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Not As Good As Pork Cracklins

misadventures in cooking

Friday, October 31, 2008


"I don't do cute."
Yeah, right.

Not enough leftover batter to fill another standard-sized cupcake tin, but plenty to make a handful of bite-sized minis. Boatloads of leftover incredibly silky buttercream. A no-brainer.

You'd do cute in a heartbeat. And you know it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Butterscotch Buttercream

Happy Birthday, dear girl. You are a ray of sunshine.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Stud Muffin

What a Stud Muffin!

No, not you.

Wait! Yes, you are. Totally! It's just that I was referring to the bread. Chock full o' cheese: parmesano reggiano, pecorino romano, and gruyere. *swoon*

Stud Muffin is a recipe I've had marked "to-do" ever since I bought The Bread Bible. Then I ran across it on both Ruth's blog and also breadbasketcase.

What to do with a big ole Stud Muffin? Taking this one to a friend's place, to drink some wine and play Rock Band.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cordon Rose Banana Cake

"We've become quite close friends, haven't we?"
Yes, we have. Happy Birthday!

Cordon Rose Banana Cake with Chocolate Butter Glaze and toasted hazelnuts, The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Visualize Success

I'd been training hard for my... 15th? 16th? I forget... marathon. I'm a big believer in the power of thought: What you think and what you say have a huge influence on how you perform. I have a big bag of mental tricks, and I pull them out when I need them. One is "visualization". That can mean driving the course, so that you can picture what's coming when. It can mean imagining the roar of the crowds. It can mean many things.

Somehow, for me, for this particular race, visualizing success came to mean picturing the Starry Night cake in Whimsical Bakehouse, topped with the same sparkly chocolate numbers that I hoped to see at the finish line. My goal was 3:40 and I'd have been very, very happy with those numbers. But the cake in my head showed 3:37. I visualized that cake often. Because of it, 3:37 became my secret, scared-to-say-it-aloud goal.

There's a race report here, and if you scroll down to the finish line picture, you'll see the time... 3:37:57. Ok. That's a little scary. No, more than a little scary. Whoa! That's just bizarre.

Still, the time on the clock includes the time it took to get to and cross the starting line. Official results --net running time-- show something altogether different, numbers that were beyond my wildest expectations:

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Country Bread

I haven't slept well for several nights in a row. I think it's been nearly a week. I thought for sure I'd sleep through Saturday night after getting up at 3:50 a.m. that morning (more on that in my next blog entry), but instead I was awake at 4:18 on Sunday, like a child who can't wait to see what Santa left in her stocking. Which (together with a couple of glasses of celebratory wine with lunch) made me tired Sunday evening, which made me go to bed too early. And that, combined with some body aches, made me have fitful sleep and wake too early yet again.

Last night, my head was spinning even though it was past bedtime. I decided to put my thoughts - if not my weary body - to bed by baking. Baking calms me. I'm still learning about bread, so I have to think; I have to pay attention. I measured out my ingredients. I warmed the water. I stirred together the sponge for "Country Bread" from Baking with Julia. It's a recipe by Joe Ortiz, who wrote The Village Baker: Classic Regional Breads from Europe and America. Or maybe you are familiar with his gorgeous poster.

When the sponge was ready for its first rise, I knew I could sleep, if only until it was time to work with it some more.

Except that the weather had something else in mind. Approximately 1:50 a.m., I was startled awake by ridiculously close, extremely loud thunder. There was no going back to sleep. I know, because I tried. It doesn't matter. I played on the computer for a while and soon enough it was time to use the sponge to make the dough.

On its second rise, it doubled more quickly than the suggested time; maybe the house is warm. Its final rise in the banneton went very quickly too. That made me realize I am finally learning what bread should look and feel like, so I can rely on my instincts instead of the clock.

One good thing about insomnia is that I can have freshly baked bread, very early in the day. Yay?