Friday, February 25, 2011

Sugared Cinema: 127 Hours (2010)

3 Reasons why I absolutely must see 127 Hours:

1.  James Franco.  I wanted to punch him in Spider-Man.  Became an insta-hardcore-fan after Pineapple Express.  The monkey's out of the bottle now!

2.  The true story behind it is fascinating.

3.  I encountered a similar fate when I was 7 years old.  I locked myself in the trunk of a rental car and would have died from suffocation or melodrama had my dad not heard me screaming my ass off.  I can relate to this movie.

In honor of this Oscar-nominated film, I present to you...

127 Hours Cake Boulders

If you're not hip to the current cake pop phenomenon, clearly you've been living under a rock.  (Ha?)  No worries, they're crazy easy to make.

 Here's what you'll need:

a baked cake (from a boxed mix is fine)
frosting (canned is also fine)
candy melts or dipping chocolate

I had some leftover stout cupcakes that I was willing to sacrifice for the sake of this post.

Crumble up the cake into a bowl.

Mix in a spoonful of frosting at a time until the cake holds its shape when squished.

Roughly form 1 1/2-inch balls and place on a baking sheet.  You don't want them too round - these are supposed to be boulders.  Stick the baking into the freezer to firm up while you melt the candy melts or chocolate.

Dip the boulders into the melted candy melts or chocolate and transfer to a lined cookie sheet to firm up.

Drop boulder onto arm.

Can you imagine being trapped for five days under a giant boulder made of chocolate cake?

Worth severing your own arm over.

Happy Oscars weekend.  Fingers crossed for Christian Bale.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

On your mark. Get set. _______ .

Here's a little game I like to play.

When I put something in the oven, I set the timer.  In the time it takes to bake whatever is in there, I have to complete at least one chore around the house.  Obviously, some tasks are better suited for certain bake times.  Putting away laundry works great with a sheet of cookies whereas waxing the floor is better saved for a pound cake.

In the 35 minutes it took to bake a loaf of whole wheat bread, I managed to clean, organize and reminisce through the kitchen junk drawer.

To help me relax.
(I kid, I kid.  It's just catnip.  Easier on the throat.)

Berry White and I used to buy records from Strangeland until it went under a few years ago.  It was one of the last remaining brick and mortar record shops in the area.  RIP Strangeland.

We run a mature household. 

Alright, let's get this bread started so that you can set your timer and tackle the _____ .

No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread
Recipe from the back of the King Arthur flour bag

1 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup melted butter or vegetable oil
3 Tablespoons molasses or maple syrup
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk*
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

*I didn't have any dry milk on hand so I substituted the dry milk and the water with 1 cup of milk.

Grease an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan.

In a large bowl, combine all (that's right, ALL) of the ingredients.  Beat on high for 3 minutes.

Scoop the dough into the loaf pan.

Cover the dough with lightly greased plastic wrap and let it rise for 90 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Slide the pan into the oven and let it bake for 15 minutes.  Place a piece of tented foil over the dough and let it bake for another 15-20 minutes until the internal temperature hits 195 degrees.

Let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes then turn it out onto a rack to cool completely.

The best thing since sliced this.

Mmm.  Nutty, moist and great toasted and topped with butter and honey.

Not a bad reward for ____ing the _____ in under __ minutes.

Friday, February 18, 2011

And the winner is...

Random Integer Generator
Timestamp: 2011-02-18 06:16:25 UTC

Congrats Stacy!  Email your full name and address to threebakingsheets [at] yahoo [dot] com.  If anyone wants coasters for their home bar, send me your info and I'll drop some in the mail.

Time for me to get cracking on that hand selected 6-pack.  Stouts and porters...light, crisp summer beers....not a fan of IPAs...

Oh yeah.  This is going to be good.

Happy Furniture Sale Weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Candy is dandy.

But liquor beer is quicker.

Last week was a doozie.  I was still feeling a little off from the stomach bug I caught over the weekend but I had no choice but to drag ass into work on Monday.  The department was two travel agents short and I was on call for our after hours emergency line.  To top it all off, I was anticipating a gift from Mother Nature, which is a totally inappropriate topic of conversation to discuss on a food blog but anyone who knows me knows I'm not one to mince words when it comes to matters of TMI. 

You can imagine the ball of fun I was last week.

BUT!  This week is different.  I'm no longer on after hours duty (at least until my turn comes around again next month), the DC area will be seeing its first balmy day of the year and I have a 3-day weekend chock full 'o nothing to look forward to.  All signs are pointing to awesome.

Naturally, I've been celebrating with beer.  Drinking it, giving it away and even turning it into candy.  I found a recipe for beer lollipops on the Celebration Generation blog and I gotta's pretty genius. The recipe lists hop cones or pellets as one of its ingredients.  I didn't have any on hand so I omitted them.  I also didn't have lollipop sticks so I made candy drops instead.

Beer Candy

 1/2 cup beer
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 light corn syrup

Lightly butter a baking sheet.  Set aside.

In a heavy saucepan, combine all 3 ingredients.  Over medium-high, bring the mixture to a boil then place a candy thermometer into the saucepan.  Stir the mixture until the temperature reaches 300 degrees.

Remove the pan from heat and let it cool for a minute while you continue stirring.

Use a spoon to drop spoonfuls (as opposed to forkfuls) of the candy mixture onto your baking sheet.  It starts to firm up pretty quickly as it cools so this is where you want to (carefully) pick up the pace.  Try not to burn the crap out of yourself.  

If you prefer freeform candy pieces or are prone burning the crap out of yourself, pour the entire mixture into the pan.  Once the sheet is cool, you can break it like you would peanut brittle.

I want candy.

Some of the hoppiness cooked off in the process so I want to try adding the additional hops next time around.  The malt is the dominant flavor and when combined with the caramelized sugar, it is delicious.  I want to experiment with this candy using different types of beer.  What do you think?  A stout?  Or maybe a rich, figgy dubbel?  Yeah, definitely a dubbel.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Because you can't spell "Valentine" without "ale."

Happy V-Day, kids.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Beer Giveaway!

So I just realized, one year and five giveaways later, that I haven't done one beer-related giveaway.  Not one.  For someone whose blog was half-built on a foundation of malted waves of grain, this is a big deal.

With that day just around the corner, I thought it would be refreshing (in more ways than one) to show some love for the less appreciated "sheets to the wind" side and, in turn, pass that love onto you.  Not with a heart-shaped box (not even Nirvana could make that gift appealing.)  Not with a mylar pouch filled with helium.  Not with a "Shit Bitch, You is Fine" bear.

But with beer.  And stuff.

One winner will get:
  • a 6-pack of craft beer, hand-selected by yours truly.  Not that having me pick out the beers that may eventually take up residence in your fridge is any sort of privilege but I can personally guarantee that each beer will be carefully chosen with love and with your (and only your) tastebuds in mind.
  • a fancy beer glass
  • a bunch of unused brewery coasters leftover from my and Berry White's wedding

For a chance to win the box of brew loot, answer the following question in a comment below:

Do you like beer?

Simple as that.  If you love it, what's your favorite style/example?  If you don't, why?  The more detailed your answer, the better.  Should you win, your comment will help me determine what ends up in your personalized prize pack.  Is there a beer-lover in your life you'd rather try to win this for?  Go for it.

The giveaway ends Thursday, 2/17/11 @ 11:59pm EST.  One winner (of legal drinking age, of course) will be selected at random.

Oh, and if you're wondering about the whole shipping thing, well...consider me a postal rebel.  They can take our beer but they can't take our freedom fries.

Cheers ya'll.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


After this weekend, calamari and I are taking a break from each other.  Could be a month, could be a year - only my gastrointestinal system knows for sure.  Regardless, it's been a great ride and we've experienced so many memorable batters and aiolis.  Parting is such sweet, squided sorrow.

But in the end, not even a bout of food poisoning could put a damper on this:

For 2 1/2 hours, I got to see and hear Alan Rickman in all his unedited, unadulterated, velvety-voiced brilliance.  All from less than 50 feet away.  Amazing doesn't even come close.

I'd go into more detail but I am completely worn out.  To reiterate my woeful FB status update, I'm giving myself 12 more hours then it's time to snap out of little bitch mode.  In the meantime, I'm going to snuggle up with a box of Saltines and fall asleep to a nice, lighthearted flick.

Friday, February 4, 2011

When life hands you chocolate, make Alan Rickman.

Tomorrow, I'm hopping a bus to NYC to spend 24 glorious hours with my Uncle Gabe.  A few weeks ago, he sent me an email asking if I was able to come up on February 5th.  He's aware of my borderline creepy obsession with Alan Rickman and said he could get tickets to John Gabriel Borkman at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.  My uncle also started researching bars in the area and narrowed them down to a short list of places based on their beer menus.

You know how every family has that one "cool uncle"?  Yeah, that's Uncle Gabe.

Last weekend, he spent a few hours parked in front of BAM's stage door to scope out the Rickman situation.  There is a very (sur)real possibility that I may score an autograph and that I should bring a Harry Potter book that I want signed, just in case.  Naturally, I'm going to bring Half-Blood Prince.  Duh.

I've been wanting to give chocolate painting another go for a while now and I thought, "What better subject to work with than Alan Rickman?"  After Berry White, that is.

It takes some fine tuning but the process itself is actually pretty easy.

First, select a picture.  This proved to be the most difficult part.  Do I go with Hans Gruber?  Colonel Brandon?  The Sheriff of Nottingham?

I went with a classic, shexshy head shot.

Next, open the picture in Photoshop and turn it into a stencil.  I used a tutorial I found on Melissa Evans' site.  She breaks it down step by step, in a very user-friendly way.  Super cool site.

Cut out the stencil and tape it to a piece of cardboard.  Then tape a piece of waxed or parchment paper over it.

Use melted chocolate (bittersweet, semisweet, whatever you want) to paint the black areas.  Pipe it on over larger areas and use a toothpick for the small details and to fill in spots.  It's a lot like flooding a cookie.  Let the layer set in the fridge.

Next, use a lighter chocolate (I mixed white candy melts with a dab of brown food coloring) to add in highlights.  Place it back in the fridge to set.

Finally, cover the entire stencil with white chocolate.  Make sure it's warm enough to spread but not so warm that it'll melt the first two layers.

Put it back in the fridge to let it set one more time.  I got a little excited and took it out a little too early so be patient and give it some time.  Your picture will turn out more polished.

Take it out of the fridge, flip it over and very carefully remove the cardboard.

Edible Alan Rickman.  Sort of.

Maybe more like an Alan Rickman/Bob Odenkirk hybrid.

Chocolate painting is a really cool technique to play around with.  Use different colored candy melts, add text/words, make smaller stencils to create personalized cupcake toppers of your cat's face...anything, really.  My skills could use some sharpening - I'll give it another go after the giddiness subsides.

Happy Friday, everyone.

P.S.  And please:  if you're going to consume any beer this weekend, for the love of all that is holy, malty and hoppy, go micro.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bust a cap.

Please disregard the messy countertop.  And the sad empty wine rack.  And my so-dated-they-could-almost-pass-for-retro cabinets (which I just so happen to love.)

Let's focus on the fishbowl in the upper right hand corner.  Mike put that bowl up there when we moved into our place almost three years ago.  It has since become a point of interest in our humble little avocado-colored kitchen.

If you've ever been to our home then you know the rule:

If you open a beer, you gotta sink the cap.

It had been months since I checked the top of the cabinets but I needed to get up there to take down my cookbooks and move them to a more convenient spot that didn't require a stepstool and Van Damme quads any time I needed a recipe.

Someone needs to work on their shot.

So many beers.  So many memories.  So many...hangovers.

I think it's time to empty the bowl and make room for all of the Nugget Nectar and Hopslam caps waiting to be popped off in our fridge.  But I can't bring myself to throw away all of our hard "work."

I half-jokingly toyed around with the idea turning them into a backsplash but that kind of move will get you shot on Trading Spaces.

Any ideas?