just a brief announcement

I made chocolate chip cookies the other day, but I was craving both sweet and savory and so I came up with a brilliant plan.....
Make the salty!
Now I am not a big salt person. In fact the roommate would happily regale you with tales of my foods need for being salted post cooking due to my stinginess with the spice while I was making it, whatever it was. However, sometimes I want salty and when I want salty I want it bad. So I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies and then I added approximatly two tablespoons of salt to the batter. Now that's a lot of salt it is true, and this was a gamble bacause I easily could have ruined a perfectly good batch of cookies with TOO MUCH SALT. However it ended up working out just great. In fact it was more than great, it was fantastic glorious and unbelievably tasty. Just what I wanted. A soft cookie that falls apart and as the chocolate melts in your mouth you suddenly get a hit of the salt and it's JUST RIGHT.
Anyway as this is nothing I've ever done before and I was really satisfied with the end results I figured I would share my triumph. This is for sure something I will be doing again. Just think I satisfied to taste cravings and only had to clean my mixing bowl once!


fixing the minnie mouse dress

So I found this dress at the Alameda Flea back when it was all warm and sunny. What was that? yesterday? Anyway now it's cold and raining and while I like rain I also like to keep some summery warm weather inpirational stuff around. So I figured, even though it's not gonna be warm enough to wear this dress for a loooooooong time I thought it would be nice to fix it up so that it is warm enough to wear it, it will be ready to be worn.

So while this dress was an awesome find (like if Minnie Mouse went to a sock hop) and it had pockets and appeared to be handmade, all the smocking was worn out in the back. So that was the first step, make it so it wouldn't fall down.

I decided instead of tackling smocking right now, I would go the easy route and got a roll of two inch wide elastic and fit that into the back of the dress over the now defunct smocking.

It involved an alarming amount of pins and some scrunching of my face in concentration and I tugged the two sides so that it would be straight. However it worked so it was worth the strain.
After that was complete I figured I may as well deal with the buttons as well. There was one missing and they were white and sort of small. And I thought that it would be nice to make them, I don't know, blend more with the dress. And a white dress with big red polka dots, needs big red buttons of course!

And Voila! Some slight adjustments and I've made this bargain find wearable. Of course now the weather will not cooperate with my desires.But I'll be ready. When it warms up this ridiculously cartoon-y frock will be the first thing I reach for. To celebrate the sunshine.

And in honor of my love of polka dots here are some trees wrapped in polka dot paper. These were awesome in person, a whole avenue of them stretched out along the river in London.


can't think of a whitty title so heres what i've made

Was invited to a Cajun themed dinner party and asked to bring something for dessert. Now what do you make for a Cajun dessert? Everyone seems to connect Cajun food with Lousiana, and more specifically New Orleans. And therefore the first thing that comes to mind to make in benya's, the famous fried dough treat of New Orleans. However the idea of combining myself and hot oil in a frying pan, well lets just say it sounds like a very bad idea. So I searched around for inspiration and kept coming up with recipes for chili chocolate cakes. So I decided to make one of my own without a recipe. Most of them called for about one tablespoon of chili powder so I went with that. I made three low layers and then mixed up a lovely chocolate sort of sauce to spread between them, and pour over the top. So that it could artfully drip down the sides of course. Was very tasty. Not too much of a chili kick but definetly enough to make what would have been a perfectly ok dense chocolate cake a lot more interesting.

Another thing I kept coming across in my searching for ideas was pralines (pronounced PRAAA-leens if you want to be all authentic sounding) which sounded like fun, and very simple when you look at the list of ingrediants, so I thought I would give it a whirl. However it is funny to note that I was not excited about the idea of hot oil with benye's but I was totally thinking it was ok to make my own caramel. Which is very very hot butter and sugar. like 200 plus degrees. I guess I didn't go far eonough with that thought. Or rather didn't think it at all because as my trusty sous-chef/roommate was helping me stir the ever-hotter mixture I was totally unprepared for it getting to the bubbling state. Where the bubbles then burst, spraying me with bits of absurdly hot stuff which would eventually be caramel. It left burns all up my arms. Scars. Ouch. Should have known better, and you've totally got to get all up in there to form the candies. Which means burns all over my fingers as I rearanged the pecans to look not so messy. Still they did tasted fantastic.
And here's a very funny storefront in Scotland. In honor of me laughing at my pain. Burnt fingers and some spicy spicy cake are not the end of the world (thank goodness or considering how much I burn myself the world would have ended about a billion time over!)


zucchini in baking?

Gifted an alarming amount of zucchini? Wondering what to do with it? What do you mean you didn't think of baking with it right away?! For shame!

I know it's not the most obvious of combinations, but zucchini bread's darn tasty so why not add some chocolate?

And make it into muffins? I say yes. Yes to chocolate zucchini muffins so moist and chocolate-y. Yum.

And I leave you with....a rather famous hand. Recognize it? I know it's not the creation of man or anything, that one you can spot a mile away, but it's still neat. And old. So it therefor deserves a fair bit of respect alright? Good.


halloween bits 'n pieces

I know the holiday has come and gone, but it's my favorite (well that's not too accurate, they are all my favorite when they are about to happen or recently experience, cause in a few weeks Thanksgiving will be my fav, just wait and see)and I did some fun things for it so I figured I'd corral a few of them up here.
First, a friend was going to dress up as a cop but she didn't like the badge that came with her costume and asked if I could perhaps craft her up something better. I replied that if she wanted something modest and authentic that perhaps she should seek elsewhere, but that if she wanted something that was sparkly and shiny and more than a little over the top that I was the right girl for the job. She of course replied that she did want something 'bling-y' so to the glitter I went.

I actually made two cause there was a fellow cop that evening. I cut out two shield shapes I sketched on a heavy mat board I had sitting around, and blacked the front back, and edges with a strong black marker (it actually got to my head a bit with all the fumes). Next I cut sightly lopsided stars out of heavy black paper. Then it was time for the glitter. A sort of large disco-ball shaped gold glitter, and a black micro-glitter.
The shield and star were both covered with the traditional grade school method of brushing glue over the surface and then pouring glitter over that and wiggling it around until it stuck. This results in a rather large amount of mess, with glitter all over the place, and in your hair and on the floor. But that's just festive so who cares. Certainly not me. Then I whipped out the hot glue, to attach rhinestones to the edge of the shield, to adhere the star to the front of the badge, and to put a pin closure on the back, so that it could, in fact, be worn. And then I piped on Oakland Vice with metallic puff paint. It was very well received by it's intended recipient.

Next we have our holiday window, or a glimpse of it. We have decided (roommate and I) that it should be just a fluid change from holiday to holiday cause we really like how festive it is. She cut jack-o-lanterns out of brown paper bags and I made a web like net out of twine, with pipe-cleaner spiders lurching in it, and hung bats from the edge of the window. And lastly, I picked up a short string of white mini lights for about two dollars, and drilled holes in some mini sculls and pumpkins to place over the bulbs like little lanterns.

Of course I only had eight of each and at least fifty lights to cover, so I also made copious numbers of little orange and purple (don't know why but purple seems like a Halloween color to me) origami boxes to fit over most of the other lights. The end result was both spooky and super cheerful. Should be easy to transition the lights into a Thanksgiving theme, maybe with more red and gold lanterns? or leaf garlands? hand print paper turkeys? wait and see...

Oh and lastly, no pictures of my costume this year (I was a circus sideshow-painted lady) but here is a fantastic piece of costumery, I give you McFuzzin the traveling fur coat (not real, actually fake shaggy grey monkey fur, just to be specific). McFuzzin was taken from a market in Turkey or Switzerland, can't remember which, and passed from traveler to traveler in the hostels around Europe, until it was passed into my hands at Aphrodite's Palace in Athens. I took it with me on the ferry to Italy (made a good pillow) and wore it around Rome for a few days. This is McFuzzin in all it's glory as I sat on the edge of the Trevi fountain. It was about 95 degrees that day but I will sacrifice a lot for the sake of awesomeness, ant thus, McFuzzin was pulled out for this glorious photo op. Hope all had a spook-tastic Halloween!


three pies in one week

Of course this is about all I got done but three pies is nothing to sniff about. Or rather, yes, please do sniff, absorb the aroma through your skin. The apartment smelled fantastic all week. Pie in the oven is such a magical thing, plus it's like a heater and aromatherapy simultaneously. Fan-freakin-tastic I tell you.
What is the reason for making this much pie in a short span of time (a span of time in which my roommate was out of town on business no less and so I was forced to consume mass quantities of pie solo and without any assistance)you might ask? To perfect my pie crust gluten free style. And why the rush? Well I will reveal that later. Soon hopefully if I finish the project on schedule but lets just say (hint hint) it better be done by the end of the year or it won't really make sense.
First up we have an apple zest pie (forgive the terrible picture, it was photographed late at night and by the time the sun came up not once remained of it's once noble if somewhat higgilty pigglty lattice crusted self but some un-photogenic crumbs. So I am glad I took a photo at night. A lovely taste to the crust, sweet and a definite nutty undertone from the almond meal mixed in. But very dry and flaky. Perhaps too much dry ingredients and not enough butter? The filling was apples from my parents trees with orange zest and juice. The crust did not hold together well enough to weave into a very appealing lattice so I finally threw in the towel and started slapping strips of rolled out dough willy nilly just so I could finish and get it in the oven. Despite it's faults, a lovely pie and a good start.

Now for pie number two, the Cajun sweet potato. The crust held together much better due to an addition of two more tablespoons of butter, though I did decrease the sweetening in the crust itself this time and while that went well with this super sweet filling, it may not be so good for the everyday fruit pie. Also I must remember to cover the edges as rice flour has a tendency to burn very easily and a singed crust is so disappointing. As for the filling. Magical. Sure it's pretty much pumpkin pie but with sweet potato instead. But as sweet potato's are my favorite vegetable to consume in mass quantities all through the fall and winter, there isn't much better than discovering another way to prepare them. And when that way involves cream and butter and nutmeg? I am on board all the way.

And finally pie number three (I feel like I am hosting a dating show for bakers here, this is so odd). The crust was superb, light and so buttery (perhaps because I added even more butter? perhaps because I cut the butter in right after I pulled it out of the freezer having heard a rumor that the colder the butter the better the crust? who knows)and just the right hint of sweetness. I also hit upon both a new combination for the filling (pear and raspberry which was a great sweet and tart dichotomy) and a very pretty way to do a decorative and festive fall top crust with out being forced to battle with delicate lattice strips....leaves! Turned out very pretty (I remembered to cover the pie with foil for the first half of it's baking time to avoid a charred top) and tasted divine despite the fact it was impossible to sneak bites of owing to the way the juices stained your face. Dead giveaway, but also the hands down winner. Now hopefully I can read my own handwriting so that I can recreate this pie on the spot without all this mad having-to-bake-three-pies-in-one-week-to-get-it-right stuff. So tiring. If it weren't impossible I would say I was feeling sick of pie, but that's not something the universe allows. After all, the varieties are endless, and it is butter-tastic. So what's there to get sick of?