F*ck You Too, Week. I’m Eating Chocolate.

Chocolate chunk brownies with sea salt & pistachios

“Chocolate chunk brownies with sea salt & pistachios” from Dagmar’s Kitchen

Last summer I though I was moving to Chad to live in a sort of half-hovel above an office where I was being asked to spy on a country director while rewriting all his mistakes, going to the field (where there was a legit chance I could get kidnapped and held for ransom) to write reports, and all while the actually office thought I was being sent there to help make their tea and answer phones. The cherry on top? By the time I would have finished a 6-month contract and paid taxes and then paid most of my own ticket and whatever else for a two week break somewhere not the desert of doom, I would have SPENT money rather than earned any.

I felt so physically full of stress and unhappiness it was like I was always just one touch or word away from explosion. It was a really bad time in my life for decision making. And when I finally sobbed to my parents after they got really angry about the situation that I didn’t want to go they helped me right my letter of “You people suck and here’s a few places you can shove that ‘job’ you begged me to take” I just decided crying felt good and did it on and off for the next couple of weeks. Like I mentioned, it was a really bad time in my life.

After that incident I went through a period of awkward pseudo-employment. According to my resume I have been fully employed since 2006… I love words. They make me sound important.

And after that I finagled my way into the job I have now… Which has caused just as much stress as potentially getting kidnapped and not having a proper kitchen (seriously, they were going to give me a gas burner and a min-fridge. I wouldn’t have survived that). The one thing about this job that is definitely better is that I’m actually making money.

There are a lot of reasons a person can be unhappy where they are. In my case it’s mostly that I don’t really like people. Well… Let me be more specific. I don’t like stupid people. And this place feels like a breeding ground for stupidity sometimes and it makes life miserable.

Now, I can’t go into details but right now I’m stable but on Wednesday I almost smacked a student in the face. And that’s not a euphemism or me speaking figuratively or whatever. I actually almost smacked a student in the face. And in church after chapel too. That’s never a good sign. I almost didn’t go to work the next day but then I decided that wasn’t the best option because right afterwards I was told that I’m being offered this same job (still no benefits, just money) for another year.

I’m still not sure yet whether or not I should be crying this weekend but I do know one thing. Life is just too much to handle and I think there should be chocolate. I’ve been packing mainly desserts for my lunches at work and I know for sure that will need to stop soon but it’s the weekend and I really don’t give a crap. Plus these things that are called brownies but look like magic for the face are totally doable and so I shall do them!

Stay strong, Foodie Nation. Oh, and eat more chocolate!

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So Much Wrong

Chocolate Caramel Liege Waffles

“Chocolate Liege Waffles with Caramel Sauce” from Bakingdom

I guess this is the unofficial week of “So Wrong: Foods that make you ache for them in all the wrong places” because I can literally feel myself gaining weight just looking at this photo. In the real world where this food is in existence and I can eat it… I’m totally eating it. I’m not going to pass this sort of good – ahem – wrongness up for a few extra calories I can work off later. And yes, I’m aware my overly simplistic logic is way off on what it would take to work off that many calories but just HUSH! I’m enjoying this moment…

Cake Break

Black Tea Cake with Honey Buttercream

“Black Tea Cake with Honey Buttercream” from Pastry Affair

So this is the last week of school before final exams and people are starting to lose there cool. All those students who slacked off all year are running around trying to figure out some sneaky way of getting away with all that non-productivity they indulged in all semester and the “good” students are busy trying to finish papers and prepare for exams while faculty and staff are so ready to flee this place and perhaps never come back that it’s really just a big pile of messy nonsense. I don’t like that. So I’m enforcing a strict “Do you see this mug in my hands? That means I’m not ready to talk to you right now.” period of time every day. My little way of saying to this little mini-ecosystem of messed up-ness that “You may pay me to work but you don’t pay me anywhere near enough to give a crap.”

So I’m bringing cake to school. My brother and I decided that instead on one sake for our family birthday lunch, or even to halves of cakes put together, we were going to get 4 quarters of different cakes to put together. 3/4 of this monstrosity of wonder is a variation on chocolate cake (black forest, triple chocolate, and chocolate raspberry). And then there’s my carrot cake. Because, YES, I like carrot cake.

And this black tea cake looks good too. And what would go better with my mug of tea then more cake? Well possibly some pecan pie but then it’s sort of like a trump dessert that just wins against everything. And since I’ve got the cake and no time to make pie I’m going to choose D: MORE CAKE!

Go get yourselves some cake and take a break Foodie Nation!

On Throwing a Grazing Party and Staying Sexy

From Monica Eisenman

So, as some of you might have remembered, I had a party this weekend. And yes there were some road blocks in the plan (like the fact that it was supposed to be last week but we had to push it back a week because of a funeral) but since when are good parties supposed to be easy and peaceful? If someone in your family hasn’t yelled at you needlessly while helping you prepare crusts for mini quiches than your party is going to suck. Because stress breeds good food ON TIME.

The menu, inspired by this month’s Gastroporn Menu, was labeled as a “Tea Party” but with most of my parties turned into an extended grazing affair that was really more like three or four smaller parties all strung together throughout the afternoon and evening. I also made something new that I surprisingly enjoyed eating about an hour or two after all the guests had left because eating them in front of people just isn’t sexy and a hostess should always be sexy: Blue velvet Cupcakes.

Blue Velvet Cupcakes

“Blue Velvet Cupcakes” from Sprinkle Bakes

Now… I like making cupcakes. I don’t always like eating cupcakes but I do like making them. Why? Easy dispersal. Try giving away cake at the end of the party and tell me you didn’t wish you’d made cupcakes. And if you aren’t giving away cake at the end of a party then don’t complain to me about your expanding waistline. Take that cake to work and give it away. It will make you more friends and fewer pounds.

Note: Don’t use a tablespoon of blue dye for the cupcakes. That’s too much and cupcakes that turn tongues a funny color…not sexy.

But you know what is sexy? Eating chocolate mousse from a tiny cup with a mini spoon. The recipe I used  can be found in “The Great Disappointment (of 2012)” post. A friend gave me the recipe and I have no idea where it came from but probably the Internet.

Note: I also piped some fresh whipped cream (made with a little sugar and a splash of vanilla) on top and put my brother to work with a piece of 100% chocolate and a vegetable peeler to garnish the tops.

There were also things I really don’t have a recipe for but if you’ve played around in a kitchen long enough you’ll just know what to do. Like stuffed mushrooms and mini-quiches. Watching my caveman-neanderthal dad trying to press rounds of pie crust dough into a mini-muffin tin was absolutely priceless.

And, of course, there were the scones we always make (the recipe is in the “Tea Time, Nap Time, Fun Times” post from many moons ago) served with the remaining fresh cream from above and berries. I love me some berries. I brought the rest to work with me today along with the remaining 3 scones (to give away). Everybody is always asking for that recipe and it’s ridiculously easy so there is no reason NOT to try it. Unless you’ve got allergies, in which case I am so sorry.

Anyone who knows anything about me and my party style also knows that I like complicated. I like the idea of doing everything from scratch and if I had the ability to gather and make all the ingredients by hand on my mini plot of land out back I so would.

But beware of making things complicated to your guests. Try to make things they can just pass by, pick up with a couple fingers, and just put in their mouths (which is where your party food SHOULD be going). Otherwise they will pass by the stuff with a dip or the thing that goes on top of that other thing and go straight for that stuff that just ends up in their mouths.

Here’s a recipe that looks good:

tartelettes chèvre et confiture d'oignons

“Tartelettes Chèvre et Confiture D’oignons (Onion Tartelettes with Goat Cheese)” from Vaniglia

There’s often at least a couple people at a party known as “grazers”. These are the folks that don’t take a heaping plateful and then start denying food while patting their bellies. These are those smart party goers that pace themselves. A min-quiche here, a cupcake there, caprese salad on a stick? Why not! Oh and then maybe another deviled egg. So set things up nicely for these folks. They know what they’re about. And, as always, stay sexy, Foodie Nation!

 

Pfft That

Chocolate Nutella Brioches

“Chocolate Nutella Brioches” from Foodagraphy. By Chelle.

While I was visiting a friend in Belgium a couple summers ago a met this cool dude who’s response to many things was “Pfft!”. Similar to “oh pish” and “pshaw” and other variations of using teeth and the exhalation of air to express “whateverness”, “Pfft!” is a perfectly legit response to so many things. When I saw the brioches above on Pinterest at the end of a long work day that was about to become a long work night–I don’t actually have work to DO. Just have to sit here and look productive even though I finished work weeks ago and am not waiting for the rest of the universe to catch up–I was like the opposite of “pfft!”. I was like oo la la and “ayo!” (a common Indo expression similar to “woah”). So I go to the original link to check it out and what’s the first thing I see attached to that beautiful piece of gastroporn…? Dieting and weight loss nonsense.  And to that I say: Pfft that!

Dip Me

Almond Biscotti

Almond Biscotti

A few years ago I figured out how to make biscotti at home and it is actually quite simple and it also means you are no longer constrained to whatever is available in your grocery store. Want them to be hand-dipped in dark chocolate? Use your own or conscript someone else’s hands! I have confined my coffee drinking to mostly weekends at this point in my life but I enjoy a biscotti or other biscuit dipped in tea, which I drink in rather large quantities. Here are a few more recipes I’ve found:

Deep Dark Chocolate Biscotti

“Deep Dark Chocolate Biscotti” from The Curvy Carrot

White Chocolate and Lemon Biscotti

“White Chocolate and Lemon Biscotti” from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

Pumpkin Biscotti

“Pumpkin Biscotti” by Garrett McCord on Simply Recipes

Whole Wheat Chocolate Almond Biscotti

“Whole Wheat Chocolate Almond Biscotti” from Garlic Girl

Fig & Pistachio Biscotti

“Fig & Pistachio Biscotti” by Marie Renello from The Blender

Saffron Biscotti

“Saffron Biscotti” from Saveur