Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Catch-up time

It's been a busy couple of weeks off the ol' blog:
  • I'm wrapping up my beeswax project - and have managed to get wax and/or oil on every item of clothing I own, I swear! I even went the extra mile and found someone on Etsy to make labels for me. I'll link to her shop when I have pictures of the assembled project.
  • I created and ordered the calendars for 2012. I think the layout will be better this year, though not every page will have a caption. The interface I use was eating up too much photo space with the text block, even though I wanted unobtrusive lettering. Fine, be that way. 
  • Cleaned, made delicious apps, and had a few people over before going to see Pink Martini in concert. I wasn't going to go see them since I've gone to at least 8 shows by them, but Groupon posted a deal for $22 tickets! It was worth way more than twenty-two bucks, too - every time I see them I remember how very happy they make me feel. Their live performance energy is just so very positive!
  • I made a SUPER yummy side dish for Thanksgiving: Butternut squash, kale, and cheddar bread pudding
  • Checked in on my various boozy projects. The nocino is incredibly bitter and undrinkable, which I think is normal for its youth. This summer I wound up making two kinds of cherry bounce; the bourbon/sweet cherry is okay, but the vodka/sour cherry is outstanding, if sweet (you add sugar).
  • Knitting is also proceeding apace, but those will be held in reserve for post-Christmas posting, if ever.
Stay tuned for the wrap-up on the various projects! I might even write up the end of the beeswax story even though a couple of the recipients may then have their Christmas surprise blown. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

International bundt day!!!

Mary the food librarian is at it again: It's International Bundt Day and yes, she likes big bundts! As it happens, so do I!

This is my third year participating; in 2009 I invented ginger-pear bundt. In 2010 I made Mexican hot chocolate bundt.

This year I played it simple: Spice cake with brown butter/vanilla glaze and yes, that frosting really did make the cake. It was greeted with much admiration and delight!
Do all bakers criticize their products? I thought the flavor was great but the crumb was too dense. I think I overmixed it. Still, it was delicious and I had no leftovers, so I couldn't critique it very carefully!

You'll find the recipe here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wax: woot!

Success, dear readers. I filtered the beeswax and am left with something really beautiful:

How'd I do it, you ask? Well, I re-melted the wax that I'd melted into cans:
 Then poured it VERY carefully through cheesecloth I'd rubber-banded to the top of two milk cartons:
and beamed approvingly at the clean results:
I wasn't totally confident the milk cartons could withstand the heat, but they held up just fine. Once the wax solidified I peeled off the carton and weighed the wax blocks: 24 ounces! It's so lovely and I can't wait for the final steps in my project.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dia de los muertes/day of the dead

The Bay Area has a huge Latino community and I finally got to attend the Dia de los Muertos street festival that's held here annually. It was actually a couple of days early, as the traditional days of celebration are November 1st and 2nd. I've done just a little reading, and it seems like the 1st is all souls day and/or the day to remember dead infants and children; the 2nd is to remember adults who have died.
Families and loved ones make memorial altars and artwork. Much of what we saw were elaborate works made from seeds, flowers, candles, and chalk.
I thought it was super cool that a Girl Scout troop did a memorial for the founder of the Girl Scouts - someone even demonstrated how to cut the Girl Scout logo into the decorative tissue paper!
Even though it's a day of remembrance, if there's an element of sadness it must be saved for when the tourists go home - I saw tons of families, and people dancing and eating and socializing. I had some pretty awesome food, too! The most interesting thing was the pan de muertos helados: ice cream made with some of the bread of the dead, which looked like an eggy sweet loaf kind of like Jewish challah and Portuguese massa. My ice cream was mostly vanilla, perhaps a bit custardy, with bread crumbs in it. Kind of weird, but definitely delicious!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Play with your food: funky soup!

I don't even know what to call this one.. suggestions?

Over the last few years I've been exposed to the idea of sticking spaghetti through uncooked hotdogs or sausages, as a way to amuse kids (or the adults who are feeding them). Well we don't need no kids to play with food!

I cut up some nice-ish sausages and jabbed spaghetti through them:
then I dropped them into soup I made up (canned tomatoes, chopped-up onion, carrot and celery, some spices):
And as expected, they cooked into noodle-sausage goodness!
It reheated just fine and made for amusing lunches that week. (well, I was privately amused; I'm not claiming there was general hilarity.)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Occupy Oakland

It's been five years since I moved to Oakland from Portland. When I handed in my driver's license, the woman at the DMV joked, "You're going the wrong way!" I smiled, but my heart wasn't in it - I had by no means come to terms with my geographical change. 

These five years have taught me a lot: primarily, the truth to the saying "wherever you go, there you are" - I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to adapt to my new life. I've also learned that of all the places I could have settled in the Bay Area, Oakland is definitely the best fit for me. It's walkable, has friendly residents, and is full of interesting shops, great food, and wonderful old buildings. My neighborhood is probably the best I'll ever live in, and I appreciate my short commute daily. 

But that's not the message the world hears about Oakland. Instead, we're famous for our crime, our riots, and now our activist movement. 

I won't be at tomorrow's general strike, partly because I've got a ticket to an event, and partly because I'm a coward - I almost expect things to go poorly after dark. Yet if people like me don't go stand up for Oakland, who will? 

I've lived in three cities and Oakland occupies its share of my heart. I hope the demonstrators can keep the peace tomorrow and in the days going forward. Perhaps I'll even make it out to the next demonstration! 

2011:10 + 11

Oops, I missed last month's calendar post. I hope that doesn't mean my brother is still looking at the September image!

October's and November's calendar pages feature pictures taken six months and a quarter of the world away from each other - yet they are certainly autumnal!
Albert Park in Auckland was a great place for people-watching and fresh air after spending the night on a plane. It was very weird to go from spring in the Bay Area to fall in New Zealand, but the temperature was similar, and even though I knew the sun was low in the northern sky, I couldn't get my body to believe it.
Grape vines in real autumn: this was at a winery in Sonoma Valley last November - a bit gray and rainy, just like I like it.