Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Come Sea. Comme Ça.

That's exactly how I felt last Thursday after a scorching hot day that kept dragging out like the Kate & Leo version of Titanic (did it really need to be so long?), and then something changed. A breeze came through my window carrying with it that certain bite only sea air can bring to revive you on days like that. It also brought that familiar smell of the beach ... you know the one that smells like sea plants, and the inside of a clam shell, and as I followed the breeze backward to its origin I was met with the moody, clouds that looked like they'd been colored with octopus ink from Oregon that we were promised earlier in the day. Even though I don't think we actually got the lightning we were warned about, there's that undeniable energy in the air that always comes with clouds that puffy, and that dark, and that's when I thought to myself: Come sea. Just like that.

You know the people who visit their family's motherland, like the rolling, green, velvety hills of Ireland, and instantly feel as though they've belonged to the land their entire lives, and have finally come home? That's how I've come to feel about the sea. I've loved a good romp on the beach since childhood, but it's becoming more apparent that it's much less of a preference to be near it, and more of a pull you feel deep inside and can't control, but can only be aware of. As long as I can smell the sea, and feel its air on my skin, and hear it, and be close enough to visit it on a whim, I'll be home.

Maybe it's the Viking in me that makes me crave fjords, and foggy days, maybe it's something in my name that makes me feel a connection to the deep colors of the sea and its sky when they have their conjoined mood swings (maybe those mood swings and mine make me think I understand her), but I love her every way ... yes in a box with a fox, but definitely not wearing socks. Whether I'm dunking my toes into the always chilly salt waters of the North, or night swims in what feels like bath water in Mexico's Pacific splashing around in its glowy phosphorus, or holding in your hands, if only momentarily, the colors of the Caribbean that you think could only possibly exist in illustrated story books (and in the carpet my mother let me pick out for my bedroom as a kid), or standing at the very narrow tip of an island in the Northern Atlantic at sunset watching a sound meet an ocean like each roll of the waves is the slightly overly aggressive handshake at an interview, I'm home.

It's funny when it takes the smallest thing like the tiniest blow of a breeze before a storm to make you finally realize something that's always been there.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Verdict is in:

GUILTY on 12 counts of being delicious!

After much anticipation, they're finally here, but not without mishaps ... though it really wouldn't be baking with me if there weren't any (like the time I mixed up baking soda, and powder for the lemon squares, but that doesn't really count because my way turned out better anyway). You might be wondering why the tops look particularly shiny, well that's what happens when you can't get the frosting right, and have to scrape it off 3 times (and that's before I started drinking). So the tops are not only frosted, but "glazed" as well. I realized something went very wrong when the frosting I loaded into the super shooter came running out when I turned it business side down. Back to the mixer with it! Way too many portions of confectioner's sugar later, and my frosting was none the thicker ... more of it, just not thicker. Realizing it was much too late to call my mother and desperately whimper "Help," I grabbed for the flour...

"I'll make you thick!" I proclaimed into the night air like a madwoman through my open window that did nothing to cool my house and 350* oven. Frosting or glue, I didn't know what would transpire, nor did I care as I shoved teaspoon after teaspoon into the flour sack ... ok I only did that twice, and it seemed to do the trick. So I stopped there, and ladled frosting out of the mixing bowl and slapped it onto the tops of twelve delightful cupcakes whose tops looked like the glistening cheeks of a teething baby with my wooden spoon for the last time.

I know you're dying to have as much fun as I did, and far be it from me to withhold that kind of joy ... without further ado, I give you:

Red Velvet Cupcakes
By way of Tori Spelling


2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 ounces water
2 ounces red food coloring *Edit* Can I just say, this really is overkill? I used 1 oz and it was still more than enough.
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (8oz) package cream cheese
1/2 cup unsalted butter *Edit* I would seriously consider using 1/3 cup
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

--pre heat oven to 350
--grease 12 cupcake cups or line with paper liners
--cream softened butter and sugar together till fluffy
--add eggs and blend well
--in separate small bowl combine cocoa and food coloring and stir. Once you have thick paste then add to mixture.
--sift salt and flour together into mixture
--add vanilla, buttermilk, and water to mixture
--in separate small bowl combine vinegar and baking soda. Fold into cake mixture
--pour mixture into cupcake cups.
--bake 15 to 20 minutes or until a wood toothpick inserted into middle of cupcake comes out clean.
--let cool for 10 minutes. Then turn out onto rack and let finish cooling.

--blend together cream cheese softened and butter softened.
--add powder sugar and vanilla extract
--blend till smooth

(As many times as you need to)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

It Triggers a Whole New Era

Of Ease, Convenience, and Versatility in the Kitchen: What is this miracle gadget you ask? Why, none other than the Wear-Ever Super Shooter, of course!

Let's hope it holds up to the boasts on its "box" (and I use that term as loosely as possible), because anything that will revolutionize my kitchen experience (whether it's from the 1970s or not) is definitely welcome in my world. But the boasting doesn't stop on the front of the box, according to the sides I can make "picture perfect cookies, eye-catching appetizers, garnished entrees, and filled pasta". While the other side advertises "beautiful candy mints, easy filled desserts, delicious deviled eggs, and interesting salads (if that's what you wanna call the last one, but I'd call it a picture of Romaine lettuce with tomato wedges standing in cliques around the plate with orange goo in the middle of each tomato huddle, perhaps that's why I'm not in the advertising business).

Now, I know you're asking yourself, "Where on Earth did she find this radical Appliancesaurus Rex?" I'll tell you. This delicious relic came courtesy of my mother on her winter trip to see her grandbaby, and this is the first time I've pulled it out of the box since ... ok, that's a lie. I looked at it once to verify that the trigger was, indeed, 1970s green. And to my delight, it is, although it's much more lime rather than scary Brady Bunch green in person. But don't think that you can't actually get these anymore! As I was googling (I love the digital age!) for the missing user's manual (I know it all seems pretty straight forward, but there are some parts here that I can't for the life of me remember how to put where) I found this VERY model on sale for nearly $60. Who knew my mom was so cutting edge with kitchen gadgetry in a previous lifetime?

Anyway, I'm feeling like pretty hot stuff with my new muffin tin and this guy who I hope will help me in frosting my cupcakes I've been whining about making for ages now. Even if I don't get the hang of this thing, they can't turn out worse than if I smear it on with a knife (frosting things is definitely the gene I'm missing from my mother).

Wish me luck!