bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
20140301 Cake - online

(Okay, okay, to the very, very short layer cake. AKA, I generally only post food pics when it’s funny. Roger Rabbit rules, and all that.)


Because doesn’t everyone decide, ‘it’s after 10, it’s pouring rain and wow do I want cake’? Real cake. With many layers and perfect oozing icing and, well, you get the general idea. The you have to bake it yourself kind.

Lately, Friday nights at our place have been up late, both writing (him with annoyingly more productivity than I, *sigh*) and listening to music sorts of nights anyway so, hey, why not start something that I won’t finish until 1 am or so? No, that’s not sarcasm. That is actually my logic. *nods* And even if the cake isn’t absolutely perfect – it was a thrown together pantry sort of affair, necessitating several substitutions – it works.

Moment of Zen from the baking:

I only use milk to bake. I don’t drink it. It doesn’t really like me. At times I will, however, drink soy milk, so I got confused and was shaking the non-soy milk before I measured it out for the cake. Enter my husband, looking to help…

Him: You don’t have to shake the milk.
Me: *laugh at myself, facepalm, finish measuring the milk into the bowl and start whisking*
Him, laughing: Stirred, not shaken?
Me: Ha, ha. No, Mr. Bond. Whisked, not stirred.
Him: Right. Whisked. Milk should be neither shaken nor stirred….unless you’re making a martini for Alex Rider.
Me: *Sporfle*


Oh, and none of this should be construed as me procrastinating from writing one bit. Nooooooooooo. (Okay, yeeeeeeeeeeees). Because it’s not like I’m stuck or any…*mumbles* Mmmmm…you know, this cake is pretty good. *nods, looks around searching for train of thought* Was I typing something? ;)


bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
I have done battle with countless pots of molten sugar and steaming vats of pickling liquid this past weekend-plus-a-day and emerged victorious!
20121213 Making Marshmallows - online
Ray. Ray? What did you DO, Ray?!


Christmas, I am ready for you!! Of course, this is all somewhat less than impressive with Christmas being, well, basically now and all that. Oh well. Still, prepared is prepared and at one point I didn’t think I’d be anywhere near that this year - I was away for work the first weekend of the month and then ill for the second and several days on either side, so all the holiday cooking was condensed into last weekend only.

Instead of the traditional cookie baking, my husband and I make candy for gifts. Well, candy and pickles – not for consuming together, naturally. Different gifts for different people. It started when he made me a homemade batch of salted caramel (for which I am a mad, mad fiend) for my birthday that disappeared long before the end of the party and when the in-laws starting asking for my pickled carrots.

Now the caramel has become this absolutely sinful brown butter, sea salt caramel of his own devising and our confectionary endeavors have branched out into homemade marshmallow (Aztec hot chocolate – because if the spice must flow, I’d prefer it be into my mouth), cranberry orange bark, cherry pistachio brittle and whatever else makes us say, ‘You know, I’ve always wanted to try…’ Also now I pickle onions too. And sometimes fruit. And I’m working on a good recipe for bread and butter pickles. Oh, and this year, bitters as well... Yeah. Project bunnies. Much like their cousin the plot bunny, they have a tendency to multiply when you’re not paying attention.

Anyway, it’s all done and wrapped now. I feel terribly accomplished and the kitchen needs to be destroyed by fire, which is really about par for the course when it comes to playing with molten sugar. It doesn’t matter how thoroughly you scour, you’re going to have to do it a few more times…and then a few more times again. Sugar is sneaky like that. Oh well.

Merry Christmas to all out there in LJ-land! I hope your holidays are enjoyable!

As for me, I love the crush of family that is about to come my way with all my heart and should have a very nice time. But when it’s all done, wonderful though it will be, I’m going to need some serious snark to cut all that sweet and heartfelt. I see my December 26th and it is full of fic writing (because this is turning into a monster and still is nowhere near done – yikes!) and some of my favorite non-cloying Christmas movies: The Ref, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Long Kiss Goodnight. Maybe even some Die Hard if I’m in the mood for mind numbing but fun.
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
Although most years I love cooking up a storm for Thanksgiving, the nicest part of my parents offering to host this year is readily apparent today. My husband and I do not have mounds and mounds of dishes still left to do in a kitchen hastily put only to barest rights the night before! Oh delicious, lazy Friday off!!

I love Thanksgiving – getting together with family for an elaborate meal with a chance to relax, chat and just enjoy one another’s company. It’s like all of the best parts of Christmas in a warmer, more casual configuration. But I can’t help but feel the holiday would be better if more folks would drop the weird, borderline fetish with an overly rosy revisionist history vision of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving.

I have been to Plymouth Plantation, site of the Plymouth Colony, around Thanksgiving and while the view out over the sea is stunning in its rough beauty, at this time of year the land itself is stark, inhospitable and really farking cold. I mean icy wind cutting through every layer of coat, sweaters, scarf, hat and gloves you have piled upon your body to forcibly pull up gooseflesh on your extremities so tight is actually hurts cold. You know, not unlike the sort of cold one also gets on the other side of the Atlantic, so it’s not as if Pilgrims couldn’t possibly have known better. Oh, and the late November in which I visited is a full month earlier and warmer than the timeframe in which they landed.

Suffice to say, the whole experience simply served to confirm my feeling that England really cut out the middle man, Douglas Adams style, when the Pilgrims left for the new world. (Now there’s something else Thanksgiving celebrants can all be thankful for this weekend: that many, many subsequent waves of colonists and immigrants also arrived to dilute the Pilgrims’ eventual influence on the character of the country. ;)  ) Not to mention, the Pilgrims were absolutely charming people:

'We’re seeking religious freedom! Nah, just kidding. Had you going there for a bit, didn’t we? We’re seeking our religious freedom. The rest of you weirdos can all go to hell…er…well, I suppose Roger is calling it Rhode Island these days, but you get the general idea. No, seriously. Start walking now or we’ll start shooting.' (Is it weird that in my brain I hear this alternately in the voices of Eddie Izzard and Louis Black? Nah, didn’t think so.)
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
…or, rather, one bitters fest coming soon.

Bourbon, a comfy armchair and a sinfully good book, right? Normally I reserve the sinfully good book descriptor for works of fiction, but I do think this one happens to live up to the moniker in a number of different ways.

Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas

Bitters 9781580083591_p0_v1_s600


Part cookbook. Part bartenders’ manual. Part thorough history of a quirky subject. This book offers sinfully good recipes for alcohol, traditionally the most wicked of ingredients ;)  and is truly also a sinfully good read…if, you know, you like lovingly detailed histories of minutiae, which I, for one, absolutely do!

The subject matter also pertains somewhat to Bourbon, so clearly it fits my theme. Because Bourbon neat is truly a lovely thing, but Bourbon used properly in an old school cocktail, heavy on the bitters, or simply Bourbon with bitters, can be even better.

We’re handy do-it-yourselfers in this house. He brews beer. We both cook and bake a lot. I make pickles. He makes jam. So naturally, after pouring over this book, making my own bitters was something I had to try. Bitters require nearly a month of various infusion stages and I am only two weeks in on my first two attempts. But even at this proto bitters stage, both smell absolutely divine. The apple cinnamon is already welcome in my Bourbon any time. Ditto the key lime in my Dark and Stormy. Suffice to say, this book is already a winner and, barring anything unforeseen in the next two weeks, well on its way to becoming a much loved and well used kitchen companion as well.

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