Red Velvet, the dish Wednesday, April 30, 2008I would dearly love to mail you all these cupcakes- but I fear they would arrive a broken, crumbled mess. I think the only solution is for me to make a cross country road trip stopping in various cities bringing you all my cupcakes*. A modern day Johnny Appleseed, except you know, a woman. And not apple seeds but cupcakes. And you could bet your ass I'm not walking.
So not really like Johnny Appleseed at all.
But lets get down to it. For the red velvet cupcakes I used Smitten Kitchen's recipe, usually I would turn to my mother's but I couldn't find it and why not throw caution to the wind and try something new. Her recipe turned out fantastically, it was a deliciously damp cake- blood red, of course with a decent cocoa flavor. The recipe itself it is a bit step heavy, but that I don't fault her for- every red velvet recipe I've read is most certainly be-labored with interesting bits (dissolving baking soda in vinegar- mini volcano in a cup!). I also think Deb has hit upon the right balance of sweet and tang for the cream cheese frosting.
My coworkers were the guinea pigs for these and they all declared them to be the best they'd ever had. Commenting on both the wonderful cake base and frosting.
Decorating the cupcakes was easy-peasy, I used an extra large star tip (like the kind that can be found in this set). Then starting at the edge I make a clockwise swirl using a continuous even pressure (hint: make sure there isn't any air trapped in the bag as it can cause 'hiccups' and mess up your pretty frosting). Once you get the the starting point continue the swirl except move it inward and continue repeating the motion until the cupcake is covered. Upon reaching the center pull up on the pastry bag while releasing the pressure. That should ensure a nice little pointy tip.
Practice really is the key, get yourself some parchment and practice piping frosting onto that. Once you've run out of frosting scrape it off the parchment and back into the pastry bag- no wasted frosting.
For these cupcakes I only filled them about 1/2 full with batter because I wanted the cake to barely crest the tops of wrappers. The recipe makes itself makes a lot of cupcakes done this way- about 48. And because I so liberally frosted them it took 2 batches of the frosting to cover them all.
*Can I please take moment to wonder aloud why "bringing you all my cupcakes." sounds vaguely dirty? Perhaps I just need to be thoroughly kissed to relieve this perceived pervy-ness in my writing.
Wiped. Monday, April 28, 2008I'm entirely too tired to write much today so instead I'll leave you with some photos I took this weekend. You know why you should all want to love me and be my friend? Because I like to bake but dislike actually eating baked goods (except bread- get between my bread and I and I will fork you.)
So really, I routinely pawn things like these red velvet cupcakes I made off onto friends:
Recipe and more will be forthcoming once I can put more than a few coherent sentences together.
It's not love but it'll do for now. Wednesday, April 23, 2008Looking for a place to live is stressful anywhere you live, but for some reason it seems to be a major issue here. You would think that I'm living in a thriving metropolis but nope! Just plain old Athens (with it's massive student population who artificially drive up prices). How about $1400 a month for a two bedroom apartment? YES! Please and thank you. There is also this giant rod that you could beat me roundly about the head with too.
Ok, but in all seriousness- $1400 a month for a two bedroom apartment in insane. I could rent a whole house in a nicer neighborhood for that amount or a little bit more. So the epic search continued on- then there was the $450 motel-dive-looking apartment. Complete with half inflated air mattress on the floor and hobo smell.
Then there was the hugely touted "ceramic tile!" apartment, the only ceramic tile was about 3 tiles right when you walked in the door. Of course the kitchen had horrible, shit-tastic linoleum. Instead of a hobo smell this place was heavily incensed so either the dude was in the Seminary and practicing his Catholic rituals or he is into the pot. I'm thinking it is the latter, especially since there was the tell-tale hippie tapestry on the living room wall.
There was one other contender, it was nice, tile floors/nice carpet, bigger kitchen, good amount of storage. But the price was a bit higher, it had a bit of an odd layout and it didn't have a washer and dryer. It cost about the same as the place I'm living now though- but...
In the end I chose the apartment on the West Side of town, sort of out of the way (still only a 5 minute commute to work). But it's big and open (albeit boring and bland), with a nice washer and dryer. The kitchen is JACKED, though. Carpet in the kitchen? (good bye deposit the minute I spill something on the floor) It looks like they intended to put in some more counters/cabinets and then got distracted by shiny object or perhaps a ham sandwich thus causing them to entirely forget about the project.
But it is cheaper than my current place and I am instituting plan "super money saver" so at the end of next year I could make some major life changes. Maybe leave, maybe buy a house, maybe take a super extended vacation? I don't know. Something BIG.
Now that I've put it out there I have to follow through.
So very sore+Day in photos Friday, April 18, 2008I am totally walking funny today because I asked my trainer to kick my ass. I've totally slacked off on working on for the last month, I just couldn't find the motivation because I was being sad and lame. Whatever. Really I couldn't stand feeling like such shit anymore so I resolved to working out every day again. Also I had a bit of great motivation, that being that my pants are starting to not fit correctly. Which sucks since my pant wardrobe is seriously limited to start with.
As soon as I started back this week I felt better. I got in several good cardio workouts before I asked my trainer to essentially come up with a plan to make my thighs explode. Oh, and he did. Circuits. Lots of squats, lunge-like steps, kicking exercises (which I happen to LOVE. Here let me work out some aggression by kicking the shit out of your (padded) hands.WHEEEE !!!!). Best part was that we ripped through an hour workout in 30 minutes because I could complete each circuit in 11 minutes, I was hauling ass people. He did cut one set of circuits because he didn't want me to be totally fucking paralyzed for the following 2 days.
Yesterday I just did cardio, but there were a couple cute new guys at the gym. And I think one of them might have been checking me out, although it is quite possible he was staring at my extremely red face in horror. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned how I turn the color of tomato whileexercising but here is the other thing about when I'm having a really good workout... I smile. A LOT. Because it feels good. Also because I'm usually listening to some super cheesy pop mix. Yesterday the biggest smiles came from Wind it Up (GwenStefani), Switch (Will Smith), and Faith (George Michael).
With any luck I'll feel more comfortable in my pants in a month, barring any more brownie breakfasts (oops, just one this morning). But I also like to think that eating it early in the day might be marginally better since I've got all day to burn it off. Just let me live on in my delusion,ok?
Lets show some photos, shall we? Tuesday happened to be a particularly fun day, since it didn't involve my usually boring routine of sitting on the couch watching endlessCSI repeats on Spike (CSI is the new Law and Order), I felt the compelling need to document it.
A full day Sunday, April 13, 2008Saturday was one of those full, great days where things just seem to cosmically align and go smoothly. I woke up early and managed to get out of the house in 45 minutes- from waking up to out the door that is pretty impressive especially since it includes a shower, blow drying and curling my hair and make up application. Honestly though, my makeup is exactly two products- a face lotion and blush. What can I say, I'm a pretty low-maintenance woman.
All the way to the store in Columbus I was hearing awesome music: Cher, Kenny Loggins, Billy Joel, etc. Really fun car music for singing along to (at the top of your lungs) and then there is the car dancing. Oh the car dancing, since one is constrained by being in a seated position and being strapped in, range of motion is seriously limited. Basically there is much flailing about with the arms and head to the beat of the music.
While in Columbus I dropped some money at the L'Occtaine store, since I was in serious need hand lotion. It may sound ridiculously vain and lame but it's important to me to have soft, lovely hands. Which means nails need to be polished/buffed (oh-new favorite nail colorOPI Royal Rajah Ruby- buy it, it's perfection) and hands need to be properly lotioned for niceness. Why this obsession with hands care? Most likely it is that I'm a little self-conscience about the size of my hands and the fat little fingers that are attached. I long for lovely long and slender fingers, instead I have plump little digits. I know it's something probably no one else but me notices (I hope like hell people aren't talking about my hands behind their backs, calling them big, meaty paws or man hands. Don't get me wrong, I love man hands. ON MEN.)
Bloody hell, perhaps I'm just obsessed with hands in general.
But enough about that jazz, lets get to my favorite part of the whole damn weekend. I stopped at Trader Joe's to refuel on cheese and decided to pick up some beer for a party I was going to on Saturday night. While stand in the beer aisle a cute fellow asked me if I had any beerrecommendations , and I pointed him in the direction of an apricot ale. Flirting over beer ensued and right before he walked away he said "You're beautiful. Uh, I mean you're helpful. Thanks."Awesomest Freudian slip EVER. I think I fairly floated around the store on the cloud of that compliment- even the checkout guy flirted with me. Which was another awesome exchange, he was asking me aboutProsecco and I was telling him why it was good especially for brunch (I'm a traveling wikipedia of alcohol, folks). I added that is if you like to start drinking early on the weekends like I do, and he said "You are my kind of girl!" By some funny twist of fate I was parked next to Freudian-slip guy and there was more flirting as we loaded the cars but he never asked for my number, damnit (oh well).
Who knew all I need to do to boost my confidence was head to Trader Joe's and dispense alcohol advice, letting the compliments roll in.
Then on Saturday night was a childhood-themed pot-luck for the ladies. There was lots of drinks, food, pictionary and randomly swinging conversations. A few topics covered included: Prince being a Jehovah's Witness, kumquats, cake decorating, tea-bagging, prowlers in my neighborhood (holy shit!), and pony play.
yeah, some stuff... Monday, April 07, 2008First off, I'm glad my boys of summer finally pulled their shit together sunday afternoon and racked up a win against Oakland. And with three losses under their belts (from both the White Sox and the A's) it's not exactly the start to the the season I was dreaming of this long cold winter. They'll be back in the latter half of the week to play the A's again after a 3-game series with the Angels.
Of course lately I've been all-sad-girl-dating-reject and spewing my sad-girl-dating-reject-ness all over my wonderful friends who listen. As evidence I present this IM convo I had with Kate:
me: I'm just feeling very "wah, wah...sad" girl lately. I don't want to be that awesome girl into my thirties though who everyone thinks is great but is still alone and terribly lonely.
Kate: your thirties are pretty far away, man!
me: 1.5 years. KATE WE ARE ALMOST 29!
Kate: 1.5 years is a loooooooooooooooooooong time!
me: Ugh, but at this rate I'll be 87 before I find a man. And then only because all the other girls are dead and they have to like me.
Kate: HA! omg.
I left out the part where I dramatically talk about shooting myself if this new girl in town ends up with a boyfriend before I do.
THERE IS A BOYFRIEND QUEUE PEOPLE. Line forms behind Skeezix.
Ok, not really. And I'm massively happy for anyone who finds love or a shag partner or whatever in this town.
What? Yes, I know I'm only 28 and that my thirties could be a very rich time for dating. But the dating pool in this town is pretty damn small, fuck, it might qualify as a kiddie pool. And not one of those awesome inflatable kiddie pools rather one of those molded plastic ones that are blue with frogs printed on the inside of it. You know the ones I'm talking about, they hold like a gallon of water. Lest you think that I'm kidding about the smallness of the pool, I'm quickly butting up again the maximum saturation point that allows for a comfortable degree of separation of sexual partners and friends. In my ideal world there would be at least 3 people separating me and my friends in the sexual realm. Yet, I'm hovering close to two people separating some of us. And I'm not even that slutty!
My friends, on the other hand, are total whores.
Ok, I lie. They aren't whores, almost every single one of them are all in stable, loving relationships. Which does occasionally make being the single girl out a little bit harder because they make being in/finding a relationship look so blastedly easy. And it's not, dudes. It's not.
But since I've already shared one IM conversation I feel can share TWO, and in it's perfection I would like to leave you with it as a parting thought. This is the reply my friend Tom sent me after I called him pervy:
"And yes, I like to dress like US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then get spanked with a rolled up copy of The Wall Street Journal, while my sweaty babe yells "House on fie, house on fire, put it out, put it out!""
PS. I feel I should tell you all I wrote this earlier in the day. Then I went out for happy hour and got a little drunk. Now I find everything hilariously awesome.
Screw the spoonful of sugar, I'll take a slice of cheese to make the medicine go down. Wednesday, April 02, 2008The other day I spent $45 on cheese and olive oil at Trader Joe's as a conciliatory reward for a lady-business doctor's appointment. I'm a firm believer that if I have to have my feet in those stirrups and be poked about by a doctor that cheese and wine are most certainly in order. The wine, I'll admit I did not imbibe because I still had a hour and half drive back home. But never fear I did have some wine the minute I walked through the door of my apartment.
So what kind of cheese did I manage to blow lots of hard earned money on you might ask? (Ok, honestly you didn't ask but I'm going to pretend you did and that you love cheese as much as I do. Because if you don't then I really don't ever want to talk to you again.) I bought a lovely double cream brie which was smooth and silky, it was all I could do not to sit down demolish that (not-so-tiny) wedge all by myself. I also bought parmesan , which is besides being wonderful atop many dishes is also fantastic when you steal little chunks of it from the fridge while drinking red wine and watching trashy television (possibly in lieu of a proper dinner).
Also purchased was blue cheese, and really there are few things in the world more lovely to me than blue cheese. Blue cheese on granny smith apples (maybe with a bit of honey- this is seriously heaven. You should go to your kitchen right now and eat this. It will change your life.), blue cheese in salads, on burgers, eaten straight from the block- I love all of it's incarnations. Lastly there is a hunk of white, very sharp cheddar cheese which will possibly go into mac and cheese or perhaps be eaten with my mother's spicy sweet mustard. There are many reasons to love my mother and her mustard is just one of them. It's got a fantastic English mustard-based heat, a nice vinegary kick and then a lovely note of sweetness to balance out the other two.
Jesus, it is no wonder I've put on 5lbs in the last two months. Oh, also the fact that I've been a terribly lazy ass.