Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Party!

My last baking project--vegan chocolate cake! It was super moist and delicious. I got the recipe from Instructables: But of course I adjusted the recipe.                     Cake Ingredients 

1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used at least half Hersey's "special dark" choc cocoa)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm water (I used coffee)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp distilled white or apple cider vinegar (I used white)

Also I doubled the recipe to make a layer cake. The directions didn't say to, but I beat the wet and dry ingredients separately, then together. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30min or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Chocolate Glaze

1/2 cup sugar
4 tbsp margarine
2 tbsp soy milk
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract 

Ok, if you truly want it to be vegan, you can't use any old margarine--you have to use something like earth balance that is 100% veggie oil. The girl who wrote the recipe says that if you don't care about it being vegan, you can use butter and regular milk. I used crisco because that is what I had. 
You bring the sugar, margarine, milk and cocoa to a boil in a saucepan stirring frequently. Simmer for 2 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir for 5 min. Add vanilla and pour over cake immediately! 
The glaze was good, but the sugar didn't dissolve completely so it had a bit of a gritty texture. Maybe using super-fine sugar would help or even powdered??? Maybe that would make it into more of a frosting I don't know. Still yummy. The cake turned out super dark too, perfect for halloween with the drippy glaze so I dubbed it MIDNIGHT CAKE.

On to decorations! Our hearth. Punch served out of the cauldron. Oh! Punch recipe. This was cheapo champagne, cheapo white wine, sprite (sparkling water would make a less sweet version), vodka, frozen lime, cranberry, and pink lemonade concentrates. I am not bothering to put proportions, because I remade it many different times throughout the night with no regard to amounts and it was SO GOOD. I also froze blue-green water in a glove and had removed the glove for a hand shaped ice float. Cool at first, but the fingers melted pretty quick.

The Spread.
Guac was also present, along with pigs in blankets (or bandaged baby toes?) not pictured.

 The Laboratory--AKA a G&T station. The glowing stuff is tonic--turns out quinine glows under blacklight. We put Rose's lime in the test tubes.
 The witchy mantel
 witchy mantel detail

 This is a seaweed I found at the beach with Michael and Emily

A little owl in these squiggly branches I also collected on my outing with M&E. I climbed up in this willow-y type tree and knocked them down (already dead) but they look so cool. Better in real life.
 Me in my laboratory
 Nathan beats me up (he is dressed as my nemesis Captain Hammer, although you can't see his shirt in this photo)

Roughly like this, except I'm the Dr. Horrible from the end of the movie, so that's why my coat is red.
 This photo is for Steph! Me, Michael, Hannah. Reunited!
 This is the plum bistro crowd who showed up!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


So... despite going to bed at 1:40 last night, I woke up at 7am ready to do stuff! I couldn't go back to sleep, so I got up and decided to take advantage and go to a ballet class. It was good! Then I came home and did some dishes/non-interesting but productive stuff and then I tackled making my costume, which I had been feeling kinda discouraged about making after my first attempt, and feeling overwhelmed because I didn't have a pattern. It's not done yet, but I think it is going to be awesome and I think it looks pretty darn good even though I didn't have a pattern or even really measure anything with any accuracy. Updates and pics to come about that I'm sure. Nathan made curry for dinner and then we went to the grocery store (because we can only buy what we can carry, I end up going to the grocery almost daily) and then I tackled tonight's baking project: Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies. So...I accidentally confused the 1/2 and 1/4 cups and so the first tray of cookies had 1/2 the sugar they were suposed to and they turned out super dome-y. They still tasted ok, so I put the pumpkin frosting on them anyways, but they are so round they just roll around. I added more sugar to the batter and the second batch came out normal, but not "mini" in anyway, so the next few batches I used 1tsp for scooping out the dough, and these are perfect size for party cookies!

They taste pretty good, but could use improving. Not very sweet actually. The recipe calls for dark brown sugar and I used light brown, and I also used 2% milk instead of whole, because this is what I had on hand, so maybe if I actually followed the recipe they would be improved. I also should have added food coloring to make the frosting more orange. Oh well.
This one is from Martha:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg


  1. Prepare cookies: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Place butter, shortening, and sugars into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add egg; mix until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in half the flour mixture, then the milk and vanilla. Mix in remaining flour mixture.
  3. Drop about 2 teaspoons dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies spring back when lightly touched, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to wire racks and let cool 10 minutes. Remove cookies from baking sheets and transfer to wire racks using a spatula; let cool completely.
  4. Prepare filling: In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together cream cheese, butter and confectioners' sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg; whip until smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
  5. Pipe or spoon about 2 teaspoons filling on the flat sides of half the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, keeping the flat sides down.
Read more at Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies - Martha Stewart Recipes 

Also, there is a video from her show of martha making these cookies with her guest... Cookie Monster! I guess I hadn't watched sesame street in a while, but I was just cracking up! Those muppets are just so funny.

Ok, still going strong, but I suppose I should go to bed. Hopefully all the energy I expended today dancin' around and such won't have a rebound effect tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ok, one more time...

On the second go-around I got the chocolate to work out splendidly. I used about 1 tbls crisco per cup of chocolate chips to thin it and used the "warm" setting on my rice cooker (so much easier than a double boiler and much less risk of exposure to water!) and stirred every once in a while.
The results!
 Perfectly dipped! (sorry about the blurry photo--at least my messy apartment is in focus...)
The buckeyes! Or...eyes of newt maybe? Ware wolf testicles? We are still deciding.

So both these recipes are easy and gluten free! If only I can get nathan to stop stealing them from the fridge...
Buckeyes (from


  • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter (I used 1 cup crunchy, 1/2 cup creamy)
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 4 cups semisweet chocolate chips (two cups, if thinned would probably be enough)


  1. In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter, butter, vanilla and confectioners' sugar. The dough will look dry. Roll into 1 inch balls and place on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet.
  2. Press a toothpick into the top of each ball (to be used later as the handle for dipping) and chill in freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.
  3. Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler or in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir frequently until smooth.
  4. Dip frozen peanut butter balls in chocolate holding onto the toothpick. Leave a small portion of peanut butter showing at the top to make them look like Buckeyes. Put back on the cookie sheet and refrigerate until serving.

This makes a lot of buckeyes! Which is good because I think they'll be popular. 

I also made these SUPER EASY macaroons which were a lot less fussy than some recipes I found that required egg white peaks and certain temps, etc. I had extra ingredients, so I ended up making a second batch. And I had extra chocolate from the buckeyes, so some are dipped!


Coconut Macaroons

2 large eggs
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar
1/8 teaspoonsalt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups (300 grams) sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
In a large stainless steel bowl whisk the eggs until well beaten. Stir in the sugar, salt, and vanilla extract. Finally, stir in the coconut, making sure that all the coconut is completely moistened.
Place small mounds (about 1 tablespoon) of the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing several inches apart.  Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes and then place on a wire rack to cool.

In other news, we have had a really lovely october, and people in seattle are very dramatic about their weather, and each nice day they would say "This is it! This will be the last one! One day it will just start raining and won't stop!" and then we continued to have weeks more of perfect weather. However, it has been raining the past two days, so perhaps we have come to the time of no return...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Never add water to chocolate, and other news

 Here are some pictures we took last sunday on a foray to Freemont District, dubbed "The Center of the Universe" probably by themselves. It used to be the center of counterculture, but I think now it is pretty much gentrified with a funky feel...pretty much like ann arbor. Above is an old rocket fuselage.
 Here is a statue of Lenin that was salvaged from the red square and brought here by a resident art lover.
 Nathan enjoys a sandwich behind lenin. Also in the courtyard are some fun tile faces!
 There is lots more to see in freemont, but I didn't take pictures of everything, and some things (such as the famous freemont troll) we have yet to visit!

Ok, the last night Toni came over and we made black bean soup and carved pumpkins. Nathan and toni present theirs:
 Mine and Nathan's:

 A close up of Toni's all aglow.
 Nathan's demonic rabbit pumpkin. It wraps around the pumpkin, so you can't see his ears, but they are pretty cool looking in person.
Here is my jolly pumpkin. I was going for some sort of carnival ring master man, but he turned out a little like Colonel Sanders... also if you cover up the mouth and gotee he looks like a puppy (mustache=puppy jowls, eyebrows=ears).

Today I started making some treats for the upcoming party--some coconut macaroons, and some buckeyes (chocolate dipped peanut butter balls). All was going well until I tried to thin the melted chocolate out with water. As a public service announcement: NEVER DO THIS. My nice smooth melty chocolate instantly turned into a 2.5 pound gritty brick of unusable chocolate. This is called chocolate "seizing" and apparently can happen to melted chocolate even with the slightest whif of water or water vapor. SO BAKERS BEWARE. So I got kind of down about that (especially because I burned my macaroons whilst trying to fix the chocolate) and didn't want to go to the store for like the third time today to get more chocolate, so I have yet to complete my project, but when I do it promises to be super delicious. So, learn from my mistakes and never add water to chocolate.

Also, if you read my previous entry you know that I recently auditioned for a company and was among the "top 4-5 candidates" and have been waiting to hear back. Well, I just received a very nice rejection letter from the company's director, so that answers that I suppose.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sad Face.

My shrunken apple heads turned into moldy apple heads!  : (
I don't know how to avoid this, according to the directions they were just supposed to dry out!
Here is what my paper cutting looks like from outside at night, except less blurry.

Also, here is one of the SECRET projects I was working on. Since now the recipient has received her apron, I can show it to you all. I just sorta winged it and it turned out pretty good, thanks to my AMAZING sewing machine and pretty ok skills. Below is a close-up of the delightful fabric we got at fabric crush in Wallingfort and also my attempt at a ruffle. Bridesmaid's dress thread matched perfectly and was already in my machine. Sweeet!

Exciting non-crafty stuff (whaaaa?): yes it is true. Ok, well today I've been super duper sore from an audition I attended last night for the Cyrus Khambatta Dance Company, which seems to be as awesome as my left quad is sore, and that is quite awesome. Anyways, I made the final cut and should hear back in the next few days, so keep your fingers crossed! Additional awesomeness: I arrived home to a clean house and candle-lit dinner special thanks to Nathan Banka (in a tie no less!) What a cutie.
Ok, I have to be at work in 8 hours...yikes.

Also, did you know that you can comment on these posts??? Not that this post is comment worthy, but if so moved, I believe there is a way to do it at the end of each post.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Michael, Emily, and the City of Dreams

We had long been trying to find a time to get it together! Finally, Michael (my friend from study abroad), his girlfriend Emily, and I all had the day off from work. I grabbed a melon and a bouquet from Pikes Place Market before hopping on the ferry Thursday morning. Beautiful sunny day--here are the dahlias in the sun:

 Sunny Seattle from the boat!
 If you look VERY closely, you can see Rainer Mountain in this picture. But mostly just cranes from the port.
 Michael and Emily took me to the darling town of Port Townsend, also (according to wikipedia) known as the City of Dreams, because at one time it was predicted to be the largest port on the west coast, however, recession hit and the railroad didn't make it out there and growth halted. The result? Lots of beautiful historic Victorian homes and buildings. Here is a shot of downtown:
 We got brunch at a great little restaurant. Avocado omelet, roasted potatoes, and homemade blueberry oat muffins!
 Michael and Emily by the somewhat famous firefighter alert bell tower (not pictured) overlooking the bay. AWWWWWWWWWWW!
 Some ears we found in an antique shop.
 Got ice cream at Elevated Flavors. My cone was half pumpkin, half cardamon. Very interesting!

 We then went to explored Fort Worden State Park a little bit. This is the beach there, where I found a cool seaweed that looks like a brain and part of a small femur bone.

 Near the beach are a large system of underground bunkers that you can explore. It's dark and very creepy! From this place to the victorian homes, Port Townsend is ripe for the haunting!

 Then we returned to Poulsbo, where Michael and Emily live. We drove through the adorable town, which prides itself on its Norwegian-ness. I didn't get any pictures, but I had to take a shot of this shelf in the hardware store (we stopped for something). Yes, it's a shelf dedicated to Scandinavian cooking--lefsa turning sticks, heritage grills, groved rolling pins, rosette irons, etc. There was even a book about 51 ways to use lefsa. It included lefsa songs to the tunes of "deck the halls" and "deep in the heart of texas." Oh good lord. (uf da?)
We met up with Nathan (unfortunately there was some perfect storm of disasters causing crazy traffic on Bainbridge and it took him 2 hours to get to Poulsbo from the ferry) and made pizza and played Euchre. So what a lovely day!