Oh, hello March. I know February is a short month, but I really didn’t expect those last couple of weeks to get sucked into a vortex. It’s getting to the point where I am embarrassed to say I’m a food blogger anymore. Not because being a food blogger is embarrassing, but because it’s hard to say your a blogger when you post once a quarter (if even that)!
So, my incredibly patient and sweet and tolerant husband had a birthday last month and we celebrated by drinking a trail mix beer he helped brew at Benchmark Brewing. Since we were already gathering people in one place, I figured it would be a good time to blow out candles and eat birthday cake, too. For some reason, I’ve been on a Milk Bar baking tear, wanting to make everything in the cookbook but not wanting to eat it all myself. I mean, I DO want to eat it all, but there are jeans in my closet yelling at me to not eat it all, maybe not even eat half of what I want to shove in my mouth. So, I take advantage of parties to bake to my heart’s content while pushing butter-and-sugar-laden treats on other people.
I’m not going to detail out the recipes for you or even post photos of the entire process of building a cake. Mainly because I didn’t take photos of the process (I was making THREE cakes – who has time to set things down and pick up a camera while doing that?) and also because a lot of the recipes are on the Milk Bar site. There are also numerous people who have photodocumented their cake assembly process, like Serious Eats and BakeLoveGive, whose cake-making adventure at a Milk Bar class is likely what prompted me into this mini-obsession. So, instead I’m going to tell you some of the tricks I learned while making 3 cakes in a week and confessing what I thought would work but didn’t (so you don’t have to make my mistakes, as delicious as mistakes are).
This year, I make no resolutions. No promises, no bucket lists, no deadlines of things to do before the year is out. I certainly make no claim to be a better blogger this year, only to try and be a better blogger friend and get out more. Every year goes by so quickly and it’s all I can do to just keep up with the passing weeks and months, let alone try and keep up with self-imposed guidelines.
We spent the holidays here, just chilling with our last-minute, 50% off Christmas tree and a roaring fire when it finally got cold enough to build one. I spent the last week of 2014 sick, sick, sick with a cold because I got cocky and couldn’t help giving my sweet husband kisses even though I knew he had a cold. Even so, we cleaned the house, roasted some pig, and had a few friends over to ring in the new year. Except we kind of missed it because I ended up on the channel with Pitbull and his poorly-timed performance that kind of ran past midnight with no real countdown, so I switched to another channel that the DVR somehow let me rewind to before the ball drop and then we had a proper countdown a minute past midnight.
I have no amazing party recipe for you, or decorating tips, or cute puppy photos (although, you check out my Instagram feed where I’m pretty sure I scarred my pup for life as we wore matching Christmas tree headbands), but I WILL give you a random 15 Things I Learned About Myself Last Year:
It feels like I’ve run into quite a few people lately who are recent transplants to San Diego. They all seem to have landed here from areas that experience more “weather” than we get here, so it’s been interesting to hear their perspectives on our late-season warmth, lack of green landscaping, and what we call “cold weather”. Having lived all my life in Southern California (although, not in San Diego), I suppose I’m just used to our “mild Mediterranean climate” (a phrase I’ve been typing a lot in reports when describing the region). But, as mild as our weather is, I’ve been here long enough to know what’s coming. Winter is cold (you know, like 60-degree cold), dry, and wet if we’re lucky. Spring is where weather gets confused and it could be sunny, rainy, warm, or cold, otherwise known as keep a light jacket in your car all the time season. And that moves into a mild and sometimes chilly summer that leads into a 2-week (or more) heat wave. The weather starts to cool down, only to trick us (and my plants) with another warm spell, which might explain why Halloween costumes get smaller and shorter every year. Then comes warm days with chilly nights (my favorite) that signals fall. This is when we get maybe a month of scarf-wearing season (for warmth, not style) and I feel justified ordering a hot peppermint mocha because it’s actually cold enough. Iced peppermint mochas just aren’t the same. We get to fire up the fireplace and get cozy, and the electric blanket even makes an appearance. Even though the winter solstice is just a little over a month away, to me, fall is just getting going.
The colder weather makes me crave roasted vegetables, squash, and soups. It also makes me want to slim down to counteract the extra layers of clothing I’ll have to pile on to stay warm. And so, I make roasted veggie “salads” that don’t involve persky lettuce leaves.
I would not consider myself to be a snacker, in general. I like defined meals, with maybe a snack here and there if I’m starving and know the next meal is going to be far, far in the future. I also fall under the “out of sight, out of mind” category of people; if something is on the counter, I’ll nibble at it every time I pass through the kitchen. Once it’s in the pantry, though, it may as well have fallen into a black hole.
So, when I heard about Love with Food, a subscription snack box, I was hesitant. I already get Graze snack boxes, but I’m also intrigued by monthly boxes showing up in the mail bearing tasty gifts. So, I requested a box to review and then one appeared to me (if only there were forms for everything in life!)
Okay, so I was eye-rolled by a Mean Girl at Tender Greens. Now let me tell you about the time I wanted to stand up and say “Do you know who this is?” to a bartender/manager who is probably as unhappy as disgruntled-barista-turned-cannibal Gareth from The Walking Dead (spoiler alert: RIP).
Most couples probably have many unspoken rules. One of mine is that I will try a restaurant T picks once, but then I get to decide if I never ever go back. I usually pick the restaurants because, you know, that’s kind of what I do. I have a food blog (HAHAHAHA…. I mean, have you seen how often I post??) and I Instagram a lot of food pics and I Tweet and stuff. If finding and judging good food paid as much as my day job, I’d switch in a heart beat.
If you’ve been to our house in the last few years, and entered through the front door, you would have been greeted by a raccoon mounted on the wall, along with a couple of fluffy squirrels. Some flea market deer and antelope mounts would be gazing at you from across the room. Plus, a couple of piñata heads.
I’m going to go ahead and blame it all on Disney and the now-defunct Country Bear Jamboree for my love of taxidermy animals. The talking mounted heads of Melvin Moose, Max Deer, and Buff Buffalo would introduce the Country Bears and engage in entertaining banter. I always wanted one for my house; in fact, I still would love a gorgeous moose mounted above our fireplace. [Fun fact: if you go on the Winnie-the-Pooh ride at Disneyland, after you go through the heffalump and woozle dream room, if you turn around and look up, you can see the moose, deer, and buffalo heads hanging above the archway!]