Thursday, August 27, 2009

Healthy Eyes, Rottin' Teeth

Today I received word that I have a job as a checker at Central Market. After hearing this, I felt a burst of productivity and decided to make the most of the day.

I went to the store.
I started knitting a new hat- Using more than one color, woo-hoo!
I mowed the lawn.
I did two loads of laundry.

I made carrot cake cupcakes with maple-cream cheese frosting.
(Recipe courtesy of SmittenKitchen)

Grating carrots was by far the worst part. I started out with a large grater and soon went on to my micro plane which worked a lot better for me. I was going for really fine grated carrots and smoother batter. I only grated my fingers 3 times, and burned myself once. Not too shabby.

The icing wound up a bit to soft for me to do a fancy icing job. I cooled it well over 30 minutes and put in nearly double the powdered sugar (shhhh, don't tell).

All-in-all these are quite deeeelish. Specially since I put hardly any nuts and only a few raisons... Keepin' it plain.

Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 24 cupcakes (or one two-layer cake, instructions at end)

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil
4 large eggs
3 cups grated peeled carrots
1 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350&176;F.

Line 24 cupcake molds with papers, or butter and flour them.

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots, walnuts and raisins, if using them. Divide batter among cupcake molds, filling 3/4 of each.

Bake cupcakes 14 to 18 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Let cool in pans for five minutes or so, then transfer cakes to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before icing them.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

In a stand mixer beat all the ingredients on medium until fluffy. Chill the frosting for 10 to 20 minutes, until it has set up enough to spread smoothly.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Not Your Ordinary Corn Part 2

Once the cob was made, it was time to build!

First things first, spray the previous dry layer with water and let it soak a bit.

Then create bricks from the mamma terd hunk-o-cob.

The process was really quite simple since we were only filling in a few holes and finishing up a couple sections of walls Randy had not completed.

There are a few guidelines to follow, as all architecture goes... such as starting the bottom at a specific thickness and slowly getting thinner towards the top. Or only adding 18ish inches every day.
Sprinkling jars here and there was my job.
The weight of the cob causes the walls to bow out a bit, so you don't want to add too much.

There is a sewing step that requires stabbing the layers with a tapered stick which helps them bind together a bit more... Very similar to scoring in ceramics.

After being a ceramicist in college, I felt really comfortable with the material and it made me long for clay again.

Before y After!!!

Before y After!!

The last thing we will do, hopefully next weekend, is fill in some final holes and create a thinner weather-proofing type material (with raspberries!!) to rub over the entire outside.
I can't wait!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Not Your Ordinary Corn Part 1

Last summer Randy built a chicken coop by himself using cob, an ancient building mixture of clay, sand, water, and straw. It didn't get finished and his chickens wound up being eaten by a raccoon- good news for him because now he/we can finish the coop and get more chickens... and then more eggs!!

Above are photos from the front and back. Eventually the roof will be finished up as well.

The windows and bottles (and motorcycle lights/eyeballs) let in light, let the chickens run free when needed, add character, and take up some space so that less cob is needed.

Yesterday we made several batches of cob and finished up a majority of the coop. I was in charge of aesthetics and Randy did most of the manuel labor.
Below is a step-by-step guide of our work. It really was super rewarding and fun, despite my sunburned back where I neglected to apply sunblock.
Three Cheers for earthy, handy, dirty work!

One Part Sand

Two Parts Clay

Mix with tarp.
Pull corners of one side all the way over the other side.... It's rather heavy.

Spread out mixture and break up large lumps with feet. Like smashing grapes + doing the twist!
Remove large rocks.
Spray mixture with water until it no longer absorbs water. You will know because some small pools will form in some areas.

Mix again with tarp and mixture will look something like the above.
Do the twist with yer feet to break up baby terdlings.

Sprinkle straw on top.
This creates tensile strength and absorbs extra moisture.
Mix again with tarp. It is possible more straw will need to be added.

After the final tarp mix, you should end up with a mamma terd.
This is COB!!

To be continued......

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I got a job at Heart House. So apparently there was a dirty miscommunication and they had to take away my job.

UPDATE: I did fantastic in the group interview and now have a one-on-one interview with a manager at Central Market.

I've been working art camps the last two weeks and have my final Kidzart camp at the J (Jewish School) this week.

Things are looking up.

While researching for the Central Market job, I found this contest.
And the Hatch Chili Festival is next weekend, yum!

Christmas List Item #1

Dear Santa Claus,

This would make an excellent stocking stuffer.



M.A. in Meat.

While conducting some nightly internet research... Or, ummmmm, reading food blogs, I discovered this beauty-
Bacon Explosion!!
"Inside a mold of country sausage is pork belly, bacon and smoked sausage—which was layered and rolled into a loaf. This center pork core was wrapped in ham and a layer of peppery sausage before being manipulated into the shape of a pig—which included garlic for eyes, tomatoes for ears and a jalapeƱo for a tail. After a final layer of bacon, the “pig” weighed in at 15 pounds and took two hours to cook. Photo courtesy of"

And then I saw this one.....
db Burger Double Truffle

"This specialty sandwich, available at db Bistro Moderne in Manhattan, sells for a whopping $150—but it’s certainly something to marvel at. Stuffed inside the burger are braised short ribs along with a flavorful helping of foie gras, which is topped with 20 grams of shaved black truffles and served inside a crispy Parmesan bun. Photo courtesy of db Bistro Moderne"

I love the interweb.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday Sun

This morning I was especially inspired by a certain bright and cheery blog that I follow. While I do not have the funds or the materials to do a lot of projects that I would like to tackle right now, I do have a great camera and the resources to make a movie for your viewing pleasure.

After eating cookies for breakfast and breaking for homemade pesto pasta salad for lunch, I managed to produce this- My first stop motion iMovie.
For a certain special someone who is in Oakland at the moment and has a birthday coming up.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Poor Me Another.

Still workin' on my camera techniques.

This summer has been a busy one. It began with a bang- a graduation and huge family gathering in Austin with lots of eating, visiting, and gifts.

As thankful I am for that event, I've been realizing a lot lately with the heat and my seemingly eternally empty bank account that I haven't really done much relaxing or vacationing or getting away. Not even any real stay-cation. I've always been under the impression that summers are meant to be spent frolicking around in green grass and skipping on rainbows with unicorns and such. But not this summer, not even close.

Let the complaints begin:

  • I haven't seen nearly enough of my pooch Merydeth.
  • This summer has consisted of my constantly scrounging for money.
  • And looking desperately for teaching jobs- an exhausting process, especially when it doesn't ever seem to pay off.
  • Needing more money.
  • Finding occasional jobs- but not enough.
  • And finally, most recently, a move in to a new Eastside abode with two lovely people, Jess and Dylan. (Attempting to move away from my college abode and save a few bucks)

Even though I do not feel rested, I do not feel travelled, and I do not feel like I will ever be financially sound, I have accomplished a lot and done quite a bit to smile about this summer.

  • I went to Barton Springs for the FIRST TIME in my 5 years in college.
  • I went tubing for the FIRST TIME in New Braunfels. And only this year went tubing with Marny for the first time ever in a river..... I actually am quite "tan" compared to most summers- a nice shade of off-white.
  • I started Sprouting, and successfully grew a jar full of cute (and delicious!) lil' sprouts!
  • I got a job as the Art 2/3 teacher (a once-a-week gig) at the Austin Great Wall Chinese School.
  • I have a second interview to be a program leader coming up for Heart House, which would be a great job at an after-school program located really close to my new house. Fingers crossed!
  • And I recently went to our family get together at Lake Nasworthy in San Angelo and ate a fantastic shrimp and crab leg boil. The guys all had to stand in the rain (I finally saw real rain!!!) under umbrellas to finish the boil but I think it was well worth it. :)

I am hopeful.....
Soon enough I will have a job and be out of this 'recent grad, no money' funk and will scurry off to Belize.
Or at least the beach??
But at least for now I'm trying to keep my chin up.... all the better to keep the food in me mouth.