What's Weight Got To Do With It?
My Darling Readers - this week I'd like to talk about an issue that lies very close to my stomach heart: gaining weight, or the lack thereof. For as long as I can remember, I've always struggled with my weight, and the fact that I could never gain weight easily. You wouldn't think it looking at my old baby photos, I was one round baby!
Most of my teenage years were spent close to a fridge - I have always been slightly obsessed with food and as you can see, I still am. But no matter how much I ate, I never gained any weight. And this was never an issue for me, until the name-calling started, names I care not to mention on this blog. Growing up hearing things like that is never nice and really affected me in ways I never should have allowed in the first place.
It's not socially acceptable to go up to anyone and call them fat, yet some seem to think they can call others ill-looking & skinny, and that's supposed to be fine, when it can actually be quite hurtful. Being constantly reminded how underweight one supposedly is, especially when said in a derogatory tone, should never have to be acceptable.
Which got me thinking, dear readers: what's weight got to do with it?
My weight does not define me.
My weight is not what I believe in.
My weight does not change me as a person.
My weight is not who I am.
I have to point out, I've done it all: daily ritual weighings, the weight gain diets, the exercise programs, the weight training, the high protein diet, the high carb diet, the high and/or low fat diet, the Arnie diet, the lady-gaga-takes-yo-mama-out-all-night diet, you name it, I've done it! And sure, I do gain a little weight, but the minute I stop the diet, I lose the weight again.
At some point in my late twenties, I realised that I'd have to stay on said diets for the rest of my life to keep the weight on. And I had to ask myself: WHY? No matter what diet I was on, or what exercise programs I suffered through, my body weight would always recalibrate itself back to 75kg, my normal, comfortable weight - the weight I am when I eat and exercise normally. Speaking of which, to me 75kg is by far no where near underweight.
Dear Readers, I'd like to make it very clear that this isn't a sympathy post. I'm happy with my weight. I haven't weighed myself in over a year. I eat a healthy diet. I only eat when I'm hungry. I don't calculate what I eat. If anyone has a problem with my weight, that's exactly what it is: their problem. Wouldn't you agree?
Now, let's move on to more fun things, like: MACARONS! Woot!
But before I do that, I'd like to talk about one more thing: sponsors. You may have noticed a sidebar that's popped up on the top left hand side of this blog with a few kind folks that have decided to sponsor my wee little blog. As excited as I am about it, I also have to mention that it was a big decision whether or not to have any sponsors on my blog. I didn't want to join an agency, I didn't want flashing images, I didn't want to have just any ads on here.
The main reason I decided for them was for you my darling readers. I hand-pick each and every one of these sponsors specifically because I believe in them or use them, or they are related to baking in some way or another, or they have great giveaways to offer you, or they offer a service that I think you will *love*. You absolutely do not have to click on them, but they are there just for you.
Which leads me nicely into the introduction of my latest sponsor - Jean from Bougie Macarons. Bougie is run by a charming French guy called Jean. I first met him at Taste of Christmas and have met him again since then, and this man is obsessed with macarons! Sound familiar? Wait until you hear his story: as a child he used to visit his grandmother with his sister on the weekends, and his grandmother would bake the prettiest and yummiest macarons, but they weren't allowed to eat them until a few days later, only after the flavours had really set in. So he and his sister would sneak out of their beds at night when grandma was asleep and climb onto stools in the kitchen until they reached the well hidden macaron jars on top of the kitchen cupboards, and they'd devour most of them in one go. Jean spent the rest of his childhood spending most of his pocket money on macarons, and his passion has blossomed into this beautiful business of his. How cute is that?
Jean and I have come up with an amazing giveaway that we think you're going to flip over: to win one of his gorgeous boxes of 16 assorted macarons, delivered to you, anywhere in the world, all you have to do is leave a comment below letting us know what you think would be the best macaron flavour combination you can think of (you don't necessarily need to make it, just imagine it). Whoever Jean thinks has come up with the best flavour will be the winner, and (wait for it!) - will have the macaron made and named after them! How brilliant is that?! It's not everyday you get a macaron named after you! The winner will also have a box of their own named macarons sent out to them. The giveaway closes on Monday, February 15th.
Take a look at Jean's website HERE. You can order his macarons online, and he delivers them worldwide. I know how obsessed most of you are with macarons, so I thought you'd really like this.
The winner of last week's Hotel Chocolat giveaway was comment number 5 (Linda) as chosen by Random.org. Congratulations Linda! You should be getting your prize sometime this week. Hope you enjoy it.
As for this month's macarons, I decided, seeing as it's Valentine's day on Sunday, to make something that wasn't pink for a change, yet was bright, colourful and sensual. Chocolate and passion fruit made a perfect combination, and not only did my use of turmeric add that extra orange colour to the sorbet, but the taste complimented the passion fruit perfectly.
If this is your first time trying macarons, I strongly urge you to read my first macaron post. It has many links to other sites with great tips and tricks for making perfect macarons, and a few video links that I thought were crucial to watch before even attempting macarons. Thanks to all of you that have already written in letting me know how helpful you found all the links, I'm so glad I could help!
Chocolate & Passion Fruit Sorbet Macarons
(For a printable version of this recipe, click HERE)
Makes around 40 macaron shells
100g aged egg whites (see below)
10g dried egg white
120g almond flour
200g icing sugar
25g granulated sugar
25g cocoa powder
1. Separate your egg whites and keep them in bowl covered with a plate or some kitchen paper at room temperature for at least 48 hours. If you would like to age them for longer, place them in the fridge. Sift ground almonds and powdered sugar together.
2. Whip the aged and dried egg whites with a mixer until stiff peaks form. Slowly add the sugar and keep mixing until it is all incorporated and the mixture turns glossy. Do not over mix the egg whites at this stage otherwise the macs turn out too dry.
3. Add the cocoa powder, ground almond and icing sugar to the egg whites and incorporate them into the mix.
4. Place a teaspoon of the batter onto a plate. If the top smooths out slowly, leaving a flat surface, then your batter is ready. If there are still peaks or ridges on the surface, give your batter a few more turns.
5. Place your batter into a piping bag fitted with a plain small tip. Pipe roughly 4cm rounds. Preheat your oven to roughly 150˚C. Leave the macarons out at room temperature for a minimum of 45 minutes until their outer surface forms a skin. Then bake for 15-20 minutes. You might have to turn the trays around or place them on a lower shelf half way through the baking process, depending on your oven. Another trick that worked for me was preheating the oven to 200˚C, then turning the temperature down to 135˚C, then baking the macarons for roughly 10 minutes. It's all about experimenting!
6. Remove from the oven and allow the macs to cool thoroughly before attempting to lift them off the sheet. If you used a silicone sheet, they should lift off easily. If you used baking paper, the macs might stick to it, so just dab a few drops of water under the baking paper, then lift them off.
Passion Fruit Sorbet:
150g caster sugar
200ml fresh passion fruit juice (you can substitute this for any other fruit juice)
a good pinch of turmeric for colour (or a drop of food colouring of your choice)
1. Heat the caster sugar with the water in a saucepan over a medium heat.
2. Stir the mixture until all the sugar has dissolved.
3. Turn up the heat and allow to boil for a few minutes until the mixture has reached a syrupy consistency. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
4. Once cool, stir in the passion fruit juice and turmeric.
5. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Alternatively, if you don't have an ice cream maker, you can place the mixture in a bowl and place the bowl in the freezer for about an hour. Remove from the freezer and whisk. Place bowl back into the freezer for another hour and repeat the above steps two or three times until you achieve a smooth sorbet consistency. Then place in the freezer and allow to harden.
6. Place 1 tablespoon of sorbet on a macaron shell, cover with another shell and serve immediately. Alternatively, freeze the macaron shells, then place 1 tablespoon of sorbet on a shell, cover with another shell, and freeze again immediately.
Macaron tips and tricks:
- Before placing the macs in the oven to bake, I found it best to keep the tray over the oven, while the oven was preheating. This formed harder shells faster.
- Before piping the macs, you could outline circles with a pencil and compass on the baking paper, as a guide before piping.
- You can either add the almond flour to the egg whites, or the egg whites to the almond flour, either way works.
- To get the right lava consistency, can I also suggest having an extra beaten egg white and also some extra almond flour. This way you can always add a little extra of each or either to achieve the best batter texture.
- If using baking paper, pipe a small amount of batter onto the four corners of the baking tray, then place your baking paper on top. This will stop the paper from sliding or moving.
- For extra tips and tricks, have a look at Mactweets to see a great selection of the macaron round ups they hold every month, with loads of tips and tricks for achieving great macarons.