NaBloPoMo No Mo’

Chained to work

This is it. I have reached the end of my NaBloPoMo journey and I am happy to report that I survived!

For the past thirty days I have written (mostly) a post a day as a part of National Blog Posting Month.

What an exhausting challenge!

Seriously. All you writers who write under the pressure of a deadline all the live-long day – every single day – my hat* is off to you. You are one very dedicated and disciplined bunch of people. Good for you!

I have learned a lot during these thirty days.

I have unlearned a few things, too.

I’ve had some pretty good confirmations, as well. I procrastinate. It works for me, sometimes, as procrastination does. When it works out, I get a rush of adrenaline that makes all the suppression of fleeing the scene worthwhile. When it doesn’t work, well, may we never know!

Oh yes, that random positive reinforcement is quite the thrill, but it is certainly no gentleman.

Clearly, whether it is right or wrong, I work well under pressure. When there is nowhere to run to, baby, no where to hide, I find my stride.

This, as you can imagine, can be very draining on a person’s energy stores. There were nights when I was up way later than I should have been. There were mornings that came way too early. Early Band** days very nearly did me in.

My husband and my Things were the most supportive humans on the planet (they usually are, by the way). They were cool with my vanishing to write or upload photos. They really were, but I was not comfortable with missing anything important, so I was very much burning my candle at both ends. Thank goodness this is a 30 day month. I honestly don’t think I could handle 31***.

I think this was a really good exercise for me. I wrote every day and I believe the practice was good. I felt a sense of accomplishment/panic every single time I hit “Publish”, but I kept right on hitting it. Go me!

I am sure I will have that oh-no-I-slept-through-my-exam panic at least once this week, as I plan on not posting every day for December. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

I mean, I love writing for this little ol’ blog and I love the people who read, comment, and even ask me to write a little something here or there for them, but I have very strong feelings about not being chained to my computer (for work or hobby or otherwise!). If anything was highlighted this month, it’s that there is a whole world out there just waiting to be experienced, nurtured and changed.

Besides, when I get to be Empress of the Universe and fulfill my destiny as a professional philanthropist, I won’t have time to be attached to my computer.

Face Time

 

But feel free to call me.

 

Now, please point me in the direction of the best darn gluten free cake you can think of because this gal needs to celebrate!

 

 

 

*I’m not actually wearing a hat, but if I am getting a hat in your imagination make it something cool and festive, okay? Thanks!

**More so.

***But I would, because PRESSURE!

 

Source: http://www.alec-longstreth.com/writing/2008/chained.jpg

Source: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/techno.sm9_.gif

Let there be cake!

Today is a very special day because two of my favourite people in the world – my NS BFF and my Ottawa BFF – celebrate their birthdays on March 6th. Isn’t that an awesome coincidence? I think so.

I always took it as a bit of a “sign” that Ottawa BFF was put in my path. She is generous, kind, smart, funny and knows more about wine than I could ever hope to know. We actually met because of one of her acts of kindness. Remind me to tell you about it sometime.

My NS BFF and I met in the first few weeks of our first year of university and we have been friends ever since. There’s nothing like a dry sense of humour and a mutual love of music to bond two people together so quickly! Also, you know someone is destined to be your BFF when you can call each other out on your B.S., pretty much right off the bat, which we did and it was awesome! Of course, there’s a story there, too, but I’ll also tell you that – wait for it – another time.

In honour of these very special women on their very special day, I am sharing a recipe for the most decadent and amazing chocolate cake in the universe… EVER! Yay, cake!

This cake is my NS BFF’s “Birthday” cake, made by her Mom every year. Isn’t that sweet? Since she is my BFF, I will not be telling you how many times this cake has been made. (Though, if you really wanted to, you might be able to figure out a round about number when you see the copyright information, but I digress..)

So, without further ado, I give you:

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

This is a rich chocolate cake that freezes beautifully and looks as good as it tastes. (Serves 8 to 10)

2 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted

2 cups sugar

1 cup water

3/4 cup sour cream (190 ml)

1/4 cup butter

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted (3 x 85g squares)

Frosting

1/2 cup butter

4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate

4 cups powdered sugar

1 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Measure all ingredients into a large bowl and beat for 1/2 minute at low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl constantly. Then beat for 3 minutes at highest speed. Pour into greased and floured cake pans: 2 9-inch pans or 3 8-inch pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. For the frosting: In the top of a double boiler, melt butter and chocolate over barely simmering water. Remove from heat and cool. Add powdered sugar, then blend in sour cream and vanilla, beat until smooth.

Important Rules that Make this my BFF’s Birthday cake

Use a bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 – 70 minutes. Bundt pans make cakes fancy without anything “extra” at all.

The cake itself is very rich and doesn’t really *need* frosting. NS BFF’s Mom uses a chocolate glaze rather than the frosting.

My thoughts

A little dusting of confectioner’s sugar would be beautiful and is one way to lighten up this cake. Filling the centre with fresh raspberries or a variety of berries is also a nice healthy garnish.

This recipe is from a cookbook called “San Francisco à la Carte”* (p. 432), and though I have a scanned copy of the recipe, complete with sweet and personalized hand written notes from my NS BFF’s Mom (I like to think of these as “historical documents”), you can still find this cookbook by searching online and maybe, if you are lucky, at a second hand bookstore or yard sale!

As often happens in my life when I delve deeper into things I am interested in or working on, I discovered two very fun facts today about this book.

The first is that it was a Junior League of San Francisco project. I had no idea, as I had never seen the actual book before.  This is interesting to me because another friend of mine – a new IRL friend – is a Junior League member here in Halifax and when I found the book online I had one of those “Eureka!” moments.

The second is that this cake recipe is featured in the beginning of “San Francisco à la Carte” in the suggested menus section, under “Barbeques-Picnics” as a part of a “Wine Country Picnic” menu. Ha! If that isn’t just perfect for my Ottawa BFF, I don’t know what perfect is!

Happy Birthday to my BFFs! My life is better with you in it and I am ever grateful for your presence.

Now, let there be cake!

* “San Francisco à la Carte” Copyright 1979 by the Junior League of San Francisco, Inc. A Main Street Book published by Doubleday

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! (Part Deux: Cupcakes!)

You already know we love celebrating Dr. Seuss’ Birthday, and do so every year, but this year in addition to our dinner of Green Eggs and Ham I decided to bake some cupcakes for dessert and let Thing 1 & Thing 2 decorate them in the style of Thing 1 & Thing 2. I mean, how else would Thing 1 & Thing 2 decorate anything other than in the style of Thing 1 & Thing 2? It’d be impossible! That being said, allow me to clarify. *MY* Thing 1 and Thing 2 decorated the cupcakes in a way that would pay homage to the very famous Thing 1 & Thing 2 from Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat“. Clear as mud!

It was totally on the fly and I used a cupcake mix and canned frosting – yeah I did – and you know what? They were awesome! The kiddos loved them, loved decorating them and thought they were scrumptious!

I had never used Duncan Hines Frosting Creations, before, but I read a cautionary tale about the product over on Curtains are Open and took it as a challenge. This tells you so much about me. Really it does.

I knew there was a blue flavour (Yes. Blue is a flavour. Usually “blue raspberry”, which is just weird, but I digress…) and was so excited to read that it was *not* raspberry, but rather cotton candy. Sold!

Anyhoo…

I followed the instructions and the flavour packet actually mixed in very well (using a butter knife – fancy!), but it lacked a certain over-the-top blueness that I felt was required to properly convey the idea of a “Thing”, so I added extra royal blue food colouring and it turned out just right. Then I handed the cupcakes and frosting over to Thing 1 & Thing 2 and armed them with butter knives and this is the end result.

Blue frosting

Frosting with “cotton candy” flavour + a royal blue boost.

Hair

See the spiky and twirly hair? All done with a butter knife!

Cupcake

I’m not going to lie. I wanted to run away with this one!

Cupcakes

Here is the finished product. What do you think?

Last one

This one is my favourite. I was so pleased with how this little impromptu dessert turned out!