Archive for February 2011
I must really be feeling the wintertime blues because I’ve recently had the urge to do a lot of baking. Not only does it make the house smell good, but the oven warms up the kitchen area. Baking also gives me a great excuse to get people together to eat my baked goods since I am really into sharing and exchanging.
The latest baking obsession is oatmeal cookies. I saw a recipe for blueberry-oatmeal cookies on Serious Eats and then found a few more discussions on Chowhound regarding thick, chewy oatmeal cookies. I am highly influenced by the internet, aka, what pops up in my RSS feeds. I have at least three oatmeal cookie recipes to try in the coming weeks, but I imagine I’ll end up using the basic standby recipe, the one printed inside the lid of the Quaker Oats canister.
This weekend, I’ll be sharing something called Turtle Bars with friends. In case you don’t know (and I didn’t know this), a ‘turtle’ dessert is when you mix caramel, pecans, and chocolate together.
(How do you say "pecans"? I say it pee-KAHNZ with a long AHH, but I’ve heard people say it PEE-kans or pee-KANS.)
There are a lot of turtle bar recipes out on the internets. The one I’m planning to make has a flour/butter shortbread-type crust that’s baked in the pan. Then a filling is poured on top and chopped pecans and chocolate chips are evenly sprinkled over and the whole thing is baked until the chocolate is all melty gooey and the edges are browned. At first I thought this is going to be like the three-layer nanaimo bars that I made last week, but it sounds more like just two layers of shortbread and chocolate/nut/caramel topping. Sounds simple enough, and the ingredients are just what I have at home (except for the pecans), so why not make em, right?
You probably don’t really care how I got on this topic (it has something to do with hippos and twinkies), but somehow, I’ve been looking at cakes for the past 45 minutes and found some very strange ones, but also some very cool ones. I am not really a fan of cake, but I do like seeing how interesting some of them are. So let’s go:
Cool: The Rubik’s Cake
Weird: Baby Cake
Cool in a really nerdy (and sorta outdated) way: iPhone Cake
Weird again: Zombie Hello Kitty Cake
It sounds good, but is this good in practice? Sushi Cake
Cool and nerdy (do I see a theme here?): Tetris Cake
Cool: Camera Cake
Cool: Old school Atari cake
I can’t even think about eating this: Twinkie Cake
And last but not least: The Krispy Kreme Cake (ugh!)
Every so often, I get into an uppity kind of mood. I overly criticise everything and everyone around me. I get in random arguments over insignificant details. I just get plain uppity.
When I get like this, I think to myself: Someone needs a snack and then some naptime.
That usually fixes everything straight away.
Today I was reading an entry on one of my favourite blogs about how people really need to just lighten the heck up. Ain’t that the truth! I’m going to take the point for myself and amble my way back over to Laid Back Land, where it’s a lot easier to get along with folks (myself included). When I’m living in Laid Back Land, I don’t have to stress out unnecessarily when plans don’t go the exact way I wanted. I don’t have to worry unnecessarily about big life changes. I don’t have to complain and be a giant b*tch to my optimistic friends who are just trying to enjoy our time together.
Basically, my life and the lives of those around me are just better when we’re all in Laid Back Land and we’re considerate and kind to one another.
Yeah. It’s a fantasy land, but it doesn’t have to be.
Lately, I’ve chosen to spend my personal time more wisely. When I want to be alone, I do something constructive and/or creative for myself. When I want to be with others, I try to select optimistic folks who are excited about life and interested in a wide array of topics. It’s just that much easier to be upbeat and genuine around sincere, non-judgmental people.
And you know what else usually saves me from an unexpected trip to Uppity Land? Memories related to the ocean and the beach. I don’t know why, but it calms me faster than any other thing. This weekend, I’m planning to ride my bike to Rodeo Beach so I can get my share of ocean therapy. Nothing like salt spray, cold wind, and the roar of the waves to get my head sorted right fast.
From a trip to Bodega Bay during autumn 2010.
Fran and I watched these two kids drag giant seaweed plants all over the beach. They were trying to move them to the "right" place for some unknown reason.
I turned the wheel back and forth, winding my old truck up that concrete spiral to the second to highest floor in the car park. My mind was full of static and jumbled thoughts, so I concentrated on getting the truck safely up the ramp, pulling into a spot facing the wall of the building. It was one of the spots where the concrete wall was replaced by thick horizontal wires so that I could see straight out over the edge.
The headlights looked straight out into the fog, lightly illuminating a tall tree growing from a brown square of dirt. It always amazed me to see plants growing from these small breaks in the concrete. I know the roots spread wide under the pavement like an iceberg under the surface of the water, but it still surprised me to see such a tall tree growing from a seemingly small square of dirt.
From where I was parked, I could see out to the nearby highway. Cars were slowly crawling along, packed tight like sardines during rush hour. I imagined everyone alone in their cars, watching the clock on the dashboard, listening to music. Maybe they were listening to talk radio or the news, but more likely listening to music and humming or singing along. I narrowed my eyes, trying to see if anyone was singing, but I was too far away to make it out.
Turning the key, I switched off the ignition with a click. The motor cut out and the silence poured into the cab, but was quickly overpowered by my noisy thoughts. I couldn’t get everything sorted and the effort was making my eyes water. There were too many things at once, too many feelings, too much pain. I looked off into the distance beyond the windshield, my gloved left hand still resting on the steering wheel, my right hand quietly dropping off the key and into my lap. Reaching for the old metal handle with the smooth ivory-coloured knob, I rolled my window down about halfway; the cool air felt nice against my face.
A train rumbled by, one of the commuter lines, probably full of people on their way to work. I watched the smooth line of the train as it traced its way along the slightly curving track, gliding effortlessly below me. It disappeared off into the distance, the horn growing ever fainter. I thought of all the other people moving about at this early morning hour, probably heading to the office in appropriate business attire. I looked down at my customary skirt, smoothing it lightly with my fingertips against my knee. My flesh felt slightly warm even through my gloves, and I gently squeezed my thigh in my hand, feeling the firm muscle pressing against my fingers.
So many things to do today, but first I had to calm down and get out of my truck. Then the rest of the dominoes could continue to fall.