Monday, September 1, 2014

Marshmallows and waffle brownies

Autumn doesn't officially begin for another 22 days, but I'm anxious to get cookin' and craftin' now. 

I haven't posted in my dusty blog since last year, and with good reason. Since October of last year basically everything about my life has changed. I closed my business, moved to a new area, and as of this week I'm (hopefully) halfway through my first/only pregnancy. My motivation to DO THINGS finally came back, thanks to my sketchbook. I started drawing again, and I find that it helps me clear my head more than meditation ever could, especially since I'm not running right now. 

Thanks to my newfound motivation, this weekend I made marshmallows, pomegranate marshmallows, and I waffled brownies. 

For some reason I doubled the marshmallow recipe because I worried I wouldn't have enough. My entire kitchen is coated with powdered sugar, and even after giving some away, I have more marshmallows than I know how to use. 

Marshmallow aftermath - squares, minis, and giant pomegranate. 

For the pomegranate marshmallows, I added 1 oz of Pama pomegranate liqueur, a little black currant syrup, and a splash of lemon juice. I should have added extra powdered sugar to the mix, so they came out a little squishy and damp, but still tasty. 

The regular marshmallows have specs of vanilla bean throughout, and they're perfectly firm but not painfully sweet. Commercial marshmallows are tasteless garbage in comparison with homemade. These are fluffy mouth clouds of happiness. 

My normal baking focus is on cake, but I got an intense urge to make waffled brownies. I use my WaffleBaker more often than I thought I would when I got it, which still surprises me. 

Hat tip to E for this amazing brownie recipe. I used about 1.5 T of batter for each brownie and let each batch WaffleBake(tm) for 5 minutes. It's a tedious way to make brownies, and I ended up with a lot of duds thanks to overzealous brownie removal, but they are SO GOOD. Armed with silicone tongs and a flat spatula, I got my technique down pat and it was smooth brownie waffling. I added some semi-sweet chips to the mix, so each brownie is chewy cocoa goodness with a soft, cakey middle, and a few chocolate bombs for extra fun. This recipe is as easy as any box mix, so I will definitely make these again in the future. 

More food gifts, with funny stickers! (Thanks, Heidi)

My September/October plans are shaping up, and my list of crafty to-dos is growing as fat as my Halloween movie to-do list. I'm excited for everything that's to come, and I'm going to relax in the in-betweens with little afternoon tea breaks with my favorite furry buddy. 



Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dessert overload

When I tell someone I’m going to bring dessert, what I really mean is that I’m going to go overboard and try to make everyone sick with sugar. Here’s a dessert plate that I made for a dinner party last weekend.

A mini caramel apple, the richest hot chocolate ever, and a little pumpkin cake with maple whipped cream and a caramel sauce drizzle.


The recipe I posted a few years back is still THE BEST pumpkin cake recipe ever. As long as you don’t overbake, the cake comes out so light and so flavorful. It’s really an amazing recipe. This year I used homemade kefir instead of milk and lemon juice. It really does not need any frosting, so I just made whipped cream with the maple extract, and it was the perfect amount of sweetness. (My whipped cream is all cream no whip in this picture. It’s day-old whipped cream. You know how it goes)

The caramel apples were pretty straightforward – melt caramels from the store. Easypeasy. A little sea salt added to the melted caramel made everything seem more grown up.

The hot chocolate recipe is this supposed Napa Rose Hot Chocolate recipe. The Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian hotel serves a tiny cup of melted chocolate served with tiny donuts. It is literally a gold-plated dessert, which is why they can get away with selling it for $15. This version costs significantly less. There’s an entire can of condensed milk in the recipe. I didn’t like the recipe as written, so I added a lot more whole milk and a bit more heavy cream, and I made sure to run it through a sieve before serving. It looks like the sludge that Dale Cooper tries to drink in the red room, but it’s really good.

When combined, this dessert trio has it all – light spiced cake, rich hot chocolate, and a crunchy, slightly salted apple.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


While I completely understand this video's annoyance with the buzzwords "pumpkin spice" I have purchased and enjoyed several delicious pumpkin things so far this season. 

Pumpkin Pie Truffles from See's

Last year, these were terrible, but they have been dramatically improved (or maybe I'm confusing them with something else?). The filling is soft, and mildly flavored so it is totally delightful, and not a fake cinnamon mouth punch. 

Random stuffs
Pumpkin pie almonds (my favorite from last year), pumpkin crunch popcorn (the best popcorn ever), and Jelly Belly candy corn. It claims to be premium candy corn, and it sincerely is better than Brach's. It is not grainy at all, and it is not as painfully sweet. It has a smooth texture and a nice smell that makes me want to eat more than 3 pieces at a time. 

Pumpkin frozen custard from Strickland's
Evidently Irvine, CA is the only Strickland's outside the Midwest. I feel very lucky because they have the smoothest, best-tasting frozen treat I know of. The Irvine location has flavors that I assume are not served at the Ohio stores like lychee and Thai iced tea. They always manage to blend the fruit flavor with the heavy custard, so it was no surprise that pumpkin custard with toasted pecans was a delicious treat. It's custard, so it is always served in a funny stretched shape that is totally unlike hard ice cream. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Knott’s Scary Farm 2013

Knott’s Scary Farm 2013 was one of the better years in memory, and my annual pilgrimage to Buena Park continues to be my favorite Fall tradition. I can understand how some people prefer the glitz and polish of Universal Horror Nights over the home-style feel of Knott’s, but the overabundance of teenagers, and that year when someone put a (fake but genuinely terrifying) gun in my face has turned me off returning to Universal any time soon.


I ate four desserts! It was a good day.

One of my favorite traditions of Knott’s is the pre-haunt “Boo-fet”. The spread is not necessarily the best, but it is consistently decent and it’s always fun to get harassed by a monster about the proper way to eat fried chicken. The best part part of the Boo-fet is the early entry to the park. This year rope drop for the pre-scare people was about 20 minutes early, and since the CBS news crew was there, the monsters were especially aggressive about scaring the newcomers.

I made some friends (that’s me in the middle)


One of the first things I did without thinking was run to the log ride. The log ride is NOT spooky this year. That’s what I get for not reading spoilers! It was just the classic log ride, but they introduced new animatronic figures since I last rode it (15 years ago?!) so it was fun to ride it again with fresh eyes.

WARNING: Mild spoilers of all the mazes and the Elvira show below

Since I went on opening night, I wanted to see Elvira’s very first show. It wasn’t busy at all so we queued up about 30 minutes before and got the seats we wanted. When Elvira first came out, she seemed unsure and nervous which I thought was adorable. She may be beautiful and unnaturally youthful, but she is still a human with nerves like the rest of us. A few minutes of love and shouts of MARRY ME, ELVIRA warmed her up, and then she relaxed and became the sexy, wiggly Elvira I’ve seen on TV. The show had a few dance numbers, a little bit of classic Elvira shtick, and an entertaining movie montage. Despite 20 years of near-perfect attendance at the Haunts I have never sat through an Elvira show. I have no way to compare it to years past, but it seemed like classic Elvira to me – bawdy, campy, and sexy. I thought the monster dancers were really good, and I would very much like Elvira’s red sparkly dress.

She’s up all night to get spooky


In order of favorite to least-favorite, the mazes:

I like anything Edgar Allen Poe, so I was really excited for this, even though it replaced my beloved Terror of London. Each room used an EAP story as a theme for murder, but the Pit and the Pendulum stood out to me the most. The dark, Victorian setting of this maze was very similar to Terror of London, so if you were sad to see it go too, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Pinocchio: Unstrung
I loved this maze last year, and I love it this year too. They took the familiar Pinocchio story and made it dark, creepy, and bloody. There were weird puppets everywhere and pretty marionette girls, but my favorite was the effect of being swallowed by the whale.


The Houdini theater

Black Magic
A Houdini-themed maze with a really nice exterior. I am SO GLAD that the clown maze is gone from this spot. The exterior of this maze was really great, and an example of Knott’s improving every year. I thought this maze was beautiful, and I loved the water tank effect. I really wanted to stop to watch a card trick, but I felt like I had to get out of the way of the people behind me even though it was pretty dead. Each maze now ends with a special effect or a big mechanical monster and Black Magic follows suit. (card trick jokes. HAHa..ha…ha…hrm)


A jack-o-lantern hung from a tree in the Trick or Treat queue

Trick or Treat
I got to ring the witch’s doorbell and then the house walkthrough began. As an aside: I LOVE THE WITCH. It’s always a sassy dude in drag, and whoever that person is, please sign up for RuPaul’s Drag Race so I can watch you throw shade. The roaming witch was so bitchy and I loved it. I absolutely loved the witch’s house, as well as her bad attitude. Please, witch, let me live in your spooky library, mask-covered hallway, and bloody dining room. This maze was Halloween night themed, so it easily passed as one of my favorites. Some scenes were more about setting the mood, and others were about being gross and scary. I liked that balance. In the last room, you will meet the witch, and she will try to kill you.

Uncle Willy’s BBQ Slaughterhouse
I don’t know why, but I always like this maze. I like restaurants that are hokey and serve ribs, and evidently that extends to haunts. When we walked into this maze, we were treated like patrons in a restaurant – greeted, seated, and … eated? No. But someone did say I’d made a good meal. I’ll bet I would! I was seasoned with Mrs. Knott’s Chicken dinner and four desserts! The Uncle Willy’s maze was gross – there was meat everywhere and body parts all around. I liked it. It was silly fun.

What is even happening in this maze? It’s like having a glamourized mental illness and I liked it. There were disgusting bugs everywhere, and there was a creepy, constant whisper that made me feel like I was losing my mind. It was a crazy maze where anything and everything gross was included to add to the madness. It worked for me, and I thought it was one of the more enjoyable mazes.

Dominion of the Damned
In years past, I loved the vampire maze because the vampire gardens and homes were always so pretty. Someone please make the magazine Vampire Homes and Gardens and I will be your first subscriber. The vampires were wearing smoking jackets for some reason? I guess they like to relax at home. The lady vampires were really pretty (fact: I have a girl crush on all the girl monsters because they are pretty). Overall, this maze didn’t work for me. All the scare actors did a good job of acting creepy, and everything looked nice, but it still wasn’t that special to me.

Gunslinger’s Grave
I loved that they used their Old West nostalgia for a maze. This one featured a lot of yelling that I didn’t understand. People yelled things at me, often at the same time, and it was confusing. I enjoyed the saloon scene the most, and the trip through the bathhouse. The rest of it was a lot of confusing shouting. I would take a can of pennies being rattled in my face over having nonsense shouted at me.

The Witch’s Keep
This year the Calico Mine right was less haunt and more dark ride. It wasn’t wonderful, but it was a huge improvement over the attempted scares of the years past. The decor could use some work, but they put effort into a backstory for the witch, and it was relaxing to sit and look at things after walking through so many mazes. There are no monsters to fear here – it’s just a ride.


I didn’t understand anything about this one. It was loud – LOUD. There were monster-faced people, and CCTV cameras…but why? Ostensibly it’s because of a gladiator showdown at the end of the world, and it’s televised, but I only know that because I read it in the description. The theme was too large. If they simplified this one I think it could be a lot better, but there were just too many things happening and it was SO LOUD AND CONFUSING.

Mirror Mirror
This was supposed to be a mirror maze that you could get lost in. The scare actors are less scary and more creepy, but the real problem was that there wasn’t enough staggering at the entry. We ended up following the people in front of us, so we just walked straight through with no scares or dead ends. The line was slow because of the staggered entry, but it still wasn’t enough. I would skip this one next year.


The scariest ride – the Ghost Rider

The biggest benefit of going on opening night was the light crowd. I usually go on the first Sunday, but this Sunday coincides with the Breaking Bad finale, and nothing is going to deter me from watching it live to find out what happens to Walt, Jesse, and the rest of the ABQ gang. Last night the longest wait was 10 minutes. It was wonderful. My husband is a wiener about roller coasters so I rode the Ghost Rider – TWICE, BY MYSELF. That was scarier than any maze could ever be.

Speaking of being scared, maybe I’m different because I don’t go to mazes in the hopes that I’ll feel like curling into a ball from fright. I like the artistic effort put into the overlays, and I like the world that the overlay creates. If I jump or get startled, that’s a bonus, but I wouldn’t walk out of a maze and say I was disappointed because I didn’t scream.

One thing I don't like about haunts as I get older is the horror trope of the chained woman begging for help. It feels extremely unnatural and wrong to walk past a person begging for help and simply continue on with my life. I don’t like the idea that I could become desensitized to something as real as a stranger in need of compassion. Roll your eyes at me in comments if you must. I know it’s weird to hate a chained or caged person, but not blink an eye at the sight of a human leg in a meat grinder.

Overall I would say that Knott is consistently stepping up their game, though they’re playing board games and Universal is playing PS3. I don't think that people who love Universal will ever prefer Knott’s, but for me the Knott’s Scary Farm haunt is happiness and the familiar feel of it is what gets my Halloween going every year.

Monday, July 8, 2013


Last year, I posted my birthday cake here, and since birthday cake is so very important to me, I’m going to do it again this year.
Have I ever mentioned that I have excellent taste in men? Well, I do, and so my husband didn’t even cringe when I sent him three paragraphs of excruciating detail outlining the type of cake I wanted to celebrate #33. He understands that cake is v. important to me.
Here is a brief summary of what I asked for:
photo 1
Here is what I received:

It’s better than the source picture because 1) it’s way bigger and 2) I actually got to eat it.
Thank you, awesome husband.
My poor pumpkin blog has been neglected since January! Since January, I:
-started running
-stopped indulging in flour and sugar every day
-other things that I can’t remember because those are the big ones
It was a hard transition, but I don’t miss eating junk food like I used to, and I actually enjoy the pain, sweat, and occasional bloody toes that come with running.
I did a few fun 5ks like the Color Run and the Electric Run, and a local run on the 4th of July. My time was :35 slower than my goal time, which was a disappointment, but oh well. My next upcoming races are:
Disneyland 10k
Run For Your Lives (running as a chaser zombie – watch out, world)
Tinker Bell Weekend 10k
Surf City Half Marathon
Surf City will be my first half marathon, which feels like a huge step for me. I signed up for it early because I didn’t want to be able to change my mind (which is exactly what I did with the Tinker Bell Half, but mostly due to the price tag)
What else? Pop rocks, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, food festivals, and a lot of movie/tv watching. Maybe some day I’ll start cooking fun things again, but it seems like all I really do anymore is grill chicken. I <3 grilled chicken and avocado.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sherbet and Pop Rocks

I went to Clarabelle’s Ice Cream parlor last week despite the fact that it is SO COLD (wah) and got a Chocolate chip cookie hot fudge sundae, but asked for the “Blue raspberry bursts” on top. Why not? Sounds fun. The flavors weren’t ideal since the harsh artificial fruit flavor tasted funny against the vanilla and chocolate, but I still loved it.

I had to go to three stores to get all the ingredients, but I present:

My current Favorite Thing – a rainbow sherbet Pop Rocks sundae
with orange segments instead of hot fudge, because they’re fundamentally the same thing…right?

I love it so much. The fresh orange and the creamy citrus sherbet are perfect together, while the gentle (and sometimes violent) popping add a bit of extra fun. I bought 9 packages of Pop Rocks, so I’ll probably eat this a lot.

Friday, December 14, 2012

TL;DR: best article ever

Heidi shared this article, and I expected to skip over a lot of it because it’s quite long, but it’s such an excellent and strange read. I do not, in any way, believe in ghosts, the supernatural, or any other mystical stuff, but I lovelove crazy legends and voodoo from simpler times.

Please read this whole article - Bones, Ghosts, and Paul Koudounaris – but if you can’t, here are the highlights:

One of the more outlandish stories is about a guy who got to be called “pene grande,” which means “big dick.” He was a mummy famed in life for having a big penis. People would go down to the Palermo Catacombs and treat him as the patron saint of big cocks. Finally a newlywed woman came to see him because she was married to a guy who was not well-endowed. She took a cloth and rubbed it on the mummy’s dick, and then rubbed it on her husband’s dick. The next time she had sex with her husband, his penis seemed larger and fuller and she was about to orgasm except that at that moment she looked up and saw it was actually the ghost on top of her. Everyone thought she was crazy, but then it happened again the next time she had sex.

They had to set up an exorcism for this ghost. They had a blacksmith make a tight-fitting sheath made of metal, and once the husband got erect the ghost came out and got caught in the codpiece. They threw holy water at him. That expelled the ghost from the guy’s body. So forever he had a small penis, but he was free of the ghost. As for the ghost, he gained a great following among older ladies, and eventually so many were coming to see him that they had to lock the mummy in a back room, which is where he remains to this day.


There’s a really bizarre story from the 20th century, about a guy who had severe diarrhea and chronic flatulence. He stole a skull and started saying prayers to St. Roch and St. Sebastian, the patron saints of plague and suffering, and also shitting on the skull daily. He had a theory that by crapping on the skull he could switch intestines with the body the skull had been attached to. The ghost kept warning him, quit shitting on my skull. But he kept at it and he succeeded in transferring his intestinal problems to the ghost. The problem was that the ghost had died of testicular cancer, and in return he gave that to the guy. That’s how he died. One of the dangers of necromancy is you don’t really know who’s on the other side or what they’re going to give you in return.

I’ve only been to one ossuary – Les Catacombes de Paris – but I am fascinated with them. This promotional article really worked on me, because I am now lusting after this book.