Social Media and Ginger Cake

Let me open this by saying were it not for social media, you would not be reading my food and life blog on WNYPapers.com. Here’s why:

When I decided to spin my blog away from an online news source in 2012 the first follower I had on my WordPress.com site was WNYPapers. It was not immediate but it got me thinking about the folks who were interested in reading my work. Who are they?

It’s relatively easy to figure out with social media.

Primarily I use Facebook and Twitter. My foodie persona on Facebook is JudeTheFoodie and can be found here. Here people can chat with me directly and I find this to be the easiest way to have direct interaction with other foodie friends. By “liking” this page you can also become part of the conversation.

Twitter is still a mysterious social media to many with lots and lots of rules attached that to someone with little experience would view as mishmash. @JudeTheFoodie is the “handle” I use on Twitter to Tweet my foodie experiences including travel.

Here are just a few things to know about Twitter to help you understand the puzzling world of Tweeting.

When you “follow” someone you can read their Tweets (messages 140 characters or less). Unless they follow you, they cannot read your Tweets. The idea is that we follow folks with whom we are interested without regard to their wanting to know anything about us.

For example, I follow Martha Stewart. I can see all of her Tweets. She, however, (sadly) does not follow me. If I want a Tweet to get to her, even though she does not follow me, I can begin my Tweet with @MarthaStewart and it will show up on her feed. The feed is the list of Tweets from all of the people you follow.

Once you follow a large number of people the feed is very congested. You could spend the entire day reading your feed. I say that a Tweet is a lot like standing on the 50 yard of a stadium and speaking to a packed house without a microphone. In order for your Tweets to have any impact (and for most people to see them) you need to mention someone (using the “@” symbol and their Twitter handle like @MarthaStewart) or use a “#” called a hashtag.

The hashtag is a way to group Tweets. If you Tweet “I love watching #Chopped. The ingredients in the basket are crazy!” anyone else who enters #Chopped in the search area can see your Tweet. It’s pretty cool and you can chat with folks from around the world.

I also post my columns on Pinterest. It is a cool way to group my recipes and travel articles in one place for people who do not follow me on WordPress.com. WordPress is the blogging platform I use and what runs my website. I am slowly gaining followers on my website. If you follow my blog at JudeTheFoodie.com you can click on follow. Whenever I post anything on my website you can read it on your WordPress.com reader.

Now, what does a ginger cake have to do with social media? The recipe I used the other day to make a very moist ginger cake can be found here: http://theworldinourkitchen.com/2011/03/08/ginger-cake/

I have never met Chef and Jen but due to social media I can say they are friends. We started following each other on Twitter which led to Facebook which led to Words With Friends which led to the realization we are only 50 miles apart. We hope to meet this summer.

Every day I post a “JudeTheFoodie.com Question of the Day.” Late last week it was Cake or Pie? Over 600 people viewed that post (and I only have 159 followers on this Facebook page). Chef waxed poetic about his wife Jen’s ginger cake. I asked for the recipe and through the power of social media I baked this cake a few days later.20130422-082849.jpgThis cake is moist and dense. I little piece has a big impact. The recipe calls for ¾ or a cup of ginger and I used the whole piece which turned out to be a little over a cup. I think I will use the recommended amount next time because the ginger was very powerful (not unpleasant but strong).

Also, I recommend using a medium saucepan to heat the one cup of water. When you add the soda you have a bit of a chemistry experiment as it will bubble up. Add the chopped ginger to the pan, stir then add to the batter. Caution: this batter is much thinner than you would expect so don’t worry, its fine.

The recipe does not call for any topping and while it does not need anything to taste wonderful I am going to make a sweet whipped cream to serve on the side the next time I make this great cake.

Please “Like” JudetheFoodie on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @JudeTheFoodie. Begin a Tweet with @JudeTheFoodie to let me know you read this column.

Have a yummy day!

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Easter Cookies…Hop to it!

20130326-131402.jpgEaster Cookies? Why not?

Simply make your favorite drop sugar cookie (I made a ricotta lemon cookie) with yellow food coloring, frost with sugar glaze and sprinkle with pastel sugar.

The secret to any cookie is consistent shape and size. I use my smallest cookie scoop for this task.

The glaze is two cups of confectioners sugar, the zest and the juice of one lemon plus water to get to 4 tablespoons.

To glaze the cookies, line a few cookie sheets with parchment (easy clean-up) and invert the cookie quickly in the glaze and roll around to coat. Set glazed cookies onto the lined sheet. Much of it runs off onto the parchment (you’ll be glad you lined the sheet) so don’t over do it. Only do 5-6 cookies at a time or the glaze will dry and you won’t be able to sprinkle. Sprinkle with colored sugar and let dry. They package easily and you can stack them.

Have a yummy day!

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Chocolate Spice Cookies

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Chocolate Spice Cookies

Categories: Christmas
Source: JudeTheFoodie.com

Ingredients

• 1 Chocolate Cake Mix
• ⅓ c Oil
• 2 Eggs
• 1c Chopped Walnuts
• 1c Chocolate Chips
• 1tsp Cinnamon
• ½ tsp Ginger
• ½ tsp Nutmeg
• ¼ tsp Cloves

Directions

In large bowl, with a wooden spoon, mix all ingredients except the spices.

Add spices and stir until blended. Refrigerate at least an hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°

Using a small cookie scoop, place small teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake about 9 minutes. Cool on racks.

Roll in powdered sugar or frost with your favorite chocolate frosting.

Makes about 5 dozen small cookies.

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Christmas Cookie Blitz

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20121215-132803.jpgIt always feels like I have more time than I do on December 1st.

Today I will:

Decide what I am baking.

1. Cut Out Cookies – I use the “Deluxe Sugar Cookie” recipe from the book shown above. It is Betty Crocker‘s Christmas Cookbook Copyright 1982 by General Mills. It is a great recipe, delicate and buttery… Recipe to follow later.

2. Magic Cookie Bars – I always say I’m going to make these during the year but usually save the treat for Christmas.

3. Oatmeal Crackles – these are one of my son’s favorites.

4. Shortbread – I use a recipe from my friend Lauren. Years ago I attended a cookie exchange. It was fun and I loved the sisterhood of sharing.

Lauren’s Shortbread

1 pound butter
1 cup sugar
4 1/2 cups flour

Cream together butter and sugar. Add flour one cup at a time. Press into 13″ x 9″ glass baking dish. Score with fork. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Couldn’t be easier.

5. Chocolate Spice Cookies – I got this one from my mother. It is made with a cake mix. Boom!

Chocolate Spice Cookies…to be continued…

Sweet Breakfast Biscuits

20121215-095637.jpgSweet Breakfast Biscuits

Servings: 9-10
Prep time: 0:10
Total time: 0:30
Categories: Breakfast
Source: JudeTheFoodie.com

Ingredients

• 2¼ c Biscuit Mix
• ⅔ Milk
• 1Tbsp Butter, melted
• 1Tbsp Turbinado Sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°

Butter a heavy cast iron skillet.

Mix biscuit mix according to directions (mix until it forms a ball, turn onto board with more biscuit mix, kneed 10 times).

With hands press to about ½ an inch.

Melt butter. Brush onto dough. Sprinkle with sugar. Cut into random geometric shapes.

Place on skillet, with some edges touching. Bake about 11 minutes, until golden grown.

Cool 10 minutes. Enjoy!

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Christmas Cookies: My Top Tips

11 Comments

Originally posted 12/19/2010

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Of all the things that I do at Christmas, my favorite is baking cookies. I love the joy it brings my family and friends and use them as a personal gift to my colleagues. I have tried many things over 32 years and have developed these secrets. That it saves me time is the icing on the cookie!

Plan with the end in mind. Why are you baking? Is it to have cookies to share at home with your family and friends? Do you need to package them and travel? Do you want to do this as a family project? Do you want to bake and share (this is what I do)? Whatever your reasons, determine them now because it will determine the kinds of cookies you should make.

Picture your cookie tray. When you decide what kind of cookies you want to bake think about color and shape. While I love chocolate, try to bake cookies that have a variety of color.

Less really is more! Decide what to bake. There were years when I would bake 15-20 different kinds of cookies. Was I nuts? Perhaps, but I was also not employed outside the home at that time. I have a Christmas cookbook from the year I was married. I continue to use recipes from there along with those I have clipped or downloaded throughout the years. Since I went back to work fulltime, I ask my family to identify their top three cookies from my repertoire. I do not include cut-out cookies in their list because that is a family favorite and is the only cookie I do not share. This year I am making 8 kinds.

Plan twice, shop once. I get laughed at all of the time when I go to the store with my list but not having to go back to the store to buy a key ingredient allows me to have the last laugh. I make a spreadsheet which has all of the ingredients on each row. The columns are for each cookie and the totals determine how many pounds of flour, bags of chocolate chips or containers of colored sugar I need. When I say I list everything, I mean everything including the storage container. I take an inventory of containers prior to shopping and fill in as needed. I love the new plastic containers which won’t break my heart if not returned. When else do you even think about Cream of Tartar except at Christmas?

Mix all cookie dough and refrigerate before baking. If you are making any bar cookies, mix and bake those while you are mixing all other cookie dough. I cover each bowl with Press and Seal Wrap so that I can write the kind of cookie on each bowl. I do not use my mixer again until I make frosting. This saves a tremendous amount of time. Even if you do not have the entire day to bake, bake one type of cookie before you go to work.

Choose a size and stick with it. Early in my cookie baking career I decided to make all my cookies the same size. This makes packing easier and presentation prettier. I used a melon ball gadget until it snapped on the rock solid chilled dough. Plan B! I bought a small sized heavy duty cookie scoop at a gourmet store. It is a great investment and I highly recommend making that purchase. Making your cookies small gives you more bang for your buck, especially if you give many away.

Invest in 4 heavy cooking sheets. I purchased half sheet pans from a restaurant supply store. They were “marked” meaning they had a few scratches. I figured that I would scratch them as soon as I used them so saving about 50% seemed like a good plan.

Use parchment paper. Before my cookie baking marathon, I measure a whole roll of paper, cutting and folding it so it fits the sheets. I put them between several pans to keep them flat. I change the sheets as needed but you can bake more than one batch on them. This assures your cookies will not stick to the pan as well as allows you to reuse pans without washing them during the baking process.

Buy about 6 inexpensive cooling racks. I cover my table with foil then line the racks on top. I cool sheets on top of my stove for a few minutes before moving the cookies to the table racks.

I bake two sheets at a time. Have one rack on the low setting and one just above. Set one timer for the entire baking time and the other for half way. At the half way mark, switch racks and bake for the remaining time.

Bake cookies that need to be frosted last. This way, as you bake you can store the cookies and get them out of your kitchen. Living up north gives us an advantage because we call our garage our outdoor fridge!

Over the next few weeks I will post my favorite recipes.

Have a yummy day!

S’mores Brownies

‘S’mores Brownies
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Servings: 24
Categories: Dessert
Source: JudeTheFoodie.com

Ingredients

• 1 Chocolate Cake Mix
• 2 Eggs
• 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
• 1 12 Oz Bag Chocolate Chips (Semi Sweet or Milk)
• 1-1 ½ Cups Mini Marshmallows
• ½ Package Graham Crackers

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°

Spray a 13″ x 9″ pan lightly with cooking spray.

In a large bowl add cake mix, eggs and vegetable oil. Mix with a wooden spoon until blended. You will use your muscles for this. Add chips and marshmallows and stir evenly.

Over bowl break each graham cracker into bite sized pieces. Stir to blend evenly.

Put dough into prepared pan and spread evenly with clean hands. Bake about 25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool on rack for 30 minutes. Run a spatula along the side of the pan to gently separate brownie from pan. Cool completely, cut and enjoy!

Have a yummy day! JudeTheFoodie.com

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