Monday, September 29, 2008

Musickal cupcakes

The inspiration:
So I was driving with my friend, and talking about how I wanted to make another batch of cupcakes when she said I should make up a cupcake and name it after her (her surname is, believe it or not, Musick). So she told me some of her favorite flavors, and I did just that.

May I present - vanilla chocolate chip with peanut butter cinnamon frosting, ordinary in appearance but lovely to the taste buds - the musickal cupcake!

(Click for big)

The recipe:
I used Amy Sedaris's recipe, adding maybe 3/4 C chocolate chips to a 1/3 batch. For the frosting, I basically just mixed creamy peanut butter, confectioner's sugar, milk, butter, and cinnamon together until it was a smooth, spreadable consistency and tasted like something I'd want on top of a cupcake.

The verdict:
I thought it was good, but it got higher praise than any of the other cupakes I've made here at school, including several "orgasmics" and one "a piece of heaven." And they were gone within fifteen minutes. So there. :)

What I'd do differently next time:
Nothing! Huzzah!

P.S. I've made three kinds of cupcakes between this cupcake post and the last, but now that I don't have a camera I'm prone to forget the photographic documentation part. The Lost Cupcakes are: peanut butter chocolate chip cupcakes, raspberry-peanut butter cupcakes with white chocolate ganache, and raspberry-chocolate cupcakes with mocha frosting.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rain like grace

The summer thunderstorms they get here in the Midwest are one of my favorite things about the region, and although we've had some rain since I got back here at the end of August, the meteorology gods have kept me waiting for a real storm.

Last night it FINALLY came. After three sunless, rainless months at home and the steady, boring rainfall we had two weeks ago (Please rain harder, I kept muttering) - it was just glorious to be caught in a real downpour again, to think again of the heavens as a gracious, outrageously immoderate expression of love.

So that is what happiness consists of for me right now: water falling so heavy from the sky that you can barely see; bare muddy feet; the sound of running in a still-damp wrap skirt; a ribbon in dirty rain-rinsed hair.

"Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy."
- Acts 14:17

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

NOT the food of the gods.

I loathe white chocolate. It is not chocolate. If I ran Hell, I would feed it to the damned souls down there.
That is all.
Me: White chocolate makes everything worse.
Suitemate: White chocolate wouldn't have made the Holocaust worse.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


If you are, as was written,
deceitful above all things--
but who said you were a good liar?

The way you are pinching and hesitating,
I think there is something you are not telling me.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I am the Empress of Antarctica

Friday is mercy incarnate.

My roomie is murmuring ancient Hebrew on the other side of the room, and Yael Naim is singing out of my headphones in modern Hebrew.

I am wondering which comes first when someone who shares your faults annoys you:

Do you first notice and dislike them in that person and through that become aware that you have those tendencies as well? Or - do you dislike them in the other person because they are your faults and it is unpleasant to see them more objectively?

There is incense dust on my keyboard. ♥

I am having an absolute blast with a free 30-day screen-capture software trial.

Also with my character today - the Cupcake Fairy.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Weekend: flood warning

I fly around the room after my shadow, covering the walls with what seems beautiful and stripping the furniture and myself of what seems unnecessary. The air feels unendurably full in here, the summer rain falling so thickly out in the dark shining-in-the-streetlights parking lot. In this dim sharp light even pages cast shadows on themselves; it transfixes things how wrinkled and crooked. The cicadas are thunderous (their clamor, how is it so much like the smell of sweat?) and the springs in the mattress hum like tuning forks when I lay my head down for a moment. There is an itch under my skin, and when I plop myself down on my bed and still my hands I could cry for restlessness and not knowing what ought to come next. What magic do I contact for understanding — what is it that my fingertips are not quite brushing?

Monday, September 15, 2008


Gary D. Schmidt's Trouble is, as I described it earlier, the story of a crisis in a small New England community, the racial tensions that it creates - or throws light upon - and how those involved cope, as individuals and as families and communities. A book that has as much depth and reality as this one does, though, also has a way of ducking around categorizations, summaries, or expectations. Maybe all I can say is that I found the writing and storytelling of Trouble really, really beautiful.

Go look at Miss Erin's review and interview with the author, please; they're short and she expresses her thoughts on Trouble better.

From the back:

"Henry Smith’s father told him that if you build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you.

But Trouble comes careening down the road one night in the form of a pickup truck that strikes Henry’s older brother, Franklin. In the truck is Chay Chouan, a young Cambodian from Franklin’s preparatory school, and the tragedy sparks racial tensions in the school—and in the town where Henry’s family has lived for generations.

Caught between anger and grief, Henry does the only thing he feels he can: he sets off for Mt. Katahdin, which he and Franklin had planned to climb together. One July morning, he strikes out for Maine with his best friend and the loveable stray, Black Dog, in tow.

But when they encounter Chay Chouan on the road, fleeing demons of his own, Henry learns that turning a blind eye to Trouble only brings Trouble closer.

With moments of humor, tenderness, and remarkable strength, Henry and Chay travel a path to the mountain that neither of them expects."

Grade: A+

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Roommate wanted

Yeah, I do have one already, but she fell asleep.

I'm sitting here in the dark in my underwear, wrapped up in Christmas lights with a fork stuck through my bun, listening to the Strokes on my headphones. The uncommon hours have the most intoxicating flavor - like that of the very best days, when I know in exactly which direction the adventure lies, like I'm simultaneously reading and following a delicious script, and everything hums with energy, or magic even. It'd be fun to bring someone along.

– 3:52 am

Friday, September 12, 2008

Tweet: the sound of deepening internet dependency

I got a Twitter account in July, and now I've finally started using it. I'm cuileann on there as on here - if any of yins have accounts, give me a poke on there.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I'd like to tell you about a book I've read recently...

...but which one would you like to hear about?

Tell me which sounds the most interesting to you, and I'll write about that one for Monday.

1. A graphic novel about a survivor of the Rwandan genocide
2. The second and third books in Justine Larbalestier's Magic or Madness trilogy (click here to read about the first book and what I thought of it)
3. Trouble, by Gary D. Schmidt (New England, racial tension, and families and individuals weathering crises)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fruit Loop cupcakes: raspberry-lime-orange with vanilla buttercream and toasted coconut

I've always loved the way multicolored cupcakes look, but I rarely feel like making plain vanilla cupcakes. So I took some inspiration from rainbow sherbet and decided to make multicolored cupcakes in which each color was a different flavor - raspberry, lime, and orange. Whoo!

The recipe: I've been using the vanilla cupcake recipe, which is good, but this time I tried Amy Sedaris's recipe (via Chockylit's Cupcake Bakeshop), which is delicious. Lovely texture.

How I altered the recipe: I went ahead and made a 2/3 batch (which yielded 12 cupcakes). Then I split that up into three separate bowls, and colored and flavored each one individually. I used about 3/4 t raspberry extract for the raspberry part and 1 1/2 T lime or orange zest plus maybe 2 1/2 T lime or orange juice (just squeezed from the fruit) for the lime and orange parts, respectively.

After that, you just spoon a layer of each flavor into each cupcake paper in the muffin tin, and you get cool swirly psychedelic cupcakes.

Here are their lovely purple raspberry-flavored tops, with a little green showing...

And here you can see ze beautiful layers.

I happened to be wearing bright green shorts and purple flip flops that day, so had to take a "My cupcakes and I, we match!" photo.

And theen, I made some vanilla buttercream for the frosting and toasted some coconut flakes in the oven to put on top. Voila!

The verdict: I really, really like this vanilla cupcake recipe. I might try a couple more of the vanilla recipes standard on the cupcake blogosphere, but I can definitely see myself sticking with this one. Nice and soft inside with just a hint of crustiness on the top.

As for the execution of the sherbet notion, the cupcakes tasted quite nice. My roommate said they tasted like Fruit Loops, and I agree. The orange and lime parts weren't as flavorful as the raspberry, though, which goes to show how well juice and zest work versus extract.

What I'd do differently next time: Next time, I'd use orange extract for the orange part. I don't know if lime extract can be found at ordinary grocery stores, so I'd use it if I had it, but if not, I guess I'd put in more lime zest. I'd tone down the amount of extract in each batch, because the raspberry, while quite yummy, was a little too strong for me.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Enna Isilee's Birthday Extravaganza!

This week in Enna Isilee’s big birthday contest, you must identify the novel this opening line belongs to:

“It’s amazing how much dying can do for a girl’s popularity.”

That’s all you have to do! E-mail Enna Isilee your answer at Books[at]Squeakybooks[dot]com . You get two entries for answering the question and five entries if you get it right. So you could get two entries just by e-mailing!

These entries go towards the weekly prizes and the grand prize. This week’s prize winners will be announced on Sunday, and the grand prize winner will be announced on Enna Isilee’s birthday, September 22nd.

Have fun!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

"I speak to you with silence like a cloud or tree"

I read this poem on an acquaintance's tumble blog, and I found its beautiful images and urgency quite striking. I need to check out a book of his poetry.


You whom I could not save
Listen to me.
Try to understand this simple speech as I would be ashamed of another.
I swear, there is in me no wizardry of words.
I speak to you with silence like a cloud or a tree.

What strengthened me, for you was lethal.
You mixed up farewell to an epoch with the beginning of a new one,
Inspiration of hatred with lyrical beauty,
Blind force with accomplished shape.

Here is the valley of shallow Polish rivers. And an immense bridge
Going into white fog. Here is a broken city,
And the wind throws the screams of gulls on your grave
When I am talking with you.

What is poetry which does not save
Nations or people?
A connivance with official lies,
A song of drunkards whose throats will be cut in a moment,
Readings for sophomore girls.
That I wanted good poetry without knowing it,
That I discovered, late, its salutary aim,
In this and only this I find salvation.

They used to pour millet on graves or poppy seeds
To feed the dead who would come disguised as birds.
I put this book here for you, who once lived
So that you should visit us no more.

– Czeslaw Milosz

Poetry Friday roundup at Wild Rose Reader.

Awesome sauce falling from the sky

Today it is cool and rainy, which makes me do a mental dance of joy! It's been in the eighties much of the time I've been here so far, which besides being limiting, clothing-wise, is just uncomfortable.

So I skipped chapel (there should not be chapel on Thursdays!) to play Guitar Hero with my roomie. Yay. :)

And I got to wear my powerful boots. Not just attractive, comfortable, practical in rain, and the answer to the boot yearnings I was having all summer, for me they're the shoes that put a little crackle in my step and seem to emanate don't-eff-with-me vibes. You know what I'm talking about?

And then I had an unusually productive hour in the library doing my sociology reading. It's dead interesting, as textbooks go, and I love, love, love being in a library while it's raining outside. (Yes, that's right; raining outside, not inside.)

Speaking of which, my classes this semester, in case you're interested:
  • Intro to Sociology
  • Masterpieces of German Lit. to 1850
  • Intermediate French
  • New Testament Lit. and Interpretation
And then I came back here to my room to play some more GH. (Hey, I just moved myself up to Medium - I need the extra practice to master the blue button!)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Your breakfast is too sugary

You know the American idea of breakfast is too sweet when a cupcake recipe (topped with white chocolate, no less) tastes like something you've had for breakfast just because it's got apple in it.

Anyhow, this week's cupcake is apple-ginger with white chocolate-cinnamon ganache. My apologies for the lack of photo; I didn't think to borrow a camera until they were gone.

For the cupcake itself, I modified Cupcakes Take the Cake's vanilla-almond-peach recipe. I substituted a Granny Smith apple (good for baking 'cause they're so crispy) for the peach, brown sugar for the white sugar, and used 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract instead of 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp almond. I added about 1/3 C chopped crystallized ginger as well.

For the topping, I used the basic ganache recipe from, except I made it with white chocolate instead of real chocolate, and I added maybe a teaspoon of cinnamon to the cream-butter mixture while it was on the stove.

They tasted pretty nice, although I'd have been happier with them if they'd come out with more of a dome shape (they were a little sunken, due to the extra moisture from the apples I think) and been a little less sweet. I think if I make these again I'll add a pinch of extra baking soda to help them rise better, and use less sugar and maybe 1 tsp vanilla instead of 1 1/2. Also, I'd just sprinkle the cinnamon on at the very end instead of boiling it with the ganache.

Also, I forgot I don't like white chocolate. Next time I'd see how these were with a peanut butter frosting. (Apples and peanut butter are, in my opinion, a match made in heaven.)