Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lunching with Kindergarteners

Last night I made cupcakes for today's kindergarten orientation luncheon. I got lazy overwhelmed with what I said I would bring and didn't have time to make the caramel frosting, so they got chocolate-frosted minis. Sifting cocoa into buttercream is way
faster than making caramel!

I made molded rice balls which are yummier than they sound, and pretty child-friendly. Just cooked and cooled basmati rice, cream cheese, and fresh steamed white corn. Actually, I just mixed it up, Supergirl molded most of them in the (vaguely) bear-shaped onigiri molds I provided.

I also made a pile of shaped sandwiches this morning - ham, turkey, cheese, and cream cheese + jam.

But my favorite contribution was the platter of jello orange wedges. I was looking for something really fun and child-friendly to make, and came across this idea on the internets. The ones I saw were based more on a jello-shots kind of thing, so of course I omitted the vodka!

They came out so jewel-like and deceptively fun! What is it that I find so entertaining about watching people be fooled by surprising food? Cracks me up.

Jello Filled Orange Wedges

5 thick skinned navel oranges, cut in half, carefully juiced and cleared of all pulp.
(reserve the juice and strain it for the jello)

1 box of orange Jell-O -- (3 oz.)
1 C. boiling water
1 C. freshly squeezed orange juice
2 Envelopes Knox gelatine dissolved in 1 c. cold water
1/2 C. sugar

Mix the above ingredients until the gelatin is dissolved. Scraping the oranges was the hardest part of this (part of the problem may have been that I used valencias instead of the recommended navels. At any rate, set your scraped orange shells in a muffin tin or custard cups to make the next part easier and keep them balanced. Pour the liquid into the shells, filling them as close to the top as you can. Chill overnight. To slice them into wedges, I found the easiest way was to put the orange, cut side down, on a clean cutting board. Hold the shape of the orange as you slice through the skin and jello center. I found that a large, serrated knife was the best for this job. Then go fool someone and laugh!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Another Cupcake Imposter Success Story

If you grew up near the Philly or DC area, you probably had at least one tastykake as a kid. We lived on the other end of PA, but spent many weekends and vacations in Philly, visiting my mom's family and our many cousins. Compared to our tiny and rural hometown of approximately 12,000, Philadelphia was a mecca of gourmet food options. I could write many fond paragraphs in an ode to a cheesesteak, (melted white american cheese, lite onions, NO sauce, mmmm....already drooling). But I can't take the mouthwatering pain of deprivation so I will spare us all. Of course we (my four sibs and I) noshed more than our fair share of giant 'dirty pretzels'; so called because of their street cart transactions. I learned how to like yellow mustard by putting small polka-dots of mustard in a nice design around the copious crust of kosher salt - I can still taste the bitter burn of that mustard and salt on my tongue before it was mashed into the doughy pretzel. Bassetts vanilla bean ice cream was a regular treat, but it was the boxes of butterscotch krimpets that we would bring home with us that would linger long past the fleeting flavors of Philly. My mom bought natural peanut butter in a town where most kids lived on velveeta. She fed us vitamins with breakfast (which never involved sugared cereal unless we were on vacation), rarely allowed us soda, and never ever ever bought twinkies or hohos. So don't even think for a minute that butterscotch krimpets are of the same ilke.
Also, I think Mom couldn't resist her own childhood treat when faced with the choice of deprivation or sharing.
Ahem. Back to the important details. Cupcakes. I am not too adventurous with flavors, nor am I committed to having a portfolio of flavors like 'banana-ginger-lime curd cupcakes'.
So I prefer to work on perfecting the three basic flavors I like to make: Triple Vanilla, Pumpkin w/Cream cheese buttercream, and Devils Food with vanilla bean filling and chocolate ganache.
But this weekend, in preparation for child-friendly food contributions to the kindergarten orientation lunch (which the first grade parents provide), I decided to try something NEW!
Inspired by some flavorful memories and my fixation with making foods look deceptive or fun, I decided to try something reminiscent of butterscotch krimpets.
Yellow cake with butterscotch buttercream.
I found a pretty good yellow cake recipe, but could not find a butterscotch buttercream, so I just made one up. The cake was pretty good, a bit dense - I think I will use cake flour next time (always better when making vanilla cakes) and perhaps beat the egg whites separately and fold in to make it lighter.
I made the butterscotch frosting by making a homemade caramel (what is the difference between caramel and butterscotch when making from scratch?) with unsalted butter, brown sugar (boiled to soft-ball stage), then beat in some heavy cream and let it cool. I made a regular buttercream frosting with a bit less powdered sugar than usual, then added the cooled caramel, some more cream, and whipped the hell out of it. The results were yummy. And rather ecru.

The best part? I dropped some off with dearsweetdave at Jen's house without an explanation for the flavor inspiration. She emailed me later to thank me, and said they reminded her of....butterscotch krimpets!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Inappropriate frosting tools

This is about my new favorite frosting decorator. I hate (as in *HATE*) using decorator bags, because I hate washing them. Ick. Butter is good for eating, not so much on the washing up.
Anyway, I was lamenting to Jen recently that I could not find a good frosting decorator like the one my mom used to use, --->>>>
just an old aluminum one that was a very perfectly-sized cylinder with a plunger. Because that one I bought for so cheap? Totally sucks because it keeps clicking and dispensing it's own favorite amount of frosting, not my own favorite amount of frosting.
I mean, who's the boss here?

Anyway, about the next day after I was talking to Jen (who totally believes in the manifesting thing and I do not so much on that, because I think Rhonda Byrne is a fucking idiot who thinks I manifested my child's own death, but I do respect Jen and am certainly not above jumping on her wagon of manifesting bounty) and , I happened to go to a party in the great city, passing Daiso along the way, and I couldn't exactly pass by Daiso, so Supergirl and I ran in quickly for a look around and, after having a bit of a cry that they were out of wild swans....I found it! A cheap plastic replica of my mom's old decorator! And because it was at Daiso, it was $1.50.
If I had known it would work so freaking well, I certainly would have bought at least three!

And, in another shining example of just how mature I am, hello???
Are you laughing like I was when I said "Cream Squeezer" over and over?
Not even just a little bit?

Well, then you should go eat some of these. They are fudge filled.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Cheap Night's Cheap Thrill

Because we are all about the bargains, we have kept the money-suck that is the Boardwalk A Big Secret from Bubbles, who is a ride junkie. He does not like to be removed from any kiddie ride, and would prefer that you leave him right there, please, because he is not yet finished riding. And because we are all about the bargains, I suggested that we take a family night out at the Boardwalk this week on (what I call) 'cheap night'. 'Cheap Night' is when they still gouge you for the parking and the corndogs, but let you ride anything, (even the roller coaster) for the price of ONE SINGLE .75cent ticket.
We were all over that. Another ride on the bi-planes? No problem! Just scoop up the screaming toddler, run out the exit, back through the entrance, plop! back in the plane! One more whirl on the merry-go-round? No problem! We don't even care about sitting on the outside row of horses to try and grab the brass rings because we are too short, so we get to slip ahead of half the line! The guy only grabs two of my three tickets - oh who cares, it's Family Night! Everyone is happy! The weather is perfect, the sun is setting, the boardwalk is swarming with families of all colors and shapes and sizes, the kids are sticky and happy.

We got a lot of shots like this:

'Up! I want up! up! up! Go up!'

And this:
'I don't want to WATCH, I want to RIDE, Woman! put me down!'

And this:
'I Rule this whale ride, yo!'

And this:

Wait - is that a slicked-up woman with outrageous porn-sized freakishly large breasts? Why, yes it IS!
And is that a photo shoot on the beach at sunset with approximately five thousand people watching from the boardwalk? YES! It IS!
When I first spied this, I couldn't speak for a few moments. I nudged dh with a very sharp elbow and scraped my chin off the sand.
"N-n-n-never I-I-I wha?" I stammered.
Dh looked at me questioningly.
I had lost my ability to speak. I glanced down for a moment at my own pathetic hooters, their freakish nature created by nursing three babies.
I finally regained the ability to speak in my native tongue of broken English.
"Only pictures. Never in person. Have never seen. Breasts. That ginormous. For real."
"No, most certainly not real," corrected dh.

I wondered what bathing suit catalog she was modeling for.

I am a fool.
Moments later, this was what my camera (and that of probably every teenage boy on the boardwalk, and there were plenty of them) caught:

Oh. I see. No bathing suit. Oh. OOOOHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhh..... (me? a little slow.)
And the breasts that only a porn star would have...OH! Why YES! Of course!

So, this being family night, I did ponder for a moment how other families were reacting to this, or perhaps explaining it to their kids, or tying bandanas around their eyes. Since my kids were far more interested in the ferris wheel and cotton candy than the beach eye-candy, I could still laugh about it (oh, I did laugh. a lot!)
And really? Would I have a problem with this if my kids were older?
Well, nudity is no problem. We're all fine with The Nudity in our family.
But breasts that look like that? Now how the fuck am I supposed to explain that to my daughter? How is she supposed to understand why someone would take those parts of her body and inflate them to the size of overgrown hydroponic watermelons? Seriously.
I don't even understand it myself!

Editors note: Updated 8/17 to say

Oh, let me clarify.
I said freakishly large breasts, implying that they were, um, large.
A friend's husband checked in and was apparently disappointed with the billing, labeling it "a 'G' photo" with a shrug. Look, people, I am talking some SERIOUSLY LARGE BREASTS.

Zoom in if you dare doubt me.

I stick by my original description of 'freakishly large'.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Life of an Ice Cream Bar

Ode to a summer ice cream...

Who cares about swings when there is chocolate to gnaw?

One must savor the taste of blackberry ice cream and dark chocolate.

I'm saving some for later, too.

Right here on my face where I left it.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Eight Random Facts, 29 Days Later

"Bad Friend has promptness issues looking for more tolerant friends to join crew of managing details of my life."

-is what my personal ad would read if i had one. (the platonic one, of course.)

So sorry I missed this way back, Jen - I think I was in The Holy City.

HERE’S THE RULES…- We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.- Players start with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.- People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.- At the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people who get tagged and list their names- Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they are tagged.

Rules, shmools, drools.

  1. Best job I've ever had is the one I started in 2001 - (absolutely shameless mamablogger gushiness alert): The Mama.
  2. I can't stand sesame oil. Makes me gag. Sesame seeds? No problem.
  3. I am a triple virgo. Scared you, didn't I? (it's true)
  4. I think I may never fully move beyond the residual anger that is part of my lifelong bereavement process. Losing your child=Biggest fucking rip-off you can imagine life tossing your way.
  5. I think I would have five four children one more child if dh wasn't so terrified of chaos. And being outnumbered. And the lack of money. (I think my cervix just cried out "TRAITOR" in protest and anger )
  6. My father chose my daughter's name. He had died three months before. He came to me in a dream and told me to name her after a song he used to play for me on the piano. I did. Which is why she is known 'round these parts as 'Fugue in D minor'.
  7. Both dh's father, and my own father died on our mothers' respective birthdays, and both within the same calendar year. I don't think this was very nice.
  8. I was a vegetarian for 17 years and now I love cheeseburgers.
  9. I don't like to follow rules.

I tag:






Daisy, of Compost Happens



Not even close to drinking age

Last night, the fog crept in on little cat feet.
This morning, Supergirl streaked through the chilly air between her room and ours. She jumped in between the covers, shivered, and we wrapped our arms around each other for our serious snuggle of the day.
She whispered, "Mommy. Sometimes when I wake up, my saliva tastes like dusty rubber."

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Pink Fairy Cake/ Exploding Heads

Supergirl's party was a blast this weekend. I had to console myself with many IPAs and friends, as I was not able to attend the fabulous BlogHer 07 in Chicago (blew my wad in Salt Lake City). It seemed like a good weekend to have the party, even though I was sacrificing the attendance of one of my best homies (Jen) and her family. (She, of course, was in Chicago)
Luckily for me, another homie (and another Jen!) was not able to attend the midwestern festivities, and instead came to our celebration, bringing along her fairie-ness (do not forget to invite real fairies to your fairie-themed parties!) and her hot husband. Good thing, as they were there to carry and dance with the very large masks that our dear friend SolsticeDave has made for previous parties.
Also? The Lovely Woman Who Can Sew Anything and blogs about it brought her adorable chickies and an incredibly awesome pink supergirl dress (the 'S' logo? it is sparkly silver, could you imagine the perfect-ness?) that has already shot up to #1 in Supergirl's closet.


We invited about seventy people; usually we have about fifty show up, and this year it was maybe thirty. At first I worried (who would eat all that cake? last year? not enough cake! this year? too much. ohwell, who ever cared about having too much cake? shit! why can't my inner voice just get laryngitis?), but it turned out that I had a lot of fun, and a lot less running around this year! So, to all you who didn't make it? Umm...sure we missed you! But really, that's okay. Next year, please do come, really, and bring a salad - we were a little short on those this year.
In case I haven't made this point, this party is not just for Supergirl's birthday - we tell her this, too, so she doesn't expect that many people every year - but also a bit of a replacement for the summer solstice parties we used to throw. As party-throwing goes, we have our limits.
Anyway, this post narrowly missed being another big fat 'you're not gonna believe this grudge', but I was too pissed to write about it yesterday. Yesterday being Grudge Tuesday.
The day after the party, I asked dh for the new camera to find the photos of the crazy pink rainbow fairie castle cake (that Supergirl helped me with this year!) and share them with the dear internets. He had it last at the party. In his pocket.
He 'forgot' to find it and went for a hike. The next day, I asked for the camera. Oh my, it seems it was not in his pocket. Or on the table where he SWORE he left it. Or in the kids art box which was also on that table, or in the top of the recycling can (would we he need to dig to the bottom?) Or up his ass. You see where this is going?
The camera was missing.
Or Lost. Again.
And? The photos? Of the party? And the cake?
Right after I had this huge deja vu moment (the bad kind), my head exploded. I was that upset.
Then I wrote a post in my thusly exploded head that involved a photo of his head - on a platter. But I don't know photoshoppe so I was needing some help there; it was holding my post up!
Things were tense.
Thanks to h-bee-oh, there was some very juicy distraction on so I didn't have to kill him with my exploding head.
About two hours ago I was doing The Nasty Laundry (you know the category of which I speak if you are a mom), trying not to breathe through my nose too much, and dh came in holding something behind his back. He was smiling.
Obviously, his untimely death had been avoided by the discovery of The Camera. It was in an outbuilding we call 'the pod' where it turns out, he had actually taken it out of his pocket and set it down there when wrestling with our toddler.
Things have now settled down here at Casa de Gwendo. And my head? No longer exploded.