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Turning 30 Is Like A Pie In The Face. But It’s Pie, So, Ok.

5 Oct

Yep, not even going to try and excuse it. I’ve been away from this blog for six months. How do I feel about it? Not sure. A few [very, very lovely and kind] people asked me WTF was going on, and if I was ever going to start writing again. These same people know that the “I’m so busy” excuse was total horseshit, because all I ever talk about with them is all the high-quality British programming Netflix has gifted my writing-averse ass. 

So, I talk a lot about depression and anxiety on this blog, and, as the title pretty much spells out, I’m hitting what some might consider a milestone birthday soon. I’ve never been a person who’s been terribly concerned with getting older… until now. I mean, the time around my birthday has always depressed me a little– changing weather, the passage of time, the new Fall lineup that inevitably disappoints because NONE OF THE SHOWS STAR KYLE CHANDLER. But I haven’t really started to feel the gut-punch that comes with aging until this year, probably because lots of people I don’t know very well are weirdly concerned with the fact that dowries have not yet been exchanged for rings, (or however that works nowadays), or that I’m not swimming in dough, or that I still have a very legitimate beef with a certain celebrity who shall not be named in this already-sad post. 

It seems I’m not the only one feeling this way, either. Thirty hits everyone differently, and for me, it’s certainly not just the whole strangers-be-getting-into-my-personals thing getting to me. There are so many things I figured I’d be doing with myself at this age, and Christmas on a Triscuit was I wrong about all of them. That’s a tough gummy to swallow (guys I love gummy vitamins, please no millienial jokes, gummy vitamins are one of the sole gifts from the heavens I get, just let me have this one). Shout out to all the 1986-ers feelin’ what I’m feelin’– I’m here, I get it, and I have pie.

Yes, pie.

…IT’S STILL A BAKING BLOG, PEOPLE!

So I was incredibly skeptical of the very idea for this pie when I first read about it, but like most things in my life right now, I decided to throw my side-eye to the wind and get on with things. Plus, it’s fall, and fall means pears and pie (I know, I know, and pumpkin, which you’ll see very soon). 

Pear and Thomcord Grape Pie

Pie Crust (makes enough for two 9″ crusts)

2 teaspoons of sugar

2 cups of all-purpose flour

12 tablespoons of butter, cut into small chunks

2 large eggs beaten with two teaspoons of water

Pie Filling (adapted from Serious Eats)

7 pears, peeled, cored and sliced

1/2 cup of seedless Thomcord or Concord grapes, removed from stems

3/4 cup of white sugar

2 tablespoons of cornstarch

1 egg, beaten

Raw or white sugar for dusting

Now I’m not saying this because I am lazy, but because I am laughably bad at doing this by hand: bust out the food processor if you have it for your pie crusts. If you don’t have one, get one, and if you can’t, I will walk you through the process of doing this by hand as best I can. If you do have a food processor, pulse together the flour and sugar until mixed. Then add in your butter and pulse until you’ve got pea-sized lumps. Now, with the processor running, pour in your egg mixture and allow it to run until your dough forms. 

If you’re working without a food processor, sift the flour and sugar together in a large bowl, then use a fork or your fingers to gently mix in the butter. You want to handle the butter as little as possible, since the more you handle it, the warmer it will get, and the warmer your butter, the less flaky your crusts. Once your mixture is pretty clumpy, add in the egg and gently mix in using your fingers until you’re able to form a dough. Separate into two evenly-sized discs, cover in plastic wrap and chill discs for at least two hours.

Once you’re ready to get baking, preheat the oven to 425°F and place pears and grapes together in a bowl. Sift the sugar and cornstarch together and then fold into fruit mixture until evenly coated. 

Basically just showing off the most beautiful marble rolling pin that Jimmy gifted me on a whim. Classy dude, that one.

Basically just showing off the most beautiful marble rolling pin that Jimmy gifted me on a whim. Classy dude, that one.

Roll out one disc to about 1/8″ thickness and gently line your pie plate with it. Pour your fruit mixture into the shell and set aside while working on the top crust. (If you’re not interested in anything fancy, just roll out your second disc and place on top of the fruit mixture, cutting any extra dough off the sides of the plate. Make sure to cut slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.) I rolled out the second disc of dough and used a star-shaped cookie cutter to decorate the top of the pie. I invite you to do the same and lay your decorative dough however you please, but just make sure to leave some space for the fruit to peek through, or your pie will explode all over your oven, and you will be doomed forever. Brush with egg and then sprinkle the top generously with sugar.

Place your pie on a baking sheet (this will allow for easier removal from the oven, unless you want crazy knuckle burns similar to the ones I’m currently rocking), then bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pie halfway through. Then, turn the oven down to 375°F and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the crust is browned and the fruit is bubbly, like this:

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Let the pie cool on a counter for a solid half hour, at least, and then dig in, perhaps with a scoop of ice cream  or a spoonful of mascarpone if you’re feeling it.

Y U M.

Y U M.

Aw man, am I proud of how beautiful this pie ended up being. This is probably my proudest pie-related moment, and I have a LOT of pie-related moments. But hey, it’s not ALL about looks: how did it taste?

O M G. It was incredible. The grapes and pears worked better than I could have imagined they would, and the cornstarch helped keep the filling from running amok outside of the crust. It was as close to heaven as a crazy old grump like me will likely ever experience. 

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The Happy-ish Hunchback of Queens Humbly Presents… An Apple Galette!

25 Nov

There is a chance that all of this pre-holiday food prep is the best diet ever. No one ever talks about it, but prepping for Thanksgiving leaves a person with very little time to eat. Especially if you work a full-time job, live a half-mile’s walk away from the closest grocery store, insist on purchasing twenty pounds of Turkey Day-related food items at said grocery store right after work, and then head home… to start cooking. (Btw, I have absolutely no idea how people with children/various family members to care for also manage to do all of this. Props to you. I do not know what I will do when I make the babies. I will probably try to turn them into helper elves as soon as they’re strong enough to sit up unassisted.) Four hours later, here I am, watching some crappy medical procedural and nursing a fancy cocktail while also nursing some busted shoulders that are giving me serious Quasimodo vibes. 

I wouldn’t trade a single second of it. The last week and a half or so have been a whirlwind of ups and downs– awesome shows and get-togethers with people I love, but also moments of feeling forgotten and sort of inadequate for various reasons. This is a welcome distraction. It’s nice to be focused on what’s cookin’ in our small-as-all-hell kitchen and NOT on what I’m missing out on (or fearing missing out on) on social media. I highly recommend this as a form of rapid-fire therapy. 

Speaking of therapy… an apple a day something something hooray. Right? I’m so good at this. Anyway, how about working on a rustic, sweet n’salty apple galette to add to your Thanksgiving table? 

Apple Galette (adapted from Bon Appetit)

For the dough

1 tablespoon of sugar

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 cup of all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons of cold salted butter, cut into small chunks

1 large egg, beaten

For the filling

1/4 cup of salted butter

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 pound of baking apples (I used Pink Lady apples and needed 2 big ones to fill this), washed and sliced to about 1/8″ thickness

1/4 cup of dark brown sugar

1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon of water

1 tablespoon of white sugar

So, I’m going to start off by saying this: a food processor would come in EXTREMELY handy for the recipe. I am proud and happy to say I have successfully made my first easy pie crusts by just sort of hanging back, not stressing, and using the bejeebus out of mine. 

On that note, if you are working with a food processor, here’s what I did. First, pulse together flour, sugar and cinnamon until combined. Add in cold butter chunks and pulse until pea-sized chunks form in the dough. With food processor running, pour in beaten egg and continue to pulse until dough forms in a ball, about one minute.

Jabba the Hutt, OR the easiest pie dough ever? You decide. (It's the second one, guys)

Jabba the Hutt, OR the easiest pie dough ever? You decide. (It’s the second one, guys)

If you’re not working with a food processor, sift together dry ingredients until combined, then cut in butter chunks with forks or a pastry cutter until pea-sized chunks are formed. Fold in egg mixture gently until dough is wet, then gently use fingers to bring dough together.

Form dough into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for at least two hours.

Now, preheat your oven to 375°F. (My food processor also hooked me up when it came to slicing apples, which is something I do not enjoy doing, especially when my hands are medium-rare from burns and I am bent over like a gargoyle. It’ll slice the apples for ya, people! Keep your apples set aside for the time being.)

Add butter and vanilla to a small saucepan and place over low-medium heat until browned and fragrant. Set aside. 

On a floured surface, roll out dough to a 14 x 10 inch rectangle or a 12 inch circle, whichever you prefer. Transfer dough to parchment-covered baking sheet. Overlap apple slices on top of dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Brush browned butter over apples, then sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the top. Fold edges of dough over gently to keep the shape you want. Brush egg/water mixture over dough, then sprinkle with white sugar.

Bake on the middle rack of your oven for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Remove when the crust is browned and the apples are nice and bubbly.

Let cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. OR, you can make this up to two days ahead, just wrap it tightly and keep at room temperature.

Sooooo…. about that. This is a make-ahead deal for me, so it’s currently resting until Turkey Day. And our city apartment is such a city apartment that my galette is currently wrapped up and resting comfortably on our coffee table with a sign over it… 

Animal acts as a sort of bouncer. Earning his keep over here. 

Animal acts as a sort of bouncer. Earning his keep over here. 

Yep. If you, too, plan on resting this, you can reheat gently… 200°F for 15 minutes should do it. Then, you can serve this with cheddar ice cream. Oh you heard me correctly. Stay tuned, friends, recipe’s a-comin!

Black Friday Savings Start Early! Save Up To 70% On Top-rated Favorites at SurLaTable.com!

Sad Shibow Buys An Ice Cream Maker, Just In Time For Unseasonably Cold Weather.

3 Oct

* Looks around *

* Is confused *

* Dips toe into slushy, creamy, sugary water-like substance that appears to be ice cream *

Sad Shibow? Is…is that you?

HI FRIENDS! For those of you just joining, pay no attention to the above disoriented blabbering. This place has always been…this place! For those of you who’ve been homies for life… it’s a site redesign! What are your thoughts on the matter? I quite like it. Longtime readers may have noticed (and praised) the disappearance of my creepily large, bloodshot eyes from the header image, a change that was made a while ago, after People I Work With–capitalized because, important and scary– began questioning what exactly was making my peepers so red (I had terrible sleeping habits for many years. I know. I wish that story were less boring too.) Ever since that small change, I’ve been slowly working on improving the look of the site over the past year, likely because, selfishly, I feel compelled to continue to talk about sad things but simultaneously hope you’ll all be too enamored with the things I bake and the general look of the site to actually pity me. CHECK OUT THAT WORD CLOUD IN THE SIDEBAR (I’m having a crummy time of it and am trying to buoy my spirits by changing it up around here). Now which part of that last sentence spoke to you?

So, with that bit of housekeeping out of the way, let’s chat. Remember when I told you that I was engaging in some serious retail therapy to beat the blues? WELL! I can’t stop. Guys I really can’t. I need my credit card number Eternal Sunshine’d from my spotty mind, for I have discovered the art of earning miles with my purchases, and I am taking far too much advantage. Do I have a particular destination in mind, you ask? Well, of course…not. But I’ll sure as hell be able to pay for it with miles I’ve racked up from buying the ice cream maker of my dreams and Star Wars-themed Halloween costumes for the family dog.

Indeed, just in time for an extremely cold, windy, possibly hurricane-y October, I have finally purchased a machine that will allow me to make any and every frozen dessert I desire. And did I start out with something simple? Pish posh! Vanilla schmanilla! Also, I couldn’t find vanilla beans! But I did find the giant basil plant in our kitchen, and that baby needed snipping. Oh yes. It happened. Classy new layout, classy ice cream flavors… what is this place?!

Basil Ice Cream (makes one quart)

2 cups of fresh basil

2 cups of whole milk

1 cup of half and half

3/4 cup of sugar

2 tablespoons of lemon zest 

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Pinch of salt

3 egg yolks (Save your egg whites! Make meringues!)

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until combined. Pour puree into a medium-sized saucepan and heat until simmering, whisking constantly. 

Remove from heat and pour through a strainer– don’t worry if some basil comes through. In fact, I would encourage such a circumstance. Chill in the refrigerator until cold, about 2 hours, then pour into your ice cream maker and let it churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions (every maker has different rules. Somehow I know this applies to life as well). Serve with something else fancy, like lemon egg white souffles. 

Top left and right: lemon egg white souffles. Yes, I know they fell, but they were still pretty damned delicious, airy and not at all bad for you health-wise. They complemented the basil ice cream (bottom center) quite nicely. Recipe will possibly one day follow if there's interest.

Top left and right: lemon egg white souffles. Yes, I know they fell, but they were still pretty damned delicious, airy and not at all bad for you health-wise. They complemented the basil ice cream (bottom center) quite nicely. Recipe will possibly one day follow if there’s interest.

So, thoughts? Well, I am writing this post about a week after this ice cream was first made, and my boyfriend has not stopped asking when we can make it again. It had a refreshingly light touch of basil, and mercifully wasn’t too sweet. Jimmy kept referring to how “fancy” it felt to have such a “decadent” ice cream in our humble household… and then he went and made it fancier! If you’re looking to gussy this ice cream up, or you’re looking to make some sophisticated milkshakes for your classy friends, combine two scoops of basil ice cream with a tablespoon of strawberry preserves. You. Are. Welcome.  

     

    Money Can’t Buy Happiness. But It Can Buy Netflix And Large Quantities of Granulated Sugar Sooo…

    5 Aug

    road house

    As many of you probably know by now, I tend to become obsessed with, and then unhealthily attached to, certain pop culture phenomenons which I seem to have trouble moving on from– see: Hologram TupacHobbits. My latest? ROAD HOUSE. Was anyone ever going to tell me about Road House, or was I just supposed to stumble upon it one humid, lazy Saturday night, and then stumble upon it again the following Sunday, and then rewind certain key scenes throughout the week until my Netflix account mysteriously stopped working?! (Fine. Jimmy found the tai chi moves I borrowed from the movie to be endearing, but the attempts to suplex him, not so much. He took away our router until I promised to give the movie a rest, and it is the single greatest act of kindness he has ever bestowed upon me.)

    Speaking of kindness though, originally I was going to post that mellow, heart-tugging meme that you’ve likely seen on LinkedIn about being kind to everyone because we’re all facing our own battles, but then I realized that A ROAD HOUSE IMAGE WAS AN OPTION. And this one is so much better in so many ways. This week alone (it’s only Tuesday guys, I know) I’ve been offhandedly insulted three different times by two people very close to me and one person I barely know, and none of these people seem to have taken that sweet little viral meme to heart. So maybe it’s time to stop being polite, and start getting real (that’s Swayze too, right?).

    It’s definitely better than trying to throw money at my problems until they go away, which is sort of my MO these days. Retail therapy is quite possibly the worst type of panacea for depression when you’re kind of broke. (It’s probably super unhealthy for rich/normal people as well, but maybe ya’ll are buying yourselves into unending bliss, IDK.) I seem to have fallen victim to some serious sadness AND some wicked end-of-summer sales at exactly the same time, which is provoking some really deep thoughts. Should I get this mason jar that I can have my name engraved into because it’s on sale? Then everyone in my household (Jimmy) will know which mason jar is mine. I should. Of course I should. What about a monogrammed Lazy Susan? Who even is Susan? That seems like the worst thing to have named after you. Sucks for you, Susan. Now the whole world knows what a disaster you are.

    I ended up buying a t-shirt that says “Happy Thoughts” (LOLOL) and knee-high Smartwool socks. I know we’re in a heat wave. They were cheap. I was sad. I have no segues for what I baked today.

    Pink Lemonade Bars

    adapted from Smitten Kitchen

    For the crust

    1/4 cup granulated sugar

    1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest

    1/2 cup of butter, diced into small chunks

    1 cup of all-purpose flour

    For the pink lemonade topping

    1/2 cup of raspberries

    2 large eggs

    3/4 cup of granulated sugar

    1/4 cup of lemon juice

    1/3 cup of all-purpose flour

    Powdered sugar for dusting, optional

    Preheat your oven to 350ºF and line a 8×8″ square pan with parchment paper. Butter and flour the parchment and set aside.

    For the crust, in a food processor or blender, pulse together sugar, lemon zest and salt (if using unsalted butter). Add in butter and pulse until somewhat incorporated. Add in flour and pulse until you’ve got a crumbly mess. Really. Though it is sweet messy fun to press this into your parchment-lined pan, I promise. Press it as evenly as you can along the bottom, and bake for 15 minutes, removing when the edges are lightly browned. Keep your oven on while working on the topping.

    For the topping, beat together eggs, sugar and lemon juice in a large bowl until smooth. Puree raspberries in blender until liquid, or liquid-y. Strain out seeds with a sieve, and then stir puree into lemon mixture. Because I am lazy, I strained the puree directly into my lemon mixture, and I encourage other lazy people to do the same.

    SONY DSC

    Vibrant huh?

    Vibrant huh?

    Stir flour into mixture and pour mixture over your crust. Send back into the oven until the top jiggles just a bit, about 25 to 30 minutes (mine took about 25). Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer parchment to a rack to allow to cool completely before cutting.

    SONY DSC

    I forgot the powdered sugar on mine 😦 which may work out for those of you who are happy with not-too-sweet treats.

    SONY DSC

    As you can see, these bars have a nice, thick, buttery crust which sort of turned them into an automatic WIN for me. The topping? Totally tasted the pink lemonade and LOVED it. Together crust and topping make for a happy, buttery, super lemony treat that is definitely worth the [oven] time, and is CERTAINLY a better use of your/my time than suplexing your partner and buying nonsense with your name on it.

    “You’d Pass For 18 If You Didn’t Have Such Sad Eyes” (Let’s Take That In With Some Goat Cheese Cake)

    11 Jun
    doublerainbow

    IT’S A DOUBLE RAINBOW!! Captured in Colorado, where marijuana is legal. I can only imagine how many weed-addled brains exploded at the sight of this.

    The quoted line in today’s title is probably the truest statement that has ever been spoken about me. If I ever become super famous (LOLOLOL) and decide to punish the world with my memoirs, that will be the title. Unless I’m like 100 by then, in which case it will probably not make sense. Unless I look amazing for 100, which is entirely possible since I’ve seen Interstellar and could totally become an astronaut that stays crazy young by living in a bookcase (to answer your question, indeed I did fall asleep several times during this film).

    This has been a trying time for ol’ Shibow. I did finally manage to stop my big brown baby whining and go on an actual vacation, to a couple of cities in Colorado and to Austin, Texas. Both destinations were as hot as I imagine Hell will be (notice I say will since I’m banking on it as a final destination), which I guess led me to believe that I would be able to sweat out my depression in the sauna that is a good chunk of this country. This combined with eating my feelings in breakfast tacos and barbecue seemed like a good plan for the week I was there, and proved successful until my extremely tanned feet landed back on New York soil asphalt. And then I just wanted to do an about-face and hop on another plane away from my troubles. Are there any travel-related companies that need an anxious Indian woman with decent writing skills and a tendency to cry at the drop of a hat for…anything? I also make a pretty mean cheesecake. Eh? EASY SELL if you ask me!

    Yeah… let’s just talk more about that cheesecake. The grammarian in me was unsure of whether this should be called a “goat cheesecake,” (makes one think of a goat-flavored dessert, or a goat-shaped one, no?) a “goat cheese cheesecake” (redundant) or a “goat cheese cake” (looks very weird, but…whatevs). I decided to go with the latter because, as I said, WHATEVS. It’s a cheesecake made with goat cheese, homies.

    Goat Cheese Cake (makes one 9-inch round cake)

    (adapted from Bon Apetit)

    butter for greasing pan

    3/4 cup of sugar, plus more for sprinkling in pan

    12 ounces of softened goat cheese

    1 teaspoon of lemon zest

    1 teaspoon of lemon juice

    1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

    6 large eggs, separated

    3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

    raspberries or berry of choice, for garnish

     

    SONY DSC

    Preheat your oven to 350ºF, and butter/sugar a 9-inch springform pan. In a large bowl, beat sugar, goat cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium until the mixture is smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add in egg yolks, two at a time, scraping the bowl down with a rubber spatula frequently.  With mixer on low speed, add in flour just until blended.

    In a separate, clean medium-sized bowl, beat egg whites on high speed until peaks form, about 2 to 3 minutes. Note that everything you are using must be absolutely clean and dry in order for egg whites to whip properly, as they’re very temperamental (you also need to make sure the room you’re working in never gets too hot).

    SONY DSC

    Gently fold 1/4 of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture just until blended, then fold the rest of the whites in. Do not overmix.

    SONY DSC

    Pour batter into pan and tap pan against counter to get rid of any air bubbles. Bake until the middle jiggles a bit but the sides of the cake are set. Let cool completely in pan.

    Once cooled, run a knife around the sides of the pan and release cake from springform pan. Decorate with berries as you wish.

    SONY DSC

    Full disclosure: this cake was made for Mother’s Day, a month ago (my bad…), because mama loves cheesecake but also loves being healthy, and while I wouldn’t exactly call this vitamin cake, it’s considerably lighter than the regular stuff.

    photo (2)

    So, does “considerably lighter” mean “considerably grosser?” Absolutely NOT. I honestly thought I would miss the crust, but then I realized what a pain in the ass it can be to make cheesecake crusts sometimes. Also, no one who ate this cake even noticed it was crustless. It had the creamy, tangy taste of regular cheesecake but wasn’t nearly as heavy, meaning everyone felt comfortable going for second (um, third in some cases) slices. Take it from your sad-eyed Aunty Shibow, folks: this is the perfect summer cheesecake.

    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.

    SONY DSC

    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.

    SONY DSC

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

    This Blog Celebrates A Birthday…And So Does The Man Who Dislikes It!

    3 Apr

    This blog is FOUR guys! That means we’re [probably] potty trained and [probably] tying our own shoelaces, unless you were one of those cool kids with velcro straps on your TMNT kicks. Whatever. Not jelly. Anyway, thank you all, as always, for keeping this blog, and me, going. Your support is everything.

    Ok. Let’s talk about Easter desserts. Specifically, let’s talk about macabre Easter desserts.

    Whilst searching the ‘nets for some inspiration, I came across a few pretty dark-sounding sweets. Let’s list them, yes?

    1. Empty Tombs. Which, as I remarked to a friend of mine the other day, is probably a step up from “Tombs Filled With Sleeping Jesuses,” but is still not something I could see myself enjoying.

    2. Chocolate Crosses. Again, not totally sold on the whole “eat a symbol of suffering while feeling really good about the sugar you’re imbibing” thing. I dunno.

    3. Judas Cookies. To be fair, my friend Jeremy had the idea for Judas Cookies, which I suggested should be topped with chocolate Judas kisses, and then we had to stop before all the Catholics we both know (and some we don’t) came after us with Super Soakers full of holy water. (There’s mad blasphemy all up in that sentence, isn’t there?) My mother alone could form a very, very formidable army of such soldiers.

    4. Bonkers Easter Cake. WHO WOULD COMMIT SUCH AN ATROCITY?!

    So, I decided to go for something a little bit more classic. Ok, fine, full disclosure: this post is going up a couple of days before Easter, so y’all know I didn’t really make this for Easter. This was actually a birthday cake for my dad, who normally hates, in no particular order: cakes, blogs, things that are made from scratch, things that are made from scratch and then blogged about, cakes that are blogged about, and his child blogging about cakes she made from scratch.

    He will very likely end me if he finds out this picture is on the internet, but seriously people: check out that swagger. Dude is holding an infant and cutting a cake like it's NBD. I'd have trouble doing one of those things with total confidence.

    Dad will very likely end me if he finds out this picture is on the internet, but seriously people: check out that swagger. Dude is holding an infant and cutting a cake like it’s NBD. I’d have trouble doing one of those things with total confidence.

    A lot of people have asked me how it feels to have my dad not like my blog. Those same lot of people are always shocked to hear me say that I think it’s HILARIOUS. He’s such a grump over the most random issues (see: cake-making, also the clothing choices of complete strangers and when people lose on Wheel of Fortune) that it starts to get very amusing after a while. He’s also my dad, the guy who– no questions asked– came over to my apartment a few years ago when I was living alone in order to kill a giant waterbug for me– which I originally claimed was a bat, it was that large– because I was too scared and squeamish to do so myself. He’s the guy who drove over to my apartment last week to pick up my boyfriend and me after our apartment became uninhabitable for a few days (remember that awful varnish smell I mentioned?), and then left us with to-go breakfast sandwiches when it was time for us to head home. He’s the guy who happily secured tickets for five brown people who inexplicably wanted to see Tom Jones in concert in Atlantic City in the mid-1990s, and I am still weirdly proud that it was the first live show I’d ever attended. So, despite the fact that you may very well never read this, I thank you Papa K, for making life funnier, more stressful/less stressful, and safer from disgusting insects/life’s other random villains.

    Still, like I said, the man does not normally enjoy cake. BUT! There is an exception, friends, and it is an exception so simple and yet so profound, that even I in my all-powerful wisdom (LOL) could never have guessed it: carrot cake. Regular old carrot cake. Well. Not so regular, and not old at all, but it is more classic than the one I’ve made before. Let’s do this.

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    Very lightly adapted from The Betty Crocker Cookbook

    Carrot cake (makes one 9-inch round two layer cake)

    For the cake

    1 cup of brown sugar

    1 stick of butter, browned (melt until butter darkens, brown bits begin to form in the butter and it takes on a nutty smell)

    1/4 cup of vegetable oil

    3 eggs

    2 cups of all-purpose flour

    2 teaspoons of cinnamon

    1/2 teaspoon of salt–unless butter is salted, then omit

    1 teaspoon of baking soda

    1 teaspoon of baking powder

    1 teaspoon of vanilla

    1 cup of raisins

    1 cup of pineapple puree, or one cup of pineapple chunks in juice

    4 cups of shredded carrots (about 4-5 medium)

    For the frosting

    8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened

    3 tablespoons of butter, softened

    2 teaspoons of milk

    1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

    1 teaspoon of vanilla

    To start, preheat your oven to 350ºF. Generously butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat together butter, oil and sugar on medium speed until fully blended. Add in eggs, one at a time, until completely mixed. In a separate smaller bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, salt (if using), baking powder and baking soda, then add in vanilla.

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    Gradually add flour mixture to wet mixture, with mixer on low to medium speed, until batter is fully mixed. Fold in raisins first, then pineapple, then carrots, until evenly distributed throughout batter.

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    Divide batter between pans and bake for 30 to 35 mins, until a cake tester inserted into the middle of cake comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool in pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto cooling rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.

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    To make frosting, beat cream cheese and butter together with a mixer on high speed until blended. Add in milk, a little at a time, then gradually beat in sugar and vanilla until mixed. Note that this recipe will produce a cream cheese frosting that is on the tangier side, because no one in my family likes it to be terribly sweet. If you prefer yours on the sweeter side, add in about 1-2 more cups, a little at a time, tasting as you go until you reach your preferred level of sugar shock. Frost the top of one cake round, then top with second cake round and frost. Decorate how you wish and serve.

    Sort of an inside joke-y cake topping, but I went for a vaguely Indian color scheme. Also was pressed for time :(

    Sort of an inside joke-y cake topping, but I went for a vaguely Indian color scheme. Also was pressed for time 😦

    Thoughts? I’m weirdly surprised at how well this went over with everyone. My dad being my dad, he did question why I’d spend the time baking something that seemed complicated to him from scratch…until he tasted it. In fact, everyone was really happy with the cake, from the tangy frosting to the rich, not-too-sweet actual cake. I was pretty damned shocked to hear that my parents, who aren’t really big sugar fiends (yes, I know, I also suspect I was adopted) polished off the rest of this cake a couple of days after dad’s birthday. You never cease to surprise me, Pops.

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