Saturday, September 2

Yippee! It's birthday time!

What do you get the girl who has everything?  More Stuff (and world peace).  I'm approaching the last year in my twenties; Oye! Here's some things that are on my list for this year. is an environmentally friendly kitchen company.   I found them featured on my companies Web site.  I've started taking my plastic shopping bags back to the grocery store, but I think this would help cut down on those bags.


ThinkGeek is a Web site, I usually reserve when I'm buying my husband things, but I love this t-shirt.  I think you can figure it out.


Who doesn't love cupcakes?  I think this guy is awesome.


I do think I need to get better with using knives in the kitchen.  I have a great Kyocera ceramic knife that I use for everything, but I still don't think its the essential knife I'm looking for.  But I think these from Sur La Table might do.

The Cupcake Queen in my blogging world is the girl who does everything too perfect.  If we were in high school, she'd be the girl with the perfect hair, wear the perfect clothes and have all the right friends.  She makes the yummiest looking food, takes the best pictures and on top of all of it, she's talented and designed these t-shirts.  Don't get any "fresh" ideas!

The other thing that I  always want to do, but never have time to schedule is cooking school from Sur La Table.  They have some baking classes offered in October I think would be fun or even the Moroccan night, yummy.

And, finally, I think there's a lot of cooking related stuff above, but where's the prissy part, well I've thought of one last little gem; A spa package from the Royal Palms.  Or really any of the hotels right off of Camelback and Lincoln.  Both are easily assessable, so don't worry about any of them being a bother for me to get to.


Wednesday, August 30

Governor Stomps Wine Bill

This is a news story I found interesting.  California state Senator Carole Migden authored a bill to name Zinfandel the state.  Wow!  That's fun, a state wine. Does that mean that at State Fairs, you'd have wine drinking contests, a wine queen and even a wine stomping competition?  Pack up the bags honey, we're movin' to California!

But, don't pack up too quick, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill only saying that zinfandel was a significant, historic wine, but that a commercial product shouldn't be listed as representative of the state.

To see more on this story, check out what the San Francisco Chronicle has to say about it, here.

Here are some fun wine stats found in Wikipedia:

  • United States holds about 5% of the world's export in wine
  • California produces 90% of that total export amount
  • The most consumed wine in the US is chardonnay
  • Christmas 2005 after the movie Sideways, Pinot sales went up 20%

Here's a picture of Hubby with baby cousin with a nice tall glass of vino.  I bet that this is from an El Torro magnum bottle from CostCo (my grandparents taste buds aren't so discriminating).  :)

When you have lemons; Make Lemon Curd Cake

We live in the Arcadia area of Phoenix.  Historically, this area was all citrus farms.  The neighborhoods are all still laid out for irrigation.  So, it's funny to turn into our neighborhood in the middle of the desert and see green grass, and tall trees.  One nice bonus is that we have quite a few citrus trees.  We have an orange, tangelo and lemon.  While it's not citrus season yet, you can still buy it all reasonably cheap this time of year.

So, a bushle of lemons and one Martha Stewart Baking Cookbook later, I've got myself a project.

I decided to attempt to make a Lemon Curd Cake, partically after seeing the Cupcake Queen's success with Lime Curd Coconut Cupcakes, and partically because of said bushel of lemons.

After jumping head first into this recipe, I remembered how many steps Martha baking involved.  It's not just add this, mix that and whip it all together.  It's add part of that, separate this, then put it back together kind of cooking.

What I've found so far, is that I have to bake her cakes about 10-12 minutes longer than the book recommends.  The crumb of the cake is dense, but not as moist as other recipies.  So far I've had a lot of luck with the Williams Sonoma basic cake recipies.  Maybe I'll try that next time.

The funnest part of this recipe was making the lemon curd.  I tried to find how this type of curd differed from say a dairy base curd, but didn't have a lot of luck.  Here's the recipe from Martha's cookbook:

8 large egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice an dsugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan; whisk to combine.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, untilthe mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 8 to 10 minutes.  It should register 160 degrees on an instant-readthermometer.

Remove sauce pan from heat.  Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth.  Strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming.  Regrigerate until chilled and set, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

One lesson I learned here, was that when they said a "fine sieve" they didn't mean a cheesecloth.  It was too fine and the curd was too heavy for the cloth.  I made a last minute switch to a mesh metal strainer and that worked much better.  The curd was the consistancy of a mousse, it was tangy and bright.  It was actually quite pretty.

I combined the cake, the curd and a lemon icing that called for 4 sticks of butter!

Martha Stewart Lemon Curd Cake

 Now I've got this cake that's bigger than most  babies, and I should have taken to work to share, but I can't.  I'm selfish.


Have fun!

Sunday, August 27

Dining Out and Phoenix Farmer's Market

This weekend has been a busy one.  Hubby and I started this weekend with a date night, how romantic.  We went to Morton's at the Esplanade.  Dinner was good, right, everything you'd expect from a great steak house.  I had the prime rib and he had a rib-eye.  The souffle was awesome, but the belle of the ball was a 2003  Franciscan Cabernet.  It's cherry undertones were very pronounced and it was very smooth.

Saturday, we were invited to a birthday party.  The guest of honor hails from the Pacific Northwest and spent a good amount of time in Alaska.  That said, he's a fish snob.  I guess when you grow up with the good stuff, it's hard to turn back.  So, in a effort to please, we got him a gift certificate to the Alaska Salmon Company.  It's a family owned fish company right off of 32nd Street and Camelback.  They get new shipments in almost daily and most fish is on display only 8 hours after being caught.  I think it's amazing.  I think it's great.   I'll report back in once, I get the final verdict from the expert.

For dinner, we celebrated at Maggiano's Little Italy.  I'd only been there for drinks and appetizers, and had no clue on the amount of food that would soon be coming to our table!  We ordered family style and had so much good stuff.  We had fried cheese, veal and mushroom ravioli, pastas, beef medallions and roasted chicken.  Featured wine was a 2005 Robert Modavi Pinot, it was only $30 and fantastic.  Dessert almost put me over the edge!  There were so many great choices; Cheesecake, Boston Cream Pie, Banana Pound cake, Apple tarts.   I had been quiet the whole dinner, allowed everyone else to choose our entrees.  Now, we were at the part of the meal where I had an OPINION.  We, ahem, I choose the cheesecake and the apple tart.  They did not disappoint.

Now it's Sunday, and I finally get a minute to be the captain of my own ship.  I finally have a block of time, where I can get into the kitchen.  Yesterday morning, I finally made it to the Roadrunner Park Farmer's Market

It's a far cry from the Dallas Farmer's Market, that for a while Hubby and I could walk to, but it looked like a nice group of growers and home cooks.  There were a few fresh produce stands with bushels of okra, egg plant and cabbage.  There were also stands where local cooks were marketing their secret sauces and seasonings.  I found Molly's Tamale's, where they had fresh, beef, pork, bean, and chicken tamales.  I snatched up a few, and had the beginning of some great inspiration.  I found another stand selling, Nana's Sassy Salsa.  We had met Nana at a party back last fall, and it was nice seeing her again.  I snatched up a jar of her Pineapple Margarita Salsa.  So, between loads of laundry and other domestic chores, I hope to put together a tasty dinner. 

Have a good week, y'all!