Tag Archives: cupcakes

Julie & “Damian” & “D” & Julia

In the past several weeks, I have encouraged not one but TWO friends to start blogs…and these friends eventually created Making Miami Mine and The Tombudsman. Both have clear objectives and I’m really excited for them.

I, meanwhile, feel like I’ve totally run out of things to say. I hardly bake any more…and even when I *did* make cupcakes for a recent fake-gambling birthday, I used a MIX and the most intriguing topic I thought of was the dearth of appropriate sprinkles in my home. (I have red hearts and pink dots for Valentine’s Day and green dots for St. Patrick’s Day…but, after March 17, I’m can’t sprinkle anything again until the following February. And this is the most interesting thing I’ve had to say since April 19.)

So…I think it’s safe to say I’ve been in a bit of a writing rut. (Sounds like some sort of verbal exercise, doesn’t it? Like, say it five times fast? “WritingRutWritingRutWritingRutWritingRutWritingRut.”?)

So…I had this professor at Columbia I’ll call D. And D is a busy guy…but I am stubborn and I have hounded him for weeks (if not months?).

(Little sidenote: I have this wonderful high school buddy who has listened to me during many a panic attack and who has talked me down from many a ledge…and who even offered to be my date to my cousin’s wedding when there wasn’t a straight boy in sight…and I called him the other day because I love him and wanted to talk to him because there had been a little dramz, but he was super-busy and said, “Can I call you back?” and I said, “Sure…” and he said, “You’re not having a Lisa Moment, are you?” See how well he knows me?? [He also introduced me to this.])

So I guess we could say I had a Lisa Moment the other day. But, I mean, c’mon — my life was not supposed to turn out like this. I was not supposed to be staring 30 in the face and fake-gambling to support myself. And, sure, I wrote a book…but no one wants to publish it (spun another way: I haven’t found the right publisher yet…!) and my entire life plan at this point is that I’m going to get a book deal and it’s going to be huge and then I’ll pay off J-school and buy an apartment and winter in Turks and Caicos or whatever. But is this really a sound plan? I think the smart money is on no…but, I mean, I can totally make my peace with the Lean Times if I get to go on Oprah someday and laugh about the odd jobs I’ve sustained to support myself (…or Ellen, I suppose, if this doesn’t happen before 2011…)…but what if that never happens?? And that’s where I get myself into trouble…

So…once I snapped out of it and remembered Mama Slocum’s “one day at a time”-advice, I sent several emails…and one of them was to D…and, as luck would have it, the 2010 Columbians were graduating last Tuesday and he did not have plans afterward. So…after six hours of baccarat, I schlepped waaay up north…and he made me actually go *into* the J-school building (I had joked that I might be so embarrassed by my failed career that I’d have to hide in the bushes…)…and I don’t know if it was actually strange per se — just felt like a million years ago. And it was (only?) two.

So…D and I went to a local pub and ordered some grub (got that, bub?) and he settled in to make me feel better about my faltering career and to regale me with stories of what it’s like at the top. And I guess that’s really what I needed — someone to boost my ego a little bit and remind me what a really horrible publishing environment it is right now and that maybe it’s not me — it’s them! — and that many, many writers are plagued by self-doubt…so I’m hardly unique…and that it’s important to “take it to the mat” (read: never give up!).

And D gave me some really good things to think about in terms of what to do next with my 110,000 words. (I got a little burned out and had to set it aside for awhile…) And in doing so, he asked for the elevator pitch…and, among other things, I told him to think of it as David Sedaris meets Julie & Julia meets The Devil Wears Prada meets Bridget Jones meets I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti. And then we started talking about Julie & Julia…(I tried to get The Tombudsman to watch Julie & Julia — which I actually think is maybe not as girlie as everyone assumes…especially considering the scene in which Julia pulls a cannelloni shell or something out of boiling water and exclaims, “This is hotter than a stiff cock!” — but he adamantly refused, saying it was a gateway drug to Lifetime. Oy.)

And…I’ve totally already written about this before, but the Cliff’s Notes version is that in hindsight I’m not totally surprised everyone seems annoyed by the Julie half of Julie & Julia…but I still find her story heartening — it gives me hope that I can be a nobody in Brooklyn…but as long as I find a project that I am passionate about and embrace it completely, amazing things can happen. But…I *will* admit that I thought she was a little whiny in Cleaving. I do sort of admire her for not writing the same book again — I think it would have been really tempting to write Julie & Julia II with the second volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking — but…after awhile, it got hard to listen to her go on and on about how she couldn’t imagine life without her husband because they had known each other for so long that they were the same person but that she really, really, really was hankering for this guy she called, “D,” for most of the book (what a magical coincidence, huh?) and who she later IDed as Damian and who she happened to be schtupping and who she really, really wanted to schtup again and again…and her husband who was basically herself *knew* this and he was having his *own* affair and, oh, things were awful and messy…but no one was willing to *actually* do anything. So, in reading it, it’s hard not to think, “Change is hard! But, come on! It’s been 200 pages! Make a decision one way or the other and go with it!”

So…I was sort of telling Professor D all of this, he said, “You know, I know that guy she was having the affair with. He was in a really bad spot in his life then — he was sleeping with everyone.”

And that’s when it hit me that D is kind of a big deal. And I forget because, you know, he’s this brilliant hippie I can have veggie burgers with at a bar on the Upper West Side…but he’s *also* writing his eighth book and making a movie out of one of the predecessors…and he won a Pulitzer. So I shouldn’t be surprised — of *course* he knows the guy with whom Julie Powell was having an affair. (And my awe of D grew…)

And as if *that* wasn’t enough, I mentioned that no one really seems to like the Julie Powell half of the movie and D — who was also a Neiman Fellow, once upon a time — told me that he used to see Julia Child at the grocery store in Cambridge all the time. She was just there, doing her shopping…at the same time *he* was shopping.

And then, like, my proverbial eyes got huge and I couldn’t have thought of him more as a superstar. That’s right, folks — it wasn’t the Pulitzer, it wasn’t the upcoming film adaptation with the $6 million budget…it was running into Julia Child at a grocery store in Cambridge, Mass.

But THEN he added, “But I didn’t sleep with her.”

And that’s when he took it a little too far…

D was a Neiman Fellow in 1988. Paul Child died in 1994.

And the fact that Julia did not marry Paul until she was 34 is one of the things I cling to (I also used to cling to Sandra Bullock and Jesse James…but obvs do not do *that* anymore) as proof that maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world to be my age and still playing the proverbial field. And that perhaps if I am patient, the Love of my Life will fall from the sky and we will be deliriously happy for 48 years.

And so…if D had had some torrid affair with Julia Child in the late 80s, *that* would all fly out the window…and I would be left with my single-girl life…and nothing but fake-gambling (and an unpublished manuscript…and a cat that flushes the toilet when he is mad at me…) to comfort me. And that just can’t happen. So…I guess it’s too early to joke about stuff like that? Maybe after Mr. Wonderfulpants falls from the sky? Then I’ll be ready? Although…I *am* excited that D is my six degrees of separation from both Julia Child and Julie Powell…and I am relieved he did not sleep with either of them. But…if I had to choose (and Julia Child wasn’t already dead and/or 40 years his senior), I would *definitely* pair him up with Julie Powell.

(Remember that If They Mated feature on Late Night with Conan O’Brien? This may be an example of *me* taking it too far, but I actually wanted to maybe illustrate this post with an image of D’s face combined with Meryl Streep as Julia Child…but, alas, I cannot find an If They Mated generator…)

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Well, folks, this is what four dozen cupcakes looks like.

Soon they will be on their way to 48 Lounge…

GIT Cupcakes

And, really, it was kind of an atypical LL baking experience in that there were no real crises (although maybe that’s a dangerous thing to say as I still haven’t transported them yet…I didn’t mean to tempt fate — really…)

I mean, I think the icing on the orange carrot cupcakes could probably be a little thicker and the frosting on the chocolate peanut butter cupcakes could probably be a little thinner (but I already added two extra teaspoons of whipping cream and didn’t want to go overboard, you know?), but otherwise, everything turned out pretty much okay.

The only other snafu was that I went to the grocery store yesterday and forgot to get eggs…so had to buy a dozen this morning at the bodega around the corner…and I used quarters because I couldn’t be bothered to go to an ATM. But, I mean, they were $1.79, so it was only eight quarters…so it wasn’t that bad, was it?

So…all of this is to say I don’t really have anything else to say…making this a shockingly short post, no? And with visuals, too, no less! I’m really shaking things up here. Be prepared for *anything* next time.

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My Big Baking Week

Well, wow, after such an overwhelming response to my post about maybe leaving New York, the next is sure to be somewhat of a letdown…but, those of you who have been with me from the very beginning may be comforted to see me return to my roots: Next week is going to be a BIG baking week.

At 6:45 on Tuesday, for example, I have to drop off four dozen cupcakes for an Ad Week event sponsored by Girls in Tech. I got a cupcake carrier at Target yesterday that holds 24 (I LOVE these kinds of gadgets…and welcome any excuse to scoop them up)…and I think I can make do with existing Tupperware for the other 24. The question now is what *kind* to make. I could always fall back on red velvet…and the organization seems to like pink, so I could easily dye the frosting and/or not use as much food color to instead create pink velvet. Or there’s…

Carrot Cupcakes with Orange Icing

Zucchini Ginger Cupcakes…but I don’t really want to buy crystallized ginger.

White Chocolate Cupcakes with Candied Kumquats (which, let’s face it, I would totally make just to be able to say, “Oh, those? They’re white chocolate cupcakes with candied kumquats” as if it was no big thing…)

Carrot-Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Black-and-White Cupcakes

Brownie Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cupcakes

And…Orange-Cardamom Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting are indeed intriguing…but, orange-flower water? Give me a break.

(I also just noticed you can now print a shopping list from recipes on Epicurious.com — good move, guys.)

I think at this point, I’m going to plan on Carrot Cupcakes with Orange Icing and Brownie Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting. They both seem to have the best tastiness to uniqueness to ease-of-prep to ingredients-I-already-have-on-hand ratios.

THEN…September 24 (just two short days before, you know, the 26th) is National Punctuation Day which (admittedly odd) is celebrated this year with a baking contest. (It also brings me no end of joy that there is a link on the Web site for the Official Meatloaf of National Punctuation Day…which I implore you to seek out because — related — this may be the best thing I’ve read all day: “I thought, what if someone scooped the ground beef into an aluminum tin in the shape of a punctuation mark?”)

I think this is a no-brainer though: If ever there was a time to make chocolate chip cookies, this is it. PLUS, I don’t have to settle on just one punctuation mark with these cookies…I can mix and match commas and periods to create semicolons, colons, ellipsis…and *that* is a great relief to the Libra in me.

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Filed under birthdays, chocolate, cookies, cupcake, entrees, gadgets, parties, peanut butter, red velvet

Fifty Minus Two Equals…Well-Fed Tech Girls?

So…I checked out a Wii event a few months back and one of the organizers kept introducing me as the chick with the cupcake blog. This, of course, spurred everyone to say, “Oh! Are you with Cupcakes Take the Cake?” and I’d have to explain that, no, I don’t write for Cupcakes Take the Cake…and that my blog maybe started out as a pie blog, but it’s really just a mishmash now.

But…wouldn’t you know that the cupcake intro apparently resonated with one of the guests…as I got an email a few days ago asking if I’d bake cupcakes for a Girls In Tech event during AdWeek. They want 50…which, admittedly, is a lot of cupcakes for (little?) me to crank out. But, at the same time, I’ve been complaining forever about not having enough to do…so yesterday I finally agreed to it. However, it seems a lot easier to just do four dozen, so I asked if I could get away with baking 48. And I think this means I have to invest in a serious cupcake carrier.

I’m not sure what *kind* to make though. I feel like I’ve made so many red velvet cupcakes that I am actually blue in the face (note: color juxtaposition purposeful). And I feel like my red velvet always turns out kind of dry. (Aww…remember when I contemplated making blue velvet in order to get rid of all my food coloring?) And — not that I don’t love Girls in Tech, but — I’d like to do this as economically as possible. (The cupcake carriers alone mean I’m spending $40 before I even have any baked goods to transport.) Thoughts?

And, what’s more, the event is on September 22…which is just four days shy of 12 months ’til 30. I still feel like there has to be some sort of fun baking/blogging project I can do to commemorate the last year of my twenties. So…suggestions welcome. (If it nets me a book deal, you officially become my muse.)

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Simply Manischewitz!

Last week was a busy week!

First it was Kelly Ripa and Electrolux and their Red Hot Red front-load washers and virtual cupcake campaign

Then it was arc90 and a podcast…

And finally Friday was the Third Annual Simply Manischewitz Cook-Off at the Marriott Marquis (which is also where the New York Financial Writers Association holds its Financial Follies each year…so I couldn’t *not* think of the year I got stuck in the elevator and then rode a pedicab 40-some-odd blocks). I was on hand to see Amy Siegel of Clifton, NJ take home the big prize for her Marvelous Mediterranean Falafel Sliders.

I thought it was kind of amusing that the first reaction my friends had was “Are you cooking?” when I said I was going.

My other favorite part: I had a giant nametag that said I was a blogger and a woman came up to me and asked if it’s a Jewish blog…and then she explained she’s from the National Jewish Outreach Program and that she’s going around and asking people to say “Shabbat Shalom” and she asked if I’d do it. So…I had a quick little panic in my head and thought, “Should I tell her I’m not Jewish??” but then she told me about going to a rodeo and asking all the cowboys to say it…which I assume she told me to put my mind at ease? So…she turned on her camera and I said it and she recorded me. (I forgot they have a Chicken Soup Challenge, too!)

Now I have falafel mix to try out Siegel’s recipe…and will report back (here…or possibly elsewhere?) about my findings!

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I said I wasn’t going to lose my head…

Valentine’s Day is obviously a big baking holiday (I made cupcakes for PRNewser…but could only carry 16, so I didn’t cause much of a stir at the I-Heart party.), so that’s how I am justifying including this here. It’s sooo…2 years ago? 3 years ago?…but it was part of a Valentine’s Day with one of my favorite people (who loved to hate this movie), so…walk with me down Memory Lane, will you?

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Little Cream Cheese Blobs, Airy Cherry Filling, Brownie-on-Brownie Action & Amateur Photography

After a brief post-Pie Day baking hiatus, I got back into it with a vengeance last week.

I have a friend who does PR for a prominent provider of baked-good mixes and she needed help with photos, so I whipped up some Valentine’s Day-themed recipes and tried my hand at amateur photography.

This, of course, meant stocking up on cake mix…and when I was at the store, I was holding the basket down by my side and a little girl — who was maybe 3 or 4? — walked by and saw all the cake stuff at about eye level and said, “WOW!”

I didn’t get to the baking until Friday morning though…leaving it right up to the deadline. (Funny how that always seems to happen, right?)

First on the list was red velvet cupcakes. And I have say they were tasty, indeed…but it was a little disconcerting because the mix looked like any other chocolate mix until I added water and then — BOOM! — RED! (The first time I heard of red velvet cake was in Steel Magnolias with the armadillo groom’s cake…and even though the quality is bad here, I love this scene with Shirley MacLaine and and Tom Skerritt.)

It also required making a cream cheese mixture that I initially thought I’d have to swirl into each individual cupcake…but when I read the directions again, it said to just dollop it on top. I wasn’t quite sure what would happen (and I only have two muffin tins and didn’t have time to bake batch after batch after batch, so I made the 16 cupcakes that I had pretty darn huge to use up all the batter in one go…and then thought I had really screwed things up by dolloping cream cheese on top and that they’d overflow and set fire in my oven. Or something.). But…I was happy to discover that the little cream cheese blobs instead sunk down into the middle of the cupcakes…and even though they were a tad big (a friend came over on Saturday en route to a birthday party and I offered her one and she looked at it and said, “I can’t eat THAT! It’s HUGE!”), I think they were pretty. (It was *really* hard to photograph though because my apartment is dark — funny that I didn’t think of that when I volunteered to bake them…and my friend suggested a white background, so I had to fashion a little mini studio on top of my kitchen cart and then monkey around with a lamp and different camera settings).

Next up were some brownie clouds that required an airy cherry filling. I’m not a big fan of maraschino cherries, so suggestions are welcome on how to use up the rest of the jar as I really only needed three (and some juice). (Bonus points if you can pull in Jim Beam because I still have a bottle of that, too.) I also had to add food coloring to a tub of vanilla frosting…and now have a tub of pink *and* a tub of chocolate frosting (which sorta makes me think of Goldie Hawn in Death Becomes Her. [I also have a cat. Sigh.]).

I also wasn’t sure whether to make the brownies cakey or chewy…in the end, I went for cakey because it seemed like having more to work with would be better than less…but, in the end I’m sure if it made much difference.

I admit these cherry clouds were pretty (once I got the tops to stop sliding around because I used too much filling), but this recipe yields one intense baked good. It’s brownie-on-brownie. *With* creamy goop *and* frosting. I readily admit I am a pig. And yet I think this one would be too much for even me.

The last Valentine’s Day treat was similar — heart-shaped brownies cut from a pan — but this time it was a single layer *and* I got to showcase my cake decorating skills. I stuck to the phrases offered in the press release — Love, XOXO, I Love You and Hugs — and because I am stupid and weird I got all embarrassed on the train when folks peeked over and read them (I covered a Pyrex dish with clingwrap, so there they were, wide out in the open…because I think I lost my precious Pyrex lid on Pie Day!) as well as at the Super Bowl party where they spent their final hours. I felt kind of silly bringing them…but sure as heck didn’t know what else to do with them…and, like I’ve said before, I live alone and I’m freelancing, so I have no coworkers/roommate/boy wonder to eat them all.

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Filed under brownies, cherries, chocolate, cupcake, red velvet