Monthly Archives: March 2011

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

These Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes are a recipe from Michelle, the Brown Eyed Baker, which she adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

I haven’t made these yet, but they look divine.


For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup Guinness stout
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoons salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

For the Whiskey Ganache Filling:

  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey

For the Baileys Frosting:

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream

1. To Make the Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring the Guinness and butter to a simmer in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl to combine. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until combined. Add the Guinness-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat briefly. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until completely combined. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners. Bake until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on a rack.

3. To Make the Whiskey Ganache Filling: Finely chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then, using a rubber spatula, stir it from the center outward until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined. Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped.

4. To Fill the Cupcakes: Using a 1-inch round cookie cutter (or the bottom of a large decorating tip), cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes, going about two-thirds of the way down. Transfer the ganache to a piping back with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

5. To Make the Baileys Frosting: Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar until all of it is incorporated. Add the Baileys, increase the speed to medium-high and whip for another 2 to 3 minutes, until it is light and fluffy.

6. Using your favorite decorating tip, or an offset spatula, frost the cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Store the cupcakes in an airtight container.

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The Best Guacamole in the History of Ever.

This is a recipe that I hold close to my heart. I’ve been making guacamole since 2006, basically just perfecting this recipe. Concord makes the best seasoning packets I’ve ever tasted, so try to get that brand. I love the crunch of the white corn, the freshness of the cilantro, & the creaminess from the sour cream. This guacamole is truly delicious.


Ingredients

  • 4 large, RIPE avocados
  • 1 package of Concord guacamole seasoning
  • 1 small lime
  • 1 can of white corn
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • 3/4 cup of sour cream
  • a small bunch of cilantro
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • fresh ground sea salt

Directions

Mash 3* avocados up in a bowl. If they’re ripe, this should be easily done with a fork. Mix in the the guacamole seasoning completely. Cut the lime in half & squeeze out about 1 tablespoon of lime juice in to the bowl – if it’s a small lime, I use both halves because this also helps keep it from browning. Stir the lime juice into the guacamole, then add the sour cream & stir it in (makes the recipe bigger & the guacamole a lot more creamy). Add plenty of fresh ground sea salt & pepper.

Cut up the green onions & cilantro & fold into the guacamole.

Drain the can of white corn thoroughly then dump it in & stir it gently.

Try to let it chill for about an hour before serving.

Serve with Tostitos scoops.

*The extra avocado is incase you picked a bad one. If you picked all good ones, spread this one on toast with a little butter & salt for breakfast.

Cartography

Andrés  loves history. He has this this way of explaining events in world history that just captivates me. He reads books by Niall Ferguson like The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the WorldColossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire.

I’m inspired by his love of both history & old maps, & I’d love for us to integrate that into the redesign of the condo. In addition to the possible old map of Washington, DC above our bed, I’d love to collect different sized globes on a wooden floating shelf in the living room.

These map letters would be easy to do with a map, a pair of scissors & some modge podge.

It’s just about the same process for making these adorable map coasters.

I could whip up a few of these pillows, too, since my mom taught us all to sew.

 

 

Sunday Reads

A few interesting articles I read this week:

The Lost Art of Pickpocketing

by Joe Keohane, Slate.com, February 23, 2011

The decline of dipping on the rails is extraordinary. Subways were always the happiest hunting grounds for pickpockets, who would work alone or in teams. There were classic skilled canons—organized pickpocket gangs—at the top, targeting wealthier riders, then “bag workers” who went for purses, and “lush workers” who disreputably targeted unconscious drunks. Richard Sinnott, who worked as a New York City transit cop in the 1970s and ’80s, also admiringly recalls “fob workers,” a subspecies of pickpocket who worked their way through train cars using just their index and middle fingers to extract coins and pieces of paper money—a quarter here, a buck there—from riders’ pockets. “They weren’t greedy, and they never got caught,” says Sinnott. Bit by bit, fob workers could make up to $400 on a single subway trip; then they’d go to Florida in the winter to work the racetracks. Many of the city’s pickpockets trained elsewhere, “and if they were any good, they came to New York,” Sinnot says, with a touch of pride. “In the subways, we had the best there were.” Pickpocketing remained fairly rampant for years. Glenn Cunningham, who was part of an elite NYPD anti-pickpocketing task force in the 1980s and ’90s (he currently handles security for Robert De Niro’s hotel and film festival), says that pickpocketing in spots like Times Square was “out of control” at that time. “I made tons of arrests with those guys. We were like cowboys.”


Tour De Gall

by A. A. Gill, Vanity Fair, April 2011

What you actually find when you arrive at L’Ami Louis is singularly unprepossessing. It’s a long, dark corridor with luggage racks stretching the length of the room. It gives you the feeling of being in a second-class railway carriage in the Balkans. It’s painted a shiny, distressed dung brown. The cramped tables are set with labially pink cloths, which give it a colonic appeal and the awkward sense that you might be a suppository. In the middle of the room is a stubby stove that also looks vaguely proctological.


Insane Asylum Plans

oobject.com


Up to the 19th Century mentally ill people were sometimes chained naked in squalid conditions in places like London’s Bethlehem hospital which became synonymous with chaos (its name being contracted to bedlam) and where tourists would pay to see the freak show. Then came the extreme rationalism of the Kirkbride plan which created a very unusual form of architecture for asylums throughout the Anglosphere that was used until the 20th Century. As a result of their demise, most are abandoned ruins today, giant, rotting testimonies to a bygone era of clinical Victorian discipline combined with neo-Gothic extravagance.

The Kirkbride plan consists of an enormous a symmetrical staggered wing, like a bird made out of lego. Men are on the left and women on the right in wings that radiate from the main entrance for increasingly violent or incurable patients. Early mental institutions where patients had to pay for their own incarceration would also vary in class (rich to poor) on the y axis. The staggering of the wings ensured the flow of air through each, purging them of diseased vapors perhaps, such was the Victorian obsession with fresh air, from outdoor Tuberculosis wards to seaside promenades and piers.

On Knives. & Pannies.

Andrés needed new knives. Some of his old knives required sharpening almost every time we used them. So I started looking for deals & considering different brands. We both really like Wüsthof knives, especially the ones with a hollow edge, but they are out of our price range. So I started looking on Amazon, & I found the Miracle Blade III Perfection Series.

Now, I love informercials. They work on me. I believe 100% that: the product is Earth-shatteringly revolutionary, I definitely need this product in my life right now, there is no way my life can go on another day with it, & I should absolutely take advantage of this Fantastic! Once in a Lifetime! Limited Time Offer! Because Wait! There’s More!

The only thing that has stopped me from maxing out my credit card & ordering a Snuggie for my dog, a Bumpit, & an Xpress Red-Set-Go, is I pore over the online reviews before ordering. Sometimes Andrés reads the snooty one-star reviews to me in a British old lady accent. Then I decide whether or not to buy.

With the Miracle Blades, the online reviews were mostly stellar. The only one-star reviews were from 2007 (& one outlier from 2009 from a lady who got the wrong product when she ordered the knives but felt it was necessary to leave a one-star review). Best of all, they are only $20 with free Prime shipping. Seriously? For knives found by third parties to be super sharp & never in need of a sharpening? Can’t beat that. Also, I happen to have a specific need for a set of knives that can slice through a pineapple soaring through the air.

While I love how awesome the reviews are for these knives, honestly, if they need sharpening or if they rust over time, I can just buy a new set for just $20.

I have a similar thought process for panties. (I’ve pronounced it “pannies” since I was a kid, by the way.)

Target & Walmart sell pannies for like $3 or $4 that are extremely similar to the $20 Hancky Panky low-rise thongs sold in Nordstrom. This is a no-brainer for me.

Underoos get worn, stained, & the elastic deteriorates over time. Why the hell would I spend $20 on one pair of pannies?

Tangent: One time I was at Victoria’s Secret with my little sister who was picking up a free pair of pannies because she had a coupon. We run into this girl I went to high school with. I hate running into people from high school, & I run into this girl, who I’ve known since 3rd grade, in Victoria’s Secret. She’s actually working there, but she’s REAL QUICK to point out that she graduated on time & she’s going to grad school. I would’ve been impressed/listening but I was too focused on the fact that she had gained about 25 lbs. since high school so her mosquito bites grew into actual boobs.

She starts asking me if I’m going to be getting anything. Now, I’ve never bought anything at Victoria’s Secret in my life. I was like no, I buy my pannies for cheap at Target, thankyouverymuch. She was all WHAT WHO WOULD DO THAT? while looking at me with disgust like I was a panty heathen.

So I start explaining that I don’t want to have any qualms about throwing away my pannies when they get, ehm, used, so I like buying cheap (but cute) pannies that I can toss out whenever & easily rotate in new pannies.

She cannot grasp this concept. Maybe her sparkly new mega-boobs were draining brain power. IDK

Then she starts telling me how she has pannies from Victoria’s Secret that are five years old & she still wears them. I’m conjuring up images of skid marks & bloody period massacres swirling & swirling in a widening gyre. The center cannot hold.

I openly judge her for wearing the same damn underwear for five years.

But, anyway, that is how knives & pannies are similar in my book.

Sunday Reads

A few interesting articles I read this week:

The Someone You’re Not

by Mike Sager, Esquire.com, February 24, 2011

Two years later, he is moved to a minimum-security prison at Grafton, Ohio, and eight years after that he moves to the Grafton Farm. Most of the inmates at the farm are allowed to work outside. Some can even drive into town themselves. As a convicted child molester, Ray cannot leave the facility unsupervised. He has a similar problem with the mandatory courses he’s supposed to take: Because he refuses to stand up in group and admit he is a child molester, he is not allowed to participate.

Years pass. He sees a couple guys have heart attacks. He sees a few guys get killed — they’re lying there bleeding, you know, you just keep moving. He sees beat-downs, beefs, hassles, rapes. He watches a cellie die slowly of a heart blockage — a decent older man who’d shot a guy for messing with his daughter. Towler is locked down in solitary twice. The first, a ninety-day stint, follows a routine shakedown: His cellie has a shiv fashioned from a spoon he bullied Towler into bringing back from the kitchen. The second stint follows the death of his mother, in 1984. He is allowed to go to the funeral; he wears shackles. When he returns, he asks to be put in solitary — he just wants to be alone. Over the years, most of the prisons in which he is housed are far from home — one is on the border with Kentucky. After the funeral, the only relative who visits is his sister Deborah.

From the very beginning, he draws portraits of guys, amazingly realistic likenesses with a number-2 pencil, on the back of an envelope or on a sheet of plain paper, something very special an inmate can send to his mom, his woman, his kids. Ray sells the portraits for cash or other valuables. His talent grants him a certain respect within the prison community, despite the mark of his despicable crime, which is written at the very top of his file and all of his paperwork, along with his prison number, 164681. His offense follows him everywhere. There is no escape. He says he feels like the actor Chuck Connors on that old TV show Branded. The theme song plays over and over in his head: What do you do when you’re branded, and you know you’re a man?


Twitter Was Act One

by David Kirkpatrick, Vanity Fair, April, 2011

McKelvey took Dorsey on as an intern and learned that this awkward teenager could swiftly master most computing tasks. When McKelvey began to worry his company could get killed by an online competitor, he found that Dorsey was the only one on his small staff who agreed on the need to migrate the business onto the fledgling Internet. McKelvey hired several freelancers for the project. “One guy asked me, ‘What’s my job title going to be?’ I said, ‘Assistant to the summer intern.’ He was basically a stick figure. I said, ‘Just do everything this kid says.’ ”

Dorsey kept improving as a programmer. His parents didn’t want him too far from home, so he enrolled at the University of Missouri at Rolla and, as a hobby, wrote dispatch software for emergency vehicles and couriers. (Dorsey is unusually good at staying focused.) In his junior year he wandered through the Web site of DMS, a large courier-dispatch company. Burrowing into its computers, he found the e-mail of the C.E.O. and wrote to him. “I said, ‘You have a [security] hole in your Web site. Here’s how to fix it. And, by the way, I write dispatch software,’ ” recalls Dorsey.


Cutting Out the Middle Men: The most efficient way to spend money on the homeless might be to give it to them

The Economist, November 4, 2010

One asked for a new pair of trainers and a television; another for a caravan on a travellers’ site in Suffolk, which was duly bought for him. Of the 13 people who engaged with the scheme, 11 have moved off the streets. The outlay averaged £794 ($1,277) per person (on top of the project’s staff costs). None wanted their money spent on drink, drugs or bets. Several said they co-operated because they were offered control over their lives rather than being “bullied” into hostels. Howard Sinclair of Broadway explains: “We just said, ‘It’s your life and up to you to do what you want with it, but we are here to help if you want.'”


Intent! It’s Fucking Magic!

by Genderbitch for QuestioningTransphobia.com, February 3, 2010

Today, someone said a slur. It actually doesn’t matter what slur it was, because you see, he didn’t intend to hurt anyone and therefore it couldn’t possibly be a slur. Much like how intent magically protects the actions of all privileged fuckjobs, intent means that anything you say, no matter how many groups it hurts, what awful views it enables, no matter what systemic bigotries it props up through the usage of language that enforces social concepts that crush a marginalized group, it mystically negates all of that.