Friday, August 29, 2008

I have a tempestuous relationship with boxed cake mixes. I understand that they are sooooo convenient, and the taste generally lies on the more delicious end of the "decent" bell curve, but I believe in my heart of hearts that cake from scratch is empirically more delicious and really not that much harder to make. My feelings and opinions on boxed cake and pre-packed baked goods and their easiness versus laziness versus quality factors are exacerbated by conversation with my lovely boyfriend who thinks the most delicious things in the world are those crappy Pillsbury biscuits and blueberry muffins you make out of a box with a little tin of pin sized blueberries packed in sketchy corn syrup. Obviously, I will and have baked both of these things from scratch for him, and for the sake of domestic bliss he wouldn't dare admit it out loud, but I am very sure that in his heart of hearts, he would rather be eating the boxed versions. I do not understand this. It defies logic.

When pressed, I will concede that while I do not object to a boxed cake in certain circumstances, the true crime against baked goods everywhere is ready-made frosting. All tubs of frosting taste like garbage and are full of literal garbage for your body and, dudes, frosting is the simplest thing to make in your kitchen. All you need is powdered sugar, butter, and milk. Oh, but you love that crappy cream cheese and crisco flavored frosting Duncan Hines makes? Well all you need to make that is cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and milk. Yes, it is that easy. What? You're too lazy to mix those things together and put them on your cake? Then maybe you should be going for a walk or cultivating a hobby or saving the world instead of making substandard baked goods. Yeah. I said it. The clear instances when boxed cake mix is forgivable, however, are numerous. The highest examples of these instances are when you take a boxed cake mix and ignore the directions on the back of the box, and instead, turn the cake into something magical. My favorite sexed up box cake recipe is caramel fudge brownies. A close runner up is The Liqueur Cake.

The Liqueur Cake is constructed thusly:

1 box Chocolate Cake mix
2 eggs
1 pint sour cream
1/4 c butter/margarine/vegetable oil
1 c liqueur (My favorite is Baileys, but Kalhua, Amaretto, Frangelico etc all work equally well. Also, a whole cup creates a very strong flavor in the cake, which is how I roll, but if you prefer a more subtle essence, use a 1/2 cup.)
12 oz chocolate chips (Again, go ahead and substitute white chocolate, cafe au lait, butterscotch or whatever flavor chips willy nilly.)

Combine all of the above ingredients in your mixer or bowl. Mix them together. Pour the batter into a greased bundt or tube pan, as regular flat cake pans will not allow the cake to rise evenly. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45-60 minutes, until it done (toothpick comes out clean, blah blah blah, have you never made a cake before?)

I think this cake is most delicious at room temperature. You can serve it with whipped cream or ice cream or berries or dusted with powdered sugar. Just don't put any effing store bought frosting on it, ok?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Obviously, the best way to make the most of these last few days of summer is to leave work early on a beautiful 85 degree day, make a pitcher of lemon drops, slather on some sunblock and sit on your patio in your bra (What? It actually covers more than my swimsuit top does, incidentally.) and sunglasses reading a book.

Hence, A Recipe for the End of Summer: The Lemon Drop

The first thing you need for a fresh Lemon Drop is real lemons. I only make this recipe when I have big attractive lemons from my parents house in California, about 5 or 6. From my experience, that will give you approximately a cup of lemon juice which I squeeze directly into my quart sized measuring cup to facilitate easy and precise mixology. The ratio for this drink is 2:2:1 lemon juice, vodka and triple sec, then sugar to taste. Ergo, one cup of lemon juice means a cup of vodka and half a cup triple sec. Add the sugar about a quarter cup at a time, stirring thoroughly and tasting after each addition, remembering that you will be drinking out of a sugared glass, so you want the drink to be slightly tart still. When you've reached desirable sweetness, rim your glass by pouring sugar onto a coffee saucer, moistening the edge of your glass and placing it firmly into the sugar. My favorite way to drink these are out of a pint glass over several cubes of ice.
Additionally, with August 2008 rapidly approaching its close, I feel like I can definitively state my most recent 5 Years of Summer Jams.
2004: Ratatat - Seventeen Years
2005: Gorillaz - Dare
2006: Lily Allen - Smile
2007: Justice - D.A.N.C.E.
2008: Little Jackie - The World Should Revolve Around Me

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Times when I spit water all over myself and it is clear to those around me that I am not getting anything accomplished:

More at The Guardian.