Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving can also have tricks and treats

Happy Thanksgiving, American compatriots! If you're looking for something to do with that extra bag of cranberries you accidentally bought, I recommend sugaring them for a pretty table setting/delicious cranberry candy 2-hit combo.

sugared cranberries on a table set for Thanksgiving dinner

My contribution to the dessert table this year will hypothetically be this Pear Butterscotch Pie from Epicurious. "Hypothetically" because it's in the oven right now, and it's looking a lot more like one of Mrs. Lovett's pies than the thing in Gourmet's picture, and we're out of tin foil so I can't tent the edges of the crust to prevent overbrowning. [Though really, if I manage to not set it on fire I'll be doing better than I have with Thanksgiving dishes in the past. (I apparently only bust out the en fuego accidental for special holiday occasions. It's the best hostess gift ever? It's thematically warm & stressful?)] Will let you know how it turns out!

In the meanwhile, a non-caloric holiday treat: a new episode of Consumerism WOW by Adam & me! Adam picked the things we talked about this month, including but not limited to this shirt design:

Thing #5

a happy exclamation point
Lauren: Your dour demeanor so frequently belies your gleeful mood that you want to reassure people that on the inside, you are super excited about everything. OR you want to trick people into thinking that you’re super excited about everything so they’ll be off their guard for the unequivocal pants-kicking that you’re about to deliver them.

Adam: Well now that you explained about the pants-kicking my success rate at fooling people is going right in the toilet! And hey, I’m not dour, Lauren! I am inscrutably magi-cranky, thank you very much.

Visit Adam's blog to discover his nefarious consumer desires and learn some Science! He sure learned me about rainbows.

Friday, November 12, 2010

recipe: Not Quite Mom's German Apple Cake

Halloween may have super-sneak-ninja attacked me this year, but I had Fall all figured out. The day that the scent of cinnamon brooms battered me at my first step into my local grocery store, I bought some Granny Smith apples, went home, and apropos of no greater occasion than the season made this version of my mom's German apple cake.

cake topped with chopped apples, with a wedge cut out

If you wanted to be proper about it, you'd use all white flour and all white sugar in this cake to achieve the sweetest richness, and you'd slice the apples thin-thin-thin for galette-style decoration and chewy caramelization. My modifications yield an earthier, more everyday cake for those of us who don't own a mandolin and have come to comfortable terms with the fact that we'll wind up eating leftover cake for breakfast, and will feel better about it if there's a bit of whole wheat flour involved.

Dense and buttery with a bright, tart kick from the apples and a warming touch of cinnamon, this cake is Fall comfort. Unmodify it for a fancy party treat, or try my relaxed version for a laid-back, party-optional sort of thing.

Not Quite Mom's German Apple Cake
Serves 8-12 people.


3 granny smith apples
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
half a lemon, de-seeded as best as possible

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

2/3 cup white granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped)
2 tbsp bourbon, if you've got it


Peel & core your apples, slice them into wedges, and chop the wedges into roughly equal-sized chunks. As you go, place the resulting applebits in a medium bowl, tossing them with a squeeze of lemon juice to prevent browning each time you add a batch. Once all 3 apples are chopped, add the cinnamon & sugar and toss/stir/muss about with your hands to coat the apples. Set aside to macerate (i.e., soak & soften) while you prepare:

A pan! V. important to the cake-making process. I used a 9-inch springform for the cake in the photo, but a larger round or square should work so long as you shorten the baking time. Butter and flour your pan of choice and set aside.

Set your oven to 350 degrees F.

Measure your dry ingredients out into a medium bowl and whisk gently to combine.

In a larger bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together your butter and sugar for ~3 minutes or until the mixture has lightened in color and texture (indicating that cake-buoying air has gotten into it). Add the eggs, vanilla, and optional bourbon and beat for another 2 minutes to combine thoroughly.

Add your dry ingredients to you wet ingredients and stir with a spoon/spatula/other nonelectric device to combine. The batter should be shiny and smooth (keep stirring if it's not). Pour it into your prepared pan and wiggle the pan to distribute evenly.

Drain most of the liquid from your apples (they can be wet but shouldn't be dripping) and scatter the pieces across the top of the batter, pressing them in just slightly.

Pop the pan in the oven and bake for 60 minutes. Well, check it around 50 minutes. You're looking for the sides of the cake to be deep golden and pulling away from the pan, for the liquid between the apples to be sizzling merrily, and for little bits of batter to be poking up between the pieces of fruit.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan until said pan is handleable, then either remove it from the springform, carefully flip it out of your non-springform pan (using a plate to flip with instead of a wire rack), or simply slice and serve the cake from where it is. Seal tightly and refrigerate any leftovers, which should keep for a week.

*If you leave it in the oven too long, no worries: you can abuse this cake and it'll still come out okay. As long as it's not actually charred, just stick it in the fridge in a tightly covered container overnight and it'll be lovely and moist the next day. When you eat it for breakfast. Because that's what responsible adults who have used whole wheat flour do.

[I previously posted an iteration of this recipe done with pears instead of apples, which is lovely if you have heathens friends who dislike cooked apples.]

Thursday, November 4, 2010

feliz el too-busy-to-update mes!

Faithful readers! Fear not, for I have not abandoned you (entirely)! The past few weeks, I've been quite busy traveling to Boston again, doing that aforementioned job-what-makes-me-work thing, and making Halloween happen (I mean, not for everybody, but for some 80 people, anyway).

While in Bostontown I ate here and here, and had a tasty cocktail here. More about that later on when I have fewer wines and encroaching bedtimes the wherewithal to serve up proper foodpr0n.

a dog that is really excited about getting petHere in Atlanta I've been living the questionably glamorous life of a Social Media Nomad, which comes with an 80s-Saturday-morning-cartoon-style theme song, frequent visits to coffee shops with patient baristas & free wi-fi, and a really psyched dog (see illust., right). One of these days I might post a whole entry about all the coffee shops in town, and about how I'm spending too much money on Jeni's Ice Creams at Star Provisions and on sandwiches with Vietnamese-style pickles at Bocado now that I'm occasionally hanging out around the West Side. Until then, you can count on me to be fading in and out of shadows, a loaded MacBook on my back.

Somewhere among all that dull "necessary" stuff, Halloween happened! Through careful planning and wonderful friends, I managed to make this calavera Catrina costume go (please excuse the mess):

la calavera Catrina costume with an Edwardian-style dress

A seamstress friend, Jennifer, made the Edwardianish dress for me -- and if anyone else out there is looking to commission a garment (not necessarily Edwardianish), contact me and I'll get you in touch with her 'cause she's fabulous. The crucifix was cobbled together with bits from the jewelry-supply sale rack at Michael's, the makeup is Ben Nye cake and grease pencil, the gloves are Leg Avenue fingerless things from Sock Dreams, and the hat is all the spray paint, ostrich feathers, 50-cent ribbon, and hot glue that you can apply to a straw hat while in a mild state of hat-panic on the afternoon of your Halloween party. Both the makeup & hat were completed with the gracious assistance of a certain dreamthrum, who I guess I like pretty well.

So! What've you been up to?