Friday, November 6, 2009

5:00 Fridays

It's no secret that I love coffee. Coffee ice cream is even my favorite flavor. One of the reasons I grind my own beans is that it just smells so dang good. I love the sound of peeling the foil off a new canister of beans. I stick my big fat nose right into the top and inhale. Deeply. Then I do it again with gusto. This is quite possibly what heaven smells like. I'd wear coffee perfume if I had it. I've found that a dab of real brew isn't so effective. And it can burn. Ouch!

I never understood the point of mixing a perfectly good cup of coffee with a perfectly good shot until I tried this:

Coffee Fit for a Nut

1 steaming cup of coffee
1 shot of hazelnut liqueur (Frangelico is one brand I bet you recognize.)
1 shot of creme de cacao
whipped cream (Not Cool Whip or the canned variety! Use the real deal.)

If you have one of those tall glass mugs that restaurants have, go ahead and use it. I prefer things more homespun so I just use a big ole mug my brother got as swag from TBS about a century ago. Pour the hazelnut liqueur and creme de cacao into the mug, add hot coffee. Top with generous amounts of whipped cream. Garnish with a cinnamon stick that can double as a stirrer. If you want to be little miss fancy pants, add some chocolate shavings to that puppy. Your friends will ooh and aah...but that means you'll be stuck making drinks for everyone all night. I'm a DIY kind of gal when it comes to mixing drinks.

If you really want to make friends and influence people a la Dale Carnegie, serve your coffee artistically. See how lame your coffee skills (and mine) are compared to Micheal Keen's. If you master this, you'll be all the rage. Maybe you'll even be hired out to work the party circuit. Cha-ching!

Since this drink is technically brown, it would be perfect for our weekly neighborhood Brown Liquor Night!
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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ace of Cakes Cake Bakery Flops

Alternate Title: Let Them Bake Cake!

There's nothing like a little Food Network to bring a family together. Other than Phineas & Ferb, it sure beats the other crap on TV that is fit for kids' consumption (not to be confused with the consumption of kids, which would just be plain creepy and disgusting).

I happen to love food. I could watch the Food Network 24/7, and for those times that I am holed up in bed with a fever, I do just that. But let's be real, no mother with a fever gets to hole up in bed; no rest for the weary as they say. I don't know who "they" are, but they sure do know what they're talking about. If there's one thing I want to impart to my sons, it's a love of food. I want them to see that food is about so much more than sustenance. It's tradition, culture, adventure,

The boys like to watch the Food Network Challenge. We don't much care about the wacky burger recipes or food styling competitions. Bring on the cake challenges! The next best thing to eating cake is watching the pros making cake. It's good fun to see the extreme decorating and smoking, spinning whatchamacallits. We teeter with tension when it's time to move the cake to the judging table. We all hiss at the mere sight of sugarcraft hall of famer Kerry Vincent. She's like the pinch nosed Simon Cowell of Food Network Cake Challenge.

The one show we all love best (though Mac Daddy would still put anything with Giada in it at the top of his list), is Ace of Cakes. I've been a huge fan since before Duff, Geof, and Mary Alice were household names. I can't bake worth a lick so I live vicariously through the team at Charm City Cakes. What I really want is to share a whole mess of 5:00 Fridays with the crew and laugh until my jaws ache. I also really want to chow down on all those carved off bits of cake (The waste is criminal! All that lost cake...sigh.). Bird, Deal, and I gasp whenever we see those carved off hunks of delectable cake brushed into the garbage. Cake!

Bird and Deal like to pretend to make and decorate cakes. They use Kapla blocks, LEGO, cardboard remnants. Then Deal grabs the toy mayonnaise squirter from the toy kitchen and pretends it's frosting. He conjures up all kinds of wacky odds and ends to manufacture his own brand of gum paste. Bird was doing his homework the other day and asked me how to spell "fondant." The boys love to play Ace of Cakes. Bird is always Duff (the boss, no surprise there), Deal assumes the role of Geof, and I am Mary Alice despite my whining to be Elena since our names are so much alike. Mac Daddy is always Ben, particularly fitting on Sundays when he hasn't shaved all weekend. Whenever we see a dalmatian Deal is relieved that Duff isn't around because he apparently has a fear of dalmatians. And yes, Deal even mentioned this to the fire chief on a recent field trip to the local station.

I have been thinking about getting the boys some sort of Ace of Cakes present for Christmas. Perhaps this. But not this.

Now take a moment to click on those links or the rest of this post won't make a lick of sense to you. Go on. I'll wait.

<Insert Jeopardy music here.>

I find it pretty disappointing that Duff, a tough yet affable guy who bakes cakes for a living, is supporting a product so clearly geared toward girls. Does he really want to limit his brand like that? Does he really want to turn off (and away) all the boys who finally have society's permission to explore the kitchen? For starters, the company is Girl Gourmet. The colors, while not treacly pink, are decidedly girly and definitely not unisex. Bird and Deal would have loved this toy, but the packaging would be a big pee-ewww (best said with your nose plugged for full effect). And sure, being the liberal progressive mom that I am, I should go ahead and buy it. And I just might. But that's not my point.

I'm wondering why such a toy is targeted just to girls in the first place. As if the pink irons and dishes and brooms aren't bad enough. The toy aisles are clearly demarcated by a gender line these days. Girls engage in domesticity while boys flirt with violence. Do you have any idea how hard it was to find a gender neutral play kitchen and accessories for my kids?
And pink tools in the aisles of Sears and Home Depot and Lowes?! Don't get me started. Alas, I have already started. Who's sponsoring the time travel back to 1952 trip here? Is Dr. Laura lurking around the exhibit booths of the Toy Fair, saddling manufacturers and buyers with subliminal messages of feminine obedience and servitude? Girls should be encouraged to do more than cook and clean, no? If anything, boys could use some bolstering in that department. I live with three of them. I should know.

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