Thursday, October 28, 2010

Recipes You Learn Along the Way...

Going through life and minding your own business, you sometimes pick up useful tidbits from unlikely places. When I was in high school for instance, I was madly in love with this guy (which by the way I was scheduled to marry him in June of 2001, but that is a train-wreck for another time).

Anyway, I would go over to his parent's house and try to be as helpful and pleasant as possible. There were 5 kids in this household in a pseudo-Brady Bunch situation, and me being frequently-visiting type I am made it six. His mom's pantry was always full of tasty consumables, but trying to have a proper sit down meal around 6 teenagers was near impossible. She did eek it out sometimes to the tune of this cheap recipe. It could be served as any meal, and none of us complained when it was breakfast the next day. (not that I ever had it for breakfast at that time. I had to be home by midnight on Friday and Saturday thank you very much!).

Today's lesson, kids, is how to make Stromboli a la Bobby's Mom:

You will need:
1 package of frozen self-rising bread loafs (the kind I buy comes 3 to a package)
non stick cooking spray and saran wrap
1-2lbs. of breakfast sausage in your favorite flavor  (substitute chopped ham lunch meat for a healthier version)
1 large pack of shredded cheese that you like

Depending on how hot your kitchen is, you will need several hours to rise the frozen bread dough. Some people, who live in really well insulated homes, put it out before they go to work and it's risen enough to get by when they return after work. Putting it out about lunch time is average. Place the loaf in a well greased bread pan. (1 loaf feeds 2-3 people so rise the number that you need accordingly.) Spray the top of the loaf with more cooking spray, and loosely cover with a large piece of Saran-wrap. This will prevent the dough from drying out and/or sticking as it rises. Let the dough rise until it is about an inch over the edge of the pan.

When the dough has risen, or nearly risen, go ahead and fry up that breakfast sausage. One pound is enough for 2 loaves.When the sausage is sufficiently browned, for the love of God let some of the fat drain off on a few paper towels while you do the next step. Your heart will thank you later.

Pour some of that shredded cheese on a prep-plate, or just have it ready to get out of the bag, whatever.

Now this next bit might seem a little counter-intuitive after the whole, wait 10 hours for the bread to rise bit, but hear me out. The next thing you do is pop the dough and make a little trough in the middle like so:


n' trough

 The next step is laying down a layer of cheese, followed by a layer of meat, then more cheese.


Okay. The next two steps are tricky, so pay attention Myrtle. You are going to now seal up the loaf so that its guts are neatly encased. Simply fold over the edges and pinch them together. Gently now, don't get too rough:

Pinchy, pinchy
Now, if you're a bit lazy like myself, you can just pop it in the oven as is, and cook according to the bread bag's suggestions (usually like 20 minutes). But if you are a Polly Perfect and want to impress your son's girlfriend with your culinary skills, you can do the flip. Very carefully and oh so quickly, slide your hand under the entire loaf and flip it over so the pinchy side is down. Behold:

Now is not the time for pinching.

Flop! *raspberry noise*

Bake immediately as the teens are probably growing restless and pilfering bits of dough and cooked sausage. When it's done, slice it into pieces like any old loaf of bread. If you're a natural, it will look something like this:

I suppose could have put peppers and onions and other veggies in there if you like.

As a mom, you can try to do the respectable thing and serve this with a salad or something green, but let's be honest here, we're Americans. Grab a coke from the fridge, sit down in front of the tv, and enjoy the stromboli for what it is.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Clearly, Home EC is not in Our Family's Genes

We all know that I am no domestic goddess. I come by it naturally as is evidenced by my mother's lack of skill in the kitchen. However, I thought out lack of domestic skill was confined to our household. Unfortunately, it appears to be a more prolific deficiency, affecting other females in the extended family...

My cousin Stephanie's apartment...most likely after a UT game.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Returning from the Dark Side- Wal-marts Can Go to Hell

Houston is all in an up-roar about the potential of ANOTHER Wal-mart being built in a quant little area of town known simply as "The Heights". This is a small, historical area of town that has a very diverse population. It is an up and coming community that is somewhat costly to live in, but it has that "un-spoiled" feel about it. It still has trees, neighbors know each other, and your kids can play outside without fear of being snatched up. It is so unique and full of all these small mom-and-pop shops that you can lazily walk about on Saturday mornings. Wal-mart has threatened to come in and destroy the very essence of this neighborhood.

Spokespeople from Wally-Hell talk about how they are going to build a Wal-mart that fits in with the vision of The Heights. Well that is just crap. There is no such thing. That is like saying you're going to make Lebron James fit in at a KKK meeting.

Most of you already know my feelings about Walmart. Most people think I'm a little *ahem* crass, but I noticed lately that others have joined the f-Walmart bandwagon. I read this awesome blogpost in the city newspaper this morning about another woman's disallusionment with this store. She has lived long enough to know what Wal-mart was before it became the Anti-Christ. Also, I don't want to hear any back talk about how it's not affordable to shop anywhere else. This woman has NINE kids and still finds better bargins elsewhere. Bravo lady.

It is kind of ironic that my own Mother used to work for Sam Walton (read: NOT WAL-MART). She grew up near Bentonville, Arkansas (birthplace to this pit of doom.) She used to pick peaches for him when his stores were wholesome places, not blood-sucking, community killers. She told me that stories of him driving her to the little soda shop in town at the end of the week as long as she worked hard and didn't talk to "those no good boys". She remembers those summers fondly.

Wal-Mart before it became the Anti-Christ.

I'm sure Mr. Walton didn't envision his store ruining small town America. I mean, his shop was ma-and-pa at one time. Too bad his successors only cared about money. There have been acutal studies, like one by Kenneth Stone, a Professor of Economics at Iowa State University, that found that some small towns can lose almost half of their retail trade within ten years of a Wal-Mart store opening. Great. All this cheap, plastic crap, but nobody has a job to buy it. It's like a virus...a 197,000 square foot (on average) virus.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Weddings Make Women Lose Their Minds...

I recently had my first bridal shower, and let me just say, "It is official, I have lost my mind." I got the bright idea to let everyone else handle the food for the shower except the little mini fondant cakes I wanted to make. Well, naturally it turned out a huge mess that went down something like this:

T'was the Night before the shower and all through the kitchen
women were cursing, and screamin' and bitchin'!

Mom lost the fondant cookie cutters, and my bright idea to use cutters to make little round cakes didn't pan out. The cut-outs just crumbled into little pieces everywhere. My aunts, who were hosting the shower, were ready to give up and buy store bought cakes. I could not bring myself to give up though, so I made a plea to start over making cupcakes instead. We tossed out the two, crumbled cake-messes that we had attempted to turn into something cute and respectable, and dashed off to the store for cupcake holder thingys. Well, my mom did because she was so upset about losing the fondant cutters that she needed to clear her head.

I, on the other hand, set about to rolling and cutting out fondant circles in preparation for later. So, after a few more hours of baking, we had some cute, little fondant-covered cupcakes. Mom went out and bought more little cutters, but we failed to get pictures with all the cute designs because we had 40 cupcakes to go. So basically you see the base coat here:

I somehow managed to get fondant all over my feet. Don't ask me how.

Because I was sucha horse's ass about having these things meticulously perfect, my lovely aunts went about other pressing duties...

Aunt Loyce, finger sandwich extraordinaire! (and Official Butt Swatter. Apparently I tried to help too much.)

Acting as sous chef, housekeeping, and family matriarch was Aunt Pat.

Official title: Watermelon Fruit Bowl Maker
Between the four of us arguing for an hour, we finally decided on my Grandmother's buffet as the official tea holding location. (The theme was a tea party.)

Me and Mum share a spot of tea.

Then the party started, it was craziness. The cupcakes and sandwiches were hoowarfed down in no time because 31 of the 37 people invited showed up. Let me just say that this was NOT AT ALL EXPECTED because:

a.) I'm a horse's ass and a bad friend. So naturally, I didn't expect that many people to come. What a surprise this was:
That's not all of it either, there are packages behind me as well.

I also had an incredible game planner. She took tired, old shower games and breathed new life into them. They were hilarious and fun for all!

Glee fanatic, Gingerific gal-pal Samantha (Matron of Honor Extraordinaire!)

Here is a picture of one of her games, where people had to memorize what was on my apron and try to remember when I left the room. The person who remembered the most wins. Knowing that I love to cook, she made everything cooking related, and bird-themed, like the wedding. Truly awesome!

There was the inevitable opening of gifts, in which I tried hard to make it interesting so people didn't get bored out of their minds. There was the bow incident...

A near disaster with Jon's mother grew concerned when I mentioned that he and I had to argue about registering for some towels. I had said that I knew standard towels wouldn't fit around him because he is such a big guy.  Side NoteHe wanted to register for one towel for each of us, and ones that were so small that it wouldn't go around him. I insisted on "bath sheets" and added a few more to the registry behind his back. Seeing Jon's mother's uneasiness my mom calls out, "How do you know a regular towel won't fit around him..."

 Thanks Mom for calling me out. (Sam saved the day: "Ummm, hello! THE POOL!")

I was totally embarrassed and tried to hide in said bath sheet.

 So other than that, all went well. When the boys started sneaking around for a sandwich, they found all the food gone and had to fend for themselves. I got a kitchen full or neato gadgets that I am itching to try out. I am thinking up my next challenge as I type...something involving using every new gadget I just got and chronicling its use here. Whew what a day! I couldn't have imagined a more perfect shower. It was beautiful, I felt beautiful. I felt so loved by all the special women in my life.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Shower Gifts, Tantrums, and Oh So Sweet Ribbony Revenge

I have to say, one of the greatest parts of having a transition in life...i.e. graduation, promotion,  baby, wedding (not particularly in that order) is the awesome loot that usually accompanies it.

Tuesday, our first wedding shower gift came in the mail and the label of Williams & Sonoma on the box was enough to make me nearly pee my pants with excitement.

Well, I take that back. Technically, this wasn't the first shower gift, the first arrived at my mother's house on Saturday. However, I was chased off whenever I got remotely close to the gift, like a dog lifting his leg on the Christmas tree. You see, I can't handle suspense, surprises, and spontaneity.

Someone once said, "Isn't delayed gratification the definition of maturity?" Clearly, I was dealing with something waaaaaaaay beyond my maturity level.

The Ensuing Argument *with minor embellishments* : 

Me to Jonathan: Now darling, the sooner we open this, the sooner we can graciously thank the giver for this lovely item. I can start the thank you card immediately.

Jonathan: Get away from that box! Don't make me come over there, I'm not buying your lame excuse. You're like a kid!!! You have to wait until the person is at the shower so you can open it in front of her.

Me: *pouts* but this person isn't even coming, that is why she sent it ahead. I should at least be able to get the card out.

Jonathan: No dice. Back away from the gift.

Me: It has MY name on it, it is addressed to ME, I should get to decide the fate of the box.

Jonathan: Don't make me call your mother. She will side with me on this one.

Me: You wouldn't dare. (he didn't have to, her ears must have been burning on her vacation because she called us just then.)

Me to Mom: Mommy dear, the most enormous package has arrived and I would be ever so pleased if I could open it. Of course, I only want to open it so I could write the thank you note directly as you raised me to attend to such matters in a expeditious manner.

Mom to Me: I don't think so. (I'm sure I heard finger snapping on the other end of the line.)

*Jonathan observes my pout*
Jonathan yells to Mother: I told her she couldn't open it!!!!

*Me practicing dexterity of middle finger in Jonathan's general direction*

Mother: I agree with Jonathan. You can't open it until the party.

Me: Blast. *hang up*

So on Tuesday when the UPS man throws this package outside the porch, I was at first taken aback. What was this. Then the Williams & Sonoma  label tipped me off that there was cooking-related, joy-inducing gadgets inside.Since no one was around to get on to me, I couldn't resist. I told myself the box (which is the size of a small dorm room fridge) was too big to lug down 3 flights of stairs, 90 miles to the shower on Saturday, just to drag it back across Houston and up the stairs again. Besides...the UPS guy so carelessly tossed it on the porch, the contents could have been broken and I would need to report any damage directly!!!

I opened the box slowly and carefully, savoring each layer of bubble wrap. Inside the jumbo box was a beautifully wrapped box, still quite large. The paper was thick and luxurious, with pineapples (the symbol of hospitality) all over it. I savored the texture of the paper, almost regretting having to end its short, beautiful life. I'm a sucker for lavishly packaged gifts. (I still seal letters with wax and ribbon). Speaking of ribbon, the box was wrapped in a 10ft, emerald satin ribbon. Oh!!!!!!!!!!! The decadence! I slowly pull to unwrap the bow, but not before hastily snapping this out of focus shot to text to Jonathan later:

Kitty stands in for perspective.

I open this box to two more boxes inside. (At this point I am beginning to think this might be a joke, like the Christmas my cousin wrapped up a refrigerator box with like ten, progressively smaller wrapped boxes inside of it... only to find the the last box had a small trinket inside like a political button). Nevertheless, I open the interior boxes to find a beautiful stoneware pie dish and cake stand. One Italian made, the other French. I snapped a respectable picture to send with the thank you note:

Notice me clutching the ever so lovely ribbon in my hands. (OH! and the clean kitchen behind me!)

However, I don't think this picture accurately portrayed the true essence of my joy at this moment. After a brief contemplation, I decided that my bleaders knew me well enough to guess how I really reacted when I opened the box. For those of you who are newbies...see below:

Cooking stuffs and ribbon...what more could a foodie ask for?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More Cheesy Wordlessness

Baby Swiss, Cheddar, Johansburg Brie?, Fruit & Spinach. Just another day in paradise.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Social Networking? Are you a fan?

With the proliferation of fan pages on facebook about everything from "Drinking from a water hose" to "Sagging your pants", I thought it was a great time to add my own Facebook fan page. As with most fan pages, I am sure 96% of the "friends" will not actually be readers of the blog, but hey...I am always open to new ways to attract a larger readership. So without further ado, will you be my friend on Facebook?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Saying Good-bye to the Manor

As with everything good in life, a time comes when it all has to end. This time, it is the Manor's turn. Kail is looking to buy a house of his own and is making some cheaper living arrangements in the interim, Jon and I are getting married, Weefee...not sure where he is going just yet. It's a sad state of affairs really, we joked that we should by a quadplex, each couple living in it's own respective area, but merging regularly for misadventures. I guess techinically it would have to be a quintplex since we are all not coupled, but I digress. I will always have fond memories of the Manor, and of the friendships forged there...not to mention some of the incredible, and sometimes scary, food we made together and devoured. I hope I can get one more shot of us all together in front of the place one last time; however, if I cannot here is a little stumble down Manor Falls Drive with the people that made the manor "The Manor". I guess if you want to get all philosophical, it's not really the building that makes a place great, rather it's the people you share the space with that makes it so memorable. Sorry I am not clever enough to do a mashup video to "Dust in the Wind" or something like that. You will just have to scroll.

How Not to Get Yelled at at Whole Foods and Other Wordlessness

Watch out! A bit risque! Non-Whole Foods Shoppers, cover you eyes!

Tip One: Buy over-priced yet scrumptious food.
This meal was orgasmic. *nom nom nom*
Tip 2: Savor your merch in the dining area and act like you are texting
while you snap away at items you now legally own. Look over your
shoulder constantly out of fear of public shaming.

Being Chastised at Whole Foods: An Embarrassing way to Spend Your Saturday

Saturday morning I had a wedding dress fitting, after which I had to kill like 5 hours before a spa appointment. Well, I had no idea what to do because I thought the fitting would take much longer, and the spa would not budge on my appointment time. (Which I found out was due to the fact that it wasn't really a spa, but a house converted into a business, which consisted of exactly 1 parking spot.)

When driving around the rich people neighborhood of River Oaks and drooling over the houses I could probably never afford in my lifetime (not the McMansions, but the charming older homes resembling cottages from Lord of the Rings and are expensive by proxy), I decided a short trip to Whole foods was in order. Silly me though, usually I only buy meat, dairy, and other perishables at Whole Foods. There was no way I was going to buy that stuff today, because it would spoil between the walk from the entrance to the car in Saturday's heat. No way could it last til after the spa. So I contented myself with grazing on samples and getting a few not-so-perishables.

You know that feeling when you realize that you are about to witness a train wreck and there is really nothing you can do to stop it? This was the feeling I got as I strolled down the raw grains aisle. I am about 30 feet from a lovely display of all the shop's flowers, in particular an ill-conceived arrangement. The heavy sunflowers hung precariously over some very expense orchids. I noticed that the sunflowers slowly shifted to one end of their container and were starting to tilt. A light goes off in my head: Go race over there and stop that bucket from crashing! Alas, as I am doing the delicate dance between acting and bystander apathy, the sunflower bucket falls as if in slow motion, crashing into a shelf of other flowers, which in turn knocked over the entire floral display. Now I am doing the delicate dance of turning around and acting like I just didn't witness this, or going to try to help right the situation.  I chose to do nothing. This is not in my nature, but I did not want to be blamed for the avalanche of petals, and thus be held financially responsible for catastrophe. I have learned that when it comes to stores, they automatically assume the person trying to help is the one responsible for the accident. No way I was getting stuck with $1000 worth of organically grown exotics when I was minding my own business in bulk spices.

A gentlemen in my aisle, walks up to me and says, "Don't worry, I'm a witness and you didn't do it." I chuckled uneasily, telling him I meant to try to stop it, but I was just too late. "I'll tell them you didn't do it," he said. He went and got someone, as I was somewhat frozen in place. I can't tell you why. Like I said before, I didn't want to be associated with the debacle, but I was so close to the end of the aisle I had no place else to go. After some of the store authorities jumped in and started trying to salvage the situation, I made a break for it. Later down the next aisle, the man that alerted the crew to the incident jokingly chides me down the whole next aisle about why I had to knock down such a pretty display. So now, everyone browsing crackers thinks I'm the person who did it. I get some dirty looks. Fabulous.

I race off to my favorite area of the store, which is, of course, the cheese display. I think to myself, what a lovely idea for a blog post. Posts are always prettier with pictures, so I whip out my phone for a quick pic. Suddenly, a dude from the cheese counter very loudly exclaims: "YOU CAN'T TAKE PICTURES HERE!" I turned as bright as a lobster because everyone from fine wines, to chocolates is now starring at the bozo taking pictures of Gouda and Drunken Goat. I walk up to the counter and apologize and try to explain that the picture for a blog of little consequence, with a mere readership of perhaps...6 and a half. The CheeseDude says too bad, store policy says that I could be a Kroger-spy trying to copy Whole Foods' proprietary ideas, and all photographs have to be approved by the store's manager. Jeez-Louise! Like Kroger-spies are taking pictures with pink-glittery IPhones. (Kail brought out a point later that if Kroger really wanted to steal ideas from Whole Foods, they would just have to Whole Food's own website and see all the same stuff.) Google was kind enough to provide about 900 million pictures of Whole Foods' cheese display. Apparently, cheese spies are rampant. It's almost a pandemic...

Oh the Horror!

Cheesy-Idea Thievery!
This Just In: Cheese displays photos leaked to media! Whatever will we do!
The displays are only to be viewed by the millions of customers that visit one of our 273 stores the U.S. states; six in Canada; or five in the United Kingdom!

Of course, I'll probably get the pants sued off me by some litigator trying to make a name for himself. I will have it known right now that I did not snap these illicit photos, I merely stole them from some other mischievous, aberrant-minded delinquents that share the same love-affair with cheese as I do.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Adware and Other Pissed off Rants

I was scrolling through some older posts when I started looking at some of the ads on my blog. Now, I know my kitchen has the occasional infestation (the most recent being ants), but nothing could have prepared me for seeing a giant cockroach crawling up the side of my blog post. No not a real one, though I can understand why you would think that. It was a giant sidebar ad for Terminex Exterminators. Who wants to read about food when a giant roach ad is crawling up the screen. Thanks an f-ing bunch Google.

All I can figure is that it is pulling key phases off my posts to generate "related" ads, and hoping for a click. It couldn't be an ad for culinary school, Julia Child's cookbook, or at the VERY least...something Julie Powell related. No no...exterminator. Do me a favor please, click only non-bug related ads. It probably doesn't matter in the least... no one reads this blog anyway.

Where did we go wrong with our food?

I was reading a news article today about "how the government doesn't want you to know about the chemicals in our food". The article states that there are over 62,000 chemicals that the food industry at large does not have to report to federal regulators. WTH?! Where did we go wrong?

I'm reminded of a certain foreign friend (no, not WeeFee) who once commented about how beautiful our food looked here in the US, but basically that is was tasteless, or worse...tasted like fertilizer. Sadness...

Now, I'm no hippie, but supporting chemical free, locally produced food seems like a logical idea. I love farmers markets simply for all the neato things you see, and all the rich smells and colors. I want to grow some of my own food to some extent, like wonder-woman/super-mom BFF Sam. However, living in a tiny apartment doesn't lend itself to gardening too well. And don't all you city dwellers talk to me about balcony just wont work here. For a veggie or fruit plant to produce, it needs full sun most of the day. My balcony is wedged between another building and faces north. No dice, not even for those wacky upside down tomato dillys.

 I was reading about organic gardening, and found that before the WWII, most people were getting/growing their foods in sustainable ways. However, the war created a great demand on food stuffs, and the introduction of chemicals and injected hormones became a common way to increase crops in a time when rations were uncertain. Since then, this continues to be the standard. Growing up, I didn't think anything of it. We didn't wash our fruit when we brought it home from the store. We ate the grapes right out of the bag. Some experts say grapes are some of the worst chemical holders. sigh.

Sorry for the rant, but as a country, we need to make a return to natural food. Call me a little narcissistic, but where ever the US leads, other countries will follow. Now don't get crazy and go on the raw tangent either. Let's not get too hasty. Just try to get as chemical free as possible. The only way this will happen is if people quit buying processed crap food. It's called the Power of the Pocket Book people. Think about it: Processed foods are so soft and tender because the processing component takes the work your jaw and stomach used to do. That is why these foods are less satiating. They just move right through your bloated, American gut because there is less work for your body to break down this "food". Because there is less to break down, it has to be injected with chemicals to keep it soft and fresh. Eww. Just Eww.

Another thing to consider: when you buy your food from local sources, you are buying American. I know that is REALLY important to some folks. That means one more American farmer has a job, is making a living supporting his family, and is not on the welfare rolls. That is probably the most important thing to remember.

It is scary how people have become so separated from what their food is and where it comes from. It honestly astonishes me. Sam teaches high school English. When she used to teach in a lower income school, her high school students couldn't tell her where hamburger meat came from. Their answer: The Poor People "Grocery" Store. They serious had no idea that that plastic pack of hormone-laden, meat product once belonged to a cow.

Kail's father, Mutt, owns cattle. Kail is no stranger to the slaughter house, the circle of life, or whatever you want to call it. Kail's father's ire still rises when he recalls an encounter with a pack of high school girls at a gas station a few years back:

He was taking a bull past its prime to the slaughter house and had to pull into a gas station to refuel.  A gaggle of silly girls got off a nearby school bus to get some snacks at the gas station. They came over to ooh and aww about how cute the bull was, and inquired to where it was being taken. When Mutt told him the slaughter house, they all started crying and calling him an animal killer, etc silly teenage girls are wont to do. Mutt notices one of the girls is eating a sandwich:
"What's in that sandwich?" he asks.
 "Roast beef," she snaps back in a sassy tone.
"What do you think roast beef is?" he prodded.
*blank stare*
"You're eating cow right now!"
*horrified, look on girls face* She runs back to the bus crying.

Parents, it's time for an intervention. Get your kids off the interweb, PlayStation, sexting, or whatever mischief they are getting into right now and ask them if they know where hamburger, or pork, or poultry comes from. Please post what they tell you. I'm dying to know...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ode to Samantha, GLEE fanatic and true friend

Ode to Samantha:
*She is the icing on a cupcake, the ginger in gingerbread.* *wink wink Sam*

Allow me a moment to get sappy.  I remember when making a friend was as simple as being in the same class or liking the same games in school. The older you get, the more you realize you need those people that remember how you were when you younger, happier, and didn't give a damn about anything. Making friends is harder when you're all grown up. It takes lots of work. 

Being the self-centered, attention-seeking person that I am, I haven't had a REALLY close friend in years. Mainly because, to be honest, I am a shitty friend. I am working on that. When I became engaged in March, Sam was the only woman in my life that I knew I could truly rely on. At the time, we were not particularly close, but when I asked her to be my matron of honor, she said she was so honored and got all choked up about it. She sounded so genuine that you would have thought that I had asked her to be my MOH over say.. a twin sister or something. Sam is unselfish, giving, and beautiful. She is everything I wish I could be.

Her birthday was last week, and I knew I just had to something to show her much she means to me. This is kind of hard to explain because BFF's are usually mutual. I won't pretend to believe that I am Sam's BFF, but she is most certainly is mine.

Sam loves so many things, except vegetables, seafood, and red velvet cake. Her husband had already planned a dinner out with the gang, so making her an incredible meal was out of the question. I send him a quick tweet asking if I could make her a cake. He had no objections so my confectionery gears started grinding.

I also know Sam is a fan of a few tv shows and movies, but GLEE in particular. Glee is like a culmination of so many things that Sam loves: pop music, musical theater, triumph of the under-dog, and great educators that support students.So after about 30 seconds of thought, I decided that a Glee cake was the way to go. I am thinking: fondant letters with a butter cream icing.

Sudden pause: Jonathan is freaking out when I spill this plan. He thinks this is waaaaaay to involved for transport directly after work in 100* degree heat. He applauds the thought, but thinks it is ill advised to try, yet again, a new recipe/technique when something this big is on the line. *I told him to shove it and not be so critical*

So what if I had never worked with fondant before! How hard could it be? I did a quick google search of Glee cakes, and saw 3 or 4 varieties. Then I stumbled upon some cute cupcakes involving minimal fondant and Cheerios cereals. (Apparently, this is a reference to the cheerleaders on the show, which are referred to as "the Cheerios".) I thought it was definately something I could pull off. Then, I got the idea of making some "popcorn cupcakes" so it would be like sitting around watching her favorite show with a bowl of popcorn. So here is how it went down:

Deadline: Friday  at 6:30 p.m. 

Tuesday: Went to the grocery store and bought a gagillion things. I couldn't decide on which cupcake flavor to buy, so I got a yellow/chocolate swirl. That way everyone could be satisfied. Got buttercream icing knowing she likes it best. Also, got a variety of primary-colored fondants. yum yum.

Wednesday: Day of mental preparation/anguish. Purchased shiny, silver foil cupcake papers, and a bakery box for transport of precious cargo. Made it home and began prep on the "popcorn" component of the cupcakes, which is actually marshmallows. This is how to do it:

1. Using the miniature marshmallows, take a pair of sharp scissors and make 2, crosswise cuts across the flat part of the mellow. It is incredible how realistic this looks. *note: this technique could also double as a molar on a toothy cake.* Anyway, it takes, like a dozen or more per cupcake, repeat this step approximately 9 million times if you are making a huge batch.
     2. After I had snipped about 1/2 a bag of these, I sealed them up and cut fondant squares with a knife. I used a simple template cut out of a manila folder. You have to roll it much thinner than you think you do. A little goes a long way. FYI, the hotter fondant gets, the more stretchy it is. My squares didn't stay perfect as I cut them under track lighting, but they were close enough to satisfy me.  I put them in the fridge for use later.

    3. I also spent some time printing little Glee logos off the internet, printing them in color, and cutting them out. I couldn't afford the edible paper, even if I could find it. I made a mental note to remind everyone not to eat the paper logos at the party. (Didn't work... WeeFee ate his anyway.)

    Thursday: Baked the actual cupcakes, iced the ones that were to be the popcorn ones. I added the "marshmallow popcorn" and used an aerosol food-coloring to dye it yellow as if buttered. By the way, I think I can understand why those workers at the popcorn factories talk about the toxic, butter flavoring. That dye smelled like I was using spray paint, but there was no SNAFU. It was food dye..*

    I wasn't satisfied at first, but after seeing 3 together it started to look awesome.
    Friday: Raced home from work, iced remaining cupcakes. First you adhere the fondant square in the middle, then you dip the cupcake on a plate of cheerios. After that, apply a small dot of icing to the back of the paper logo and adhere to the fondant. Add some candy sprinkles for an extra pop of color, and  you get these beautiful results...

    Glee is abounding at this point!!!
    We get the cupcakes all loaded in the car and dash across town to the restaurant without incident. We get them in the restaurant fridge just before she arrives. She has no clue they are coming out. Her expression was priceless...

    Love you Sam. Happy Birthday!

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