Monday, April 28, 2008

A three cake week

I tell people that I don't like cake. It's almost true: I don't like most cakes. The texture just really doesn't do anything for me, and I'd rather eat, say, a chunk of chocolate rather than a chocolate cake any day. But i do like some cakes - really dense cakes, coffee cakes, or cakes that are practically pies or tarts (like every cake you find in Germany). Someday we really will blog about something other than cake and beer, probably.

This week in cakes:

The last piece of the vegan coffee cake I made last weekend. It's from The Vegan Family Cookbook by Brian Mccarthy, but I changed it a little bit. This has half whole wheat flour and less sugar. So it's healthy, right?

Doing homework at my favorite coffee shop in Freiburg. Every day they have a different cake and the slices are 2 Euros. This is a custardy rhubarb cake, it was delicious. There was a flea market going on in the alley right behind the cafe. The table I was at was next to some open doors, and I was essentially right behind one of the booths. I eyed a burgundy teacup with white flowers the whole time, but I managed to not buy it.

It was my friend Dan's birthday on Saturday, so some friends and I got together and baked a cake. It was a team effort: me, Fiona, Gary, and Dr. Oetker. The cream cheese frosting was from scratch, though, and it was delicious.

So much for not liking cake.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Flowers and beer in bloom

Like Sidonie, and this little guy, I am very excited about spring.

The weather on Friday was really nice, and after spending three hours in the afternoon waiting in a boring white room for a registration meeting that took all of two minutes, I unwound with one of my roommates by enjoying a beer on the grass in a park near our apartment. A major perk of Germany: you can enjoy a delicious, local, relatively inexpensive beer outside in public, and can do so legally.

I noticed these bottles poking up from the grass - not only the flowers are in bloom. I was glad I took a picture when I did, because when I looked later, the bottles had mysteriously vanished. Probably so that someone could collect the Pfand - it's amazing what money will do for recycling.

I've been doing more baking as well - a coffee cake that turned out great on the first try! It will show up on the blog if there is still a piece left by the time I get around to photographing it.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Saturday cake

On a giant whim, I baked a lemon poppyseed sheet cake yesterday. It was great fun!

But I didn't stop there, no sir. I've mentioned it in every blogpost so far, and so I'll bring it up again: It's Springtime. And, for me, yesterday, that meant pastel icing.

My roommate, Liza (Glass Hotel), and I painted on some sweet stripes.

A lovely Saturday pastel-striped lemon-poppyseed sheet cake. And it came out of the pan in one piece, too! That's always a big source of pride for me.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

While it's still cool enough out...

I took a long spring break in March (oh, the benefits of graduating without getting a serious job), and discovered why Cancun and Miami are such popular spring break destinations.
I went to northern Europe. And it snowed, rained, and hailed on me in every city I went to. With just a few notable exceptions, it was not warm.

And thusly I discovered piwo grzane, Polish hot spiced beer.

And I was skeptical.

I'm from Wisconsin. We don't do hot beer. We don't even like to think about warm beer, and we certainly don't approve of drinking beer through a straw (let alone two straws). But I'm an open-minded Wisconsinite, so I gave it a shot.

My Polish friend Asia and I sat in a cafe for several hours, as we are inclined to do, sipping hot, spiced lager from big mugs and taking lots of "arty" photos (as is our other major inclination). The hot beer was a lot like hot cider. I chose orange/cinnamon/clove spices, and Asia opted for ginger flavor; both were excellent--a little sweet, a little spicy, very warm but definitely still beer.

Yesterday here in Iowa we had a spectacularly beautiful spring day. I biked around in my springy pink skirt and waved at friends reading on the green of central campus. Today the wind and rain picked up again, the air is chilly, and, when I get down to it, I could really go for a night in with a good movie and some hot beer.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I am a perfectionist after all

A few days ago, one of my German roommates (I live with four Germans and two other Americans) mentioned that one of his favorite things about having new American students move in is that they always bake brownies. And we had not yet made brownies. Always looking for any excuse to bake something, I got right on it.

Um. Right. So, our oven only has a top coil. Ten minutes before the baking time was up, they started to smell charred. What a total failure. They were really tough and chewy and dry, not moist and fudgy at all, but the bottom was barely done. I tried to decide whether I should throw them out or see if anyone wanted to eat them. And then this happened.

I was suddenly in the kitchen ready for round two. Most people would not call me a perfectionist. I usually see perfectionists as neat and tidy and organized, which are things that I am not. But I really hate baking or cooking something mediocre. If I am going to eat a brownie, it had better be good. And I don't want to give away things that just don't taste good. People usually feel obligated to eat things that you bake for them. And the first batch was really pretty gross.
Success! Moist and fudgy with a crackly top. I am thankful that I live with six other people, because I would feel seriously sick if I ate all of these.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Spring again...

It's a Monday, a warm Monday, and even though we've already had a few warm days here in Iowa, it feels like the first day of Spring. It feels like the right time to start a new project.

Mallory & I have been thinking about blogging again since our last project, Iowa Summer, ended. This time we live seven thousand miles apart (at present), but we're still thinking about cooking, sewing and travel, about good books and pretty pictures and vintage tablecloths. I think I speak for both of us, anyway.

So this will be an ongoing project, hopefully sharing our crafty achievements and worldly adventures. Put us in your bookmarks!