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.