May 11, 2010

Beach, again.

I love these pictures and I wanted you to see them.

Note: Check out my hair.

That's all.

California Cooking.

I have gotten very behind on posting all of my cooking pictures. There are a million. No time for chatting, here they are.

This is how I've been storing the herbs I'm buying from the store. How are you supposed to do this? I don't think this method was right. I read in a magazine to put them in Zip-lock bags in the refrigerator. Is that right?

This is Leah and Dee Dee. They are pretty and they like me. And I like them.

I made lasagna and invited them over one night when Scott wasn't home. Scott wouldn't touch lasagna.

Lasagna took forever to make.

We had Cloverleaf Rolls with them.

And for desert we had homemade whipped cream and strawberries!

Lauren later taught me that I could make the whipped cream in the Kitchen Aid and it would hurt my arm a lot less.

The strawberries soaked in sugar for 2 hours!

The whipped cream was a little runny, but that's because I didn't know I could use my Kitchen Aid and my arm muscles don't have much endurance. I made it again (with the mixer) to put on pudding and it was great! But I forgot to document it, sorry.

I created this recipe! It wasn't good.

It was rice (that I didn't make right) with pineapple, scallions, nuts, and chicken. Not good.

This was good though! It's called Basic Vinaigrette. It's from $5 Dinner Mom.

We had Leah and Dee Dee over another night for dinner. It was vegan night! We had Vegan Stir Fry with Tofu from Get Cooking. And Vegan Chocolate Chip cookies that I found on a cute website called Healthy, Happy, Life.

There were neat ingredients involved! Like this rice. It smelt good.

And this is ginger! Isn't it a weird looking food?

And this. It's a puree of sesame seeds. It's really dang good.

This is healthy sugar. I like it.

These are vegan chocolate chips. They taste like steak. The website did not call for these. I was trying to be fancy and use what I thought would be best. I don't know what's best.

I put the flax seed from our smoothies into the cookies.

Here they are. Just out of the oven.

They tasted like cookies with meat in them. But Leah and Dee Dee are nice and they ate them! I didn't like them. But don't worry. Not all vegan cookies are gross, keep reading.

This is California milk. Isn't it pretty?

I used it in Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls! Scott really liked these.

And so did I! And all of our neighbors!

Corn on the cob was on sale for 25 cents! I bought it and made it and loved it.

We had it with this. It's Southwest Chicken Pasta Salad from $5 Dinner Mom.

For my next meal, I cooked with wine. My husband provides alcohol for minors.

This is what I made. It's Pot Roast Glazed with Red Wine and Cranberries. It's from my new cookbook. Pioneer Woman mentioned it and so did $5 Dollar Dinner Mom so I just knew I had to have it. It's called Make It Fast, Cook It Slow by Stephanie O' Dea.

We had it with honey wheat rolls from $5 Dinner Mom. I ate one. My friend Londa ate one. And Scott ate the rest.

Here we are! That's our neighbors' baby. And that is Londa. She forgot to open her eyes. That baby doesn't belong to her. We were babysitting.

Here are some other pictures from that night.

I love babies.

This is the jam Londa and I made! Oh man, it is so good.

Londa even licked the plate! It's seriously that good.

It's blackberry, strawberry, raspberry jam.

This is Scott. Those are cammis.

We had Pioneer Woman's Chicken Pot Pie. I think it's good.

I tried again at making granola bars. Brittany White is a pro at them. I'm still not there yet.

They all fell apart, just like the last ones. Why didn't I post about the last ones? I don't know. I must have been doing laundry. Someone tell me how to make them stick together. Please?

I also made PW's Buttermilk Biscuits. These didn't turn out too well either.

They seemed to be missing something. Could it be because I decided to substitute buttermilk for for milk mixed with vinegar? And then I didn't have any milk so I decided to substitute milk mixed with vinegar for soy milk mixed with vinegar? Is that not ok?

We had awesome jam to pile on so they weren't all bad.

Oh and WE MADE POPCORN FROM SEEDS!!!! Just like Emily Blair used to do!

We put these in a pot in it turned into that popcorn up there! Oh my gosh, it was so awesome!

And I tried again at vegan cookies. My friend Sarah and I searched all over the place for some non-steak, non-dairy chocolate chips! We found these. They are delicious.

They were mini chips but I'm ok with that.

Some of them turned out very pretty.

Others, not so much.

Now, for the good stuff. I am going to show you how to make and ice the most perfect cake. At least, that's what the teacher in my cake class claims.

You will need a strip of an old towel or dish rag.

And some pans.

Get your towel strips wet.

Then wrap them around the pan(s).

Secure them with binder clips. Make sure they aren't plastic!

This is something I was advised to buy for my class. It worked well.

Put the cake release (or whatever you're using) ALL OVER THE PAN. Seriously, don't miss any spots. That messes everything up.

Make your cake mix.

Pour it into your pan(s), right away. I learned that if you don't have your pans ready you need to keep your cake mix in the fridge. It has something to do with science.

Put them into the oven. You will have to bake them for almost double the amount of time. The wet towels drastically slow down baking time. I baked these for 70 minutes but I think that was overdoing it.

Test them them with a skewer to see if they are done. I used a knife and it made a big hole. A skewer works better. I realize this hole doesn't look very big. It looked bigger in real life.

Take them out of the oven and let them cool. Don't set them on top of the oven because it's hot up there and they'll keep cooking. But you can take your racks off and let them sit on those.

That's what I did. Let it cool this way for 20-30 minutes.

After 20ish minutes flip them over and let them finish cooling.

While they're cooling, make your icing. This is something we had to buy for my class. It's for the icing. It makes it more stiff. I think.

Once all the way cooled you can cut them with this cake leveler.

See the notches? You can adjust it to whatever height you need.

And look! It's perfect!

If you're giving your cake away you can put it on these cake circles. If not you can put it on a cake drum. I don't own a cake drum yet so I use these.

Wrap it in foil. You can also buy no-grease foil. I don't have no-grease foil.

Now that the cake is cooled and the icing is ready to go it's time to start decorating. Assemble your decorating bag and throw in some icing.

Make a "dam" around the border of the inside layer of your cake.

Ask your husband to pick up some pudding on his way home.

Put your snack packs into the middle of your dam.

Repeat for each layer.

And now you're ready to do the outside!

Start by watering down your icing so that it's very, very thin. Apply a "crum coat" to your cake and then put it into the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Then you can apply your main coat! My teacher suggested that you take all of your icing and dump it onto the top of your cake and then spread it around as needed. It worked very well! Keep in mind, this is my first cake. I'm not that good yet. But trust me, the next thing I'll be on the news for is cake decorating. After icing, let it sit in the fridge for 2 or more hours. I let mine stay in there overnight.

If you want your cake to be smoother boil your spatula. Once you take your cake out of the refrigerator you can run it over the icing to smooth out any imperfections. It didn't work very well on mine. My teacher said that was because "it's only to perfect minor imperfections". I guess my imperfections were too great. Jerk. Just kidding, I really like her. But she did say that. In front of the whole class. But I'm ok. I'm over it.

We were supposed to print out a picture and take it to class so that we could transfer that picture onto the cake. I forgot. I had to draw this last minute.

And look! Now it's on the cake!

I wish I could show you step by step pictures of this. It was all done in class and I was really in the zone. So, I didn't stop to take pictures.

I can tell you that it involved a magical thing called piping gel.

I tasted pretty good. Not great. I'm still working on making them pretty AND yummy.

It's ok, we still ate it.

Next week: cupcakes.

Welp, that's it. That's most of the cooking I've done in the past couple weeks. There were just a couple things I forgot to take pictures of: Hummus from Get Cooking and PW's Pico De Gallo. They were both delicious though. The hummus was the best hummus I've ever had in my entire life. I'm sorry I couldn't share that with you. And by share I mean in pictures over the computer. I wouldn't have actually shared it with you. It's too good. You can make your own, it's not that hard.

I didn't do so well on the updating everyday thing last week. Now I know that I don't want to update everyday. It stresses me out. I think I'll stick to the once a week thing. I like that better.

I'm going to go rest up for the big 2-1 tomorrow. I'll be thinking about you guys and I'll document every second of it. See you next week!