Ok, this site illustrates why we don't do heavy decoration on cakes...
Thomas sent me this link earlier and I feel that it's IMPERATIVE to share it with everyone.
This is an Entire Blog devoted to cake decorating disasters. I have laughed so hard today that my spleen almost exploded. It's now listed under our links to awesome and you can also visit it here.
My hat (or neon wig) goes off to Jen for her diligence as the cake wreck police.
A side note: I do not mean to malign my fellow bakers; I make my share of mistakes. In the words of Jane Austen, "for what do we live but to make sport for our neighbors and laugh at them in our turn?"
Monday, July 28, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
"Some moment of every summer finds me all out of canning jars. So I go to town and stand in line at the hardware store carrying one or two boxes of canning jars and lids, renewing my membership in a secret society. Elderly women, and some men, too, will smile their approval or ask outright, "What are you canning?" These folks must see me as an anomaly of my generation, an earnest holdout, while the younger clientele see me as a primordial nerdhead, if they even notice."
This is an excerpt from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, which I just finished reading. Actually, I highly recommend it and would loan you my copy, but it's already promised to about 6 people!
I love canning. It's a guaranteed sense of accomplishment that you can eat for months afterward. Obviously, this surprises no one who knows me.
My recent adventure was strawberry preserves and rastrablaberry jam. Dad and I washed and stemmed the fruit, hovered over the pot as Preston and I stirred and skimmed the foam (cackling like MacBeth's hags just for kicks), boiled the jars and ladled our finished product into their new homes before re-boiling the filled jars to double-sanitize. I cut fabric for the tops and printed labels and voila! We are now selling them in the shop!
I plan to make more with blueberries and peaches and other summer fruits as they reach the zenith of their respective seasons.
Right now, available in the shop, are strawberry preserves and also rastrablaberry jam (raspeberry, strawberry, and blackberry). There's a limited amount, so don't miss it!
Monday, July 14, 2008
I'm so sorry that's it's taken me awhile to report on my trip to Nashville!
First, thanks to EVERYONE who sent me some suggestions of bakeries to stop into. It really helped out a lot!
I ended up visiting 2 (actually 3, but one was closed or relocated or something) and had A BLAST! Here's the verdict:
Wow! It was packed but they kept the line moving quickly. Also, I've never seen icing so high. I mean like a beehive of icing. Mandy, my friend and co-market researcher (it sounds way more professional to say we're market researching than to say we're eating our weight in sugar and butter), and I actually had to use a fork to remove about an inch and half of icing just to get to taste the cake. Seriously.
It was quite good (although probably, and I NEVER thought I'd say this EVER, a little too much icing for me) and I apologize profusely that I didn't think to whip out the camera until we'd pretty much made an enormous mess of our haul. Four people, two forks, and a box of cupcakes... not a neat endeavor!
OMG. I am IN LOVE with this place!!! If you go to Nashville any time in the near future, you MUST go here. We got a huge variety of things to try, you know, to make sure we did an adequate job researching, and ALL of it was good.
My favorite things: little baked dog treats to take home to Dixie and Finny, the macaroons, the 'brookie'- combination brownie and cookie, and Best of All... the GRITATTA. Holy grits and eggs, Batman! A gritatta is the creation of "Al", whom we met while there, and it's basically a base of grits with an egg fritatta on top... all combined into one lovely and delicious creation. I've been having gritatta dreams and fully plan on making some of my own for a decadent Sunday brunch.
I got to meet the owners, the Einsteins, and they could not have been any nicer. Now THIS is a neighborhood bakery. They had a small space, a small menu, and huge smiles. They use locally roasted coffee just like us (while ours is Ugly Mug, theirs is Drew's Brews) and they were so nice as to send us off with a free package to try out! We traded contact info and they were so enthusiastic and encouraging of my budding business.
Whenever I go to Nashville, I will DEFINITELY be stopping back in for more treats, more gritatta, and a great cup of Drew's Brews. Awesome spot!
Visit Sweet 16th here!
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
As many of you know, I'm a farmers' market groupie. I love farmers' markets and I love sharing that love with everyone I meet.
If you haven't been to the downtown farmers' market yet, I suggest you go this weekend. It's such a great spot to get fresh produce and really learn about where your food comes from, how it's grown, and who is supplying it. Also, there are musicians and activities for kids; it's a really great family outing!
Even the produce that's grown conventionally (using pesticides, etc) is way better for you when you get it from the farmers' market than at a grocery store because it was allowed to fully ripen before being harvested. When food is shipped many miles and goes through many processes to reach you, the diner, it must be picked early in its life.
I made some yellow squash for dinner the other night and only had one left from the farmers' market so I augmented with one from Nameless Grocery Store. When I sliced them I saw an amazing thing... one was a deep, sunny yellow and one was a green-tinged white. The yellow one tasted so full and well, squashy, while the white one tasted mostly like water. I'll give you one guess as to which was which!
Here are some photos of my Saturday morning at the farmers' market downtown-
please visit their website at www.memphisfarmersmarket.org
Some of what I bought:
Ripley tomatoes... does it get any better?
peaches for pies from Jones Orchard
enormous sunflowers from Bluebird Farms (our egg supplier!)
a blueberry peach cobbler from Bun in the Oven (what can I say, I love sweets!)
honey whole wheat bread from Cucina
yellow squash and zuchinni from Whitton Farms
quart upon quart of blueberries from Harris Farm (mmm, more pie...)
After that, Thomas and I couldn't carry any more... haha!
Monday, July 7, 2008
Okay, we really blew it out of the water for our July 4th line-up. It was like Fashion Week in NYC for baked goods. My team REALLY outdid themselves!
I think the photos pretty much speak for themselves, but I'll just say that I owe a huge Thank You to my team, especially the creative genius of Elizabeth, Laura, and Lindye, who came up with a bunch of our 4th of July offerings.
We decked out our Plain Jane cupcakes in red, white, and blue, dying the batter blue! We had our Frankly Scarlett cupcakes topped with blue sprinkles in the shape of a star and blueberry cupcakes with blueberry icing. Elizabeth made a Plain Jane cake with a bright red layer, a bright blue layer, white buttercream icing, and red and blue icing stars drawn all over it. We also had star-shaped sugar cookies that were each decorated in red, white, and blue icing. I made teeny pies in strawberry and blueberry with a star in dough on top. We replaced the usual daisy on top of the Daisy cupcakes with a star in red or blue.
We hope you all had a fantastic Fourth of July!!!