Mid-July Musings

And indeed there will be time

To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”

Time to turn back and descend the stair,

With a bald spot in the middle of my hair —

(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)

My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,

My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin —

(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)

 

Do I dare

Disturb the universe?

In a minute there is time

For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

 

For I have known them all already, known them all:

Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

I know the voices dying with a dying fall

Beneath the music from a farther room.

So how should I presume?

I grow old … I grow old …

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

 

Shall I part my hair behind?   Do I dare to eat a peach?

I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

-From The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot

 

Checking into The Vanilla Bean Blog I am once again inspired by Prufrock.  My husband introduced me to the poem almost 15 years ago and it is so very poignant each time it appears in my life.

I find the haze continuing to drift by as the DC summer calendar passes. Our kids are off on their respective adventures while my husband and I continue to manage our busy household of events. There seems no time to look back. We are full steam ahead while I explore direction for CakeMom as a creator of celebration cakes for the hyperlocal community here on Capitol Hill and/or a community educator for the same demographic.  Days pass and we move closer to a time when the pressure of school days will are upon us. (Weighing heavily…)

Our home is filled with soft butter, all purpose flour and sugar waiting for its next evolution while  music wafts through the walls.  Jazz, rock, ska and an assortment of melodies emerge from various instruments and amplifiers. Skilled vocalists sing into microphones  while I reach into my bucket of flour to scale out the next creation.  Everyone  knows never to touch the instruments or eat the pastry without permission.  Consequently, freshly prepared cupcakes or brightly decorated cakes will sit for days on end as family and friends pass through our kitchen day after day  and watch with varying levels of anticipation as treats come to life, grow stale and are often, subsequently tossed away untouched and uneaten.  Most are practice because they aren’t sold.  I do try to give them away but it often seems people are on a diet, are gluten free, or simply uninterested. From that standpoint, I do admire my husband.  Music is lovely that way...it emerges and floats into the air, into hearts and minds...not taking up too much space.  Perfect.  And it can even help you lose weight!

Summer Camp #2

As I mentioned last post, I’m working at Polite Piggy’s Camp.  Only doing a few classes for them this summer and we created Crab Cupcakes.  The big kids really flew through the project while the younger kids had a tougher time whipping up the frosting. Generally, I’d say this idea was a winner.  I originally found the idea from www.cutestfood.com.

I added a few pieces to the 45 minute class to add some dimension and interest.  The idea was to teach the kids to make a traditional American Buttercream frosting which is simply butter and confectioner’s sugar, then have them pipe or spoon it onto a cupcake.  Crushed graham crackers would then become sand for the top of the cupcake and a crab topper would round out the project.  Some of the kids even got to use a fancy umbrella straw as a finishing touch. (I forgot I had them so the first group only got to play with them afterwards.  Whoops.)

 

Recipes

American Buttercream Frosting

8 ounces butter

32 ounces confectioners sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon water (add until desired consistency is achieved)

 

  1. Mix softened butter until smooth.  
  2. Add sugar until crumbly.  
  3. Add Vanilla.
  4. Add water until desired consistency is achieved.
  5. Frosting should be fluffy and hold firm, stiff peaks.

 

Vanilla Cupcakes (Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum)

10.5 ounces ap flour

10.5 ounces sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon baking powder

6 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

8.5 ounces skim milk, room temperature

4.6 ounces whole eggs, room temperature

2 tablespoons vanilla (Right now I’m using vanilla bean paste.  It’s potent, quick and easy.)

 

  1. In a stand mixer, blend dry ingredients well and add butter to coat.
  2. Whisk liquid ingredients and slowly add blended liquid to butter mixture with mixer on low.
  3. Turn the mixer to medium-high and blend for two minutes to build cake structure.
  4. Batter should be homogenous and full--similar consistency to a fluffy milkshake.
  5. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake at 350 for 18-20 min and cake is light golden blonde.

 

Crabby Toppers

(This supply list provides enough for one crab)

One Orange Jelly

One Peach Sour Jelly

Two Wilton eyeballs

Two pieces of raw spaghetti

One large 1A Wilton Tip

One small knife (I used a small square cookie cutter, just so the kids didn’t feel tempted by the knife)

 

  1. Use the orange jelly for the body and poke two short pieces of raw spaghetti in a v shape on the flat side sticking straight up--these are the crab's eyeball "stalks".
  2. Take the peach sour jelly and using a 1A piping tip, cut a circle out of the center of the jelly then cut the jelly in half exposing the sticky portion of the center.  
  3. Adhere the two eyeball candies onto the two sticky "dots".  Push the dots carefully down onto the eyeball stalks. If the stalks crack or break, just start again. Spaghetti isn't too costly.
  4. Push two short sticks of spaghetti on either side of the body for the claws and cut the remaining peach sour jelly in half; poke each facing outward onto the arms of the crab.

Inspiration

Here are some of my favorite sites.  I know there are more but these are definitely the main ones.  I’ll likely add more soon.  I’ve started reading these over the past few years with some regularity for ideas and recipes on my cooking and baking.  They have fantastic photos and innovative (and sometimes not so innovative, but that’s still helpful!!) recipe ideas.  I know I don’t always have the time to try variations on a recipe so it’s super when someone else can do it for me and I can read about their results.  Photos help too.  Especially when they’re trying different types of flours, whether they’re gluten free flours or just cake flour vs ap flour, it’s great to see another baker testing it out.  (Now, where did I see that example again?) And down the rabbit hole I go...Still faster than doing it myself.

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