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We ate AND we crafted. Seriously.

Happy Birthday, Greta!

It was Greta’s birthday this week, and birthdays equal cake. Really, I’ll use just about anything as an excuse to make cake. [See next week, where I make cake because someone’s facebook status was a wish for cupcakes, and Julia said “Cindy will make you cake, come over.” And I said, “How’s Sunday?” I kid you not.]

But, in what seems to be a first, we managed to actually eat and craft on craft night. I attribute this to the fact that we crafted first, and THEN had cake. And – amazingly – went back to crafting after we ate. Certainly, the fact that we all had projects we really wanted to work on might have contributed as well.

Triple Chocolate Cake with Pumpkin Ice Cream

Greta requested chocolate, so I whipped up a Devil’s Food cake, layered with Dark Chocolate Mousse and Mocha Whipped Cream. The cake recipe came from my baking bible – Baking Illustrated from the folks at America’s Test Kitchen. If you’ve never watched the show or visited their website, you should. Especially if you like science. When I got this book (because the idiot lawyer I used to work for didn’t want it and was giving it away!) I literally read it cover to cover. Because in the page or two before each recipe, it details all the variations they tried (different amounts of butter, chilled vs. room temperature ingredients, baking powder vs. soda, etc.) and what results they produced. So… you get a scientific paper with methods and results, followed by a seriously kickass recipe. What could be better? I love it. And if you’ve been following this blog – it’s where my pizza crust came from too. Also – my wedding cake. Yep. And I will stop extolling the virtues of this book now, and get on with the post.

The mousse is the dark chocolate variation in this Martha Stewart recipe, and it is really good – with or without the cake.

We had also been wanting to try out some more interesting ice cream flavors, so we went with pumpkin. I glanced at a recipe for sweet potato ice cream in The Perfect Scoop (another great cookbook), and modified it for pumpkin. Here’s what I ended up with:

1 cup whole milk
1 15oz can pumpkin
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon or so freshly grated ginger
Healthy sprinkles of cinnamon and nutmeg
Splash of cream (not necessary, but I had a smidge left from the mousse that needed to be used up)

Whisk ingredients together and chill in the refrigerator for several hours, then process in your ice cream maker according to directions.

When you eat it, it tastes just like pumpkin pie. Delicious!

And now for the inside joke portion of this post:

“Tastes like geology!”
“Mmm, geology.”

Craft night redux.

If you were reading last week, you remember how our craft night became an eating and drinking night, and we kinda promised that this week we’d do some actual crafting. Well – let’s just say we crafted pizza and ice cream, and call that a promise kept. And another failure (success?) was that we devoured it before grabbing a camera. So, you’ll have to live with a description instead.

Prior to turning the night into a food free-for-all, we had discussed just having some ice cream, and Jenni tossed out the idea of peach and bacon for the flavor. You may also recall that in not making the initial shrimp dish last week, we consequently did not consume the peaches we’d bought for it. So – this was a perfect idea. Jenni volunteered to candy some bacon and we decided to mince some ginger and add it to the peaches. Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. What about dinner, you ask?

Right, so early in the day on Tuesday, after finding out Greta couldn’t make it, we decided to invite Jenni and Rebecca to head over early and join us for dinner. I had been wanting to put homemade pizza on the menu sometime during the week, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. We asked Jenni and Rebecca to bring toppings for one pizza (they brought mushrooms and Mexican cheese; we used some garlic and onion pasta sauce as well) and we had some “like gruyere” cheese and herb sausage from the farmers market, shallots, and pomegranate balsamic vinegar for the second pizza, which was a “white’ (a.k.a. no red sauce) pizza. They were both delicious.

Then we made the ice cream. In order to keep it edible for everyone (Rebecca is a vegetarian) we kept the candied bacon out of it, and just sprinkled it on top. It turned out a bit more gingery than I was expecting, but not in a bad way. Everyone agreed it was yummy (though secretly Julia and I were both thinking that the strawberry basil was better.)

Next week, we’re really going to craft. I swear!

Tuesday night is craft night.

Generally, this means that a handful of us get together and work on whatever sewing and/or crafty projects we are currently working on. Of late, this has been largely focused on wedding-dress-making, and with the wedding and honeymoon actually happening this month, we have had the past couple weeks off. So, despite this being the final Tuesday of July, it was our first craft night of the month.

Here’s what we accomplished:

Fine Art Trifecta: Eating, Drinking, and Discussing.

That’s right – pretty much nothing. At least in terms of crafting. As it turned out, I (Cindy) was not the only one interested in socializing but completely unmotivated to actually craft last night. So, when Greta showed up toting two bottles of three buck Chuck and dark-chocolate-covered-almonds-with-sea-salt just as I pulled the slightly-too-melty brie with farmers’ market sun gold tomato preserves out of the oven… the mentality went from “Maybe we’ll start making shit when Greta gets here” to “Fuck it, let’s eat, drink, and talk.” Which makes this post totally allowed on the food blog. Except, of course, that we failed to get any pictures of the actual food. But trust me when I say Brie + Sun Gold Tomato Preserves + Crushed Almonds = Delicious. [In case you’re wondering about those Sun Gold tomatoes, they’re orange, they look a lot like apricot, and don’t really taste much like what your brain says is tomato. But they’re delish nonetheless. And really, really good on baked brie.]

Tonight, we experimented with Red Snapper, which neither of us had tried before. It was a tasty piece of fish, accompanied by rice, and topped with tomatoes, shallots, kalamata olives, and thyme. We did take pictures, but they didn’t turn out very well – funky lighting or something, but here’s a shot anyway:


Red Snapper with Thyme, Tomato, and Olives (Click for recipe)

Guess I’ll have to do some learning about photographing food. Tasted good though. Up tomorrow is a Zucchini “Tagliatelle” with mint, cucumber, and lemon which sounds pretty good. Hopefully I’ll do better with the camera so we can share.