Last week I made this Chocolate Black Tea cake for Ryan's birthday. I substituted walnuts for the hazelnuts (because I had walnuts but no hazelnuts) and made a cocoa frosting for it. I also made a leek and potato pie, but I don't think that counts for Thing A Week because I make vegetable pies all the time. I'm ammending the original stipulations: baking only counts when it's something that I need more practice at (cakes and bread, basically).
Despite it not counting, I'd like to mention the fabulous crust I made with olive oil, water, a little baking soda and vinegar. We already typically make oil crusts instead of butter crusts, but I thought that olive oil might add some nice flavour to complement the potatoes and leeks. The trick was olive oil in the freezer for several hours, following a suggestion I read in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. This makes an excellent butter/fat substitute, if you're interested. I don't like using packaged butter substitutes because most of them are mostly water. You can watch an extreme version of what happens when you try and cook things with fake butter on one of my favourite television shows, The Supersizers* (1:17 is where the point of interest starts and yes, that's real horse that they're cooking):
I think I'd rather go with the full flavour of olive oil than bland, processed "butterine" if I'm not going to use butter itself) Substitute the frozen olive oil into your recipe 1:1 for your normal fat ingredient, and when you are adding that and the water (ice water!) to your flour, bring it together so that it is just barely on the side of incorporated. Mine had this beautiful marbley look to it. Then it goes back in the fridge for an hour before rolling out between two pieces of wax paper (it will stick to counters).
This week's Thing A Week:
A paper mache box to store chopsticks and other kitchen utensils as part of my Organise/Decorate the House on a Budget of Next to Nil plan. I also came across the interesting idea of using contact paper to cover up ugly kitchen cabinet doors when you rent and can't do anything about your hideous dark crappy kitchen cupboards So I'm going to inspect contact paper to see if a) it looks like crap and then b) I can make our kitchen a little cheerier. Only if it's cheap though.
*it's worth watching the whole 2 seasons of this show. Two journalists (Giles Coren and Sue Perkins) spend a week each episode living as if they were in another time in history, wearing the clothes and most importantly, eating the food. My favourite episode is the Supersizers Go Wartime. Giles makes a cake using paraffin and gives American servicemen diarrhea and Sue paints her legs with gravy and eats a pair of stockings.