Sunday, July 25, 2010

My Grandma's Birthday Party

My Grandma turned 80-years-old this Saturday. When somebody, especially your grandmother, turns 80 you should have a party. So my aunts organized a birthday celebration gathering for my grandma on Saturday night. We ate dinner at local restuarant then 7 of her 8 sisters and brother (yes, he had 9 sisters) came over for dessert and punch. I had never met her sisters as an adult, so it was really fun to sit down and chat with each of them. I've also baked a couple of their recipes in the past couple years - peanut butter rolls and kolaches - so I enjoyed putting the recipes with faces.

The sisters and brother.

My family minus a few members.

My mom ordered the evening special - which was a beef patty with bacon, mushrooms and cheese served with broccoli and smashed potatoes. They had a much more fancy name than "beef patty" but I can't remember it right now.

I ordered the rum glazed salmon that came with green beans and mashed sweet potatoes. It came with a maple glaze that tasted exactly like maple syrup.

Then it was cake time. Cake time is otherwise known as happy time. My aunts brought a red-velvet cake and an assortment of flavored cupcakes from Daddy Cakes. Daddy Cakes is a Topeka based pastry bakery that specializes in cakes and cupcakes.

Cupcake options were carrot cake, german chocolate, chocolate, lemon, vanilla and strawberry.

Red Velvet Cake. Twas very red. And velvety.

I can only hope that my 80th birthday party will be as fun and tasty as my grandma's.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Morning in The Lab

During the entire month of June, my co-worker Amanda and I worked super hard in the Bake Lab. Every day we slaved away, sweating and toiling. I thought I should re-cap what a typical morning looked like for us.

8:30 AM - Arrive in lab. Turn on oven to heat up.

8:30-9:00 - Check for non-existent important e-mails and surf various food blogs for inspiration.

9:00-9:05 - Load oven with cookies.

9:05-9:17 - Hover around oven to ensure cookies are properly baked.

9:18-9:19 - Remove cookies from oven.

9:20- 10:00 - Mix and deposit a fresh batch of cookie dough (molasses!)

10:00-10:15 - Plate baked cookies on trays.

10:15 - 10:30 - Walk trays-o-cookies over to the College of Agriculture.

10:30-10:50 - Wash dirty dishes and moderately tidy up lab.

10:50-11:15 - Check e-mail. Call egg-ladies. Is it lunch time yet?

11:15-11:25 - Discuss what we will be making for lunch.

11:25- 12:00 - Track down Dave and bother him for something to do.

12:00 - LUNCH!

Lunch is unquestionably the most important part of our day. Typical lunches range from massive colorful salads to poached eggs on toast with Call Hall cheese. Generally, lunches are funded by Amanda's huge garden. She brings the goods. I eat the goods.

Amanda made "kosher" pickles. They were not blessed by a rabbi though. I asked.

Gargantuan salad!

This is an Ice Creamy Joy. I made it with leftover cinnamon test-bake cookies and Call Hall ice cream. Don't worry. I shared it with Amanda. It's probably the only thing I contributed to lunch that day.

After enjoying our sacred lunch hour, our afternoon work activities vary greatly. Major projects for the month included sanding down tables, steam-blasting racks, cleaning-out the storage room, and cleaning out the freezer. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Graham Crackers

My youngest relation headed off on a week-long trip very early last Monday morning. So I offered to bake him some snacks to pack along for the gruesome thirteen hour car ride. He requested Graham Crackers. These graham crackers are remarkably different-dare I say far better- than Honey Maid graham crackers you may buy at the local grocery store.

This formula is chocked full of intense flavor, crispiness, crunchiness and crazy addictiveness. And as all good things should, this recipe begins with copious amounts of butter that gets creamed with a robust helping of sugar.

If you were ambitious or over-achieving you would cut out pretty shapes like hearts or stars. But if you were lazy or uncreative you would cut out squares. Like me.

I do, however, mildly redeem myself by spelling out a super difficult word into the crackers. You're welcome, Russ. I love you too.