25 November 2010

I love turkey...on Thanksgiving!

Hopefully I'll have turkey pictures later.

Happy Thanksgiving.

23 November 2010

I would like you to dance!

Another year, another birthday.

You can see the tooth pick I used to test the done-ness of the cake and the plate for the pumpkin cookies I baked.

Continuing in the tradition of buying/baking my own cake I have made a Duncan Hines® Butter Recipe Golden Cake to enjoy with my mother this morning (I've decided I'm going to have a birthday breakfast with her since I'm going out with friends tonight).

You might think that this would be a simple task, baking a cake (from a box) and decorating it, but then again...this is me we're typing about, so there's bound to be some small (or huge) disaster for every supposedly "simple" task. The disaster here is truly one of impatience. The baking itself goes perfectly but when I get done I try to take the cake out of the pan immediately so that I can start frosting. I cover the pan with a baking sheet (we don't have a serving tray or anything else large enough) and flip it over and of course it doesn't slide out all easy like (I greased/floured it!). A patient person would wait and come back to the task but I am not a patient person. (At a very young age, in a doctor's office, I proclaimed, "I am not a patient patient.") I take the spatula and go round the edges and try again. Fail. But do I wait? Of course...not. I take the spatula a bit more aggressively and try again. Nope. So I try aga--crap. The cake fell apart. Most of it is on the baking sheet, but some is still in the pan and at this moment I have come to point where one (the "one" in this case being me) either cries, laughs, or humorlessly tries to repair the damage. I chose the latter and smooshed the other bits (because it didn't come off in one chunk, but in four pieces) back onto the cake and move on to frosting.

For the frosting I whipped up some cream with some Hershey's Coco Powder and the whipping went off without a hitch (unless you count the nose/mouthful of rather not so tasty unsweetened coco powder). Perhaps you are already ahead of me here because you, unlike me, realize that whipped cream and a warm, maybe even hot, cake don't really work well together. It's like a session of Congress: maybe it starts off okay but in the end it sort of starts to heat up and then sort of slides down ... cake. (My mother is always telling me I rush too much and need to slow down...I'm beginning to concede the point.) Luckily I realized the stupidity of my rush and stuck the mostly frosted cake and the remainder of the whipped cream in the fridge. A little bit ago I went to finish the job and then I used Wilton's lilac tube frosting to poorly execute cake decoration. There really isn't much of a story there; I've never tried to decorate a cake. I did think that the little decorating tips that just screw on the tube of icing were really neat and in time I'm sure I'll suck a little bit less.

I made a white cake (from scratch) to enjoy with my friends this evening (after wings at Buffalo Wild Wings®) but, sadly, "in time" wasn't tonight.

The mix.

The cake in the oven.

My failure to write on cakes strikes again, but it's a reference to The Beatles.

Today is also my cousin's birthday so in that spirit (and because I'll use any excuse I can to bring up The Beatles):

20 November 2010

Bardic Immunity!

"Well, I was too brave to spare the elderly."

So, I love Dead Gentlemen Productions. Does this make me a geek? Probably, but they're funny. My friend and I stumbled upon JourneyQuest on Hulu; it was listed as a recently added show and we were looking for something to watch. Who can resist with a description like this:

Following a group of dysfunctional adventurers on a quest to discover and destroy the mythical Sword of Fighting, JourneyQuest is a comedic adventure through the fantasy world of Fartherall, where intellectual orcs, incompetent wizards, and holy zombies form the living (and not-so-living) backdrop to an epic story of unrequited love, burning passions, and severely reluctant heroism. And running away. Lots of running away.

"Yeah...about that...I'm not sure you had to kill all those orcs."


On You Tube:

Or Hulu:

Bonus link: a punctuation personality quiz. I'm mostly semi-colon, a bit of a comma, slightly period, and a slight (semi?) colon. Semi-colons are the most romantic punctuation when you think about it (which is why I want nerdgoddess' semi-colon earrings).

09 November 2010

Is she...in the kitchen?

I like to cook. I don't really like recipes or measuring things, but I like to cook.

I've been trying to cook once a week and you might think I have some horrible disaster story to tell here. Well, I don't. So there. Baking may be another story.
Pumpkin Cookies
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Shortening
  • 1 cup Pumpkin (from a can)
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 Cup Raisins
Cream the sugar and shortening. Add pumpkin and mix. Add egg and mix. Add flour and mix. Add dry ingredients and raisins and mix.

Bake 12-14 at 375 degrees.

  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 4 tsp Milk
  • 3 tbsp Butter
  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 3/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
Heat brown sugar, milk, and butter over low heat until dissolved. Let cool and add powdered sugar and vanilla. Add milk if needed.

First of all I had the bright idea of making two batches at once. Did this have an effect on how well/badly the baking was going to turn out? Maybe not, but it did have an effect on how long the process took.

Cream the shortening and sugar? What does that mean? Do I know such terms? No. Well, I use my common sense and I figure it must mean to mix it until it cream like in texture. It never gets that way because it just sort of gathers in the mixer blades so I move on and add the pumpkin (which I later, as in after I was done baking, realize was too much) and begin mixing. The goal of mixing is to make all the ingredients go together and be all harmonious, but does that happen for me? No, the pumpkin begins flying everywhere. I try to control this by smashing then mixing, smashing then mixing, etc. When this sort of works I then move on and add the eggs (I love the way eggs mix into baking stuffs), then the dry stuffs and raisins and more dough flies around the kitchen. It's important that you also know that my mother didn't have actual measuring equipment (just one measuring cup) so I have to trust that the small spoons actually hold a teaspoon.

When I'm done mixing I end up with a very fluffy, cake/scone-y dough, but I trust that I've followed the recipe (apparently I didn't know who I was dealing with) so I begin trying to scoop the dough onto the cookie sheets. I cannot describe the mess because I think I've blocked it from my memory. Wait...having flashbacks ... there was goo all over my hands ... it wouldn't come off ... the mess ... IT'S EVERYWHERE. (I never said I wasn't melodramatic.)

So I put the soon-to-be-cookies into the oven and work on the next sheet. When the timer goes off I pull the cookies out and then put in the next sheet...repeat six more times. SO MANY COOKIES! Sometime in the midst of all this I start to make the icing...but we don't have real butter, just margarine. Working with what I have I begin to make it and then work on putting it on the cookies. It's sticky and smells too sweet and too much like dreaded... syrup! I'm working with syrup (practically). I hate all types of syrup, caramel, and similar sticky pseudo-liquid substances. They are horrible because not only do they look and feel sticky but they SMELL sticky which means that even if I'm not looking or touching the stuff I'm still assaulted by STICKY! Can't...escape...the sticky.... Ick.

I also have the added problem of the cookies being more scone-like than cookie-like (after letting them cool) so I'm somewhat panicked. At this point maybe I should let you in on a key factor in my panic. The reason I'm baking these cookies is so that my mother can take them with her to work. Apparently everyone else is bringing in baked goods and so my mother wants me to make something for her to bring. I felt a bit like a mom baking for her child's class, but instead of a bunch of kids I'm baking for adults who know...well...how to bake. I can't really turn back so I try baking them a bit longer to no avail.

I'm stuck sending my mother to work with soggy cookies.

To make me feel even worse my mother's husband comes and tries a cookie and seems to be thinking (in Vietnamese, I'm sure), "These cookies are too moist," but I pack all of the cookies into a large container (there where a lot of cookies) for my mother to take to work and then I collapse in my bed. When I wake up the next morning I go into the kitchen to see that she hasn't taken the bin of cookies so I call her. She didn't know she was supposed to take them all, even though I was only baking them to take to work. We talk for a bit and I mention the softness.

They're supposed to be soft.

Luckily my second attempt turned out better.

02 November 2010

The attack of the mid-terms.

I could sit here and try to think of a clever, long-winded way to say this, but for once I am going to be short.

Politicians make me physically ill.