Friday, July 31, 2009
You knew it was only a matter of time before I'd revert back to my cake-baking ways. But one out of my three Cooking With entries dedicated to a baked good - those aren't terrible odds. I promise, I really have tried to refrain from baking entries in the name of being more creative and testing out "real" food recipes (I'd argue that cake is, indeed, real food). But, hey I've got a deadline looming with some Sarandipity orders, and I need to test out a cake recipe. So here we are.
I've tried some Red Velvet recipes in the past, but I've never been too pleased with the results. It just seemed so "meh" tasting after all that flashy red color and white frosting contrast. All pretty and no tasty. Like, all beauty and no brains. We certainly can't have any of that here, so I continued my search for a recipe that looked promising. And with a photo like this, how could the results be anything other an amaazzzzingggggg? I mean seriously, who here didn't try to lick their monitors when presented with that beautiful photo of cake heaven? So, I tried out Pinch My Salt's recipe and, as always, made a few modifications of my own.
In summary, I'm not terribly fond of this recipe either. As Bo put it, "it just isn't velvety." And he's dead right. The texture isn't dense and moist and well, velvety. And I had the same luck with cream cheese frosting that I always seem to have - as is, the recipe turns out soupy. I increased the powdered sugar from 2 1/2 cups to nearly 8. Yes, 8 cups of powdered sugar. I modified the recipe below to remove half the cream cheese, so that should help. The quest continues...
Red Velvet Cake (a.k.a. Waldorf Astoria Cake)
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)
2 oz. red food coloring
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with 24 papers. (This recipe yielded 23 cupcakes for me.)
2. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. In a small bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder to form a soupy mixture without lumps; set aside.
3. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa mixture, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.
4. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. Yes, it will fizz! Add it to the cake batter and stir well to combine. (The batter will almost look puffy.) Working quickly, divide batter evenly between the cupcake pans using your trusty cookie scoop, and place them in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Check early, cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
5. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and allow cakes to cool completely before frosting. Frost with buttercream or cream cheese icing (recipe below).
* Recipe Notes: Sift cake flour once before measuring, then sift again with the other dry ingredients per recipe instructions.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese (1 packages), softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
With an electric mixer, blend together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in salt and vanilla until combined. Turn mixer to low speed and blend in powdered sugar, 1/3 at a time, scraping sides of bowl between each addition. Turn mixer on high and beat until light and fluffy. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. If refrigerated, the frosting will need to be brought to room temperature before using.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
But the size isn't what scares me. It's those tomatoes. I hate tomatoes. The slime inside them makes me gag. It sticks to my throat and slowly drips its way down to my stomach. This is if I can even get them past my tongue. In my defense, I've tried - TRIED - to like them. It's the hugest pain to always be asking places to hold the tomatoes, and I'm missing out on what could be amazing food. Bruschetta? We've never been properly introduced; alas, I've only admired you from afar.
The part that's especially scary is that I've heard eighty million times how AMAZING homegrown tomatoes are. Sure, sure, I don't doubt that for a second. And I know that as soon as those babies are ripe, Bo is going to make me taste one. My lips are squirming just thinking about it. Had I been smart, I would've planted an eggplant and made him return the favor of tasting something he hates. Oh well. Wish me luck.
For scale. Plus, it's fun to make her pose with ridiculous things.
Rory's not so much a fan of the giant beanstalk of a thing either. Maybe that's because she can no longer root around in the dirt. She dug us some pretty good holes when it was sitting within reach of her little paws.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
But, really it was all a dream. Sigh. I dreamt last night that we were moving out of a place, and my old-old landlord had left a dog there. The dog looked a bit like this picture, and she was just the sweetest thing ever. I knew she'd be perfection with Rory. I pleaded and pleaded with Bo to take her with us. I told him that we'd adopt her out, so she'd just need a home for a very short while. (I was totally lying; I fully intended to keep her forever.) But he kept saying no. So I got mad at him, and then the dream ended.
I'm not searching for any meaning in the dream. That's no fun and too serious. Really, I just want to pet that sweet dog again, tee hee.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Someone brought in two enormous boxes of donuts this morning and left them unattended in the break room. I wandered in there to get a cup of piping hot coffee because it's frigid in this office. En route to the coffee pot, I found two glittering boxes of donuts, winking at me and calling my name. I love donuts, I really really do. So light and airy, the perfect combination of carbohydrate and fat, and with a drizzle of frosting to put me over the edge. I peeked into the box, and speedy quick closed it back shut. I can't be tempted by those rows of sugary happiness, can't be tempted, can't be tempted, I won't be tempted. Instead, I will satisfy the sweets craving with some coffee splashed with yummy creamer. Onward to the coffee pot. Except that it's empty. And I don't know how to make coffee here. Gahhhhh...
I included this picture to intentionally torment you. I am quite happy to spread the agony.
Friday, July 24, 2009
We have ants in our house right now. My bleary eyes noticed one on my pillow this morning, as I was struggling to wake up. Yuck!! And 3 minutes later, I discovered that my shower was infested.
You see, in San Diego, even the ants are weather wimps. Along with the locals, they can't handle fluctuations in temperature. After a few years of living here, I realized that during a string of hot summer days, ants will come into your house, seeking water. You'll find them in your sinks, showers, and faucets. And then, when we get a few consecutive days of rain (yes, it does rain here, but barely), they come into houses to escape the water.
It's incredibly annoying but at least I don't have to immediately disinfect every speck of my kitchen to eliminate sugar and food crumbs. The ants don't give a rip about food; they just want some water.
* Doesn't that picture just make you itchy all over? It's courtesy of google images.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Puree all ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Strain puree through a fine mesh sieve, pressing solids to extract as much puree as possible. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for 4 hours or until firm.
Mmmmmm...fresh mint. Too bad you didn't spring for a scratch n' sniff monitor.
Smashing the raspberries through a fine mesh sieve. Isn't my pink heart spatula just the cutest?
But let me explain: See, they were super cute last night when I taste tested a raspberry one. But I was so swamped with my Etsy orders that I decided to postpone a photo until this morning when they were good and frozen. And, indeed, they were good and frozen. So much so that I had to run hot water over the cheapy Ikea mold to even get them dislodged. And then, well, I got distracted, see. I'm kinda extremely prone to distraction. Yeah. I got carried away with the packing tape and lil freezer packs and the Etsy boxes, that I forgot about my adorably yummy popsicles sitting in the sink, all lonesome. And melting. The perfectionist in me was appalled and wanted to wait until tonight to snap another photo for you. But then, it was just so funny and so ME, that I couldn't resist posting this one anyway.
Monday, July 20, 2009
For all you (East Coast natives) who roll your eyes and dismiss my talk of it being humid in San Diego in July and August, IT'S FREAKING 95% HUMIDITY RIGHT NOW. (Yes, that really did warrant capitalization.) 95%!!
And before you try to interrupt me with talk of it being a fluke - for the record, it hovers around 75% humidity every morning here during the summer. That's not something to shake a stick at.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
- I can't wait for the Supreme Court hearings to be over, because I've had the words "Sonia Sotomayor" stuck in my head for the past 2 days straight.
- I didn't realize until I was halfway finished writing this post that my last Potpourri entry had the exact same phrase stuck in my head. Evidently it's a plague someone has cast upon my house.
- My mom's side of family sweetly passes on a gene that predisposes us to get the hiccups so bad that they're painful. (Why oh why couldn't I have got the tall and skinny gene instead?) They give me a stomach ache immediately, and I can't even hide them in public because they're incredibly loud too. But! Over the years, I've learned to make them go away. No peanut butter, no sugar, no drinking funny out of a glass. I've decided that since they're a result of spasms of the diaphragm muscle, that if I can get it to relax by breathing calmly and slowly, they'll stop. And they so do. I'm a genius!
Bo straight up laughs at me every time I get the hiccups. He says they sound like baby alligators. Leave it to someone from the South to recognize that sound:
- I originally didn't have a whole lot of interest in seeing this movie, but now that I've seen the preview, I. Cannot. Wait. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I spent yesterday wanting to punch someone and be violent. But the soundtrack could be amazing, too. Who wants to see it with me?!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
This week's recipe was originally intended for bacon. (Yeah, sounds totally kinda gross, but I did make it, and I'll vouch for its yum!) But, it turns out that the same ingredients (plus a couple more) can be thrown on salmon with Freaking Amazing results. It's our most favorite way to eat salmon now, so I thought I'd pass the recipe on to you.
Brown Sugar Salmon
2-4 Salmon filets (easier to cook if they're no thicker than 1")
At this point, it depends on how thick your salmon is. My filets were thick, so I needed to add some liquid to the skillet and cover it with a lid to finish cooking. My favorite liquids to add for finishing are: Bourbon, Amaretto, or chicken or vegetable broth. Add approximately 1/2 cup of liquid and let it come to a sizzle before covering with a lid. Check for doneness by flaking the filet with a fork.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Today's eternity-deciding topic? Baby shower games. Can I please volunteer to scrub toilets in lieu (pun intended) of participating? I find it amazing that with all the creative and "artistic" baby-naming going on these days that we're still subjected to that same awful Guess the Melted Chocolate Poo in the Diaper game. Even boys who laugh themselves silly over poop talk think that game is hideous. And we're girls, for goodness' sake. Why oh why must we play that game?!
Pringles and I are very anti-game for showers because they all feel so forcefully precious and end up costing money that a lot of people can't spare in this economy. Call us boring old hags, and we won't even blink. We just can't bear to sit through another round of "you said the word baby!!"
But back to our topic at hand - Lest you think I'm incapable of being nice or gracious (or social, for that matter), I bring you the real subject of today's post: Redemption. Whenever Chiml and I laugh at someone or say something that For Sure is sealing our fate in hell, we speedy quick buy some forgiveness. And where do we shop? At the Red Cross.
My mantra: "Let your sin dictate what you donate."
I'm personally a fan of giving my money to the Starving Kids Fund, but really, it's purely subjective what will alleviate your guilt. In case you were about to ask - so far, the most I've spent buying back my soul is $25. Told you I was a nice girl.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
So I thought I'd share a wee little I'm-a-rockstar playlist with you. And for those of you who've been cheering for me lately, it's my thank you. You've helped me summon up that confidence I've had buried down too deep. A big, heart-felt hug is coming your way over the 1s and 0s.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
I did add more highlighty coppery pieces, but I'm letting the rest continue to fade and lighten in the sun. Sometimes, my hair is a journey what with all the fading and the coloring and the fading and the coloring. I'm kinda very interested to see where this journey will take me. (Certainly not back to my natural color, gasp!)
Sorry to create such suspense. I'll try to take more cute dog or Cupcake Pops photos for you as a token of apology. Will that buy your mercy, dear readers?
Monday, July 6, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Today is really hitting me hard. Hard, as in tears at breakfast, and I'm floating around the house in a gray daze.
The underlying current of emotion is homesickness. It's the 4th of July, and I'm not home. I'm not home for one of our family get-togethers. Those kind that aren't complete without my mom's potato salad and the 5 pies she's made the night before. Without some kind of red jello salad, melting in the sun. Without hot dogs and hamburgers and regular dogs standing around, waiting food to spill off flimsy paper plates.
I'm not home to gather lawn chairs and head in to the parade. My parents are from the same tiny town, and their families have been meeting at the same grassy block on the parade route since before I can remember. It's our own little family reunion there, and all the old timers would stop by to tip their hats and say hello to Grampa and Gramma.
I miss the blazing heat. How can it be the 4th of July without the dire need to cool off in a swimming hole? It feels like May here, and the fact that it's Independence Day just refuses to sink in.
Most of all, I miss a sense of Home. Home, where you feel at ease. Home, where those you love dearly are just a couple of dirt roads away.
This homesickness is having me realize that my living in this city with one foot out the door is taking its toll. I absolutely do not feel like home here. I'm so set on moving away, that my house isn't decorated, and it doesn't exude "home" when I walk in the door. Living with the strong desire to be somewhere - anywhere - else has left me without roots. I'm floating along like a gypsy, without anything to make me feel grounded and secure.
Today has shaken me up. I realize that I need to make some changes. I need to get myself grounded and attached and living in the moment. And that starts now.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
You all picked different choices for different reasons. Ha!
But, my hair appointment is tomorrow, so I'll have my fabulous hair-lady whip out the book of color swatches to see what would work best with my current color(s) and the season. You will definitely, definitely get a pic of it, but purty please don't get antsy. It takes a good couple of washings for my color to calm down and for my curls to get happy again. So, it won't be until later next week that you get a picture. I'm all about instant gratification myself, but I refuse to post a pic until my locks start behaving themselves.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
At our front door. I stopped to pick up something off the ground, turned back around to Rory, and found her like this. I did not put that leash on her head. I still don't know how she did this.
This entry wouldn't be complete without a boring youtube video of my pet. Yes, I've joined the ranks of other adoring pet parents by posting video on the In-Ter-Net. You can think it's boring, and I won't hold it against you. Just don't tell me so. Manners!