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C’mon Get Happy. Like Now. Will Booze Help?

7 Jul

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The above very important, very official, bored-certified (because I’m bored, nyuk nyuk, waka waka) chart is currently hanging on the wall of my cubicle. This and the Star Jedi font I use in my email signature have both improved my 9 to 5 experience and certainly solidified my title at work as Strange And Now Also Apparently Frighteningly Nerdy Bitchy Resting Faced Indian Woman Who Sits Near The Exit. So it goes.

Where would you rate yourself on this chart? I think Gonzo, Beaker, Sam the Eagle and the Swedish Chef all have me pretty much covered these days, with a little Statler and Waldorf thrown in for good measure. All the great ones, amiright?! Fine, yes, I am clearly feeling pretty blue today (Sam the Eagle! Sam the Eagle!), and am very obviously trying to avoid talking about why. It could be because I don’t completely know why, and it could also be because all of the many reasons could fill an Encyclopedia Britannica book (probably the “F” one, because… F word) and the Encyclopedia Britannica is very similar to my problems in that it is OLD NEWS, HONEY. I know right, that was such a burn on me. Would we count that as an own-goal, guys?

Sometimes an event that doesn’t have any direct impact on your current life can affect you in profoundly sad, surprising ways. In my case, that event was the sudden death of an old friend whom I had in recent days only communicated with via Facebook. And she was much better about keeping up with me than I was with her, and I feel guilty and stupid and sad and horrified and angry and shocked about how much this has bothered me. It’s not something I have spoken about with anyone, really, except for my sister, who also knew this person and who was also very sad and shocked. The theme of the past half-year or so seems to be loss, with two family members, a beloved professor and this sweet old friend all passing away and me kicking myself for not being better about being there for people. Because, to face facts, I am pretty terrible at keeping up with loved ones, and I know why. I’m shy and introverted and spend a lot of time sad, and spend probably as much time trying to be less shy and less sad, which means a lot of time for unattractive self-involvement and very little time for other people. It’s very, very dumb of me, and I am now in the process of beating myself over this nonsense “I’m going to get myself 100% normal and together and THEN catch up with all of the people I love” mindset, because it is pure garbage. No one has it completely together, even if FOMO-friendly Facebook would lead me to believe otherwise, and the sooner we all open up and actually talk to each other about what is really going on, the better. And damnit, I am going to get better at it.

The other thing I’d like to get better at is baking. You would think that many, many years of it would improve my skills but… well… let’s let the pictures do the walkin’.

This is a mustachioed carrot cake pop that I made for my father, who has a mustache. He does not have large bumps all over his face, but I cake pops are horribly difficult.

This is a mustachioed carrot cake pop that I made for my father, who has a mustache. He does not have large bumps all over his face, nor does his face spill over into his mustache, but cake pops are horribly difficult.

This is a Star Wars- themed cake I made for my boyfriend. The Millenium Falcon piece, also the best piece on this cake, is from an excellent mold. I painted the ship to look super beat-up, as I am very good at making things look super beat-up. :(

This is a Star Wars- themed cake I made for my boyfriend. The Millenium Falcon piece, also the best piece on this cake, is from an excellent mold I purchased on Amazon. I painted the ship to look super beat-up, as it has been through some real stuff, and I am very good at making things look super beat-up. No, I will not share a different angle of the cake, because it’s way too sad. 😦

This is an ice cream sandwich (yes, I am telling you what each sweet is because I'm not confident that it's obvious from the pictures) that was made with this weird no-churn "ice cream" recipe I found. I am still saving my rupees to buy a proper ice cream maker, and in the meantime must deal with weird subs. The salted chocolate chip cookies I made were, however, SO BANGIN.

This is an ice cream sandwich (yes, I am telling you what each sweet is because I’m not confident that it’s obvious from the pictures) that was made with this weird no-churn “ice cream” recipe I found. I am still saving my rupees to buy a proper ice cream maker, and in the meantime must deal with weird subs. The salted chocolate chip cookies were, however, SO BANGIN.

So, I spent a few weeks pretty pissed off that I seemed to be in something of a baking-related funk. I mean, sure, everything above tasted pretty good, but it all looked god-awful. My dad’s cake pops were more like cake tumors. The Tatooine on Jimmy’s Star Wars cake looked more like circa-1990s Rockaway Beach after a particularly rough night. It was bad. So bad that I decided to just drown my sorrows in more jelly shots. Yup.

Margarita Jelly Shots 

2 packets of unflavored gelatin

1 cup of boiling water

1/2 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of lime juice

1 cup of tequila (I used Herradura Silver because yum)

Sea salt, for sprinkling (optional, but totally recommended)

Before you ask, yes, the recipe testing for this was SUPER fun.

Pour water in a large, heatproof bowl and stir in sugar until dissolved. Sprinkle gelatin over water and allow mixture to cool just slightly. Stir in lime juice and tequila and continue to whisk until no gelatinous lumps remain. Pour into molds and refrigerate until set, about two hours.

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Sprinkle salt on top of jellies just before shooting.

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I realize there are a lot of shots of my boyfriend’s hand lovingly tilting these toward the camera, and that is because I am in LOVE with these jellies. They’re strong as hell, which means NO driving/heavy machinery operating/polka dancing on rooftops after consuming, but they are so, so refreshing and perfect for your summer party, to which you should totally invite me because I will bring these and also attempt to be social and normal. Possibly. 

 

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Sad Shibow’s Got A Bad Case of FOMO, Requests A Good Case Of Wine (Oh I Made Poptails Too)

5 May

As many of you probably haven’t noticed because the change is so subtle it’s, like, not even there, I’m trying to be more positive on this blog, just to see what that’s like. But I can’t really muster up the will to do that this time around. I am grumpy, plain and simple, and there isn’t a confection in the world that could cure my crankiness, damnit.

I have a confession: I got the FOMO, guys. I got the FOMO real bad. I have stalked all of your Instagrams, seen your happy news on Facebook, chuckled at your vibrantly witty tweets and liked your new positions on LinkedIn, and I AM ALSO CRAZY JELLY OF ALL OF YOU. And it totally smarts to admit that.

I’ve spent almost every day of the last three months on Google Flights, selecting flights on SUPER shady (and also dirt-cheap) airlines to fancy European destinations. I get all the way to the “payment info” page before I pretty much freak out, bail, and whine about money. I get that there are bigger problems in the world– I’m lucky to have a forum to complain on, hell I’m lucky to have an internet connection– but sometimes it is very difficult not to feel like a big old damned loser. Where did I go wrong in life, that I can’t even purchase a simple 4 or 5 day vacation to anywhere without losing my mind over the cost?! (Btw, as I write this, I have no less than seven other tabs open with seven separate vacation deals from seven separate sites, all pretty much at the checkout stage. Sigh). This is probably some sort of cultural or hereditary or Catholic thing, because somewhere in life, I am convinced, someone told me that the purpose of life is suffering, and that all that matters is that we toil away in misery until we all eventually perish, penniless and alone. Maybe that was never expressly told to me, and is instead something my twisted brain took away as a lesson from an episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, because that’s something that happens to anxious, misanthropic Indian women sometimes. Right?

Sylvapotamus and I rescued this little Ewok, who's been happily lounging on my parents' couch for the past two weeks. Soon after this photo was taken,  our friend decided he wanted nothing more to do with me and now barely acknowledges my existence. You see now why I am the way I am.

Sylvapotamus and I recently rescued this little Ewok, who’s been happily lounging on my parents’ couch for the past two weeks. Soon after this photo was taken, our friend decided he wanted nothing more to do with me and now barely acknowledges my existence. You see now why I am the way I am.

I have recently realized that I will happily spend money on household necessities, gifts for loved ones, and even mint chocolate chip ice cream (*shudder*) for my boyfriend, but I will find every single reason in the world to resist treating myself. Yes folks, Clorox Cleaning Wipes > Anything That Could Possibly Elevate My Overall Well-Being. I really don’t get it either. What I do get is that this is very much a champagne problem, but it is still one that I can’t help writing for all of you to see, mostly because I am hoping I am not the only one who feels this way. And I think a big part of it is also coming to terms with the fact that my life has taken a much different trajectory from the life I’d planned, from the life people around me are living and– I assume– expected I’d live, too. Sometimes it’s hard to see the people around you grow and change and experience amazing things that you always thought you’d have experienced too by now. It’s hard to accept that your timeline is different, or that your timeline was never even really a timeline but a time rhombus that will zip and zoom you in and out of places faster than you could say “Why in blog’s name am I so bitter?!” It’s difficult to feel left behind, to feel like there are choices that I should have made but didn’t, and that now because of the way I’ve gone I’m somehow lacking in awesome. And I don’t want to be lacking in awesome.

Now, it is currently an unseasonably warm 80 degrees outside, and I have been known to short-circuit and completely bug out when I overheat, so maybe this is all weather-related angst. And I think I know how to fix that: more booze popsicles.

Pina Colada Poptails

1 1/2 cups of coconut milk

1 cup of fresh pineapple

1/3 cup of brown sugar

1/3 cup of lime juice

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/4 cup of rum (omit if making non-alcoholic)

1/4 cup of shredded coconut, optional

This particular bottle is near and dear to my heart/belly for sentimentally boozy reasons.

This particular bottle is near and dear to my heart/belly for sentimentally boozy reasons.

In a blender, mix together coconut milk, pineapple, brown sugar, lime juice and cinnamon. Stir in rum and fold in coconut, if using. Divide among paper cups or popsicle molds and freeze for at least four hours (if using paper cups, snip one side to make it easier to remove popsicles when frozen,; wait at least an hour until popsicles are semi-frozen and place a wooden popsicle stick into each cup, then place back in freezer).

I think I threw my beloved popsicle molds away in a fit of moving-related rage. :(

I think I threw my beloved popsicle molds away in a fit of moving-related rage. 😦

If using molds, dip mold in warm water until popsicles slide out, and if using paper cups, tear the cup around the popsicle. Enjoy.

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Ho man. Do not drive or operate any heavy machinery for a LOT of hours after having one of these potent poptails. But are they any good? Oh they’re I’m-not-planning-any-parties-so-I’m-going-to-have-a-solo-frozen-fiesta-ASAP good. I’m home alone and I’m happily snacking (sipping?) on one.

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Warning: may cause FOMO in all of your FB friends 😉

Sad Shibow: An Unexpected Journey (That Ends With Fritters)

23 Feb

Um. It’s still cold.

That’s about as far as I can take it. If you live anywhere that isn’t south Florida or San Diego, you have stared at the single-digit temps on your various weather apps/televisions and cried in despair, I know. I have too. Actually, it’s pretty ignorant and America-centric of me to only single out part of two warm states. Oceania and most of the Southern hemisphere, I am shaking my fist in envy at all of you, as well. Truthfully, my fist is shaking all on its own anyway, BECAUSE IT’S THREE DEGREES OUTSIDE. Also while we’re being honest, I’m usually jealously shaking my fists at Oceania anyway, because my lifelong dream has been to bum around New Zealand and pretend that I am a Hobbit, which wouldn’t be too difficult given my diminutive stature (yes, I said lifelong, because my life clearly began once I found a story involving other petite, introverted, curious creatures with a preference for brightly-colored clothing with whom to identify). One day, NZ. One fateful day.

The scene outside my window today. Poor little guy needs a space heater.

The scene outside my window today. Poor little guy needs a space heater.

Actually, can we talk more about Hobbits for a sec? Because my knowledge basically comes from all of the movies and now Wikipedia, which I am finding fascinating. If Wiki is to be believed, Hobbits “come of age” at 33, which means that it’s totally fine that I still feel completely and utterly lost in life. Perhaps in three and a half years’ time, I’ll find myself on an unexpected journey (*wink*) to self-actualization. Tee hee. Ok, I know what’s coming next so I’m going to try to head it off: guys please no more lectures on how nerdy this blog is getting. I already took a few jabs with the Star Wars references a couple posts back. I get it, I’m a hopeless geek. BUT I’M A GEEK WITH A TRIBE NOW. A fictitious tribe that now exists basically on the internet, in public libraries, and on DVD/Blu-ray, but still. Also my Gollum impression will bring you to tears [of pity or joy, it doesn’t really matter]. Ok, I’m really done now. I swear.

But speaking of things that are PRECIOUS, who likes fritters? I likes fritters. I likes them lots, but what I don’t like is third-degree burns from deep-frying stuff, so I’ve never attempted to fry anything before. Since I’m trying to be more courageous these days, and also badly wanted fritters but was too lazy to step into the bitter cold for them, I decided that there was no better time than the present to try my hand at making some. Don’t be afraid, friends. Let’s do this.

Lemon Ricotta Fritters (makes about 30 fritters)

adapted from Epicurious

4 cups vegetable oil, or other neutral-tasting oil

3/4 cup of all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/4 teaspoon of salt

2 teaspoons of grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1 cup of ricotta

2 lightly beaten eggs

2 tablespoons of granulated sugar (add a tablespoon if you want these to be sweeter)

1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Maple syrup for topping, optional

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

To start, in a large, wide saucepan with high sides, heat oil until a deep-fat thermometer inserted reads at 370ºF. Try to keep the oil at this temperature throughout the cooking process by adjusting the heat as needed.

Uhhh... maybe don't look directly into a boiling vat of oil.

Uhhh… maybe don’t look directly into a boiling vat of oil.

While the oil is heating, mix together flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. In a separate, larger bowl, stir together ricotta, lemon juice, eggs, sugar and vanilla, then add dry mixture to wet.

You’re going to fry these in batches. To start, drop a tablespoon of batter into the oil and allow to fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, allow to cool, and taste-test the fritter to make sure it’s cooked to your liking. Then, begin dropping more spoonfuls of batter into the oil. You want to make sure there’s enough room for all of the fritters– I did about six spoonfuls per batch.

Set fritters on a paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool. While still warm, if you’d like, you can drizzle these with maple syrup (just a thought, but I thought the maple hooked. these. up.).

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Once cooled, dust with confectioner’s sugar, and serve.

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Gahhhhh……

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Ohhhhhhh…..

They’re beautiful. Truly lovely, crunchy on the outside, creamy and lemony on the inside. Definitely best the day they’re made, these bite-sized fritters will not– did not, in our case– last long.

Let’s Pretend We’re In India, And Not On Hoth, Which Is Where We Live Now.

28 Jan

So I’ve been cracking Hoth jokes since this past weekend, when snowpocalypse was but a mere twinkle in the Northeast’s eye. This morning, I asked my boyfriend to bring the Tauntaun around so we could ride to the nearest park and go sledding. Hilario, I know. Oh, but I wasn’t always this jolly. I spent most of last night freaked out by the end-of-days posts on Gothamist and worried I didn’t stock enough milk for the pending storm (spoiler alert: I didn’t).

In case you were wondering, I’m writing this post on Tuesday evening, just as the big “blizzard” is winding down. I spent today working from home, which is simultaneously happy and sad.Happy because I can see the alternate universe in which I attempted to commute, and it involves me crying on the Manhattan-bound F train platform and picking frozen tears off of my face. I need to make some life changes.

How I survived the storm.

How ELSE I survived the storm.

It’s sad because I AM GOING COMPLETELY STIR CRAZY GUYS OMG. I recently made the mistake of learning that my phone has a built-in pedometer, and now I cannot stop tracking my steps, and since I live in an apartment in New York City, there are only so many steps I can take. Today, so far, I have only taken thirty steps, and knowing that is driving me bananas. As a result I am spending entirely too much of today walking from wall to couch to television to wall again whilst obsessively checking my phone to see the numbers shoot up. I am a sad, pajama-clad, live-action game of Pac-Man. Wait! Forty! I’m up to forty steps! Progress!

And how ELSE am I riding out this non-blizzard? With payasam! “WTF SHIBOW?! Be a little more aggressive with the spell check,” is likely how many of my non-Malayali readers are reacting right now. But fear not, friends! I can still spell like a mother. Payasam, a South Indian treat, (similar to kheer, which is a common North Indian dessert that can be found at many an Indian restaurant) is a sweet, milky dessert containing noodles, raisins, nuts and a few spices. It’s almost a pudding, almost a sweet soup. Payasam was always THE best part of all family functions for me, mostly because I am a sugar fiend and a little bit because I have poor social skills. If you’re more of a cupcake and cookie kind of human, this dessert is weird for you. I get it. But you need to try this, a. because it’s easy, and b. because it will give you the opportunity to open the eyes and stomachs of all of the other cupcake-and-cookie loving humans around you to a new, glorious comfort food. Let’s do this.

Payasam (makes a healthy few bowls. I know that’s vague. Sorry guys)

2 tablespoons of ghee/clarified butter (we’ll go through how to make this if you don’t have any on hand)

5 cups of coconut milk

1/2 cup of sugar

1 cup of vermicelli noodles (if unavailable, sub in 1 cup of angel hair pasta, broken into smaller pieces)

1/2 cup of raisins

1/2 cup of halved cashews

1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of ground cardamom

To begin, we’ll make our clarified butter, if you don’t already have some ghee handy (I didn’t). For two tablespoons of ghee, melt about four tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat in a medium-sized saucepan, then reduce heat to low when butter is melted. Allow to cook until the butter browns and a foam forms on top, about 6-7 minutes.

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Skim the foam off, then pour butter through a strainer. Discard strained solids, and pour clarified butter back into the saucepan.

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Over medium heat, saute noodles in ghee until lightly browned. Pour in milk, sugar, and spices and bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.

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Once mixture reaches a boil, add in raisins and cashews, and bring heat back down to a simmer. Allow it to cook until the milk thickens and the pasta has softened, then remove from heat. Serve hot, warm or cold. On days like this, it’s absolutely perfect warm.

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Heaven Soup.

 

So, it may not look like much, but WOW. I know I’m a highly emotional, extremely sentimental person, so having a bowl of this definitely brought a couple of tears to my eyes. It’s legit. My dad happened to be dropping by just as I was done making the payasam (truth is, he was dropping off blizzard food for me and my boyfriend, because he is an Indian father and does not believe we eat anything but Multigrain Cheerios and also is a nice human being), so I set him up with a to-go bowl for the family. My mom (who’s celebrating a birthday today– HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAMA! <3), after giving me several pointers which were subsequently worked into the above recipe, praised it, which is really all I needed to hear. Payasam. Kid created, Indian mama approved.

 

The Best Part of Waking Up Is Realizing It’s Not 2014 Anymore. And Also There Are Coffee Jellies

20 Jan

Happy 2015, ya’ll! How’s it feeling for everyone? Better so far than the pile of fetid garbage that was 2014? Okay, last year wasn’t completely bad, it was just 87% bad on my end. But so far this year’s lookin’ up! I’m ready to feng shui my whole damn life into order!

How I spent New Year's Day. Staring, motionless, at a stranger in a windbreaker and/or lighthouse in the distance.

How I spent New Year’s Day. Staring, motionless, at a stranger in a windbreaker and/or lighthouse in the distance.

Remember when I told you all about my sort-of resolution to ease up on the profanities? Yeah. Let’s f***ing scratch that; for, readers, I am weak, and my need to swear is strong. My new goal is to BUY MORE KITCHEN GADGETS. Lately I’ve been on the hunt for an ice cream maker and a slow cooker, which should be on sale because I feel like most things you can plug into a wall become deeply discounted after Christmas. My boyfriend says I’m forbidden from “bringing any more gadgets into our fun-sized kitchen unless the plan is to get rid of something(s).” It’s sad for my boyfriend that he doesn’t yet understand that I’m not forbidden from doing anything ever, forever. Poor chap. (I also want a kitchen torch, but for what I think are probably obvious reasons to many of you who know me in real life, I have forbidden myself from purchasing one.)

Really the only thing working in my guy’s favor right now is that I am boogie-down broke, due to the fact that I have decided to put the bulk of my earnings toward finally paying off my credit card debt. I am thisclose to doing so, and it simultaneously makes me want to jump for joy and die inside. If you, too, have ever had credit card debt, I trust you understand these contradictory impulses. And no, my debt was not due to an insane kitchen-related shopping spree, or a booze bender–though those would have been damn fun and I would have had no regrets, especially if I was on the booze bender WHILE on the shopping spree. Just thinking of the all the kickin’ baking contraptions I could have had at my disposal makes me wish I had swiped that plastic rectangle all over Chef’s Central instead of at [ENTER BORING, SADLY NECESSARY EXPENSE THAT I COULD NOT BEGIN TO AFFORD AT THE TIME]. Yes, I purposely censored myself on that one, because it really is a pathetically boring list of needs, and you’ll all be sad for me and we just can’t have that.

What we can have? Weird sweets. Yes, friends, it’s time for more of the strange, fancy, gelatinous desserts that have perplexed and awed us all.

Coffee Jellies 

adapted from Saveur

For the jellies

4 cups of strong brewed coffee

3/4 cup of sugar

2 packets (1/4 ounce each) of powdered gelatin

For the whipped cream

1 cup of heavy cream

2 tablespoons of sugar

2 teaspoons of coffee liqueur (optional)

To start, have someone who is obsessed with figuring out how to make a damn-good cup of coffee brew four cups of the stuff for you. In my case, it’s my boyfriend, who has spent countless hours trying to create the perfect cup of joe. I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but whenever I steal a sip of his I am always impressed. Dude knows his stuff.

Place brewed coffee in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat, and stir in sugar and gelatin. Bring to a boil, stirring until the gelatin and sugar have dissolved, and remove from heat. Pour mixture into either an 8″ square baking pan or into lightly greased mini-muffin tins. Let chill in refrigerator for at least 4 to 5 hours. If using a baking pan, cut into cubes or desired shapes. If using a muffin tin, just pop these babies out.

For the whipped cream, whisk heavy cream with a stand mixer or hand mixer on high speed until peaks begin to form. Whisk in sugar and coffee liqueur just until combined. Serve jellies in mugs or ramekins and top with a dollop of whipped cream.

Dude… I am not fancy. You all know this. It was a real struggle to try and make these look fancy, so my bad for the weird pictures.

Yes, they're shot glasses. I know.

Yes, they’re shot glasses. I know.

So, verdict? Well, I’m currently BOUNCING OFF THE WALLS. It’s proving difficult to even sit here long enough to finish this post. If you like coffee and drink it often, this is the fun, quirky brunch treat for you and all of your caffeine-loving pals. I, on the other hand, very rarely drink coffee and am therefore quite sensitive to it, which means weird nervous energy for me and lots and lots and lots of run-on sentences for the blog, because it’s my blog and I can’t stop typing and coffee makes me feel WEIRD these days and OHMYGODWHATHAVEIDONE. (Note: I went back and edited this piece hours after coming down off of the extreme caffeine high I was on, and it was NOT pretty. Lots and lots of long, long rants with little to no punctuation. It was actually frightening.)

Oh! So you may not believe me because, like I said, coffee’s not really my thing anymore, but you WILL believe these pictures. Part of the reason I didn’t take a fancy picture of the jellies in a fancy mug was there weren’t enough of them by the time I decided to photograph.

Exhibit A…

THIEF!

THIEF!

See all those empty cups? HE HAD SO MANY. In a couple of sittings How? How people do this?!

Oh, also, peep this:

Notice the weird stream of light shooting out of the tin and up into his hand. The jellies seem to have unlocked some sort of probably scary force on my boyfriend. More to come as story develops.

Notice the weird stream of light shooting out of the tin and up into his hand. The jellies seem to have unlocked some sort of probably scary force on my boyfriend. More to come as story develops.

Empty. In ONE day, this tin was empty (I only managed to get down two jellies before I went completely bonkers and had to stop). I mean, I know the guy likes sweets, but this is a new ballgame. And he didn’t freak out and do eighty jumping jacks, or try to make a four-course meal in the middle of the day, or try to do parkour in a tiny New York City apartment… like a certain someone else. I’m stunned.

The Best Part of Waking Up Is Realizing It’s Not 2014 Anymore. And Also There Are Coffee Jellies

20 Jan

Happy 2015, ya’ll! How’s it feeling for everyone? Better so far than the pile of fetid garbage that was 2014? Okay, last year wasn’t completely bad, it was just 87% bad on my end. But so far this year’s lookin’ up! I’m ready to feng shui my whole damn life into order!
How I spent New Year's Day. Staring, motionless, at a stranger in a windbreaker and/or lighthouse in the distance.

Remember when I told you all about my sort-of resolution to ease up on the profanities? Yeah. Let’s f***ing scratch that; for, readers, I am weak, and my need to swear is strong. My new goal is to BUY MORE KITCHEN GADGETS. Lately I’ve been on the hunt for an ice cream maker and a slow cooker, which should be on sale because I feel like most things you can plug into a wall become deeply discounted after Christmas. My boyfriend says I’m forbidden from “bringing any more gadgets into our fun-sized kitchen unless the plan is to get rid of something(s).” It’s sad for my boyfriend that he doesn’t yet understand that I’m not forbidden from doing anything ever, forever. Poor chap. (I also want a kitchen torch, but for what I think are probably obvious reasons to many of you who know me in real life, I have forbidden myself from purchasing one.)

Really the only thing working in my guy’s favor right now is that I am boogie-down broke, due to the fact that I have decided to put the bulk of my earnings toward finally paying off my credit card debt. I am thisclose to doing so, and it simultaneously makes me want to jump for joy and die inside. If you, too, have ever had credit card debt, I trust you understand these contradictory impulses. And no, my debt was not due to an insane kitchen-related shopping spree, or a booze bender–though those would have been damn fun and I would have had no regrets, especially if I was on the booze bender WHILE on the shopping spree. Just thinking of the all the kickin’ baking contraptions I could have had at my disposal makes me wish I had swiped that plastic rectangle all over Chef’s Central instead of at [ENTER BORING, SADLY NECESSARY EXPENSE THAT I COULD NOT BEGIN TO AFFORD AT THE TIME]. Yes, I purposely censored myself on that one, because it really is a pathetically boring list of needs, and you’ll all be sad for me and we just can’t have that.

What we can have? Weird sweets. Yes, friends, it’s time for more of the strange, fancy, gelatinous desserts that have perplexed and awed us all.

Coffee Jellies 

adapted from Saveur

For the jellies

4 cups of strong brewed coffee

3/4 cup of sugar

2 packets (1/4 ounce each) of powdered gelatin

For the whipped cream

1 cup of heavy cream

2 tablespoons of sugar

2 teaspoons of coffee liqueur (optional)

To start, have someone who is obsessed with figuring out how to make a damn-good cup of coffee brew four cups of the stuff for you. In my case, it’s my boyfriend, who has spent countless hours trying to create the perfect cup of joe. I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but whenever I steal a sip of his I am always impressed. Dude knows his stuff.

Place brewed coffee in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat, and stir in sugar and gelatin. Bring to a boil, stirring until the gelatin and sugar have dissolved, and remove from heat. Pour mixture into either an 8″ square baking pan or into lightly greased mini-muffin tins. Let chill in refrigerator for at least 4 to 5 hours. If using a baking pan, cut into cubes or desired shapes. If using a muffin tin, just pop these babies out.

For the whipped cream, whisk heavy cream with a stand mixer or hand mixer on high speed until peaks begin to form. Whisk in sugar and coffee liqueur just until combined. Serve jellies in mugs or ramekins and top with a dollop of whipped cream.

Dude… I am not fancy. You all know this. It was a real struggle to try and make these look fancy, so my bad for the weird pictures.

Yes, they're shot glasses. I know.

So, verdict? Well, I’m currently BOUNCING OFF THE WALLS. It’s proving difficult to even sit here long enough to finish this post. If you like coffee and drink it often, this is the fun, quirky brunch treat for you and all of your caffeine-loving pals. I, on the other hand, very rarely drink coffee and am therefore quite sensitive to it, which means weird nervous energy for me and lots and lots and lots of run-on sentences for the blog, because it’s my blog and I can’t stop typing and coffee makes me feel WEIRD these days and OHMYGODWHATHAVEIDONE. (Note: I went back and edited this piece hours after coming down off of the extreme caffeine high I was on, and it was NOT pretty. Lots and lots of long, long rants with little to no punctuation. It was actually frightening.)

Oh! So you may not believe me because, like I said, coffee’s not really my thing anymore, but you WILL believe these pictures. Part of the reason I didn’t take a fancy picture of the jellies in a fancy mug was there weren’t enough of them by the time I decided to photograph.

Exhibit A…

THIEF!

See all those empty cups? HE HAD SO MANY. In a couple of sittings How? How people do this?!

Oh, also, peep this:

Notice the weird stream of light shooting out of the tin and up into his hand. The jellies seem to have unlocked some sort of probably scary force on my boyfriend. More to come as story develops.

Empty. In ONE day, this tin was empty (I only managed to get down two jellies before I went completely bonkers and had to stop). I mean, I know the guy likes sweets, but this is a new ballgame. And he didn’t freak out and do eighty jumping jacks, or try to make a four-course meal in the middle of the day, or try to do parkour in a tiny New York City apartment… like a certain someone else. I’m stunned.

Champagne Problems On A Jello Shots Budget

13 May

I’m sitting at home along writing this post on a Monday evening, eating Cookie Butter out of a jar, reminiscing about the days when I was single, living alone, and eating various combinations of bad-for-me-and-definitely-not-meal-worthy “snacks” for dinner. As soon as I walked into my apartment from work, I’d wash my hands furiously (this is the one part of my night that has not changed and will not change as long as New York City remains the glorious petri dish of filth that it is), turn on the television, and start dinner– usually a bowl of cereal or something else equally pitiful. I’d zone out in front of a cooking show or a crappy procedural drama, barely paying attention, and then I’d go to sleep at a pathetically decent hour. My life was not that bad, but it was also not that great.
Those are the lame ol’ days that I try to remember when I go through rough periods now. As much as I sometimes miss living alone, I would never trade that for the guy and the life that I very fortunately have now. I’ve got a best buddy who has turned so many of my horrible days around with tiny surprises and giant hugs. I know how sappy I sound, believe me, and I hate me too for it, and believe me when I say that I do realize it could all go away tomorrow. But since my last post, I have had the blues in the absolute worst way for more reasons than I can count– I’ve had a nasty cough for what has felt like forever, I’ve had a million mini-crises related to my professional life, I’ve seen people I love get very hurt, and I’ve had people I love suddenly just sort of disappear from my life without explanation. Writing out what the past was like compared to the present helps sort it all out in my mind. A lot has changed, but things aren’t worse, they’re just different. In some ways (Hi Jimmy!), they’re better.

One of the many tiny surprises.

One of the many tiny surprises.

So, with that in mind, I’m going to hearken back to an earlier post and once again talk about celebration. As rough as life’s been, I’ve been fortunate to still have some things to celebrate, be grateful for, be happy about as of late (see: above Troll, which I will treasure forever, and no, you may not make fun of me for being so dorky about this. Ok, yes, yes you can). For this reason, I believe it is time to pop the bubbly.

Around Christmas, my parents came over to our apartment and very kindly gave my boyfriend and me a bottle of champagne (I guess the correct term would be “sparkling wine” because geography and whatnot, but I’m just going to be comfortable being wrong for the rest of this post, so purists, deal, please). My mom emphasized that we should always remember to celebrate, which was really touching, given that my parents have come to support and champion us even when we haven’t felt the same love elsewhere. I always kept those words in the back of my mind, and we mutually decided to save the bottle for a special occasion.

Then, after realizing that there was no way we’d be able to kill a bottle of Brut in a night, and that neither of us really drinks champagne all that much, and that there are only so many sort-of-mimosas one could make and imbibe, I decided to get creative. CHAMPAGNE. JELLIES.

Champagne Jelly Shots (makes about 18 1-ounce shots) 

2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin

1 cup of boiling water + 2 tablespoons of sugar, more if you’d like this sweeter

1  1/2 cups of champagne/sparkling wine/you know what I mean (Note: if you’d like to keep this booze-free, substitute some sparkling cider)

Raspberries or berries of your choice, if you please

Pour boiling water into a large, heatproof bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over water, and let cool slightly. Pour champagne or whatever bubbly drink you choose over the mixture, then stir gently to incorporate any clumps of gelatin that may have formed. Pour into mold of choice (I used a mini-muffin pan), and place a raspberry or berry of your choosing in the middle of each mixture. Refrigerate for at least an hour, until the jellies have set.

The following is a series of “artistic” photos that we took of these shots, because they’re friggin’ gorgeous looking.

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I feel like the photos don’t even do these justice, but let me tell you, these came out looking magical. The bubbles stayed put, giving these shots a sparkly, glowing look. Oh, so how’d they taste?

Um, AMAZING. The shots were bubbly, only very slightly sweet, and way more fun than just a regular ol’ glass of bubbly. But, uh, just slow your roll a bit with these, or you’ll end up downing five in the span of a minute and then waking up in the middle of the night with a faint recollection of drunk-dialing your parents. Not that that happened. Just saying it could.

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