Monday, May 30, 2005

Notes from a holiday weekend

Pardon me if this all seems a little random. I've got lots of teeny little unrelated things to say.

I'm still having trouble with my spongecakes. I tried making a Victoria sponge yesterday for a friend's birthday party, and it ended up being lopsided with a slightly sunken middle. Since there's no frosting to "cheat" with on a Victoria sponge, it looked like a hat that had been sat on. I quickly threw together a simple chocolate cake and took it to the party instead. We were left with the spongecake all to ourselves, which was fine with us because it tastes incredible.

So now I'm trying to figure out where I'm going wrong. My top two candidates are (a) incorrect oven temperature (I need a new oven thermometer to check this), or (b) whipping the egg whites a little too stiff, resulting in uneven folding and increased collapsibility. I guess I'll have to keep experimenting. Aww, poor me! Extra's a tough life.

I pickled some beets over the weekend. That I know how to do. You just boil some unpeeled beets until they are cooked through, then slough off their skins, slice them, and put them in a quart jar along with some sliced onions. Then you combine a cup each of cooking liquid, apple cider vinegar, and sugar. Heat that mixture up until the sugar dissolves, then pour it over the beets and onions. Let it sit for a while in your fridge and voila.

Another fun thing: When I made the quickie replacement chocolate cake, I ended up with some extra bittersweet chocolate glaze. I folded that into some leftover whipped cream from my birthday apple thingies and ended up with a remarkably stable, delicious cream-puff-filling type substance. This is probably something that a real pastry chef knows from Day One, but I am proud of myself for discovering it.

The s.o. and I took down a rotted pine tree that had been burned at the bottom by the illicit brush-burning activities of our Crazy Neighbor Ed. It was partly a selfish act--we didn't want it to fall the wrong way and flatten the back of our so-called guest house--but also partly an altruistic one, since we were kind enough to wait until Crazy Neighbor Ed's RV was out on the road before lumberjacking anything adjacent to its parking place. (Okay, to be honest, we don't care at all about CNE; we were actually concerned that he would sue us if our tree--which he damaged--fell on something he owned.)

It's amazing how tree-felling makes you feel like a complete badass. The s.o. notched the tree on both sides with the reciprocating saw while I pushed it in the direction of the lower notch. The goal was to avoid flattening ourselves or the guest house. We succeeded admirably. It creaked a couple of times and then WHOOOOSH it started to go down, and then it did a cartoonish BLAM! kind of thing when it hit the ground. Balsa-like rotted wood literally exploded out from it. It was cool. We loaded up the small pieces in the wheelbarrow and then dragged the main part across the yard to the burn pile.

I will wrap up today's extraordinarily fragmented post with the fun little meme that Jo gave me:

01. Total number of films I own on DVD/video:

Only 32. Collecting movies really isn't my thing because there are only a very few that I want to see more than once. Plus we have recently sold the majority of our collection in the name of Decluttering. But note that this number doesn't include DVDs of cooking shows, yoga routines, TV series, etc. I have a lot of those.

02. The last film I bought

I have no idea. It was forever ago. Maybe Bend it Like Beckham.

03. The last film I watched:

The Big Lebowski, for about the tenth time. I don't even own it; it just keeps popping up and of course I can't look away from it once it has started.

04. Five films that I watch a lot or that mean a lot to me:

Like Water for Chocolate
Breaker Morant
High Society
Dazed and Confused
and all of the Thin Man movies!

Tag five people & have them put this in their journal:

Nah...I've been meme-ing people like crazy lately. How 'bout you take it if you want it?