Hey y’all! I’ve had a weird week, and not in a good way. I had a weird interview followed by back-to-back days of unrelated volleyball injuries. Huzzah! Well, watching this video made me feel better. It is fall and if you remember my post from a couple of weeks back, it is time for Pumpkin-Spice everything! This video shows how some people might feel about that. And yes, I did post this on Facebook yesterday, but I liked it so much I wanted to share it here.
Just read this and it touches on the intersection of the issues of poverty and food / nutrition. Will reading this solve the issue? No, but I would like to think that this would help folks better understand the plight of poverty. Please give it a read. Maybe it will inspire some action.
Fall is my favorite time of year. I love everything about it — the smells, the cooler days, the crisper nights, the colors, the pies, Halloween, Thanksgiving, volleyball and football start up again — what’s not to love? Alright, I admit there is one thing I don’t like — cleaning up all those damn leaves on my property. I own about an acre of land with maybe 20 giant oak trees. So the leaves can pile up and pile up quickly. And unlike in some neighboring cities, I can’t just push my leaves into the road, so I either have to do it myself or hire someone else to do it. But that’s a whole other issue. . .
Anyhoo, I saw this the other day on Facebook and wanted to share. This appeared on my feed from the magazine Midwest Living. This sums up everything that is awesome about Fall and I wanted to share it with y’all. What do y’all like about Autumn? Just let me know — either here or on Facebook! I gots a recipe for some Gluten-Free Rocky Road Brownies coming up later this week, and hopefully some other fun stuff.
It could just be me, but I need a break from the Olympics. So instead I’m up watching the NASA channel on updates about the Mars Rover, well that and reruns of Futurama. I guess I need to feed my inner nerd. Sure I could be studying up on Policies and Procedures, but science is important.
And as another break from the Olympics I thought I’d just post some random things that I find funny that are food related. I was thinking about trying to make this a regular feature, but that requires extra work that is difficult right now with all the training and studying I have to do. Hell, I can’t even keep up with my regular blogging duties.
Anyhoo, I thought this was funny. It was making the rounds a little bit ago along all the Interwebs, so I’m a little late with this one. I have no idea on the source, but if anyone knows, drop me a line.
I was hoping to have this posted before Flag Day, but it turns out that Flag Day was yesterday (and apparently National Bourbon Day was yesterday, too). At least this is something that you can make for the upcoming 4th of July holiday. I made these a little bit ago for a Memorial Day / Birthday celebration. They’re fun and festive, especially if you put metallic star picks in them! Very patriotic, and not just here in The States, but everywhere else that has those same colors in their national flag. Like France, the UK, Puerto Rico, Slovakia — in Canada, you can just make the Red Velvet cupcakes — in Greece just make the blue ones! — and so on. Maybe you could make some for a UEFA Championship Party (can’t believe the Dutch are almost eliminated).
As for the recipe, Red velvet is what people typically think of, but why not Blue velvet cupcakes? It’s the same principle, just with blue coloring. Plus, there’s that song about them. Well, not the cupcakes, but about blue velvet. Or was it Blue Moon? But I digress. . . if you were ever wondering about some of the background of the Red Velvet cake, you can find some fascinating information here at Gilt Taste.
As you can see from one of the pictures, I tried to use one of those cupcake stands made out of cardboard (There was a sale at Jo-Ann’s, so I thought why not? I can never resist a sale!). I just could not get that thing together right, AND there were three of us working on it. Sure I had a couple margaritas, some sangria, and a beer in me by then, but I’m pretty sure my two “assistants” were fairly sober. That thing was such a hassle it had me sweating like a wh@%& in church, pardon my language. And of course the first cupcake we put on made the top tier topple over and fall onto several of the other cupcakes. Alas, if I was only recording the whole ordeal. Such is life. Maybe I should just invest in something more sturdy, but then again, I wouldn’t have any interesting stories to tell!
There’s a small part of me that is always hesitant about using dyes, particularly in cakes. With frostings and buttercreams, I’m okay with using tints, but I always balk at cakes. So I probably didn’t use as much color as I could have. I’ve seen some recipes that called for a whole bottle of coloring, which I did not do, so the color is not as pronounced. But no worries — if you want more intensity in the colors just use more. You can get away with using less red since the chemical reaction between the acids (buttermilk and vinegar) and the cocoa are supposed to produce the red color you get in Red Velvet cakes, although it’s very faint. But I did use more of the blue to make sure it would come out. And the amount of dye you use may depend on what products you have. The blue that I used for this is AmeriColor Royal Blue; the red is Wilton’s Red-Red. Gel pastes are usually what I prefer because it will not affect the recipe ratios as much. Here’s what you need:
for the cupcakes (one batch makes about 2 dozen; the red batch used 1/2 t. of coloring and the blue used 1 t.):
- 2 c. all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1/2 c. corn starch
- 2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 t. baking soda
- 1 t. salt
- 1 c. buttermilk
- 2 t. white vinegar
- 1 t. vanilla
- 1 c. sugar
- 1/2 c. brown sugar
- 1 1/2 c. vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- gel paste coloring (see above)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line your muffin pan with cupcake papers and set aside.
2. Sift together the flour, corn starch, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, white vinegar, and vanilla. Set aside as well.
3. In the bowl of a mixer, whisk the oil and sugars until combined on medium speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Whisk in the gel paste, scraping down the sides as needed.
4. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with 2 additions of the buttermilk mixture. Scrape down the sides after each addition and whisk well.
5. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners, filling to about 3/4 full. Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating once halfway through baking. Cool cupcakes in the pans set on wire racks. Frost with the White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.
for the frosting (this was enough for 4 dozen cupcakes):
- 3 8-oz. packages of cream cheese
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter
- 3 c. confectioners sugar
- 1/4 t. salt
- 1 t. vanilla
- 8 oz. white chocolate, chopped.
1. In the bowl of a mixer using the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium for a couple of minutes, until well combined. Place the white chocolate in a microwave proof bowl. Microwave in 15 second bunches until melted, stirring after each time. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes, making sure to keep in a liquid state.
2. With the mixer on low, gradually add the confectioners sugar and salt. Mix until smooth. Add the vanilla and white chocolate and mix for about 1 minute, scraping down the sides. Use either a small spatula knife or a piping bag to frost the cupcakes.
Notes — I have read that you can use beet juice instead of the red coloring, but I have no idea how much you need and how to adjust the recipes for the change in the amount of liquid. . . I’m not sure about an alternative for the blue, but I do have some ideas if you needed something green :) . . .You should be able to store these in the freezer for a few weeks. Thaw the frozen cakes in the refrigerator overnight. . . As always when making cakes, make sure your ingredients are at room temperature. . . I’m still bummed I missed National Bourbon Day; been wanting to add some Four Roses bourbon to my collection. I really need to revisit my Foodie Holiday postings. . . And don’t forget to visit Daisy Cakes and Jereme’s Kitchen on Facebook. . .
Happy June and Happy Hazelnut Cake Day! Alright this may be more appropriate for locals, but some of y’all might be visiting. Plus it might give some of y’all some incentive to visit us here in SE Michigan (if you need more incentive, Frommer’s just named us as one of the top 20 Best Vacation Destinations!). But we have a couple of our annual summer events coming up this weekend. First of all there’s Ya’ssoo — the Greek Festival of Ann Arbor. It starts today and runs through Sunday so there are lots of chances to head on over. Here’s a link to the event flyer and here’s the website. Of course, there’ll be specialty foods (here’s the menu!), concerts, raffles, and tours. Lot’s of fun and I’ve been craving Saganaki and some Paximathakia (if you don’t know, look it up!). Ooo, I should post my baklava recipe sometime.
There is also the 17th Annual Ann Arbor African-American Festival, Saturday, June 2, 9am – 9 pm. This festival pays tribute to the historic black business district of Ann Arbor. Now I couldn’t find a website, but I did find an email where you can get more information — firstname.lastname@example.org. There’ll be music, food, dances, and theatrical performances. The cost is free and this will take place downtown.
Also this Sunday (June 3) is the Taste of Ann Arbor. I’m excited and hope to attend this year! Tasting tickets are $0.50 and it runs from 11am – 5pm. Games and music will be a part of the festivities, but the food is the main draw! A lot of my favorites will be there and some places that I’ve been dying to try. And it’s great that a sample will just cost me 50 cents! And if you’re interested there’s the Dexter Ann Arbor Run on Sunday; registration ends tonight. They schedule concurrently with Taste of Ann Arbor; all that food at the finish line is motivation enough for me. I wonder if runners get some free tasting tickets :) There’s a half marathon, 10k, 5k, and kids’ run. If the races are still open, you can register online here.
Sure this is short notice, but these are just some of the fun things going on around town this weekend. They involve eating food, which is something I do everyday! And they also give you a chance to learn, and play, and maybe run a half marathon.