Sunday, October 26, 2014

French Yogurt Cake (by request)

This is my go-to cake for all occasions these days. I have made this cake at least five times in the last three months. It's proportional, so you can scale the recipe up or down as needed (more or less, except for the eggs, but I'm sure you can figure that out if you really have your heart set on making a 1 3/8 recipe or whatever).

I have filled it with jam, stuffed it with fruit, dumped spices into it, swapped out regular flour for a variety of gluten-free baking mixes, and still it comes out great. Shamelessly pulled from Orangette, brutally modified and occasionally frosted, I give you ...French Yogurt Cake. 

1/2 cup yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour or gluten-free baking mix (try Bob's Mill Fava and Garbanzo Bean one, it's great)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup oil or melted butter (I like coconut oil)
zest of 1/4 lemon (get out your microplane, I know you have one)

Optional stuff for the cake pictured above:
3 ripe pears, cubed
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup pecan pieces

Mix the yogurt, sugar and eggs well in a large bowl. Then add the flour and baking powder -- making sure you sprinkle on the baking powder so it mixes well. Mix again, then add oil and lemon zest . . . yeah, keep stirring. Add in any optional ingredients at this point. Make sure it's all blended really well. Don't overdo it, but make sure there are no lumps. Blob it (evenly) into a well-buttered spring form pan or 9" cake tin, and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. That's it. You now have cake :)

You can also make the batter and put the fruit in the middle -- fill the tin with half the batter, layer the fruit bits, then top with more batter and bake it that way.

The basic cake is a bit plain (Orangette douses hers with a sugar syrup glaze that I probably need to try someday), so I will often split it after it cools and fill it with a tart fruit compote. I've done raspberry and a homemade apricot/red huckleberry that came out great.

If you have a tart filling and want frosting or if you just, you know, like frosting on your cakes, here is my favorite recipe:

1 block cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cardamom or cinnamon if you like
16 oz powdered sugar

In a stand mixer (or in a bowl if you have a hand mixer) whip the cream cheese and butter with the vanilla until fluffy. Gradually beat in the sugar, until you get a consistency you like. You may not use all the sugar. If your kitchen is hot, put it in the fridge to firm it up before you frost the cake. And wait until the cake is COOL to frost it. Don't get impatient, you will regret it. Although you will have many people offering to help you clean up the sliding-off and melting frosting if you try it. (Ask me how I know...)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Why I (don't) Suck at Yoga

I hate yoga. I really do. I had taken so many yoga classes. I spent hours, days, months, practicing. But it was never enough. My body, my joints, they get to a point of flexibility and no further. Even as a child, I was never very flexible, no matter how many gymnastics classes I took. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I SUCK AT YOGA. So I stopped doing it.

Last year I was staying at an artist retreat where a couple people would do yoga every morning at dawn, and I would cook breakfast and, well, not do yoga. One of the guys asked me why I never did yoga with them.

"Oh," I said. "I suck at yoga."

He laughed. "How can you suck at yoga? That's not even possible."

"Believe me, it totally is."

"No," he replied. "Yoga is for YOU. You're as good as you are. It doesn't matter whether you can stick the poses, or if you can't get into some of them at all. Yoga is YOUR practice. Not what someone else thinks it should be."

I was stunned. He was right, of course. Hearing my instructors say that my lack of flexibility was a sign that I didn't care enough about my body to take care of it was their issue, not mine. Listening to someone tell me that my inability to get into a pose was a sign of emotional blockages (as opposed to the spinal injury -- that I told her about -- that I sustained at the age of 15) was irrelevant to my ability to at least try it.

So I did it. I did yoga every morning, with a small group of people. We didn't talk, no one instructed, no one commented on anyone's abilities or lack thereof. And it was great. I improved. Freed from the critical commentary, I started to enjoy the process of testing my limits and pushing past them. I didn't suck. It was great. 

I'm still no yoga master. I struggle with poses that even beginners find easy. But it no longer matters. This was put to the test last week, when I took an actual yoga class again for the first time in years. As we moved through the poses, I heard the instructor start with, "Now really sink into your pelvis, feel your sit-bones firmly on the ground and arch you lower back. If you can't arch your lower back, that's because you are giving in to old age! If you had taken care of your body, you would be able to do this just like me." 

I tuned him out. Because I don't suck at yoga. I'm just as good as I am. And that's fine with me.

PS - Yes, I know that not all yoga instructors are like that. Most of mine were. I treasure the ones that weren't. 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Claimed by the vortex . . .

that is Facebook. Sorry chums and chumettes! I've put the links to my other sites (you know, the ones I, uh, actually update) on my blogroll so you can drool over my pretty pictures and see what I'm up to Every. Single. Minute. Or so. (Thanks, Twitter. Oversharing is so IN right now.)

I've also linked to some other blogs that I've been reading lately that have really excellent posts and update all frequently-like, in the manner which your truly cannot seem to accustom herself. I am planning to update with a few more blogs that have consistently wonderful photos that I check when I'm feeling blah and uninspired and yet really REALLY need to get some work done.

In other news, my SHOP! (Boneflowers is at 1747 Polk St in San Francisco, for those of you who have just gotten into the theater and are even now settling in with your popcorn and fizzy drink. I think you may have just spilled some on the lady sitting in front of you. Hopefully she won't notice.) Where was I? Oh yes, the SHOP! is having a holiday special -- spend $250 and get a free $50 gift certificate. It's like two presents in one! Or one for someone on your list and one for you. Or both for you -- come on, we all know how gift shopping works.

I have many MANY pretty dresses and coats and hats and suits and fiddly handmade necklaces for your purchasing pleasure. Go here for the whole shebang.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Long time no see!

Hallo, friends. It's been a while, no? Well, I've been a busy, busy bee with my new shop (also called Boneflowers -- I'm all about branding) at 1747 Polk Street at Washington. I don't know if you guessed, but setting up shop is a fair load of work! It was giving me the droop for a bit there, but my naturally springy disposition has reasserted itself at last. The big hurdles are out of the way, and you can pop by anytime you feel like sipping some champagne and trying on some fabulous vintage clothing. Luxury at low prices, that's my motto. Well, actually it's 'If you can't have morals, you can at least have standards,' but that's not the point.

So, anyway, as a conciliatory nugget, here is my version of the top secret recipe for Vietnamese garlic noodles as prepared by the loving hands at Thanh Long and Crustacean.

4 oz. thick egg noodles, chow mien style (try Auntie Chungs)
4 cups chicken stock
4 tbsp butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp nam pla (fish sauce)
fresh grated Parmesan

Image from gogonoodles
Boil the chicken stock, then add noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside. While the noodles are boiling, melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium-low heat. After it melts, keep cooking and shaking the pan from time to time until the butter is foamy with golden brown flecks at the bottom. Remove from heat immediately and add the garlic. Let the garlic sizzle in the hot butter for a minute, then add the sugar and nam pla. Toss in the drained noodles and taste. Add salt and/or sugar to taste. Top with Parmesan and serve warm.

Do not eat the entire thing, though I am sure you will be tempted. This is a good dish to serve with a light salad and grilled seafood, to people you wish to impress.

Have fun, dahlings!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Through the Magic of Technology. . .

We all know that science never rests in its pursuit of excellence, innovation, and (most importantly) life-altering consumer goods. Thus, my dear friends, we come to today's topic: the spreadable biscuit. Known as cookies to Americans, lab techs have been working tirelessly to create a substance retaining all flavor properties of said comestible whilst translating the texture to something not unadjacent to pate. Impossible you say? Not so! In fact, a team in Belgium has already slung to market gallons of this exact product! See the leading experts discuss this phenomenal discovery here. I am positive that with this landmark achievement, curing cancer can only be moments away.

NABISCO! You lazy slackers! What's wrong with you? Surely spreadable Oreos is not too much of a stretch for a massive conglommerate such as yourself. You have obviously lost touch with your target market. Your adoring public has been waiting patiently for jugs of that white goop, and they have been spurned for their continued patronage! You have been scooped by a European bakery that doesn't even DO focus groups in America. For shame. Watch yourself, R&D. Your executive shareholders are circling like sharks around chum.

For those of you who wish to distance yourself from this disgraceful spectacle, a recipe for making your own Oreos can be found here.Link

Monday, January 5, 2009

Rolling It Old-School

Have you seen those knobby brown beads used as prayer beads or on rosaries? Those are imitation rose petal beads. Hence ROSArie -- get it? Yeah, well, you didn't need much of a sense of humor in the Middle Ages, ok? So if you are feeling at a loose end, or just want to fulfill your New Year's Day resolution of being more crafty or spiritual or something, here is a very simple recipe for making these beads. They smell lovely, and look fabulous. Much nicer than the imitations. These will be black, because we are using a cast iron pot and the magic of ferrous oxide. Aren't you glad you didn't skip chemistry now?

Remove outer petals from a dozen roses, and put the rest of the petals into a food processor, blender, or mortar and pestle. Add some water and grind into a paste You should end up with grains about the size of couscous.

Put the paste and add water to cover in a cast iron pot over low heat. Don't let it boil or the scent will evaporate. If you use another type of pot, like steel or enamel, the beads will be brownish instead of black.

Simmer for about 3 1/2 hours, adding water as necessary so it doesn't get dry. Dump the petal mush into a wire mesh sieve over a bowl and press down on the mush with a spatula to squeeze as much water out as possible. It will take on the consistency of clay.

Put on some latex gloves. Then hold a paper towel in one hand and squish a pinch of the petal mush into it, and form into a ball. The more water the towel absorbs, the easier it is to shape the bead. Beads will shrink by half when fully dry, so make the bead twice as large as you want.

Thread the bead onto a hat pin or wire and hang in a 200 degree oven until they are as hard as a dried bean. Twist the beads on the wire every half hour so they don't stick. Store dried beads in a soft cloth scented with rose oil.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Power of Greyskull

Man, I feel like I've been sick for ages. Two months is a long time. BUT. I have not been idle lo these many empty weeks. I have been designing (and modeling for) some trading cards for my art group, WAM. That's the Women's Art Movement for the uninitiated. Behold the wonders of my new project!