Monday, April 21, 2008

Portland stole my heart

by Stephanie

It is such a beautiful place. 2 weeks later, I'm still in awe. (Let's not focus on the fact that it's taken me 2 weeks to post.) It's so green! So laid back! So many Subarus! (By the way, the last point does not really excite me at all. It was just an observation.) Anyway, enough with the parentheses, I'm sure you want the dirt on Portland.

The thing is, there is no dirt. Well, none that I saw. Locals were so nice to my roommate and me when we looked lost; the coffee was bordering on Blue Bottle status, and Powell's is a 4 story bookstore that takes up an entire city block. Why did I leave you Portland, why.

My World Cup Coffee cafe au lait...delightful.

Flowers at the Portland Farmer's Market, located at Portland State University on Saturdays. There was a hyper-abundance of tulips and poppies, which made me oh so happy. The roommate and I made a lunch out of chive pesto, a demi-baguette, Bosc pears, and a huge cookie for dessert.

Next up was Reed College, where I hung around in hopes of running into Donald Miller. (Mark my words; next time we meet for sure.)

There is this gorgeous lake behind the campus that provides the perfect backdrop for quiet contemplation and the like. I had a really hard time capturing with my camera how lovely the atmosphere is here. My soul felt quiet and at rest.

You can wikipedia Renn Fayre if you're curious...just another crazy differentiating feature that separates Reed from pretty much every other college campus in the world.

"Hi, our name is adorable Portland doggie chocolates! Take us home with you!"

This is the last picture I took before my camera battery pooped out on me. I consider Saint Cupcake amazing because I actually loved the cupcake frosting. I really don't like frosting, so this was huge.

Oh Portland, thank you for a lovely time. I will be back; a gem of a city like you is too good to ignore for long.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Speaking of food disasters...

by Lisa

Well, I wasn't really planning to write about my chocolate pudding disaster, because, for one, I'm not even supposed to write about it (I'm leaving that for Stephie), even though I've already written about it here and there. But I realized tonight when eating my fifth serving, I don't think I've had a disaster as delicious as this one. And since I didn't actually follow the recipe (do I ever?) I don't feel so bad writing about it. I can still let Steph take credit for the real recipe.

So a few weeks ago I made the pudding for the first time in a long time when I got these new dessert glasses (I think they're these ones; they look like the ones at Bittersweet and I looove them!). And that turned out well; see pictures in previous post. We stood around eating it. "Boozy," one person noted. "Yeah," the others agreed. "It is?" I chirped. But really, I didn't think it tasted boozy, per se - the alcohol only worked to cut the sweet a tad, which there was little to begin with, which I like. But to be honest, I felt embarrassed for not having noticed how boozy it was because one, I should have a discerning palate - I'm a food blogger! - and two, I've been trying to defend myself against the outrageous and unfounded claims that I'm an alky.

My friends call me The Alky, but I know that deep down inside they really actually appreciate it. In fact, these inklings were confirmed when Anna asked if, for her 23rd birthday, I would make "the boozy pudding." (Wait, did she ask, or did I just offer? Can't remember. I was sober then - really, I was.)

Anyway, I was all ambitious about making a huge batch of it, so there I was, pouring loads of milk into the saucepan, thinking, I want to make lots of pudding, and that requires lots of milk. (Was I trying to make it so that the rum could not claim to comprise most of the pudding as regards the liquids? No, not at all, not at all.) And then of course I didn't really have enough of the other ingredients to match the proportion. It didn't take long to figure out that it wasn't going to set, so I ended up throwing the bowl of liquidy goop in the freezer. I remember thinking it looked (and tasted) like melted ice cream (which foreshadows what was to come). Not exactly what I would expect of any pudding.

I was devastated, but instead of drowning all my sorrows in alcohol - after all, it had all gone into that pudding, anyway - I gave it one last chance to redeem itself. After giving it time to harden up, we popped it into the microwave and defrosted it slightly. Two minutes later it was as scoopable as ice cream, and twice as delicious. Redeemed, I thought. I almost wasn't sure I'd ever make the pudding the right way anymore. Spooned into a stemless martini glass with a dollop of whipped cream, it was enough to make up for a lifetime of cooking disasters. Ice-y, chocolatey rich, creamy, and most of all, boozy.

So, yeah, in true Lisa form, in order to make what I made, you can't really follow a recipe. But if you, too, want to enjoy an adult fudgsicle made from a pudding recipe gone wrong, you can try doing what I did, which is this: boiled three cups (i.e., way too much) milk, to which I added about 10 ounces chopped 70% cacao chocolate after turning off the heat. Threw this into the blender with only two eggs, poured half of it into a bowl, and added an additional egg to the blender, and poured the remainder in a separate bowl. Added generous amounts of alcohol. Despaired and whined. Threw bowls into freezer, then the microwave. Scooped, ate, and cheered. Hooray!

Monday, April 7, 2008

You know you're slightly addicted to food blogging when...

by Stephanie create an absolute disaster in the kitchen and your first thought is "Do I want to blog about this?"

Readers, I feel like I am not that uptight of a person. My room is usually an organized mess, minus the organized part, and you know, I enjoy going with the flow and laughing at what happens along the way. But last Saturday night...oh goodness. A veritable disaster. My mother put me in charge of the Easter dessert, and I had all these visions in my head of a 13-layer cake complete with sugared pansies and the most perfect fondant hands could create. Kidding. But I did have the ambition to make a marble cake, and that all came crumbling (ha) down when my mom took the cake out of the oven 20 minutes before it was due to be done and called out, "Honey...I can't get it out of the pan." The cake was completely rock hard. I went over the recipe later, which called for milk in the ingredient list but never included when it was to be added in the procedure part...and so I completely forgot about it and never included the milk. Ugh, ugh, ugh. Talk about perfectionism rearing its ugly head. I have never been so upset about failure before. Baking is my thing. I don't do the whole botched cake thing. Was the world coming to an end?

At my wit's end (it was 1:30 am, people), I decided to make the brownie recipe on the back of the King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour bag. And they were wonderful indeed. I suppose even failures can be fortuitous at times. Because when push comes to shove, even a 13-layer cake can't top a hot fudge brownie sundae on Easter Sunday.

(according to the King Arthur flour bag) The Best Fudge Brownies Ever

1 cup butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups Dutch-process cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt (inc. to 1 tsp if using unsalted butter, which you should be doing anyway)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour (the good stuff, none of this whole wheat stuff, seriously)
2 cups chocolate chips (I chopped up one 4 oz. bar and got too tired to do the rest. It was still good)

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9x13 pan.

In a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat briefly, just until it's hot but not bubbling. It'll become more shiny as you stir. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl.

Stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, and vanilla. Add the eggs, beating until smooth; then add the flour and chocolate, beating until well combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.

No pictures from that little event, but here are pretty flowers from the City! Specifically, Bi-Rite Market (adorable).