Monday, February 28, 2011

Did I just say "no" to coffee?

It is 4:30 AM.  I am sleepy.  5:00 AM is one thing, but 4 sure is early.

When you have a child as addicted to Phineas and Ferb as ours is, a girl has to do what she has to do.  

"Mama?  Ferb?  Peeze?"

He is precious, and I admit: I do love Doofenshmirtz.  But I digress.  

It is still February here in Augusta, GA, and yesterday it was nearly 85 degrees.  While other bloggers might still produce posts of warm soups and hot chocolate, we Augustans (or is it "Augustonians?") pant for something with a bit more levity.  Something like this, perhaps?

This is a Coconut Custard-Filled Angel Food Cake.  Need more evidence?

Some of you might remember this cake, as I made it over a year ago.  That's right.  Somehow I got sick again last week, and no one wants to eat food made by a sick girl.  Nevertheless, I had these pictures and thought that my friends might enjoy this cake.  

Even though it involves completely tearing up your kitchen.  

Trust me.  

You will use every pan and bowl that you own.  

Really.  You will.  But if you are brave, you will have quite the show-stopper.  And you will be noshing on this light and airy coconut dreaminess...


Big pause to make some coffee...

OK.  Coffee made.  Waiting for the press, but I think it's safe to start typing again.  

Coconut Custard-Filled Angel Food Cake with Seven-Minute Frosting

I suppose you could purchase an Angel Food Cake, if you wanted to do the whole "Sandra Lee" thing, but I didn't.  There is something very exciting about watching egg whites gather volume.  Who did this for the first time?  It really is a miracle.  

Coconut Custard

1/4 c all purpose flour
1/4 c + 2 T sugar
pinch salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 c half and half
3/4 c coconut milk
1/2 c sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 t vanilla

In a saucepan, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.  Whisk in the egg, half and half, and coconut milk until smooth.  Heat the mixture over medium heat, until it comes to a boil.  Cook for about a minute more, remove from the heat and pour through a sieve.  Cover the surface of the mixture with plastic wrap, and cool in the fridge completely (approx. 4 hours).  Pull out, stir in vanilla extract and coconut.  Set aside.  

Now, take your cooled Angel Food Cake, and with a serrated knife, cut the top off of the cake (about an inch and a half).  Gently remove the top of the cake and set it to the side.  Now, with your fingers, make a cannel in the center of your cake.  Yes.  Actually remove cake from your cake and put it to the side.  

Or in the trash. 

Or in your mouth (c'mon. It's Angel Food Cake).  

You are making a well for your filling.  When you feel like you have a decent channel, fill it with the custard.  Pack as much as you can, as your cake will collapse with negative space.  On the contrary, don't pack too much, as your cake will bulge.  Place the top of the cake back on top.  

Frost with...

Seven Minute Frosting

2 large egg whites
1 c sugar
1/4 c + 1 T water
1 T light corn syrup
pinch salt
1 t vanilla

In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together all of the ingredients EXCEPT the vanilla.  Place the bowl over a post of simmering water.  Stir continuously until a candy or instant-read thermometer reads 160 degrees.

Place bowl on the mixer stand, and with the whisk attachment, beat on medium speed until the mixture becomes opaque, and soft peaks form (up to 5 minutes).  Now, turn the mixer on high until, glossy, dreamy, billowy peaks form, and the mixture is at room temperature.  Stir in vanilla.

Note: this frosting does not keep well, so only use it on the day you or someone else plans to consume this cake.

Top with toasted coconut.


The boy is up.  It's time for some "ferb."

Have a beautiful day.

Rachel Bee

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It was a dark day...

Yesterday, I did not pick up a knitting needle.  

I could not help myself.  

I baked a cake.  

This one...

Mint Cake

I know.  It looks pretty delicious.  It tastes pretty delicious.  I even cut it open to try. 

Do not make eye contact.  

But do not let this confection deceive you, with it's mint green creaminess, or the gooey bath of dark chocolate ganache.  Even the fudgy layer of decadence in the center of this treat cannot be trusted.  

This cake is evil.  

Look.  See how it mocks me?

"Rachel.  How could you say such a thing?  What did the cake ever do to you?"

OK.  It all started on Monday morning, when I realized that a co-worker of mine was having a birthday. "Yeah!  Time for cake!"  And my thoughts went rolling.  I knew I had a six inch layer of chocolate and strawberry cake in the freezer, and I thought that making a vanilla cake would complete the Neopolatin trifecta.  How delicious would that be?  

So, I sat out all of my ingredients to soften and come to room temperature.  A few hours later, I went into the kitchen to start on my cake.  

Butter: creamed; eggs: separated; vanilla: check; almond extract: check- oh.  Oh no.  Oh crap.  Oh words worse than "crap." 

Peppermint.  Everyone take a moment to put their peppermint into the back of their pantries until next Christmas.  What??  What was I thinking?  Why did I not read?  

Is there anything flavor more obnoxious- more repugnant than peppermint?  I tried furiously to remove the poison, when I realized that even a drop of the stuff could ruin (or make, I suppose-in some cases) a cake.  So I left it.  

I baked it.  

And then I stared at it.  What to do?  Peppermint in a white cake?  Peppermint in February?

I anxiously googled and googled to find some way to make peppermint less obvious.  Perhaps there is a food pairing- some hip, new trend that I am unaware of- lemon?  Berry?  Sounds more like a pack of Orbitz gum than a slice of cake to me.  So I folded.  

Green.  Chocolate.  Sure.  Why not?

As I frosted my creation, my husband set up a mini-studio in the kitchen (as he often does).  We have a wonderful gadget called a "ring flash,"  which looks like a 36" mylar balloon with a light in the middle.  We love this flash (we have many times tried to sleep with it, but he always steals the covers).  It has become a vital part of portrait work, and when it crashed to the floor- the $80 bulbs breaking into tiny shards of dispair- we were really, really not happy.  

Buah ha ha. 

See?  It cackles.  Why do you hate me, cake?

As you can see, I cut it open.  No one needs this sugary lump of bad luck as a birthday cake.  

No matter how good it tastes.  Or looks.  Or tastes.  

Yum.  I mean, "grr,"

Manage to have a beautiful day. 

Rachel Bee

Monday, February 21, 2011

Get into the van...

As you all may have gathered, I am a busy girl.  I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, stylist, knitter, baker, and song writer.  I like to picture myself as a mother of 9, driving all of my kids around in a gigantic blue van.  Each of my children gets her time in the front seat.  We chit-chat; labouring over dreams, successes, and failures.  Our heart-to-heart lasts until either one of my other babies clamours for attention, or I am simply annoyed, fed up, or even disappointed with our time.

Usually, life in the van is without major incident, but last week we picked up a pesky little hitch-hiker, by name: "The Cold."  He was malodorous, obnoxious, and selfish; not willing to share the front seat with anyone.  Sometime yesterday we pried him from the vehicle, and now I have 9 neglected and malnourished babies to care for.


So lets begin with a strawberry cake recipe, shall we?

Strawberry Cupcakes

Strawberry Cake
2 cups white sugar
1 package strawberry gelatin
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs (room temperature)
2 3/4 cake flour
2.5 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 c whole buttermilk
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 cup strawberry puree

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare your pans.

Cream together sugar, gelatin, and butter for 5-7 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.  Stir in vanilla.

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.  In another, mix together buttermilk and puree.  Add the dry and wet ingredients to the butter mixture, alternating between the two; beginning and ending with the flour.  Scrape the bowl between additions.

Divide between pans and toss into the oven, baking...

25 (or so) minutes for 2 8" rounds
15 (or so) for cupcakes

I say "or so" because I do not trust my oven sometimes, so I always start checking for doneness about 5 minutes beforehand.  These cakes look very moist, almost undone when they are finished.  Make sure you check with a tooth pick.

For the frosting I used the recipe found here for Marshmallow Frosting, but I added some pink food color.  You could also do a Cream Cheese Frosting (without the lime zest), or a Swiss Meringue Buttercream, but please, do not be fancy and try to add  too much strawberry puree to butter-based frosting.  It will separate and end up in the trash.

And you will cry.

Couldn't you just leave well enough alone?  It was pink!  It was sweet!  It had little strawberry seeds in it, making it adorable!

But you just had to add another tablespoon, didn't you?

Oh.  Sorry.  I digress.

So, enjoy this Strawberry Cake.  It tastes like spring.  It is pink.  It is delicious.

And maybe a skein or two of yarn can make it into the front seat of the van this evening.

Have a beautiful Monday.

Rachel Bee

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Looks like a party...

My toddler came home from preschool on Monday with a crudely decorated little box, filled with valentines.  My son is a lot like his mother, in that he really doesn't care that Tinkerbell or Ironman wishes him, really, anything at all.  He is concerned about one thing only: candy.

He doesn't know the word "candy," and outside of a few M&Ms and some suckers, he really hasn't had much.  What he does know is that any brightly-colored object contained in cellophane has potential for deliciousness, and that his mommy will fight him for it.  Monday was a perfect example of this.

While he was still enjoying an afternoon nap, I took a gander at his lot of goodies, hiding the pencils and giant lollipops (he's 2, people). In my quest, I came across a packet of Fun Dip.  Fun dip has changed a lot over the years, and although I am usually a fan of innovation, I was so very disappointed with my most-recent delve into the powdery treat.  Was it raspberry?  Apple?  How is it "magic?"  Oh.  My tongue is green.

Ooooh.  I am mystified.

If anything needed an upgrade, it is the chalky stick.  Did anyone ever finish the stick?

Bleck.  But where was I?

Really, no idea.

Oh.  I wanted to show you these...

Strawberry Cupcakes

For the boy's Valentine's party, I made some gorgeous Strawberry Cupcakes with Pink Marshmallow Frosting.  And none of them came home (I get Fun Dip; you get homemade goodness?).

I cannot imagine what a sticky mess these were.

This frosting is the very same I used for my Ambrosia Cupcakes, as well as my S'mores Cake.  I usually do a Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting with this cake, but I couldn't "leave well enough alone" in my addition of strawberry puree while concocting my topping.  What resulted was nothing short of a curdled, oily mess, and a string of curse words straight to the garbage bin.

Yes, I curse at food sometimes.  Especially at chocolate chip cookies (insert expletive of choice).

So, with not enough time to soften more butter, egg whites were my only alternative.

And they are cheaper.

The results were altogether lovely, and the glossiness of the mallow was stunning- and almost electric with the sugar sprinkles.

They just look like a party- like they are dancing.  Can you hear the music?

And they taste like Spring.

Stop taunting us, Spring!

So enjoy, my friends.  Bake some cake- even this one (tomorrow, after I post the recipe).

And don't waste a calorie on Fun Dip.

Have a beautiful day.

Rachel Bee

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Crazy ol' St. Valentine...

Oh, St. Valentine.

We learned who he was in school.  I think I might have even seen a play about his antics.

Crazy ol' St. Valentine.

I don't know what I truly think about his holiday, as we haven't observed it in 6 years.  I think I have told myself that everyone else stopped observing it as well.  As I flip through Valentines Day memories in my mind, more of them are tear-filled dramatics rather than observances of romantic bliss.  My Facebook updates show that the boyfriends of my unmarried friends shower them with presents, as my married friends tend to post an amorous quotation; or spend the evening grilling out with their children.

As I have been married for nearly five years, I have realized that flowers are too expensive for something that ultimately ends up in the garbage.  The chocolate that comes in heart-shaped boxes is usually poor in quality and is not worth the calories.  Dinner out means sitting with complete strangers and spending money on something one could do better at home.

But is it all a sham?

A day to celebrate romantic love?

Well, whatever it is or isn't, one thing I know: it is definitely a day for eating cake.

Or cupcakes.

Heart-shaped doilies.  I love them.  

Well, everyday is a day for eating cake, in my opinion.  I had some leftover coconut cake for breakfast.

What?  shut up for two seconds and give you a closer look?


Chocolate Cupcakes

I actually made these for a married friend of mine who celebrates Valentines Day.  Go figure.

Moist Chocolate Cake topped with my favorite Swiss Meringue Buttercream, tinted the most delicate of pale pinks; the deep blackness of the Oreo crumbs nestled on the blush of buttercream is a sight to behold.  What you cannot really see are the precious pink fondant daisies.  They were adorable.

So dear.

I also made a cake with the other half of the frosting and batter.  You will see it soonish.

So, romantic love.  Whatever this day dedicated to it is or isn't, I accept it for the sugar it offers.

Because cake is delicious.  And the affirming smile I get from the one who took the pictures is a celebration to me.

Chocolate:  Mi Amour.  

Have a beautiful day.

Rachel Bee

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pink frosting makes everything better...

Yesterday I had one of those very, very rare full days off, and I got into some trouble.

As I mentioned before, my husband and I are saving for some very important items, and I find that the best way for me to save money is to remain in the confines of my big, fluffy robe.  Well, it is not so fluffy anymore.  I flee to it's permissive comforts way too often.

C'mon!  Don't we all have a fluffy robe?  Scrubs?  Fat pants?  Our husband's sweatshirts? Are these comforts not our modern day moo-moos?  Gasp!  The horror!

So comfy!

But I digress.

In my robe I tend toward the kitchen.  This soft commiseration is like a time warp, straight back to 1999, when my friend and I spent our nights with a tube of cookie dough or tub of "cream cheese frosting."  2AM jaunts to the Waffle House were the norm, along with stuffing leftover biscuits into our apron pockets on the way out of work.  I mean, they wanted to charge us 15 cents.  Ridiculous, right?

Oh boy.

So, at 8AM yesterday morning it began, first with a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  Chocolate chip cookies are in the same category with brownies for me.  They can be a thick, chewy success; or a flat, crispy failure.

Note: there are no cookie pictures in this post.

Beaten down, but not broken; I searched through my cabinets for some flavor combination- something that was light and airy- something that reminded me of Spring or Summer.  Most of all, I searched for something that would not involve stripping my robe off, shaking me out of my sugar delirium.  I found one, small Persian lime, and some leftover desiccated coconut.  I came up with this:

Pink, fuzzy deliciousness!

Coconut Cake with Lime Cream Cheese Frosting.

This little 6" cake- I intended to give a few slices away, but then I intended to greedily eat all that remained.

Well, gradually.  My tummy is aching now from a too big slice.  I wrapped it up and put it in the freezer.

But what I have tried was very delicious going down.  And the icing is pink.  And pink frosting makes everything better.  I say that I "got into trouble" because I cannot resist eating every spare dollop of fluffy pink frosting.  I looked around to be sure that P wasn't watching as I wiped the remaining creaminess clean from the bowl.  I felt like a kid, sneaking Cheetos from the pantry when my parents weren't looking.

Mmm...Cheetos- I mean, frosting...

Coconut Lime Cake

And another...

Lumpy, I know.  

A recipe?  Sure.  Why not?

Coconut Cake (adapted from Joy of Baking)

Enough for 2 6" rounds.

2 eggs, separated (separated when cold, but be sure they are room temp)
1 3/4 c cake flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 t kosher salt
1/3 c desiccated coconut
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar, divided
1 t vanilla
1/2 c coconut milk
1/4 t cream of tartar

Cream butter and 1 1/2 c of sugar for 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally.  Cream until very light and fluffy.

In the meantime, sift together the flour, soda, and salt.  Stir the coconut into the mixture.  Set aside.

To the butter, add the egg yolks one at a time, and beat until they are fully incorporated.  Stir in the vanilla.

Beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk.  Scrape down after each addition.  Don't get it?  OK.  Here we go...

Add 1/3 of the dry to the butter mixture.  Incorporate, scrape.
Add 1/2 milk.  Incorporate.  Scrape.
Add 1/3 dry.  Incorporate.  Scrape.
Add 1/2 milk.  Incorporate.  Scrape.
Add 1/3 dry.  Incorporate.  Scrape.

OK.  Now, in a separate bowl, add the two egg whites, and beat on high until foamy.  Add your cream of tartar.  Continue beating, gradually adding the rest of the sugar until you have very stiff, shiny peaks.  Add a third of this to the batter, to lighten it.  Then, gently fold the rest of the whites, fully incorporating them into the batter.  Divide and place in two 6" pans, with parchment circles on the bottom.

Place in an oven, preheated to 350.  Bake for @25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Don't move them around too much if you are not sure they are done, as they will sink in the middle.

Set on a baking rack to cool for 10 minutes.  With a small knife, scrape around the sides of the pan.  Turn out onto the rack, and cool completely.

Lime Cream Cheese Frosting

1 package cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
zest of one lime
juice of one lime
1 t vanilla
3 c powdered sugar, sifted

Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add the lime juice, zest, and extract and beat until incorporated.  Add the powdered sugar and stir until all mixed up (soooo tired of the word "incorporated")

Add food color if you desire.

And I did.

There you go.  It feeds 4-5 adults in jeans, or two girls in moo-moos.
Don't judge the crookedness of the dots.  Just stop.  STOP IT, NOW!

Yum.  Have a beautiful day.

Rachel Bee

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Something savory...

OK.  When it comes to making magic in the kitchen, I tend to reach for the butter, flour, and sugar.  This is no secret.  Personally, I would rather center my calorie-counting around a large slice of cake than a thick, juicy burger or bowl of spaghetti.

Truth.  Or is it?

Well, here in my house, my dear, beloved husband is allergic to the texture of all fruit and vegetables.

Wait, what?  Well, that is what we are telling our son in the future.  P would stop me here to say that the above statement is not true.

P loves:

1.  Corn
2.  Potatoes
3.  Fresh carrots
4.  Lima Beans
5.  Green Peas

I will stop with that insight into my hubby's tastes.  I am not picking, as we all have our weirdnesses.

I enjoy cake because it is...cake, but dinner can get awful boring with only a few palatable ingredients.  One thing that I was surprised to hear that P does like is chili (I mean, it is chock full of tomatoes and onions, among other forbidden things), so the search was on to make a tasty chili with no lumps or bumps that would make my hubs gag.  Over the years, I have come up with the following, feeding just about the two of us.

P's Chili

1/2 lb ground meat of choice
1/2 bulb garlic, roasted
1/2 red onion
1 large can of tomatoes
1/2 can Bush's mild chili beans
1/4 c low to no sodium beef broth
1 1/2 t chili powder
1 1/2 t cumin
1 1/2 t oregano, dried
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4 t cayenne powder
Texas Pete Hot Sauce, to taste

Roast garlic.  Turn the bulb on its side, and with a chef's knife, carefully slice across the fattest part of the bulb, splitting it in two.  Sprinkle some oil on the exposed cloves, coat with kosher salt and pepper, and place (seasoned side down) onto a piece of aluminum foil.  Cover completely with foil, and place in your oven at 375, for 25 minutes or so.

Yes.  Your house will smell for days.  Not recommended for pregnant people.

Pull out and set aside.

Season ground beef with kosher salt and pepper (you can cook this while garlic is roasting), and brown in a medium size skillet.  Drain any excess fat and set beef to the side.

Slice the onion roughly and place in the pan you used for the meat.  Cook until tender, brown, and sweet.  Place onions in a blender or food processor, along with 1/2 the garlic bulb (squeeze at the base, and the mushy cloves will pop out), and the whole can of tomatoes (any cut- pureed, diced, whole, whatever).  Puree until smooth.  Really smooth.

Pour just over half of that mixture into a medium sauce pan, and add the browned meat (save the puree for another recipe- I do an Indian dish with it that is great.  Add the garlic to some mashed potatoes or cauliflower puree for a special treat).

To this mixture, add all of the spices and the Texas Pete, to taste.  Chili really is up for preference.  My husband does not like spicy food, so this recipe is fairly mild.  I love the lemony brightness the oregano adds.  P loves the smokiness of the cumin.  It is all up for interpretation.  Play!

Let simmer for as long as you can stand.  This time I went for a couple of hours.  Sometimes I do 10 minutes.  Put enough cheese on it, and it really won't matter either way.  Stir in the beans at the end, as they will break down too much if you let them simmer too long.  Serve with corn muffins, elbow macaroni (my childhood fave), Fritos, over tortilla chips with cheese, or in a bowl with some Saltines.

Or, you could do this:

Chili Cobbler

What is this?  Sorry, the pics were a little rough- no fancy set up, as we were hungry (and there was football to watch).  This is Chili Cobbler.

Yes, It's Chili Cobbler.

Chili Cobbler is Chili with good ol' cheesy cornbread baked right on top.  I suppose you could make your own cornbread (which I have tried), but my hubs prefers this:

What?  You can't use organic milk with Jiffy?

It's America's favorite, after all.  And it costs 50 cents.

Soo, make your cornbread batter per box directions; but in the end, fold in around a half cup cheddar cheese, freshly grated (just do it).

Then, take your chili...


And pour it in a square(ish) pan.

Rectangle.  Square was dirty

Now, take your batter and plop it right on top of your chili.

Plop.  Plop.  Plop. 

Once you have done that, sprinkle some more cheese on top.  Hey!  Why not?


Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 25 minutes, or until done.

Don't knock it 'til you've tried it. 

You all cannot imagine how good this is until you try it.  And it is easy.  And it takes everything that is healthful about chili and throws it in the garbage.

And when you are watching the Superbowl, la garbage is where healthful food belongs.

Alright.  Sweets tomorrow.

Have a booty-full day (aw, yeah!)

Just kidding.  Or not.

Rachel Bee

Sunday, February 6, 2011


I love breakfast.  In fact, I get up at 4:00 am just so that I can have two or three of them.

This amour- I know it hasn't always been.  I think I used to just count breakfast as another opportunity to eat: cold pizza, dry cereal, a packet of oatmeal- no inspiration whatsoever.  Then I met my husband.

It is not that 7 years ago P loved breakfast more than I, but we found a little "hole-in-the-wall" in downtown Charleston called "Joseph's."  I put "hole-in-the-wall" in quotations as a restaurant that is any good in Charleston doesn't stay modest for long.  In fact, I am sure we encountered it ages after it's inception; but in the last 7, the folks at Food Network found it, followed by the New York Times and others.

All of that aside, we discovered it during one of our long, midnight walks early in our relationship.  We returned Sunday for brunch and my opinion of breakfast forever altered.  Breakfast is a revelation; an event- a meal I relish, and perhaps I should wake up extra early to enjoy it.  Or them.

Breakfasts.  Hard to say; pleasure to digest.

I am a slight girl, and as this has not always been (OK, I enjoy being slender), I don't have whopping slabs of French Toast every morning.  My favorite breakkie ('stralian for "breakfast") is a small bowl of handmade granola from Earth Fare (yes, I am aware of the hidden dangers of granola, so I measure), or a cup of Fage Total with cherries.  I also enjoy a bowl of Kashi GoLean with cut up fruit, or a bagel half with peanut butter and bananas.

Even with a full belly, my mouth is watering.

Mais alors, my hubs and I are saving for a few things that are more important than daybreak indulgence, so I have been eating...

Toast.  With peanut butter, jelly, bananas- but toast.  Even on a nice plate with a cup of tea, romantic as it sounds, it is still toast.  I'd rather not even bother.  In fact, I have lost 5 lbs since I went on this diet of sorts.

Hmm...what other meals can I replace with t...oh.  I know.  I have issues.

But, in one quick post from Joy the Baker, I was rescued.

By this:

Biscotti?  What?

"Rachel, it's a cookie."

Look, I know it is.  I know.  But it has peanut butter and pecans in it, and it is AMAZING with my morning coffee.  I have brought them twice to clients, wrapped in bows, even; and somehow I keep forgetting to give them away.  So they remain at home; their hearty nourishment in my belly.  I have three pieces left, and I plant to eat ALL of them tomorrow (provided I don't have too much of a saturated fat hangover from the Super Bowl festivities).

I stuck to Joy's recipe, but added about a 1/4 cup coursely chopped white chocolate.  This biscotti is perfection, and I really encourage all of you to make some.  You can find the recipe here.

So easy (ish).  So delicious.

So breakfasts.

Have a beautiful day.

Rachel Bee

Friday, February 4, 2011

Beware, you are being judged...

I am a hairstylist by trade- as in, I went to school for the sole purpose of doing hair.

The concept is a little odd to me, as we all have hair (well, most of us), so shouldn't we all be ok to do our hair?  I was listening to NPR yesterday, and a young man was stating on Al Jezeera (in English, of course), that Mubarak's supporters were in the streets, The men wearing "nice suits," and the women wearing "expensive hairstyles."  Really?

I wondered for a moment how this group of women define themselves by their hair.  I tried to google for a picture of a modern, expensive Egyptian hairstyle, but came up with nothing aside from heavy bobs from ancient times.  But I think of times I have been in a room of women together, and noticed how I personally have judged on the basis of coiffure.

In fact, I consistently judge on that basis.  It is nothing I am proud of, but how a girl wears her hair tells me loads about who the person is- what her priorities are.  I have had enough women in my chair to know.  What?  Examples?


Shoulder-length, minimal layering, grown out highlights, and the usual pony, not looped...

Long, natural color, long layers, looped pony...
    College student.

Long, one length, thick as heck, bright highlights around the face...
    Someone who likes horses.

Graduated bob, natural color, done but not too done...
    Mommy who cares.

Graduated bob, fresh highlights, ironed perfectly...
    A mommy who's kids are OK with Poptarts.

Asymmetrical cut, green panels, natural texture...
    Someone who needs to be my friend.

I could go on... but you get the picture.  But I still want to know what an expensive Egyptian hairdo is.  Is it an updo?  I got to play with updos this week, and here is what I came up with...

Side Chignon (kind of a mess in the back, sorry)'s up.
See what I mean?  What is this?  Pretty? A mess?

I dunno...

And this...

The Two-Minute Curl-Pinning

It was a fun week.  Ask any stylist if she likes doing updos, and the answer is usually "no."  In every salon I have worked, there is always that one girl who is brilliant...Julia, Robin, Lindsay, Stephanie; I figure with some more practice, someone will blog about me someday.

And help me out, people.  Add some spice to your life.  Mommies, hand the babies to your hubs and go put some curl in that hair.  Horsey people, go get a few inches off the bottom.  Moms who's kids like Poptarts- don't care so much about every hair fitting perfectly into your haircut box, and go make them kids some pancakes!

Really, I love you all.

Oh, boy.

Have a Beauuuuuutiful Day!

Rachel Bee

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Oreo Cake: the Recipe

Making this one short and sweet, folks.  Here is how you make an Oreo Cake:

Oreo Cake (it's an Oreo Cake)

One recipe Beatty's Chocolate Cake

One and a half sleeves of Oreos

1/2 stick butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Butter the bottom of 2 8" or 9" pans, and place a round of parchment paper in each.

Crush the heck out of some Oreos.  Use a plastic bag, 2 sheets of wax paper, a food processor, a two year old- whatever you have on hand.  Crush them until they are fine crumbs.  Pour into a bowl, along with the melted butter, and stir.  Divide the mixture in two equal parts, placing each part in a prepared pan.  Using a spatula, spread and pack down the crumbs.  If you find that there is some negative space, that is OK, or you could mash up some more cookies, melt some more butter- you get the picture.

Make your cake batter, and divide equally between the two pans.  Yep, pour it right on top of those cookie crumbs.  Bake for nearly 30 minutes, until done in the middle.  Put pans on a cooling rack.

Now, after 10 minutes have passed (or so), take a knife and scrape along the inside of the pans, separating any cake that is stuck to the sides.  Really get down there.  I mean, really.  Go around three or four times.

Brace yourself.  Take a pan, place your hand over the cake, tip it over (so the cake is in your hand), and quickly flip back over, as gently as possible so that the crumbs don't explode all over your counter.  Your hand will get covered in sticky cake goo, but that's OK.  You will cover it in frosting.  The cake.  Not your hand...

Understanding that your cakes are still in one(ish) piece, let cool completely.  Cover in plastic wrap, and stick in the freezer (overnight, if possible).

The next day, make your chocolate frosting.  You can find the recipe here. 
When your frosting is thick enough, go ahead and make your filling.

Oreo Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
2/3 package cream cheese (softened)
8 oz. powdered sugar, sifted
1 t vanilla
1/4 c +2 tbsp. crushed Oreos

Cream the butter and cheese together, and then scrape down the sides.  Add powdered sugar and mix, just until incorporated.  Stir in vanilla, and then fold in the crumbs.  If your mixture seems too thin, put in the freezer for ten minutes.

Pull your cakes out, and unwrap one.  If necessary, take out a serrated knife and saw down any weird or bumpy edges of the cake.  Be prepared, you may curse.  That cookie crust can be a... well, anyway.

Spread a thick layer of the cream cheese frosting onto the middle of the cake, reserving some for decorating later.  Leave about a 1" space around the edges of the cake, as when you are frosting the outside, you don't want a big smear of white frosting in the center of the cake.

Think about it.  It does make sense.

Take the chocolate frosting and fill in that space around the edges, making it one flat and smooth layer of frosting all the way across.

Unwrap your second cake, and on a flat surface, cut down the bumps and level the top- when you are satisfied, place it on the first layer.  Normally I would shave them both off together for a completely uniform look, but that cookie crust... curses!

Start the frosting process, keeping a cup of hot water beside you.  I cannot tell you how much a metal offset spatula has changed my life here.  Get one.

When you are finished, decorate as desired.  Make it as gaudy as possible.  We all love Oreos.

Have a beautiful day.

Rachel Bee