Monthly Archives: May 2011

Safe ‘n’ Sound

I could tell you all about the 11 hour train ride I took from Raleigh to DC. Or the equally long flights from DC to London to Munich (cumulatively). Or how it’s been 60 degrees and raining all day.

Yes, I could tell you about all of those travel tragedies, but those stories would detract from the pure bliss I’ve derived from the following: spending time with excellent and generous hosts in DC and Munich, evading Icelandic volcano eruption #2 (unlike #1), learning German from a three year-old, being picked up from the Munich airport in a Porsche convertible, eating two-hour-long dinners with my family, having a floor of the house to myself, and finding out that I can still have an iPhone while I’m here. You know, the little things in life.

I plan to cook again in the very near future, promise. Last time I was here, I introduced my hostess to southern North American cuisine, in a food movement I called “Southern Germany, Meet the Southern USA.” I’m looking forward to continuing that same movement, particularly now that I’ve confirmed the presence of sweet potatoes in this country.

Any suggestions for what southern/American foods I should cook for my family?

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Key Lime Cupcakes

Friends, it’s been a while.

I know, I know. My absence is absolutely inexcusable, especially when you consider most of the activities in which I’ve been partaking: watching three seasons of the U.K. version of Skins (such scandal!), shopping, running errands in preparation for Munich, running, baking for Share Our Strength and baking for my friends’ wedding. So much fodder for blog posts that I failed to write.

Actually, that last activity renders my absence entirely excusable. Baking cupcakes for a wedding is surprisingly time- and energy-consuming and, in the end, leaves one with a strong aversion to consuming cupcakes. So strong, in fact, that when I attended another wedding last night (two weddings in one weekend, which meant two evenings of doggedly dodging the bridal bouquet), I couldn’t fathom taking more than one bite of the luscious-looking red velvet cake. After baking 200+ cupcakes on Monday and frosting them Friday morning, my pores practically ooze butter. My cat has been especially devoted to me these past few days; I’m good for both a relaxing pet and a pleasant dairy aroma.

I would bake wedding cupcakes again, despite the overexposure to butter. What better way to show your engaged friends you care than to mass-produce baked delights for their friends and family? I baked love into every bite. For Dan and Casey, I made mint chocolate cupcakes, vanilla & chocolate cupcakes with Nutella filling and key lime cupcakes. As a key lime pie purist, I was initially skeptical about the latter. If I’m going to eat something with “key lime” in the title, I want that food to result in a graham cracker crust and cream cheese filling. Still, key lime pie is Dan’s favorite dessert, and I was not about to volunteer to make 75 key lime tarts in addition to 100 chocolate cupcakes. Everyone has a limit to his or her baking masochism, so key lime cupcakes it was.

Lesson learned. Key lime is acceptable in other forms on occasion. I got this key lime cupcake recipe from Bon Appetit and eliminated the green food dye since it was a little too St. Patrick’s Day for a wedding. I also intended to sprinkle more lime zest on top in lieu of sprinkles, but sometimes I’m a little too ambitious for my own good.

Case in point: I leave for Munich Wednesday evening. When I booked the flight, 20 days of prep time seemed ample. 17 days later, my to-do list should sufficiently fill every spare moment. The next meal I make will be in southern Germany rather than the southern U.S. Oy vey, eeek and yay!

Key Lime Cupcakes:
Makes 1 dozen
Cupcakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
3/4 cup buttermilk

Frosting
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with paper liners. Combine flours in medium bowl.
2) Beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar and beat to blend. Beat in eggs one at a time, then add lime juice and lime peel.
3) Add 1/3 of the flour, then add 1/2 the buttermilk. Add another 1/3 of the flour, then the rest of the buttermilk. Add the remaining flour.
4) Fill each cupcake liner about 1/3 full and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in pan briefly, then remove.
5) For the frosting, combine all ingredients until smooth and spread or pipe over the cupcakes.

Triangle Food Blogger Bake Sale

Do you like eating for a good cause?

Come visit me and other food bloggers tomorrow, May 14, at the Triangle Food Blogger Bake Sale from 10 a.m.  to 12 p.m. We’ll be at Vega Metals, 214 Hunt Street in Durham. We’ll be conveniently located near the Durham Farmers’ Market.

All the money raised goes to Share Our Strength to fight childhood hunger. For more information visit here.

Tomato & Mango Salsa


It’s really difficult for me to construct legible sentences right now. ‘CAUSE I’M BOOKING MY TICKET FOR MUNICH. I really want to abuse the exclamation point and assault the keyboard with my hands to construct made-up expletives, but I’m refraining from both. I will say this, however: I am ecstatic. And beneath that excitement, I’m harboring a whole gallon of tears in thinking about leaving this place.

This place. Oh, this place. I believe this blog entry sums it up nicely, with a freshman perspective that still resonates with me, sans a few perceptions that desperately needed three more years of college. (And now they get to face “real” adulthood, lucky them.) My favorite line is “Maybe Disney is the happiest place on earth for some people, but mine is right here, with Roy Williams as our Mickey Mouse.” I always used to say that when I gave tours, because I absolutely mean(t) it. I’m leaving here happier than I was when I entered, which is quite an endorsement when I consider how much more I know about the world now. Like Disney World, however, I can’t stay here forever, nor should I. How else will I know what’s Out There?

So, yes, I could cry (and I will). I could cry for what I’m leaving behind, for who I’m leaving behind, but the real value is in what I’m bringing with me. And those things make me smile. It’s like Kurt Vonnegut said:

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.

I can’t promise I’ll remember this bit of wisdom when I’m throwing my mortarboard into the air and hugging my beautiful friends and packing up the last of my clothes before boarding a plane to Munich, but I promise I’ll follow up those tears with a healthy dose of laughter. What’s Next could be even better than What’s Now, and I refuse to preface the future with an excess of sadness.

In other news, I made this salsa just in time for Cinco de Mayo, a holiday whose significance I always forget.

A Cinco de Mayo celebration. That also makes me smile.

Tomato & Mango Salsa:
Makes about eight cups of salsa
4 cloves of garlic
2 jalapeños, roughly chopped and de-seeded to desired heat level
1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
a few sprigs of cilantro
fresh oregano (optional)
4 small mangoes, diced
4 medium tomatoes, diced (I also blanched them first)
1 lime
1 tablespoon sugar
salt & pepper to taste

1) In a food processor, mince the garlic. Add the jalapeños, onions, cilantro and oregano and pulse until the onions are diced well.
2) In a large bowl, combine the mangoes and tomatoes with the jalapeño and onion mixture. Squeeze the lime over the top.
3) Stir in sugar, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate–this salsa is best served cold.

I eat this salsa with tortilla chips and black bean quesadillas. I think it’d be wonderful with grilled fish, though. I’ll keep you posted. Or maybe you can tell me?

Ham & Swiss Quiche with Caramelized Onions

It’s been a big week, folks. On Wednesday, I finished classes. I took my second-to-last-ever exam on Friday, and I turned in my last paper today.

Oh, and I decided to go (back) to Munich for the summer. As many of you know, since I polled approximately 100 of you, I have been struggling with this decision for weeks. I made pro/con lists. I asked my downstairs neighbor. I freaked out and shut down and utterly destroyed my cuticles. And then, at last, clarity.

I’m 22 years old and I should go to Europe for the summer because I can.

And I should eat quiche in honor of my decision. Quiche reminds me of the lovely evenings I spent in London with my friends. I went with this recipe, which only required one adjustment: the addition of leftover Easter ham and caramelized onions. Deadly delicious.

More tomorrow. Right now I am feeling all over the place.