Bug Juice

Hibiscus Tea with Lime

“Hibiscus Tea with Lime” from Whole Living

When I was a little girl, and I mean a very little girl, I used to love brightly colored sweet drinks. Most little kids do. And where I grew up we didn’t have access to a ton of things like Kool-Aid and bottled drinks unless we went somewhere special. What we did have is karkadé, also known as hibiscus tea. It’s a bright or dark red and full of sugar or honey and can be flavored with ginger or lime or whatever else makes sense.

My grandparents always called things like Kool-Aid “bug juice” but I think that this flower tea makes a much more convincing and delicious version of that.

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!

 

Drug Dazed Haze Causes Foodie To Watch Ina Garten Without Her “Eyesight”

At the end of my office hours on Monday (around 9pm) my headaches had gotten to the point where staying, or even becoming, upright was just a herculean task. I don’t often cry from my many aches and pains but when I do you know something is broken inside.  So yesterday I stayed home to try and give my poor brain a chance to heal. I’m still having migraines but now I’m on a bunch of drugs and in-taking St. John’s Wort  (in tea form: Yogi’s St. John’s Wort, Blues Away to be exact) and I’ve brought my Super Booster vial that I got in Boston last week (which you would be all caught up on if you were following the adventure on Gastrogasms’ Facebook Page).

Hotel Chocolat Purist Super Boosters

Hotel Chocolat Purist Super Boosters, link goes to a review of the nibs and a couple more images.

Why the emotional balancing tea? Well because pain makes you weak and when you cry because you’re in pain you might as well cry about everything else while you’re at it. Plus, it’s caffeine free (which is good because the cocoa nibs and migraine drugs both have caffeine and that’s enough for me now, thanks) and tastes sweet on it’s own. I do add a little honey because the taste of honey is nice too but it doesn’t really need it. But let’s be brutally honest. When life sucks, sometimes you just gotta eat what you gotta eat. I may feel like the thought of food will making me throw up but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to admit that I could really use some super dense chocolate cake to make all the emotional pain go away so I’ll only have to deal with the feeling like my eyeballs are going to pop out of my head while my brain is being eaten by fire ants.

Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar

Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar

At some point while draped all over the living room sofa yesterday I was listening to the Food Network on TV and heard this recipe: Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar. Personally, I think Ina Garten is a weirdo and watching her cook (even without a migraine) makes me want to rip all my hair out and scream. But I didn’t have enough energy to get up and get the remote to change the channel so I watched the blurry images (I wasn’t wearing my glasses, i.e. “my eyesight”) of strawberries do their little dance on our 40″ screen. This was like the only recipe she made that didn’t involve an ass-butt’s portion of butter (at some point I was dreaming about Supernatural so I was referring to a lot of things as “ass-butts”) or meat. And after watching “Vegucated” last week for work I was reminded how much I don’t like buying, cooking, or eating meat very often so now every time I see chicken being prepared (and I never really cared for chicken anyways), I see cute baby chicks freshly hatched getting crunched up while they’re trying to escape an industrial sized grinder. Horrified? Yeah, I was sniffling at my desk at work and crying “Nooooo!”. My office mate things I’m insane. And she wore pink jeans to an honors induction ceremony last weekend where the speaker was a representative from the White House and everyone else was either wearing a suit or some other fairly equivalent form of attire. Even I wore a dress. And that’s saying something. But there’s nothing like that connected with this recipe (as far as I’m aware) so I think it looks pretty good.

 

Gastroporn Menu – April.2013 (“Delusions of Grandeur”)

Never let it be said that I didn’t know how to plan a party.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m planning my 25th birthday party (or rather my Silver Jubilee as I prefer to call it). Of course, I almost never get to have my birthday parties close to my actual birthday. Some people would take this a sign to just do something small or try again some other time. But not me. Nooooope. If I can’t have a party near my actual birthday I’m going to create a whole different holiday to make sure I get my party quota in.

My birthday is in March but I’ll be out of town all week. The weekend after that I’m working and the weekend after that… Works!

So this month (which is not my birth month) I’m using the Gastroporn Menu to help plan my Silver Jubilee Tea. I’m expecting around 30-35 guests but the number could be anywhere from 20-45 at this point. The menu is mostly finger foods and drinks (including tea of course). Since this is a very real and going-to-happen party menu I need to keep in mind that if items can be made ahead: Great!

I title this menu:

Delusions of Grandeur

Savory Nibbles:

  • Mini-Quiches
  • Tea Sandwiches
  • Vegetarian sliders
  • Crostini
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Baked brie w/Crackers

Sweet Bites:

  • Macarons
  • Scones with Devonshire cream and jam
  • Profiteroles
  • Cupcakes (Instead of a cake)

Tea & Coffee Bar

It’s My Party and I’ll Bake If I Want To!

Macarons

Macarons (The link goes to the Not So Humble Pie blog and its extensive tutorial on all things macaron making)

I’m planning my Silver Jubilee (because I really DO have delusions of grandeur) and since our household party budgets are not currently up to my intense party planning abilities I’m keeping it small(ish) and having a tea party instead of the 7-course sit down dinner for 60 like I originally dreamed up.

So I’m thinking small things and one such thing I’ve been dying to try my hand at is macarons. I’ve had them several times before and they’re very much worth trying. I got them at a friend’s graduation party ages ago, I had some in France, and the last time I had some was over Christmas/New Years when I bought my brother some down in Florida on St. Armand’s Circle along with some cute (but not as tasty as they looked) chocolates.

If you’re following the Gastrogasms: Dessert board on Pinterest you’ll see macarons pop up every so often because I think they’re simply fabulous. Here are a few finds:

French Macarons

French Macarons

Macarons

Macarons (Just pretty photos of macarons from Claudia Castaldi)

Lemon Meringue Macarons

“Lemon Meringue Macarons” from Bakers Royale