Monday, December 29, 2008

This is why Michele should not be allowed in a grocery store after 6 pm when she's hungry for dinner.

Yes, I know I've neglected my blog for over a month through the entire heart of the year (foodwise) so I'll save my holiday blogging for next year.

In the meantime, This is why I should not be allowed in a grocery store after 6pm. when I'm looking for something for dinner, because I'll inevitably see something way too complicated that will take hours to prepare and I'm hungry now, but I don't listen to my reasonable side. Oh no, I see the chicken and think, "gee, wouldn't it be fun to cook a whole chicken, I don't do that all that often."
"Ok, Michele, cooking whole chickens is good, but not fast, and it's getting on toward 7," says the reasonable part of me. Do I listen? No.

To make matters worse, I get this idea that fresh herbs would be really great, but I can't afford them at Dan's where I shop, so on the way home I decide to go to Whole foods which is 10 blocks out of the way of being on the way home because I saw they had little rosemary bushes shaped like Christmas trees, and I figure they must be on sale and still there since they had like a thousand of them two weeks ago, and hey I'd have fresh rosemary all the time. Awesomeness.

They were totally sold out, but the nice produce guy called every Whole foods in the area for me, and I didn't even ask him to, he just offered, which I thought was really good of him. He was just so darn helpful. Kudos to your employees Whole foods. I'll have to blog about them later since I find myself going there more and more often and they have an AMAZING deli and bakery. Anyway, back to I grab a packet of "poultry seasoning" fresh herbs, which had exactly what I was looking for: Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme. I love these herbs, so tasty!

And then I think, why don't I make Italian Cream Soda, since they have Italian soda here, and I have cream from Winder Dairy.* So I find the Italian soda, but none of the flavors really tickle my fancy, although blood orange is interesting, just not for putting cream in since I've never really liked orange cream anything. I know, I'm un-American not liking dreamsicles, sue me.

So as my chicken is starting to freeze around the edges from sitting in my car, I make my purchases and head home.

I have had this Ceramic pot with a lid that I've never gotten around to using for anything, although I've had the poor thing since the summer. I remembered it just in time to try it out.

The chicken just fit with enough room to add some potatoes and carrots around the edges. I put some olive oil in the bottom so the chicken wouldn't stick, and loaded it up. I also added garlic cloves, and those little miniature onions since they were lying around from making squash soup. I really like them, they add great flavor and are cute, and you can use a few and still save the rest in whole form, unlike if you were only to use half of a normal onion for something and try to save the other half, which will start to dry out and go moldy a lot quicker.

Ok, so when preparing chicken, everyone knows it will be much more tender if you leave the skin on, but this poses a problem: all the flavoring is on the outside of the skin, and eating the skin is yucky. So I like to separate the skin from the meat before I cook it, and stuff some of the herbs down in. It kinda makes it look a little weird, but flavor gets into the actual meat better.

Sorry for all you "I don't do raw meat people" but honestly, get a backbone, it's not that gross. Anyway, if you look closely you can see the rosemary and sage and a garlic clove stuck in under the skin on top of the breast.

I put a little more olive oil on the breast, filled the pot about half way with water to get some stock, put the lid on, and put it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 2 1/2 hours. The rule of thumb, I guess (I googled this tonight) is you cook it 30 minutes per pound, or 45 min. per pound if your oven is at 325 degrees, which will produce a more tender chicken. Mine was 3 1/2 pounds so this was a little longer than I should have left it, and it was less tender than it could have been in the end, so use a meat thermometer.

Here it is just before I put it in. You can sorta see that the skin is lumpy and the herbs are sorta green under there, but think flavor.

One of the beauties of ceramic bakeware is that your food still browns so I didn't have to uncover it at all, unlike with tin foil coverings. I took it out of the oven and voila! The carrots and potatoes had awesome flavor, and the dark meat parts of the chicken were perfect. So, in the end I suppose it was a success even though I didn't actually eat until 11:45 at night. So the moral of the story is, go to the grocery store early, be inspired, and get a good ceramic baking dish. They are GREAT. And you can use them over a coals if you have a trivet to put it on. If you bake bread in it, it has the same effect as baking it in a brick oven. If you haven't tried bread out of a brick oven, I'm sad for you, it's amazing. So there you go.

My one problem is that I couldn't get the chicken out in one piece, but my dish is pretty enough that it doesn't matter. It was made in Bulgaria...and purchased at TJ Max.

As for the Italian soda I ended up getting Knudson raspberry sparkling juice and simply adding the cream, and it turned out great.

So, thank you my readers, for not throwing things at me, and yay, I'm back, which reminds me, I'm going on a somewhat ludacris road trip on Thursday to Ely, Nevada, and plan on blogging about all the interesting food places we go, so stay tuned!

*The best part about Winder dairy is not only that their milk actually tastes fresh, just like I remember from Country Boy dairy when I was a kid, but they also deliver, so I have a milkman. How cool is that. I recommend them if your willing to pay slightly more for a better dairy product. I'll write more about them later too.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mini's Cupcakes

So, while I was in New York City this spring we visited the Color Association of the United States, where they do color forecasting for the fashion market. We met their intern, a charming young man, who has several seemingly strange assignments, one of which was to go find 5 of the city's cup cake shops.

This fascinated me, the idea of a shop based soul-ly on the sales of fancy cupcakes. I find it a little pretentious, and rather trendy to be completely honest, but since I love cupcakes, I'm ok with it. I wanted to find a shop while I was there, but sadly, I never did.

Then one day while my old roomie and I were on our way home from the DI (a very handy thrift shop for all you non-Utahns) and we passes "Mimi's Cupcakes." I was incredibly surprised by this discovery and we decided to go back sometime. Unfortunately my roomie moved out before we could, but today I went and found it again. It's a little hole-in-the-wall place in the middle of a slightly crummy neigborhood in Salt Lake City (8th South and I forget what east but pretty close to the freeway), but once you walk inside it's a different little world.

The decor is really cute, and I don't use that word lightly. They've used a sort of black and white checked theme with lots of pink and french curly cues. Just what you'd expect for a cupcake place. This is their front window decoration. The photo doesn't quite do it justice, there are big cupcakes under the tree, and the leg lamp made me smile.

So I walked in and let the lady behind the counter know my purpose in being there (which was to blog about it...and eat yummy cupcakes) She was really friendly and told me the whole story of how it came to be, and here's the story:

The owner, Leslie Fiet, wanted to have her favorite cupcakes shipped from New York, but the shop wouldn't ship. Niether would her favorite LA shop. This is because cupcakes are quite top heavy, which poses a problem for transport around the block, let alone across lots of state lines, as the Mimi's crew found out when they started trying to transport their goods. Well, since Ms. Fiet was left cupcakeless for the holidays, she decided to make her own shop. They've been in business for about two years now, and have cupcakes to rival the best of New York's to be sure. They are 100% shop made? Made on location. As the counter girl put it, you can pronounce every ingredient. It sounds a little trite but this is actually a very important quality in a baked good since a lot of preservatives, dough conditioners, or stabilizers will give the product an aftertaste, like box cake mix, or cake from the grocery store. Even the frosting can taste chemical; particularly the cakes that have the brightly colored air brushed frostings. Maybe most people haven't noticed this effect since they're used to getting supermarket cake, but if you learn to make your own cake and frosting from scratch it will fine tune your taste buds, and you'll never go back to the box. I highly advocate this. Maybe I'll post a recipe or two.

Mini's is very aptly named because it's cup cakes are just that, small. Their explanation: They want to fight American over-consumption and places like Costco where you can get a chocolate 'muffin' (let's face it those are totally naked cupcakes) the size of your head. (Okay the irony in this situation is, of course, that they are a shop that sells cupcakes...CUPCAKES. If this isn't a symptom of a ridiculously affluent society I don't know what is) Their cakes are the standard European size cup cake, about halfway in between our mini cupcakes and our standard sized ones. Of course the lady is explaining about over-consumption as I'm buying three of them for myself, but what can I say, it was for the good of the blog. I had to try a variety. *shifty eyes*

As we were talking about the tasty morsels in front of me in the display case the lady gave me one of their rice krispy treat to try. It was unlike other rice krispy treats; the marshmallow was homemade right there, rolled in butter and then coated with rice krispies. It was quite delictable.

They have quite the variety of cupcakes, everything from Carmel Apple to Twisted sister, featuring pretzels on top, to one called Tainted love. Most have clever names and all of them look really chic, and too adorable.

I decided to go with Black and White, Chocoholic, and Tainted love. Black and white was a chocolate cupcake with buttercream frosting and a little white and dark chocolate disk for garnish. I love a good buttercream, especially on chocolate cake. The cake was high quality and the buttercream was really rich and buttery. Everything was very natural tasting, which is so refreshing after having cakes and icings that taste chemical.

Both the Chocoholic and the Tainted love cupcakes had ganache as frosting, which was heavenly. I love ganache because it's really rich, yet very light at the same time, and much silkier than a chocolate buttercream or fudge icing.

The tainted love cup cake was especially lovely because of the decorator sprinkles they had used on top. It's hard to see from the photo, but they're little pearlized pink and silver bubbles. I thought they'd be particularly good for a baby shower. Here's a closer look:

As I was making my little purchases I noticed they had t-shirts. What could make a highly specialized shop better than a t-shirt, after all. (I'm reminded of Cows in Park City, but I'll save that for another post...hmm excuse to go to Park City, yessss!)

So here it is. I found it slightly amusing, but that's when the lady gave me her over-consumption spiel, cause, it's not about what you're thinking it's about, after all.

Now again, we come to the problem of transportation. This is what got them into the cupcake business after all, and I was about to attempt to get my precious cargo home in a still-photographable state. Well, they had already divised their plan. First the placed the cupcake in a small plastic condiment cup you'd usually put ketchup in. This if for stability since the smaller the base of the cake, the more top heavy it becomes. Then they place it in a small cupcake-sized
cardboard box. Each cupcake get's it's own little box. Very cute for gifts.

Here's how it works:
And sometimes it doesn't:

This is why I didn't get a better shot of the black and white, tasty though it was. It's almost like having your ice cream fall off the cone as a kid, really.

If you really splurged and got 4-6 cupcakes you get them in a nifty box specially made to not let them tip over. I thought these were really pretty, even though the lady told me they were just for display,had been there since they opened, and were probably hard as rocks.
These reminded me of my friend Heidi who likes to decorate cakes and makes all sorts of cute confections and would totally use those little silver sugar things.

So my overall rating of Mini's is this. The over-consumption thing bugged me. If you're going to sell me a smaller cake don't preach to me about it, just tell me how much better it is than anywhere else. They were slightly pricey, at $2.00 a cupcake, but the cakes themselves were very good, so I would definitely go back, and I've already recommended them to several of my friends. I like them because they make me feel like Salt Lake is a little more up on the trends, even if the trends are a little silly sometimes, but what a tasty trend this is.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fonduly noted

Thank you, Michele, for the warm welcome :) Hello! I am Michele's aforementioned friend Lacey... and I am a cheeseaholic. And a chocoholic. So fondue is something very near and dear to my heart... or my stomach. If you have never tried fondue (you must!), it involves skewering things on long skinny forks and dipping said things into a pot of warm tasty substances, then eating the tastily covered things. It's kind of like getting to play with your food ;)

There are 3 main kinds of fondue: oil/broth fondue (in which you dip raw pieces of meat/veggies into flavored oil or broth and cook them), cheese fondue (dip bread/veggies/cooked meats/apples into melty cheese), and dessert fondue (dip fruit/marshmallows/cookies/other sweet things into melty, sweet, usually-chocolate-based yumminess). I haven't tried the oil/broth kind, primarily because I don't go in for the meat so much, but if we make that at some point I'll report back about it. For the inauguration of my new fondue pot, we made cheese fondue.

First, a note about fondue pots. I can't claim to be an expert - I've only had the one - but I think, given a do-over, I might have gone with an electric one, if only because it was so hard to find the alcohol gel fuel stuff I needed for this one. I found it at a cooking supply store, and you can also order it online (is there anything you can't find on the internet?), but the plug would probably have been easier and more cost-efficient in the long run. What I do like about my pot is that it's a "3-in-one" - I can cook oil or broth directly in the metal pot, or put boiling water in it and turn it into a double boiler with a ceramic insert for cheese or chocolate. These can burn if you put them over direct heat - I had it happen to chocolate fondue at one of my favorite restaurants when they forgot the water, and you just don't want to do that to chocolate. It's sad!

So, on to the food :) The classic cheese fondue involves Gruyere/Swiss, but there are many variations, and we went German-style with what we had, which was Cheddar and beer. I looked at a couple of recipes, and they all seem to call for about a pound of cheese and a cup of beer. That made enough for my boyfriend and me to have for dinner, with a salad accompaniment. I used mostly mild cheddar (yay for giant bags of shredded cheese from Sam's Club!), with some uber-sharp Cabot mixed in. Cabot makes some delicious cheddar, do look for it in your grocery store or Sam's. The recipes I saw said to use a lager, but what I had was an ale we got free from a place that brews their own, and it was quite tasty. I don't like beer, and consequently don't know much about it, but I say go with what tastes best/is most palatable to you. Don't worry, the alcohol cooks off :) Other recipes also recommend things like Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, hot sauce or other seasonings, but I found it simply delicious without them. Season to taste, dear readers.

Making fondue is pretty simple. Mix your shredded cheese with about a tablespoonful of flour or cornstarch. Heat the beer til it's basically boiling in a regular pot on the stove. Add the cheese a handful at a time, stirring it until it's all melted in. Rachael Ray recommends using a wooden spoon and stirring in figure-8 patterns - I have an awesome plastic spoon that looks like a wooden spoon, so it works the same and doesn't get food stuck to it as badly. The figure-8 pattern was good though. Once all the cheese is melted in, transfer the fondue to your fondue pot to keep it warm. Fondue pots would probably also work quite well for queso dip, come to think of it. Serve with whatever you want to dip in it :) We just cut up some bread (Portuguese rolls, actually) and frozen broccoli, but apples are also tasty, and you can pretty much use anything you think would be good covered in melted cheese. If you want, you can also have dipping sauces - I've had a provolone-mozzarella fondue with a side of marinara sauce, and it was delicious. Experiment! I'd love to know what other people do with their fondue :)

I'm sure soon we'll be trying a chocolate fondue, so I'll report back with the results of that. Recommendations are welcome! :)

Friday, November 7, 2008

A dry week

I must make my apologies, readers, I left my camera cable at a friend's house in Provo last friday, so this week I've shirked in my blogging duties. Don't worry, I think I'll get it back tomorrow.

Anyway, for your enjoyment, and mine we have a guest blogger, my good friend Lacey, who recently acquired a fondue pot, and wanted to share the delicious results. Take it away, Lacey.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mormon Root Beer

There's no rootbeer like the homemade rootbeer found at LDS Ward parties where the dry ice makes it all cold and just carbonated enough, and it's so sweet and refreshing. Mmmmmmmm :)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Porcupine Restaurant

At the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon there is a lovely little restaurant called The Porcupine. Well, actually I guess it's technically considered a pub, but since I don't drink I forget about that part.

Anyway, my good friend and former roommate Emily introduced me to this great little spot. It's got a lodge-y sort of feel, perfect for the end to a day on the slopes. Her favorite is the fish 'n chips, which are great. My favorite is this Ahi salad with a Mexican-esque twist, as in there's black beans, salsa, and tortilla chips involved. They're sandwiches and pizza are also very good, so there's pretty much something for everyone.

What I really want to write about, though, is their signature dessert: the Chocolate Porcupine. This adorable little guy is made of a layer of chocolate cake, then a custard filling and a layer of chocolate mousse covered in a hard chocolate shell. On the back they stick slivered almonds into the mousse before they dip it into the hard chocolate so it has quills, then they use white chocolate chips dipped in dark chocolate for eyes. They serve him with a delicious vanilla bean ice cream and a sliced strawberry and whipped cream. He's cute and so tasty! He's really the reason we go there.
Here he is peeking out from behind his whipped cream cloud.

Does he look nervous to you, too?

The waiters are typically attractive, which is like an added bonus, and when we went this weekend they were having a special for Oktoberfest, so all the waiters were in Lederhosen, and the waitresses in German-looking outfits with skirts that were way too short when they were walking up the stairs. Emily was kind (or brazen, take your pick) enough to ask if I could take a picture with one of the waiters (alright I admit it, I had been checking him out the whole time, but he was cute).

And here's the pic:
He was going to get some steins for us to hold, but he couldn't find any, how sad. Geez, I look stiff.

And here's the girl that got me into this mess...
The trick is in knowing there is no spoon...which is probably why she looks so confused at the fork.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Carmel Apples

In an earlier post (Pretty Chocolate) I mentioned two of my favorite carmeled apple sources: the BYU bookstore candy counter, and the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. These are indeed very fine sources for amazing carmeled apples, but the winner is *drum roll* V Chocolates. They are located at Kiosks in some of the malls around here and Tai Pan Trading Co.

They win for presentation and both carmel quality and quantity, plus the fine layer of chocolate is just the right amount to compliment everything. The texture is good, and they come in these wonderful little cellophane bags perfect for a gift, and I love that the tag is a leaf. It's just cute, and the edges of the ribbon are a nice touch too.

BYU comes in first for price, but last for availability since you have to be in Provo by 6 to even have a shot at one, and they usually run out before then. They are definately competative, though, since they are the only one of the three that offers just carmel, and just carmel with pecans. I know it's hard to believe, but sometimes chocolate just isn't necessary with these things.

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory definately comes in first for variety. They have apples covered with anything from M&M's to various nuts, to Oreos, to English Toffee (my favorite). I actually think they're slightly overdone, and never have as much carmel, or maybe you just don't notice the carmel since there's so much other stuff. They are, however, the only ones who will cut your apple for you, which is nice if you're sneaking it into the movie theater next door.

I suppose it all depends on what you value in a carmel apple. I like the simple route, and I like to be able to taste all that carmely goodness, and the carmel texture is important too. It's all about the sweet/tart and gooy/crisp contrasts between the apple and the carmel. There are few things I like better about fall than that.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I was just going to include this in my 'favorite books' section, but it wasn't letting me get the format how I wanted, so I decided to make it a post instead. I hope it's useful.

So, here are some tips for finding a good cookbook:

So what makes a good cookbook? I like cookbooks with pictures of what the final product looks like. If you're not salivating in the middle of Barnes and Noble, put it back. Most of mine have been bargain books or on sale, but they're still fabulous. They don't need to cost an arm and a leg to be tasty.

It helps if you know a little about the person who wrote it, but isn't necessary. For example, if it's somebody from the food network, and you've watched their show, you'll know approximately what will be in the cookbook. Paula Dean for example, will have very tasty things with lots of butter; Rachel Ray or Giada de Laurentiis will have Italian stuff. Alton Brown will just be all together awesome. But don't shun a cookbook just because it's not by somebody famous!!! Heck, even those Ward or Neighboorhood cookbooks can contain some pretty good stuff. Just make sure you have time to flip through, salivate at the photos, and check over the ingredients and instructions so you know that they're clear. My best cookbooks are by people I've never heard of, in fact I tend to not go for the Food Network ones because they're pricier, though a caution with the neighboorhood or really local ones--I was looking through some 'Mormon cooking' cookbook, I forget the name of it, but it was on some deal rack at Macey's grocery store, and in one of the recipes they had completely left out one of the ingredients in the instructions. It was something important too, like the leavening agent or something. This just indicates a badly written book. If you're an experienced enough cook it's probably less of a problem but still. Watch for that in the neigborhood/really local books. The ones that have been through a publisher are usually better about that sort of thing, but like I said, neighboorhood cookbooks do have their place, especially if you're just dying to know how Mrs. Whatever made that amazing Jello salad at last year's Christmas party.

The recipes should include things you actually eat, otherwise you'll never use them. Also, if you get a European cookbook be prepared to also get a kitchen scale since they don't really use our standard measurements like cup, teaspoon, etc.

Avoid cookbooks from the DI or other thrift stores unless you know they can be trusted. There's a reason why they're there...lest you end up with a cookbook full of strange Jello-mold recipes from the 70's or something.

And, Don't look at them when you're hungry, it's just like going to the grocery store when you're hungry, you'll walk away with more than you intended.

There are also lots and lots of fun specialized cookbooks, like Lord Krishna's Cuisine that I picked up for pretty cheep at a Hare Krishna festival. Where else could you find a book like that. Always be on the lookout. Especially if you have some special dietary need, like Gluton free, or Vegetarian. More and more gluton free stuff is becoming available which is really nice for you poor celiacs. My heart goes out to you. Gluten is in everything.*

Resteraunt cookbooks can be awesome too, like Junior's Cheesecake Cookbook. Junior's is a resteraunt that started in Brooklyn. I only got to the one close to Times Square, but this resteraunt single handedly proved that New York Cheesecake is, in fact, all it's cracked up to be, and they were good enough to write a cookbook so poor me stuck in Utah can now have amazing cheesecake whenever I want. Sometimes the recipes don't turn out quite as well as the resteraunt's product. I figure this is for two reasons. One: They've had more practice getting it right, and Two: They don't want yours to be quite as good or esle why would you come pay them to do it. Now people would anyway because fewer people are cooking, but you get my point. Some, resteraunt cookbooks, though are really just great. Thanks Junior's.

About family cookbooks--These are great, at least in my family we always have large family get-togethers and everybody brings their favorite dish. Often we gather at my sister's house since it has lots of room to put everyone and she has lots of family events, besides she's a really great cook, and so are her kids. One Christmas she gave out packets of her family recipes that we always have at her house, which was awesome because we all love her recipes and then we didn't have to bug her everytime we had a craving for her raspberry Jello salad thing that's surprising good, even though I make fun of Jello a lot. Now if I could only get a hold of the rest of my siblings' recipes....

So see, you too might have a little sister out there wishing for your wassail recipe (hint hint Elizabeth) or a friend dying for your Versailles Chocolate Torte (Thanks Emily), so make your own cookbook and give it out for a holiday.

*I'd just like to mention for people who tend to over-react to health things, gluten is not inherently bad for you unless you are Celiac. This means that your body doesn't process the protein found in wheat and some other grains. For everyone else gluten is a good thing, so don't swear off gluten unless you have to.

P.S. Sometime I'll talk about internet recipes, but that's for another post.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Apple Party

These are some fun photos from last April when
we decided to have a party commemorating the birth of Apple computers, and what better way to celebrate than with Mac themed food.

First we had to decorate, and what better to decorate for an Apple party than with Macintosh Apples.

This doesn't have to do with the food, but I thought I'd mention it anyway...we expressed our feelings toward PC.

We decided to serve pizza in honor of the programmers.

Emily provided the mini fridge full of soda, Melanie was the Vanna White of the evening.

Notice the apple sticker.

On top of the fridge was the apple pie, made with Macintosh apples, notice the faint logo in the middle of the top crust.
Zoomed in:
This apple pie turned out all rustic:

That's it for the food, but here we all are with our Macs. Emily ended up showing us some fun Mac tips and we watched Cars, which was made on what else but Mac computers. Yay Pixar, we love you.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pretty Chocolate

So now that I've started this blog, I walk around the Salt Lake Valley looking for fabulous food to take pictures of to put on here...not that I ever get around to it, but I have some awesome pictures of food, anyway. Well, one night I was wandering about the Gateway Mall because really I wanted to end up in one of my favorite shops, the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. I wanted a Carmel apple, because there really is nothing better for fall than one of their English Toffee carmeled apples, except the carmeled apples that the BYU bookstore candy counter makes, which are absolutely divine. Especially the ones covered in Pecans, but avoid the ones that are dipped in any sort of fudge, it just ruins the whole thing. Maybe I've just never much cared for the BYU fudge.


I was getting an apple, and I turned and saw the most beautiful piece of chocolate I have ever seen. Perfect for the blog! It was a chunk of what's called Tiger butter, which is a mixture of white chocolate, Milk chocolate, and peanut butter (which I did not know at the time). I'm not actually much for white chocolate, so I debated for a bit about whether it was truly worth it to purchase a chunk just to take a photo of, but I didn't have my camera with me, and it was just so pretty. So with my carmel apple I asked for a chunk. The shop boy of course gave me a piece from the back of the stack, which was also very nice looking, but not nearly as much so as the piece in front was. I was feeling rather non-confrontational so I didn't say anything, but I made the purchase, found out they didn't validate parking, (which I may have already known) and left the shop. I ony got a few steps before I realized how silly I had been not to ask for slice that I wanted. After all, it's not like I was going to eat it, so it was actually important what the thing looked like. I debated, I even got several stores away but my impracticle side got the better of me and I went back.

Now I knew that the same shop guy would still be there, and since he was moderately attractive, and a human, I felt I had to make some excuse for why I was coming back 5 minutes after I had left just to buy more tiger butter, so I muttered something about forgetting a friend's birthday, (which was true, I did have a friend's birthday coming up, but I didn't give her the tiger butter anyway) made my purchase, and left quickly. And there it is. Proof of how rediculous I can be.

I did munch my way through the less attractive peice bit by bit, and I did enjoy it. It took me a while to figure out what it was made of, though because it had been sitting next to something mint, which was a bad move on the part of the shop, and had aquired the flavor so I kept thinking, 'who would put mint and peanutbutter together in chocolate' but eventually the mintyness subsided, and it was pretty good, even though I don't even like white chocolate.

And now here are the pics:

This is the first one I bought, still very cool looking.

I just love the swirls in this one!

And now after a month it's still on my kitchen table, too pretty to eat.

Monday, September 15, 2008


My niece turned 3 this week and on Sunday we had a small party for her. Isn't it interesting that almost every birthday party centers around one (ok, maybe 2) things, one of which is a certain food item: Cake.

Why is it that cake is set apart to mark the passing from one year to the next, and then goes on even further to mark our passing from Single life into the realm of the married? Well, I don't know. It's certainly tasty, but then so are many other desserts.

Perhaps it has to do with the customizable nature of cake thanks to it's ability to be carved, and to the frosting which can make a cake look like just about anything. If there's any who have watched the Ace of Cakes on Food Network, you know. It's incredible! Each cake can be so unique, and so personal.

Besides, what would a birthday be without extra frosting on graham crackers?

These were made by my adorable nieces. They're both monsters. (the graham crackers, not the nieces)

So you see how a tube of frosting inspires even a very young mind. Really it's no wonder we use it to beautify our most important events.

I do feel, though, that we don't take advantage of the full scope of the cake. People tend to focus on the decoration, but overlook much potential yumminess while focusing on looks. There are so many fabulous recipes, fillings, fruits, and alternative frostings to butter cream and fondant. For example, at two of my very best friend's weddings the cake has been made by a family member (the groom's mother). The layer I was fortunate enough to try was a pound cake with the most wonderful strawberry filling I've ever had. I've never had pound cake like it, nor am like to again, until I convince either the bride, groom, or his mother to get me the recipe. (hint hint, I know you're reading this, Thora) The couple now has two children (which should indicate just how memorable this cake was).

Most people don't even know the difference between white and yellow cake, and there is so much more than white, yellow, and chocolate. I'd like to encourage people to make more cake, shun the evils of cake mix, and find a new yummier recipe. It does take a little more practice to get cake right than say...cookies or brownies, but once you do it's well worth it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Today's Pizza Adventure

This summer I decided that since I live in a basement apartment with one of the loveliest back yards I've ever had (it ranks somewhere in the top 4) I would plant a garden. My landlord allowed me to plant in the small raised flowerbed just to the side of our patio. I was a little disappointed that I didn't have more room, but thrilled at the idea of growing my own peas and tomatoes. I planted even before I touched my room, which was full of the moving-in disaster. My roommates, I think, were a little surprised by this but I wanted to give my little plants as much time as I could before fall.

I started out at the wholesale nursery down the street, which has pretty awesome prices, but I don't think labeled all their plants right. Since it's wholesale, I ended up with seven tomato plants, six cabbages, two pepper plants, and a few mislabeled squash. I added a cucumber and beet and pea seeds to this, plus a few strawberry plants. I figured since my tomatoes usually produce approximately squat having seven plants was a good idea. Somehow I managed to fit all this in the little flower bed between the Peony and the Baby's Breath (neither of which I thought were actually alive when I planted) save four of the cabbages, two of which died a sad, sorrowful death at the hand of my landlord's landscaping project (which was fine since to be honest I'm not a cabbage fanatic and six seemed a bit extreme) and the strawberries which went in a little corner I scoped out for them.

A few short weeks later and I thought my squash was going to take over the world.

A couple more weeks, and my pumpkin decided to strangle the baby's breath, then make a little nest in the stalks.

Then it started to produce. First came the hoards of yellow squash. I didn't plant a yellow squash, but it came anyway. I think that was the one that was supposed to be an acorn squash, but it became quickly apparent that it wasn't, and that I'd better start dealing with these yellow squash soon. Mostly I gave them away, steamed them, batter fried them, (YUM!) made squash soup that turned out wretched, all sorts of things with them.

Then came the tomatoes. Oh so many tomatoes. I love tomatoes. I made fried green tomatoes, and tomato salads, and put tomatoes on everything. The best was when my cucumber actually grew a cucumber and I had tomatoes, cucumbers and feta cheese with olive oil and red wine vinegar. One of the tastier things I've ever eaten.

So I suppose the culmination of this story is today when I made Pizza. I made a whole wheat crust with honey and spices and all but two toppings came from my happy little garden. It had Zucchini, Crook Neck squash, tomatoes, red peppers, olives, and mushrooms, and since it was the ultimate vegetarian pizza I just had to take a picture. That and it was just so darn pretty. So, You have the before baking and after baking photos, but the tragedy is that it burned on the bottom. Otherwise it would have been absolute heaven. Who knew squash could be so delectable on pizza!

My New Idea

Well, since my life is obviously way way too boring to drivel on about in a blog (which is I suppose my rather stupid excuse for having never written) I've decided to start something new. This shall now be my food blog. I'm going to write about food. You all know that this is rather an interest of mine. I love to make it, eat it, share it, study it, and analyze it. I love the culture of food and the cultural implications of food and mealtimes. I love the Food Network, and the thing I'm most likely to buy in a Barnes and Noble is a cookbook. So, here it is. The beginning of what hopefully turns out to be a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Burning out, frazzled, and dehydrated

The world seemed so cheery at the beginning of summer. It still is, sometimes. With the daunting school year drawing ever closer and the days growing ever hotter, though, I sometimes find it hard to keep my positive outlook. That being said, know that this will probably turn into a rant at some point, that life probably isn't so terrible as I'm about to make it, and that I'll probably love the summer again tomorrow (well, if I don't get stuck at the train and/or front gate all weekend).

My once dream job of sitting in a pioneer era house explaining the spinning wheel and spinning all day has come crashing down somewhere in the not-too-distant past, or at least has slipped further and further away in the preceding weeks. I still put on the outfit, but seem to have made an impression at the front gate and giving tours on the train. I dislike them both. As a long-time reenactor I would have thought that I would be useful...well...reenacting, but I guess someone thinks I'm good at doing the two spots where you don't. Now, I exaggerate, I haven't actually been stationed at the front gate in a while, but I had a stretch of nearly every day, during which I was informed that the man in whom my interest lay was already dating someone, which just made life at work suck. I'm getting over that tolerably well, and have decided I like the girl he's dating better than him anyway (in a very platonic not gay way, he's just really quiet and hard to get to know, whereas she's awesome) Never give up a great friendship on account of a boy, that's what I say.

Well, things got better, in fact I had a great week or so where I got to be in sites I'd never been in almost every day. It was great! I love learning about the new things, and the sites, and I met more of my co-workers some of whom I particularly like. I had a wonderful conversation with a girl who does Civil War reenacting like I do Medeival and she's awesome. I always love meeting people who appreciate history in the same way I, in the same manner I dressing up and pretending your part of it.

So, things were going very well until the dreaded day came, the day I thought I could avoid all summer, the day they put me on the train. I don't know why they thought this was a good idea, plenty of people already knew how to do the train, and it was a pain for them to train me, but come it did, and now it seems my fate to be stuck there at least once a week, although so far it's been twice this week, and I've only worked two days. I know, I know, I'm being very whiny. Others did the train for the for the first month of summer, but I hate it. Perhaps I just get frustrated since I have talents that would be better employed anywhere else in the park, perhaps it's because they always go on about how they take our talents an interests into consideration when they assign us, and how they try to get us into spots we'll enjoy and if there's one we really don't like we can ask not to be put there yadda yadda. Well in my interview I was asked the question what would be the hardest part of working at the park, my response: the heat. I punctuated that very badly I know, but the point is that the train and the gate are the two places that are miserably hot, the train especially. I don't care if I'm 'good at it' I'm miserable. Like I said, this is a rant, it's probably not that bad, and I am actually pretty lucky that it took them this long to put me there, but ugh, after two days of it strait, I feel horrible. I don't know how the other girls did it earlier, well it wasn't as hot then I guess, but really no one should be made to be out in the sun all day for multiple days strait if it can be helped. I know construction workers have to do it, but they could do something for us, like switch us out or something. (Ow, as I scratch my sunburn from rolling up my sleeves yesterday. I have a wonderful tan line right at my wrist since that's where my sleeves hit)

So, I went to SCA in the middle of this post and now I'm back, and like I said, life doesn't really suck, I was being horribly whiny, and I feel better now. I do love my job, my bosses, and everyone I work with...I'm still not a fan of the train, but whatever, with some shade and/or airconditioning it would actually be pretty fun, too It's amazing what stabbing someone in the gut with a blunt sword for and hour and a half will do for your frustrations...that and a lot of water and some air conditioning, oh, and eating dinner helps too, yay for protein, and never underestimate the power of a good cool shower.

And now it's time for bed.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I just had to post this. I actually stole the photo from the facebook group and had some fun in iPhoto with the original. Doesn't this just make you want a nice pioneer man to settle down with?

The Pain of good health

Well, I've done it (she says in her mundane voice) I've done the unthinkable. I joined a gym. Don't worry, it's not one of those buy a years worth of gym and quit going but keep paying deals, it's month to month, and I've officially gone for two days in a row. And all I have to say about the results so far is "ow."

Why does being healthy involve so much pain?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

For the beauty of the Earth

Friday night I decided that I wanted to go to the temple by myself for the first time since my Endowment. I have to say, it was again a beautiful experience. It seems a little surreal at this point, and so otherworldly. The absolute beauty and purity of the temple is so awesome (and I use that word in the old fashioned actually in context way) compared to the vileness that exists in some of this world. When I have forgotten how nasty the world can be I often wonder to think that celestial world will be more beautiful than this world because I can't comprehend anything more lovely than being in a meadow of flowers on a perfect afternoon, or under a tree by a river, but I suppose as I think about it, to have those perfect moments in a perfect place without the surrounding possibility of corruption or filth would be perfectly beautiful.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Life is Amazing!

Today was a most wondrous day filled to the brim with spinning. I have come to the realization that I love spinning. I have, of course, always had an appreciation for the fiber arts and a deep seeded love of wool, but spinning*, it's amazing. The feel of wool fibers slipping through your fingers twisting smoothly into yarn. Amazing coradell wool. It sparkles in the sunlight, and produces this wonderfully buttery colored yarn, and dyes well, too. I think my favorite thing about this wool is that it continues to sparkle even if you dye it, so it's going to make some very pretty things.

*I suppose I should qualify that statement...wheel spinning is amazing and has made me very loath to spinning on a drop spindle, though I prefer that to nothing. And a word to the wise, never ever ever buy wool roving to spin on a drop spindle...or a wheel...card it yourself! why do I keep taking up ridiculously expensive hobbies?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Rain rain go away...

Historical word of the day: Cake or Cakie: a foolish person

It was supposed to be our biggest weekend yet, more people than we'd gotten in all the season so far, but it rained. It didn't just rain a little, no, it poured all day. I was surprised that a few families braved the weather to come to the village and despite being mostly soaked apeared to be enjoying themselves. Among these dedicated folks were several members of the Quill and the Sword, among whom were Sam, Ally, Laren, and Christina, who visited with me, and whom I took on a tour of the park. Unfortunately they got there quite late so their visit had to be quite short, but included a stop at the blacksmith shop, the tinsmith*, the Kimball home, and the Jewkes home. I very much appreciated the company and the excuse to get out of the small cabin which I was stuck in for the duration of the day with three other ladies, two young girls, and a baby. They were pleasant enough company, and the baby was adorable, even though he missed his nap. It was still a very long and dull day. I wished for a spinning wheel often. I think I'm going to take up knitting or perhaps crochet to keep myself occupied, and so that I have something to do with the wool I keep spinning.
I wore my hair in Emma Smith style ringlets, which, with a bonnet look rather lovely. I was quite pleased with them, and I believe that I shall be doing them again on many occasion. I simply need better garb to put with my ringlets. That, I'm afraid, will be a long process.
I also went to dinner with the aformentioned clubbies, which was a new experience. Not the going to dinner part, but the eating at a resteraunt in m pioneer attire and attempting to not look so much like a polygamyst. Unfortunately, my friends kept making jokes about Sam, since he was the only guy in the party and there was that silly April fools joke where we got engaged fr the day, so I , naturally, was the first wife. what a silly bunch, but they were so very sweet to come to see me and my park. I appologize for my probably disconnected writing, my eyes are rather feeling like they have sand in them from having just taken out my contacts, which is distracting, and I haven't been able to keep my them open for more than just a minute or two this whole time. This is just a testiment to my need for period glasses so that I might not have to torture myself with contacts or look silly in modern frames. I do so enjoy my job. I love that the time period is very narrow, so it makes creating the persona easier. Enacting a decade is so much more specific than say...The middle ages. People are forced to be more particular, more focused and detailed if they want something a little different from the other dresses. I say it again, I am in despeate need of a corset. I think I shall stop my intermitant rantings and go to bed.

*I tried to strike a conversation with the Tinsmith, but it ended up going rather badly.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I'm turning over a new leaf

Well, here I am, in the midst of a fantastically interesting job, and I finally have something to blog about, so for all you people who keep telling me I need to post, I'm posting. so there.

Eventually I'm going to blog about NYC too, but that will have to wait until I'm feeling more ambitious.

It's currently sunday night and I'm anxiously awaiting what tomorrow will hold in store, even though I know I'm not going to be in the Jewkes home, which means that I will not be in proximity to a spinning wheel. It's nigh on tragic. This makes me glad for my drop spindle though, and I'm currently spinning some lovely blue wool for some mittens, or perhaps socks, whichever comes first. Speaking of socks, I need to find mine for tomorrow, since we're required to wear at least knee highs to look fashionably pioneer-y. Oh, by the way, I suppose I should mention that I'm working at This is the Place Heritage Park, which is a pioneer village. Aparently if we reach our goal of 200,000 visitors this summer we'll be second only to Collonial Williamsburg, VA, which surprises me greatly.

I suppose the most exciting news of the village is that on saturday alone we had a girl go home with a possible case of Haunta virus, and another girl got run over by a wagon, but appears to not have any permanent injuries, or even broken bones, thank goodness. This is apart from the two, maybe three rattle snakes that were found last week. It makes me wonder if every summer is like this in the village.

Speaking of the village, my life reminds me of The Village, the rediculous suspense movie by M. Knight Shamala.....whatever. I've started feeling very scandelous if I wear my hair down and uncovered even in mundane clothing, and often have to explain that I am not, in fact, a real polygamist whenever I have to stop for gas or go to the bank after work. I am desperately in want of a corset, and am going to order one probably as soon as I can get my measurements accurately taken, then get a pattern and make my own clothing. I discovered today that the garb I have rented is completely inappropriate for recieving guests in, and I simply can't have that. I have also found this evening that period shoes are quite expensive, which saddens me.

As the time grows quite late I will quit this post and change my laundry, but I will mention that in my mundane life, I have planted a garden and am excited to report that it is doing quite well. My peas and beets have sprouted and increase in size daily, and my tomatoes, squash and Cabbage are looking very well, along with my peppers. I have yet to plant the herbs and broccoli that I had first planned on, but perhaps I shall venture to the nursury located at the end of the block tomorrow. Indeed I have a very happy situation here in South Salt Lake, and have even recently aquired a teaching position for the fall and winter seasons at Taylorsville High School where I will be teaching a combination of Foods, Adult Roles, and Child development classes.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

what's the point?

is anyone out there reading this anyway? No wait, I'm not sure I want to know.