Friday, September 30, 2011


It's been a rough year, and one of my friends is hanging by a thread today.
So I'm focusing on appreciating the world around me.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WIP: alllllmost there

I probably won't get a picture in time for this post, but remember that sweater that I ripped out in March?  Yep, it's almost done. yes, this time I think it fits (though I will stretch it a leetle bit when I block it). yes, I am very excited!!!!! Then maybe I can finish the pair of socks for a friend that I started in May. And maybe do something about Halloween/Christmas...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Recipe Review, or: That's right, I'm a genius

In August I made Tartelette's Chocolate Hazelnut Meringue cake.

The thing I love about baking is this: if you follow the directions carefully, usually it comes out okay. In this case it came out MORE than okay: I made it for my wine group and received several raves a week later.

The recipe has you make a chocolate cake, bake it for 20 minutes, add meringue, and bake for about 20 minutes more. My only fault is that I didn't realize how sturdy the meringue is - when I pulled the cake out, it was puffed up nearly to the top of the pan, and I thought I had to contain the meringue within the walls of the pan, so I purposely thumped the pan a few times to deflate the baking cake. It tasted fine, but it looked a bit slumpy on the sides:

So next time I'll have greater faith in the power of meringue to stand up without the help of the pan walls. Either that or I'll make all individuals next time - this sample came out great!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

WIP Wednesdsay: Coloriffic

It's not really a WIP since I finished it in the course of a weekend, but this is so pretty I am dying to brag.
All it needs is buttons - and then to be wrapped around a baby!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Garden update

Now that summer is ending in the rest of the world, it's really kicking in here in the Bay Area. Sunshine! 70 degrees! Who cares if I'm in the mood for fall? Not my garden!

I harvested a bunch of cherry tomatoes last weekend. I was home sick but managed (barely!) to summon the energy to halve and slow-roast these. Now I have a jar of slow-roasted tomato goodness in my fridge - great for pasta!
Those tomatoes were from a hybrid plant I bought at the nursery, so I can't harvest the seeds and use them next year (that only works reliably with heirlooms). So I bought some heirloom tomatoes at the market and am saving their seeds so I can grow these next year:
I'm also saving the seeds from some of the massively prolific green beans we grew. I think they're blue lake green beans, but I'm not positive. I just pulled some of the shriveled pods off the vine and pulled out the hardened beans. I don't know if it'll work but it's worth a try!

Monday, September 5, 2011

recipes: birthday cake

Belated, I know, but wow did I make a great cake for my birthday party! Look at it in all its lopsided beauty!
I was inspired by a post on Sprouted Kitchen; when a friend offered to host a birthday BBQ I told her I really did want to bring myself a cake since it's fun for me to bake it.

The top and bottom layers are from David Lebovitz' excellent cookbook Ready for Dessert - except he said it didn't matter if you used Dutch process cocoa or not, and I swear mine didn't rise AT ALL. In the photo above, you can see that the top layer (which is upside down) did rise some in the middle, but was pretty skinny on the edges. Here are the cakes before and after baking:

See? Can't see any rising action. Drat. So I decided rather than have a short (but flavorful!) cake, I'd make a third layer. I opted to make a flourless cake for the middle, and baked some of the batter in a ramekin for a friend who can't eat gluten - double win! I used a flourless chocolate cake recipe found in some cookbook or other (sheesh, I swear I thought I was paying better attention) and was ready to go:

On the left, the (slightly charred...but delicious!) flourless cake; middle and right are the regular-flour cakes. The one on the blue plate shows just how woefully short they were. The jar is full of pastry cream, which is basically thick vanilla pudding, adapted from this recipe - I opted to use the lesser amount of sugar and greater amount of flour, as I wanted it quite thick but not very sweet.

Okay so we have cake, cake, cake, and pastry cream - all that was left was frosting. Shockingly, I used the frosting that came from the original blog post that was my inspiration - the mascarpone/whipping cream frosting sounded too decadent to miss! Plus it gave me an excuse to use my beloved KitchenAid mixer.
An added bonus was that the frosting didn't have any flour or other gluten-giving ingredients in it, so I was able to frost the flourless cake in the ramekin for my friend. Maybe dessert isn't as important to her as it is to me, but I would really be grumpy if I went to a party and couldn't eat any of the desserts on offer!

All in all the cake came out great. There was lots of focused silence while people consumed it - and there was a goodly amount leftover for me to share at work the next day. If I can figure out the leavening issue (and I really do know I should have paid closer attention) this combination is a keeper!

*** Edited to add links to the cake recipes:
The two layers of chocolate cake came from David Lebovitz' devil's food cake recipe
The flourless chocolate cake came from Ezra Poundcake

Friday, September 2, 2011


Last fall I took a road trip with a dear friend who lives in New York City. (Brooklyn now, actually.) We've been friends since we met working at a bookstore in Boston in 1995. When we discovered we lived in the same neighborhood, she gave me her phone number and said I should call if I was ever hanging out in the fun part of town - uncharacteristically, because I hate cold-calling anyone, I DID call her and here we are, road trip buddies fifteen years later. Life is good that way.
Central Oregon Coast - part of the Three Capes scenic loop

We had to refresh her memory for driving stick shift - her only other exposure had been in college when she was the designated driver and only had to lurch a couple of miles home - and we were on our way! I already posted the route we took, so here are some of the pretties from that trip.
Upper Klamath Lake (Southern Oregon)

Autumn color (and a bit of rain!) - somewhere outside of Eugene, Oregon
Mountainous coastline of Southern Oregon, south of Port Orford
As always, we had a fun time poking around. We'll have to do it again someday! We've always promised ourselves a trip cross-country, but so far it hasn't fit into our busy schedules.