Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Archive for February, 2010

Ina Garten’s Mac & Cheese

This recipe has been in my bookmarks for almost a year now, after I saw her make it on an episode of Barefoot Contessa. Not too long ago, a dear friend wondered if I had a good recipe of macaroni & cheese, and I remembered this. So when we had a wonderfully rainy and dreary day, I decided it was time to give this a go.

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The ugly (but yummy) cake

Baking is sort of my thing. It has been since I was in middle school. Icing, however, is something I’m still learning about. This weekend, I was making a birthday cake for The Boy’s grandfather, and was running out of time. So when the layers were almost cool, I began icing. More on that. Since the cake was delicious, I thought I’d share the recipes that are quickly becoming family favorites.

Now, to the disaster. I had the bottom layer on the cake plate and put strawberry preserves in as part of the filling, and a bit of icing. Then I started icing the sides. I was nearly done, when it started to ooze out the middle. Quickly, I put it in the fridge and hoped it would set before all the filling had melted out. This is what we wound up with. An ugly, yet delicious cake. Lesson learned, wait until layers are completely cooled to ice them.

Restaurant Eve’s Cake
adapted from The Washington Post, found on chaos in the kitchen

2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter melted, at room temperature
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk

Heat oven to 350°F and prepare cake pans with grease and parchment paper.
Combine dry ingredients (sugar through salt) in a mixing bowl.
Beat in melted butter for about 2 minutes and until mixture resembles cornmeal.
Combine eggs, vanilla, and milk in a bowl.
Add liquid mixture to dry mixture, beating constantly for 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl mid-way.
Pour batter into pans and bake for about 35 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
Remove cakes to a rack and allow to cool before frosting.

Magnolia’s Vanilla Buttercream
from More from Magnolia

Makes enough for one 2-layer 9-inch cake or 2 dozen cupcakes*

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Add butter to your mixer bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk & vanilla. On medium speed, beat until and creamy (about 3-5 minutes) Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Big Brother is Everywhere

When I first read this story two days ago, I’d wanted to comment. I wanted to discuss it here, but knew that I needed some time to distance myself and be able to speak about it without simply fuming about how angry I was (the white hot anger with the flames shooting from the side of my head).

The Robbins family are suing the Lower Merion School District in Pennsylvania after their son’s school remotely accessed the webcam in his district-issued laptop. Let me explain that- his school district, like many, have a laptop for students program- where laptops are issued to the students and parents typically sign a liability waver. With these laptops, students can use specific software to complete assignments and so on.

The school activated the webcam, and based on what they saw the student doing at home, brought him in to discuss his inappropriate behavior.

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Be Fabulous

I have a new mantra. Be Fabulous.

I turned 30 not that long ago, and on my birthday was in bed, watching TV and started to think back over my twenties and whether or not I was happy with the person who was suddenly 30. I wasn’t. I love my life- my husband, my boys (as I write this, I’m being nuzzled by the youngest kidlet). I admit, I don’t like who I was turning into. This has nothing to do with being a stay at home mom, but everything to do with expectations and personal goals.

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Valentine’s Day

I fall a bit in the anti-Valentine’s Day camp. I don’t like being told that this one day a year should be the ultimate day of romance for The Boy and I. Usually, it just means that the day will blow up in our faces and be one of the worst of the year. So instead, we try to make our anniversary special (but not by going to any great lengths) and pepper the year with nights out together, doing things we enjoy.

You have to admit, some people go a bit far. I worked with some women who set the bar awfully high. Their SO’s had to buy the perfect flowers, the perfect gift, and take them to the perfect restaurant. If any part of it went south, they grumbled and complained to everyone at the office who was nearby.

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Southwest vs the power of the ‘net: Kevin Smith wins

One of the stories now flooding the mainstream news, but already over the Twittersphere was Kevin Smith being ejected from a Southwest Airlines flight. He was told it was because he violated their “Customers of Size” policy (which says that any customer who is unable to lower both armrests must purchase two seats). Interestingly enough, Smith HAD purchased two seats on his original flight, but when on standby for an earlier flight was only able to get one. And was able to lower the armrests. Yet was still asked to leave.

Southwest of course, is embarrassed. They offered him a voucher, he was able to get on a later Southwest flight (again, in a single seat where this pilot deemed he wasn’t too fat to fly). But by that point in time, he’d already tweeted to all his followers everything that had happened. And when Southwest’s official apology went up, it was basically too late.

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Google’s odd stumbles in social networking

I admit it. I love Google. I use Google as my main search engine and use Gmail as my primary email. So any time that Google announces a new product, I give them a shot.

It’s hard to deny that Google has helped revolutionize the way we use the internet. It simplified the search engine, and seemed to dig deeper into the internet than pre-existing search engines. Though webmail certainly predated Gmail, they offered features that most webmail only offered their paying users- giant storage space, built in chat, easy to use filters, searches and mail forwarding.

So when it was announced that Google had the next big thing, Google Wave- I certainly waited eagerly. What was it? What would it do? As soon as the page went up for invitations to the beta, I submitted my email address and even begged friends for a nomination. I read reviews and thought that it must be the same sort of reviewers who automatically hate anything from Apple because they use PCs (or those who’ve joined the Cult of Mac and endlessly spout misleading facts to belittle PC users). Then, I was in.

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The Spa Day Strikes Back

If you can’t guess from the title, I went to a spa for the second time. Namely, Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa in Corona. I went for the first time during the middle of the summer, and had a lovely lovely time. But six months later, it was clear that I needed some R&R, so I went back.

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Kismet: Cranberry Almond Cookies

I’m not sure how I wound up at this recipe. It might have been a link in a blog, or I might have googled ‘cranberry almond’ out of desperation, looking for something to bake.

Regardless, I wound up at The Wednesday Chef and her post for Regina Schrambling’s Almond-Cranberry Cookies. And I realized, that I had everything I needed to bake these cookies. You see, I’ve been putting off going to the grocery store. Knowing that I’ll be somewhere else next week tends to make me not want to buy food that I’ll have to use in one week or else. So, I’ve been creating out of what we’ve had.

Eons ago, I’d bought almond slivers and dried cranberries- intending to make scones from them. But inevitably, I was out of some ingredient I needed for the scones.

So I looked at the ingredients, and I had everything! Even the almond extract and the brown sugar! Only, my brown sugar was a hopelessly solid brick, so I used regular sugar.

Even with the substitution (which I thought was hilarious given that she made substitutions when she made the recipe), they were fragrant, crunchy with some give, and exactly what I was looking for. The oldest kidlet proclaimed them to be “scrummy,” which I think was supposed to be scrumptious and yummy combined. Regardless, the recipe yielded just a little under 3 dozen, and they were gone in two days flat.

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About this blog

I’ve tried and tried to restart this blog. First I tried blogging art, writing, then food- and something was missing. Me. So, for better or for worse, you’re going to get it all.

I started really blogging at the end of 2003 on Livejournal. Back then, it was mostly my life and my attempts to write fan fiction… and as my love affair with writing Pirates of the Caribbean, Kill Bill and Once Upon a Time in Mexico dwindled (mostly due to seeing the ugly side of fandom), it faded into simply my personal journal.

Unfortunately, fading from fandom pretty much killed a regular commenting audience. People left for Twitter and Facebook, and suddenly I found myself without an audience.

But since I’m no longer trying to hide the fact that I wrote some smut (yes, my parents do know this now), there’s no need for me to hide behind LJ name.

No need for anonymity for myself. So please, stick around. You’ll find food, kids and my fabulous life. I’m never sure what it might bring, but I’ll be sure to share it.

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