-standing, but a full-sized pie (fruit or custard) nearly always stays in its pan, from which pieces are cut and served. On this series, it seems invariable that all such items are baked in a two-piece which is then removed, allowing the pit or tart to stand on its own. Is that indeed invariable UK practice?

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I also recall encountering the word in my reading of classic British mysteries. I think it was in Josephine Tey's The Franchise Affair (1948). Marion, the accused, says to her lawyer on the phone something like "I'm rather glad you're not coming for dinner after all. I made a 'shape' but it didn't hold together." What I imagined turns out to have been pretty much right, but now I know for sure. Thanks!

 

One US/UK difference that I'm noticing in the series: when it comes to pies and tarts, in the US little tartlets are usually served and displayed free-standing, but a full-sized pie (fruit or custard) nearly always stays in its pan, from which pieces are cut and served. On this series, it seems invariable that all such items are baked in a two-piece which is then removed, allowing the pit or tart to stand on its own. Is that indeed invariable UK practice?

I can't really speak to UK practice, but it might reflect that, based on this show, pies are usually baked in straight sided pans like taller versions of tarts, which makes them sturdier than the slope sided US pies, which may collapse if unmolded.

I do vaguely remember in my long ago childhood my aunt in Wales making apple pies in pans similar to our US pie pans.

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One US/UK difference that I'm noticing in the series: when it comes to pies and tarts, in the US little tartlets are usually served and displayed free-standing, but a full-sized pie (fruit or custard) nearly always stays in its pan, from which pieces are cut and served. On this series, it seems invariable that all such items are baked in a two-piece which is then removed, allowing the pit or tart to stand on its own. Is that indeed invariable UK practice?

 

In my experience yes, we generally remove our pies from the baking tin, (especially when there are dinner guests) but not always. The 2 piece baking tin is very popular but by no means essential, it simply makes removal easier.

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Is flaky pastry similar to what we Americans use in pie dough? Or is it a laminated pastry? One thing is for sure, I have been highly motivated to return to my baking roots by this show. I've worked from a home office for four years now, so I never bake because I don't have a host of coworkers to eat it all up for me, but now I am inspired!

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Is flaky pastry similar to what we Americans use in pie dough? Or is it a laminated pastry? One thing is for sure, I have been highly motivated to return to my baking roots by this show. I've worked from a home office for four years now, so I never bake because I don't have a host of coworkers to eat it all up for me, but now I am inspired!

 

Americans typically use shortcrust pastry which is buttter/fat rubbed into the dry ingredients.

 

Flaky pastry that is used in pasties, sausage rolls, etc. is laminated pastry similar to puff pastry. I think the only real difference is the size of the fat used (more lumpy rather than rectangular as in puff).

 

Yes, I love baking for coworkers too, but I don't always work on site either so I don't get the chance to bake for a crowd that often.

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Having watched Tudor England Farm on PBS I wonder if more robust european pastry is an echo from when it was solely made to protect the contents inside from fire  and not meant to be eaten?

 

I'd love to try making puff pastry rather than depend on PFarm but I'm sure I'd have a disaster :-(

 

I wonder if the bake off has ever had someone use a Graham Cracker base (or British equivalent) - that's more my level!

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When they say "rough puff," they're referring to puff pastry, right? Also, why is it called"rough puff?". Sorry for hounding you with questions!

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When they say "rough puff," they're referring to puff pastry, right? Also, why is it called"rough puff?". Sorry for hounding you with questions!

 

True puff pastry is very time consuming. Even most professional kitchens do not make it in house because you need a certain temperature to make continuously.

 

Rough puff is a less intense version. There is still folding, chilling, layering, etc. It still takes more time than a basic shortcrust, but it's not as difficult as a true puff pastry. It's rough because it's like a cheater's version of puff pastry. Within the definition of rough puff, there are different methods of making laminated pastry, some quicker, some harder. It really depends on whose recipe you use and how layered you want it.

 

These questions are fun just like the show and baking in general for me. :)

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Love Mel, love Sue, love every single thing about the show. It's odd, but as I find myself less able to bake (progressive medical stuff), I still love this show and am inspired by it. I'd have thought that watching that the difficulty and creativity, things I have no hope of recreating, would make me feel worse that I have to find simpler and simpler ways to keep baking even once in awhile, but it's the opposite. It's just such a celebration of baking and so supportive. It inspires me to keep trying and feel good about whatever I manage. 

 

This past spring, my husband and I visited New Hampshire, and I had us cross over into Vermont to visit King Arthur Flour Baking Center. We ate at their cafe, shopped in their store, and watched the bakers bake bread. I saw a pan one of the bakers (Luis, I think?) used and lots of other fun things I could use to make my simple offerings look and taste a bit better. I know they sell this kind of stuff other places, but it was such a delight to be in a place that was all about baking. I may even go back to take one of their classes, one that is more about watching than doing (Gale Gand has some coming up, but the timing doesn't work). 

 

Got to look for those other versions! 

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The French version is called "Le Meilleur Pâtissier." I haven't needed to find an English subtitled version, but it's a feast for the eyes even if you don't understand French. I find it more intense because of the music and because the skill set of the amateurs is the highest of all the bake off shows. It airs usually in the autumn.

 

Thanks for the tip about the King Arthur Baking Centre. I was briefly in Vermont over the weekend and think it's such a lovely state. I'd definitely be open to going back and visiting the centre if i could.

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It's interesting how some techniques I'd never want to do, but others that may be 'difficult' seem easy or fun to me. I've made laminated pastry exactly once, and like Nadiya, filed it under "never make again"! Yet the chocolate soufflé she hated making seems actually worth the effort to me. (And didn't look that hard.)

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I just started watching the previous series, and was wondering is there an active thread devoted to pre-PBS episodes that I missed when looking for it? Thanks.

Edited by Athena · Reason: Removed streaming reference

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On 2016-08-15 at 9:44 AM, Enigma X said:

I just started watching the previous series, and was wondering is there an active thread devoted to pre-PBS episodes that I missed when looking for it? Thanks.

We have episode topics on all the seasons PBS has aired and since PTV forums went live. For earlier seasons, you can use the All Episodes Talk thread and the Former Contestants thread.

I have edited your post to remove the reference to a video site. We do not allow references to viewing the episodes in an unofficial (non PBS and non BBC) manner. Thank you.

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I miss this show so much I have found myself poring over cookbooks and websites trying to figure out what I would bake for each of the challenges. Despite the fact that 1) I am not British; 2) I do not bake. I mean, I can, but I don't; 3) my own personal tastes lean more towards savory than sweet, so I don't really have the appreciation for pastry that seems taken for granted in the show, and 4) I would have to teach myself things like cake decorating, bread-baking and meringue-making - from scratch. Oy. And still I fantasize and make my lists of recipes and try to imagine how I might tweak them for the British palate. To borrow a phrase from the site admins: I am not a crackpot.

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Calling all bakers! I am the sort of person who only made cakes from a mix until I started watching this show. Recently, I've tried making Mary Berry's Victoria sponge and lemon drizzle cake, and while they TASTE great, they both "slump" in the middle. What am I doing wrong? I've used very fresh ingredients (I saw online that too-old baking powder could be a culprit) and have measured the ingredients very carefully using a scale.

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On 2016-08-27 at 8:53 PM, trow125 said:

Calling all bakers! I am the sort of person who only made cakes from a mix until I started watching this show. Recently, I've tried making Mary Berry's Victoria sponge and lemon drizzle cake, and while they TASTE great, they both "slump" in the middle. What am I doing wrong? I've used very fresh ingredients (I saw online that too-old baking powder could be a culprit) and have measured the ingredients very carefully using a scale.

Hmmm. It could be the oven temperature or baking time? You can also try posting in the Food forum as there are more bakers and cooks in there who could help. Good luck!

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Try this, not sure if it actually works or is just a coincidence.   But something all the bakers in my family do who make some magnificent cakes (I do okay but I am more of an eater than a baker of cakes if I have my druthers).

First, always pour the batter into the middles of the cake pan and let spread out to the sides.  Be careful not to tip the pan to spread it but give it slight and gentle shimmy to even it out -- you don't want to loose the volume but apparently tipping the pan to even out the batter can cause the volume to shift even just in the tiniest amounts.   Also shifting the pan very very carefully is key when baking if there is any chance the oven's a little uneven in heat -- no oven is perfect but some have slight issues more than others whether that in baking can be more noticeable than baking say a lasagna or roasting meat etc.  

Make a point to notice when you open the door to check on your cake.  There are pitfalls to both an oven in a range and a wall oven.  A wall oven often can have a sturdier inset but that can mean the closing of the door invokes a greater inside pressure.  Range ovens sit on the floor and that can cause all sorts of normally unnoticeable quivers and quakes.  When I remodeled I splurged on a particular fridge and my contractor pointed out that the fan in it was so strong that it should not share a wall with the ovens since it put out a small but telling vibration particularly if the heat from the ovens was just enough to raise the cooling indicator on the fridge. And sure enough on a cold winter's day when every oven and stove was going and the dishwasher and the heat itself, I placed my hand on that wall and the fridge caused the slightest but still noticeable quiver. 

If none of this works try for the flat baking method so the heat doesn't push a dome to the center which causes more inclination to collapse.  there are tricks that I have never tried but you can google for flat cakes that involve putting a circle of buttered parchment paper on top of the cake as well as the bottom to keep the rise even.  Not sure about this but there are people who swear by it to make uniform even cakes that still taste great with perfect texture.

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Thanks for the replies! My mom thinks it's because there's a difference between British "self raising flour" (called for in both recipes) and U.S. "self rising flour." She made the lemon drizzle cake and it turned out perfectly. She's coming out to visit me next month, so I figure we'll bake some things together and I'll try to learn from her!

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I noticed that in Paul and Mary's "Master Class" episodes they weigh their ingredients instead of measuring them ex. putting in X many grams of flour rather than 2 cups of flour.  I have never heard of that before.  Is that what professional bakers do or it is a Brit/metric thing?   

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It's what professional bakers do, and it's grown in popularity for amateur bakers too, whether in the UK or US. (I've seen it recommended in cookbooks for a long time now -- at least as far back as Julia Child's new books in the 1980s.) Measuring by weight is more certain, as volumes can be deceptive -- they can vary for some ingredients depending on how they're measured and how they're packed into a container.

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I've found that weighing has been successful in making things like cookies, cakes and pastry.  But it still can be as much a miss for me as a hit when doing breads and I find it is easier and quicker to just go by volume measurements versus weight since I always have to give it a little tweak depending on the humidity, temperature, air pressure, phases of the moon, when Saturn rises over Jupiter, you name it.  I make my own bread mostly and I've just gotten the feel when it is right and sometimes that means adding a bit more oil than last time or a bit less flour. 

For cakes especially I have noticed it has made a real difference in the consistency.

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I've baked since I was little (am middle-aged now) and finally got a kitchen scale because of this show. I'm never going back. It's more accurate, for one thing, but also it's so much easier. No bothering with measuring cups. I made cookies yesterday and dirtied one bowl for dry ingredients, my Kitchen Aid bowl, and one spoon. I did a little research, then bought the scale that happens to be pictured here. I paid just under twenty bucks. 

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Quick breads and most cookies have a decent margin of error, so accuracy isn't such a big deal. But cakes, pastries, and more delicate creations do need that level of care.

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Thanks for the answers about weighing ingredients.  The few times I have baked from scratch I was not especially accurate in my measuring.  The first time I made cookies in my first apartment I did not have any measuring spoons or cups.  I used a coffee mug for my "measuring cup" and poured two cap fulls of vanilla in the bowl for flavoring.  They came out okay.  I told my grandmother about my first solo baking experience and she promptly sent me a care package of baking supplies, cookie sheets, measuring cups and spoons, mixing bowls, baking pans, rolling pin and sprinkles to decorate my creations with.  It was the first of many care packages she sent me.  It's been 30 years and I still use them.  I really miss her.  

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Most of the recipe books I've used* give the quantities by weights.  I always assumed it was an American thing to use cups. 

Heh, in University when I baking for fundraisers, I didn't have much actual kitchen equipment, so with the help of a few blocks of margarine (which could be cut to an exactish weight), a ruler, some plastic freezer bags, I managed to make a reasonably accurate balance scales to measure my quantities correctly. 

 

*bought and put on my bookshelves

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I just watched the finale again.   Every time I watch this show I am inspired to bake and get out my Betty Crocker Cookbook to look for a recipe.  However, once I reaffirm that there is no recipe with 3 ingredients or less, I throw up my hands and say "I'm out".  I then resort to the roll of store bought cookie dough in the back of the fridge and peel back the wrapper so I can eat it like a banana.   It is so sad, lazy and pathetic.

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