Category Archives: Food

cake-stencil2

Are you not great at cake writing? Like me? Idea!

Try a simple stencil, instead. They’re sold in kitchen supply and in craft stores, but if you care to, you can make your own. Just print out a design, symbol, or short phrase, and cut it out with an exacto knife or super sharp scissor. Keep your design on the large and simple side … cutting out the shape can be a bit painstaking. Place your stencil on your cake — or meat loaf if that’s more your style — and sift some confectioners sugar over top. You can use cocoa if you’re decorating a light surface. Don’t sift too much, just a light dusting. Make sure the surface isn’t soggy, or the sugar will melt into it. Sometimes putting the cake in the frig for a bit is all you need to get a usable surface.

And voila, no more “Happy Birthday” that looks like it was written by a drunken kangaroo.

Caramels

My Version of the Pecking Order of Halloween Candy

This list is based on my personal opinions. It is not the result of rigorous statistical analysis or polling. It is not based on nutritional or social value. Obviously this list does not cover every variety of candy (what of licorice, Lifesavers, Milk Duds or Junior Mints?), nor does it include the myriad of sugary treat spin offs — such as Nerds, Air Heads, Runts, Sour Patch Kids, etc. but really now, why should it?

Most Desirable

Full Size Bar or Bag

Vcandy bararieties: Snickers, Milky Way, Mars Bar, 3 Musketeers, Twix, Kit Kat, M&M’s, Reeses Cups, Baby Ruth, Pay Day, Nestle Crunch Notes: Any household giving out full-size candy on Halloween is sure to have its supply depleted in less than an hour, due to sophisticated kid networking techniques. Full-size handouts are a rare occurrence, usually from a comfortably retired couple who miss the grandkids. Capable of generating 52 weeks of starry-eyed kid-love.

Mini-Bar or Bag

Varieties: See Full-Size Bar or Bag, above Notes: One reason that the mini-bar is so well-pcandy barositioned in the pecking order is that most people give out multiples. Also mini’s are less likely to be confiscated by parents on grounds of “no way you’re eating that whole thing, pal . ” Mitigating Factor: Mini Mr Goodbars are over-represented in the mix and have stale nuts.

Goetze’s Caramel Cremes

caramelsNotes: This soft caramel with a powdered-sugar center was a local specialty in Baltimore, where I spent most of my childhood. I assume that most municipalities boast a similar confection of tooth-enamel-destroying deliciousness.

Pixy Stix – a.k.a. Fruit-Flavored Sugar

pixy stixRelated: Skittles, Sweetarts and — from the sub-species Taffy Fruitorum – Starburst or Now & Later Notes: Hats off to the genius who invented Pixy Stix. Sucrose-based crack, the Stix deliver pure sugary pleasure, in neon colors with a barely detectable citrus flavoring, and in a STRAW! Kids love straws! Administer and then stand back while subjects go apewire.

Acceptable Fall Back Candies

Anything Gummy

swedish fishVarieties: Swedish Fish, Mike and Ike, Good & Plenty, Gumdrops, Jelly Bellies Notes: While not personally a fan of most things gummy, I have long recognized that gummy fans are legion. For that reason, gummies are good for holding onto and then trading at a later date. Like the jokers in a deck of cards or the blank tiles in Scrabble game, gummies are both worthless and potentially quite valuable.

Disappointments

Hershey’s Kisses

chocolate kissNote: This is a case of chocolate failure. They’re chalky and bland, plus the packaging easily comes loose, allowing for contamination from, whatever. Leaves a weird taste in the mouth and is never satisfying. I am nostalgic for the idea of the Hershey kisses, with their cute shape and holiday-themed foil wrappers. But not for the reality of them.

Box of Raisins

raisinsSo Ethan Frome. Raisins are not candy, people!

Kandy Kornkornpumpkin

Tastes like waxy corn syrup. Even worse when not “korn” shaped.

Gum

Hagumrd as granite. Has probably been in a cupboard for five years.

Loose Change

coinsVariations: Anything inedible, such as plastic toys, toothbrushes (Thanks, Dr. Konigsberg) or religious pamphlets. Notes: As an adult, I understand the circumstances that can bring this situation about. (What is the deal with all these nutball kids running around outside tonight? Aw geez … Get the penny jar out, Alan.) As a child, I did not.

Straight into Trash Can

Homemade Anything

banana breadNotes: I know, they’re home-baked and adorable, and the ears are made out of organic gingersnaps, plus the woman who gave them out has been in the PTA with all the other moms for four years. Doesn’t matter. It’s going in the can. This category also includes fresh fruit, which everyone knows is just a clever delivery system for razor blades and poison. And anything unwrapped. You cannot toss a loose handful of Sno-Caps in a kid’s bag. It’s like saying “Why don’t you go home and throw these away? “

My social media / cooking icons

I’ve been doing some things with social media lately. Not in my real life. In my work life. But then I started thinking (heh-heh). I love making food … and I like making tiny icons … why don’t I combine them somehow? And voila, a set of tiny social media icons with a cooking theme was created. I’ll probably revise or add to the set at some time, and maybe figure out a way to get them on my own blog. Anyway, these .gif and .ico files are yours to enjoy. If you do re-use, please re-use responsibly. ( Download zip file here »).

Chocolate Beer Cake

chocolate beer cakeI was really hoping this cake, made with a generous helping of stout, would taste a little like beer. Hey, I’m a grownup. I can handle it. (Maybe just a tinge of hoppy, bitter, acidity …) Sadly, this cake doesn’t deliver any of that. But it’s still a delicious, moist chocolate cake, and I love the concept of the cream cheese frosting on only the top — just like top of a poured pint of you-know-what. Here’s a link to the recipe

Comfort Food

roast chickenWhy have I been overwhelmed with the urge to make comfort food that I haven’t made in years? Roast chicken, lasagna, twice baked potatoes, that canned vegetable salad that I’ve been throwing together since college … maybe it’s the smell of roast chicken with garlic (does anything smell better on Sunday afternoon?)

No wait. Something does smell even better than roast chicken. For some people it’s coffee, or pumpkin pie, or chocolate cake. Bu for me, it’s the smell of butter and onions and mushrooms cooking. I think we’re going to have to go back to Sigmund Freud for that one.

Recipies Now Archived

eat that not thisYes, that’s right, I’ve started digitally archiving my old recipes. This began as a way to learn a variety of database and updating techniques (snore), but I wanted to apply the techniques on something I actually cared about, instead of the Northwinds database. (Microsoft people know all about the Northwinds :)) Anyway, it works! Just click on the picture.