Sunday, August 31, 2008

Working on progress

This weekend has been busy! Amongst cleaning and toddler-chasing, I've been sanding, lacquering, baking and tasting (tasting.. and tasting..)

Indoors, I've been working on my most recent cakecapade. I have a few recipes I want to try and baked two of them today with some rich success.

The first is a Cola Cake, which is very interesting. I made it as directed in single cups to resemble a cup of rum and coke. I then made the frosting, replacing half of the Coke with Malibu Rum (maybe a bit more than half). I poured the frosting equally over each cake and let them sit. I didn't have pecans, so I used walnuts.

They came out rather neat looking, and insanely rich. Chocolatly and rummy. Not so much Cola-y. Very tasty, not sure if it's what I'm looking for for this project though.

The second cake was a rum cake - made using Malibu again, and in coffee cups. After pouring on the glaze I poured an extra capful of rum over each cake. Over two of them I poured a few capfuls of Coke.

The cake turned out lovely, tasty, I'm not so sure about the extra rum or coke on top though. Coke just doesn't carry on very well as a flavour - it's not strong enough. I might try cooking it down to syrup or something.

In the end I'm hoping to create a "Rum and Coke" cake. But we'll see how that goes. In this theme, I also tried making Coke candy the other day.

I ended up with carmely candy, with only the slightest hint of a cola flavor, if any. A waste of time, I think.

Outdoors, I've been working on our new (old) dining table. A while back - this was crazy-nesting-pregnancy-time - I cut our dining table in half, re-stained it, and attached it to the wall, because I thought it was too big or something. Well.. it's been 2 years, and the wall isn't faring so well, that is... I'm worried one day the table will rip out and land on Dessie's head. So, I picked up this solid oak table off of Freecycle a few weeks ago.

As you can see, it's a little worse for wear. (and in pieces, but that's because I took it apart)

At this point, I would like to interject me love of Freecycle. It's a fantastic place. While feeding the need to feel helpful, you are able to get rid of things you no longer use - which maybe aren't ready for the trash, and may or may not be sellable. I've been able to hand off many baby items, some furniture and dishes which we just weren't using to people who I hope are finding great use from them. At the same time, I've picked up this table and an immersion blender (YEY!!!). After getting the table and remembering the sore arm which comes from refinishing by hand - I put out a request for a sander, and got one from a lady who just wasn't using hers anymore! She thanked me for helping her reduce her "stuff" load, while I thanked her repeatedly for making my life infinitely easier - and with our tight budget of late, I am ever so thankful to avoid the extra expenditure.

My plans for this table were to sand out the old stain, and then add some detail with a wood burning tool, or maybe some *tasteful* decoupage.. however, after sanding off the stain, I realized how gorgeous the wood is, and have decided to simply lacquer it as is.

I've only finished sanding this one leaf, and it's only two coats of lacquer in, but I'm very excited by the potential elegance of the table.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Small Town Labor Day Parade

Apparently Marina has had a Labor Day Parade every year for the past 39 years. I've lived in Marina for about 8 years now, and this is the first time I've seen the Parade (or, uh.. heard of it..)

So anyway, we were supposed to try to meet up with the Boyds, but an early morning conversation gave me the impression it started at 10am, instead of 11 am as I'm sure Erin actually said (oops..) So Des and I got there very early and sat in the single set of three level bleachers that were brought out for the occasion. A definitive part of Marina's character is that the weather is unpredictable. Yesterday was warm, sunny, beautiful... today however was cold and foggy, which means that my lack of foresight to this left Des dressed in a skirt and tank top - so she spent the parade wearing her daddy's sweater, which was luckily available in the back of the car.

Sweet little girl in Daddy's sweater
I didn't take photos decent enough to truly represent how small and.. sad this parade was. It was cute, there was lots of fun had, but man.. when one of the most entertaining (because I was crying inside for Marina and the sadness) parts of the parade was a bunch of dancing moneybags advertising RaboBank.. well.. you know it's a sorry situation.

Dancing money bags

But anyway.. after the parading there was food and a small petting zoo, Des enthusiastically pet the little goats, and was so good with them - sadly, I spent so much time taking photos of old cars for Dan, that the camera's battery only lasted a moment in the petting zoo.

Very cute indeed.

A few more photos of the parade..

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Sentence

As Dan and I debate who gets to go to bed and who has to stay up to watch Des - She pulls out a book (Cookie Monster) and says "Read a book about.. cookie!" "Read a book about Petee" (We figured out peter after a little while) and sits down in her chair with her cookie monster book - Peter Rabbit near by... to read on her own as she repeats "Read a book about... cookie!"

She's made a sentence. Not only that, but she's not just copying what we said, she's assembling this sentence on her own.


A sweet summer day

I mentioned a "personal" blog.. well.. sorry to disappoint, but, here it is! Dividing the two seems silly, I'd never update, so here and there I'll post smatterings of life amongst the powdered sugar, oven and spatula.

Today started out rather rough. I had some trouble with work which kept me telecommuting all night. I did not sleep - and ended up at work at a lovely 5:30 am. This did however have some benefits

  • Driving to work I saw a deer, and about 50 fully clad soldiers. The dear was grazing, the soldiers were disembarking a bus and queuing up to get checked off on a roster. I assume they were going to do some back Ord training.

  • I had the first few hours at work in total peace. During which I did an insane amount of work, as well as was able to enjoy a lovely sunrise over the Fort Ord fog.

  • Oftentimes, on a Friday before a long weekend, we are given the opportunity to leave 59 minutes early (yes, 59, not 60). This was one of those - so being that I got to work so early I was able to leave early in the afternoon.

Aside from these things, I was deliriously tired a good portion of the day (I remember when I could stay up multiple days in a row and not feel as loopy as I did today).
When I got home, we all went out to the Child Development center to see if we could get Des signed up for the daycare waiting list. We aren't sure exactly when we will start needing it, as plans are nebulous right now as we try to work out what will be best for the family, but we figured we should at least get the info and give them ours so that getting in when we need to will be easier. Turns out the people we needed to meet with about this also got the 59 minutes of administrative leave - and so we didn't really accomplish much.
After this, we went to the park. A family outing to the park - together! I came armed with the camera.

It turned out a rather nice day, and there's still evening left :) Tomorrow Des and I will meet up with the Boyds to see the labor Day parade in the morning (if I succeed in waking up in time)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'm so full of lies. And I bought new toys!

Ah ok, so I said I was going to work on a personal blog.. but I'm liar. I did, however, update this blog's layout - granted, I didn't make the layout, just updated the banner to match and chose one of Blogger's templates.. but I'm rather fond of the new look.

My current project is a cake for a friend's girl. While I highly doubt she even knows this blog exists, I'm going to keep the planning under wraps - however, I will divulge the items which I am working on for this cake. Among various other ideas I had and am working on for this cake, many of them so far being rather big failures (note: 2 liter bottles literally crumple under the heat of poured sugar), the most recent is sugar shot glasses!

These molds by Fred (a favorite designer of household things - I want prettymuch everything they sell) are made of silicon - which means two fantastic things for me and sugarwork - they will be able to withstand the high temperatures - and I will be able to get the candy out once it's hard!

While shopping, i gave in to pressure from Amazon to get my products faster for free and signed up for Amazon Prime for a free 1 month trial and ordered these two other ice cube molds to maximize the use of this free shipping fantasticness - for future candy making joy.

Oh the joy! Toys are awesomeness.

Fried... what!?

Oh! And at our recent venture to the fair I found the most miraculous and devilish things... FRIED REESES PEANUTBUTTER CUPS

I stole this photo. from here
Yes. Fried.

and they are *GOOD* if you ever come across 'em, I highly recommend.

That is all.

Nap time.

I haven't departed the blogging world entirely.. I'm just taking a nap.

I guess the vanity cake and all of it's stresses (not exactly cake-related) took it all out of me and I needed a break.
Also, my daughter and I went camping this last weekend, and I've been trying desperatly to recover.

I will be posting again soon though, I'm working on a sugary, liquory cake-heaven, as well as the appropriate presentation for it. Soon my dearies, soon.

In other news, I am going to try to start up a personal blog, family and such. I'll link it once it's live.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Baked goods are the best goods.

Ain't that the truth.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Red Velvet Cookies

One day in summer (late July to be precise) I needed butter cream.. I made butter cream... and for some reason it tasted all wrong. So i tried to fix it by adding things. Cream Cheese being one of them. I ended up with a tasty cream cheese frosting.. and a need to start over and make some plain butter cream for the original purpose.

So what do you do when you have a bunch of cream cheese butter cream sitting around in the freezer?
You make Red Velvet! But I need a cake break - so I mooshed the general idea of Red Velvet Cake a bit to get some Red Velvet Cookies! Hurrah. They're tasty and soft.

Red Velvet Cookies
(This recipie makes like 500 times more frosting than you need, I'd scale it back to about 1/4 of this.)

3/4 cup butter (unsalted)
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 heaping tbsp cocoa
1 1/2 of those plastic little containers of liquid red food coloring (i only had neon colours, and so mine are kinda purply because i used 1 hot pink and 1/2 violet)
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp white vinegar (next time I think I would use 1/2 - 1 tbsp more)

Fluff together butter and sugars. Mix eggs in one at a time until well incorporated. In separate small bowl mix vanilla, food colouring and cocoa until a paste. Add to mixer and blend. Add flour ans salt and beat. Now, in a cup, over the mixing bowl, combine vinegar and baking soda. Make sure any fizzles end up in the bowl, mix with a spoon, and dump into mixing bowl - beat well.

Spoon onto greased cookie sheet in teaspoon balls, at least 3 in apart. bake in preheated oven at 350 for about 10 minutes or until fluffed up and done-looking.
let cool on sheet for 5 minutes, and then transfer to cooling rack.

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup salted butter
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup crisco
3/4 10 oz can (that would be 7.5 oz, yo) evaporated milk
1/2 cup or so cream cheese
4 cups powdered sugar (not exact)
2 tsp vanilla

cream butters, crisco and cream cheese together. Add milk and vanilla, mix well. add sugar until desired consistency/taste.

Friday, August 1, 2008

You can have your cake - and cookie too!

How is it I've never seen a cookie cake? Seriously, why would you NOT do this?
Nice, thick cookies, frosted or, cake the texture and taste of soft cookies, whatever you think it is* - it's good stuff.

Chocolate Chip** Cookie Cake

1/2 Cup shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 table spoon baking soda
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
package of chips or nuts or whatever of your choice

Preheat oven to 350
Beat butter, shortening, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time incorporating completely. Beat in vanilla and baking soda. Beat in flour until combined. Stir in extras as desired (i used mini peanut butter cups)
Pour into baking dish of choice - I used two 6in round cake pans.
Bake until done - this is the hard part.

I pulled one out after 40 mins when it passed the toothpick test - turned it out on a cooling rack - and it started to drip uncooked middle! So test with a knife, press the center and look for a feeling of firmness. These took about 50 minutes each to finish cooking in the 6in round pans - they were pretty thick cakes though, so I expect they'd cook better in 8in rounds.

When they're cool you'll have a *really big* cookie, that's just soft enough to cut with a knife when cool.
I frosted mine with a very simple buttercream - no vanilla flavour added, to give it more of a "cookies and milk" taste.

*It's the Chocolate Chip Cookie recipie from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, with added eggs and baking soda.
**Chocolate Chips, Butterscotch Chips, White Chocolate Chips, Peanut Butter Chips, Mini Peanut Butter Cups.. etc

Really Big Cupcakes!

I have a large co-worker. Not large like you are thinking, no, large as in very tall. Big guy! He's like 6'7" or something. So anyway, one day, he was in Costco when he saw thier cupcakes - big cupcakes for a big guy! Cupcakes that would make him feel "normal"! He was so excited that it was decided these cupcakes must be purchased and brought to the weekend BBQ. I caught wind of this and tsk'tsked the cupcakes, assuring them all that i could make larger, better cupcakes!
So I did.
Least, I think I did. I, however, have a high opinion of myself.

I also made normal cupcakes, the size difference between the two is best demonstrated in the below photo, which portrays Des enjoying a normal every-day cupcake, and Zeke (the tall guy) consuming a GIANT CUPCAKE.

I should ahve made tiny cupcakes too. Next time!

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