Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Polka Dots and Matchy-Matchy

There's this term I've picked up from Project Runway. It's called matchy-matchy and it refers to when your garment, or your accessories, are excessively color-coordinated to the point of--

Well, that's the problem. I've never really comprehended the perils of matchy-matchy. (That period in middle school when I refused to coordinate my knee-length shorts and baggy T-shirts, doesn't count.)

Why does perfect coordination appeal to me so much? A few reasons.

1) I've been brainwashed by my mother. Haven't you ever been told that you are not allowed to walk out of the house until you rectify the color discrepancies in your outfit?

2) To me there's something glamorous about having a perfectly coordinated outfit. It's much easier to find accessories that clash than accessories that match. It takes consideration to pull together an ensemble with perfectly aligning elements.

3) The surest way to produce a flawlessly coordinated outfit--styles, fabrics, even the smallest details like beading and thread color--is to make it yourself!

I did not originally design these pieces as an ensemble. I made this blouse last summer not because I fell in love with the design, not because I was launching a crusade to redefine the polo shirt for uniform purposes, but for the boring and indefensible reason that I needed a new shirt. :/

I found this fabric at <3 you guessed it Mood! My camera really has not done justice to its color.
It's bright turquoise cotton; the polka dots have texture, as if they are sewn into the fabric or ironed on, not printed. I like that it's playful and yet ordered at the same time--it's got a lively color and quirky polka-dots, and yet the pattern is made up of uniform shapes in a linear arrangement. I wanted to mirror that dichotomy in the pattern I chose.

Friday, April 18, 2014

If you Drop your Cake, You're Going to Have to Burn It

It was my brother's birthday last week. In order to understand my brother's birthday dessert, you have to understand my brother.

This is Max.

This is Max's phone case.

This is Max's favorite article of clothing.

This is the opening of Max's favorite movie.

Picture courtesy of australianwargamer.wordpress.com
And this is Max's cake.


I stole this design idea from 17 and baking about three months ago and bookmarked it and waited with bated breath until April drew upon us. And then I scheduled ditching school so I could come home early and make it and have it ready in time for birthday dinner. And I cast my brother from the kitchen for about 4 hours so he couldn't see it going to together so when he cut it open SURPRISE IN ALL ITS PATRIOTIC GLORY!!!

The design of the cake itself is not all that complicated. The only tricky part is the blue square in the corner, which is achieved by replacing the top layer of cake with a blue ring and a red-on-white interior circle (don't worry about trying to picture it right now: full instructions with pictures below!).

Regardless, this cake is kind of a lot of work. It involves a lot of dividing batter, some strategizing, and a lot of mixing food coloring (so much that I have blisters from whisking in the dye. Who gets blisters from making cake?)

And I didn't even THINK about how high-maintenance this cake would be AFTER it was finished.
If the refrigerator light switch is flipped off when the door shuts, but no one is inside the refrigerator to see it, does it really go out?

That sounds like an injunction to eat with your hands!
 I'll have to console myself that the American flag will be immortalized indefinitely on this blog...because the cake is going to go pretty darn fast!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Medieval Matador

Spring is coming. Good news and bad news.

Bad news: AP tests 1st half of May. Which means I'm going to spend a lot of time studying. Which means my fashion and fine food exposure for the next month is going to be limited to: 
1st derivative of position is velocity. 2nd derivative is acceleration. 3rd derivative is jerk!
Courtesy of Zazzle.com
i 8 sum pi...get it? :D
Courtesy of cafepress.com

Good news: I've made enough clothes up to this point to last me through it!

I made this jacket last summer; I wore it last night to dinner and decided to take some pictures.

I LOVE the design of jacket A. It's like a cross between a matador and Queen Elizabeth. Except it's powder blue. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Je fais la crème brûlée

(That means "I make crème brûlée" in French *nods knowingly*. The present tense is about all I can handle at this point. Freshman French, baby!!!)

Most people look at me very strangely when I explain to them that I am taking a second language as an elective; unlike my enlightened readers, they do not understand the personal benefits to be incurred by learning French. After all, Paris is arguably the food and fashion capital of the world. The great majority of the patterns I use have their instructions reprinted in French. And most pressingly, it sort of ruins your credibility as an aspiring chef célèbre if you can't even pronounce a French menu.

That would be me. :/

It's been very interesting gaining a cursory understanding of the language. All though I have to admit that thus far my food-related vocabulary hasn't improved much. The textbook makers apparently thought that us newbie francophones were not equal to actual vocabulary when they wrote the unit on café food, because all the dishes we learned were loanwords in English pronounced with the appropriate accent:
hamburger = OHM-BEHR-GEH
crêpe = CWEP
croissant = CWUH-SAW

But the interesting part is how if you translate something from English to French it immediately becomes fancier.  Not because French sounds nicer, but because of actual objective English vocabulary. Frequently the English word for a fancy, luxurious item is just the mundane, boring, French word for the same thing! Case in point: The French don't have chairs; they have les chaises. French T-shirts are technically chemises. Forget your party, I'm checking out that soirée. Wouldn't it sound nice on a college app to say I blog about la cuisine et la couture?

The same basic philosophy holds true when talking about the dessert I made last weekend. Crème brûlée, translated literally, means "burnt cream". Yuuuuuuuuuuuummmmm. See if I told you that I was making me some burnt cream, you would not be tripping to invite yourself over. 

Actual Yum
Never fear, though! The name is also quite misleading. You are not (hopefully) burning the cream itself, because the hard crust topping this custardy dessert is actually a layer of torched, melted, caramelized sugar. So really we should really be calling this sucre brûlé sur crème, plus un chalumeau. --Yes, this is an excuse to buy a blowtorch*!

Courtesy of HardlyHousewives.com
Have fun! :D

*For those of you who don't have a blowtorch and for some reason don't want one, I found this cool idea for broiling the top of your desserts in the oven. I haven't tried it, but it's worth a shot!

Monday, April 7, 2014

How To: Have your Cake, Cookies, and Ice Cream and Eat Them Too

I don't really have a recipe for you guys today. Just some casual instructions for how to put together the dessert of any child's dreams.


I ended up making this dessert because it is birthday season in my  house (yes, around here, birthdays last a season), which means I am creating every dessert under the sun. Between my mom's birthday and my brother's birthday and my mom's birthday party and my brother's friend birthday party and my brothers' family birthday party and my other brother's birthday I am dedicating desserts as fast as my poor smoking mixer can produce them.

My brother's birthday was last week, and I asked him what he wanted for his friend-birthday-party cake. Not to be confused with his actual birthday-date-cake, nor his family-birthday-party dessert, which I will be posting shortly (so stay tuned!). I'd already made him a chocolate cake, so he asked for something a little more unconventional.

My amazing family :)
Essentially, this dessert is composed of a slab of ice cream sandwiched between two giant, thick, par-baked cookies. Its size alone--diameter and breadth--commands reverence. It doesn't exude subtlety or elegance, which is good because I was serving a horde of 5th-grade boys. But hey, it's a super-fun dessert. And you can change it up by using different cookie recipes and different flavors of ice cream.

Here's how to do it.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Darn I'm out of granola

I made some granola before my family left for vacation, about a month ago.

I made FOUR RECIPES. That consumes an entire container of oats.

I made so much granola, I had to mix it in a POT.

I made so much granola I had to strategically organize it in my oven.


It's not really that the granola is addicting...it's just sustenance. I eat granola for breakfast almost every day. It's like my version of coffee. It's about as high-maintenance as Cheerios, but way less depressing. And it actually keeps you kind of full until lunchtime at 1:00 (yes, my school's schedule is messed up). And it tastes good, and you need something to look forward to at 6:30 in the morning. In short, perfect for a zombified student who just can't eat Cheerios every day.

--Seriously, one of the things that scares me most about the idea of going to college and living in a dorm is the idea that I will not be able to make my own granola any more. Just thinking about it makes me feel helpless :[

To comprehend the above sentiment, you have to understand how easy it is to make granola. There are basically four ingredients: oats, nuts, peanut butter, and honey. You use whatever kind of nuts you want, and you can substitute whatever sort of nut-derived butter you like. The most involved part is mixing everything together, which is an arm workout when you're making four recipes in a pot. And then you live on it for the next month. It's way cheaper than store-bought granola, it's a lot more diverse, and you get the perfect crunchy texture.

So thanks for checking out the instructions, hope I've provided you with your new breakfast staple and haven't cursed you to new dependencies and inter-family civil war--

JK here's the actual recipe :D