Friday, December 21, 2007

Daring Bakers Challenge Dec 2007 (on my XOPC!)

I'll start by noting how much I do love my XOPC. This is the first time I've tried to type anything of length on it, and has so far taught me one important lesson - the keyboard is frakkin small and will take loads of getting used to! (Good side effect - I will not be able to easily write long blog posts...)

Daring Bakers' Logo

Next month's challenge will be made easier with its presence as well. It's designed to be safe even with spills and dirt, and is therefore (in my mind) an outstanding recipe tablet PC. I will be sure to post pictures of it at work supporting my mad cooking.

On to this month's challenge - the Yule log!

I wasn't thrilled with the posting date since I wanted to bake this for Christmas, and have no place to store something like this for more than overnight. We also didn't return from our honeymoon until Dec 8! So I threw the cake together Monday and Tuesday nights for the Wednesday work party (which I wasn't able to attend).

I printed out the recipe and hung it on the wall next to The Joy of Cooking's recipe for more helpful hints; my laptop (mac) sat in the other room, website open and accessible to read others' comments. Several hours later (well, maybe 3?) the cake was baked and rolled and in the fridge. I frosted it the next day and somehow fit it into my crockpot. A friend of mine was going into work early by car, so she stopped by and grabbed the pot and cake (from my front doorstep while I was happily sleeping in!) People at work seemed to like the cake, seeing as it was mostly gone the following morning.

Recipe Customizations:

  • Don't be a moron like me and forget that frozen butter is not good for frostings.. Take the butter out of the freezer ahead of time. But if you are a moron and forget - cut it into 1TBSP chunks, put on a plate with parchment paper, and set on top of a low heat source (like our heaters in this freezing cold apartment). Then check each one individually for mooshyness. ^_^
  • When I took the cake out of the oven, as Joy advised, I let it cool for 10', then upturned it onto a sheet of tin foil. When I rolled the cake, the eggy "Skin" stuck to the foil.
  • I brushed the cake with a mix of Kaluha and Godiva choco liquor before rolling.
  • The buttercream "curdled" - but I let it keep beating until the lumps went away (Just like when we made our wedding cupcakes' vegan frostings)
  • Flavors in the frosting - I hadn't bought proper espresso powder, so I used amazing coffee powder from Aruba, almond extract from the Netherlands (VERY LITTLE), melted dark chocolate, and a little bit of vanilla.
  • Always, Always, ALWAYS use the beautiful wedding-present KitchenAid Stand Mixer!
  • When I frosted the cake the next day, the frosting crumbled (too cold) so I put it back in the bowl and re-creamed it (thanks vegan wedding cupcakes ;)
  • Marzipan mushrooms!

Whole Foods had Buche de Noel for sale today, but people instead asked me why I stopped bringing in baked goods (Hmm maybe because I was testing wedding cupcakes on you?) and refused to try the store-bought one since mine was so amazing. :)

I plan on making this recipe for a New Year party, but with lots of hazelnuts and frangelico. I also have had some people ask for the recipe. My response? "Of course - just wait until Saturday, and the recipe will be all over the internet." :)

This Month's Challenge was brought to you by the founders of Daring Bakers - Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice. Recipes were taken from Nick Malgeri's Perfect Cakes and are available here. Denille - GO BAKE THIS CAKE!!! (or we can do it... TOGETHER.)

What's next for today? Well... the house is a wreck so I must clean it. Especially the kitchen. And then I will start making for some people my dad's locally (to the Concord, NH area) famous Christmas Bread recipe! I will plan on posting about it soon.. but for now, here's a picture of when I made it in college for our dorm's Iron Chef competition... AND I WON.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Meet Yuka (ゆか、紫)

My baby OLPC arrived today! She is SO CUTE. I played a bit with her, got her connected, installed Tetris, played in Terminal. I am SO IN LOVE. She'll be PERFECT as an ebook reader, and will make an outstanding kitchen compy (I can store recipes elsewhere and call them up as needed; the screen is so readable, and she's so well sealed, that I won't have to panic the like I do when my MacBook Pro is "assisting," but getting flour and whatever else I'm cooking with on (and probably in) her!

The XO logos on the front lid were not customizable, but were completely random selection. There's 20 possible colors, and the O and X parts can be separate colors. I had a 1 in 400 chance of getting something like I actually did get... Purple!

I spent all last night thinking of a name. All my computers have since had four-letter girl names. My old windows box from '99 was named Lyra; 12" Powerbook was Quon, current MacBook Pro is Mjrn (in OSX) and Jote (in WinXP), and even my Blackberry Curve's name fits (Cici). Murasaki (紫) is the Japanese word for Purple. The name suited, but was too long. So off to Jeffrey's Japanese Dictionary!

Fortunately it has a "Search by Japanese" option, so I looked through the female names with that Kanji, and came up with one favorite - ゆか, or Yuka. Who else has that name? Yuka Honda from Cibo Matto. The voice actress for Yukino's mother in KareKano. A video game soundtrack composer. A bunch of other Seiyuu (voice actresses) and famous people. So it's a real name, and it's a safe name - and it uses the same kanji for purple.

So everyone, meet Yuka, the newest addition to the computer farm. I'll post more on her as I get to know her and how she works!

For more information on OLPC (the one laptop per child program) visit their website at: You can also read about the Give-One-Get-One project which I am a part of.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


I've been meaning to post about our honeymoon, but just haven't had time or energy. In the meantime, here's sunset at the Divi. We grabbed two pina coladas and my early Christmas Present (canon powershot 850) and did absolutely nothing but watch evening fall and boats sail by.

Posts I plan on writing soon:
* Desserts for Dinner at the Sunset Grille
* Christmas Cookies (they're coming slowly)
* Daring Bakers (huzzah)
* Maybe, just maybe, a post not about food.