Sunday, May 26, 2013

An Early Spring Walk and a Sidewalk Poem

There are poems stamped into the sidewalk around my neighborhood. I've walked around the neighborhood dozens of times but somehow have never read the poem below. You can find more about the sidewalk poetry around Saint Paul here:

Here's what the poem below says:

"What hurt you today
was taken out of your heart
by the meadowlark
who slipped the silver needle
of her song
in and out of the grey day
and mended what was torn."

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Birthday Cake with Cinnamon Brown Butter Frosting

As I've mentioned, spring got a really late start around these parts (we are catching up in a hurry, though. I'll post some photos soon!) We celebrated one of my sister's birthday on May 5th and there was nary a leaf in site. The grass was still brown and sad. We had measurable snow only days before.

Anywho, I was determined to make a nice spring cake for our celebration. This party was somewhat hastily thrown together, though.  I made this "topper" by cutting pictures of flowers from magazines and gluing them to cardstock. I attached them to wooden skewers and stuck them in the cake to make a bouquet. Yes, jokes were made about lighting the flowers on fire. No, the flowers did not catch fire when we lit the candles (as I knew they would not. Take that, Ye Who Doubted Me)

The cake was a banana cake with cinnamon brown butter frosting. It is sprinkled liberally with toffee pieces (Skor, I think?). The banana cake recipe was okay but not great. You can use any banana bread or cake recipe that you like. The frosting was the real star here, though. The brown butter and cinnamon is a delicious combination

Cinnamon Brown Butter Frosting

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (no need to soften)
1/2 stick brown butter (directions below)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract

  1.  Brown the butter by melting in a pot or skillet. When the butter starts to have little brown flecks in it and a nutty smell, take it off the heat and pour it the bowl of a stand mixer or medium mixing bowl.
  2. Add butter to the mixing bowl and beat the two butters together  - slowly at first then faster as the cold butter starts to melt. Beat until the butter is very fluffy. You can't really overbeat it. You could go read a few pages of your book or spend the time cleaning up the kitchen a little. Don't go overboard, though - five minutes should definitely be enough time.
  3. Add about half the powdered sugar and mix on low until well combined.
  4. Now you can add the salt, cinnamon, vanilla extract and the other half of the powdered sugar. Start mixing on low (to prevent the dreaded Powdered Sugar Cloud of Mess) then turn mixer to medium to finish the frosting. It should be pretty fluffy.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Chocolate Cake with Fudgy Frosting and Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

For this cake, I used Betty Crocker's gluten-free chocolate cake mix. I had to work all day on Saturday and make this cake for Mother's Day on Sunday. I didn't have time to mess around so I used a mix. One of sisters is gluten-free and I wanted her to be able to partake but you could really use any chocolate cake mix (or from scratch, of course!)  

The stars of this cake are the fudgy frosting and the chocolate-covered strawberries. The key to making chocolate-covered strawberries (or any fruit) is to dry the berries thoroughly after washing. This is key - moisture is chocolate's enemy and will cause the chocolate to seize (become chunky and gross). Melting the chocolate in a double-boiler or in a bowl set over a pot of hot water works well for dipping. I melted some white chocolate chips in the microwave for drizzling. White chocolate chips scorch easily so it's important to heat in increments of 10-15 seconds and then stir to finish melting. 

 Easy Fudgy Frosting
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli)
1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

  1.  Melt chocolate chips over a hot water bath. You can use this chocolate to dip the strawberries.
  2. Combine melted chocolate, butter and salt in mixing bowl. Mix on low until butter is melted and combined.
  3. Add powdered sugar. Mix on low until combined then beat on high for a minute or so.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

MayDay Parade 2013

 Bearded man wearing a tutu? Check. Little dog wearing a tutu? Check. Dreads everywhere, tie-dyed everything, hacky-sack, tall bikes, and giant puppets and community activism at its best? Check, check, check, check, check, and major check.

The MayDay parade is always one big lovefest and this year was no exception. The Heart of the Beast Puppet Theatre holds workshops every year and the whole community gets together to create this amazing event. This year was the 39th year for the festival!

The weather cooperated (we had snow just two days prior!) and it was a beautiful day for a parade. I'm grateful to all the volunteers and people who work so hard to put this awesome event together every year.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Caturday - The Phantom Meow-ness

 May the Fourth be with you! It's Star Wars day so I bring you this special Caturday post. Originally, I thought there was something jedi-like about this picture of Simon. Now I'm thinking it's a little more Jabba the Hut, with all of the blanket folds. What do you think?