September 2007

So we have this NBA star that is coming to the bakery. Melo? Carmelo? WHY is he named after candy?! I don’t keep track of basketball. Or baseball or football for that matter. Forgive me?

Anyway, it should still be pretty cool. Carmelo, akin to Laura, will be making his own cake. Only this time it will be less cute, and also Carmelo won’t know it’s his cake.

There is “Weird Paste” at the bakery. It is not real gumpaste, as it does not dry. In 24 hours, it is still rubber. Mary Alice thinks it is the result of an alien invasion. Ben thinks that it’s a cross between fondant and gumpaste.

Also there is a “crazy jazz pianist” and a dancer getting married. He is the pianist, she the dancer. Their cake will feature her dancing on a piano. Sounds really cool!

ANOTHER MILITARY CAKE? It’s the USS Carny (spelling, how?). It’s a naval destroyer. Anyway, it was commissioned by a military wife for her husband’s retirement, and it will be at a 100 naval people there, so accuracy is important. Also, it’s 5 feet long.

It’s going to be awesome.

The trophy part of ‘Melo’s cake, which is made of Styrofoam since cake simply cannot do that particular shape, will be filled with caramelos – obviously, the filling will occur after Caramelo has left the bakery, as doing it while he was there would kind of give away the whole secret. The base of the trophy will be the edible cake part, specifically the part Carmelo will be decorating. There will be no trophy in sight, so as to guarantee he won’t know what’s going on.

Ben was the creator of the naval destroyer. He has decided that in defiance of the shape of a naval destroyer, he will make everything out of cake, and that absolutely nothing in the cake will be inedible. Awesome.

Geoff, of course, got the terribly intricate gumpaste piano. Excellent. It’s got an incredible difficulty level, so of course Geoff will rock it out of the park. The cake has to fit exactly with the gumpaste, and gumpaste takes 24 hours to dry, so mistakes are not an option.

Charm City Cakes = Charmed by Carmelo’s height and stardom. Carmelo’s Mother = Starstruck with duff.

Melo gets to paint the base with a brown paint to make it look like wood. He never guessed it was his own cake, so he signed it and requested pictures for when it was complete. For a really tall guy it was pretty cute.

Geoff’s voice has changed inexplicably. Huh. Oh, also, the piano is gorgeous. He piped every single string, he painted every little bit accurately, there were 88 keys in the correct configuration and all the dragees are in the right spots. He has made a perfect piano replica. Geoff is my hero. Geoff is now at Robert and Alton status. The dancing lady is just a shadow on the piano’s lid, but it looks very classy on the top of the piano. It’s a good cake.

On the plaque for the trophy cake? “Thanks for making Baltime great!” – Duff meant Baltimore, but he missed an O and an R. Whoops.

Oh my gosh, that’s cake?! That naval destroyer is 100 percent cake? Oh, my. It’s beautiful, accurate, it’s amazingly made out of cake. Ben has defied gravity with flour and eggs. Geoff doesn’t think that anyone would want to see something they’d seen quite so much ever again (all of the retiree’s 20 years of duty had been on that ship. Or at least all the significant ones), but then decided that eating your workplace must bring some kind of closure. Perhaps there will be a Charm City Cakes building cake someday.

The bride and groom receiving the piano loved it, and the child retinue wanted to know if that was actually cake, or if they would be asked to eat wood later. Never fear, adorably attired children! That’s Duff cake, and that means it isn’t just cake, it’s tasty cake. There might even be marshmallows!

So they were driving the trophy cake – a pretty cool cake in the end, though nowhere near the piano’s awesome – and it broke. They get it back to the bakery, Geof fixes it, and now Duff has 4 minutes to get it to location. How many times can Duff be almost late in a season? He’s got 4 minutes, 3 minutes, 1 minute – and he is there, somehow, on time. Is anyone surprised? It took “Melo” a few minutes to figure out that he had seen that cake before, but his face lit up and he was all, “Yeah, I made that cake. It’s pound cake.”

It was pretty awesome.


So yesterday I trussed up a chicken thusly:

Purchase whole chicken. Rip everything out of cavities, throw away. I don’t eat neck, nor am I fond of chicken gravy. Bleeech.

Wash. Pat dry.

Peel 2 heads of garlic. If the cloves are large, cut them up into smaller bits. Stab a small hole into the chicken and slip a piece in. Repeat, until out of garlic.

Cut fresh rosemary into 1″ long branches. Repeat as with garlic.

Pat sea salt all over the skin of the bird. Also, when doing the garlic and stuff, remember that you will want to eat more than the breasts. Stick garlic and rosemary in the other parts, too.

Roast in crock on low for 8 hours. If you’re leaving it alone, put in 1.5 cups of water. Otherwise, put in 1/2 a cup at the beginning, 1/2 c at 2.5 hours, 1/2 c at 5 hours. You’ll get a drier skin that way.

Pull out the garlic pieces and rosemary branches before consuming. What’s leftover….well, recipes all week will include those! We had it with asparagus, even though the asparagus came from Guatemala or wherever.  Josh has been craving asparagus, so asparagus he gets!

It was really easy, tasted like I spent hours in the kitchen. Spent all of five minutes. Awesome.

This is the easiest thing ever. It is, in fact, so simple that I invented it when I was 5 with my cousin. We were at her house, and we were hungry. I wanted biscuits, she wanted something sweet – but no jelly – and so we compromised. We were heartbroken when someone told us that Kraft had been doing this for years. Idea stealers.

Anyway, Thing One: Take kitchen scissors, because your mom won’t let you play with a knife yet, and cut up the biscuits into 4-6 peices. If your mom doesn’t have kitchen scissors, you can tear the biscuits up with your fingers, that’s okay.

Thing Two: Get two bowls out of the cupboard. Make sure that one of them is okay for being in the microwave, kay? And unbreakable would be good. Melt butter in the microwavable one, maybe one stick. That’s a 1/2 cup! It’s okay if there’s a little taken off, but not much.

In the other one, while the butter is melting, put a 1/2 cup of sugar in the bowl. (The cup that is in the sugar bowl is probably a good size, right?) Then shake enough cinnamon on that it is a little brown and smells good. Mix it together. There should be lots of brown specks, but it should be mostly sugar.

Thing One should dip the pieces into the butter – her hands are already sticky! – and drop them into Thing Two’s bowl. Shake and shake until the pieces are all covered, but don’t get any on the floor, okay? Mom would be mad and you would have to clean it up.

Put it into a bread pan. They are long and thin and deep, but if you can’t find one, ask mom. She’ll know. Spray it with the spray oil. Ask mom where that is too. Put all your buttery sweet pieces in there and have mom heat up the oven (400 degrees, mom!) and bake it for 15 minutes or until it’s done. Eat with your fingers and a LOT of wet wipes.

(Mom/babysitter: 1/2 c sugar mixed with 2 tablespoons cinnamon. 6 tablespoons of butter is usually enough. Also, if you want to be mother of the year, take 2 tablespoons of cream cheese, 1 c powdered sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla. Blend. If it needs thinning, add splashes of milk. Pour/spread over warm monkey bread.

However, if your kids are hyperactive already, don’t!)

Sunday night I made sesame chicken off the top of my head. It was pretty good!

I started by slicing chicken breasts into little fingers – half inch long strips like you always see on your lo mein or whatever. I sauteed that until it was basically done. On the side, I whisked together

1 tablespoon worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup mirin (Japanese rice wine)

Then blend in 1/3 c sesame oil while whisking. You now have something akin to a vinaigrette. I made 3x this much, and steamed some green beans with 1/3 of that. I put 1/2 of what was left (1 part) on the chicken to cook, and when that was done I put it to the side on the serving dish. Then, I took the last part of dressing and put it in the skillet the chicken had been in with 1 tablespoon of flour. I whisked this like mad until it came to a simmer and poured the sauce over the chicken.

Serve over rice.

And I feel about not at all like cooking. Luckily for readers, I stumbled on this interesting article about food color. The site is a design site otherwise if you’re into that sort of thing, but you should definitely check out the food color thing. I knew some of the stuff, but I did not know all of it.
See you tomorrow. Maybe I’ll make chicken soup.

Duff. Drives. A. Tank.

This cannot end well.

Also of note: at Duff’s, it’s not casual Friday, it’s Roller Skate Friday – you know, since they wear jeans and t-shirts every day.

This week has some classy cakes. See: A humidor full of Cuban Cigars, and a picnic-themed wedding cake that is topped with a cake wine barrel overflowing with grapes. To top that all off, they are creating a birthday cake for the US Army (as it was apparently their birthday) and they want a replica of an M-1 tank. Which is why Duff gets to drive a tank, so he can get a feel for it. Cake inspiration you know.

Duff takes so many field trips, just because he can. I want this job. He did get covered in disgusting goo of nasty mud, (Geof managed to remain completely clean) This is highly expected, however, it does make me far less jealous of Duff. Ew.

Mary Alice is not a poet.

Ben is wearing a smoking jacket so that he could succeed in creating the humidor cake. Now everyone is wearing the smoking jacket! Geoff tries it on to help with structural issues, and Duff wears it to smoke a cake cigar.

The fondant picnic blanket is really beautiful and the cake itself is very detailed. It will be challenging, but I think it will come out very beautifully. It’s got a lot of stuff on it, but I think it will tie together well.

The tank is also going to be a challenge. Duff is trying to convince Mary Alice and Geoff that a firework labeled “torch” is a perfectly acceptable substitute for the allowed “sparkler.” After Mary Alice informed him that she would neither take him to the hospital, bail him out of jail, or write a letter of apology to the army, he decided to test it out in the parking lot. He decided against it in the end.

The humidor cake? Holy cow. Ben put so much detail into it, it looks like you ought to smoke it. IT was just spectacular. It was this beautifully painted woodgrain box cake, resting open to show perfect cigars – and you could take them out and eat them seperately, which I thought was a great touch. Wow!

My prediction was correct – the wine-cask picnic cake was beautiful. Anna had some last minute doubts, but when does she not have last minute doubts? It came out well.

The tank was crazy! I did like the humidor cake better, but the tank was crazy, people. Just crazy. It was very boring in terms of color, so very accurate there, and it was huge. So overall it was perfect. Hilariously enough, rather than putting an illegal fireworks, he put a likely-unsafe number of sparklers jammed into a very small space. And Mary Alice was okay with this. Hoo boy.

The week was hot, though, and so when Anna was delivering the wine cake, some of the slats on the cask fell off – but Anna came to the rescue just as well as Duff did and the couple loved it. Perfect!

The tank did not actually explode upon being lit. I am almost surprised. Duff got a little mini-medal pin “for excellence” as well. Go Duff!

A good episode.

I’m going to make it a new tag. Hopefully it won’t be used too often (I like not weighing 17 tons, after all) but sometimes, it’s just necessary.

And tonight is definitely a bad-for-us night. Josh has been begging – begging, people, it’s cuter than kittens and cannot be resisted! – for breakfast. Sometimes when he says breakfast he means “Wakey wakey eggs and bac-y!” but I made steak and eggs this past Sunday morning to no dice.

That means that when he says breakfast, he wants biscuits and gravy. It’s the easiest darn food in the world, ever, and simultaneously the least healthy. Between the lard and butter and the…..oh, be still, my heart. No, not that still. Please keep beating!

Recipe: Saute 1 lb of pork sausage (hot or plain, none of that maple nonsense. It’ll make it taste odd) in a pan. Leave ALL of the excess grease – and if it’s less than a tablespoon or so, you bought the lean sausage. Bad you, add shortening. Anyway, so to your 1-3 tablespoons of grease (keep beating, oh heart!) add 1 tablespoon of flour. Stir until everything is all coated in your flour. If you need more, that’s okay, this isn’t exact.  Just coat everything pretty well.
Then let that sit for a bit and get out your milk. The walk to the fridge and back should be long enough.  Add some milk, bit by bit, stirring all the while. If you need more flour or milk, add whichever you need until you have quite a bit of gravy – enough so that it’s a gravy, and not Saucy Sausage. You want it to be about as thick as an alfredo sauce – coat the back of a spoon and drip off the end. It’ll thicken when it cools, so take that into consideration.

Season very well with salt and pepper. Pour over cheap-o biscuits. You’re wasting if you make your own for this, because no one will taste them. Save those for dinner with butter and jam. Yum!

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