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Not Here!

I moved! You can now find me over at VerySmallAnna.

I’m Here, Just Sans Content!

Today I’m trying to clean stuff around the house, so no super-interesting food.  I did roast some purple cauliflower last night, and took some pictures…which came out horribly since it was so late and dark.  I also had a hard time eating the cauliflower…it’s sad, I can’t deal with cruciferous veggies since getting sick a couple weeks ago (a big bowl of pan-seared broccoli was one of the things I ate in the meal just a couple hours before actually becoming sick, so you can understand why it’s a little offputting).  I still have half that cauliflower left and would like to do something nice with it…maybe some kind of spread or something.

I tried to make pita bread the other day, and while I succeeded in making bread I did not succeed in making pockets.  I’m not sure what went wrong.  They came out more like English muffins, so we’ve been splitting and toasting them for breakfast.  Nothing wrong with that.  I’ll do a little research and try again soon.  Maybe my dough needs to be wetter?  That would create more steam inside the pockets, right?

I’ve also been meaning to attempt creme brulee for a while, which I will get to this week.  I just have so many cupcakes to eat that I’m not really interested in other desserts.  I also need to buy butane for my new torch.  I don’t think it’s a great idea to try and make the burnt sugar crust with a Bic.

In keeping with my personal love for flower consumption, here is some photographic proof that I enjoy the taste of flowers:

I wish I had another bar...maybe tomorrow.

I wish I had another bar...maybe tomorrow.

That’s the candy I’m consuming in my profile picture…it was yummy.  One of my favorite chocolate bars, I think.  Right now I have a plain Valrhona Manjari 64% cacao bar that I picked up at Whole Foods, hoping that all the Valrhona hype was true.  It’s ok…I would prefer a darker chocolate for a plain bar, but Z wanted to try it too and doesn’t share my love for chocolate so dark it no longer tastes like chocolate.  So, not really worth the money when I can get a Dagoba lavendar or Green & Black ginger bar for less.  Should’ve gotten something more suited to baking…oh well.

Now I’m really just stalling…I don’t want to go out and shovel, even though I don’t have to do much.  I just don’t want to have to go outside a half an hour early tomorrow to clean my car off.  Arg.

…So, anyone else a Fringe/LOST fan?  I find that if I think too much about LOST returning TOMORROW NIGHT, I become too excited to function.  I’m still recovering from the sheer joy of watching the Powerpuff Girls special last night.


Stupid Yogurt

I wanted to post a picture along with this entry, but might be selling it, so it has to wait…it’s cute, too!
I’m not really up for anything food-related…maybe tomorrow. Night before last I got incredibly sick (suspected cause: some blueberry yogurt) and have been recovering ever since. I spent the whole day in bed yesterday and have been trying to catch up on the internet all day today…and trying to get used to food again. Tomorrow I plan to start working on my first Iron Cupcake entry, though. And maybe I’ll make something yummy for dinner. I have two or three different meals I want to make for myself. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.

The Year in Me

I do have some food I could post, but it’s not terribly exciting (though it’s tasty) so it can wait until tomorrow.  I have to go grocery shopping again before I can make anything special and new…anyway…

My blog hasn’t been running long enough for me to really do a countdown of my favorite recipes or a monthly pick or anything.  I feel like there’s also quite a curve in the recipes I’ve been making.  A lot has happened this year, and much of it has been related to the blog.  Here’s what I’ll do…how about a summary of my year in general, month-by-month…

January: After surviving my first and only Christmas managing a record store (though it was my fifth retail Christmas…yikes), my nerves were frayed.  I started drawing pictures of cartoonish animals on my breaks at work, collecting them for a “coloring book.”

February: Sales and the weather continued to be bleak.  Vodka was becoming my favorite after-work snack.  I kept working on those silly animal pictures…

March: More of the same as February, really.

April: The sun started coming out again and I started making plans for a vacation in June, based around my birthday.  The staff at the store was as worn out as I was.  I kept drawing.

May: My staff started leaving.  I hated having to replace such a rad group of people.  I hit a brick wall with what little creativity I had time to express, and after a lot of thought I decided to quit my job in the summer and move in with Z.  I kept that news quiet…

June: I had more ridiculous staffing issues and had a mad scramble to hire people, but was able to go on vacation anyway.  Went to Boston…Boston was ok.  Went to New York…and reinforced my wish to move there.  Came home and gave my notice at the store.

July: The last month of work wasn’t easy.  I finally reached my goal of 24 pages of silly animals, and then had to replace half my new staff, while getting the store ready for remodeling.  I finally finished my last day and went forth to freedom.

August: After a couple weeks of laziness, I finally finished moving everything.  I was overwhelmed with free time and did pretty much nothing…and it was very nice.

September: Started printing the coloring books.  I sold some to and through friends and family.  It felt good!  I also took notice of the food blogging world…I had wanted to get back into blogging for a while but had no time or focus before.

October: I started my blog, and within a couple weeks had begun communicating with other food bloggers.  I also rediscovered my interest in cross stitch.  I began looking into Etsy.

November: I launched my Etsy and began doing custom illustration for people.  I didn’t and still don’t make much from it, but it’s something.  I also began looking into cooking schools, particularly ones that had pastry programs.  If it weren’t for a particularly awful job experience right around my 18th birthday, I probably would have gone to cooking school back then.

December: I decided which school I want to go to (FCI in Soho, NYC) and began to plan the year ahead of me.

I’m calling the school on Monday to get an appointment to go see it in April.  I’m definitely interested in pastry, though they also offer a short program on hydrocolloids which I’d really like to take.  I’ve been doing my homework on the school and its affiliations, and am now interested in restaurants and concepts that are far beyond my means.  Way to go, me.

No fun pictures today…I was going to draw something but just couldn’t get the motivation to draw anything that wasn’t for a logo project.  So, no original concepts.  Oh well.  The power was also out for an hour…and the kitchen is a disaster since I made myself dinner in the dark.  Not to mention the clean up I still have to do after the giant breakfast I made for Z at 3 in the afternoon.  Yes, I woke up at 1…and no, it wasn’t because I was partying.  We stayed in and watched the Twilight Zone marathon and played Animal Crossing at midnight.  And I baked cookies and made soup and tofu (the latter of which I’ll post about tomorrow).  I guess I’ll have to make up a grocery list tomorrow and get myself out to the store soon for more interesting ingredients…

Oh, and happy New Year.

No Cooking :(

The oven/stovetop here is gas…and the gas has run out. So, I can’t make the cupcakes I was going tos tart last night until Thursday. Or until someone is nice enough to lend me their kitchen…


I haven’t been up to much in the last few days, besides generally being apathetic.  I finally got off my ass (not literally, I was sitting right here in my computer chair) and sent away for some information about a few cooking schools.  All pastry stuff…I find that I always have a hell of a fun time baking and making super tasty sugary sweets, but I’m not as into regular food.  My ideal diet tends to include a lot of repetition…veggies sauteed or stir-fried with some sort of vegetarian protein source, with whatever mix of herbs and seasonings I feel like using, and finally mixed with some sort of carbohydrate.  Very healthy, but not terribly interesting.  Desserts, though…doesn’t sugar just equal fun??

It’s been a constant battle in my mind for the last few years what to do with myself.  What do I really want to do?  My two major interests are definitely drawing and cooking, and waffling between the concept of cooking school and art school is no way to make a living.  This explains why I, until very recently, had a blossoming career in retail.  Ultimately, though, I know that a degree in art is not as useful as a degree in food, and while I would like to learn more art skills, I think I can cover anything I need more work on in specific classes (figure drawing, for example).  I know it’s next to impossible to get a job just drawing stuff.  And cooking is a fantastic way to utilize creativity.  I know it’s hard work and long hours…but I just worked retail management for a year.  Running a store where I would easily go a couple of weeks with no days off, working through TWO Christmases at a mall, working 70-hour weeks on salary (no overtime!)…I think I can handle running around a kitchen.  I’m convinced that “on your feet all day” is much more unpleasant when you’re standing still behind a register for that whole day than if you’re running around a busy kitchen.  I haven’t worked in a kitchen since I was 18, and it was at a very depressing nursing home (and was the main reason I switched to retail), but I remember there were many days when I could just run around and learn and cook and keep my mind busy.

So…oh, right, you all are here to see food I made.  Well, I haven’t.  But I’m getting some concrete ideas for this month’s Iron Cupcake, and all I can say is I hope you guys like chocolate.  I have one completely planned and another still working itself out.  Yeah, I’m trying for two.  Why not?  I’ll also have instructions on how to make something that you should be ashamed if you don’t know how to make…probably tomorrow.  I don’t have nearly enough random vegetables.

I’m off to bed…I guess if anyone happens to read this…do you know of any specific places that are great for pastry school?  The only places I sent away to were in and around NYC (CIA, the French one…I think there was another one), San Diego, Tucson and Portland, OR.  I heart NY, and have considered checking out San Diego (you consider extreme things when you have seasonal depression and you live in MAINE)…I have family in Tucson and generally dig the southwest…and I would check out “the other Portland” but I don’t know how much I’d actually like it.  I’m incredibly picky for having lived in the same state all my life (at least I’ve travelled).

Hibernatin’ Season

I was planning to have a nice post up last night about some lovely gnocchi in pesto I was making…Yeah, gnocchi is HARD, especially when you’ve never had it before, and also never made any kind of pasta before.  By the last batch of them, though, I had finally figured out how big they needed to be (about half the size I made the first half of them…oops) and how to curl them off the fork so they have that nice gnocchi shape.  So basically I had boiled potato noodle blobs in a very nice, fresh pesto.  The pesto, admittedly, wasn’t perfect.  I was stupid and only saw Thai basil at the store, so I bought it, and ended up having to use dried basil to pump up the flavor and cover up the slight licorice smell.  Yeah.  I like licorice, but not in pesto.  The nice fresh-grated parmesan I used did a great job of hiding any fault in the herbs, especially since I sprinkled the fresh-from-the-water batches of gnocchi with the garlic, basil and cheese as I went, then mixed in the olive oil and pine nuts at the end.  Ultimately, it was definitely edible, though not worth the effort for what I came out with.  I know if I try it another couple of times I’ll get it…practice is the key to everything, I just have to muster up the motivation to try again.  Maybe with a different sauce next time…and I need to try making regular pasta, as well!

I did have one culinary success last night, though I didn’t get any pictures.  I liked the idea of parmesan-basil encrusted chicken, so I decided to make that as an accompanying dish for Z (he ultimately wasn’t into the gnocchi, not loving pesto like I do, and ended up having some regular old spaghetti with tomato sauce).  I halved the recipe and made it with large boneless strips of chicken instead of whole breasts.  I also used bread crumbs…which I did not crumb up myself…but I also don’t have a food processor.  I warmed up some spaghetti sauce and served it as a dipping sauce, and sprinkled on more parmesan right before I served it…that parmesan melted so fantastically!

…And I didn’t get any pictures.  The batteries in the camera were dead and also I fed Z his chicken because the gnocchi took so long I’d been keeping the chicken warm in the oven for like half an hour and didn’t want it to dry out.

Also, there was a stick stuck under my car.  It was terrifying!  It’s gone now, though.  I took the car shopping (for new clothes for me!) to celebrate.  I’m also utilizing the Etsy to get an adorable Boojiboo apron!

I do have plans for some cute stuff, I promise!  I’ve just been having very sleepy days lately…it’s so cold outside that I want to hibernate, and it hasn’t even snowed yet!  As soon as I get the matcha I ordered, I’m going to try some green tea cupcakes.  Because why not!  I also went ahead and ordered some vanilla beans…I’m going to be ARMED AND READY for Christmas cookie baking!

…So, I guess that’s it.  I’m going to watch Lost 2.0 now.  And maybe go through some recipes.

I need to get another photo shoot of him...but he gets so grumpy!

He gets so grumpy!

More to Come Later

I’m about to head out into the dreary, rainy, cold, overall yucky day to take care of some stuff, but before I go, here is a colorful picture to hint at what I’ll be posting about when I get home:

They're not fancy but they're pretty!

It's not fancy but it's kind of...sort of...pretty...

Practice, Practice

I won’t be getting to the tiramisu today because I took a very long nap this afternoon, and we have a show to go to in Portland tonight.  I did make up another batch of ladyfingers, though, since I was worried about not having enough.  I finally figured out how to use the pastry bag and the ladyfingers look much nicer this time around!  I worry that they’re a little soft, but I’ll find out tomorrow I guess.

I’m thinking I should have tried NaBloPoMo since I’m trying so hard to blog regularly, but there’s no theme this month so I decided to wait and make it interesting for myself.

I leave you with a picture of Bowser, who became very grumpy after I took his picture while he was sleeping.  This is him grumping.


Just as Tense as Everyone Else

There’s not a ton I can say that will ease anyone’s nerves…I did get out and vote, but I’m not going to be public about who got my vote.  Then I went to the grocery store (and I really love one of the stores in my hometown; it turns out they have some awesome gourmet ingredients if you take the time to look – today I found the fancy salts!) and got ingredients for a couple meals and one very ambitious dessert.  Then I went to Staples to straighten something out and get a ream of very nice paper for the next batch of books (the ones that will be making their way onto Etsy very soon), and finally headed home.  I briefly considered going to claim my free cone at Ben & Jerry’s, but unfortunately the closest one was in the opposite direction from home.  I didn’t really want ice cream, anyway; I’ve been slacking on the fruits and veggies lately and needed to feed myself something nutritious.

When I got home I made myself a sandwich, cooked up a pot of cheesy soup for tomorrow (Z had already eaten and we figured we’d just let it sit in the fridge and see if it tasted better the next day), and (finally!) unpacked my shiny, sexy red Kitchenaid and used it for the very first time.  I made some vanilla cupcakes from the Joy of Baking website with it and…I think I could have done a better job beating it by hand.  It was a lot of fun to mix, but when I pulled the cupcakes out of the oven there were little blobs of butter oozing out of most of them.  A couple came out ok, but I’m not going to make a whole batch of frosting for less than half a dozen successful cupcakes.  Maybe more of them will be salvageable once they cool a little, but I can easily make another batch tomorrow morning, since they’re so simple.  I might even try another recipe if these don’t taste vanilla-y enough.

So, no pictures tonight, as I’m settled in to watch the Daily Show/Colbert coverage.  Things are looking…pretty good so far.