Wednesday, November 30, 2011

things from Klout: Lot18 credit for Superba coffee

For my readers with hearts too gentle to venture into social media, this is Klout. It's unpleasant because it turns communication and sharing into a ranked game with no clear rules for winning, and it's kind of interesting because -- well, because even obscured rules are interesting, and because Klout has partnered with advertisers to give its members free stuff. Citizens of the Internet provably enjoy free stuff, and I'm no exception.

One of the genuinely cool things about Klout is that they have a forthright free-stuff disclosure policy. Members aren't obligated to talk about the samples & other perks they receive, but if they do, they're asked to disclose that they got it for free. Which is an important thing to do because the act of receiving a gift creates a bias.

So the thing is that I don't actually recommend signing up for Klout -- Schmutzie details a whole lot of good reasons why you shouldn't over here, including shady privacy issues and the aforementioned unpleasantness -- and I'm really only in it for the free stuff, and eventually, when my sense of morality outweighs my appreciation for free stuff, I'll quit. But I've discovered a few awesome products via Klout, and I wanted to share them with y'all. Here's one of them.

This one time Klout gave me a free $20 credit for Lot18, with which I ordered coffee from Superba. (That link to Lot18 is an affiliate link. If you go sign up through it and then buy something, I get credit there.)

I adore the roasty bitterness (erm, and caffeine high) of all coffees, and I'm unlikely to turn my nose up at any cuppa. But I do have a binary categorization system for coffee quality: I dilute & soften less-good coffees with milk and I drink tasty-unto-themselves coffees straight. The iteration of Superba's Classic Blend that I received falls into the latter category. Rich and dense, this coffee smells savory and tastes like wood and chocolate and citrus and caramel. When brewed in a drip cone it has a serious gravity to it, and would stand up to all sorts of heavy, sweet, holiday-spiced desserts -- linzertortes, apple pies, buttery cakes, gingerbread. It's a bit more delicate when brewed in a French press, but still heavier than the description on Superba's site indicates. And it's a kick in the head in the morning, which is generally what I'm looking for.

Superba roasts and packs its coffees when you order them and sells only whole beans, which is pretty much the best way to treat coffee -- after a couple weeks, roasted beans begin to go stale, and grinding them expedites the process exponentially. (All pre-roasted & pre-ground coffees go into my add-milk category. And while we're talking coffee snobbery: Get yourself a drip cone & some filters or a French press. Using either will improve even the cheapest coffee over using an electric coffee machine.) The company is based in L.A. and claims to source its beans responsibly. Their coffees retail for $12 to $16 per 12-oz. package (which is what good coffee costs), plus $7.95 flat-rate FedEx shipping. For the record, my standard of tasty coffee is Counter Culture.

Most of what Lot18 offers is wine & schmancy things that're out of my price range, and since my qualifications for 'good' wine are a) Is it less than $12? and b) Is it dry?, Lot18 isn't really the best service for me. And at honesty o'clock, I have to admit that I find the site's voice pretentious and their default email setting (2-3 per day) complete overkill. But I can see it being a nifty thing for someone with more cash & feelings about wine than I have. In case you're interested in trying Lot18 out, Klout is offering the first 5 people who use this link a free $20 credit there. I'm not sure whether you'll have to sign up for Klout to get the credit, but there you go. Lot18 offers free shipping deals regularly, so make the most of your credit by watching for those.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

while I was out

Ohai. This blog still exists.

My editing gig at How Stuff Works has been kicking my ass -- mostly all in ways that I love -- and between that, freelance editing, and general laziness, I haven't had much motivation to actually use this blog in the past, what, six months? I haven't even been writing on paper. It's seemed too much like work.

Which is really just an entirely lame point of view to embrace. Creation is work, but it's fabulous work. It's the kind of work that makes this whole silly Universe a worthwhile place to hang out in. So ohai, readers. Here are a few things that I've been working on while I was out:

Articles on sundry things, such as How Megalodon Worked, How a Supernova Works, and How Coffins Work among many others. I get to learn about new things every week and source bizarre images and do grammar every day and work with ridiculously intelligent people, and when it's not overwhelming it's the most fun I've had at a day job.

Christopher Buecheler's sequel to The Blood That Bonds, Blood Hunt. And bits from the third book in the trilogy, The Children of the Sun, which I am studiously not linking because all of the parts of the Internet that pertain to it involve spoilers for the first two books. I do recommend editing nonfiction by day and a vampire novel during your off hours, should you happen to have the editing skills and sense of masochism for it. It blends realities in ways that'll make you research historical details for the novel and expect exciting fight scenes in the nonfiction, and probably improve both ventures in the end.

Creative assistance and moral support for a couple of live-action role-playing games (LARPs) that some dear friends run in the Atlanta area, Legynds and Second Dawn. Which is partially unavoidable given that I'm dating one of the owners, and is partially self-prescribed therapy for my wacky anxiety. Which is another thing I recommend -- erm, the self-prescribed LARP therapy, not the anxiety. It's a relatively safe environment in which to experiment with social interaction and performance: Most everyone there will be just as awkward as you or at least sympathetic. And some of them will be dressed as orcs.

And this is not a thing I've been working on, but because I like posting pictures:

my dog doing some serious lounging

More stuff about things later -- but in fewer than six months this time, I promise.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

so much editing it makes my face hurt

I got that job that I mentioned interviewing for in my last post! It is with HowStuffWorks, and it entails editing all the things. Which is brilliant, really -- I'd forgotten how much I missed editing full-time, and how fun a form of overwhelmed it is to face deadlines that overlap like verses sung in rounds while trying to learn several hundred nitpicky style rules.

Of course, I also started working on Blood Hunt, the sequel to The Blood That Bonds, for Chris Buecheler the week that I got the job, so I really have been editing all the things. Hence the lack of posts -- I've felt like my time hasn't really been my own lately, and I'm only going to get more intense about that over the next couple weeks while I finish my second run through the book.

In support, feel free to fax me British tea, European chocolate, and the good sense to not have three cups of mead at the Georgia Ren Fest and make large costume purchases based on the fabric texture of a bodice that may or may not be strictly appropriate for my body type.

Fax me the latter retroactively, if you would, so I'll have it in time for last weekend.

Or just take me to Doctor Bombay's Underwater Tea Party for high tea, because I am fueled almost entirely by sugar, caffeine, and eccentricity these days and they serve spreads like this:

High tea at Doc Bombay's Underwater Tea Party

Which is pretty much my own personal constructive insanity jackpot.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

full of meat pies and radical life changes

So! I have had a few exciting weeks. I got a shiny new iPhone, vacationed out of the country (for the first time ever) in England, got laid off, had my home broken into, and had a rockin' job interview.

Those last two things happened in the past 24 hours. I kinda want whiskey right now.*

While I work towards that: Here, have some pictures of some things I saw on my UK vacation:

The supermoon! And a li'l bit of Reading, Berkshire, which is where we were staying. It's maybe 30 minutes west of London via train.

St. James's Church, Reading, UK
Reading seemed to be composed mostly of malls, but it also had a lot of old churches (this is St James's church), a 12th-century abbey, a large park/walking garden, and a fuckoff statue of a lion. Like y'do in England.

Path to the 12th-century Reading Abbey, Reading, UK
You can see a corner of the aforementioned abbey around the bend of the path here. It was closed to visitors 'cause apparently they're having a hard time convincing its stones to not drop perilously close to people's heads at the moment.

the heart of the black mulberry tree, Reading, UK
One of my favorite things in the park in Reading was this black mulberry tree that was so old and hunched that the keepers had put large cut branches under some of its limbs to hold it up. From a distance, it looked like it was rearin' to crawl straight into a Tim Burton flick. From up close, it looked like an octopus tree.

Minute ~33 of the Reading Half Marathon, March 2011
One day after a ridiculously huge and inexpensive English pub breakfast, we wandered into the middle of the Reading Half Marathon -- this is the second wave of runners around minute 33 of the race, coming through the old town center. The clock tower in the background is the town hall.

There's a bunch more pictures up on my Flickr -- I'll maybe do another post of things I saw in London and Oxford later on, and I'll definitely do a UK food post if I manage to collect my thoughts before I forget them. (I ate 4 meat pies in 5 days, and it was magical.)

Oh, and all of the square-shaped photos here were edited with Instagram (username: grammarmonkey). If you have an iPhone and have been living under the same social-media-lacking rock as my wonderful boyfriend, you should check the app out.

And hey, if you know of any editorial positions open in the greater Atlanta (or Intarweb) area, holla at grammarmonkey[at]gmail[dot]com! You will win my eternal gratitude and possibly some baked goods.

*I began writing this post on Wednesday, April 6th. I was interrupted by said whiskey, which, fear not, was mightily obtained.

Monday, March 21, 2011

recipe: homemade marshmallows

Ever since I realized that it's within my power to make marshmallows, I, like a young god high on new-found might & processed sugar, have made a lot of marshmallows. I'm still experimenting with flavors but I've got the technique pretty well down, so I figured I'd share.

coffee mallows long

What follows is the base recipe. It's kinda long because a) I talk a lot and b) sugar is terrifying so I wanted to explain myself superextra clearly. To minimize v-scroll here, I'll do a followup post in a couple days with some notes on flavorings.

clementine mallows

homemade cocoa marshmallows

Homemade Marshmallows
Adapted from Alton Brown. You can watch the 'Puff the Magic Mallow' episode of Good Eats to see the general process, but I actually don't recommend following all of his instructions from that episode.
Makes ~24 1.5-inch marshmallows or ~32 1-inch marshmallows


1 package gelatin
1/6 cup cold water

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/6 cup water
Pinch salt

1/3 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup powdered sugar

~1/2 tbsp butter or oil or etc. for greasing


Stand mixer with whisk attachment
2 spatulas (preferably 1 stiff one for scraping and 1 large & softer one for pressing)
Medium saucepan
Bread pan
Fine-mesh sieve (you can also use a tea strainer with patience)
1 ramekin/small bowl
1 small (~1-cup) container with lid
Candy or probe thermometer


Working with sugar is scary because it requires both speed and caution. I like to prepare all of my ingredients & equipment before I start so's I won't forget something and end up with no place to put boiling edible napalm. So.

Prep the gelatin: Empty 1 packet of gelatin into a small bowl or ramekin. Add 1/6 cup of cold water (you can go over by a couple teaspoons), stir, and set aside to bloom (i.e., absorb the water and soften).

Prep the sugar: Add your sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/6 cup of water to a medium saucepan. You don't even need to stir it. Set aside.

Prep the powder coating: Measure your cornstarch and powdered sugar into a small bowl or resealable container. Stir to combine but don't worry about it being lumpy -- you'll be sifting it onto everything anyway. Set aside.

Prep the equipment: Grease everything. Grease the bowl of the mixer up to the rim. Grease the heads of 2 spatulas. Grease your bread pan up to the rim. If your cat likes to get all up in your fries while you're cooking, grease your cat. (It'll thank you later.) Use whatever fat and application method you like best -- I like peeling the paper back from the end of a stick of butter and rubbing it over the surface of the object to be greased, then using my fingers to apply the coat evenly and completely.



Set up your stand mixer so it's ready to go, and add the bloomed block of gelatin to the mixer bowl. Get out your candy or probe thermometer.

Next you're gonna cook the sugar mixture to the soft ball stage (240 degrees F/120 C). Place your saucepan full'o'sugarstuff over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally to ensure even heating. (Because sugar likes being in a crystal state, you generally don't want to agitate sugar mixtures by stirring them -- if you stir, it'll be more likely for a rogue sugar crystal to become the nucleation center of crystallization and make the mixture go grainy. Corn syrup, being syrupy & therefore a stabilizer, helps prevent that, and that's why candy recipes call for it.) When the sugar starts to bubble, place your thermometer of choice in the pan and swirl the mixture continually until the sugar reaches 240 degrees F (120 C). Immediately take the pan off the heat. Turn your stand mixer on its lowest setting, and slowly (carefully, respectfully) pour the sugar syrup down the side of the mixer bowl towards the bottom. The goal here is to keep the syrup moving without risking it hitting the whisk and splattering you. That would be bad.

Once all/most of the syrup is in the mixer (a little syrup loss is totally acceptable), crank the mixer up through its settings until it's going full-tilt. Set a timer for 15 minutes.

While the mixer's doing its thang, prepare your bread pan: Put a tablespoon or two of your powder mixture in the fine-mesh sieve and tap a good, thick layer of powder into the bottom of the pan, and a finer coating up along the sides. Unlike buttering & flouring a pan for baking, you don't want to tap the edges of the pan to move the powder around -- it'll clump and stick. Just sift it in there and set the pan aside until the timer goes off.

When the timer goes off, peer into your mixer bowl and take note of the texture of the batter -- it'll be sticky and stringy as the whisk moves through it. Measure out your vanilla extract, turn the mixer speed down to low, and pour in the vanilla. Give it a few seconds to incorporate, then turn the mixer speed back up to high for ~1 minute, or until the 'mallow batter reaches about the same stringy consistency that it had before you added the vanilla.

Time to get the marshmallow batter into the pan. You'll have to work very quickly because the batter will become stiff and difficult to remove from the mixer's bowl in less than a minute. Put your greased spatulas within reach and turn off the mixer. Clean off the mixer's whisk first, using one spatula to gather batter and the second to scrape the batter off the first spatula and into the mixing bowl (or straight into the waiting bread pan, whichever's easier depending on your mixer setup). Using the same gather/scrape method, firmly scrape the rest of the batter out of the mixing bowl and into the pan. You can just kinda glop it in there -- the important thing is getting as much as possible out of the bowl before it sets.

Once you've got all the batter you're gonna get in the pan, use your spatulas to press the batter down into the pan evenly, pushing it into the corners and flattening it out. You should still be working kinda quickly, but this part is much more forgiving. Don't be afraid to press down pretty firmly. If any unaesthetic ridges or stringy trails form along the surface, just run your hands under the faucet, flick off the excess water, and gently smooth the batter out with your damp fingertips.

When you're satisfied with your 'mallow loaf, set the pan somewhere where it won't be disturbed for ~4 hours (or up to overnight). You can tent it very loosely with tin foil or a paper towel if you're afraid of things (dust, kids, dogs, etc.) getting into it, but you really want the loaf to be able to breathe and dry out, so don't cover it completely.

(Cleaning up after this step won't be as terrifying as it seems 'cause marshmallow goo, while tough to wrangle out of a bowl and into a pan, is easy to wash up. It's made entirely of things that dissolve in water. Yay science!)

Once the loaf has rested for 4+ hours, get out a cutting board and sift a good layer of your powder mix on its surface. Sift a layer of the powder on top of the 'mallow loaf, too, then turn the loaf out onto the cutting board. Cut the loaf into 3 or 4 strips lengthwise, dust the whole thing with more powder, and dip the cut edges of the strips into the powder on the board. Then push the strips back together into loaf form and cut the strips widthwise into squares (or rectangles, rhombuses, or other quadrilaterals; no one will care if the delicious homemade marshmallows you give them are kinda misshapen). Dust the whole thing with yet more powder.

Pull one of the marshmallows away from the rest, dip each cut side in the powder on the board, and then dust the excess powder off with your fingers, taking special care to make sure that there's no buildups of powder stuck in the marshmallow's crags and crevices (that would not be delicious, and can get gross and grainy if you let it sit).* Toss the finished marshmallow back into a large plastic bag (don't cramp your 'mallows). Repeat with each of the marshmallows.

*Boyfriend's hack for this step, which works nearly as well and takes like three seconds rather than 15 minutes: Pull a couple handfuls of well-powdered marshmallows apart from each other and toss them in a colander, then, over your sink, shake and toss the marshmallows to coat with powder.

You can store the marshmallows for up to a month in a sealed plastic bag or other airtight container -- they might get a bit stale around the edges after the first couple weeks, but will still be delicious, especially when roasted over fire/melted in cocoa.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

non-cookie news also curated here

My senior year of high school, I was the editor of the yearbook (durr) and I had a few friends in Drama Club, so I spent a good bit of time photographing rehearsals & general backstage poppycock. That year, one Jonathan Lovitz was starring as Seymour in our school's production of Little Shop of Horrors. He was scrawny and sweet but had this crazyhuge stage presence. I'm glad to see that he's still making himself heard:

I love that Jonathan's story is spreading (you can read a further statement from Jonathan on, get an international perspective in the comments of this piece, or see the Village Voice's reaction [erm, and Jon's abs]), because this is an important sort of thing to have people talking and thinking about. Part of the conversation I've heard was a counterpoint from another friend of mine from high school, the ever sharp Adam Lane:
"Jon: forgive me if I sound like a skeptic, but was the trial somehow related to your sexual identity? I could understand your position if it was, say, a civil-rights trial, or if a criminal defendant was openly gay and you sympathized too strongly with him or her. Otherwise, I'm not sure I see the connection.

By way of personal example, I was in a jury pool a few years ago (probably the same court--this was before I left NYC), and was dismissed during voir dire because the criminal defendant was charged with a drug-trafficking offense in my neighborhood. I told the judge that I would be unable to be impartial, first because the defendant was allegedly dealing very close to where I lived, and second (and more importantly) because I strongly believe that our narcotics laws are unjust. While I actually would have liked to have served on the jury, I recognized that advancing my own social agenda was inappropriate behavior as a juror.

I believe you when you say that you were not trying to shirk your civic duty. I suppose my ultimate concern with the position you've taken--and this is only if, indeed, the trial was unrelated to the protected class to which you belong--is that, much like voting, serving on a jury is as much of a right as it is a responsibility. As with voting, serving on a jury gives a person a voice in the civic dialogue. By removing yourself from that dialogue, you may in effect be adding to your own oppression."

Guys, I mostly write about cookies. I'm not going to attempt to debate the finer points of this conversation. But hooray for conversation. I hope that people will continue to find ways of instigating it, publicly and peacefully and intelligently. (And please, add your ideas in the comments or on your own webspace of choice if you're more debately inclined than I.)

In completely separate news, just in case you haven't heard elsewhere: You can text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross, which is helping provide relief to the survivors of the earthquake in Japan. For an alternative to the Red Cross, you can send a donation to And if you're concerned about a loved one in Japan who you haven't been able to get in touch with, check the Consulate-General of Japan in Atlanta's excellent page of emergency contacts.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

breakfast: the most important meal of the day at any o'clock

Haven't been brunching much lately, but I finally got out to try Rosebud's brunch offerings [which happen on Saturdays (and apparently Fridays, and Monday nights) as well as Sundays, which is delightful because I simply cannot be buggered to go farther than my couch on Sunday mornings]. My ladyfriends & I shared a plate of sweet corn mini-muffins as a starter, which were a bit on the crumbly side but still tender and moist with a nice crisped edge, the perfect vehicle for the whipped butter and rich peach preserves they were served with. The bar was out of one of the housemade components for the brunch cocktail I'd had my eye on, The AT&T (apricot- & thyme-infused gin and tonic), so I ordered a Gingham (gin, lemon juice, and a touch of housemade grenadine, topped off with cava & a strip of lemon peel and served in a champagne flute) instead, which was crisp and sunny, just the thing for brunch.

For my main dish, I had an openface, house-cured salmon sandwich on Holeman & Finch pumpernickel, topped with citrus-fennel slaw, a fried egg, and a drizzle of horseradish aioli. It was a serious, heavy dish in a bright, Springy way, with good herbal punch from the pumpernickel and slaw. The salmon was a bit thick-cut and therefore slightly chewy for my tastes in places, but the rest of the textures were perfect -- airy bread, crunchy cabbage, and melt-in-your-mouth over-medium egg.

I also tasted my friends' mains -- the pastrylike & sticky, sweet-tart "not your momma's french toast", stuffed with Nutella and topped with pineapple compote; a side of creamy baked/herbed/fried potatoes; and the aptly named Nasty Royale breakfast sandwich, which consisted of salty Berkshire ham, melty slices of brie, and savory-sweet truffled egg omelet with truffle honey mustard on a thick, soft baguette, and which gave me the same happy-filthy feeling I get from watching The Tudors. A certain @tracyvwilson snapped a picture of it. (And hey, Internets, @amypage says hi!)

All of the portions were generous-bordering-on-huge, and the staff was unfailingly polite. I'll definitely come back for brunch again -- maybe even early enough to catch the Morningside Farmers Market next time, or at least with a grocery list for Alon's.

In other breakfast food news, I finally tried one of Atlanta Fresh's Greek-style yogurts -- the 2% vanilla & caramel flavor. It was dessertlike, rich and thick and creamy, with just a touch of roasty caramel sweetness to compliment the yogurt's tang. The 6-ounce cup had only 3 grams of fat (0 saturated) and a nice 15 grams of protein, but 26 grams of sugar, which is a lot for me. I can't justify paying $2.50 to $3.00 for a single serving of yogurt on any kind of frequent basis (even in support of fab local producers), but it'll make a terrific sometimes-treat. I found mine at the Whole Foods on Pleasant Hill, but they're available all over Atlanta.

I also tried a couple Kalona SuperNatural yogurts this past week -- the 2% strawberry and vanilla flavors, both with cream tops (which are my favorite things for yogurt to have). The texture of the strawberry yogurt was off to me, sort of broken/lumpy/gooey, but the tart & tangy flavor was nice. I liked the vanilla much more overall -- the cream top was intact, the vanilla flavor was strong, and the texture was smooth. With 2.5 grams of fat (1.5 saturated), a minuscule 6 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein per each 6 oz. cup, I felt good about eating these (and adding granola). I found them at the Fresh Market on Roswell.

Monday, February 14, 2011

things my authors send me: headwear edition

Receiving a package in the mail always makes my day. Receiving physical proof of a friend's labor, determination, and talent makes pretty much the best day ever.

me holding a copy of The Blood That Bonds, a novel by Christopher Buecheler

That's a 3-dimensional copy of The Blood That Bonds by Christopher Buecheler that I'm holding there, because it exists in 3 dimensions now. You may remember that this is a vampirical, romantical horror novel that I helped copy edit in the wayback. You can still download the entire book for free in a variety of formats, but if you're into books having mass, volume, and that particular papery/gluey/inky scent, you can get yourself a version with all of those qualities for $13.99 plus shipping from CreateSpace, Amazon, or direct from Christopher himself. It's really nicely printed, on thick, 6" by 9" pages, and my name is in it, so if my grandmother ever visits you you'll have a surefire way to impress her.

I also received a package recently from Adam P. Knave and Laszlo Xalieri, the contents of which were 100% more lobster themed than what Christopher sent:

me wearing a woolen lobster hat and mittens

Though, to be fair, the contents of either package make a perfectly fine hat.

me wearing a book as a hat, which I do sometimes

And hey, happy Valentine's Day, friends! I less-than-three you.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

re: your brains (Zombiesque!)

My dear, bebearded friend Laszlo Xalieri, who formerly guest-starred in this textual/pixelated adventure of mine as a lecturer at the Atlanta Zombie Symposium, has a story in a newly published book of short fictions written from zombies' points of view.

Zombiesque book cover

It's called Zombiesque, and it's available on Amazon for only $7.99, and you need something new to read. (You always need something new to read. No matter how many unread books you already have cluttering your bookshelves/other horizontal home surface areas. Don't argue, you'll risk giving me a catastrophic paradigm shift proportionate to the number of pages in all of my unread books combined.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

consumerism wow: the further misadventures of Mitty Matt

In a completely failed attempt to do a double-super Consumerism WOW holidextravaganza, Adam and I have posted dual (dueling?) January episodes! The followup to my post has been up for a whole week and I'm a bad consumer-friend is up on Adam's blog! Here's a preview:

Thing #1

Lauren: You are teaching your cat to speak and read English with help from a kitty that she’ll identify with! ….Adam, this is a very bad idea.

Adam: No, it’s a great idea! Then she can stop just mindlessly whining and actually communicate her wants and needs and… all right perhaps this will end badly. But I must try. For science!

Thing #3

Lauren: Is – is this why you’re teaching your cat how to read? You did not tell me that kitty had to get an eye patch.

Adam: Kitty does not need an eye patch, I would never let my cat be harmed like that! No this is for, uhm, my good friend… Mitty. Mitty Matt. He, uhm, was walking around, pacing really, while I was doing experiments and now he needs an eye patch. Mitty Matt. Who already speaks English and can read because he is human and not a cat.

Click through to Adam's blog to read the rest! I can very nearly promise that no cats were harmed in the writing of this episode. It's likely that at least one was severely annoyed, and that a dog who was raised in the wild by cats felt slightly neglected for having not been mentioned again, but c'est la vie d'un chien instruit dans le sauvage par des chats. (I got that translation from babelfish. I don't know any French that isn't food & cooking vocabulary. I hope I haven't just inadvertently called anyone's grandmother a transitive sausage or something.)

And hey, the book featured as Thing #1 is no longer available in print, but it's being offered as a digital download for only 2 American dollars! Friends, this is the future of the publishing industry we're looking at right here.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

foodpr0n: homemade cocoa marshmallows

The first thing you learn when you make marshmallows from scratch is that Ghostbusters was lying to you. That is not how marshmallow goop behaves. (They used shaving cream.) Actual marshmallow goop is far more insidious, more inexorable, more sticky than the deceptively benign horrors that our comedic but intrepid heroes faced back in 1984.

That said, the payoff of working with marshmallow goop is well worth the effort:

homemade cocoa marshmallows tumbled in a pan

I'd be posting a recipe right now, but at this point I'd just be plagiarizing Alton Brown's excellent instructions. I'll get back to you later, once I've had the chance to perfect a few wacky flavors.

These cocoa marshmallows were made exactly according to Alton's recipe, except I only made 1/3rd of the recipe (which fit perfectly in a bread pan) and added 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder to the 'mallow batter in addition to the vanilla (having turned the beater speed down first and up again afterwards to prevent splatter), plus another 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder to the cornstarch/powdered sugar coating mixture.

more closeup detail of homemade cocoa marshmallows

homemade cocoa marshmallows in a messy pan

Of course, s'mores had to happen immediately.

a s'more made with a homemade cocoa marshmallow and Lindt milk chocolate

The only potential downside here is that now I want to make marshmallows in all the flavors. Like banana, and espresso, and Nutella, and whiskey, and caramel, and chai, and Earl Grey. It'll be the tastiest pain in the ass there ever has been.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

consumerism WOW: post-holiday patterns of villainy

SO. As I began the process of publishing this episode of Consumerism WOW (in which the gig is this: I provide a list of shiny things, Adam P. Knave guesses why I want them, and I tell you why he's wrong), it came to my attention that many of you failed to procure holiday gifts for me. An unintentional oversight or postal mishap, I am sure! Whatever your reason, excuse, "legally" binding contract, or commitment to The Sleeping Elder Gods of the Deep that has prevented you from giving me something, I forgive you. Perhaps you were merely wanting for a gift idea! Here's 10, slackers. My birthday is May 29th. Perhaps you can get it together before then, hmm?**

Thing #1

Pac Man Moleskin Notebooks

Adam: This is a secret warning to people who want to bring you food that, in actuality, you eat tiny bits throughout the day. NOM. NOM. NOM.

Lauren: Well, that's true! And very much exactly how hypoglycemia works. But mostly I just want one of the smaller notebooks because, despite having a blog and a job on the Intarwebs, I'm better at thinking on paper than I am on a keyboard.

Thing #2

a shirt with all the things I love

Adam: Ahh I see someone made a graphical representation of your dream journal, Lauren! How did you convince them to do that?

Lauren: I had the anthropomorphic dream cupcakes send the artist a fax! Durr. Did you not realize that cakefax goes both ways?

Thing #3

green chili sugar

Adam: You want to lay this out and then tell people "Oh no, it's just sugar. For your coffee," and then sit and snicker as they find out it is le spicy.

Lauren: I would never do that to coffee! But Adam, I'm running out of ways to shock people with my baked goods. They're used to me putting meat in cookies already. I need to step up my game. (Also, I would totally do that to chai or hot cocoa.)

Thing #4

Yummy Donuts zipper pulls

Adam: Whenever you open a hoodie. Wherever you need to get in a bag. Each time you unzip your pants. They'll be there. Tiny donuts. And you can tug at them, to ease your pain of not having real donuts to eat.

Lauren: That is also exactly how hypoglycemia works. (C'mon, they're such cute donuts! And one of them is sad 'cause he got ate! And the artist, Heidi Kenney, is fantabulous!)

Thing #5

Battenberg lace parasol

Adam: Uhm, I hate to be the one to tell you, but not only will this not do anything to keep the rain off, but if you use it in sunlight to protect your oh-so-dear-lord-get-some-sun skin you'll just tan in a lacy pattern.

Lauren: I don't tan, I burn and then peel to white. But I suppose I wouldn't want to burn in a lacy patter, either. I appreciate your advice, and promise I'll only use it as a sunblock on cloudy days. (Though mostly, I want it as a defensive weapon and skeletal accessory.)

Thing #6

Los Danzantes mezcal

Adam: We need no reason or excuse for booze. Carry on.

Lauren: I should hope not! Especially for excellent, smokey-leathery scotch-whisky-esque reposado mezcal tequila.

Thing #7

Villainess perfume sampler

Adam: This is for your crime fighting career as "The Perfume-agator" isn't it? Throwing bombs made of the stuff to mark and later hunt down criminals. Your secret is safe with us, Lauren!

Lauren: That would be the worst plan ever! I would track down the bad guys and they'd smell so nice that I'd just nuzzle them. I would-- be every conflicted, sexually tense superhero ever written. No, I just want to dab a little bit of each of these scents on myself and find The One that makes me smell like sexy cookies served with whiskey-laced tea (Earl Grey, hot).

Thing #8

calavera necklace

Adam: Is… is that Hello Kitty's skull? What have you done with Hello Kitty? Hello? Kitty?

Lauren: Not Hello Kitty! It's a calavera -- a skeleton that's excited to be a skeleton 'cause the prevailing cultural belief system of its (previously inclusive) people celebrates and honors it! ....But you can't say that Kitty didn't wouldn't have it coming.

Thing #9

bracelet made from shiny, red-dyed, responsibly sourced stingray

Adam: I'll be honest here, kid, I thought this was made of roe at first and wondered why you wanted to wear eggs. And then it kinda made sense. But that isn't what this is at all and now I wonder why it isn't an egg bracelet.

Lauren: Roe doesn't have the structural integrity to form a bracelet, Adam, that's why. ....Unless maybe you find a way to magnetize them, like organic, squishy Bucky Balls.

Thing #10

Adam: Do you really think that if you smack people hard enough with this that you can leave fun patterns on them? Really?

Lauren: Well I mostly just wanted to leave fun patterns in shortbread cookies which I could then mail to people like you, but y'know, that's a much better idea. I shall be a supervillain with lace-pattered sunburns and shortbread-patterned victims, and the world shall tremble before my fearsome patterns of destruction!

Until next time, my dear consumers! BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HAcough!

**Taking a quick step back (up? diagonally?) from Consumerism WOW, I just wanted to put in that while I covet many, many commercially available products, the best, most favorite gifts I've received have been handmade by friends & family. No one ever needs to give me stuff. Certainly, no one ever needs to buy me stuff. (But if you're gonna, I would earnestly appreciate owning any of the things I mention in any Consumerism WOW episode.)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

good tidings of comfort and few-to-no molten sugar burns

Happy New Year, faithful readers! I hope it's treated you well so far. (It treated me to a mini-marathon of Bones [can I register to receive one of each of the Deschanel sisters as a late Christmas present? theyaresocute], not entirely losing at Halo, and eating wonderful holiday treats from wonderful friends plus pork chops & sauerkraut and kale and roasted root vegetables cooked by an also-wonderful dreamthrum. I will gladly take a whole year of these sorts of small delights.)

If you're like me in that you're not quite ready to give up holiday foods yet, check out CurvyGirlGuide's collection of go-to holiday dishes -- they featured a few of mine!

I'm hoping to have some new ones to share with you soon. Things I've made in the recent past that I'm looking forward to refining in the near future include baklava and peanut butter cookies. If you've got any secrets to either of these, let me know! I will give you shoutouts & lurve.

And in further culinary adventures, tomorrow I'm gonna try making marshmallows! Wish me luck & few-to-no burns from molten sugar, and I'll let you know how it goes. But first, sleep, a quick run out for graham crackers and Hershey's bars, and the building of the sort of fire that will produce good hot coals. In that order, yes.