Monthly Archives: June 2008


Just tried those “Man-Catcher Brownies.”

And…oh my.

I think we could also call them “Don’t Need a Man Brownies.”

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I was a Proverbial Damsel in Distress. And Then…

I like to pride myself on being fairly independent. I’ve taken care of myself for a long time. I’ve lived by myself in New York City for awhile. When problems arise, I usually freak out (remember my father’s infamous comment at my cousin’s wedding about how I will have to be tackled and sedated at my own??), but I always work it out.

Yesterday I was happily painting some furniture (I salvaged a medicine cabinet one of my neighbors was throwing out…and I have two chairs from Ikea that I REALLY wanted in red…but they didn’t *have* any in red and I had to settle for plain ol‘ wood and I have always sort of coveted red chairs) when it started raining outside. A quick, heavy summer storm. I was planning to have dinner with a friend and I was supposed to leave soon, so I was thinking about calling him to say that I would be a little late because I wanted to wait until the rain subsided…when I looked down at the newspaper under the medicine cabinet and thought, “Why is that all wet?”

I looked behind me and water was pouring in through under the back door. Ultimately, half of my apartment was covered by several inches of water…and it only got worse the longer I stood there and thought, “What do I do? What do I do?” The ONE thing my landlady said to me when I moved in was that I had to be sure to clear the drain of leaves and the like…so I thought, “Oh no! The leaves!” and when I looked out the back window, I saw waist-high water. Since my apartment was already leaking, I opened the door and tried to clear off the drain…but there was nothing there. And that’s when I felt completely useless.

I can cook for myself. I can clean. I can sew when I have to. I’ve maintained my own household. But when something like this happens, I have no idea what to do. I called my landlady’s daughter who lives upstairs…and she said that there was a party for one of the neighbors and they were all out of pocket. Instead, they sent over the son of one of my neighbors — this poor 16-year-old kid who ended up with his arm in the drain up to his elbow, scooping out sludge.

I also called one of my classmates, a relatively new Brooklynite who I ran into at the Mermaid Parade last weekend. By the time he got to my apartment, most of the water was gone…but, bless his heart, he mopped and then carried what he estimated to be 60 pounds of wet towels to my laundromat.

It’s frustrating to me that I am incapable to taking care of a situation like that. But! I am very lucky that I had such nice people around to help me out. So…I did the one thing that I *can* do and I promised them pie. It’s seasonally appropriate — I’ll have apple pie for my neighbors at their Fourth of July BBQ next weekend.

My classmate said he wasn’t picky about the pie…but he mentioned that his mother had just made a cherry pie and that made him feel nostalgic or some such and so I feel like I can’t *not* make him cherry pie now. I’ve never actually *made* cherry pie before…and wasn’t even sure what kind of cherries you use…but you can get frozen dark sweet cherries from FreshDirect…so even if my local grocery store fails me, I can *still* make cherry pie.

Cherry pie is also exciting because you can do a lattice crust…and I’ve never done one of those before. I don’t even have the rolly implement that you use to make one. But my buddy in the Pie book swears that lattices are easier than they look…so I trust him. (Ooh — and perhaps I can finally learn how to tie a cherry stem into a knot with my tongue??)

Although…there’s a lot of pressure here to make a good pie. It’s kind of like with Martha — I go running my mouth about how baking is a huge part of my life and how I do it all the time, etc., etc…but then I have to put my money where my mouth is…and disaster ensues (hello, Top Ten Baking Crises) and then I look like a big, fat liar and people have to be nice out of fear of making me freak out even more. It’s funny — I’m reading Julia Child’s “My Life in France” book and *she* said that she NEVER apologized for anything — even when she was starting out and made horrible stuff — because otherwise the person eating it feels obligated to say nice things to you to make you feel better…and that isn’t really fair to them because they have to eat something horrible AND stroke your ego.

But it would just be such a shame to not, you know, knock their socks off on the first go-round with this pie. So…I will channel The Secret or some such and hopefully my first lattice-topped cherry pie will be a glorious triumph.

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Into the Hallowed Halls…

I made those Man-Catcher Brownies today. And I plan to take some into work tomorrow. It will be the first baked good I bring to Martha. Wish me luck.

I haven’t actually *tried* them yet…but I licked the spatula and *that* was darn good. Everything you’d want from a brownie batter, I reckon.

They turned out pretty thick…which makes me worry a bit about the texture — there’s too much girth to be chewy…so hopefully my colleagues enjoy cakey brownies. It would be super-embarrassing if they turned out to be gluey after all the bragging I’ve done about my baking prowess (not unlike my very ugly lasagna on Week #2).

Also — for the record — I’m making them as more of a goodwill gesture rather than to actually ensnare anyone. And I’ve been told that no one in the test kitchen will know that I’ve brought in something. I’m not ready to face the pros yet.

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Coal Oven…What?

I was walking up Court Street the other day when a man stopped me and asked, “Is there a new pizza place around here?”

It took me a second (I always freak out a little in my head and think, “Omigod, someone’s talking to me”), but then it hit me — yes! There *is* a new pizza place in my neighborhood! So…I pointed him in the right direction.

This pizza place, South Brooklyn Pizza, seems to have been a work in progress for a long, long time. But the MOST intriguing part about it is that it serves COAL OVEN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES.

I wonder what sort of impact a coal oven has on them? Do they cook really fast? Are they really gooey? I don’t know enough about the science of baking to make any intelligent guesses.

It’s hard to beat a warm chocolate chip cookie though. So as long as they serve them right outta that coal oven, they *probably* can’t go wrong.

Once my Carroll Gardens pal gets back from Canada, I will try it out and post a review.

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If I Just Breathe…

It turns out Michelle Branch is a woman after our own heart: Tastes So Sweet.

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Links du Jour

Reminds me of Pimp That Snack: The Baker: Supersize Eclairs for a Crowd

What a great day it will be when they ask the presidents *themselves* for their favorite cookie recipes: Presidential Spouses’ Favorite Cookie Recipes

Check out the author: Prison Baking to Fund Charity

Alaska is still the bigger state: Cake This Wonderful Has to be From Texas

I may actually finally use my Sur la Table giftcard to buy a madeleine pan: Dad’s Madeleines: A Remembrance of Things Past

This is the kind of headline I like: It’ll End in Tiers

And…to a lesser degree: Getting Frisky with Frosting

Who knew they could bake?: Microsoft IE Team Sends Cake To Mozilla

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Man Bait…in Various Forms

It’s funny — after that article about Rome in today’s NYT, I was thinking about how much I really want to make a whole lot of pasta…which inevitably got me thinking about Rachael Ray’s You Won’t Be Single for Long Vodka Cream Pasta. (I’ve never made it before…but, oh, that name.)

Which is sort of ironic…because I *also* recently saw this story — Obsessive Baker Searches for the Perfect Brownie.

Although perhaps the reason you’re able to *catch* the man is because he up and has a heart attack from all that butter?

I *am* curious about the kosher salt though…

…and one of my colleagues said I can bring in stuff to work and no one will tell the professionals in the test kitchen. Which makes me less nervous about baking for them for the first time. (I was really embarrassed because the lasagna I made this weekend collapsed in on itself and was super-ugly…and here all this time I’ve been professing to the people that I work with that I *can* cook and that food is my *passion*…and then I show up at lunch with the ugliest lasagna EVER. Sigh.)

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Oh, Look: An *Actual* Banana Hammock.

When I first saw this, I was upset that it existed — the beechwood fruit and vegetable hammock.

But now that I’m sitting down to actually WRITE about it, I am having a hard time being angry enough to really poke fun of it and to sound witty and amazing.

I’ve seen ones that look like trees and that are kind of cute (although, to be fair, they were banana-specific and maybe wouldn’t work with other fruit and vegetables?)…but this one is just the worst.

Another thing that bothers me? When people you don’t really know use emoticons in emails. It creeps me out a little.

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Maybe Food in Midtown Ain’t So Bad?

My new gig is very close to my former office…so I am certainly familiar with the neighborhood. It’s even the same ol‘ commute with the same ol‘ faces I used to see every morning just ten short months ago. The only difference is that *now* I am on the *other* side of Bryant Park…and it’s kind of crazy — I am discovering all sorts of things that have been right here all along…and that I never knew existed.

Case in point: Crumbs Bake Shop. Granted, I’ve had cupcakes from Magnolia and Sugar Sweet Sunshine…but I had no idea there was a Midtown equivalent! (I still haven’t actually *been* to Crumbs…although I heard talk that there is a Snickers cupcake? Woah.)

Also? The wichcraft in Bryant Park apparently has ice cream sandwiches that are amazing and wonderful.

There is *also* a new Le Pain Quotidien near the park. I had a “Belgian brownie” there the other day…which is sort of a mishmash of cupcake and brownie. Good stuff.

Sigh. In seven weeks, I am going to be ENORMOUS.

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Right Around the Corner from My House!

And published in TWO places:

Progressive Celebrity Father’s Day Brunch in Brooklyn


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