Monday, April 23, 2012

Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape.

I am in fact still here, and alive. (I guess.) It's been over a week, so I thought I'd post in case anyone is actually paying attention. 

House-sitting since last Friday, until next Sunday. I'm pretty much going the same way I did that one time last year. I just can't be left alone--simple as that. 

Yeah so basically an epic relapse of all of my worst hang-ups. 

In more positive news....
I have FINISHED BOOK 3. I haven't finished typing it yet, but I'm almost there. I have a feeling it might actually exceed 60,000 words, which is far higher than my original prediction. Idk whether I should feel proud of myself, or if I just talk too much. I've already made quite a lot of progress on Book 4... more than I had thought looking at it now. I'm at 100 hand-written pages, which is really going to suck when I get around to typing that book. 

I can't think of anything else to say, and I'm really just stalling instead of typing Book 3, so perhaps I should shut up and get to work.......

Hope y'all are being more responsible and sane than I am!

Friday, April 13, 2012

And speaking of cake....... I have cake!

Just a quick recipe post......

First, a photo of the GLORIOUS spekkoek I made for Easter:

Twelve layers of rainbow. I used the basic spekkoek recipe, but instead of the traditional spices, I just used a few dashes of nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger, and then I added about 3 teaspoons of raspberry extract to the bowls of pink, orange, and purple cake mix (1 tsp per colour). I sprinkled the top with confectioners sugar. The final result was spectacular.

While my aunties were here a couple weeks ago, Anorexic Auntie requested a cake for their last Sunday here. She has health issues and is on an extremely strict diet. (Proof of how Fate can really be an arsehole sometimes--years and years of hard work at ED recovery, and now she actually can't eat anything.) So for their last full day with us, I told her to list her favourite foods out of the things she CAN eat, so I could make her a nice dinner (I barbecued in intense rain because the weather forecasters are morons, and also nearly blew up the house whilst attempting to light the contrary barbecue with matches). 

While we discussed possible desserts, she told me about a parsnip maple cake she had tried a few months ago. The recipe included all things she can eat, and I was very intrigued by the idea of a parsnip maple cake. I never would have thought of baking with parsnips, but I suppose they're in the same family as carrots, and carrot cake is quite popular; so I decided to try it.

I didn't like any of the recipes I found online, and most of them had ingredients that Ano Auntie couldn't eat, so I ended up creating my own recipe. 
So without further ado....

Mich's Parsnip Maple Cake!

You will need:
- 9-inch baking pans (I used three to make three layers, but you can use 1 or 2)
- Parchment paper

- 1 cup maple syrup (actual maple syrup; make sure it's not flavoured corn syrup)
- 1 stick butter
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- About 3 cups parsnips (~7 or 8 medium parsnips)
- 2 eggs

- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon

And for the icing:
- butter
- confectioners sugar
- maple syrup

To make it:
- Melt the butter in the microwave (not liquefied, but melted until it's pretty gooey). In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, maple syrup, and eggs.

- In a separate bowl, sift the flour and mix it up with the cinnamon, ginger, and baking soda.

- Add the flour mix to the butter/syrup mix a little at a time until well combined. 

- Peel and then chop up the parsnips...

...and use a food processor or a blender to get them grated up real good.
(And try not to overload the processor.)
I processed them until they were about as ground up as they could get.

- Mix the parsnips into the cake mix.

- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Use a little butter or margarine to grease the pans a bit, just so the parchment paper has something to stick to; 

...then line the pan with the parchment paper. You might want to trim the edges so there isn't too much parchment sticking out in order to avoid burning your house down. 
Then fill your pans with the cake mix, and bake for about 20 - 30 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle of the cake comes out clean. If you use only 2 cake pans or 1 pan, they'll obviously have to bake for longer (I'd guess up to 40 or 50 minutes for one pan).

- When they're finished, let the pans cool for a while (up to 20ish minutes), and then carefully lift the cakes out of the pans (delightfully easy because you just lift up the parchment paper and then peel it off the cakes). Let the cakes cool on a wire rack. 

- To make the icing, mix up some confectioners sugar, melted butter, and maple syrup until it's the flavour and consistency you want it to be. I no longer measure anything when I make icing, but when I was done it had the consistency of the cake icing you can buy in the store, so not drippy at all. 

- Using my bowie knife (I love whipping that out in front of Mum, especially while baking cakes and dressed in my frilly pink apron ^_^), I trimmed the edges of the cakes. The parchment paper can make them kind of uneven, so I went round the edges to smooth them out. 

- I iced each layer individually, laying one on top of the other, and then iced the top and the sides using a spatula (like the kind your mom used to smack you with). I finished it off by decorating with pearl sprinkles (really lovely ones that don't break your teeth!).

And OMG you guys.......

It was freaking DELICIOUS. 

Like melt-in-your-mouth, dripping with sticky sweetness, orgasmically delicious. 

Hope y'all had a good week, and enjoy your weekends! I'm driving up to Albany to see John Connolly on Saturday and I'm super excited. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It was a rhetorical question, Errol. What have I told you about thinking?

Beer For the Shower's (follow them; they're hilarious) recent post got me reminiscing about some of the places I have lived, and the insane people who lived nearby. I had actually started a post about the one apartment in Philadelphia like a year ago, but idk if I just gave up or forgot about it or what....

In my final year in the City of Brotherly Love, my friend and I lived in a very sketchy neighbourhood in South Philadelphia. And when I say sketchy, I mean that from August 2004 to May 2005, our building was broken into and robbed twice, I was chased home by a pervert who looked alarmingly identical to the sketches of the Center City Rapist; and in the spring a young woman was beaten to death with a baseball bat 2 and a half blocks away, outside the supermarket, in broad daylight.

Good times.

It is because of that year in that apartment that I still sleep with a huge knife in my bed. 

(For the last several years I had managed to get to sleep with the knife next to my bed {that was when the scimitar was my weapon of choice}, but lately I've gone back to the knife under my pillow {the bowie knife}. Which is rather a good step forward from how I used to be while in Philadelphia and for several months after moving home--sleeping with the machete in my hand.)

Viking-Roomie and I lived on the third floor of a crumbling old brownstone that had probably once been a small house. Our one-bedroom apartment had a lot of mice, ivy on the windows that had decided it liked growing INSIDE better than growing outside, and a deck that did not look at all stable when observed from the ground (and a door to the deck that had no lock or latch of any kind, and led into the bedroom--hence the machete). Our kitchen was roughly the size of a small broom cupboard, and had a gas range that didn't work properly. You had to light it with matches or a lighter, which was totally fine lighting the stove. But lighting the oven? Not so much.

The place where the burner ignited in the oven, of course, was all the way in the back. So you basically had to get IN the oven with your lighter after turning on the gas, and then use your ninja skills to get the eff out of the oven before the air inside went up in epic flames.

Oh and the kitchen wall? Less than one foot from the front of the oven. So you couldn't actually open the oven door all the way (a trend with all the doors in that apartment, actually....).

Leaving the oven at that speed, it was PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE not to go crashing into the wall. Thankfully, we had no neighbours on the other side of that wall, just the hallway.

We had fun neighbours in that apartment.

(By "fun" I mean that it's funny now, but back then it was kind of alarming/annoying/disturbing.)

We nicknamed the couple upstairs the Noob Saibots. In the year we lived in that building, NOT ONCE did we see them. We heard them sometimes. We saw the rubbish bags piled up outside their door next to their bicycles. But we never actually saw people. Kind of like the first floor apartment in the front of the building--we never saw people living there either. Several different people seemed to live there throughout that year. I think we saw moving trucks emptying and filling up 1A like 3 or 4 times, but never saw the residents.

I wish I could say the same for the a-hole who lived in 1B.

Every morning, at about 6.00, Mr. 1B would take his dog out into the backyard, shout and swear at the poor dog for 5 - 10 minutes, and then have a coughing fit for 10 - 15 minutes.




Oh and he had this girlfriend. I would have thought she was a hooker, judging from her attire, but in my years in Philadelphia I never once saw a female hooker (although they all looked very female...). The girlfriend was definitely on something, too. My guess was crack, based on her appearance.

So yeah 1B's girlfriend would usually show up at around 2 or 3 in the morning. But 1B's buzzer didn't work, so naturally, instead of calling him or perhaps going around the back to the door in his yard, she rang everyone else's buzzer until someone came to let her in.

Viking-Roomie had enough of that scheisse after like the 5th time 1B's girlfriend woke us up, and so she went downstairs with a baseball bat to give the woman a piece of her mind.

The girlfriend never rang our buzzer after that.

I only ever bonded with the guys living downstairs from us. They got hit pretty badly when the building was robbed--the first time the burglars ran off with all of their electric guitars and amps and computers; the second time they swiped the tv's and dvd players. (I lucked out, as the robbers never made it to the third floor.) I got friendly with Dave the night he almost broke my door down.

Apparently I was having a night terror, because he said he heard blood-curdling screaming coming from the direction of my bedroom (his room was right under mine) in the middle of the night, and ran upstairs to see what was wrong. When I didn't answer the door, he presumed I was being murdered, and so he backed up to the banister and prepared to charge at the door with a flying kick to knock it down.

That's when I opened the door.

So Dave and I were friendly after that. We became even closer that spring, during the Bathroom Incident.

Our bathroom was roughly the size of a normal shower stall. Like the oven door, you couldn't actually open the bathroom door all the way because it crashed into the toilet. You also couldn't stand next to the sink because there was no room next to the toilet.

Viking-Roomie and I both suffered some nasty contusions because of the cramped bathroom space combined with the house centipede infestation. You had no room whatsoever for flailing.

Our shower provided the most heartache. About 3 feet square, it was more or less a big plastic box fitted with a drain and a shower head. And the drain was CONSTANTLY clogging up. We tried every Drano-type product you can get, and yet it still backed up. So because the edge of the shower stall was only like 2 inches high, you had about 90 seconds to shower before the water would flow out onto the bathroom floor.

After more than six months of complaints, the landlady finally deployed her infamous handyman to fix our shower.

Butch looked exactly like you would imagine someone named Butch.

He was a nice enough man, but he really REALLY sucked at building maintenance. So when he arrived to "fix the shower," Viking-Roomie and I felt more than a little nervous. He asked if we would be okay with having no shower for a day or two, as the landlady had told him to just replace the whole shower rather than fix it. We said ok, and so Butch took the apartment door off its hinges, removed the shower from the bathroom, put the door back on its hinges so that it never closed properly again, and promised he would be back with a new shower in no more than two days.

Two weeks.

And not only did we have no shower, we had a giant gaping hole in our bathroom floor. A hole that looked down into the neighbours' kitchen. Dave and I became really good buddies after that.

Butch installed the new shower like a month before we moved out. It backed up just as badly as the old one.