Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Perfection Pound Cake

First of all L’Shana Tova! It’s Rosh Hashanah today and while I’m not Jewish I do work at a synagogue. I won’t be able to comment on everyone else's TWD posts until this afternoon because I have to work until noon handing out appeal cards to our members. Now back to the baking...
I did intend to make the Crème Brulee that Mari of Mevrow Cupcake chose this week – really! I have the little ramekins and everything. But alas, this is the story of why I didn’t make the Crème Brulee: My coworker Gwen is one of the sweetest, nicest people on the planet but she claims to be a not-so-great baker. She’s been especially nice to me lately and I owed her a pound cake which is her favorite (I think). Then I looked at the previous TWD recipes and found that the Perfection Pound Cake had been made in January and we were allowed to do Rewind recipes this week so I decided to skip the Crème Brulee and do the pound cake instead.
In true Dorie fashion the recipe used two sticks of butter and four eggs, other than that it was really just flour, sugar, vanilla, salt and baking powder, very simple. I always think that pound cake batter smells better than it actually tastes, but that’s just me. The batter was fluffy and pale, I used two small foil pans (I'm not really sure on the exact size) to bake the cakes in. I made one for Gwen and one for me. The recipe says to cook them for something like 75 minutes I think, but it only took 60 minutes for me to get a clean knife with a few clinging crumbs. I did end up tenting them half-way through baking though so they would retain their pale golden color.
Both caked turned out nicely. I don't know what Gwen thought about hers yet but the one I kept for us was pretty tasty. I ate mine like Dorie suggests, thinly sliced and served with jam. I think this would be especially good with tea.

Next week is Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie Cake and I'm hoping it's just as good as the picture in the book.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A festival and a fair

I rarely say this because I’m usually so irritated with the weather here, always too hot and humid, but the past few days have been gorgeous. It’s still too warm for my tastes, but the mornings and nights have gotten a little cooler. And the skies have been so clear and blue, a really nice time to be outside. Saturday was the annual Heritage Day in my hometown (Covington) and I drove up. I left Doug at home; I think he had had enough of Covington over the last two Friday nights. I don’t mind going alone, I enjoy driving alone, as long as I have music and my coffee I’m good. The weather was pretty close to perfect, if it had been about 10-15 degrees cooler I would have been in heaven. I met my mom and my BFF Amanda on the square, which is where this whole festival/day happens. Also, I’m not sure if it’s like this in other places but most small towns in the South have ‘squares’, it’s kind of like a tiny little downtown, sans the tall buildings. The courthouse is the center of the square in Covington and it’s surrounded by shops, banks, a few offices, the community theatre and a couple of restaurants. Over the last few years they’ve redone parts of the square and it’s actually really nice (not enough to make me move back though).
There were a lot of vendors and booths and demonstrations, there was even someone spinning. I didn’t know her but she’s from the Memphis Spinning Guild and had some beautiful angora from her own rabbit she was spinning. My mom, Amanda and I walked around for awhile; I bought a few things and saw a ton of people I know, several we graduated high school with. I also got a monster sized blister on the back of my heel, I wore my 'Alice' Crocs and I’ve worn them before walking around a lot but for some reason I never got a blister until Saturday. We stopped and ate lunch on the courthouse lawn and people watched. I also talked Amanda into helping my load one of my purchases into my car. After last weekend’s disappointment in not finding the wicker loveseat I coveted from Pier 1 I was extremely lucky and happened upon this sweet little red wicker chair on Saturday, complete with floral cushion. So I bought it as soon as I saw it thinking it would be perfect to sit on the patio in. So Amanda and I drug the chair to my car, several streets away from the vendor’s tent and them we tried to put it the backseat. It was like a Laurel and Hardy movie, we tried every which way to get that thing in the car. Eventually I held the door back so far I was afraid I would break it and Amanda jammed it in the backseat (after we took part of my backseat out). The chair didn’t sustain any damage but some of the red paint rubbed off on my car door.A little while after the chair fiasco I decided to head back to Memphis because Doug and I were planning on going to the Mid-South Fair. I haven’t been to the fair in at least eight years. The last time was with my friend Jason and we only went to see Kenny Wayne Shepherd play on the main stage. But this was the last year for the fair to be in Memphis on the fairgrounds, next year it's moving about 45 minutes away to Tunica, Mississippi and I don’t know how interested we’ll be in driving to Tunica. It was actually a nice afternoon to go. I was afraid it would be crazy busy because it was the next to the last day and the University of Memphis football game was just getting over and the stadium is right next to the fairgrounds but we were able to get in quickly and park. The food smell was so overwhelming, I know that almost everything served there is greasy and sugary and unhealthy but OMG it smelled so good. We ate Pronto Pups, which I think is the most fabulous fair food ever. We went to the petting zoo too and I felt sad for the animals, but I did get to pet/feed some sheep and an alpaca (so soft). We saw the car show, the craft entries (art, knitting, sewing, etc) and some other random people trying to sell things. We skipped the rides because I have an really, really weak stomach and riding something that spins in a circle very fast after eating a Pronto Pup and a Fiddlestick sounds like a pretty horrible idea. All in all Saturday turned out to be a really nice day, lots of great people watching and getting to hang out with some of my favorite people.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Dimply Plum Cake

This week's recipe was chosen by Michelle of Bake-En. I procrastinated over the weekend and ended up not making the cake until last night. I halved the recipe and made it in three individual cake pans I bought a while back. I used red plums and skipped the cardamon because I didn't have any on my spice shelf (although I probably should).
The recipe did not take long to put together. I ended up only using two plums because the pans were so small. They took about 30 minutes to bake completely. I have to be honest and say this was not my favorite recipe. It was just kind of 'meh'. I'm thinking maybe if I had used peaches or apricots and added the cardamon it would have been better. The texture was nice but the cakes were a little dry. I also wonder if my plums weren't ripe enough, they were somewhat firm.But I did appreciate the chance to make something I might not normally make and try out new recipes. Next week we're making creme brulee, which is a little intimidating but I think I'm up for the challenge.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wasn't it just Friday?

How can the weekend possibly be over?

Doug and I have enjoyed it, Friday night we drove to Covington to see a high school football game. We were supposed to go with my friend Amanda and her husband but something came up and they couldn't come. So instead Doug and I meet up with my mom to eat dinner before the game. I ran into two different people I knew but hadn't seen in years there. In Covington there aren't as many dining choices as there are in Memphis but there are more restaurants now than there were when I was growing up there. We ate at a cafe that would be best described as a greasy spoon. They're open for dinner one night a week and the rest of the week they're only open for lunch. My mom and I both had cheeseburgers and onion rings and Doug had a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. It was all great tasting but the portions were huge.

After dinner we drove over the game, which was actually the Homecoming game. I couldn't believe how young the kids look, I suppose its because I'm so much older now. Being at the game brought back memories of my marching band days, I did have a lot of fun in band whether I like to admit it or not. The hometeam did not win the game but we liked the people watching.
Saturday morning we went to watch this shooting thing that one of Doug's co-workers and his wife do. It's some type of recreational gun shooting thing but with costumes, kind of like if the Renaissance Faire people had guns and dressed wild west style. It was...um, interesting? Not my cup of tea but they all really seemed to enjoy themselves. After the shooting thing we went to two different Pier 1 stores in search of this wicker loveseat I fell in love with online. Neither store had it of course so my dreams of sitting on my patio in a cushy piece of wicker furniture were dashed.

For dinner I made the Broccoli Chowder with Corn and Bacon from this month's Everyday Food. It was really delicious and it relatively healthy. I subbed fat free half and half for the whole milk but kept the rest of the recipe the same. Doug approved of it too, even though it was soup. When we first met he was not a fan of soup/stew/chowder/bisque but he's gradually come around.
We watched Sweeny Todd last night too. We had intended to see it in the theater but for some reason we missed it so we bought it on In Demand. It was pretty good, the sets and costumes were really gorgeous and I love Helena Bonham Carter. After the movie was over I got the urge to make chocolate chip cookies. I used this recipe on the back of the Ghirardelli bag. I used Milk Chocolate chips instead of the bittersweet chocolate chips, subbed 1 cup of whole wheat flour for white flour and the recipe called for 2 sticks of butter but I only used 1 stick and 2 tbsp. They turned out cake-y, which is exactly how I prefer my cookies.
I didn't make my TWD selection over the weekend so I'll be baking it tomorrow night. I bought the plums I needed for the recipe but I also need brown sugar and I didn't have enough because I used what I had for the cookies last night. The recipe is Dimply Plum Cake and I'm going to try to make two individual cakes instead of a full-sized one but that requires me to do math so we'll see how that goes.

Oh and this was a Friday thing but it'll put it at the end anyway. I listen to the Lime & Violet knitting podcast and in addition to selling yarn Violet has started to do handmade soap and perfume oils via their Happy Housewife site. You can order a six-pack of scent samples so I ordered the samples so I could decide on a scent before I bought a full sized bottle. The samples came on Friday and I am in love. I still can't decide which one I want a full bottle of. I think I'll order some of their soaps for Christmas gifts. I got Afternoon's Baking, Farmgirl, OMFG Zombiez, The Freshman, Sunday Longing & State Fair. So far Farmgirl is my favorite, it's not like the perfumes I normally wear, very unique scents.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate Chunkers

Ladies and gentleman, please allow me to introduce you to the cookies that will destroy your diet - Chocolate Chunkers. They look so innocent but they are pure baked evil. This week's recipe was chosen by Claudia of Fool for Food. Haben Sie vielen Dank Claudia!
I was doing so well too! Last week I ate within my 1200 calorie limit and I went to the gym three times (60 minutes on the elliptical each time too!) but then along came this cookie and everything went down the drain. Well, maybe I’m being a little dramatic, hopefully they haven’t completely ruined my efforts. Although I have lost count of how many I’ve eaten. These are such good cookies, I was feeling iffy on the raisins but now I’m totally in love with these.
I used Ghirardelli chocolate, peanuts (leftover from the Granola Grabbers), white chocolate chips and baking raisins (they're supposed to be extra moist). The biggest part of the prep was chopping the chocolate and the peanuts. I did get to use my new green chopping board (from Macy's Martha line) Everything else was easy-peasy. There was very little 'dough', it was mostly the extras, chopped chocolate, white chocolate chips, raisins and the peanuts. My arm did get a little tired mixing in the last bit of stuff. I scooped out little mounds of cookie dough, it was very sticky. After I pulled them out of the oven I was tempted to pull them off the cooling rack but I waited a few minutes so I wouldn't burn my tongue (because that's what I usually do). These cookies, barely warm, are pure bliss, the chocolate is melting, and the crunch and salty-ness of the peanuts paired perfectly with the chocolate and raisins. The husband approved too. This was really a fabulous and decadent cookie, I can see myself making them for Christmas goodie boxes.
Next week it's Dimply Plum Cake!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sundays are such nice days

I think I’ve expressed my love for Sundays before but I’ll do it again. Routines make me happy and Doug and I have our little Sunday morning routine and it makes me really happy - a pot of coffee and watching CBS Sunday morning together. Sundays are usually are lazy days, I work on whatever crafty project I’m doing or I bake and Doug works out in his shop or works on one of his building models. Yesterday was no exception to the Sunday rule. We did make a Super Target run around 10AM, which was fine but I got irritated by the cashier because when I gave her our reusable Target bags (that I bought there) and she sat them on the end of the counter and started putting our groceries on the end of the counter after scanning them. At first I thought “Oh she’s just waiting until there’s enough stuff to bag them” but then I realized she was expecting me to bag my own things just because we brought the reusable bags. It really made no sense; it’s the same amount of work, if not less because the reusable bags are bigger and hold more. It also kind of made me mad but I didn’t say anything but I thought it wasn’t worth it the trouble. The bright spot of the Super Target trip was that the Starbucks inside started selling Pumpkin Spice Lattes again. I love, love, love Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Monday through Friday I go to a local-chain coffee shop but during PSL season I sneak over to Starbucks on the weekends to get them. So I was pretty happy to have my first PSL of the season.

I also finished knitting a baby hat I started Saturday afternoon. It’s the Upside Daisy Hat from Itty Bitty Baby Hats. It’s for friends who are expecting a girl in November. It was a super quick and simple knit and it looks so stinking adorable I can’t stand it. I used Rowan All-Seasons Cotton, which is the same thing as Lion Brand Cotton Ease, so in retrospect I could have saved a little money if I had used Cotton Ease. I finished the knitting but I’m blocking the little petals right now and I still have to sew them on to the top but I should have that done by the end of the week.I also worked on my Lace Ribbon scarf some more. I finished up the first ball of yarn so I’ve got to knit through the second ball before it’s done. It really is a pretty easy lace pattern it just takes awhile to get some length on it. Speaking of knitting, the new fall Knitty came out last week and there are a few patterns I really like. Anne Shirley is a scarf and even though the last thing I need is another scarf I want to make it just because of the name. I was a huge Anne of Green Gables fan. I also love the Sidewinder skirt but I'm hesitant to knit a skirt, too many online horror stories of knitted skirts. And the Retrofit man sweater is something Doug would wear but it has seaming and I absolutely loathe seaming. But I might have to make the sacrifice.

Besides knitting and Target, we caught up on some DVR'd shows and a movie we bought a few weeks ago. I made the Lighter Beef Tacos from this month's Everyday Food for dinner and we watched the second of episode of the new HBO/Alan Ball show True Blood. It's entertaining, although it was hard for me to listen to Anna Paquin's accent at first. I'm probably oversensitive about fake Southern accents because I always worry I have an exaggerated accent too.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Getting to know me...

Here's some mildly amusing facts about me which you may or may not know:

  • This is my BFF Amanda and I in the 8th grade. We have been best friends since 3rd grade. We bonded over Barbie. (I'm in the pink shirt with the ginormous glasses)
  • Said best friend and I went to summer camp with Conway Twitty’s granddaughter.
  • My mom used to be a Civil War reenactor - really. My brother and I would go with her sometimes. I had a whole outfit and everything.
  • The first time I really ever drank alcohol was at my friend Randi’s house our senior year of high school. There were lots of people there and I was afraid we’d get caught so I cleaned up all the bottles and cans and drove around with the trash bags in my car the next day until I found a dumpster to throw them in.
  • I'm a speed reader, if I'm really interested in a book I can devour it within a couple of hours.
  • The name of my blog comes from my parents, my mom's maiden name was Short and my dad's last name is Rose so Short + Rose = me.
  • I played the clarinet in band. I also played the bass clarinet and the cymbals (not very well).
  • I did community theatre from the ages of 12-18. My favorite plays were "Camelot" and "Li'l Abner", I have still been known to belt out "The Lusty Month of May" on occasion.
  • My wedding was at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music . Our first dance was to Otis Redding's "These Arms of Mine" and we got our pictures taken in Isaac Hayes' solid gold Cadillac.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


It’s hard for me to believe it has been seven years since September 11. Time goes by way too quickly. It’s one of those days that if you were old enough to know what was happening you’ll always remember where you were. I guess like my mother’s generation and the assassination of JFK.

I was at work and the real estate agent of one of my co-worker’s called to tell my co-worker about the planes. After I got off the phone with her, my boss and I spent 20 minutes trying to load CNN.com but it kept freezing up. Eventually everyone in our office went to the lobby area where there was a huge television and we watched what was going on. I don’t remember much else about being at work that day except lots of emails from friends I hadn’t spoken to in awhile saying “are you seeing what’s happening??”

I had been living alone for barely two months. When I got back to my apartment that night I just sat on the couch with the tv on. I didn’t sleep in my bed for a few days; I stayed camped out on the couch at night. I was afraid I would miss something so I kept the tv on continuously. I had to fight the urge to drive back to Covington to my mom’s.

Every year I read the New York Times and their profiles of those that were killed that day. People who just thought they were going to work, or catching a flight and had no inkling as to what was about to happen – it gives me chills and I guess it should.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The internets make me happy

Considering the kind of days I've had at work lately I've had to take certain measures to de-stress. Since I'm trying to restart 'Operation: I'm-Not-Buying-Bigger-Pants' I have to back away from actual snack foods so the sugary goodness of the Internet is the next best thing. There are several sites/activities online that I do when I'm feeling particularly 'stabby' towards people or things and I can't knit.

I can't even remember life before the Internet, well actually I can but I prefer not to. I remember the frustrating dial-up (shudder) we had when I was in high school. It always took FOREVER to dial in and we had AOL. Although there was always a certain thrill when I finally logged-in and the AOL voice said "You've got mail". When I first moved out on my own at age 20 I sublet an apartment on Madison Avenue, across the street from the Southern College of Optometry and down the street from the historic gay bar, J-Wags. The guy I sublet from had high speed Internet and once I experienced it I was hooked. I never had dial up again.

There are so many awesome things online. In no certain order here are some of my favorite internet activities/sites. Maybe you've already seen them or maybe you find them juvenile or silly or even possibly offensive. But they still make me laugh out loud and forget that I wanted to scream. Even on my worst day these always cheer me up.

  • 'Window' shopping. For yarn, Etsy-items, shoes I could never afford, vacation packages, whatever. Virtual yarn shopping isn't nearly as satisfying because you can't really grope the yarn as you would in an actual yarn store. I like looking at Sonny & Shear, The Loopy Ewe, Etsy, Endless.com, Expedia and Amazon.

  • Facebook status updates. Some of my friends have the best status updates ever. A few in particular make me laugh manically every time they update.

  • Adult Swim. Oh how I love thee. If I don't get to watch Family Guy every night I feel like I've missed something important - even though I've seen every episode a meeellion times at least. And then there is the pure genius that is Venture Brothers and Robot Chicken. Le sigh.

  • Vintage Olan Mills photos. I dare you to look at this and not laugh. And it's okay to laugh because I have pictures of myself that are just as horrible.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops

Another delicious cookie recipe this week - Chocolate Malted Whooper Drops chosen by Rachel of Confessions of a Tangerine Tart. Doug was very excited about these because he loves chocolate malts and Whoppers. The recipe came together just like most cookie recipes. The most tedious part was chopping the Whoppers, sometimes they wanted to slide out from under my knife. And of course there was the temptation to pop a few 'extras' in my mouth while I was chopping...
I used Chocolate Malt Powder (I think Carnation brand) mainly because I wasn't going to use the entire bottle on the cookies and we're more likely to drink chocolate malted milk than plain. The actual cookie dough was so good I snuck a spoonful and I rarely eat raw cookie dough. Dorie says in the book it will resemble fudge frosting more than cookie dough and she was right but it tasted amazing and this was before i added the Whoppers and chocolate chips.
I did use a little less butter than called for so my cookies were more cake-like, fluffy with those caramelized bits of Whoppers and the melty chocolate chips. I can't even describe how good they were warm. Doug loved them of course. It is a more decadent cookie recipe than I would normally make. I'd probably reserve these for special occasions but man they were good!

More cookies next week too!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Some knitting

I finally finished the yellow sweater I had been working on for what seemed like forver. I kept getting distracted with other things and sat it aside. I took it to the beach and worked on it there and got a lot done but then we got home and was tired of looking at it. It's the Green Gable pattern from Zephyr Style without the lace portion at the top. I used Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece again. I'm kind of 'eh' on the color. It looked nice in the shop. Plus I probably could have made it a little longer and I bound off too tightly on one of the sleeves. But it's okay, I can still wear it without looking too ridiculous.
I've been working on the Lace Ribbon Scarf from this past spring's Knitty. I'm using Louet Gems sport-weight in my favorite shade of green. It's a fun pattern to do, I haven't gotten bored yet. I really like the graphic look of the pattern too. I've been working on it for two weeks (surviving one episode of frogging after a few days) and it will probably take two more weeks to finish but I think I'm going to love it once its done.
I bought more Cotton Fleece on Ebay a few weeks ago to use for my Rusted Root (again from Zephyr Style). I'll probably cast on for it when I'm done with the scarf. I really should be starting my holiday knitting but I may just forgo gift knitting this year. I might make my mom some more cotton grocery bags and dishcloths but she's really the only one in the family that appreciates my knitting (well my husband does too). I am a pretty selfish knitter though, I see so many things I want and I don't even think about making things for other people. Although I do want to make Doug a sweater vest, he really likes sweater vests so I was thinking I'd find a nice pattern and make one for him for our 5th wedding anniversary in February. I'm scanning patterns now and hopefully I'll find something he'd like.

I haven't been blogging as much as I would like to lately, work is INSANE with the High Holidays coming up and by the time I get home I want to curl up with my knitting, my iPod and a glass of wine (or bottle of Woodchuck). It should slow down a little in a few weeks and I can take a breather.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chunky Peanut Butter & Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters

This week's selection was chosen by Stefany of Proceed with Caution. I really like making cookies, it's almost instant gratification. I was a little lazy this week because I didn't have exactly everything I needed for making them and I didn't feel like braving the grocery store so I made due. Really it wasn't that bad, I just only had 1.5 cups of oats instead of 3 and my peanut butter was low-fat and smooth instead of chunky. I used Ghirardelli 60% Caco Chocolate Chips and they were fantastic. I also experimented and used 3 less tablespoons of butter than called for, I couldn't tell a difference either.

I refrigerated my dough for about an hour before baking the cookies. I left the first batch in a little too long and they were crispier than I wanted them. The subsequent batches I pulled out around 11 minutes and they were perfect. The cookies did spread and had a thin, chewy texture - which was great because that's my husband's favorite kind of cookie, flat and chewy. The cinnamon gave out a distinct flavor but it went well with the bittersweet chocolate chips. I also used a few of the cookies and made ice cream sandwiches (using vanilla bean ice cream) we both really liked those too, the cookies held up well to freezing. So again, we both enjoyed the cookies! The husband is super excited for next week's cookies, he loooves malted milk balls.