It’s that time of year again, you guys; Memorial Day, the start of summer, Vin’s birthday, a.k.a. the making of the most awesome cake of the year!!! Vin really is the best. He’s worked so hard to get in shape and become healthy, his food critique brand is really taking off, he’s always always thinking of me, and even after five years of marriage we’re still goofy and mushy and hold hands wherever we go. (And that’s NOT just because I’m clumsy and will probably trip on myself if I’m wearing heels.) I really love being with this guy, and one of the few things better than hanging out with my husband is enjoying delicious tasty food with Vin.
Seriously, this is all cake and sweetness (except for the bowl and chopsticks)
As you may know, he is Mr. Johnny Prime, steak connoisseur. However, his reviews have expanded to include all really good food and great restaurants in general. Given that this past winter was so brutal and long, we were on a ramen and noodle soup kick, and nothing can warm your cold bones better than some delicious hearty soup! Of course this gave me the idea MONTHS ago to make Vin a ramen cake for this year’s birthday, but according to him, he TOLD me he wanted a ramen cake. Details, details. Haha So I started planning out his ramen cake… Continue reading “Otanjoubi omedetou! (Ramen birthday cake)”
“Did you think I’d forgotten you?”– Frank Underwood. Man, I love that show.
I hadn’t baked anything in 2 months and things had just gone to shit. Busy @ work, busy with other stuff, turning into a blob… I was so stressed and had sunken to new lows, eating chocolate (namely KitKats), cookies, Starbucks pastries and fries to quell the panic and busyness, and I even succumbed to eating… dun dun DUNNNNN Entenmann’s raspberry Danish. I sh*t you not. The 50% off price tag at the supermarket pushed me over the edge. The nutritional value alone made me feel like I’m a guilty shameful druggie with a deep dark food binge secret. This was extra bad b/c Vin has been eating super healthy for the past 2 months!
The holidays and my birthday kind of just mesh into this blob of a season that is both fun and stressful. I’ve given up baking something for myself for my birthday (it’s quite silly b/c I probably wouldn’t eat any of it), but sometimes I just feel like I HAVE to bake something.
That something ended up being cream puffs. And for two weekends in a row I churned out loads of cream puffs. They’re so simple and yet so pleasing and they became my go-to item for January celebrations. I think I kept making them mostly b/c I liked hearing ppl say, “Ooooh, these are so good!” and I liked replying, “Oh, these things? They were SUPER easy to make. I just whipped them up really quick,” and then getting that “….” look in response. I guess it was like the equivalent of when chicks are like, “OMG you look fabulous? What’s your secret?” and the woman in question answers with, “Oh, nothing really. I don’t work out and I just eat what I want,” and your expression just says “Bitch!” hahaha Hey man, it was for my birthday. I’M bringing in homemade pastries for MY birthday. I had an excuse to be a bit of a d*ck. =)
Anyway, the first cream puffisode (I just invented that word!) was for my family’s after-Christmas Christmas party. We never celebrate holidays on the actual day b/c my mom’s fam is so huge and it solves the problem of who’s family we’re seeing for which holiday (seriously, our in-laws don’t know how good they have it =) and per usual, I didn’t have a lot of time to bake, so I decided to whip up cream puffs.
Right after I won a prestigious NY news behemoth’s holiday party (and still wondering if it’s a conflict of interest since I work @ ANOTHER famous and notable NY-based news media organization), I had to bake for my company’s finance department holiday party. Since I was really busy trying to wrap up year-end testing, I just planned on whipping up simple bite-sized eggnog cupcakes the night before the event and figured it would be quick and easy and get me off the hook for dessert. (I had threatened to go buy Chips Ahoy! cookies since I heard, “Oh, you should bring in a big [holiday themed item] made of cake for the Finance party!” 2345 times and I could refrain from blinking/staring/pointing @ the occupational hazard of dark bags under my eyes only so many times.)
HOWEVER… my friend A in the newsroom (a super talented pastry chef whose baked good photos should be in “Food & Wine”) told me about the annual dessert contest that happened to ALSO be the same day as the finance holiday party (it’s open to everyone at the company but the participants tend to be from News/Marketing/Sales). At first I was like, “Whhhaaaaaaaa???!!! Why didn’t you tell me sooner? It’s less than 2 days before the contest! OH MY GOD WHAT AM I GOING TO MAKE I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME AAGGGGHHHH!!!” But after a brainstorming session with my esteemed baking buddy, I narrowed it down to a few ideas and thought maybe… just maybe, I can pull something off…
One of my uncles contacted me about a month ago to ask if I could help him with a food contest. My ears immediately perked up, keen with interest. He was participating in his company’s holiday potluck, and this year’s theme happened to be international countries and related movie themes. (I should disclose that he happens to work @ a reputable, massive, NYC-based news institution that has been around since 1851, also known as “The Grey Lady.” You’re not a true NYer if you haven’t figured out which newspaper it is by now.) My uncle happened to pick Morgan Spurlock’s eye-opening and artery clogging documentary “Super Size Me,” which of course could only be conceived by someone in good ol’ US of A. I was like, “Sure, Uncle S… I’m totally down to help, but AM I allowed to help? Are you allowed to buy things or have someone make the food for you?” As soon as he said it was fine, I told him about the awesome idea that instantly popped into my head.
Before I continue, let’s address how it’s pretty obvious where my slightly competitive/creative nature comes from: my mom’s family. My uncles constantly try to beat each other in tennis every chance they get, especially at family gatherings meant for hanging out and eating food. My aunts are incredibly skilled musicians and everyone, and I mean EVERYONE is talented and artistic, and on top of that, lightning wit and pure sarcasm pulses through our veins. We won’t just tell you about it; we just smother you with our amazingness and charm, and constantly complain about how we’re always winning. I believe the term “humblebrag” comes to mind. Hahaha (Seriously, I think my family is the best and I love them dearly <3) Surely, my uncle didn’t want to just participate in this holiday food competition; he wanted to show off and win. He didn’t need to tell me he wanted to beat his coworkers, or why else would he enlist my help? And I refuse to show anything off unless it’s pure awesomeness, so it was like, “Duh… we’re totally going to kill it.” =)
Oh God. I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud, but the following post documents my attempt at baking low cholesterol, high protein, non-dairy and *gasp* gluten free/low carb cupcakes. Even the thought goes entirely against my principles. (Disclosure: Due to my own health issues, I am technically not supposed to eat a lot of the sweet goodies that come out of my kitchen, but I make them anyway using flour, sugar, fat, eggs and milk, just the way my grandma bakes as a proper old school baker should.) The only reason I’m not vomiting in my mouth as I type this is because… apparently I’m a sorceress and I did not just spend the day creating a cardboard-styrofoam hybrid in my oven. My experiment actually tasted… good.
I take back all the times I thought I was busy. I’ve been in beast mode working late every day for the past couple months and bringing home work on weekends. A lot of people have been asking to place orders, and I feel so bummed out I have to decline due to the fact that I f*cking need sleep. Any baking I do has to be carefully planned in advance and done given 3 hours of shut-eye. My little baby cousin’s birthday was coming up, and since I didn’t get to see this little sweetie and her crazy awesome bro last month at our family get-together, I was determined to bake something for the party.
A couple weeks before X’s birthday, I got one of the best emails from a then-potential customer. She said, “Hello, First, I find your website fantastic – you’re witty, direct, and balls out. Of course, your work is amazing…” It was like, YES, this lady totally gets it!!! She was planning a party for her parents’ 50th anniversary (kudos to them!) and wanted classy cupcakes for the celebration to be delivered the day after my cousin’s birthday. The order was basic enough, so I decided, “F it. I’m going to make TONS of cupcakes for BOTH events. I can totally do this!” I guess I was too excited to factor in sleep for that weekend, per usual.Continue reading “A Beautiful Birthday and Rapid Rosettes”
Summer means wedding season, and I absolutely love baking and decorating for special occasions like these. A family friend asked if I could bake for her son’s wedding brunch, and I couldn’t refuse, especially since it was such a simple request: 36 packaged cupcakes as wedding favors and a small cutting cake for the bride and groom. At first, she wanted simple vanilla cupcakes with sage green swirls and nice wrappers, but after seeing this, she asked if I could make grass and flowers on each of the cupcakes.
You know that annoying trait some couples have where they are like, “Ohhhhh my GAWD! We are so perfect for each other because I started saying, ‘I haven’t eaten all day and good thing it’s dinnertime because I’m—‘ and you just KNEW I was going to say ‘starving’ and finished my sentence so you’re totally my soulmate! Yay!” and you just want to simultaneously roll your eyes and punch them at the same time? (OK, not necessarily both of them, but it’s usually the chick that says it.) That cutesy sh*t irritates me to no avail. (Side note: Hyperbole and a Half is back so I feel more at ease being evil and sarcastic.)
YET, it relates to this cake post because this is all about Vin’s birthday. And, as much as I hate to admit it, he and I take that sentence finishing crap to the next level because I like, OMG, can totally read his mind, too! I can tell the exact moment when he wants to spit out gum, the exact words he’s going to say about shows watching TV (think Gob and Tony Wonder from the new “Arrested Development” season where they’re like “…same”), and the best example: when we were getting frustrated designing wedding invites during lunch hour @ our respective jobs, and I got fed up and drew a picture of discharging male genitalia in Microsoft Paint and scribbled “Come to our wedding. Vin & K” and emailed the “invite.jpg” file to Vin, only to get an email reply 2 seconds later that said “OMG I was seriously drawing wedding invite mock ups with penises and pubic hair before hahahaha!!!” At first, it was kind of creepy and I’m pretty sure I weirded Vin out (“How did you know that???” was said a lot), and it probably freaked him out more when I deadpanned, “I read your mind.” Now it’s just normal <3
Easter weekend was a huge baking ordeal this year. Not only did I plan on bringing some desserts to the T house per usual, but my little cousin’s 4th birthday party was also the day before Easter. My aunt just got a new job in Philly, so she and my uncle now had tons of space to host the little guy’s party, plus, I hadn’t seen him in a while and he requested “chocolate and vanilla” so I had to HAD TO make something for his birthday. In addition to these 2 major events, I agreed to donate a bunch of baked goods to this awesome charity I worked with last year. They were hosting an event a couple days after Easter, so I figured I might as well make some extra mini cupcakes and bring them to the charity event. I mean, Easter + WWJD but pull off a miracle and make tons of baked goods appear, right? =)
I planned out my post-work calendar the week before Easter weekend. It went a little something like this:
Wednesday: Dip and decorate cake balls for the birthday party
Thursday: Bake & frost chocolate cupcakes
Friday: Dip and decorate cake balls for Easter
Saturday: Bake lemon cupcakes and Creamsicle® cupcakes; frost
I think I only got 3 hours of sleep on 4 of the 6 nights. I’m a little slow and perfectionistic when it comes to this, and I didn’t have anything prepped so it just took FOREVER. And once I get in the groove and I’m plugged into Pandora on my phone (after dropping my phone countless times during baking sessions, I finally got a Velcro sleeve that will hold the phone so I can listen to music and bake at the same time), the minutes just fly by and before you know it, it’s almost 3 am.
So the first night, I made at least 6 pints of vanilla frosting, then divvied the buttercream to make berries & cream frosting and a frosting concoction that tastes basically like a Creamsicle®.