Monday, December 31, 2012

Huge Birthday Meal

I painted this cake plate 16 years ago!

Sptting a layer.

If you have the time, It's super helpful to freeze the layers after you've split them. Less crumbs and way less movement.

Layers are of different thicknesses. It matters NOT.

A crumb-coat is a MUST.

The trick to super smooth icing?

A very hot and slightly damp spatula.

I didn't need a smooth top for this cake, but I took the photo so you can see how the heat and water really work for you.

CHILL THOROUGHLY before pouring warm ganache!

A little in the middle and all around the edge.

It's fun.

Ew. Gloppy.

I give it a few firm but gentle shakes. Yes, that means I pick the whole cake plate up and tap/whack it on the counter.

Decorated. Math-geek humor. 100011 is 35 in Binary

Mmmmm. It was delicious!

Traditional Sunday night dinner for Devin was birthday themed this time. Devin is 35....and I knew him as a 6th grader. Shit, I'm old! However, as per his request, I made Cincinnati-style chili and a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake.

I follow the chili recipe rather loosely, but the cake recipe to the letter. It's really pretty easy.

The chili reminds me of a Bob's Big Boy dish called a "chili size". I sometimes feel I'm the only one in the world who remembers this but there is proof...and look! I'm mistaken in the name, since this Bob's calls it "chili spaghetti", and the chili size is a burger. (sigh)
It's still a damn good meal.

Good old Bob's Big Boy. God, I miss it so much. To have a Big Boy Combo with blue cheese dressing....(drool). The remaining restaurants are not the same. It just tastes different.
As a teenager, I spent countless hours in Bob's. After rehearsals, before trips to LA, ditching first period with Eileen and having breakfast, sneaking over after hours and drawing a Hitler moustache on the Bob statue with an extra large Sharpie. Such good times.

For a while when our son Evan was younger, he looked like a red-headed Bob. I admit it was troublesome. But he outgrew it. Whew!

He just needed some overalls.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Mr. Sugar Comes to Town OR My Yearly Overload on Cookie Decorating

Yeah, yeah...I know. It happens every time. I swear I'm going to cut back and that I don't DO Christmas---bla, bla, bla. But here I am again, knee deep in powdered sugar and suffering from carpal tunnel from squeezing pastry bags. However! These are the nicest cookies I've ever made and I have to chalk that up to Pinterest. What an amazing source of inspiration. 
All the fun of a gingerbread house...a fraction of the work.

My daughter Madeleine made this one. She's got talent!

I love the wood-grain on the door, but the windows didn't turn out as well.

Oh. And this one. By Fiona. I'm pretty sure she's not so much inept as she is sugar crazy.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Tree-less-Tree Rides Again

It's up and here again!


Here's the story: (a post from last year)

And new photos from this year! And they're all out of focus! I suck!

I even had enough left over to make a tree for outside. It is a masterpiece of string and PVC.
So, how did I do this amazing feat of engineering? I laid out my rabbit fencing...

...used a string to be my cutting guide...

...(so cheap I was, I didn't even bother to cut the string--just secured it and tucked the roll under)...Then I convinced my handsome house boy to make the cuts, 'cause after about 14 my hands were shot. I ran some gray yarn along the sides just to give it some shape and tidy up the cut ends. Then was time to decorate.
In our house, most anything qualifies as a Christmas ornament.  Here is a Native American Wappo indian from Maddy's 3rd grade village project. Fiona was remarking on how perfect it was and expressed her disbelief that 8 yr. old Madeleine could have made such a thing...

...I said "Duh! Haven't you ever worked on a school project with me before???

Fiona's pre-school Easter craft? All it needs is string and a hook.
One Thanksgiving my MIL made Native American paper dolls of Maddy and Evan. Saved those puppies just for this.

Trinkets from travels...

My baby teething ring. Oh the 60's!

Photo of Sean and Santa '66 and a koala from our year in Australia '95.

Each child has a set of baby socks hanging up.

Lots of these photo frames that I painted.

Kindergarten macaroni is mandatory.

And there you have it: The tree-less-tree. I love it so much.