Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Baking to go

We're heading out of town with the boys for March Break. Alan's parents are renting a condo on the beach in Hilton Head and have invited us to join them for the week. They rented a condo there last year and we had a fantastic time lounging by the pool, walking on the beach, riding bikes, and just hanging out on the balcony relaxing.

I'm looking forward to a happy repeat this year. Since we're lucky enough to be staying in a condo and have cooking facilities, I decided to take along some baking supplies. There's nothing better than fresh muffins when you're spending a lazy morning perusing the newspaper. Or some delicious brownies for a late afternoon snack after a long day at the beach.

I wasn't interested in dragging along all of the ingredients that I might need to do this, so I decided to mix up the dry ingredients here and be all prepared to throw in the wet ingredients when I wanted to bake them. I'd seen recipes on Pinterest using Mason jars to pack the dry ingredients for cookies to give as gifts; this seemed like a perfect idea, so I trawled the interweb and picked out some recipes, as well as choosing  a few of my old favourites.

I printed up tags for each of the recipes to keep things organized, and made a quick trip over to the Bulk Barn at lunch (I love that place and regularly thank my lucky stars that they finally opened one downtown) to pick up some odds and ends. After dinner the boys and I set up all the ingredients on the counter and got to work.

I mixed the flour with the salt, baking powder and soda and then Cal put that layer in the bottom of the jar. We used my canning funnel to try to keep things contained (this was a marginal success as you can see by the state of the counter in front of Cal).

Some of the ingredients, like the brown sugar, needed to be packed down. We used one of my cookie decorating squeeze bottles for this as it was the only thing that I could find to fit into the mouth of the jar. This is one of those times that tiny little boy fingers actually come in handy.

We then layered in all of the other ingredients corresponding to the particular recipe; sugar, cocoa, chocolate or peanut butter chips, dried blueberries or cranberries, M&Ms, etc. I did all of the measuring, and they boys did the dumping and tamping. I think it took about 45 minutes to get eight different recipes aliquoted into the jars.

It took quite a bit of concentration to keep all the recipes straight. We did them one or two at a time, and as we finished each one we immediately tied the recipe card around the neck of the jar. On each card I printed the ingredients that went in the jar, what needs to be added, and the instructions for baking.

Allowing the children to help forced me to let go of try desperately to ignore my obsessive-compulsive tendencies. I would have made sure that each layer was perfectly packed down, so that the views from each side of the jar would be the same. They boys? Well, they kind of just rammed the stuff down and leveled it the best they could in 10 seconds flat. Then they clamoured for the next layer.

I have an assortment of cookies, muffins and brownies all set to go. It was a great way to procrastinate on my most hated chore - packing!

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