Cookbooks count as literature, right?

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I think I have lead poisoning and no one believes me. It was nice knowing you all.

I could just leave you hanging there with those unusual few sentences, but I’ll elaborate. I spent Saturday morning cleaning a really disgusting, groady, old place. Luckily, the people I cleaned with were pretty much some of my favorite people in the world, so that made it a little better. Unluckily, one of the rooms I cleaned had a bunch of plaster dust in it, and, since it’s a really old building, I’m sure there was lead paint in the plaster. And then I proceeded to breathe in the lead dust for a good half hour. I AM THE SMARTEST MAN ALIVE! Name that movie quote. Anyway, the next morning I woke up feeling like I was going to die. I even wrote my eulogy and stuff…except, not. So I blame the lead paint as the reason I feel so icky, but everyone else I’ve talked to said it was just from cleaning for 4 hours. I’ve heard it both ways.

I would have made food tonight but I experienced the deliciousness that is Dunkin Sticks earlier today. Have you had those things? They are basically glazed cake donuts, there are three of them in a wrapper, they may or may not have 490 calories, and they’re almost disgustingly filling. I’m pretty sure I’m going into cardiac arrest as I type this, but I blame the lead paint. It’s always fun to try new foods (does that actually count as a food…?), even if they might give me heart failure. Speaking of new foods, I was offered hard cider the other day by someone who I thought was a mature, 21 year old architect. Turns out the only things I got correct were the 21 year old part and the architect part. Although I’m pretty sure he was joking…and I almost accepted it. I mean, what? Who said that.

So instead of pictures of food, here are some pictures of my reading material as of late.

First off, Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom by Julia Child. Obviously. I mean, is there any other wise Julia who is in kitchens? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

I know what you’re thinking. Yes, it does count as an actual book. It has words and a cover – thus, it’s a book. And I’ve read it cover to cover about five times now. I sneaked it into my mom’s Amazon cart, and I think it was only $11 or so. Thanks mom. I strongly recommend buying it since it contains basic tips everyone should know about cooking. And it’s by Julia Child. Frankly, I’m sold.

Also, La Cucina Italiana. One of the best magazines I’ve ever gotten. Although that really isn’t saying much because I think the only other ones I’ve subscribed to were Highlights and American Girl. Yeah. The whole magazine is chock full of recipes, but I usually only stare at the pictures of food and Italy. I’m really depressed it only comes out six times a year because every time I get an issue I pretty much have an emotional breakdown from happiness. That makes sense, right?

Oh, and I’m also reading Great Expectations (I swear I’ve been reading that book for three months now). And I’m unbiasedly reading a Richard III biography. Totally unbiased. I think.

As far as I’m concerned, I prefer silent vice to ostentatious virtue. But cake trumps both of them.

Let’s talk about food for a second, because when am I not talking about food? Exactly.

In particular, let’s talk about cake. I’m very particular about my cake. I like just enough icing to make it sweet, but not tooth-aching sweet. Also, I like vanilla cake with chocolate icing, and I won’t object to raspberries or strawberries somehow being incorporated into it.

But, hands down, my favorite form of cake is cake balls. Little globs of cake and frosting, coated in chocolate. It’s like the Christian Bale of food. Minus the gorgeousness and British accent, or whatever accent he feels like using that day. That man is weird, I tell ya.

There’s something soothing, yet panic attack inducing, about making cake balls. That makes sense, right? Good. The reason I didn’t get any steps of the actual rolled balls of cake is that my hands were covered in cake and I was constantly stirring the almond bark to make sure it didn’t burn and there was some creepy bug flying around the kitchen that was giving me the heebie jeebies, and then it flew right into the flame on the stove. Tell me how that doesn’t sound soothing.

The best part about cake balls is they’re so delicious that anyone you give one to will automatically love you seventeen billion times more. So today I gave them out to some of my best friends. And my friend’s brother. And one of my mom’s friends who I’m convinced is the happiest person alive. And to an architect who immediately got excited when I said the word “cake.” Oh, and said architect really, really needs to paint me a picture before he leaves. No, seriously. Pass it on.

And in case you didn’t notice, I made chocolate cake with vanilla icing. Pretty much the opposite of what I usually like, but that didn’t stop me from having one with breakfast…and then another two later in the day. Jealous?

Simple Cake Ball Recipe

Feel free to mix and match cake and frosting flavors. My personal favorite is red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and chocolate almond bark, but, hey, that’s just me.

1 package cake mix
1 (16 oz) can of frosting
1 package almond bark (I think it’s about 24 oz. but don’t quote me on it.)

Prepare the cake mix according to package directions using any of the recommended pan sizes. When cake is done, crumble while warm into a large bowl, and stir in the frosting until well blended.

Melt almond bark over low heat. Do you hear me? LOW. It’s so easy to burn that stuff.

Roll the cake mixture into 2 inch balls. Dip the balls in chocolate using a toothpick or fork to hold them. Place on waxed paper and set in the fridge or freezer. Enjoy immensely.

Goodbye ACT

Goodbye dumb ACT test that I took at 8am this morning. 8 in the morning. On a Saturday. SATURDAY.

Goodbye hours spent memorizing the difference between 30-60-90 triangles and 45-45-90 triangles, writing essays off of prompts about why highschoolers should have a curfew, and blankly staring at science graphs, realizing I don’t know and, frankly, don’t care what they’re about.

Goodbye man leading the ACT who told me my name wasn’t on the list to take the test. Luckily I was in fact registered and he was just tired…or something. I’m not going to miss you.

Goodbye scary mom who followed her daughter into the ACT testing room and then totally flipped out at her when she forgot her calculator.

Goodbye random girl from California who just as half asleep as I was and stumbled through a conversation with me during our break.

Goodbye to the five panic attack-inducing words that I got to hear multiple times today: “You have five minutes left.”

Goodbye to the guy next to me who obviously was a bit unprepared because he would just stare at the booklet, fill in random answers, and put his head on the desk. You boosted my confidence. Merci.

Goodbye slightly spastic essay that I wrote about social networking and the advance of communication. I feel very sorry for whoever has to grade that. No, seriously.

Goodbye to the Reese’s peanut butter cup I ate devoured promptly after the test was over.

Hello normal life. I’ve missed you dearly.

So, first off, did you all have a lovely Easter? Yes? Good. I made some food last week (um, actually I only made chocolate mousse with kahlua…), but was feeling very uninspired. And I’m not a very happy person when I’m uninspired. But now I am just peachy and will be back to cooking. And eating. I prefer the eating part.

So yeah.

Here’s a picture of Freddie Mercury.

Hey, this post needed a little something-something. Not sure if that was it, but…umm…you know…I’ve been up for over 13 hours and my brain no worky. The end.

When the asparagus hits your eye like a big pizza pie. That’s…painful.

What’s the weirdest thing you did yesterday? I shaved asparagus. That automatically trumps any weirdness in your day. I win.

I don’t like vegetables. I like Oxford commas, I like 40’s jazz, I like Chuck Taylor high tops, hey, I even like Matthew from Downton Abbey (when he’s not being annoying). But I really hate vegetables. Well, with the exception of zucchini and…uhh, that’s it… zucchuni is good. I pretty much have to trick myself into eating any veggies. What’s wrong with me? Besides the fact that yesterday I Googled “How can you tell if potatoes are ripe?” and then realized…duh.

I was browsing Annie’s Eats earlier this week and saw her recipe for Shaved Asparagus Pizza. Oh and when I say browsing, I was pretty much shaking my laptop and screaming WHY MUST ALL HER FOOD LOOK SO DELICIOUS?! I mean moorish. I’m trying to incorporate some British slang into my vocabulary to make me sound more mysterious, mate. Um, yeah. Anyway, the pizza looked good, so I made it. That’s usually my train of thought with food. It looks good therefore I shall eat it. Sometimes it even goes it’s edible therefore I shall eat it. Word of advice: never eat grass. My friend and I had a grass eating contest when we were little. I beat him, but it so wasn’t worth it. The end.

My mom wasn’t a big fan of the pizza and my sister with Celiac had multiple helpings. What does that mean? Not sure. But I enjoyed it and I’d probably make it again. I liked the sweet potato fries too (that’s what those orange things are up there), although they tasted a bit like that sweet potato casserole with the marshmallows on top that you make for Thanksgiving. You know, the one that I always get a huge helping of just to eat the melted marshmallows. I always thought the sweet potatoes were just there for decoration.

Oh and thanks mom for taking the pictures tonight while I was at the gym *pause for laughter*

Shaved Asparagus Pizza

From Annie’s Eats

pizza dough (my gluten-free version is found here)
Olive oil, for brushing
8 oz. asparagus spears
4 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced (I used shredded mozzarella. Shhhhhh, don’t tell anyone)
3 oz. spreadable garlic herb cheese, such as Boursin or Trader’s Point Creamery garden herb fromage blanc
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Make pizza dough and prebake it as it says in the recipe. Brush with olive oil.

Cut the tough woody stems off the ends of the asparagus spears.  Use a vegetable peeler to shave the spears into ribbons.  I used about 6 spears, but you can add more or less, depending on how much you like stringy green things on your pizza.

Place the mozzarella over the pizza dough in an even layer.  Pile the asparagus shavings over the top of the mozzarella.  Dot the surface of the pizza with the garlic herb cheese.  Season with kosher salt and pepper.

Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the crust is lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before slicing and serving. Enjoy.

Sweet Potato Fries

Also from Annie’s Eats

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil greased with cooking spray.

Halve the sweet potatoes lengthwise and cut each half into long spears. Make sure to get lots of blisters on your hand from cutting the dumb potatoes. Not that I did that…  (Soak in cold water for 20-30 minutes before continuing for crispy texture outside.  Drain well and pat dry.)  Place the potato spears on the sheet pan and toss with olive oil.  Spread them in a single layer.  Combine the brown sugar, salt, and pepper and sprinkle on the potatoes.  Bake for 15 minutes, then turn with a spatula or tongs.  Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned.  Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and serve hot. Devour.

My attempt at British food *insert sad face here*

Let’s speak hypothetically here for a bit.

Let’s say, supposedly, I knew a certain European. Actually, let’s pretend he’s…ummm…British. It might make the story less confusing or something. Hypothetically, this “British” guy may or may not be very attractive, but it’s a moot point because he doesn’t actually exist and this is all made up. Yeah. Anyway, there’s a possibility he would say that, back in his homeland, there was a food called Sausage Rolls. If he were in fact a real person, which he theoretically may be, he would explain how he tried to make them here in the United States, but couldn’t find puff pastry, so he used pie crust and it became a complete and total disaster. Then someone else would say “I bet Spoonlighting could make them.” And Spoonlighting may or may not have made them. And, should the non-American in fact be a real person, I’d like to compare Sausage Roll failures with him because I think I could top his easily. Hypothetically.

What you should have gathered from that confusing story was that I made sausage rolls. Let’s talk about the positive things that came out of making them. They were really really really good, and I got to use puff pastry, which, every time I use it, I wonder why I don’t make things with it more often. Wait. Puff pastry and bacon. Mmmmm. Excuse me while I drool over that thought for a second… Ok, I’m done now. I’m so glad you didn’t see that because it was seriously awkward. Now that the positive stuff and drooling is out of the way, let’s talk about the not-so-positive stuff. Uh, they’re hideous.

Also, I had to read 10+ sausage roll recipes (the things I do for people…) because none of them said even remotely the same thing. One said to add onions, another said to add sage, and not all of them included Dijon mustard. And don’t even get me started with the oven temperature. What is this gas 3 or fan 120 stuff? Why do British people use the word “moorish” to describe something delicious? Why am I not in New York seeing Newsies on Broadway? These are all very good questions.

See the middle roll on the far right? See how normal looking it is? Just pretend that all of them look like that. Please. Also, remind me to never make these again because I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten half of them and I’ll eat the rest if no one stops me. Oh, and remind me to stop watching The French Chef. It’s making me sad since all I want to do is take a cooking class under Juila Child. Literally. That woman was like 9 feet tall.

Sausage Rolls

Adapted from a billion recipes. I’m only slightly exaggerating.

2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 small onion, finely chopped
16 oz. sausage
salt & pepper
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
package of ready-rolled puff pastry (there should be 2 sheets in a pack, and you’ll use both of them.)
1 beaten egg, to glaze (I didn’t use this because I was lazy, but it might explain why they didn’t turn out. Hmmm…)

Set your oven at 400 Fahrenheit/200 Centigrade/Gas 6/phasers to stun.

Combine parsley, onion, sausage, and salt and pepper in a skillet. Cook until onions are slightly translucent and sausage is no longer pink.

Unroll one of the pastry sheets onto a board. Brush mustard on the pastry and cut it in half lengthwise. Spread the sausage along the length of each pastry strip. Tightly roll the pastry around the sausage and brush the ends with the beaten egg to secure. Cut each roll into 10 pieces, each about an inch long, and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat for the remaining pastry sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the rolls are puffed and golden, checking after 15 minutes to make sure they don’t burn. Apparently these freeze (unbaked) very well.

Serve with tea…or something…I’m just going to stop talking.