The Vegas

April 3, 2007

My trip to Las Vegas for a bachelorette party was fun, but exhausting.  We stayed at Casears Palace mainly stayed on the strip.  I have this love/hate relationship with the Vegas.  I think they pump oxygen into the rooms and casino so that I feel awake, even when I think I should be tired.  But afterward, I feel so tired.   And I can’t point to anything from the trip as being a highlight of something I enjoyed, but at the time, it seemed fun?

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The First Bathroom Stall Phenomenon

March 23, 2007

I work at a company with about 33 employees, of whom 7 are women (plus one more part time).  We moved to a larger facility that has 5 bathroom stalls, including the large handicapped accessible stall.  On average, I see someone else in the bathroom once every 2 weeks, most often just after a long meeting.  The building is only cleaned twice per week, on Wednesdays and Fridays.  When the toilets are cleaned, the seats are left up and there is a blue liquid in the bowl.  I have noticed, what I will call, “The First Bathroom Stall Phenomenon”.   Between any two cleanings, most often, the first bathroom stall will not have been used and there will still be blue liquid in the toilet.  I have always thought that the stalls further from the door were cleaner and had less use.  However, this is not the case in our micro-environment.  The first stall is shunned, in fact.   Does this hold true for the larger population?  Or perhaps we are all picky bathroom users who purposefully shun the first stall.

Las Vegas

March 17, 2007

Aladdin at Las Vegas

I’m going back to Vegas in 2 weeks for a bachelorette party. I am excited about it, because it is with some good friends and Vegas is fun. But this is tempered by the fact that Vegas is incredibly fake. I have been thinking about why my sister and brother-in-law like going there so much. They don’t really gamble much, and then only slots. I think it is because they like familiar things, but it still feels like they are seeing something different. They can see castles, but they don’t have to go to Europe, they can visit the pyramids without going to Egypt and they can always go to McDonald’s for dinner. It’s 100 strip malls packed together and glorified by a factor of one thousand to one million. I hope I’m not too cynical about Las Vegas on this trip.

Dessert Party!

March 12, 2007

I had my second annual dessert party on Saturday and it was fabulous. I had almost 20 people over. I’m still not quite finished cleaning up, but that’s a detail. All but one dessert was someone’s favorite.

BriochesThe unloved Brioches. These were okay, but not spectacular, I think they’d do better just as brunch item. They were a based on a yeast-based dough with raisins, orange zest, cinnammon and nutmeg. They needed more of the last four ingredients. They are pretty.

The Ginger Cake. I forgot to take a picture of it!! The recipe is from David Lebovitz, courtesy of Epicurious. This was nice and spicy, though it was too spicy for some people. I think next time I’ll make a Creme Anglaise to accompany it.

Chocolate CookiesThe Double Chocolate Cookies. This used 8 0z Scharffenberger chocolate plus 1/2 cup Scharffenberger cocoa powder. The recipe is from the Scharffenberger site, although it is credited to Tartine. The premium chocolate made a big difference and really added some depth to these cookies. I will definitely make these again, but only for people I really like.

Angel Food CakeThe Angel Food Cake. This was a simple, straightforward cake. It was also the only item that did not contain butter. This was one of several recipes I read. I particular liked this one because it gave a volume for the eggs (I find it easier to buy extra large eggs instead of large eggs) and it gave weights forthe flour and confectioners sugar. I with more recipes used weights instead of volumes for the dry goods. What made this recipe stand out was the accompanying sauce. I had 10 egg yolks left and it seemed a shame to waste them. I thought about making a lemon curd, but decided on a Berry Curd, using the package of frozen mixed Berries from Trader Joe’s that I always have on hand for a cobbler emergency. I guessed at this recipe, adding lemon juice to taste and it worked out well. It paired very nicely with the cake. As a bonus, it additionally tasted good with the chocolate cookies.

Lemon TartThe Lemon Tart. This recipe is from the Williams Sonoma Baking Book. This was nice, not too sweet. The lemons I used were small, so there weren’t quite enough on the top. This book is also not for the novice baker. You need to know what you are doing because the directions can be incomplete and misleading, but they do have many classic recipes.

Congo Bars The Congo Bars. These were nothing more than glorfied chocolate chip cookies, but for sugar they only had brown sugar, which made than softer than the corresponding cookie would be. They had the addition of pecans. The recipe is from The Great Book of Chocolate by David Lebovitz. They are quite tasty.

And Finally . . .
The Most Popular Dessert
Vanilla Cupcakes

Smurf Village Vanilla CupcakesVanilla CupcakesVanilla Cupcakes - Mixed Colors
This is the same recipe as mentioned in my Vanilla Cupcake post. I just had to repeat it. I made many of them miniature cupcakes this time and they are so cute.  They also had the correct frosting-to-cake ratio and were almost bite sized.  These were also very popular.  For some reason, the picture on the left made me think of a Smurf Village.

Now I need a dessert after all this work.

Vanilla Cupcakes

March 7, 2007

Magnolia Vanilla CupcakeI made these cupcakes from a recipe from Magnolia Bakery in NYC. They also have an official published cookbook which I might have to buy. These cupcakes were delicious.  I made both the frosting and the cupcakes.  I had about 3 times as much frosting as I needed.  I took them to a party where some people were familiar with the bakery.  One person liked the ratio of frosting to cake that I used.   Apparently the original has frosting 3 times as high.  That did explain a lot about why I had so much leftover frosting.  Perhaps for next time I will purchase a large piping tip and have a bit more frosting on each of thse.

Dessert Porn

February 13, 2007

Oatmeal Bars I am hosting a dessert party soon and I need to find new recipes that I want to make. The recipes and pictures are dessert porn. Mmm. Ahh. Look at that smooth and silky ganache, the cracked top on the souffle, the curve of the bundt cake, the bold presence of the chocolate oatmeal bars.

Different Target Products

February 8, 2007

I am fascinated by some of the products my local Target in Redwood City carries.  In the food section, there are a lot of products primarily labeled in Spanish.  I assume they are from Mexico.  Some of the sweet ones look particularly intriguing.  I wonder how widespread this is.

Moving Blogs

February 6, 2007

Yeah! WordPress has a new import feature for getting Blogs from the “New Blogger”. It even found the pictures. There are some formatting differences and I rarely had titles on the previous blog, so I might do some editing of the most recent posts. But overall, this was fabulous. Now let’s see if this encourages me to post random musings more often.

Moving Blogs

January 29, 2007

After upgrading the new Blogger, I discovered WordPress and decided this is where I should really blog. Now I can’t figure out a way to move it. Sigh. Even though it is mostly worthless, I did have a fair number of posts on the old version of my blog. I will resolve this eventually.

Neglect

January 17, 2007

Once again. I have neglected my blog for too long. Las Vegas was fabulous. And I skipped the stress of Christmas by not visiting my family.