Sunday, January 31, 2010

FOOD - oreo cookie cake

This year for Christmas - among the many other wonderful presents Adam gave me (including The Penguin) - I received a cake mold and a box of cake mix. As my friend Sarah so accurately put it - Adam gave me "a task" for Christmas.

I know in his heart Adam really believed that this present was for me - I do like to bake. But let's examine the facts here - I'm not much of a cake person and he has been asking me non-stop for weeks when I am going to make the Oreo cake. It doesn't take Angela Landsbury to figure out there was some personal motive behind this Christmas gift. It is endearingly cute to me. It must be love. Swoon.

Since his birthday was fast approaching - I decided that would be the perfect time to unveil the great cake. So - with 25 people headed over to our house in an hour for a birthday BBQ (who throws a BBQ in SF in January??) and with my two year old niece Leila to entertain - I pulled out the goodies and got to work. Luckily - the whole process was relatively simple.

Here are a few pointers -
1. Don't work with a two year old as your assistant. Yes - she was absolutely adorable. No - she was not of any help at all.
2. Perhaps mop the floor after - not before - embarking on making a cake - especially if using a two year old assistant. It is very difficult to get dried egg off of white tile because "somebody" insisted on more whisking.
3. When making a chocolate cake with white frosting - you can't really get away with not washing the mixer bowl and paddle to save time. I figured - it's all going into the same cake - why bother rinsing between the cake and the frosting? The answer to that question is that you rinse to avoid having beige frosting instead of white frosting. Oh well - it was still delicious.
4. Perhaps now that I am an honest to goodness adult - it is time I stock actual birthday candles in my house. This will save us from having Adam hold a pillar candle in his hand instead of blowing candles out on his actual cake.
5. Perhaps now that I am an honest to goodness adult - I could use a real camera to take birthday photos instead of insisting that an iphone can be used in absolutely every situation. Maybe then my photos wont be so damn blurry.

This party was a good indicator of how our lives have changed over the last few years. It hasn't been all that long since Adam's 30th birthday. That event was legendary - imagine maracas and a banana costume and a lot of bar time. Many of the same 30th birthday revelers (the same one that contributed to our debauchery just a few years before) were attending this year's party but this time - things were a little more tame. There were 4 babies, 2 pregnancies and 3 puppies in attendance. Things were clean and organized and well lit and nobody (with the exception of one of the babies) threw up. All in all - it was delightful. Don't worry though - we haven't lost our flair for fun - the banana costume will be coming out again very soon. Promise.

Happy Birthday Adam! Love you lots.


P.S. - the cake pan and mix and all that is from Williams-Sonoma in case you are in desperate need.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

LOVE - the doctor and the penguin.

What can I say? I love me some bubbles. If I had the choice all of my beverages would be carbonated. My favorite wine? Sparkling. My favorite water? Seltzer. My favorite midday pick-me-up? The best soda ever invented - Diet Dr. Pepper (DDP to those in the know).

The problem with my love of bubbles is there are a lot of cans and bottles and waste when my thirst is finally quenched. This makes my yuppy, hippy, raised-on-recycling heart ache.

Short of installing a soda fountain in my house (looked into it btw and it's just not practical) I needed to find a solution for my bubble craving habit (sometimes up to 3 liters of water and 2-4 sodas a day). The solution came in the form of a glorious device called The Penguin. It's a carbonizer - a magic machine that turns regular tap water into fantastic bubbly water. It's kinda like how Jesus turns water into wine but more effervescent.

Now I can embrace my bubble water habit. The shame is lifted. I no longer have to take the recycling out at night so the neighbors don't see all my bottles. Honestly - I felt like some sort of closet drinker and I don't even have a boozy habit. I used to slip plastic Calistoga bottles into my bag because the work recycling bin is already full of my DDP cans. The hiding is over. I feel good - free - bubbly even.

Now let's talk Diet Dr. Pepper. My all time favorite form of soda injection is the fountain drink - lots of ice. The doctor is hard to find in fountain form but luckily my favorite Target store has it on tap. Someone up in the sky must have liked me just enough to put one of my favorite things inside one of my favorite places. Perhaps there is hope for me after all?

Located next to this glorious DDP flowing Target is a Costco. Two of my favorite stores - right next to each other!! Seriously - throw a J Crew in there and I could happily live in the parking lot. At Costco - I pick up a 36 pack of Diet Dr. Pepper and carry it around in the trunk of my car. I drive a Mini Cooper. This ridiculously large box of soda takes up half the space in the trunk but it is absolutely worth it to never be without the DDP. I then use this giant box of soda to restock the mini fridge I keep at work. It's the cutest little shiny orange refrigerator - it holds exactly six sodas. Yes - I have a problem but I embrace it and move on.

I think everyone needs some sort of vice. Being too pure it just boring. You will eventually end up with too many cats or become one of those people that pulls their hair out. I don't do drugs, I don't drink much, I run, I eat (relatively) healthy and I don't enjoy adrenaline sports. My vice is bubble water, Diet Dr. Pepper and sour candy. I'm ok with that.

What's your vice?


Monday, January 18, 2010

Food: Christmas Pigs and wine.

Over the years it became apparant that Christmas was getting excessive with my family. Between the Christmas Eve dinner at my parents with my stepdad's family, to the Christmas brunch the next morning to open presents, followed by the jaunt to Nana's house for more food, more presents, 25 cousins (yes 25! cousins) and the annual snowball fight. Then...back to the parents for the "Christmas hangover" dinner of leftovers and collapse.

Nobody wanted to cut out the activities or the people - it is always wonderful to get together and see everyone but we needed to simmer it down on some of the presents and the big hosted meals. So...the Christmas Eve dinner has become the Christmas Eve wine exchange and Appetizer Extraganza. All the adults bring 1-2 appetizers and a whole lot of wine. Usually 5-10 bottles (from $10-$20 apiece) to exchange. Everyone eats what and when they want to eat - nothing formal, no fancy table, we sometimes even have (gasp! novelty paper plates). The kids open their present while the adults watch (and drink more) and then adults take a number to see where the are in the wine pulling line-up. We all take turns picking bottles until all the wine is gone. Everything is fair. You get to take home as many bottles as you brought and try out a bunch of new wines. Leaving with 6 bottles of great new wines is way way better than leaving with some scented bath salts and expired chocolates.

Now - everyone needs to bring an appetizer. I have tried to vary my offering - bringing a mix of high (goat cheese, pesto, sundried tomato spread) and low brow (onion dip aka onion soup mix, sour cream with a side of potato chips) but there is one thing I am required to make every year - per the request of young and old - the classic pigs in a blanket. I made them the first year and now there is no getting out of it. Luckily they are easy enough to make and can be assembled ahead of time and then baked when we get there.

Here is what you need -
1 pack Lil Smokies. I usually go with the beef in respect to my Jewish friends. These friends who occassionally show up to my parent's house on Christmas Eve because we are all home for the holidays and hey - eating and drinking at my house is pretty fun - especially compared to watching TV with their parents.
2 cans Pillsbury Crescent rolls. The regular kind, not the giant or the reduced fat or the extra buttery. Stick with the classic.

Directions -
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cut each of the rolls into 3 triangular pieces.
3. Wrap each little weenie (hee hee I said weenie) in the dough - starting with the thicker side.
4. Arrange the wrapped weenies like soldiers waiting for battle on a baking sheet.
5. Bake for 11-13 mins. I usually keep it on the 11 side so they do not get too crispy.
6. Serve with BBQ sauce and a variety of mustards.

A few things to note -
- The amount listed above will feed around 6-8 people if there are other appetizers. I usually end up making double batches for things like Superbowl parties (people munch for 4 hours) and triple batches for the Christmas Eve festivities (20-25 people).
- Use silpats if you have them. If you don't have silpats - Jesus go buy some already - I have been talking them up for a year already. I swear sometimes you don't listen to me.
- You know they are done when the weenie is oozing just a little bit of delicious meat juice and the roll is just slightly browned on top.
- My friend Sarah had a nacho party for her 30th birthday and requested the piggies. Pigs in a blanket dipped in hot nacho cheese could be one of the most delicious and disgusting things I have ever tried. I had a stomach ache for days. I am not saying it was ALL the pigs fault - it was a nacho themed party after all. I am just saying it was probably what set me over the edge.
- Not matter how well you plan - you will never have an even amount of pigs to blankets. Don't fret - there is always that pesky vegetarian that just wants the roll or my 4 year old cousin that has declared he "likes pigs but doesn't like blankets." Go ahead and throw your leftovers onto the baking sheet. Nothing will go to waste.



The newest - cutest - member of the Elasticsandwich household. Meet Biscuit.

One of the 10,000 reasons why we moved (eventually I will write a post about the new house - be patient) is because we were desperate to expand our family. Unfortunately for my mom and my in-laws by "expand our family" I mean purchase a dog not produce a grandchild.

After months and years of waiting and weeks of researching breeders we took a looooong drive out to Manteca to bring home our new love. We spent 2 hours playing with all the puppies but Biscuit was a shoo-in the minute he got all kissy with Adam. Little puppy knew how to turn on the charm.

In the car ride home Biscuit went right to sleep in my arms with his little snoot cuddled up in my elbow. It was heart melting. Then he let out the kind of silent farts you expect from a 21 year old frat boy - this 5 pound beast had paint peeling GAS. It was with those little toots that we knew he would fit right into our lives perfectly.

In case you couldn't tell Biscuit is a french bulldog. All ears - no tail. We knew we wanted a dog that fit our lives and once we were honest about our true lifestyle it was french bulldog or bust. Let's call a spade a spade - the husband and I are not wild adventurers - we don't need a feisty black lab that wants to go camping and hiking and take endless walks on the beach. We wanted a dog that was cool with a casual trot around the neighborhood, a furry child to take to work and someone to talk with while making dinner.

Frenchies don't really need to be exercised. If it's raining - that's cool - he'll get his business done quick - he doesn't want to be outside either. This is the dog that wants to be with you - whatever you are doing - he's game. Close all the time. Honestly - watch your feet when you back up because most likely he is sitting right there. And Biscuit is way more up for a movie marathon on Saturday than a hike through the Marin Headlands. Thank goodness!

Biscuit is great for cuddling (not on the bed - he is crate trained) and good for blaming things on. Rip a fart? It was the dog. Forget to take out the trash or put away the laundry? Oh oh Biscuit really needed to go out. Don't really feel like staying late? Gotta go home and feed the dog. Snore a little too loud? Yup - it was Biscuit all along.

One more plus - he is also super cool with being dressed up in clothes. In fact - he needs them to stay warm. There is nothing I love more than an animal dressed up in people clothes.

He was 8 weeks old and weighed 5 pounds when we got him and is currently 4 months old and 8 pounds. When he is full grown he will be 20-25 pounds. Oh and yes - Martha Stewart does have two french bulldogs - and they have a blog. That tens of thousands of people read. Biscuit is not at all jealous. He does not need a life of fame and wealth to be happy.


ps - All these photos were taken with my iphone - not bad eh? They were also taken in or around our new house - just to give you a little glimpse of where we are living now.