My first bombe

Mom wanted a white chocolate cheesecake for her birthday so I made it. The recipe said I could make a bombe, or a regular cheesecake and I went with bombe. It involved buying a stainless steel bowl, but that was probably the hardest part of the process.

Here it is before I added the white chocolate icing.

And here it is after icing and adorning with chocolate curls.

Vintage Cakes: Honey Bee Cake and Jam Cake with Chocolate Caramel Ganache

I made two cakes for the September/October birthday celebrations this year. Usually we have two celebrations. Chris and my Aunt Carol come first, and then mine.  This year, Chris and Aunt Carol opted out of a celebration, so we kind of celebrated all three birthdays at once.

Because Chris doesn’t like chocolate I made this Honey Bee Cake. It’s a buttermilk cake with a honey glaze.  Baking it, I was reminded that I’m not the greatest fan of honey’s super-sticky properties.  The cake itself was quite good.

This was the chocolate choice of the night. It’s a Jam Cake with Caramel Chocolate Ganache.  I didn’t quite get the caramel right, so the taste was very faint.  Other than that, this was a moist, lightly spiced cake. I’ve made a lot of the cakes in the Vintage Cakes cookbook.  We’re down to the ones that either have an ingredient I can’t justify purchasing, (The Harvey Wallbanger, which calls for 2 tablespoons of Galliano) or the ones that don’t appeal to me (Bananna Cake with Coffee Walnut Buttercream.)  Looking over the table of contents, there are a few more I want to bake, but this project is tapering off.

The day of two cakes: Vintage Cakes Rhubarb Pudding Cake, plus Cheesecake

I wormed my way into a Hootenanny, and paid my dues with this Rhubarb Pudding Cake which did not have any chocolate in it, but was very good, especially with ice cream.

Also going on this weekend was Aunt Pat’s birthday celebration. She requested cheesecake, and I provided.  Mom brought the strawberry topping, which is why it looks a little naked.

Finding efficiencies in food.

One of my goals this summer is to find efficiencies in food.  As such, I have been tracking how much it costs to produce the food I eat.  I’ve discovered that in general, my daily food costs between $7.00 and $11.00 in ingredients.  This is interesting to know and lets me know that there is no way in hell I can keep eating the way I do and reasonably have a monthly food budget of $150.00.  Which I knew, but I didn’t really know, know, if you know what I mean.
So far, the best efficiency I have discovered (which again, I knew, knew, but this really brought it home) is to break down your own chicken. It’s so much cheaper!  Do you want to pay $2.52 per chicken breast* rather than $5.99 per pound?  Buy the whole chicken, divide it up and package.  Voila!  Much cheaper.  
Here’s what I do.  I line the toaster oven roasting pan with aluminum foil and oil that.  I set out a plate, a plastic bag from the produce section, a cutting board and a container for the freezer.  I also make sure the dishwasher is empty and hope the cats are fast asleep.
The plastic bag is for holding the bag that the chicken comes in and the pad that is with the chicken to absorb moisture.
I pop the legs off first and separate the drumstick from the thighbone.  I sort of knew how to do this anyway, but I watched a few YouTube videos to refresh my memory. Drumsticks go into the roasting pan, Thighs go on the plate.  You can debone, but I leave bone in.
I cut off the wings (still a bit tricky) and put them on the roasting pan.  Then I slice into the breast and pull out the wishbone (which is incredibly fun, my favorite part) and cut down the back which gives me the breasts still joined.  The back goes into the container for making stock.  
I cut the breasts down the middle and sometimes debone them, sometimes not.  They go on the plate too.
Then  rinse off the cutting board (and usually shoo away the cats who are bugging me) put it in the dishwasher. I wash my hands and doing my best not to get chicken juice anywhere, wrap the pieces on the plate.  Those go into a plastic bag in the freezer and the plate gets rinsed and put in the dishwasher.
The container with the back goes into the freezer too.  
The drumsticks and wings I cook right away using this recipe.  Most chicken recipes in my world are for thighs or breasts, not drumsticks.  Matt gets the wings (which he loves and I don’t) and I get the drumsticks.  
This is a pretty sweaty process the first few times you do it, but becomes automated after about the third time.  I also enjoy it because I remember watching my mother do this when I was a child and being totally grossed out.  She told me it was cheaper than buying the parts and I remember thinking I would just buy the parts when I grew up.  I’m happy to master the technique instead.
*Just to be clear, I buy meat at New Seasons.  So it’s more expensive than standard supermarket prices. 

Oscar Party Food

Kelly provided the house and the TV plus the prize for correctly predicting and the Oscar BINGO. I provided the food.  We had one item for each best picture.
For Dallas Buyer’s Club: an antioxidant salad
For Nebraska: Mac & Cheese
For Philomena:  Buttered Cabbage
For Captain Phillips:  a traditional Somali Lentil dish
For American Hustle: Vegetarian Pigs in a Blanket
For 12 Years a Slave: Vegetarian Collard Greens
For Her: Jello Jigglers cut in heart shapes
For Gravity:  the Cosmonaut, which was Tang and Vodka, shaken.
For Wolf of Wall Street: Mini Quiche 
(which were not available, so I bought Nancy’s Quiche and cut them up)

Vintage Cakes: Gingerbread Icebox Cake with Mascarpone Mousse

Or make that “mascarpone” mousse as I had plans to make my own mascarpone, but the shop that sells the cultures was closed due to snow.  I needed a pound of mascarpone, which would have cost me $10.00 at New Seasons, so I went with the Internet cheat of cream cheese, a bit of sour cream and a bit of whipped cream.  Viola!  “Mascarpone”
I made the cookies on the Friday of the snow and the party was moved from Sunday (because of ice) to Monday.  So Monday I assembled.  Ten layers of gingerbread cookies with the mousse dividing them.

“But how will you cut this cake?” every single person at the birthday party asked me individually.  The plan was that the mousse would soften the cookies and it would be easy to slice.

And it was!  Isn’t it fun?

Delicious too!

Cooking Tales

Here are five pounds of home-grown potatoes, ready to be made into mashed potatoes for the holiday.

How is it that the vegan ended up seemingly the only full-time employee of the FoodDay staff?

I am bringing ingredients for cheese bread over to Kelly’s tonight.  I decided to specially make Sandwich Bread.  Two hours into the rise I realized the bread wasn’t rising because I forgot to put in the yeast.  Blast!  I ended up buying some sourdough.

The Baker’s Chocolate rip off

I’ve been cooking with Baker’s Chocolate all my life.  I’m sure the box has changed a bit since my birth, but probably not by much.  And it’s certainly always included eight individually wrapped 1 oz. squares, just like it says on the box.
I like Baker’s Chocolate because it’s familiar and a good product and also because it’s a good buy.  When they say 2x more product than competitor package, they are talking about Ghirardelli, which is good chocolate, but comes in four-ounce bars for nearly the same price, so I don’t buy it very often.
But look!  Baker’s (since 1780) chocolate, has reformulated.   Now, instead of eight individually wrapped 1 oz. squares it comes in a 4oz Easy Break Bar.
First of all, I didn’t need an easy break bar. Those individually wrapped packages were fine for me.  Secondly, they have given us half the product and are charging the same price.

Are you kidding me?  The price break was their selling point.  I may just abandon them for the Ghirardelli.  Talk about not knowing your audience.

Cupcakes part deux.

I once again made Mississippi Mud Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting.  One dozen of them are for the school auction.  The other dozen are for the Kenton Library Staff.
And here’s what happens after you try to put the auction cupcakes back in the refrigerator after their picture. A shelf collapses, sending the box careening toward the floor.  This happened after I had flooded the remaining frosting because I was done frosting the cupcakes and there’s only so much marshmallow frosting one person can eat.  I cleaned everything up and made it all pretty again, though.  And someone paid $20.00 for my cupcakes.

Great Scott! Look what came in the mail!

A part for a blender we bought.  That was one thing that came in the mail.  It was waiting patiently on the porch along with…

What’s this large package underneath?

Once I saw it was addressed to Patricia Clark, I knew who it was from.  Then it was only a matter of unwrapping to find:
(Cue sound of angels singing.)

  A cake carrier.

And not just any cake carrier, but a Tupperware carrier in perfect condition in the always-winning shade of Harvest Gold!   I can transport my cakes in comfort and style all thanks to Sara and Shawn at Pike Schemes.  You guys are awesome.  Thank you so much.