Friday, April 29, 2011


Between cleaning up after an incessantly pukey feline, stifling some major waterworks after repeated viewings of the final Harry Potter trailer and preparing for a custom cupcake order for Saturday, I just didn't have the time to put together a Sugared Cinema post.  I lose.

The days leading up to a big order are typically filled with a nervous kind of energy, the kind that requires just about every ounce of my attention and that can only be alleviated with a 5-7% ABV beer (any higher and there won't be any cupcakes left to deliver) and one of our 2-at-a-time Netflix rentals playing in the background.

Current selections being:

Trying to decide which one would pair better with a baking and piping session.  Hm.

Have a happy weekend, guys.  Peace, love and Claritin®.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When in doubt, doodle.

If I had a band member for every time I asked myself, "What do I want to do with my life?", I'd have enough band members to form the original Funkadelic.

Life is weird and question-y this week.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sugared Television: Ren & Stimpy (1991-1996)

What rolls down stairs
alone or in pairs
rolls over your neighbor's dog?
What's great for a snack
and fits on your back?

It's Log! Log! Log!

Before there was Spongebob.
Before there was Fairly Odd Parents.
Before there was even The Powerpuff Girls.

There was Ren Hoek and Stimpson J. Cat.

The quickest route to feeling old and jaded?  Watch five minutes of a prime time Disney Channel show.  The other night, driven by sheer curiosity and a fermented bottled beverage, I let my clicking thumb slacken once it reached the Disney Channel.  Disappointing, I tell you.  Some questionable fashion choices, too.  Egads.

It's not even a matter of wholesome "ahh, the good ol' days" yearnings.  Any Ren & Stimpy fan knows that couldn't be further from the truth.  It's the originality that's missing!  The off-color humor!  The flatulent breakfast superheroes!  The jarring visual of a beaver gnawing on the exposed nerve of a rotting tooth!

That's what's missing.  Maturity.

This post has been brought to you by Sugar Frosted Milk, Pretty Kitty Litter and Log by Blammo!

Ren & Stimpy Log Cookies

You'll need:

 rolled sugar cookie dough
4 batches of royal icing (see colors below pic)

Dark Brown for the outline and wood grain details.
Brick Red to fill in the wood.
Tangerine for the top of the log.
 Salmon-y Pink for the spot details.

This is a pretty basic tutorial.  If you have any questions about which piping tips I used, colors, etc feel free to email me.  I promise I won't stalk you (unless you work for, are related to or personally know Alan Rickman.)

Print and cut out the log.  This will be your template.

Place the template on chilled, rolled cookie dough and trace around it with an Exacto knife.  While I typically like a fatter cookie, I roll the dough out to a 1/4" thickness when doing more intricate designs.  The cookies hold their shape better.

Bake and cool the logs.

Outline with the dark brown icing.  Let sit for a few minutes while it firms up.

Flood the tops with tangerine icing.

Then flood the body with the red icing.

While the red icing is still wet, carefully pipe elongated dots of pink icing on top of the red.

When the flooded areas have set, pipe on the wood grain details.

It's better than bad.  It's good.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring Cleaning.

My patio is looking quite busted these days.

The scene is usually the same this time of year.  The Little Shop of Horror weeds have pushed their way up through the cloth lining and thinning layer of pea gravel.  Clumps of dry pine needles collect in dark crevices that I dare not touch with a gloved hand or a disposable chopstick.  The ferns are fireballs waiting to be ignited by some douchey neighbor or passerby with a smoking (and littering) habit.

Dead lifeless foliage aside, I really do love the space.  On an old episode of Designed to Sell, Lisa LaPorta (cute little thang) explained to the homeowners that they needed to think of their outdoor area as an extension of their home.  I try to heed her advice and treat our little 12' x 18' rectangle of outside space as another room.  A room to grill in, to entertain friends in and to soak in all of the sunlight that we typically miss out on from living in a humbly-sized condo on the ground level.

Oh, and there's just enough room to display my priceless objet d'outside arts.

Like the jaundiced gnome who clearly needs to get out and see more parts of the globe.

(There's no escaping the punnage.  Not in this home.)

The cheery winged pig who, after three treacherous winters, has resisted rain, wind, snow and patina.

Resourceful lushery.

I can't help but wonder if I'm headed down that road.  You know, that road that leads you to that house with that lawn with the flamingos and the pinwheels and the wooden cutout of a portly gardening woman's buttcheeks.

If you ever sense that I'm heading in that direction, you have permission to throw a flaming fern in my face's general vicinity.

Alright, this patio is begging for some new life.  Time to get crackin'.

Friday, April 15, 2011

For Once in My Life.

"Where's my pitcher?"

It seems fitting that the first words to come out of my mouth upon meeting Berry White were beer-related.  Back then, I didn't realize how sentimental they would prove to be for us later in life.  At the time, craft beer was but a glint in our bottles of Amstel Light - the fanaticism wouldn't fully set in for a few more years.  But hey, I was promised a pitcher of cheap beer in return for dance floor support at one of his gigs (which I didn't attend but that's beside the point) and I was simply trying to collect.

Our paths first crossed in 2001 by way of a DC area electronic music forum.  At first, our interactions were sporadic but a few years down the road, we discovered that we went to the same parties, spent many of our Friday nights at Buzz (Studio 54 for the DC rave scene, if you will), hung out in overlapping social circles and shared a strong passion for music and spinning records.  One flirty Myspace comment led to another and eventually, we met in person.

Predictably, a syrupy, disgustingly sweet love affair ensued shortly thereafter.  I say predictably only because I knew long before "real life" introductions were made that I wanted to hang out with this guy.  Fantastic taste in music.  Cute hair.  And funny!  So damn funny.  Man, he could make me laugh.

Baltimore, 2007.  Sweaty warehouse rave.  Febreze would have been nice.

Our lives have changed a bit since we first started dating.  We've since hung up the headphones and broadened our musical horizons.  Late nights in DC have been replaced with Saturday afternoons in the Whole Foods beer section.  We've giddily sung along with friends at their wedding receptions.  Celebrated the births of their children (soon to include another special l'il lady who we'll be meeting in a few weeks.)

We've sipped a saison on Holbox sand.

Been stopped in mid "WTF are we going to do for breakfast?" conversation by an oncoming parade in downtown Montreal, which included Scott Niedermayer in one of those Grey Poupon cars.

Watched loved ones get tipsy on our wedding beer.

But at the end of the day, after all the beer has been consumed and the overnight bags have been unpacked and the playoff games are over, it's just me and that guy.  The guy I refer to as Berry White, a painfully clever combination of his last name and obvious Caucasianness.  Darkenetiks.  Mike.  My husband.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Happy 2nd Anniversary, roomie.  Thanks for making my life one big slumber party.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Peanut Butter Fritters. Finally.


Do you know I've had this recipe on my radar for almost four years now?  FOUR.  And I'm just now getting around to making it.  Not that this should come as a huge surprise to myself or to anyone who knows me.  Procrastination and I go way back, further back than I care to admit here or to any of my future hypothetical offspring.

The procrastinating game is a lot harder to master when you're a child sharing living quarters with the Homework Nazi (love you Mom!)  Not once did she buy into my "But I work better under pressure!" rebuttal.  Had I known then what I know now, I would have given myself more than a night's worth to create that Charlotte's Web diorama and made these fritters as a peace offering to her for being a mom who simply gave a damn.

Peanut Butter Fritters

3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup buttermilk
3 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
peanut oil, for frying
whipped cream and jam, for serving

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the the dry ingredients:  flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients:  buttermilk, peanut butter, egg and vanilla.  

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry mixture and stir until combined.

Pour peanut oil into a small, deep saucepan until there's about 1 1/2 inches of oil.  Heat on medium-high until the oil hits 310 degrees.  It starts to climb pretty quickly so keep an eye on your thermometer.

Carefully drop rounded teaspoons of batter into the oil, working in small batches.  Fry the fritters for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side until lightly browned.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a paper towel-lined, oven-safe plate.  Keep the fritters warm in the oven while you work through the remaining batter.

Fantastic when plain.

Fantasticer with whipped cream and jam.

These are money.  Although I don't suggest waiting four years to discover that for yourself.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sugared Cinema: Anchorman (2004)

I'll give this little cookie an hour before we're doing the no-pants dance.  Time to musk up.

Wow.  Never ceases to amaze me.  What cologne you gonna go with?  London Gentleman, or wait.  No, no, no.  Hold on.  Blackbeard's Delight. 

No, she gets a special's called Sex Panther by Odeon.  It's illegal in nine countries.  Yep, it's made with bits of real panther, so you know it's good. 

Will Ferrell is a given.  That we've always known.  But Paul Rudd?  Who would have thought that he would turn out to be such a funny dude?  I didn't think he had it in him.  Certainly not after seeing him settle into the good guy role in Clueless and Romeo + Juliet.  There's only one explanation:  Sex Panther.  It's amazing what a little dab can do for your funny bone(r.)

Sex Panther Brownies

brownies, cooled and cut into squares
2 1/2-inch circle cookie cutter
green frosting
molding fondant
black food coloring
Wilton decorating tip #234 (the "grass" tip)

I should mention that I am by no means an artist or sculpter.  I studied a picture and tried to replicate it as best as I could.  If you are able to make this look more cat-like, do it up.  But here's a basic tutorial to get you started.

Start with a ball of fondant, about 2-inches in diameter.  Shape it so the bottom tapers slightly.

Pinch and raise a small portion of the fondant to form ears.

Pinch the center to form a small bridge where the nose and upper lip will be.  Do the same towards the bottom to form a bottom lip.

Use a rounded shaping tool or chopstick to push underneath the upper lip on both sides.  Use a sharp tool or knife to mark the nose and eyes.

Push the point of a shaping tool or chopstick under the eyelids to form an area for the pupils.

Use a toothpick to shape the eyes.

Roll two tiny bits of fondant into a fang shape.  Brush a little vodka on the end of the tooth and into the cavity and gently push it in until it sticks.  Repeat with the other tooth.

Now you're ready to paint the little guy.  Mix some black food coloring with about a tablespoon of vodka.  Paint the panther head, making sure to keep the teeth and eyes white.

Dip a toothpick into the vodka/coloring mixture and carefully add the pupils.

Let the sex panther dry while you work on the brownies.

Press the round cookie cutter about halfway into a brownie.  Remove the center (you may need a knife for this part.)

Pipe frosting grass all over the surface and in the center of the brownie.

For Anchorman authenticity purposes, I pushed the cookie cutter back into the hole.  But you can leave it out otherwise.

Gently place the head into the center of the brownie.

Sex Panther.

They've done studies, you know.  60% of the time it works, every time. 

Have a great weekend, friends.  Stay classy.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

When yoga doesn't cut it.


It was that kind of Monday.

Brb.  Setting up surprise guillotine for next week's Monday.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sugared Cinema: Fight Club (1999)

Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived.  I see all this potential, and I see squandering.  God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars.  Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need.  We're the middle children of history, man.  No purpose or place.  We have no Great War.  No Great Depression.  Our Great War's a spiritual war...our Great Depression is our lives.  We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars.  But we won't.  And we're slowly learning that fact.  And we're very, very pissed off.

I wish I could say that it was Chuck Palahniuk's novel that drew me to this movie.  Or Brad Pitt and his "industrial discotheque" wardrobe.  Or the grimey, pulsing Dust Brothers score.

No.  It was definitely Ed Norton.

I've since moved on from him (from an infatuation standpoint, at least) but Fight Club still remains his 2nd best film.

I wanted to create a cake modeled after the trademark soap, one that would be suitable for, say, Tyler Durden's retirement party.  I've also been wanting to try my hand at poured fondant and this was the perfect cake to experiment on.  Unlike traditional fondant, poured fondant is simple to make, easy to dye (anyone who's worked with the other stuff knows what a bitch it is to color) and creates a smooth, shiny (and soap-like!) surface.  Think giant petit four.

Fight Club Soap.  That You Can Eat.

You'll need:

2 pound cake loaves (Sara Lee is fine)
fruit jam
a batch of Quick Pour Fondant
pink food coloring (I used Wilton Rose)

Slice a thin layer off the top of one of the pound cakes.  You want a smooth, flat base for the letters to rest on.  Trim a little off of both ends, rounding out the corners so that it resembles a bar of soap.

Cut the other loaf into 1/4-inch slices.  Carefully cut out the letters using an Exacto knife or something equally sharp.  You should be able to get 2-3 letters out of each slice.  Save the scraps and make yourself a parfait.

Apply a glaze to the cake.  This will help the fondant stick to it more uniformly.  To make the glaze, put a few spoonfuls of jam into a bowl and thin it out with a little bit of water.  Microwave for 15-20 seconds then lightly brush onto your cake.

Carefully arrange the letters one last time then transfer the cake to a cooling rack set over a baking sheet.  Prepare and dye the fondant using the recipe I linked to above.

When the fondant is ready, pour it evenly over the cake.

To clean up and define the areas between the lettering, I cut a drinking straw to about a 4-inch length and used it to blow out the excess fondant.  It sounds odd but it's really not.  It's a lot like the last 30 seconds of a drive-thru car wash when the leftover droplets are blasted off your windshield by that enormous air cannon.

And you're done!

Hm.  Something's missing.

There.  Much better.

(To make "suds", pour some heavy cream into a bowl and whip it until it starts to foam.  Skim the suds off the top and spoon them onto your soap.)

Welcome to Fight Club. 

The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club.  The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club!  Third rule of Fight Club: if someone yells "stop!", goes limp, or taps out, the fight is over.  Fourth rule: only two guys to a fight. Fifth rule: one fight at a time, fellas. Sixth rule: the fights are bare knuckle.  No shirt, no shoes, no weapons.  Seventh rule: fights will go on as long as they have to. 

And the eighth and final rule:

if this is your first time at Fight Club, you have to eat this cake.