Saturday, November 14, 2009

Spiderman cake, Spiderman cake!

Last year, I made the Diego cake, for the daughter of Autumn, a lady I work with. That cake wasn't a situation where I had the creative room I'd prefer. This year, however, she came back asking if I could make a birthday cake again - only criteria, Spiderman! Blue. Red.

It was fun :) And my first topsyturvy!

I started out by searching photos of Spiderman. As well as checking out what has been done in the past. Autumn also showed me a few photos of cakes they had found that they liked, so I had a direction, and made a doodle.

I sent this to her, and she gave me a thrilled response. So I knew I was on the right track.

I started out a week ahead to make all of the buttercream, since the colours I would need - red, blue, black were so vivid that they needed a few days to set. The amount of dye in this cake was almost sickening. I would never suggest a vibrantly coloured cake for a wedding - the guests the day after would be reminded in the worst way of what they ate the day before. I also warned Autumn ahead of time that the dye content would have... certain repercussions.

After the frosting was taken care of, I spent an evening with the gumpaste to cut out the buildings. Simple, random building-ish shapes.

The cakes were my favorite buttercake recipe, nice and dense. I made those two days before the due date. That gave them overnight to chill and become more workable the next day.

All the frosting was done on the night before, as it is buttercream, I didn't want to frost and leave it in the fridge overnight, because the buttercream tends to take on the flavors of the refrigerator, if nothing more than just that "refrigerator air" smell/taste.

Carving the cake was far easier than I had thought. I watched a video on you-tube that made it pretty easy for me to apply their suggestions. Unfortunately I didn't get photos of the unfrosted cake. So the next photos are of the first stabs are the frosting.

A lesson I have certainly learned is that transitioning colours on a corner is really really difficult, especially if you want a nice clean edge. I did however learn quite a few tricks to working with buttercream, and getting a nice smooth look. I'm no longer scared to attack a fondant-free cake!

All assembled, here is the final cake. (Unfortunately, it seems that flash does weird things to shiny, butter surfaces, so it looks strange)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Olivia Ears

This isn't a food blog.
Although I think you've noticed that I post about a lot of cake and food and cookies and things that make me fatter by the day.
Ok so maybe it's a food blog.

But I so other things too. Sometimes I'm crafty.
Crafty like a fox.

For Squeaker's Halloween this year, we went for Olivia. Oh do we love Olivia, she's independent, out spoken, wishful, and endearing. Maybe I'm the one in love with Olivia, but whatever.

I had this conversation with my mom.

Me: So Des wants to be Olivia for Halloween.
Mom: Oh how sweet!
Me: Yeah, that should be fun. Now I just have to figure out how in the world to make big pig ears. And find stripy fabric.
Mom: You could use felt?
Me: Hmmm.. Felt.. Yes. I wonder...

Ok so there was more and that's from memory from over a month away, but you get the idea.
Anyway. Here's what Mom was thinking
"Yeah, you could cut the felt and stuff it, maybe glue or sew it together, and attach it to a headband.. Hmm"
And I was thinking
"Wow, I have no idea how to Felt. Hm... I'm going to have to look on YouTube and see if anyone has tutorials. I wonder how hard it is. Oh here's a tutorial, oh cool ok I can do this.. Hmm.. Fabric, wire, needles, check... Lets stab the living heck out of the felt, well hey, it's like fabric clay! This is AWESOME! Yeye ! EARS!"

So erm, apparently we have a communication issue. And if I had realized what Mom meant in the first place, I would have totally done that - but no, I went the hard way. I molded my own ears out of felt. There's no sewing here folks. And the only glue I used was to attach the ribbons to the ears, and the ears to the headband.

Sweet, huh? I'm pretty proud.

Step by step on this coming up.

Hot Creamy Polenta Cereal

Let's get rejuvenated.
It's been months. Sad and pathetic months since I've blogged, and the guilt has been pecking at my toes. It's annoying.
So here I am! (sans photos in this post, sadly. cope)

I'd like to come back to you with something new to me. Something amazing, something I cannot believe I've never had (double negatives 4 u!) before.

What is this mystery? Creamy Polenta!

OK, so I've only eaten polenta a small handful of times. Maybe more of a generous pinch. And I've only ever cooked with it once - all of my experiences were savory adventures - tasty, but not thrilling.

The other day, Squeaker requested Oatmeal for breakfast. "Not on the stove, the kind in the microwave, Mommy" nice that she can be so specific, but we had neither the stovetop nor instant varieties on hand. It also turned out that the box of Malto-O-Meal was 1/2 TBS away from empty.

It's sad when you have to tell your child that you don't have food.* That you're broke and she'll have to settle for uncooked noodles, rotten bananas, and almost molding bread**. So I scoured the cupboards for some sort of morning meal replacement. 'Lo and behold! The Tupperware of Polenta was available, and I had heard on some Food Network show sometime long ago that Polenta was eaten as a warm breakfast cereal. So that's what I made, and boy is it good. I want you to try it.

Creamy Breakfast Polenta with Fresh Fruit and Sweetened Sour Cream
Prep Time : 30 minutes
Makes enough for 2 hungry hungry hippos

  • 1/2 cup polenta (I think it really is just coarse corn meal. Lets pretend I know what I'm talking about)

  • 2 cups milk

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 1/2 TBS sugar

  • 1/2 TBS salted butter

  • Large Dash o salt

Combine everything but the polenta into a saucepan, bring to a boil, stirring (don't scald the milk to the bottom of the pan, man that's a mess). Once boiling, pour in polenta while stirring to avoid lumps. Mix mix mix until lumps have been eradiated. Turn the stove down such that you have a very gentle simmer going on.

Every 5 minutes or so give it a stir, let cook for about half an hour until thick and soft.

Sweetened Sour Cream which is heavenly should be served with the cereal - stir a hand-dash** of sugar with about half a cup of sour cream.
Also recommended, fresh fruit (or maybe jam? Sounds too sweet to me though, maybe nuts. yes, nuts would be good).
We ate ours with sliced strawberries. JOY!

*We have food
**Dear lord, do you think I'm serious??
**Hand-Dash: A quick handful, not a tight fisted one, just kinda throw your hand in the jar and scoop some out. Maybe an 1/8 cup, maybe less. I guess. I have no idea.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'm hip, I'm cool, I'm with it

Nope. Still don't have a computer. However, being totally techie
savvy, I've discovered blogging by email, sent on my iPhone. Soooo

Having moved to Salinas, I've been looking around for local goodness.
Fancy that the first thing be the Saturday Farmer's Market - Salinas
being the Salad Bowl Capitol of the World or somesuch (check your
lettuce, from Salinas?)

I'm trying to make a visit to the market part of the weekly routine.
So far, so good! And so good it is! Last week I picked up some meaty
heirloom tomatoes which fabulousized a lasagne quite well. This week,
I decided to fancy them up a bit - sliced, oil-drizzled, sprinkled
with parmasan, and smeared with basil (yes, I use the basil in a tube

They cooked up sweet and juicy.

And did you know that heirlooms aren't all gushy and liquid in the
middle? These things are tasy tomato flesh nearly all the way through!!

This phone blogging is a bit cumbersome...

later edit: unfortunatly the photos I so expertly included didn't make it. Not so awesome as I thought :( ... Going to have to work on this.

Testing... Testing...

Just you wait

Monday, August 3, 2009

I've failed so terribly

There are a few dead blogs in my Google Reader.. blogs which never update but for that once-every-few-months-post simply stating "I'm so sorry, I've neglected you my readers, I'm here, I am, but life has taken the front seat and thrown blogging in the trunk.. I'll be back, I promise!"

I keep these blogs on my list and wait, hope.. some end up being deleted. Some have that final message "I'm sorry, it's not you.. it's me. I just can't blog anymore" and some simply don't ever return.. but there is that one-in-a-bunch blog that does come back. So I stay hopeful!

I make no promises. But I do want to blog again soon.. heck, I want to bake! I haven't done either in so long, it is a very sad thing. See, life did that thing where it got.. busy... it's all a big pile of excuses, which I've already used at that, and I am so sorry, I am.

I'll be back. I will.
Wait.. that's a promise... oh fudge.

mmm... fudge...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009




Long time.. no, err.. posty.

You see... I'm busy, and well.. yes, too busy to update.

I'm the worst blogger ever.

I have some photos of things. But I can't upload them. Both. BOTH of the computers have gone totally to hell. I use the iPod Touch to play online now, and, well.. posting here isn't that easy.

I'm also moving. Well, not just moving, but buying a house. BUYING A HOUSE. !!!

So I'm busy, and as much as I miss you, I do, I really do... I just can't make the time right now..

Oh I'll be back, I will. Just let me have this time to slack somewhere in my life, please? The stress is getting to me!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Chicken McNugget Happy Meal ... Cake?

Oh boy. This was a fun one. I'm calling it a successful failure... my plans for this 'cake' were far greater than I achieved, however, I'm so thrilled about the look of the McNuggets that I'm over it!

Besides, I've realized that whenever I do a test cake.. the second cake ends up at least 500x better (examples? the Quilt before and after and Rubber Ducky before and after cakes) - so I'm confident if I were to do it again, I would get what I had originally envisioned, and that's good enough for me right now.

The plan was a Happy Meal - for Ryan (of cakes past). As he correctly guessed, it was a poke at the fact that he doesn't ever eat more than a kid (Des once ate more than him...)

The Failure:
I had hoped to have a happy meal box, built much like a gingerbread house over the vanilla cake, frosted with chocolate icing. I had also planned a McNugget box as well - both of these were casualties of icing crappiness, and last minute doing of things. I should have done more ahead of time.

The frosting was done all in an hour or two - and because I was semi-rushed, that meant that the colours bled and things just weren't as sharp as I would hope.

The Success:
The chicken nuggets and fries! OMG love it!

Served with chocolate syrup "BBQ Sauce", the fried cake nuggets (yes, yes I DID fry cake and it was everything I wanted it to be) are dead ringers for chicken nuggets! The fries were cookies - baked long and slow to brown them), glazed and sugared to give that oily shine, and salty look. They were served with some tube frosting "Ketchup".

Dan stepped in on this project and made me a fry bag and cup out of French butter cookies (much like fortune cookies). And it was awesome. He also did some cool design things that I might have to make him do for future projects.

Oh and yes, that's a happy meal toy on top of the cake.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Romantic Dinner

Dan and I recently celebrated 8 years of being together (8 years!)
We decided that instead of going out, spending lots of money, and having to get a babysitter, we would stay in and make dinner together.
This was an amazing night, and decidedly far more romantic and intimate than going out to eat at any fancy pantsy restaurant. The meal was amazing to boot! This was by far one of my favorite anniversary celebrations, and I look forward to next time!

The menu we decided on was Lobster Thermador, Bacon Wrapped Fillet Mignon, French Onion Soup, and ginger carrots. All said and done - we forgot the carrots.

Dan took care of the fillets, seasoning lightly, grilling briefly and then baking, simple and elegant.

The lobster was a good amount of work, and full of butter and cheese (so healthy).
Lobster Thermador

I purchased frozen tails - and thawed in a water bath earlier in the day.

First the tails are boiled about 10 minutes - before they are cooked through.
Rinse with cool water until you can handle them - split the shell down the middle and take out the meat. Cut into bite sized pieces. Wash the shells and put aside.

Next, finely chop 2 shallots, 2 tsp fresh tarragon (we later decided that more would have been welcome), and 2 tsp chervil (the produce guy at the store helped me pick out fresh parsley instead - since they didn't usually have chervil. Boil these all in 1 cup of fish stock with a splash (or three) of white wine - reduce to half.

While this is reducing, start a roux - in a pan melt 1/4 cup butter - add 2 tbsp flour, 1 tsp dry mustard and stir constantly over low heat for 2 minutes. don't let it brown.
While stirring, slowly add the reduced stock and 1 cup of milk while the pan is off the heat, stirring until smooth. Pout back on the heat and slowly bring to a boil, stirring all the while. Allow to simmer (Stir every now and again) for 3 minutes, the sauce will thicken. Add 1/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan. Taste. YUMMY isn't it? Add salt an pepper in small amounts until it's irresistibly good (like a really really rich bisque).

Leave that pan where it is - and now use another pan to melt another 1/4 cup of butter. Fry the lobster until *just* done and starts to brown.

Preheat the broiler.
Divide half of the sauce among the 4 shell halves. (photos shoe the soup in ramekins as well)

Add the lobster to each tail in even amounts - and then pour the rest of the sauce over them. Divide 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese over them.

Put them all in the broiler until the cheese starts to colour a nice golden brown. remove and serve!
oh it's to die for... artery clogging joy.

The soup, I started around 5... we didn't eat until midnight because the soup took that long... while it was very good, and even Des enjoyed leftovers - I've made French onion Soup before will a different recipe and it was far better, so I won't detail the recipe I used here, since I don't care t share a recipe I wasn't thrilled with!

Our meal was excellent, and although it was certainly a good amount of work - it was all easy. The ingredients themselves cost us less than going out for this meal would have been, but it was still not a cheap meal..

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Can you believe it? MORE COOKIES!

After receiving one of the cookie bags that I made for the baby shower last week - my friend Darlena asked if she could put in an order for herself - HECK YEAH!
80 cookies total (plus an additional 24 that I made *just in case*), it's been far more work that I thought it would be (if they had all been the same one or two designs it would have been infinitely easier) but I'm done, a day early - and pretty happy with the results!
I learned, as always, a lot - and I can see a noticeable difference in the first cookies I decorated vs the 100th (bees and ducks were last, bunny was first). Also - I got to use my shimmer dust on the inset wings, and I almost never get to use that stuff.

She's giving most of these away as gifts, but liked the cookies themselves so much, she divulged some would make it to her own freezer.

The colouring and shimmer doesn't come through well in photos - but the lines you see in the frosting are colour from the dust, and the whole wing glimmers like ruby slippers...

Would you believe that I hardly ate any?
Eh, me either.. about 5 made it into my tummy over the three days of preparation.

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