Wednesday, July 27, 2011

This one was a definite winner

Coconut chiffon cake, smothered in simple syrup, sandwiching pastry cream and strawberries, and all topped with almond paste? Um...yes please.

Blog-checking lines: Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.

This is another one of those fussy seventeen-part recipes, but like many others, much of this can be made in advance (simple syrup, cake, pastry cream base), refrigerated and assembled when it's time. (Plus, summer is an excellent time to have extra simple syrup around the house for iced coffee and mixed drinks.)

Also, this puppy has to sit in the refrigerator for four hours before you can eat it. So add that to your planning.  (There's nothing worse than not have enough chill time and serving your guests slump cake. Been there.)

I can't tell you how good this was. I just can't. I can only say that this graced the end of an impromptu dinner party and I was never so sad the next day that I shared a dessert with others.

After the party, only four skinny pieces remained. And for this one, you bet I licked the platter.

Make one by playing along with this recipe.

The only things I would change next time:

1. Find a way to make the top prettier. Rolled almond paste and powdered sugar just didn't do it for me. Some people dyed their almond paste, other people put more fruit on top (we used our extra strawberries--muddled--in the prosecco we drank alongside the cake), and some people added gelee. We'll see. Honestly, the sides are so pretty it might not matter that the top isn't.

2. Infuse the simple syrup with something fun like a vanilla bean or some mint leaves. Or not. The cake already has a lot going on, it's not that it needs more. It might just be fun to try.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Number twenty continues: World's largest continual chocolate waterfall

20 feet of streaming, splattering, sticky chocolate all for your viewing pleasure at The Candy Basket just outside of Portland, Oregon.

The website says it smells good, but I didn't think so. I'm not sure it's the freshest chocolate in the world. It was however, very tall, and it was very chocolatey. So, two out of three.

Here's the deal--this puppy is right off the highway (like right off, though the signage is pretty crappy so you have to believe that it's there and then it will magically appear), and you should stop there should you ever be traveling east on I-84.

Not only for the ever-ripe photo opportunity with the fountain, but because The Candy Basket makes really good candy.

I mean, we bought the obligatory $5 worth of bear paws and coconut bonbons, just because the kid behind the counter seemed nice and didn't even flinch while I took way too many photos with my phone, none of which turned out very good due to low light (and being a sub-optimum photographer--trying not to make too much of a scene in front of the fountain. Oh if I had just embraced the embarrassment of it all. It's a gimmick, after all, and it worked to get us into the store).

We ate the candy on our way to a campsite, and had to keep exclaiming how good it was. I wish we'd bought more. However, I didn't see the free sample sign until we were on our way out. The free samples being offered were sugar free jelly candy, and since I don't love Splenda, I didn't love them. Had I sampled some actual chocolate, we could very well have spent much more on candy that would have invariably melted in the car during our camping trip. So I guess it's a happy story either way. Next time, I say, next time I will buy more candy.

BTW. The "World's Largest" designation may be a bit dodgy. Anchorage Alaska also boasts a 20 foot chocolate waterfall, but I guess it's not "continuously running." The actual tallest chocolate waterfall--26 feet 3 inches--is in (where else?) Las Vegas.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Been working on some stuff with the embroidery floss (remember, here?) and just love love love the to and fro of the needle in my hand.

Trying something new. I'm no longer making anything that's functional. I've long been pulled away from doing anything that is purely for visual pleasure thinking that I'm not an artist, I'm a craftsperson. Craftspeople make useful things--baby gear, purses, sweaters, etc.  And when I make useful things, I can hide behind the pattern. (It's not really my work, I'm just following someone else's ideas).

When you make something that is just for hanging on the wall, it's a lot scarier. Suddenly it's all self-expression, and there's nothing to hide behind. There it is. You either like it or you don't. 

Either way, it's me. Or parts of me. 

And then come the voices. The "you're not an artist," "no one wants your crap," "who do you think you are" voices. And I'm learning to make space for them. Turns out, the louder they are, the closer you are to doing something great. Something new and daring and different. 

The voices stay very quiet when you're not taking any risks. So. Instead of listening to the voices, I'm learning to use them as a barometer for risk and the subsequent chance at growth.  

I'll let you know how that shapes up.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I heart (public) art

Thank you Suzanne Tidwell, for making my year with this surreal, colorful, and thorough yarn bombing of Pioneer Square.

And thank you, Seattle, for being the kind of town that not only says yes to this project, but provides grant money for it as well.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Two things

I declare summer officially here. Namely, because of the following two things:

1. We went camping.

2. I had a pedicure.