Saturday, October 20, 2007

Happy, Happy Birthday Baby

Being infinitely older than I, Mr. Man is 46 years old today. I love me some Robert and I love fussing over him. Glad you stuck around for all of this, sweetie.

A few of my favorite things
I feel very chatty today so you might want to make sure you ain't got nothin on the stove. I've had some bad health issues lately which I would prefer to not discuss on this happy day but if you'd send some non-specific, just-get-better-love it would help. Thanks. Feel better already.

I used to work in a laboratory. I loved the gadgets and precision. When I left the labs for good, I found I missed the whole follow a protocol, measure it, make it work kind of routine. Fortunately for me, by that time I had a kitchen so it was a natural to fire up the stove. Those of you who know what I look like can vouch for the fact that I must cook something well because I damn sure eat.

Baking is something pretty different to me; its awfully messy and persnickety. And because I'm accustomed to measuring things at the picoliter level, I just can't get all excited about the distinctions between level and heaping teaspoons. Whatever. Plus, most people bake for chocolate and I'm really not that chocolatey...surprise, I know. I'm not. Its not like I don't eat it or don't enjoy it but I'll always choose potato chips when I'm up for a treat. Anyway, baking. I never really liked cakes either, finding them to be a lot of form-over-substance hoo-ha and ... chocolate mostly.

Recently, on YarnStorm I discovered that's not really the case. There are some really tasty cakes in the world and many of them originate in the UK. So it is that I heartily recommend two books: Delia Smith's Book of Cakes is tremendous as is Susan Waggoner's Little Cakes: Classic Recipes for Every Occasion. I've baked happily from both of these books since the beginning of summer (including my own butterscotch/lemon cake for my bday...) and it is such a revelation to me that cake can be so good...

Plus, the gadgets
Yeah---toys! Rob's cake required several little gems. First, since many of these recipes are from the UK and they tend to give quaint little directions like "turn the over to gas mark..." and, "fold in 4 ounces of caster sugar", I finally bought a nice electronic kitchen scale. Its fab! You can even tare your container so there's little math, convert easily between metric and US standards. Lab rat heaven!

Second, a microplane. This is new and everything I hoped for. I've had a "zester" for years that really used to piss me off---it doesn't zest so much as produce small peels that have to be minced if you want real zest. For sixteen bucks, I've got all the lovely zest just a few scrapes away. Plus its cool.

The remaining gadgets pleasing me today (oooh...did I just say that?) are my citrus juicer (some people call them reamers but that's just too coarse) and a secondary use for an obsolete gadget: my stand-alone coffee grinder is great for grinding other herbs so today I used it to grind the almonds for Rob's cake. Nicely done! And I didn't have to drag out the mondo pain the butt food processor...

The cake
Much to my surprise, Rob chose an adaptation of a Greek traditional cake called ... um, sorry, don't recall. But many people just call it Greek Almond Orange cake. It is made with ground almonds and semolina (cream of wheat) as the dry components; egg and orange juice. Out of the oven, it is soaked in a citrus-y syrup and held overnight. At time of service, its supposed to be spread with room-temp clotted cream but this being NOT the UK, I've opted to spread it with a mix of Dream Whip and Cream Cheese. Possibly with some orange zest depending on how I feel. And then sprinkled with toasted almonds. I think its going to be FABULOUS. But I bought the boy a blueberry pie in case he doesn't like the cake; it doesn't sound like his cup of tea to me.....

Where my stitches at? I'm IN! I'm a beta-tester and boy is it great stuff. Ravelry is something like Library Thing meets MySpace on steroids, except that its primarily intended to help manage knitting and crocheting endeavors. Its also very much intended to support networking so once a user has started feeding information regarding projects in progress, completed, planned and yarns, patterns, books in the collection, there are loads of forums for people with common sensibilities, places for h elp, opportunities for swaps or selling off stuff you no longer want/need. The enterprise is being developed by a husband (programmer monkey) and wife (knitter). As I'm the 30,ooo-something beta tester, you get some idea of the scale. It is amazingly well done but still in development, lots of features on the burners.

I've seen some AMAZING projects there. I can't believe I do anything other than knit. but oh my god do I have too much yarn. Fortunately, Ravelry is full of people who offer context: one Raveler is just shy of 1,000 yarns in her stash. I'm nowhere near that. I hope.

Now playing: James Taylor - Enough To Be On Your Way
via FoxyTunes

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