Smells Like S'mores

Thursday, December 31, 2009

When a four-plex built in 1960 burns down it smells like s'mores. Sort of.

As I watched the roof of my apartment burn down with my neighbors it was one of the random thought that sparked in my head. The smell of burning asbestos (which, until now, I didn't know I had) and other, 50 year old, outdated building materials smelled familiar. It was hard to see the flames, my eyes were raw and sore, partly from tears but mostly from smoke. Yet as I watched the fire devour the roof it just uttered out the thought, "It smells like s'mores."

I was told later from one of the firemen that some of the old materials actually had some of the same sugars in their chemical compounds that marshmallows do (there's a pleasant thought). So when a marshmallow catches fire over the smoke of a wood campfire that scorching, charcoal, sweet smell is quite similar to the odor of natural destruction and chaos ravaging your life.


There were actually two fires that night. The first one was around 9 p.m. I was working on my thesis and BF was getting killed again playing Uncharted 2 on the new Playstation 3. Suddenly smoke poured in through the vent above the stove and the room immediately filled with a choking grey haze. People outside began yelling, pounding on doors, and screaming one word: fire.

As we gathered up the most important things - and it is surprisingly easy to figure out what those are when you have minutes to get the fuck out of a burning building; cats, computer, valuable document box - I could feel the smoke in my lungs. It burned and tasted like the chemicals used to sanitize a hospital, you could tell from the way it swirled and grabbed at your eyes and tear ducts that it was toxic.

After the fire department put everything out they deemed it was safe to go in. We had no power or gas, and the kitchen had flooded due to the copper pipes in the wall melting, but we were safe and, honestly, I felt more comfortable keeping my things from potential opportunistic vandals and thieves who might prey on an unihabited building safe by staying there.

BF and I picked up some water and flashlights, came back, and went to bed.

At 2 a.m. I woke up to the cats meowing and the now familiar toxic smell.

"Oh my God, is the fire going again?" There was a fog in the bedroom and I walked to the bathroom where there had been a tiny bit of fire damage from before. Between the lack of sleep, my general haze from waking up and the physical haze I was walking through I forgot all the fire preparedness lessons I learned in grade school. I didn't crawl on my hands and I didn't check the doorknob to the bathroom.

Describing fire as an animal may be cliche', but it's accurate. When I opened the bathroom door smoke belched out, washed over me and the entire upstairs, and then fell down the stairs into the living room like a lugubrious poltergeist bent on destruction.

The entire bathroom was on fire. The flames licked around the medicine cabinet before it fell from its place on the wall, the fire now exposing the rest of its hellish body made of twisted, curling flares. The heat blasted me backwards a bit, a miniture backdraft slamming me into the wall. My head crashed into the mirror behind me cracking it and leaving a small bruise. The fire roared. My god, it's a sound you can't forget. A dark and frightful voice bellowing as it devoured, ate, and consumed. A beast fueled by wood, brick, and schadenfreude. It would have the walls, it would have the bathroom, and given the chance it would have me.

"The fire's back! Get the stuff again and RUN!!!" I slammed the door behind me in an attempt to trap it the fire and smoke and, hopefully, slow it down. As BF and I attempted to dress in the dark and smoke we called the cats. We shoved them into a single carrier, grabbed the important things and ran out.

We looked up and saw the entire roof was on fire. My neighbors were all escaping themselves and onlookers gazed in horror as the firefighters came once again to put out the reflash that had taken over the building.


It's two days later. My roommate is back from San Diego and he and I are living with Elise at the moment who has kindly put us up.

The apartment is a charred out husk now. All ash, smoke, and debris. Due to the toxicity of the building materials we have been advised to only go in for a few minutes at a time as the air is unsafe to breathe.

I just met with the claims adjuster to talk about the damage. (I had renter's insurance, I highly suggest it if you rent and don't have it). All soft goods, i.e. furniture, clothes, mattresses, are totaled. Electronics are totaled. Bathroom is totaled. All food not in the fridge is totaled - either contaminated by smoke, asbestos, or they were boiled or burnt in their own canisters when the fire tore through the kitchen. Pots and plates survived. Due to my insurance everything of mine will be covered. Roommate did not have insurance, so for him not so much. Cookbooks and regular books and school books all survived and will be cleaned through some sort of ozone technology, so yay. Artwork survived as well.

I spent yesterday apartment hunting and just turned in an application. I have to, however, have the cats checked out at the vet as it has been a while since they had their shots or a check up and apartments seem anal about that now.

I'm in Borders using their free wifi and drinking a mocha - right now I survive on caffeine and sugar - and am writing all this out because if I don't I'm pretty sure I'm going to scream and punch a wall out of incoherent rage until my knuckles bleed.

"It could have been a lot worse." It could have. I actually broke down laughing when I walked in the apartment today because, holy crap, it's funny just how totally screwed you can become so quickly. However, I'm tired of hearing "It could have been worse." That's true, but the whole thing still fucking sucks. It fucking sucks a lot.

However, it could have been worse. Thing will get replaced. The cats will see a vet. I have a great support network of family, friends, and bloggers. I will be in Mexico next week with a lot of my blogging buds (I really need the vacation more than ever). No one was hurt, though my lungs hurt a bit and I still smell like smoke after two showers.

It will all work out. It always does.

And sweet, tap dancing, mother-fucking Christ, I never, ever want to eat, see, or smell a s'more ever again.

For the Modern Woman of 1965

Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Here's how the woman in a hurry will be enabled to plan her time and food resources to meet her increasing tasks expected of her and still give herself and her family all the necessary variety and attractive service modern mealtime demands." -The Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook (pg. 900)

Not so much a cookbook, but a resource guide for the modern American woman. One who is new to the kitchen and is suddenly faced with cooking for herself as a single career woman or, most likely as the book expects, a new wife and mother. Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook by Ruth Berolzheimer is by and far one the pinnacle cookbooks of the 1960's and 70's.

Published in 1965, CAIEC was intended to be "familiar, friendly, and exhilarating" and "provide sound knowledge of what a homemaker needs for herself and her family." The cookbook covers everything; from menu planning, to packing school lunches, to tables settings, and even has charts on the cuts of veal and squirrel.

Oh yes, squirrel.

While chicken, beef and pork are covered at length you will find no end to the number of American sourced meats such as opossum and reindeer and how to prepare every single organ in each and every critter that runs on the American plains. Tongue and cabbage salad? Done. You want calf brain fritters? You got it. Spinach rolled sweetbread? Why not?!

The modern American woman, of course, is one who is at least fourth-generation American (not an immigrant), white (no, white immigrants don't count unless you're maybe English), and middle class. A new generation without servants to prepare their food, a critical aspect of the cookbook as if you look in cookbooks older than this servants are a topic that are usually addressed. However, once or twice the topic of "if you have a servant" is addressed in CAIEC and it provides useful tips of how to put them to work in assisting you for cooking for that night's stylish cocktail party.

This cookbook is a product of the times, as referenced by these notes and others indicators such as the prevalence of jelled salads and the reference to "mechanical refrigerators" and "the recent discovery of vitamins." Still, this book gives Joy of Cooking a run for its money and addresses things that the 1960 edition of Joy didn't such as shopping lists, addressing what foods are high in certain nutrients like phosphorous and copper (in case you need more phosphorous in your diet).

However, one of the best little discoveries in this book are my grandmother's notes. Recipes that have been tried and crossed out, or others that have been edited with substitutions. As Ojai Grandma was a world traveler she begins to edit the book to make dishes more exotic in a time when curry powder and pizza were new and radical foods. In fact, the addition of ingredients like soy sauce, bonito, and chipotle peppers are noted here and there. Where a modern woman in 1965 procures these at the time rare, if not wholly unknown, ingredients in the middle of rural and cutoff Ojai, California is beyond me, but she was a resourceful girl apparently.

This is particularly noteworthy as the book focuses solely on classic Americana cuisine. You won't find tacos, chop suey, lasagna, or coq au vin. While I didn't find the lack of Thai curries surprising the intentional choice to disregard classic European dishes, especially French, that American cooks looked up to as the definition of refined cuisine, a culinary God to which virgins should be sacrificed, is surprising. The book is intent of keeping things American with a few choice exceptions such as a basic consommé or sauerkraut. This means praline ice cream, salsify patties, jelled lime and avocado salad, and raised cornmeal griddlecakes.

After checking with mom if I could steal the book away from the dusty shelves in her library I now have the book at home with me and plan to start cooking from this and exploring some of the book's particular quirks and chapters on the blog.

This will be a little mini-series exploring what was expected of a modern homemaker in 1965. One that, hopefully, will result in some great recipes and some insight into the home cook of America's past.

Note: Click here to see the photos in an album rather than a slideshow.

Menu for Hope 6 Update

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Menu for Hope raffle continues until the 31st! We've already raised over $53,000 help us make it in the final stretch to $55,000 (Or even $60,000? Can it be done!?). Bid on the Beanilla bid item and win a vanilla package that will make you the envy of every cook and chef you know.

A basket containing:
1 x 25 - Madagascar Vanilla Beans
1 x 25 - Tahitian Vanilla Beans
1 x 25 - Bourbon Vanilla Beans
1 x 25 - Mexican Vanilla Beans
1 x 25 - Organic Indonesian Vanilla Beans
1 x 25 - Indian Vanilla Beans
1 x 25 - Tongan Vanilla Beans
1 x Bourbon-Madagascar 3-Fold Vanilla Paste, 1 oz.
1 x Tahtian 3-Fold Vanilla Paste, 1 oz.
1 x Tahitian Vanilla Fleur de Sel, 2 oz.
1 x Tahitian Vanilla Organic Cane Sugar, 6 oz.
1 x Organic Indonesian Ground Vanilla, 1/2 oz.
1 x 2-Fold Madagascar Vanilla Extract, 4 oz.

How awesome is that?

The bid item code for the Vanilla Garlic vanilla package donated by Beanilla is UW13. There are no shipping restrictions, so you can bid no matter where you are.

You can see a complete list of hosts for the many different bid items and other bits of info about Menu for Hope at Chez Pim. Check back on Chez Pim and here on Monday, January 18 for the results of the raffle.

To see more information about Menu for Hope click here or go to Firstgiving and begin your bidding!

"The Twice Baked Christmas" A Holiday Nursery Rhyme

Thursday, December 24, 2009

-A little annual Christmas tradition on Vanilla Garlic. Happy Holidays everyone!-
"The Twice Baked Christmas"Sitting down on the couch while reading a book
I enjoyed a moment of silence, something I had forsook.
Earlier that day I had been baking all kinds of bread,
For this Christmas I had dozens who had to be fed.

There were crumpets and muffins, with berries by the pound.
Croissants and cupcakes where the frosting did mound.
The challah was braided, the sticky buns rolled,
All wrapped up so pretty it could have been sold.

The last batch of cookies were cooling on racks,
The kitchen been cleaned, the trash all in sacks.
When from my sweet reading I heard noise! Such a clamour!
It sounded like the plates were being smashed with a hammer!

I ran to the kitchen to see what had caused racket this hour
When there was a black cat all covered in flour.
The cookies all eaten, the crumbs on his face,
He was so full and so fat he could not move a pace.

The wrapping paper shredded, the goods all devoured,
The cat he then saw me and thus he so cowered.
He then took off like a bolt, a dark streak of light.
I could not have caught him, it was pointless to fight.

I called out, "Kitty-kat, what have you done!
This food was for family and friends, every bun!
They cannot eat nothing, it's Christmas today!
They all will be hungry, this sad holiday."

He then sulked on in, the fatty feline,
He felt guilty for eating all that had taken such time.
Meowing, "I am so sorry, I couldn't resist.
It all smelled so tempting, tastes I couldn't have missed!"

"Please let me help make all the pastries again,
Together we'll bake up a hundred times ten!"
I agreed and accepted his apology
And so we began our late-baking spree.

The next morning we finished, the flour all spent
The eggs had been cracked, the sugar had went.
But that Christmas day, the bread was all gifted
Bellies were full! Spirits were lifted!

And so that here ends a near holiday disaster,
A good thing, it couldn't have been solved any faster.
And so from the two of us, we hope you do take
A lesson which is this: Watch everything that you bake.

Happy Holidays from Garrett and Eat Beast!
Picture by Janelle Persinger

Kumquat Mojito in 82 December

Sunday, December 20, 2009

-Rum+Kumquats+Orange+Mint=Very Merry Christmas-

Southern California winters are vastly different from Northern California winters, or indeed any other winter in the world. The leaves on the trees don't change color, but rather retain their verdant foliage. Defiantly, they dance in the balmy wind making laughing sounds as they flutter into one another. "Ha ha, Earth! Ha ha, Sun! Take your solstice and shove it!" they cry.

BF and I actually stripped down to t-shirts, jeans, and flip-flops to walk Faith, my mother's dog, a spirited and well-behaved Weimaraner whose only real fault is being unable to comprehend that, no, the cats do not want to be your friend. The sun was high and bright, blinding you like the light over the dentist's chair. A breezy wind was always at our backs gently pushing us along to see as much of this Mid-Winter Spring as we could. It was 79 degrees outside.

82 Fahrenheit. December 20th.

I'll let this sink in for a bit.

Seriously, So Cal has plenty of issues, but the weather is not one of them. I wish I could pack the sunshine and verdant air into my luggage and bring it back with me. Growing up here made me a total wuss to any other weather which causes me to expire and complain in whiny pitches so high only animals can hear me bitch with contempt, "Sweet Rum Sucking Christ, it's too damn hot/cold." Having recently escaped the snow inducing temperatures of Nor Cal it's good to be back in my native system where my body can rejuvenate.

This land of eternal sun puts you in a Summer mindset. I'm ready to bust out the BBQ (indeed, we'll be throwing some flank steak on the grill for Christmas dinner) and I have a hunger for freshly churned custard heavy ice cream, and the sensation of having a plum's juice trickle down my arm and ripple off my elbow after taking a generous bite. Sadly, the produce isn't quite as agreeable and willfully follows the tilt of the earth.

-Little capsules of Spring spring up surprisingly early in Orange County.-

Still, citrus is abundant here and the warm weather has allowed my mother's mint plant to thrive like a small invading army ready to conquer the yard. I found a fresh supply of kumquats - though I was reticent to pay for them as I'm so used to getting them for free from my tree - and decided a refreshing mojito would be the perfect drink to go along with reading in a patio chair outside.

Simple, easy, light. A perfect, citrusy-tart sweet drink in the middle of Winter. Or faux-Spring. Whatever it is for you.

-Why is all the rum gone? Because I drank a bunch of these mojitos.-

Kumquat Mojito
4 kumquats, sliced
juice of half of an orange
4 mint leaves, torn
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 ounces white rum
2 ounces of club soda
crushed ice
slice of kumquat and sprig of mint for garnish (optional)

1. Put the kumquats, orange juice, mint leaves, and sugar into a glass and muddle them.

2. Add the rum, soda, and ice and stir. Serve.

-Why do I not do more drinks or cocktails on this blog? Because I drink faster than I take pictures.-

Maple Sweet Potato Cake

Thursday, December 17, 2009

-Sweet potatoes and maple syrup make for a delightfully seasonal and simple cake during the winter.-

It’s quiet outside. The cold seems to have settled and decided to chill everyone into what seems to be a predestined order. Everyone walks quickly, with precision, moving to a singular point of destination and with every step only takes up as much space and energy as needed making the brisk space outside more vast, more empty. A winter void of sorts that sits in perfect control of all things.

We don’t really have this sort of winter here in Sacramento. There’s chilly air that smells, even tastes, like Tahoe air; air that inexplicably will bring ice in the middle of the night. Days where you wake up icy-blue skies that leave no evidence that there were clouds except for the snow on the ground. The air is so crisp you could bite into into it like an apple and expect it to have the same juicy snap.

Oh yes, the snow. We don’t get snow in Sacramento. Until, suddenly, we do.

It snowed in Davis once, nine years ago, back when I was new to Northern California. I was living in the dorms and suddenly people were pounding on my door telling me to wake up at 5 a.m. After some obligatory swearing I looked outside to see nothing but white. Minutes later I was in my best winter clothes (a heavy sweater and jeans as I had no snow gear, why would I?) and was outside making snow angles and stocking up snow balls that I would use to rouse the people still in bed who refused to come out and play. Still, it was only an inch and by 8 a.m. it was well on the way to melted.

This recent snow has piled high. Frozen pipes. Knocked down power lines. Closed schools to the overwhelming joy of children only for them to learn what shoveling the walk really means. (Lucky for me I avoided this lesson growing up near the beach.) Five miles away people are trapped indoors. My neighborhood has a bit of frozen water on the sidewalk. The worst I’ve suffered is waiting ten minutes for the frozen water to thaw off my windshield and a sore ass after taking a dive on some black ice in the parking lot at work.

Still, this cold, this chill so uncharacteristic to Sacramento, a white phantom descending onto the town overnight, is taking a toll. I was raised in Southern California. I’m not used to 26 degrees Fahrenheit. (I can hear many readers scoffing at 26F.) I’m inside and bundled and baking for warmth, both inside and outside. One thing to say for my ancient oven, it heats the place but nicely. What comes out of it though is even better, for with heat comes the sweet smell of cake.

I decided to bake up a simple loaf cake using whatever I had sitting around which, admittedly, wasn't much. I found some leftover sweet potatoes that had been roasted and pureed the night before and decided to base the cake off this. Winter vegetables for a winter cake to battle the winter cold; a reasonable start to a reasonable cake. Staying within the season I decided to toss in a heap of maple syrup to add some richness and sweetness.

The resulting cake is sweet, sticky, and dense. A rich maple colored body with a self-lacquered crust. Cake that's delightful when smeared with butter and served with over-steeped black tea. While delicious when warm out of the oven, the flavors develop the longer it sits making it better the next day.

-For those maple fiends out there, this cake is your new drug of choice.-

Maple Sweet Potato Cake
This cake is easy to throw together, especially if you have a can of sweet potato puree. Use Grade B maple syrup if you can as its flavor is much stronger. A dark Grade A will work in a pinch as well.

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of pureed sweet potatoes
1/2 cup of olive oil
2 eggs
1/4 cup of maple syrup (Grade B, preferably)
1 tablespoon of water

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan by spraying it with baking spray or lightly buttering and flouring it.

2. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and sugars. Set aside.

3. Whisk together the sweet potatoe puree, olive oil, eggs, maple syrup, and water. Mix in the flour mixture.

4. Pour into the prepared baking pan and bake for 60 minutes or until a cake tester comes out of the center clean. Turn out of pan and cool on a wire rack.

-When the air is cold and crisp, this bread is warm and soft.-

Menu for Hope 6 - The Most Vanilla Bid Item There Is

Monday, December 14, 2009

Yes, it's time again for Menu for Hope, the biggest and most important food blogger event that's held every year and spearheaded by the truly delightful, and even quite noble, Pim Techamuanvivit. This campaign raises money, almost a quarter of a million dollars over the last few years, to support the good work of the UN World Food Programme (WFP). WFP is the world’s largest food aid agency, working with over 1,000 other organizations in over 75 countries. In addition to providing food, the World Food Program helps hungry people to become self-reliant so that they escape hunger for good.

This year, we are supporting a new initiative at the WFP called Purchase for Progress (P4P). P4P enables smallholder and low-income farmers to supply food to WFP’s global operation. P4P helps farmers improves farming practices and puts more cash directly into their pockets in return for their crops. This will also help buoy local economies by creating jobs and incomes locally. We food bloggers understand the importance of buying locally and supporting our local farms, P4P helps do the same for farmers in low income countries around the world. More on P4P can be found at

What food bloggers do is offer up a dazzling and delectable array of food-related bid items for the Menu for Hope raffle. People (this means you) buy raffle tickets to win them. They can range from signed cookbooks to meals at the most prestigious and famous resturants, to rare food and cooking equipment. For every $10 donated, you earn one virtual raffle ticket to bid on a bid item of your choice. A pretty sweet deal considering the worth of the items you're bidding for. At the end of the two-week campaign, the raffle tickets are drawn and the results announced on Chez Pim.

The campaign takes place from December 14 through Christmas. A perfect amount of time for you to drool over the various bid items we're offering and make your bids (maybe a Christmas gift for yourself?).

Now, We know our readers trust us, but we also want to be completely transparent in our fundraising. So, we use a very good online fundraising company called FirstGiving, who has worked with us since the first Menu for Hope years ago. FirstGiving collects and processes the payments and, at the end of the campaign, transfers the donations in one lump sum to the WFP. The bloggers don't touch the money and WFP benefits from the money raised getting one huge lump sum that they can distribute amongst farmers in need.

By now you're probably wondering what sort of bid item Vanilla Garlic is hosting. If you're a regular reader then you know by now that when I describe something as "vanilla" I don't mean it to be boring. Vanilla is no Plain Jane playing some game alone in the corner. No, here "Vanilla" refers to the fantastic, flavorful, and intriguing. If I describe something as vanilla, it deserves all of your attention because, damn it, it's vanilla!

Thus, I present what I consider to be one, if not the, most vanilla bid item during this year's Menu for Hope. I dropped a line over to my buddies at Beanilla, one of the top vanilla bean companies in the world, and they were all over the idea of donating something for Menu for Hope. Together we've put together a vanilla package of the likes you've never seen.

A basket containing:
1 x 25 - Madagascar Vanilla Beans
1 x 25 - Tahitian Vanilla Beans
1 x 25 - Bourbon Vanilla Beans
1 x 25 - Mexican Vanilla Beans
1 x 25 - Organic Indonesian Vanilla Beans
1 x 25 - Indian Vanilla Beans
1 x 25 - Tongan Vanilla Beans
1 x Bourbon-Madagascar 3-Fold Vanilla Paste, 1 oz.
1 x Tahtian 3-Fold Vanilla Paste, 1 oz.
1 x Tahitian Vanilla Fleur de Sel, 2 oz.
1 x Tahitian Vanilla Organic Cane Sugar, 6 oz.
1 x Organic Indonesian Ground Vanilla, 1/2 oz.
1 x 2-Fold Madagascar Vanilla Extract, 4 oz.

Oh yes, that's 175 vanilla beans of 7 different varieties. Some super intense vanilla pastes which are, in my opinion, wonderful in baking where you need vanilla to really kick any other flavor's butt. Vanilla Fleur de Sel is a sea salt scraped from rocks off the coast of Brittany, France and combined with premium ground vanilla beans. Sprinkle this onto some brownies or rub into meats for an intriguing new savory vanilla taste. Vanilla sugar makes for perfect cookies imbuing them with intense aromatic vanilla tastes. You can use ground vanilla for spice rubs, teas, or any other creative culinary concoction that needs that sweet orchid scent.

Enough vanilla to last you a lifetime. Can I get a "Hell, yes,"?

You know you want your vanilla fix. If you're here, you're a bean junky like me. So do yourself a favor and bid. You'll have a shot at the ultimate vanilla package, plus many other awesome items hosted by the many other phenomenal food blogs. But, more importantly, you'll be encouraging local procurement and help low-income farmers produce food for the people who need it most. This is your chance to help feed others, improve local economies that need it most, encourage agricultural productivity in striving regions, and help solve the root causes of hunger in the world. Take a moment this holiday season and give back to those in the food world who need a little extra help.

The bid item code for the Vanilla Garlic vanilla package donated by Beanilla is UW13. There are no shipping restrictions, so you can bid no matter where you are.

To Donate and Enter the Menu for Hope Raffle

Here's what you need to do:

1. Choose a bid item or bid items of your choice from our Menu for Hope main bid item list.

2. Go to the donation site at Firstgiving and make a donation.

3. Please specify which bid item you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per bid item, and please use the bid item code.
Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a bid item of your choice. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02 - 2xEU01, 3xEU02.

4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.

5. Please check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

You can see a complete list of hosts for the many different bid items and other bits of info about Menu for Hope at Chez Pim. Check back on Chez Pim and here on Monday, January 18 for the results of the raffle.

Happy holidays everyone!

My Cop Out Cookie Post

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Finals week. I'm sitting at home putting together an argument for why I believe it's important to instruct in rhetorical grammar in the classroom. If not that, then I'm writing about the development of practical literary pedagogies for the classroom. If not that, I'm reading up on my Foucault for my thesis. If not that, I'm sleeping. Thus, no time to cook or blog.

As such, I'm sending you over to Simply Recipes where you can find some of my other stuff which is totally all super awesome for the holidays because 1) cookies = Christmas, and 2) baking cookies warms your place and makes it smell all tasty-like.

For example, you could be eating these mapletastic maple cookies:

If you want to break outside the mold you could nibble on some chocolate peppermint bark cookies:

If you want something a bit brighter then try these orange poppy seed cookies:

You'll find a total list of my cookie and other recipes at Simply Recipes here. You can also find a list of cookie recipes on Vanilla Garlic by clicking here. Hope you enjoy, and happy baking.

Photos by Elise Bauer.

Chocolate Lime Madeleines (aka: I'm Pissed Off)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

-Chocolate lime madeleines are a great way to work off the edge. Vodka works too.-

"No. I'm not okay. I'm cranky and I'm just a short push away from pissed off."

At this point it was best for BF and the rest of humanity to just leave me the hell alone. It's rare for me to brood. I obsess like a crazy person. One of the best obsessors you'll ever meet. I'm able to hamper, hover, worry, and fret to the point where I nervously pace at such a speed that I might actually spin the world under my feet and turn back time via the first Superman movie. Cranky, however, is something I rarely do as I'm usually able to stay somewhat level headed, and while I may worry at the drop of the hat it takes a lot for me to become upset.

Pissed off is simply a rare personal phenomenon. My personal aurora borealis but with more punching the wall and less pretty light.

Today was one of those occasions where somehow the stars had aligned and pulled at my personal poles. My emotional tides were high. My chakrahs misaligned and directing my energy through negative channels. I was ready to scream out in frustration. Smack a pillow. And at any moment I might simply snap at someone and verbally eviscerate them to the point that I would frolic in their blood and ichors. Or choke a bitch. Either way, someone would have to die.

There's plenty to blame my mood on. The pressure of finals. The stress of thesis deadlines approaching like quicksilver down a greased up, supersonic water slide. The annoyance of having to brave Walmart and Target (Pandaemonium and Hell, respectively) in an attempt to price shop for a new television to replace the ancient tube device that finally kicked it after 6 years. Top that off with general work stress and the panic of preparing for vacations and holidays and, yes, it's enough to get me riled up a bit.

It's times like these I need to work my anger out in the kitchen. I've had this recipe sort of sitting at the bottom of my to-do list for some time. Chocolate and lime are, in my opinion, a highly underrated combination. Fruity, dark, and a bit salty from the lime it seems to mingle well with bitter chocolate with a high cacao percentage.

Bitter chocolate to match a bitter mood.

Did it alleviate my stress? Not entirely. Only time and finishing up a few of my current commitments will do that. However, something to snack into takes the edge off, which, sometimes, is all you can really ask for.

-Not pictured: My seething rage.-

Chocolate Lime Madeleines
Makes 12 madeleines (one tray)

6 tablespoons of butter, plus extra to grease the pan
3 ounces of chocolate, 70% cacao
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of one lime
2 large eggs
1/3 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of flour, sifted
pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Use some butter to generously grease the madeline pan.

2. Place the butter and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and melt in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until completely melted and incorporated. Stir in the lime zest.

3. Whisk the sugar, vanilla, and eggs together until thick and the batter falls off the whisk in a long, thick ribbon that is slow to dissolve. About 5 minutes.

4. Beat in the flour and salt.

5. Fold in the chocolate mixture.

6. Spoon or pipe into the madeleine tray slots. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Remove from the tray and cool on a wire rack.

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