Monday, March 31, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge - Dorie's Perfect Party Cake

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's "Baking: From My Home to Yours"

My friend was visiting from Chicago this weekend and agreed to help and keep me company while we made this wonderful cake for March's Baker's Challenge. I was a little worried about the icing, because I prefer a traditional American Buttercream, but I think the Raspberry preserves offset the heavy butter flavor.

(Note: I am still not the best at taking pictures of food, but I'm working on it. We were so excited to try this cake, I didn't spend too much time decorating it.)

Mixer is ready to work!

Mixing the sugar and the lemon zest.

During the mixing process

Ready for the oven


Finished icing

Now with sprinkles

Piece of Cake

Friday, March 28, 2008


I finished "Woman in a Corner 2" last night. Looking at the previously posted pictures, I can't believe how off I was in the proportions of the face. I moved the left eye over significantly and narrowed her face on that side. I wouldn't say this is my most successful painting ever, but I'm hoping I'll like it more with time. Pictures later.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sorry Magic Eraser

For the past few years, I have been touting the loveliness that is a clean bathroom after using the magic eraser.

But, now I've found a cleaner even better, appropriately named KABOOM!

No longer will I have to scrub my bathroom tub for 30 minutes waiting for the magic eraser to take away all the soap scum. Instead, I shall just apply KABOOM! to the surface and watch all the dirt and grime magically disappear.

I highly recommend this cleaning product.

Did I mention it comes in a super cute purple bottle?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Burgers I've Eaten - Part 9

Cotham's in the City - Little Rock, AR

Last week, I travelled back to Arkansas once again. This time, I finally found THE place to eat there. The locals took me out to lunch for a burger, fried pickles, fried green tomatoes, and a fried pie.

I was in heaven.

Cotham's burger is perfectly sized and well charbroiled on the outside. Finely chopped onions add moisture to the burger without overwhelming the flavor of the meat. The bun is perfection with a nice sheen on top.

I have to say that it is Cotham's sides that really send their food over the top. Their fried pickles were thinly sliced, covered in a delicately spiced fine cornmeal, and flash fried so they weren't greasy when they arrived at the table. They were served with a cool ranch dipping sauce. No longer will I accept the whole fried pickles Rocket to Venus sells as edible.

Fried green tomatoes are prepared in relatively the same fashion, and are fabulous. I hope I can slice mine as thin this summer.

If you're planning a visit to Little Rock, don't miss this fabulous, kitchy eatery. I don't recommend looking at the poorly produced photos of their food on their website though. Doesn't do this place justice at all.

But, if you must know the location, here you go.


Most of my friends know I love Chicago. Not only do some of my favorite people live there, it's a great city for food and fun. My friend is visiting in a few weeks and asked for suggestions for my favorite places. Here you go, dear!

Places to Visit

Wrigley Field
There is nothing like stepping back in baseball time to attend a Cubs game. Everyone here wears Cubs gear, not like other ballparks (I'm talking to you O's fans). Watching baseball doesn't get much better than this.

Museum of Science and Industry
This is such a great science museum. There is a coal ride that looked like a ton (hehe) of fun, but the line was too long the day I visited. You can take a trip on a Zephyr, take a tour of a German submarine, and see a scale model of Chicago. I see that there's a glass exhibit there now that is probably amazing.

Art Institute of Chicago
I spend a few hours here every time I visit Chicago. The abstract expressionist room is wonderful. I could sit there all day and watch peoples reactions to those paintings. There is also a great collection of miniature rooms here. Ferris Buller and friends go here on their day off.

The Field Museum
I have to admit, I've only been behind the scenes of the Field Museum. But, I did see Sue, the huge dinosaur. I could spend all day "backstage" looking at the thousands of fungi and lichen specimens they have catalogued here.

Architecture Tour
Chicago is known for its architecture. I have always wanted to go on a tour, but have never really had time. My friends have been on them and said they're awesome.

Navy Pier Ferris Wheel
This Ferris Wheel was modeled after the first ever Ferris Wheel in the United States designed by the same guy who thought up the Eiffel Tower. It's kind of pricey, but it's really fun, even on a cold, foggy night.

The Second City
If you're a fan of Saturday Night Live, you must visit the place where so many of the cast members got their start.

Reckless Records\
One of my favorite places for vinyl. The Milwaukee Ave location is where they filmed High Fidelity.

Eats and Drinks

Greek Islands
A trip to Chicago is wasted unless you go here for some flaming cheese.

Bongo Room
The brunch here is the best. Maybe the best in the country. Various flavors of pancakes await you here. Go early, because this place isn't a secret.

Penny's Noodle Shop
Cheap eats and really awesome noodles can be eaten here. Beware of the "noodle bowl" syndrome that follows a meal here.

Billy Goat Tavern
Cheeseburger. Cheeseburger. Cheeseburger. Cheeseburger. NO FRIES! CHIPS! (and yummy grilled cheese sandwiches)

Anything Rick Bayless Owns
I have never been smart enough to go to one of his restaurants while I visited Chicago, but I've been addicted to his "Mexican Everyday" cookbook this year. Needless to say I will not be skipping these during my next trip.

Ed Debevic's
They really do sing and dance here and you can eat your dinner wearing a funny hat.

Garrett Popcorn
Sure you can order it online. But nothing beats getting it warm from the shop.

Vosges Chocolate
There is a Vosges store in Chicago. I'm pretty sure it's on Michigan.

Gingerman Tavern
This may very well be one of my favorite bars in the United States. Good beer, great jukebox, and nice people. A haven in Wrigleyville from all the frat boy loaded sports bars. Near here somewhere there is a also a bar dubbed "Phil Collins Bar" by my friends and I because they seem to always be playing Phil Collins' songs.

The Map Room
A great bar with strange books you can read to your friends while you drink good beer.

Silver Cloud
A cute space with phenomenal cocktails. Probably the only place I will order a girly drink (well, here and Felix).

The Green Mill
I went here my first time in Chicago and it was super. There was an old radio show performance happening that night. A really interesting place to sit and have a drink, imagining times gone by. Very Great Gatsby in here.

The famed Rock and Roll McDonalds is also located in Chicago. I would post a video of Wesley Wills (RIP) singing this song to close out the post, but I don't know how, so you'll have to look that one up yourself.

Kids in the Hall - Touring Again!

Kids in the Hall are touring again and they're coming to the Warner Theater in DC on Saturday, May 3rd! They announced the tour last week without an area date and I was sad.

Sad no longer!

If you haven't seen them live before, you're in for a treat.


Monday, March 24, 2008

They're Back!

After the mistake that was their last album, I am happy to report that R.E.M. has returned with a release, that is not only listenable, it is also good.

Listen to it here and go buy a copy if it is to your liking.

Shout Out

My cousin, Lina is spending some time in Mexico this year and is documenting her time in a blog. I am so lucky to have such an articulate and creative person in my family! I encourage everyone to read of her adventures.

Friday, March 14, 2008


In a scene from last night's Lost, Sayid and Desmond are in a room and there's banging on the pipes. Desmond thought the boat was busted, but Sayid said that it wasn't random.

Isn't it clear that this was morse code? Come on Lost geeks, translate!

(I don't know morse code and am relying on those smarter than me in this situation to figure it out for me.)


It's been 15 years since a group of high school and middle school students raised money to help save Kilgore Falls (known to locals as Falling Branch) from being sold to private owners. We built the first trail to the falls, and helped to maintain the property.

A few years ago, we formed "Friends of Falling Branch" as a response to Kilgore Falls being placed on the Maryland Department of the Environment's potential surplus property list by the Governor at the time and DNR, without the knowledge of most Maryland officials. The senate and house have since passed a bill that would prevent a governor from selling parkland and open space without legislative approval.

Falling Branch is currently part of Rocks State Park in Harford County, Maryland. It's the second highest waterfall in Maryland and a great place for a quick and easy hike in the morning. It was featured in the Disney movie, "Tuck Everlasting".

This weekend, a bunch of the old Ecology Club members are meeting for a little reunion at the falls. It will be nice to see everyone!


This painting will be on the wall at the student/faculty art show next week. It's "Woman in Corner #1". I painted it from a collage I'd made years ago.

In Progress

I'm currently working on the second painting in my "women in corners" series. The first picture is its appearance before the start of class last night, and the second is afterwards. I think this is coming along fairly well. I really love the background and her face is starting to shape up a little bit. I still need to add some light and dark to the overall painting (and shape up those eyebrows).

I'm hoping to have it completed for next week's student/faculty art show.

Happy Pi Day!

I made a chocolate cream pie for the occasion. Holy shit this pie is amazing. Thanks again, Cook's Illustrated. I made their "Chocolate Cream Pie" from this book.

I feel as though I have now mastered the "crumb crust" pie. A success in the year I hope to become a good maker of pies.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Stuff White People Like

My friend sent me the link to this website last week. I highly recommend it. I admit liking the following (numbers correspond with the list):

#85 The Wire
#84 T-Shirts
#83 Bad Memories of High School
#82 Hating Corporations
#79 Modern Furniture
#77 Musical Comedy
#76 Bottles of Water
#75 Threatening to Move to Canada
#71 Being the only white person around
#68 Michel Gondry
#67 Standing Still at Concerts
#64 Recycling
#61 Bicycles
#60 Toyota Prius
#57 Juno
#54 Kitchen Gadgets
#52 Sarah Silverman
#51 Living by the Water
#49 Vintage
#48 Whole Foods and Grocery Co-ops
#47 Arts Degrees
#46 The Sunday New York Times
#44 Public Radio
#43 Plays
#42 Sushi
#41 Indie Music
#40 Apple Products
#39 Netflix
#38 Arrested Development
#37 Renovations
#36 Breakfast Places
#35 The Daily Show/Colbert Report
#34 Architecture
#32 Vegan/Vegetarianism
#30 Wrigley Field
#26 Manhattan (now Brooklyn too!)
#25 David Sedaris
#24 Wine
#23 Microbreweries
#19 Traveling
#18 Awareness
#15 Yoga
#13 Tea
#12 Non-Profit Organizations
#10 Wes Anderson Movies
#9 Making you feel bad about not going outside
#8 Barack Obama
#7 Diversity
#6 Organic Food
#5 Farmer’s Markets
#1 Coffee

Monday, March 10, 2008

Marc Steiner's Blog

Marc Steiner has a blog and right now , there are a bunch of podcasts about the end of the Wire.

Check it out here.

Pie Day

Since I work around a bunch of science geeks (and am one myself), we have decided to celebrate pie day at work on Friday. Why Friday, you ask? Well, because this Friday is March 14th, or 3.14, or pi.

I am making a chocolate pie with an oreo cookie crust from my Baking Illustrated book. We also have pudding pie and key lime pie on the docket.

It should be fun!

The Wire

Last night, The Wire came to an end. I won't post much about my thoughts since there are people (Elly) who read this blog who haven't started watching this season.

But, I will say that I will miss what I believe to be, the only real show on television.

Here's a good quote from an article in today's New York Times:

“The Wire” ended at just the right time: too soon. And it’s not that Mr. Simon’s series was the only intelligent drama on television. The difference is that most smart shows try to dazzle viewers with what they don’t know: “House” on Fox throws out the rarest diseases and most far-fetched diagnostic tools to update Sherlock Holmes and “Numb3rs” on CBS twists every crime to fit an advanced mathematical formula.

“The Wire” worked with primary sources that anybody could grasp if they looked closely out the window on the train from New York to Washington. It’s the same view of Baltimore — abandoned row houses, gutted factories and bullet-pocked store fronts — that McNulty takes in when he parks his car and looks down at the city from afar.

“It is what it is,” is what McNulty and others would say to end a conversation. “The Wire” was what it was, and that was a lot.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Lou Reed

Lou Reed is touring a little this year, and it got me thinking about when I went to see him at Bohager's almost 10 years ago. It was so long ago, the concert occurred 2 weeks before my 21st birthday. I still remember the bouncer looking at my license, saying "almost", and then putting big x's on my hands.

I miss the old Bohager's. Someone out there remembers this fine musical venue on Eden Street, before they took over Parrot Island and became a haven for foam parties and Elimidate contestants.

I looked up the setlist from that night, and just felt like posting it, because it was awesome. Sadly, I didn't get to hear "Heroin". But, he did play two of my favorite Velvet Underground songs, "Pale Blue Eyes" and "I'll Be Your Mirror".

Setlist from 08/14/98:

Dorita / Sweet Jane - Egg Cream - Set The Twilight Reeling - Perfect Day - Vicious - Street Hassle - Hooky Wooky - Kicks - Hang On To Your Emotions - Into The Divine - Future Farmers Of America - New Sensations - Dirty Blvd. - Satellite Of Love - Riptide - The Original Wrapper - Pale Blue Eyes - Rock And Roll - Walk On The Wild Side - I'll Be Your Mirror

An Open Letter to David Edelstein

(Have you ever had one of those friends who ruins a movie for you when you ask them for a summary of the plot? That's David Edelstein.)

Dear Mr. Edelstein,

I am writing to thank you for your in-depth movie reivews. Thanks to your ability to boil any plot down to a few minute synopsis, I never have to see these films. I really appreciate that time you told me that something really bad happened in "Million Dollar Baby" or blurted out the ending to any movie you've ever reviewed.

I also love when I try to avoid your reviews by not reading them, only to have the movie spoiled in your review headline.

I encourage you to shadow Kenneth Turan for a week. He can review a movie without telling everyone all its plot points.



(David Edelstein reviews movies for NY Magazine, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and sometimes, CBS Sunday Morning. Avoid his reviews unless you like to know everything about a film before you see it)


Yesterday, my friend Elly commented on my CVS post and mentioned chocolate skittles. My husband happened to bring a bag home last night. We had to force ourselves to try all the flavors.

They are disgusting.

There's a review of them over at candy blog and I think she was being generous with her 5 out of 10 review. These are right up there with Cake Love cupcakes for me.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Smarties Jelly Beans

They are amazing. Just the right amount of sweet and tart, like real Smarties, only in jelly bean form.

I highly recommend them.

On the Needles

I am currently working on this peapod baby set from knitting daily and it is giving me such a hard time. The bottom rib row is impossible to interpret. If anyone has any hints for me, I'd really appreciate it. I'm about to abandon it for something else.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

CVS Wins Again

For a few weeks now, I've been searching every store for Smarties Jelly Beans. My co-worker, a fellow candy person, brought them into work and neither of us have been able to find them since. I'd been to Giant, Safeway, Walgreens, and Weis.

I decided to check the CVS by my work today and they had them!

I love when a good candy hunt comes to an end.

(CVS is also where I found Carnival Skittles last summer)