Friday, September 25, 2009

September Birthdays, Round 2

Somebody has to teach me how to pipe better, that's for sure.

It always strikes me as somewhat cruel to send kids back to school in September in San Diego (or, in Anna's case, August - it just ain't right). The beach is freezing well through June most years and even sometimes right through July, and just when it starts to warm up in August, bam. Put on your fall clothes, kids, it's time to swelter through algebra again.

Notice Jen restraining Jane from blowing our candles out!

A plus, however, is that I get to have my birthday dinner on the beach. If you're a regular reader, you know I share my birthday with a lot of family, and I also have a bunch of Virgo friends - scary, isn't it? I truly don't know how I'd feel about having a birthday all to myself because I've never experienced it. I think I like sharing.

Mary's motto: Life is short. Eat the frosting first.

This year my sisters organized dinner on the beach, including grilled pizzas and salad and the kids boogieboarded and swam and played while the grownups kibbitzed over the pizza dough. I was in charge of the birthday cake, and while that may seem like an injustice given that it was my own birthday, it beat the alternative: a Costco birthday cake, which I'm convinced would give us all cancer or at the very least a crisco-frosting-and/or-unnamed-food-additives-induced headache. Plus you know I don't mind baking.

That's right, we ate 33 cupcakes that night. Wanna make something of it?

One of my early birthday presents was the book Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes. I let Mary choose the kind of cake we'd have and she chose vanilla bean with white chocolate buttercream (which was simply incredible, in case regular old buttercream wasn't going to do it for you). Because it's hard to deal with tall layers and sun and sand, though, we made cupcakes. The recipe made 40 cupcakes and we frosted half of them with just the buttercream and filled the rest with a little Valrhona chocolate frosting and topped those with the buttercream as well, because I often feel the need for excess. They were knockout.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wait, Isn't This a Knitting Blog?

Lookit - knitting. Yarn on the needles, 10 minutes into an Aestlight shawl, using some Koigu that I have frogged from probably five projects already. It may be cursed from the start, and you'll notice I'm not showing you the metric assload of unfinished knitting strewn all over my house, but still.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Farmers' Market 9/6

About halfway there. I think Mary was plotting her crepe request here already.

Sunday morning Mary and I decided to walk down the hill to the La Jolla Farmer's Market, in an attempt to get some exercise while it was still cool out while scoping out prospects for Sunday dinner. You know the saying "It's all downhill from here?" Well, that's where I live. It's all downhill from here. I read recently that walking downhill actually has completely different health benefits from walking uphill, which is good, because it kills the calves and is much harder than it appears.

Nutella, we love you!

Upon reaching the Farmer's Market, Mary announced that she was famished so there was nothing left to do but get breakfast instead of shopping for vegetables. There are now two (!) vendors who make crepes, which seems like a lot, doesn't it? Mary ordered a Nutella, strawberry and banana crepe, her fave. I went over and got a lemongrass chicken stirfry despite the early hour. I won't bore you with a picture of mine - imagine zucchini and grilled chicken and that's as exciting as it gets.

Awesome samosas...say that three times fast.

I did, however, get some of these East African samosas which were killer, I tell ya. The beef samosa was spicy and delicious, very crispy, and the potato was flavored with curry. Awesome samosas. Plus the guy gave me some free ones when I told him I was fully capable of eating a dozen. pumpkins yet here, thank goodness!

After breakfast we wandered around taking iphone photos of what was being offered up, just cuz some of it was pretty.

White peaches, which I didn't buy because Fiona is the great consumer of them in our house.

And in case you were wondering, dinner ended up being chicken Milanese (mainly because I wanted to flatten something with a frying pan), a salad of baby greens with herbs and fresh vinaigrette, and some of the bread with caramelized onions they sell at the Farmers' Market too. Some people even had dessert - the cookies & cream cupcakes from Martha Stewart's I got to smash chicken AND whack the life out of 40 Oreos while thinking about Martha Stewart, among other things. I highly recommend it.

The minute it's not too hot to boil pasta, bring on the tomatoes.

Thursday, September 03, 2009


It's 150 degrees eff here.... Do we really need to see jack o' lanterns already?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The First Birthday of the Season

The apron is a gift from my friend Denise - it says, "You'll eat it. You'll eat it and you'll like it!"

September is the big birthday month in my family - it starts off with John's birthday, and then there's my niece's, mine, and Mary's all in a clump. When my dad was still with us we would celebrate my niece's, mine, and Mary's with him in a big quadruple birthday bash. Since mine was two days after his, I never had my own birthday - it was always shared. And since Mary's is the day after mine, I suppose my birthday will always be a shared experience, which is just how I like it.

Happy Birthday, John!

Yesterday was John's birthday and we celebrated it at my sister's house; she served up chile rellenos made with poblano chiles her husband grew in pots in their backyard. They were delicious but I seriously feel like I gained five pounds yesterday. I hadn't even planned on eating much for dinner because John and I also had lunch at Roppongi and I ate so many onion rings with wasabi aioli I really didn't need dinner.

I dream of cake!

I couldn't resist homemade, homegrown, homeserved chiles - who could? And of course there was cake made by yours truly. The cake was based on this recipe, which in turn was based on this. I used a mixture of Meyer and regular lemons because that was what I had and since John really, really likes lemon, I added lemon to both the cake batter and the frosting. The batter got the zest of two of the Meyers (they were small), and the frosting got the zest of one Meyer and two tablespoons of lemon/Meyer lemon juice in place of two T of water. I used every bit of the lemon curd between the layers, which was sort of overkill but I liked the idea of letting it drip down the outside and then frosting over it with the 7-minute frosting, which has enough body to cover something like that pretty completely. The resulting cake was very reminiscent of lemon merinque - delicious.

August Recap

I ended up hating this dress - it was a portable sauna - but here we are at the Jewel Ball.

Now that September is upon us and the normal schedule of events resumed, I think it's time for me to get back to the blog, don't you? The Jewel Ball has come and gone (with all the craziness that brings), I've gone to New York for a few days of R&R, and now I'm getting back down to business.

Lawnchair sculpture in Times Square, held together by zipties, my favorite all-purpose fasteners!

Fiona has gone back to Bennington, Anna's begun her senior year (check back later for college craziness, application anxiety, and other general institution-of-higher-learning-inspired afflictions), and Mary is now a 6th grader. All of which, sad to say, makes me a relic of the pleistocene and all the more susceptible to the marketing claims of every anti-aging product on the planet.

"You can leave now, Mommy!"

There's very little knitting going on at the moment because it's hard to get excited about wooly garments when you live in the tinderbox that is SoCal in the fall, but I do have a little food to share in coming posts, cuz a girl's gotta eat, after all.