Jan 29, 2011

Chocolate Fountain Cake

This was my birthday cake this year. It was in some ways an accident; but haven't you heard of accidents that turn out simply fabulous? This was one of them.

It began with the recipe for chocolate cake linked below. It is a large recipe. This fact dawned on me slowly as I mixed everything together. (TIP: Always read a recipe carefully, all the way through, so as not to suffer such dawning revelations.) I had assumed this recipe would make two 9-inch cake rounds, but as I poured that beautiful chocolate concoction into my two 9-inch cake pans, there was an obvious excess of batter.

One Bowl Chocolate Cake
(Martha Stewart, found

1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for pans

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 cups sugar

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

When I accepted the fact that my batter would not fit in two nine inch cake pans, I rummaged around in the cabinet to find a third. The only pan I found was an 8-inch pan, which I used despite the discrepancy in size. My sisters and I decided that it would not be the end of the world; we would simply put the small round on top.

Thus, my revised instructions:

Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, AND one 8-inch (2 inches deep); dust with cocoa.
Sift cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a mixer. Combine well. Mixing on a medium speed, add eggs, buttermilk, water, oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Divide batter between pans. Bake until set and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes. Turn out from pans. Transfer, face-up, to wire racks. Let cool completely

The second accident was my "frosting." I scanned a few chocolate frosting recipes, and told myself I'd just improvise--how wrong can you go with chocolate frosting?

Telling myself I was just making minor changes on this recipe, I combined the following ingredients in a small saucepan:
Aprox. 1 bag of semisweet chocolate chips
Aprox. 4 1/2 Hersheys chocolate bars
Aprox. 2 cups whole milk
Aprox. 1 cup half & half

Ok. When you have that many approximations, chances are you have no idea what you are doing. That was the case with me, deny it though I may.
As I stirred this chocolaty brew, it became clear that it would never have the privilege of being called frosting; it would remain a humble chocolate syrup.
However, there was nothing to be done, except hold my course and be content with the consequences. And so I did.

My mother assembled the cake while I was busy with something else, and when I saw the cake myself it was nothing like I would have expected. But could this cake have been a more beautiful accident?

Assemble layers, pouring chocolate over each layer before stacking, and being sure to place the small round on top. Cover with the remaining chocolate syrup.

It will forever be remembered as the Chocolate Fountain Cake, with a pool of chocolate reflecting each candle flame, and rivers of syrup running down the tiered layers of moist cake.


Doesn't this photo enchant you, and make you feel as if you were Thumbelina or little Tom Thumb?

I cannot wait to share with you the wonderful presents given to me on my birthday by such creative friends; that will come soon. But I am in the midst of trying to figure out an external hard drive, because right now I hardly have room on my computer to load the photos!
Stay tuned!

Jan 24, 2011

Craving Sweet

I keep stumbling across sweet, melty, gooey, chocolaty, crumbly foods, and I can't help but crave something of my own, warm and melty, straight out of my own oven, crumbling in my own mouth.
Here are just a few objects of my cravings.

Peanut Butter Cup Cake
(Photo and Recipe found HERE

Honestly, all of these things were in my bookmark folder labeled "food." I started to notice a theme, and began to query myself: "Come dear, is all this really and truly food?"

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirl Brownies
(Photo and Recipe found HERE

Well perhaps it's not. But there is an obvious trend in my attraction toward desserts. It is not normal for me, really. It is an odd preoccupation.

Warm Toasted Marshmallow S'more Bars
(Photo and Recipe found HERE

Perhaps the reason is that my birthday is tomorrow. If I could have all this on my table, and eat a bit of this and a bit of that and a bit of everything else, AND not go to bed with a headache and, well, everything else that comes with an excess of sugar...

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes
(Photo and Recipe found HERE

I would.

Jan 23, 2011


The exhilaration of critical thinking;
The thrill of having the attention of a room of listeners;

The satisfaction that accompanies protocol, a smile and a handshake;

The intensity of persuasion, the energy in refutation, and the sense of closure when a debate finishes;

The anticipation of competition; who will advance? Who will win the prize?

And the etched memories of tournament weekends:
All this and more has been my experience with high school debate. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

All these photos were taken with a Pentax film camera in March of 2010.

Jan 22, 2011

January Ocean

If ever a day had perfect beach weather, yesterday did. January may not remind you of the beach, but we went anyway; my mom initiated a spontaneous trip to Santa Cruz with some good friends, and we couldn't help but marvel at the loveliness of it all.

(Little brother Nathan, and friend Chase)

It was a decidedly beachy day, not excluding hole digging, and castle building, wave jumping, and cliff climbing.

(Juliana and my sisters, Bethany & Mackenzie)

The day also included the essential thrown together sandy beach lunch. You know how it goes; it's time to leave and you remember you have to bring a lunch! So you riffle through the fridge, scan the cabinets, rummage through the pantry, and toss it in a basket.

I was, however, particularly pleased with our thrown together sandy beach lunch. Our sandwiches consisted of the following:
Homemade Bread (baked by myself)
Garlic Mustard Aioli
Cheddar Cheese
Persian Cucumbers
Purple Saurkraut (made by my mom)

Oh yes, blueberries too.

Umm, yum.

After a satisfactory lunch, my friend Chantel and I went and climbed a rock. It is gratifying to finally find oneself off the ground after at least a dozen failed attempts, you know?

The children, on their own explorations, were playing king of the rock mountain, when they found that evidently the rock mountain was already bedecked with purple robed natives.

As the sun began to set, Channy and I took advantage of the evening glow.

The sun left us with a faint green flash, but you can be sure of this--the glow hasn't left us yet.

Jan 19, 2011

Christmas Crabs

Have you ever had a crab-fest?
This is how it happens. Your neighbor fixes your water pressure one day, and as leaves he tells you that he is going to check his crab pots! He promises that if there is a good catch, he'll bring you some fresh crab.
Sure enough, on Christmas Eve he shows up in his red monster truck and walks in with a bin full of crabs.

"Are they alive?" you ask.
They are alive. In fact, they have torn each other limb from limb during their lengthy monster truck ride.

He picks one up to demonstrate their aliveness. He tells you to BEWARE of the claws, (were you planning on touching them?), because with one claw they can crack a pencil. Yes, that also means that they could crack your finger. BEWARE of the claws.

You try not to feel sorry for their sorry faces. Crabs are food, not friends.
He gives you your instructions:
Boil them in your biggest pot for 20 minutes.
Dig in!

You waste no time. As the pot boils and the crabs cook, you spread the cloth and pull out the hammers. Then, limb by limb, you scoop out the delicate meat and eat it, just as it is. With fresh crabs like these, you don't even need butter.
That, my friends, is a crab fest.
And let me tell you: though it may sound shocking...

Crocheted Headphones Tutorial

My latest project was inspired by these little lovelies.

I had a pair of headphones that worked, but that had lost all their padding; plus, they were just ugly. After seeing those headphones, I thought to myself, "I have yarn... I can crochet... I can do this!"

It took me a few tries to get the ear right, but once I did I wrote it all down right away so I'd be able to match it on the second ear! Each ear has about a 2 inch diameter.
Here are the instructions:

I used a fat hook--J or K--and worsted weight yarn.

Ch - chain
SC - single crochet
St/sts - stitch/stitches
Sl - slip
Inc - increase
rnd/rnds - round/rounds
tbl - through back of loop


Ch 6; Sl first st to form loop.

SC 6 sts through center of loop. 6 sts total.

Inc every st for two rnds. 24 sts total.

SC 1 rnd. 24 sts total.

SC 10 sts tbl. Inc next st tbl. SC 2 sts tbl. Inc next st tbl. SC 8 sts tbl. Inc next st tbl. SC 1 st tbl. Ch 3. 28 sts total.

Lay disk on inside of one ear with active st at the headband. Loop chain sts around base of headband and SC in third st. Complete rnd, looping st around cord when appropriate. 28 sts total.

SC 1 st tbl. Decrease next st tbl. SC 8 sts tbl. Decrease next st tbl. SC 2 sts tbl. Decrease next st tbl. SC 8 sts tbl. Decrease next st tbl. SC 1 st tbl. 24 sts total.

SC 1 rnd. 24 sts total.

Decrease every st until complete. Tie off. Hide ends inside muff.

Repeat for the second ear.


The instructions for the band will vary according to preference and materials. Here is loosely what I did.

Connecting yarn at the base of the headband (either side), make a chain to match the length of the band. If it is an adjustable band, match your desired length.

Connect chain to the opposite ear. SC into the next st on the ear, then back across the chain.

Continue working your way around each ear and over the arch until the band section is wide enough to wrap around the band of your headphones.

Final row: SC both sides of the band section together. (Knitting two sts together, one from each side.)

If there are still gaps remaining between the band section and the ear, a few extra sts should fix it up.

Hope this works for you all! Comment if you have any questions.

Jan 18, 2011


This picture is old. It is a film photo. I took it spring of 2010 meaning, of course, to finish and develop the roll fairly quickly and post it on my blog. The first two steps were undoubtedly stretched like taffy over the course of the last year; but notwithstanding, I proceed now with step three, all according to plan!

Between then and now I have embarked upon a great many new yarn adventures, but I still consider these mittens to be my first great knitting accomplishment.

Jan 17, 2011

Bottle Neck

A friend & fellow photographer initiated what he calls a "five minute creativity session."
-Go Outside
-Take Photo
-Edit Photo

His fabulous example can be found here:

After seeing the simple genius of his spontaneity, I followed suit and the photo and photo edit below are the fruit of my effort.



Now your turn! Seriously, do it. And then post it on your blog, or flickr, or something. And then comment on this post with a link so I can see it!