Category: people talkin’

The “Life List.”

News flash: 32 days from today, I will turn 32 years old.

This is a big deal, mainly because I don’t feel anywhere close to 32. I know my grandma used to say that she didn’t feel her age, and when she looked in the mirror she was surprised to see her mother looking back at her. I’ve heard other people say that as well, including my own mother at times. And of course, I know the whole “time flies” bit already. But now the past few years I’ve been feeling all of this myself, and it’s bizarre. I can’t even blame it on my age, or even on the fact that I’m facing the looming prospect of marriage, which is kind of the ultimate in “grown-up”-ness…. because it’s been coming for a while.

Me.

Do I look 32? Because I literally feel, at the absolute oldest, maybe 21. Okay… so that photo is from back in May, but still. I wake up some mornings and still feel like a 16 year old kid. Other mornings I wake up and I feel so completely disconnected from the fact I’m actually in my 30’s that the concept of it is almost shocking. As if it just can’t be. Like there’s some mistake or miscalculation. Maybe I graduated from high school at age 8 or something? Maybe I was really born in 1991? Can that be? Because I cannot actually be in my 30’s. It’s just impossible. No way time can go by that fast, can it?

Just two weeks ago, I painted my nails with a multicolored glitter nail polish & there was a Candy Land band-aid on my finger (covering a cherry jam-inflicted) wound. That’s not very grown-up, is it?

Actually I can’t say that I give a shit whether or not it’s grown-up.

Anyway, inspired by AB CHAO’s Life List, I decided to make one. As in, things I’d like to do/have happen at some point in my life, as of right now at (almost) age 32. I’m of the opinion that this list doesn’t have to be a “bucket list” (I hate that phrase) nor does it have to contain things that are incredibly important, nor do I have to explain any of them to anyone other than myself. It does NOT have to consist of things that are achievements. It does NOT have to be about work, or family, or anything. Just stuff that you want to do. I see so many people make these over the top lists of things they feel they need to accomplish… and so much of it involves making more money, or having better things than others do, having the biggest house or nicest car, etc. That’s not what this is about. This isn’t about impressing anyone or making anyone else feel inadequate. This isn’t about changing yourself.

And there’s no “Achieve world peace” or “Get the Nobel Peace Prize” stuff here; I’ll save that for the Miss America pageant.

My "Life List." What's on yours?

  1. Vote for a female presidential candidate (not just in a primary- but an actual election, and not a Vice President).
  2. Open my own bakery/coffee shop.
  3. Attend the Met Gala.
  4. Plant & successfully grow an edible fruit tree in my yard, probably apple. I love me some apples & they do great in NY.
  5. Own a brownstone in downtown Manhattan or Brooklyn, or a home built prior to 1940. The older the better, in fact!
  6. Travel all over Europe, with no specific time frame or monetary restraints.
  7. Buy a car from a cooler decade to drive around on weekends. For example; A Studebaker from the 1920’s, or Ford pickup truck from the 1930’s… hell, I’d settle for a ’50’s Buick or Chevy, or even a 1960 Chevy Delivery sedan. Old cars > new. All day, everyday.
  8. Get my driver’s license so I can drive my awesome 1920’s car around on weekends like Daisy Buchanan (hopefully sans killing anyone).
  9. See a favorite band perform in another country (not Canada, doesn’t count… too close!).
  10. Have pink hair one more time.
  11. Buy a farm. Literally.
  12. Grow enough tomatoes in one season to make a few jars of homemade sauce, with NO store bought ingredients.
  13. Complete the family tree, equally, so that one side isn’t traced back to 1300 and the other is still stuck at 1830.
  14. Win more than $500 on a lottery ticket (okay, so I know this is a matter of luck & has nothing to do with me, but still).
  15. Learn Gaelic, French & German.
  16. Write (& publish) a book.
  17. Replace all the jadeite pieces of my grandmother’s that I broke.
  18. Learn to sew on a real sewing machine.
  19. Fix up my mom’s vintage blue 1967 Columbia Thunderbolt bicycle with new chains, new white wall tires & a basket on the front.
  20. Learn to clean, de-bone & cook fish perfectly.
  21. Hire Chrisie to paint a portrait of Indy in a stately, dignified pose. Like this!
  22. Finally make a t-shirt quilt.
  23. To be one of those super organized people with an actual home office.
  24. Make my own usable pottery- dishes, bowls, etc.
  25. Learn how to Marcel wave my hair.
  26. Make a jelly roll without the cake “cracking.”
  27. Get back into watercolor painting.
  28. Learn how to really work the shit out of my camera like a pro.
  29. Buy a working antique gramophone/phonograph.
  30. Start to do yoga.
  31. Make macarons that are perfect on the first try.
  32. Finally get those tattoos I have all drawn up.

I’m sure I’ll think of more as soon as I stop writing this post, but I thought I ought to confine it to 32, you know, 32 being the big number and all. C’est la vie. I think I’ll revisit this post in one year & see how much I’ve done.

What would be on your life list?

My interview with Pamela Ahn, contestant on TLC’s ‘The Next Great Baker.’

As many of you probably already know, on December 6th TLC debuted a new show with one of their most famous baking stars; Bartolo “Buddy” Valastro of Carlo’s Bakery in New Jersey. I’m sure pretty much everyone knows of Buddy by now, his show Cake Boss is crazy popular. And in that vein, the new show is called Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker. It’s on Monday’s at 9 p.m. EST. What’s the premise, you ask?

In the series, TLC favorite Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro, along with various family members, put 10 talented pastry chefs through the ringer to earn the title of “Next Great Baker.”  At stake – $50,000 cash and a chance to work side-by-side with Buddy at Carlo’s Bakery. Each week, Buddy pushes the contestants’ baking and decorating skills to the limit through a series of increasingly difficult challenges that test their business sense and cake artistry. Someone will be sent packing each week until the NEXT GREAT BAKER is the last one standing.

I’m a huge fan of Cake Boss, TLC, and pretty much any show involving cakes and challenges, so when TLC e-mailed me and asked me if I’d like to interview one of the contestants, Pamela Ahn… I was psyched! But I decided to do it a bit differently; I thought I’d let my fans & readers in on the fun by allowing them to ask some questions of their own.

Pamela is a 29-year-old married electrical engineer AND baker from Washington D.C., and the owner of PamCakes. Busy lady! If you watch the show, you’ll know Pamela had a rocky moment in the first episode with her burnt cake, but stayed in the game and redeemed herself with beautiful red velvet baby shower cupcakes. The Monopoly cake was rough, but it’s hard working with others and having all your various visions come together in one cake… but that’s alright, she made it through and she’s still in the game! Judging from her answers below, she seems like my kind of baker; she does it because she likes to eat it, and it’s still fun.

Here’s a link to a video interview with her for the show, but like I said… me & my readers have some burning questions, so let’s get to it…

Question: What made you want to be a part of The Next Great Baker? (from me/Cupcake Rehab)

Pamela: My friends encouraged me to apply and since I love cake & I love Buddy, I said why not?  I don’t have anything to lose so I filled out an online application and the rest was history.

Q: What’s it like to “work” with Buddy Valastro? (from me/Cupcake Rehab)

P: Buddy is an inspirational man and he smells like cake!  :) All jokes aside, Buddy and his entire family are amazing, kind hearted people.  They touched me and inspired me to believe in myself and my talents, as raw as they are.  I am so thankful and blessed to have met them and I can say my life is better because of it.

Q: Does having a baking business & doing a show like this ruin baking for you; for example, does holiday or birthday baking become a chore when you do it all the time with all this pressure? Does it make it easier since it’s not being judged? Or do you just enjoy it so much that it’s always fun? (from me/Cupcake Rehab)

P: Participating in the show definitely tested my love/passion for baking & creating cake.  This experience actually confirmed my passion and love for cake is not only for fun/hobby, but it is also something that I want to excel and get better at.  Life’s a journey and this cake industry for me is no different, I hope to continue to work at mastering the skill and continue to bring my own unique perspective into it.  In the end, it is my dream to use what I’ve learned to help others do the same.

Q: What advice do you have, if any, for up & coming bakers, people looking to open a bakery or small bakery owners? (from me/Cupcake Rehab)

P: Well, I feel like opening a bakery or a shop is something I can speak less to.  Currently, what I have is my website: pamcakediva.com to share tips and recipes and make baking easier. The background work and time it took to make my vision for this blog to get setup was challenging and required a lot of research.  Entrepreneurship is something new to me.  I’m learning as I go.  However, I can share with you that anything in life for me has been a step process.  Step-by-step you’ll get to where you want to be.  Set small attainable goals so that you are not overwhelmed and the more you do, the better you will feel about the overall goal.  If your goal is to start a bakery, do the homework, research, and work towards it.  There are people and networks of people in your area that is more than willing to help, just don’t forget to seek them out.  I started small and didn’t realize at the time I was building a portfolio and numerous recipes.  I started baking for family and friends and in many ways things just started to fall into place.  The demand grew and with that my recipes and portfolio grew as well.  I still felt insufficient when I applied to be on the show, but I guess some of that accumulation of my previous work was there to support my big dream.  I just never thought it would ever come true.  Be brave, take chances, but make sure to pave the ground works for yourself so that you can have a chance at success.  In summary, dream big, but start small.

Q: What’s your favorite kind of pastry, dessert or cake to create?(from me/Cupcake Rehab)

P: I love all desserts actually!  Life is short, eat dessert first!  I love experimenting with new recipes.  I especially love Asian inspired desserts.  I would have to say my favorite would be a toss up between the Taro Cupcake & Mango-Passionfruit cake!  So delish!

Q: You’re a wife, an electrical engineer, a contestant on this new show, you have a business and you have a dog- how do you have time to do everything you do!?(from me/Cupcake Rehab)

P: I feel like time management and being flexible is a huge part of life.  Everyday I have to make a conscious effort to try to be a better wife to my husband, a better engineer at work, and a better cake artist.  I often make mistakes in all the above, but it’s how I learn from them that defines me and not the evident failures or successes.  I do feel overwhelmed sometimes, but then I work to re-prioritize, reinvent myself, and work to be better.  My dog, Tiger, is simply my joy in life.  He makes me laugh.  Tiger gets to lick the extra frostings from time to time and keeps me healthy when I jog/walk with him.  There is never really an answer to doing things the right way in life, it is just a journey to me.  I feel blessed to have someone wonderful to experience life’s ups and downs with and I try to take these endeavors in my life with a grain of salt.  I remind myself that lifestyle is how you want to define it and I try not let it define me.  I feel grateful to have an understanding/loving husband, be an engineer, a contestant on a baking show, pamcakediva.com, and Tiger, but I know all this is only possible by grace and not by might.  If tomorrow, any of these things change in my life, I’ll have to re-evaluate, adapt, and try to make it work for us.

Q: Why do you bake? (via Facebook from Heather, www.baketastic.com)

P: I love to eat it!  I have a passion for food, especially yummy desserts.  I started making them to share with family & friends and before I knew it, it became something I was known for amongst the people I know.  I bake, because I have a deep love for delicious desserts!  I bake for people, because they really seem to enjoy it and provide me constructive feedback to make it better!

Q: Where does your inspiration come from? (via Facebook from Heather, www.baketastic.com)

P: My inspirations for baking come from everything around me.  Common grocery and kitchen items such as Almond paste, and other neat items I can find at the grocery store, inspires to try out a new recipe each time.  I also love using Asian influenced items in my desserts.

Q: What is your secret for alleviating back pain from hunching over the production table? (this is a very important one! (: ) (via Facebook from Heather, www.baketastic.com)

P: I take a few breaks between cake making and cake decorating and I do stretches and yoga poses.  Just a few minutes of simple upward and downward facing dog does wonders for your back.  My advice is to not wait until you feel some stiffness before getting up and stretching.  Us baker are great with timers.  I recommend scheduling in your intermission stretches with your cooking timer and set it for every hour or so.  Posture is another key thing.  I have to make a conscious effort to sit up straight and maintain a lifted back even when I typing and even more so when I’m spending hours decorating cakes.

Q: Does your engineering background help structurally with the cakes? (via Twitter, from Sela)

P: I do believe my engineering training helps me design and understand the structural elements for cake design.  However, a lot of it goes back to the laws of physics, old fashioned trial and error, and using online + other resources on learning about cake structure.

Q: The transition from engineer to cake decorator/baker – any regrets? (via Twitter, from Sela)

P: Currently, I am still taking on both.  I do have thoughts of transitioning, however, I do like to take things a step at a time.  I have absolutely no regrets in getting my hands and feet wet and into everything cake.  I really do love it and believe that I have finally found my passion.  Cake baking/decorating allows me to combine my experiences in life and gives me absolute freedom in self expression and design creatively.  I really love it and would do it again if I can go back in time!

Q: Specialty cakes can get so involved with how they look that there’s a trade on how they taste, whats your thought on that and how do you balance quality of product with visual effects? (via Twitter, from Sela)

P: Be creative & adapt.  Be confident with what works and what doesn’t work, but always veer on the safe side.  I once had a client that really wanted a moist coconut cake in a Topsy Turvy cake.  The most moist coconut cake I know is one that you bake a vanilla or yellow cake and drench it in coconut milk immediately after it is baked, however, I needed a structurally sound cake sponge to use for the Topsy Turvy design.  So I adapted and baked the coconut milk into the cake recipe with my own alterations to the recipe and the cake offered that same coconut milk flavor, it was moist, but not unstable like the drenched version.  I think most clients are reasonable as long as you are willing to be flexible with them, be up front and help educate, offer them options, and be creative with your solutions.

Q: What do you plan to do with everything that you learn in this new experience? (via Facebook, from Leigh, Sweet Deal Bakery)

P: I plan to continue to share my secret tips and recipes on my website and hope that others can benefit from them as well.  I truly believe that each one of us have a dream, and as long as you work hard, stay focused, and is patient the rewards will come along the way.  I hope to use what I have learned to share it with others.

Q: What are your favorite unconventional ingredients? (via Facebook, from Leigh, Sweet Deal Bakery)

P: My favorite unconventional ingredient is the Taro root.  I absolutely love it.  When baked or broiled, it tastes a little like a cross between a mash potato and a sweet potato only with a subtle light vanilla flavor.  The taste is very light, but very satisfying and distinct.  It pairs well with coconut and whipped topping when baked into a cake recipe.

Q: We’ve all had one- so what is/was your WORST baking disaster? (via Facebook, from Iris, www.iris-mylifeinpurple.blogspot.com)

P: If you saw the first TLC Next Great Baker premiere episode, my worst baking disaster is a burnt cake.  Sometimes when you are in a unfamiliar, uncomfortable environment and under a lot of stress and pressure, you become forgetful.  I am still not sure what happened that day, but I’m glad Buddy saw great potential in me and gave me a second chance.

Q: What do you do to calm your nerves before challenges? Do you get nervous at all? If it was me, I’d be vomiting! (via Facebook, from Tania, www.lovebigbakeoften.blogspot.com)

P: I was nervous almost throughout that entire journey.  I was in a high pressure, high stake condition.  I bake in my own home and that is about all the experience I have as a cake maker.  I did different things when I was nervous, I prayed, I did yoga/stretches, I jogged in place to get my blood flowing and get pumped up.  I made funny faces to make myself and other contestants to laugh.  I’m all about hugs so I spread hugs and got a few good ones in return.  I thought about my dog & husband and how no matter the outcome, they will be proud of me and waiting at home to see me.

Q: What is it like to create a work of art under such pressure? (via Facebook, from John)

P: At first it was absolutely overwhelming and almost overbearing, but I think later I just tried to block everything out around me and just concentrate on the root of why I love creating cake & recipes in the first place: these are my stress relieve in life.  I love making cake, because I’m able to block out everything else in life and just indulge into my own creative freedom.  Once I was able to focus and concentrate, the rest was just white noise in the background.

And finally, just for fun and totally off topic…
Q: If you could paint the White House any color, what would it be? (via Twitter, from Yoyo, www.topstitch.org)

P: Purple, because it is my favorite color!

Thank you again, Pamela, good luck on the show, say hi to Buddy for me and happy holidays!

P: It’s been my pleasure!  Come visit me at www.pamcakediva.com!

I really want to thank Pamela for being such a great sport, and being cool enough to answer all our questions. I still have no idea how she even had time to!And also, best of luck on her journey towards being the Next Great Baker. And don’t forget to watch the show; Monday nights at 9 p.m. on TLC (I think they replay the show from the week before at 8 p.m.)!

As for me, I’ll be watching… and I’ll also be back with a new Christmas cupcake recipe in the next day or two.

Happy Birthday Giveaway… 2 years of Cupcake Rehab!

*****EDIT***** October 13th, 12:14 a.m.: THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED, AND I’M SORRY TO THOSE WHO DIDN’T GET A CHANCE TO.. BUT THE CONTEST IS OFFICALLY OVER. COMMENTS ARE CLOSED. WE’LL BE PICKING A WINNER SOON, SO CHECK BACK OFTEN :D


“THEY SAY IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY… “

Today is the 2nd birthday of my baby, or my little blog here. Two years ago today I opened up the “official” blog at wordpress.com.  Of course, I’ve long since moved my blog to a dot com. But that groundbreaking post still exists on this server, and you can read it here. Of course, I no longer dye my hair black (I’ve been through a number of shades and cuts as well since back then)… but the rest holds true. I’ve had such a good time these past 2 years sharing recipes and anecdotes with you, and so I wanted to celebrate in a bigger way. Last year I baked some cupcakes for this occasion, but this year, there are gifts to be given.

So it’s Cupcake Rehab’s 2nd birthday, and you’re gonna get all the gifts!

That’s right. I am hereby announcing the mother of all giveaways… so get a cup of coffee, a glass of water, or a jug ‘o wine and get comfy, because I’m gonna run through the list of prizes and the rules. Here we go!

GRAND PRIZE:

  • Cupcake Rehab inspired one-of-a-kind painting by artist Christine Comisvalued at $85.00
(Click to painting to view larger image, actual painting won’t be watermarked)

FIRST PRIZE:

  • A custom painting by Anna at Very Small Anna (you win, you get to choose the subject of the painting! A cupcake? A dog? A cat? A dog and a cat with cupcakes? Or no cupcakes at all- maybe a T-Bone steak or an elephant drinking a beer? You got it!) – valued at $30.00

The prizes are completely and totally awesome, aren’t they? I’m kinda jealous of you all. That’s like $200 in prizes right there! Lyns alone is donating $100 dollars worth of items to be given away!

But before I get to the rules I just want to thank all of the above people for donating their time and materials to make this a really special event for Cupcake Rehab. You’re all amazing! And I also want to thank all my readers. You’re all amazing too!

Okay now, any good giveaway needs rules, right? I mean, you have to have a way in which to win these lovely prizes. So here we go:

  1. I’m looking for the most creative, unique and humorous Cupcake Rehab-themed cupcake recipe. You can interpret that however you like; whether literal or figurative, with any kind of ingredients you like. Take a hint from Chrisie’s painting above, or maybe look through old posts and use my interests and likes and incorporate them into a fabulous cupcake! It’s up to you. You could also follow me on Twitter & that might give you some insight into my preferences.
  2. You don’t have to actually make/bake it, but I’d really like to see the finished product (in pictures, duh).  And isn’t that part of the fun?
  3. The recipe MUST BE FROM SCRATCH. You can doctor up a cake mix, but it can’t be a cake mix/canned frosting recipe. That is not inventing a recipe, that’s being lazy and cheating.
  4. You don’t have to “invent” the recipe itself. For example, using Billy’s Bakery’s vanilla cupcake recipe or Amy Sedaris’ vanilla cupcake recipe is fine. What you DO with it after you use the recipe (i.e., decorating, color, etc) is the key. But of course, invented recipes are totally awesome and are definitely allowed too.
  5. You can post the recipe & pictures in my comments section of this post (using HTML if you’re posting pictures), or post it on your own blog and just leave a link to that post in the comments here. Either way is totally fine with me. All I ask is that if you choose to post it in the comments, you only use ONE picture, and that the picture is no larger than 350 pixels wide and 200 pixels high (but please don’t make it too small either, I have to be able to see what it is). Otherwise the loading time would just be crazy. if you want to get around those rules, post it at your own blog. There you can use as many pictures you like as big as you like! But again, if you’re posting it on your blog, YOU HAVE TO LINK TO THE BLOG ENTRY FROM MY COMMENTS. Otherwise, I won’t see it.
  6. You have to briefly explain why the cupcake is Cupcake Rehab-themed. For example, “I used vanilla because it’s your favorite flavor, and blah blah blah because you’re blog is blah blah.” (That vanilla info is a freebie right there- but please, I don’t want every single entry to be vanilla! I do have other favorites!)

Those are pretty much the only rules. The contest is open to anyone and everyone, experienced bakers to amateurs, fondant-experts to those who struggle with buttercream. You have until October 12th 2009 to enter. That’s a whole month- should be plenty of time. After October 12th, the comments will be closed and I’ll pick a winner (er, actually, two winners) within a week or so. You’ll be notified by e·mail if you’ve won, and I’ll need you to send me a mailing address (not a P.O. box). The most impressive two entries will win a prize, and there very well may be an honorable mention or two. The rest of you will not win anything. I’m sorry, it sounds harsh when put that way, but that’s just the way the cookie cupcake crumbles. You’re all winners, really. And by impressive, I mean like I said; unique, funny, creative, and Cupcake Rehab-related. Any questions? E·mail me and I’ll answer them best I can.

I CANNOT wait to see what you all are gonna come up with. So go forth and create! I’ll meet you back here on October 12th ;)

GET TO MAKIN’ THOSE CUPCAKES!

All about Amanda.

Awhile back, in a post I mentioned the Adopt-A-Blogger program that was going on, and introduced you all to my blog-adoptee, a.k.a. my “blog daughter,” Amanda at Is This Thing On? Remember that? If not please go back and re-read it. You may be quizzed on this.

Amanda in her cap & gown! She recently graduated… read about it here.

Well, I asked her a few questions, sort of an informal interview. Its been in the works for a while, what with it being summer the two of us have been busy doing other things, and maybe neglecting the interwebs a bit. But here it is! And while the questions she asked me were way better (see part one and part two here), I think this gives you more of an idea who she is and will hopefully get you interested in her blog! My responses, or comments if you will, are in bold italics.

Thank You cupcakes with candy melt lettering.

The W questions!

1. What made you want to start a blog?

I started this blog when I graduated from college and left everyone I knew then to go to graduate school in Maine. One of my good friends had (and still has) a blog and she encouraged me to start writing my own. It was really one last ditch effort to keep in contact with some friends and family back home. And it worked! However, you wouldn’t have recognized my blog then. It was angsty and awkward and without capitalization. In the last year or so, I’ve redirected the focus of my blog towards food and mostly cupcakes. It’s much more rewarding now… and… you know… worth reading.

2. When did you decide to start one, and how did you go about picking your blog name, etc?

Okay, I guess I covered the when part earlier. So the name… this is a sore spot for me. I don’t like my name, but I don’t really want to change it and lose my loyal (yet small) following. Since my blog was all about communicating with people who were far away, I played up the voice aspect and chose “Is This Thing On?” I have some header ideas that are hopefully going to make this blog name more relevant to my current focus. We’ll see how that goes!

3. What is your favorite cupcake recipe/cupcake flavor of all time (you don’t have to have made it yourself, you could’ve eaten it somewhere or just heard of it) and why?

I made Irish Car Bomb cupcakes one time that were so absolutely perfect in every way that I almost don’t even want to try them again. Guinness chocolate cake filled with Jameson ganache and topped with Bailey’s icing. A.ma.zing. (Okay I have to make them. Now.)

Adorable Hello Kitty birthday cupcakes and cake…

4. What is your biggest blogging pet peeve?

I’ll tell you what upsets me about my own blog. I am not pleased with the quality of my food photography. It stinks. It needs help. I just wish my camera would listen to me when I’m talking to it! I can see the gorgey details of the crumb and I just don’t know why it can’t! (I feel the same way sometimes… its very frustrating!)

5. What, if anything, are you hoping to get from this experience… meaning, basically when you signed up, what were you hoping for (aside from a super cool blogger like me to be paired with *wink wink*)?

I was hoping to make a new blogging friend and learn from his/her experience. I’m constantly tweaking my blog based on what I see on other blogs, so this is just a more direct way of doing that, I guess.

A cake Amanda made, complete with Wilton decorations!

The H questions!

1. How would you describe your blog, in just four words?

Awkwardly amateurish baking disclosures

2. How many times are you willing to try a particular recipe before you give up (for example, a cupcake recipe that’s too dry, do you try it again? If so, how many times?)? How come?

Hmm… that’s a good question. There are so many good cupcake recipes and ideas out there that I very rarely revisit a cupcake whether it was disappointing or excellent. That said, the first time I made Paula Dean’s Arnold Palmer cupcakes they were a disaster. I hated everything about them and I thought they tasted overwhelmingly of butter. For some reason, I wouldn’t let that recipe go and I tried it again a few months later. They came out exactly the same even though I was very careful. That’s it. So, I guess, two strikes and they’re out of there! (I had the same exact experience with a Paula cupcake recipe! What is it with her!? Or maybe its us…?)

The IF questions!

1. If you could cook with any famous television cooking show personality, who would it be?

That is really tough. I reflexively say Paula Dean. But… then I think about the only cupcake recipe I’ve made of hers. I love Rachael Ray, so maybe her. Then there’s Martha; I can’t say anything bad about Martha on set. Actually… can I say Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character in Stranger Than Fiction? She’s a cupcake baker who dropped out of law school to open up a bakery. Yes. Even if it’s wrong, my idol is a fictional character. Played by Maggie Gyllenhaal (that’s important). (Awesome movie, I love her character and pretty much want to be her.)

2. If you were a judge on a show like Food Network Challenge, would you be the snarky judge, the sweet judge or the hard-ass judge… And why?

I’d like to say that I’d be the snarky judge, but in reality I’d probably be sweet until they got sassy with me.

3. If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, every day, what would it be?

Macaroni and cheese

Amanda’s banana congraduation cupcakes; thats her on the little flag!

The R(andom) questions!

1. Favorite food?

I have to say cake.

2. Favorite drink (doesn‘t have to be alcoholic)?

Coffee. I’m not spazzy or “Don’t speak to me until I have my coffee…” about it though. It’s just so stinkin’ tasty! (I’m the same way with coffee… its just yummy)

3. Favorite dessert?

Oh… there are so many good ones out there. I have to be traditional and say a really rich chocolate cake with some vanilla ice cream. It has never let me down.

4. Favorite color?

Purple. I think.

5. Favorite artist?

Annie Leibowitz.

6. Favorite writer/literary genius/poet/etc?

I have always loved Franz Kafka and I think I always will. I can’t explain the weird love I have for that twisted, tortured man, but I haven’t finished reading his biography because I got so into him that when he started coughing up blood because of the TB, I couldn’t go on. Ugh… I can feel my heart tightening right now. Am I crazy?

Banana espresso chocolate chip muffins- I love the colors of the liners and the styling of this picture!

7. Favorite book?

I have a long list, but I think my favorite book at the moment is I’m Looking Through You by Jennifer Finney Boylan. It’s a gorgeous book.

8. Most hated food?

I don’t know that I hate any food… or maybe I just don’t know about it yet. I used to hate things that I now love… like broccoli sprouts.

9. Most hated dessert?

I’ve only encountered this in Europe, but it was such a disappointment that I think it merits being my hated dessert. I hate those gorgeous fruit-filled desserts and pastries that are glistening for all they’re worth. Sometimes there is a whipped cream or maybe an egg cream and a pastry crust. But then, when you have purchased this lovely, colorful treat and you take the first bite you realize that the reason the fruit is so pretty is because it’s coated in unflavored gelatin. Freaky, somewhat plastic, unflavored gelatin. Deal breaker, in my opinion.

So there you have it. I want every one of you to make her one of your daily reads, because I say so. Thanks, Amanda for taking the time to answer my inane questions!

This coming month there will definitely be more from us about our little bloggin’ partnership as well, so look out for that!

I adopted… a blogger!

Thanks to Dine & Dish and the Adopt-a-Blogger program, I am now considered a “mentor” of sorts, and I have “adopted” a newbie blogger!

(yeah I know… I can’t believe anyone thinks I’m a “mentor” either…)

The idea is the pair up an experienced blogger with a new blogger, and have the experienced blogger “mentor” the “newbie” for three months, and then at the end of the three months we post about what we’ve learned, etc. I thought it was a great opportunity to not only make a new foodie friend but also to help someone, if I could at all.

Now not to toot my own horn but I’ve been around the ‘net for a good 10 years now (yeah, I’m old), my first website was created way back then and my first blog was created 7 years ago. While my food blog here is fairly new (almost 2 years old), I’ve had experience with blogging for ages and have been doing so in a private or public way pretty consistently since then. I have written the HTML for entire websites without the help of Dreamweaver or Front Page and created the graphics myself, in addition to the installation of CGI and PHP programs was totally done by me and me alone. Plus I’ve been around the food blog block once or twice now, and I see the way things go (and have had my share of not onlyfood disasters but also website disasters- like posts that mysteriously disappear or computers that restart in the middle of an unsaved post? Yeah, been there done that). Now while I don’t think that makes me an expert by any means, but I figured if I could help someone  and show them the ropes, so to speak, then why the hell not?

So we’ve both been pretty busy lately ( I’ve been doing graphic design out the butt and well, keep reading and you’ll see why she was busy)… so its a bit late but better late then never! On that note, I’d like to introduce to you all… my “newbie” (I am not saying this in an offensive way, by the way)- Amanda from Is This Thing On?

*waves* Hi, Amanda!

Amanda and I have a lot in common. If we’re any indication, Kristen at Dine and Dish did an excellent job with the pairings. We both love broccoli, baking & dying our hair a lot, and, well, pretty much we’re both awesome. Amanda is a smarty-pants who recently graduated with a Master’s degree and hopes to teach English composition; and I think thats fantastic. Anyone who loves English rocks in my book considering I proof-read  e·mails and correct the grammar of most people I encounter in everyday conversation. Yeah, thats right, my blogger’s smarter than yours!

So look out, blog-world, there’s a new tag team in town!

When they start chasing you with steak knives… its time to stop baking.

http://www.overheardeverywhere.com/archives/003532.html

If I had a nickel for everytime I got a voicemail like that…

I’d also like to take a minute to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! ♥ Coolest mom in the world. Aside from Angelina Jolie, who’s probably also a pretty cool mom. Not that I know from experience- she hasn’t adopted me. Heh… love you mom; and you’re infinitely cooler than Angelina.

I’d post pictures of the cupcakes I made her, but she requested the same ones Jay did on his birthday, so you can just look at those. Or look at this lovely photograph by DeviantArt member instantvoodo.

AND… also a happy belated birthday to one of my very best friends and Cupcake Rehab Army members: Sami, who’s birthday was July 3rd. Love ya Sami.. hope it was a good great one.

Me + Percy + AIM = cracked fondant.

Percy’sAIMname: so whatelse do you bake got damnit?
cupcake rehab: I dunno, lol… cakes
Percy’sAIMname: regular cakes?
cupcake rehab: yeah, like layer cakes?
Percy’sAIMname: oooooo
cupcake rehab: or whatever
Percy’sAIMname: teach me
Percy’sAIMname: so then
Percy’sAIMname: we could be like Ace of Cakes
cupcake rehab: haha its easy
cupcake rehab: LMFAO
cupcake rehab: THATS AWESOME
cupcake rehab: HAHA

Later on… in reference to how Duff & Co. transport their cakes:

Percy’sAIMname: and then the way they transport them is kinda… flawed
Percy’sAIMname: they have the cake completely exposed in the back of a van, no strapped down or anything
cupcake rehab: yeah!
Percy’sAIMname: then wonder why rollerskate wheels fall off
cupcake rehab: LOL i first saw that and I was like… thats gangsta!
cupcake rehab: then i was like
cupcake rehab: wait…
cupcake rehab: wtf
Percy’sAIMname: lol
cupcake rehab: if the damn thing falls
cupcake rehab: ?
Percy’sAIMname: right
cupcake rehab: after all that work
cupcake rehab: i’d kill someone
Percy’sAIMname: right
Percy’sAIMname: and then there’s the whole temperature issue in a van
Percy’sAIMname: i’m sure that poses a problem too
Percy’sAIMname: you have fondant cracking and stuff
Percy’sAIMname: like what the hell man
cupcake rehab: yeah really
cupcake rehab: i love that you know about the possibility of fondant cracking, by the way

Percy rocks.

I’ve known Percy for like, a million years. Or 7. And this is the first time I heard about his fondant knowledge.

If I was certifiably insane, I’d post the rest of the conversation, which included talking about how Food Network Challenge is the awesomest thing ever and people with bad teeth (don’t ask). But I know you people come here for the food and not the stimulating AIM conversations.
I promise I’ll be back soon with a recipe.