So, I’ve been slacking a bit on this whole blog thing, but I have a really good reason: last October I started pastry school! I am currently enrolled in a six month program at Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, and it is amazing. I’m having so much fun and learning all sorts of new tricks. There are days when I get frustrated with my abilities, or lack there of, but most days it’s a blast. I can’t wait to go to class each day and see what I’m going to learn. I don’t really have a lot of free time to write posts most days, so I’ve been saving up pictures of all of my finished products to share with you now. Enjoy!
Zombie Apocalypse! …and a fruit salad September 13, 2011
Okay, so I know that the Zombocalypse has nothing to do with baking, or cooking at all for that matter considering zombies prefer their human flesh raw, but I figured my loyal blog readers (Hi, Mom!) wouldn’t mind if I deviated from my usual blogging theme to give you some great news. My boyfriend has been working very diligently for the past few months to write a book, and it officially became alive today! We’re super excited and can’t wait for everyone to read it.
G has always been a writer; he majored in English (not the teaching aspects of it, just English) in college and even has a master in the same. His family and I have been privileged to read bits and pieces of his work over the years, and may of us (especially his brother) have been trying to convince him that he should publish his work. It took me sending him this article about Amanda Hocking and her adventure in self publishing in the form of eBooks, to convince him that, not only could he publish his work, but that people would read it. Especially since his book would be much better than her unedited, cliche young adult novels. I’m not being judgmental here, I downloaded and read two of the books from her Trylle trilogy and they are full of grammatical mistakes and contradictions, but I have to admit that her characterizations are good and the story is of a popular theme. She knows her audience and how to reach them despite her lack of proper editing skills and original ideas. G figured that if this untrained girl could earn millions from her self-published eBooks, he might as well give it a try, and he did in the form of Zombies Ate My Film Fest, a novel set right here in Austin, Texas at one of our favorite film festivals, Fantastic Fest.
I was one of the lucky few to get to read an advanced copy of the novel to help him edit it, and I have to say that it is damn good. The story is clever, funny, and has the right amount of action mixed with just a small hint of a love story. His zombies are like none other I have seen before (and I have read a lot of zombie books), and the nerdy-ness of the protagonist makes him completely loveable, despite his cowardly faults. I think fans of Fantastic Fest will love all of the references to the festival, it’s creators, and those who attend, but non-Fantastic Fest-ers will still find the story an entertaining and enjoyable read.
So, please visit G’s website and download the book; it will only cost you 99 cents! If you don’t have an eBook device, don’t worry: you can install the Adobe Digital Editions onto your computer from Lulu before you download the novel.
***Further Update: The Austin Post online wrote a front page article about the book! Read it here.***
Now for all of you who stuck around long enough to read my advertising ploy, here’s a recipe for a Fruit Salad that I made this last 4th of July, but never managed to post:
My grandfather used to grow watermelon on his farm and, since we spent every 4th of July at his house (it was also his birthday), there were always plenty to go around. My brothers, cousins, and I would sit on picnic tables and eat large wedges of the super ripe fruit still warm from the sun and have contests to see who could spit the seeds farther. I never won, but would always participate because Grandpa told me that if I swallowed any seeds, I would grow a watermelon in my belly. (Imagine my surprise the first time I saw a pregnant lady!) Because of these memories, my 4th of July always includes watermelon. This year it came in the form of a fruit salad.
Here’s what you need:
1 large package of grapes
juice and zest of two limes
Here’s what you do:
This really isn’t much of a recipe: you simply cut up all of your fruit (I left my grapes whole), mix it together with the zest and juice of two limes, and refrigerate until everything is nice and cold.
The hardest part about this salad is cutting up the pineapple, but I have a method that works every time.
1. Cut off the top and bottom of the pinapple
2. Stand the pineapple on the now flat bottom and slice down the sides with a serrated knife to remove the skin
3. Cut the pineapple in half and then fourths
4. Lay the fourths, cut side down, on the cutting board and cut in towards the center at an angle to remove the core
5. Cube the pineapple flesh into bite sized pieces
Caramel Corn September 10, 2011
So, I’ve been out of contact for a while and, for that, I am sorry. I’ve had a busy couple of months with surprisingly little baking, until now. We’ve moved again; we’re still in the wonderful city of Austin, but in a much better location, and I’m really loving our new house. The kitchen is a little dated, but there is lots of counter space and, my favorite thing, a double oven, which I have been putting to good use the last couple of days. Our friends have twins and tomorrow is the little ones’ first birthday party. I am super excited about this as their mother and I have been diligently meeting, planning, and crafting for the past three weeks or so. (I must say that my Cricut machine has been put to very good use.) It is going to be amazingly adorable, and I get to make almost all of the baked goods! Everyone refers to the twins as “The Peanuts” so the majority of the food at this birthday extravaganza is going to involve peanuts, including this amazing Caramel Corn.
Here’s what you need:
7 cups plain popcorn, popped
2 cups peanuts
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
Here’s what you do:
Place the popped popcorn into two greased baking pans. I used disposable roasting pans. Add the peanuts to the popcorn. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Bring to boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes while stirring constantly.
Remove the caramel mixture from the heat, and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will become lighter and foamy. Immediately pour over the popcorn in the pans, and stir to coat. Don’t worry about getting all of the corn coated; the caramel will spread out as you bake and stir it.
Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Line your counter top with waxed paper. Pour the caramel corn out onto the waxed paper and separate the pieces. Allow to cool completely, then store in airtight containers.
Strawberry-Lemon Tart and a Birthday Celebration July 17, 2011
Today is a very special and exciting day: my boyfriend’s little sister is turning 24, and she loves to celebrate! Now, I know that everyone loves their birthday, but JW really loves her birthday, and that makes the anticipation of the day so much more exciting. Thanks to her boyfriend’s careful planning, the celebrations started last night with a Master Pancake show and will come to an end on Sunday in the form of seeing the last Harry Potter. Between the bookends of two great viewing experiences there are a multitude of activities and surprises. One of which is this Strawberry-Lemon Tart and I have no doubt that she will love it, after all, her favorite flavor of dessert is lemon.
This tart was created by combining a few of my favorite recipes: the crust is from one of my favorite blogs Dessert First and the lemon curd is an Ina Garden recipe. I covered the top in a fruit glaze to keep the strawberries fresh and give everything a nice sheen. I have to say that I am really happy with how it turned out.
Happy 24th birthday, JW!
Thanks for being the little sister I never had, but always wanted. You are truly an amazing person and I am grateful to have you in my life.