dude fude, food, recipes, Uncategorized

Cupcakification–year 5!

I like surprises. I’m not gaga crazy for them, but I do seem to have a thing for a little something something in my cake batter. Today we weren’t making the big birthday cake (more on that later) but just some cupcake bites for the kids at school. M wanted vanilla so we went simple, except for a little chocolate surprise in the center. We added Guittard semi-sweet chocolate chips (these are currently my favorite chocolate chips) in the middle of each.

many gotten eaten

Actually, I wanted it to be more like a chocolately pudding bite, so I probably needed a hunk of chocolate for that (or pudding). Chips weren’t really right, but they’ll still be a little surprise for the kids, and that is always fun.

Into cold storage they went until Thursday when they’ll receive their Meyer lemon icing. M seems to be fixated on that flavor … also rainbows. We’re going to add a little candy rainbow. I talked her out of the blue sky, white clouds (that we saw on Martha Stewart’s website–too big for our “bites,” but we’ll approximate. I’ve been looking up candy stores (I may have to go south for this…) and baking stores in SF.

they cooked for 11-12 minutes

Apparently, Sugar and Spice in Daly City is good, but I haven’t been there yet. I’ve been looking for silver frosting (Sur la Table didn’t have it) for the big cake, but I may just give up and go with pink(s). And, yes, that cake will have a little surprise as well…

They look good!

Here’s the cupcake recipe–it’s Amy Sedaris’s recipe:

Yield:

24 cupcakes
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • 2 In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add in the eggs, two teaspoons vanilla, salt and baking powder.  Add flour and milk in batches, starting and ending with flour. Stir until batter is smooth and satiny.
  • 3 Fill paper-lined muffin tins with batter. Bake at 375° for 18- 20 minutes.

Read more: http://www.food.com/recipe/amy-sedaris-vanilla-cupcakes-181181#ixzz1Ft5qshpd

Um … the best part!

yum

Finished product:

We love these little guys...
Getting ready to go to school
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mommies, Uncategorized

Art #1

For a long time my daughter, M, has been drawing and creating little visual worlds. She recently made this “stage” and then photographed it herself.

And this isn’t only thing she’s photographed, once I showed her how to use my digital camera, and she’s been using it! It meant that when I downloaded the photos, there were many surprises. Like these…

M also started drawing on my iphone and she figured out how to save her drawings. So, when I down loaded my iphone pictures, I came across these:

I love seeing the world from her perspective.

And I have the pleasure of curation.

San Francisco, January 2011

Uncategorized

Ships Unmoored

I’ve been thinking a lot about my Dad lately. September is the anniversary of his death, so he’s on my mind more than usual during the fall months. While he was fighting cancer, he said to me: sometimes, ships unmoored come safely home.

When my Dad was alive, I could have asked for the reference directly (although I didn’t at the time). So I hit the Internet looking for the source. I thought it might be Shakespeare, but I couldn’t find it. I actually have the vague memory of looking up the quote some time ago and finding it and realizing that the quote wasn’t quite right and thinking, how beautiful: “ships unmoored.” Or maybe that was now, I love the idea, the phrase, ships unmoored.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to come safely home. How you can walk up your 12 steps and turn the lock with your key to that satisfying click, get the somewhat stale whiff when you walk inside to closed windows as your eyes go first to the couch to check and see if the cushion is turned in the way that hides the still mysterious medium-sized green stain (what was that?!). Or if safely home is really about that magical home in the sky home, where you don’t even believe it exactly but you’re hoping in some way when you die, whether you actually go home or you just feel like you go home, something (God, brain, death hormones, something) gives us the feeling that we are on our way safely home, going home, or just home.

I guess if my Dad had meant the latter, he could have said: ships unmoored always come safely home. But then he wouldn’t have been the same guy who got a good laugh out of his idea for a bumper sticker: Visualize my ass.

Near the end of his life he told me, he wasn’t scared to die, just curious. I don’t think he was worried about coming “safely home” although he did want to come home to die and he did. He also wanted to see the place where he’d be buried before he died. I’ll never forget the drive home from the hospital, maybe a week or so before he actually died, which included a drive by the lush, green graveyard. My father, leaning way back in the seat of the car, painfully sat up, looked out the window and nodded.

A few years after my father died, I wrote something about him for a class taught by the indomitable Daphne Merkin. The essay, she thought, was overly sentimental and over filled with positive adjectives (for starters) but, she said, the piece had really given her pause, and made her wonder what her own life would have been like if she’d had a father like my Dad.

Needless-to-say, I still haven’t trimmed much sentimentality out of my writing when the topic is my father. It’s probably not going to happen, so let me end, unashamedly.

My father taught a lot of classic Greek texts including The Odyssey. When I typed  “sometimes ships unmoored” into Google, it linked me to The Odyssey, book 13:

Then for Odysseus they spread a rug and a linen sheet on the deck of the hollow ship at the stern, that he might sleep soundly; and he too went aboard, and laid him down in silence. Then they sat down on the benches, each in order, and loosed the hawser from the pierced stone. And as soon as they leaned back, and tossed the brine with their oarblades, sweet sleep fell upon his eyelids, an unawakening sleep, most sweet, and most like to death. And as on a plain four yoked stallions spring forward all together beneath the strokes of the lash, and leaping on high swiftly accomplish their way, even so the stern of that ship leapt on high, and in her wake the dark wave of the loud-sounding sea foamed mightily, and she sped safely and surely on her way; not even the circling hawk, the swiftest of winged things, could have kept pace with her. Thus she sped on swiftly and clove the waves of the sea, bearing a man the peer of the gods in counsel, one who in time past had suffered many griefs at heart in passing through wars of men and the grievous waves; but now he slept in peace, forgetful of all that he had suffered.

stories worth repeating, thoughts, Uncategorized

the thing that made all the difference…

Reading Erica Goldson’s impressive valedictorian speech, which included a scathing and truthful critique of the state of this country’s education system, got me to thinking about how there’s not usually a lot of follow up with these people. We get to hear the, let’s go get ’em speech, but unless they hit the big time, we don’t get to hear what all those valedictorians think after they been around a while. That could be interesting … or not.

My father was the valedictorian of his high school. I never heard or read what he said in that speech, although he did say later that if he had it to do over again, he would have said something different. He was also the valedictorian of his University (okay, top 1%, they didn’t have only one valedictorian). That time he didn’t give a speech but I’d like to share what he wrote about his life for the alumni book 25 years later.

“The thing that made all the difference was doing what I knew was right even though I knew it meant losing my job, which it did. Everything fell into place after that.”

Dr. Donald Finkel

1965 Twenty-Fifth Reunion Class Book and Directory, Yale University

mommies, stories worth repeating, thoughts, Uncategorized

of perfume and forgiveness

Once upon a time…

I was visiting my grandparents in New York City.  I spent quite a bit of time there, and it was with my grandparents that I was introduced to the joys of theater, music and art. When I was six, I saw Yule Brenner in The King and I.  With them, I saw a Chorus Line for the first time, went to the opera, and would circle up the ramp at the Guggenheim and eat lunch at the original MOMA.

One day, when I was visiting, I accidentally broke a large, brand new bottle of my grandmother’s perfume.  I remember that distinctive and horrible sinking and miserable sensation of awfulness.  It seemed, to a child, that impending and irreversible doom must follow a transgression so great and careless, and of such an expensive and precious item.  And then, I remember how my grandmother shrugged it off as absolutely no big deal.

She was glad I hadn’t hurt myself.  That was the last it was ever mentioned.

That memory is one of the more resonant of my childhood and I recently recalled it again when my daughter accidentally pulled the belt  and buttons off my raincoat.

At every accident, there is an occasion to practice my grandmother’s gift of nonchalant forgiveness.  It is powerful, and I am grateful be able to pass it on.

thoughts, Uncategorized

life mirroring art mirroring life

Ever read the personals?

People love to say about themselves, “no drama.”  They also love to say they are looking for “no drama.”

Yeah, that makes for a really exciting story.

Movies, for example, are a series of obstacles that deepen and complicate until the protagonist hits a low point (end of act 2).

Of course, if there’s anything you can count on in life, it’s complications although some people do generate more drama then other, they seek out.  It seems, in fact, like they can’t bear the calm.

When we go to movies (or read) we like to see other people dealing with drama and then with mirror that in our own lives.  That’s what we’re there for!  Or we’re writers and we use our own lives at inspiration and tells stories about drama, often we dramatize what we’re writing because otherwise the true story would be too boring.  Of course in some cases, if you told the true story, no one would believe it.  Either way, a story without drama is dull, and perhaps, so is a life.
When people write “no drama” they mean, no bad drama, no tiresome, ongoing complications that never cease, no sub plots or minor character injecting themselves into the main storyline.  They mean, I’m a calm, cool collected person with nothing to impede my forward motion.
Good luck with that…

thoughts, Uncategorized

back in the big, big

This isn’t exactly the view from my new flat, but you get the idea.

From the first time I saw this view, I hadn’t been able to get it out of my mind, and now, I’m happy to say, I look at it every day.

A friend looked at me a bit askance (but with a smile anyway) when I mentioned the mist wafting over the city and  the pink light, and the dreamy, romantic nature of this particular view.  Well, yes, I have moved into the city of San Francisco, not just nearby, or just outside, or any of that bay area nonsense. In.

Moving, downsizing, changing, beginning.  It was a great, if exhausting process–down the birth canal if you will, and into the new world which has an oft discussed, and decidedly misty look (it’s coming… look on the left…).