Archive for July, 2011


Sorry I haven’t been writing. Turns out I don’t like to bake when the heat index hits about 116 or so.

The only thing I’ve been doing with my time is making these:

Yeeeeah homemade pudding pop.

You’ll need:

Pudding mix

Milk (NOTE: Soy milk will not set! Almond milk doesn’t really either!)

popsicle molds


Make the pudding. Pour it into the molds. Freeze. Take out and enjoy while watching House of Cosbys.

You’re welcome.


And, in the words of college buddy and smartest dude in the room, Chris: “Vandellas speak louder than words.”



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I like all things Southern. I like peaches and iced tea. My love of Paula Deen is well documented. I never met a fried chicken I didn’t want to devour. The drawl has been known to melt my cold Northern heart. But here’s a confession: I don’t think I like red velvet cake.

Now, my favorite bakery in DC is Red Velvet, but I always get the Summertime cupcake. I made a red velvet cake for my ladyfriend Kate Kreps, and she assured me it tasted right, but to me, something was off.

Lemme tell you, though, I don’t doubt Ms. Deen’s abilities, or Kate’s red velvet know-how. So here’s the cake I made.

You’ll need:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cocoa

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups canola oil

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 (1-ounce) bottle red food coloring (NOTE: use the liquid kind. I started with a food color gel and that did not go over well)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup buttermilk

So, obviously, cream your eggs and sugar together. In a separate bowl, sift your flour, baking soda and cocoa. In yet another bowl, mix the other ingredients except for the buttermilk. Put your liquid mixture (bowl number three) in with the eggs and sugar and mix it up. Then mix in flour, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk, flour. Pour into three greased round cake pans and bake for 25 minutes at 350.

At least two will look like this:

Let those puppies cool completely while you make your frosting.

You’ll need:

3/4 cup butter

12 ounces cream cheese

1.5 boxes powdered sugar, sifted

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Just, you know, mix ’em all up. Spread onto bottom cake, throw the second one on, ice again, throw the top one (the nicest looking one) on top. Cover all the cakes, tops and sides. I added 50% of the icing for you because the original recipe was not enough. Hide all topside imperfections with toasted pecans, like so:



So maybe this wasn’t my best cake ever. It still satisfied, and on a hot summer day, that and an iced tea is really all you can ask for.






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As a magazine writer and editor, I’ve been known to embrace periodicals. I subscribe to, of course, The Washington Post, Esquire, Bust and The Week. My Gramma Woho, bless her heart, sends me all of last month’s Time magazines every month. Washingtonian regularly graces my coffee table. I pick up Mother Jones, Good, Bitch, etc., quarterly/as they come out. But there is one magazine that I’m a little ashamed to pick up every month, one that never comes out on the airplane.

Real Simple.

Yes, that mixture of clean design, urban spendiness and suburban Heloise-style tips is basically my favorite reading material every month. I LIKE THE DESIGN, OK? And I like new uses for old things! And I like reading recipes I will never, ever make. EXCEPT THAT I DID.

This month’s issue had a recipe that a) didn’t feed an army of perfectly-dressed children, b) did not include salmon (sorry, I just can’t get into it) and c) had relatively few ingredients, and I liked all of them. So I thought I’d give it a go. And it turned out pretty good! And then the next day I went along and made it better.

Pasta with Goat Cheese and Basil Oil

You’ll need:

Any short pasta (I used rotini)


Basil leaves (the measurement in the magazine is six parts basil to one part oil. Go with it)

Crumbled goat cheese (if you need a measurement for this you’re reading the wrong food blog, I think)

Salt and pep

OK! So you’re gonna cook up the pasta, and while that’s going, you’re supposed to blend/food process the basil and oil together, then strain that whole mess through a fine sieve. I don’t have any of that. I have an immersion blender.

Please don’t use an immersion blender for this, because it does not work.

Oh boy. That's not working.

Anyway, when you drain the pasta, pour the oil or oil-basil sludge in my case, over the pasta. Season with a little salt, a pinch of pepper and get the whole thing going with goat cheese, which will magically fix your oil problems. You can dunk bread in it too and ¬†your mouth won’t mind. Maybe throw some chicken breast in there if you want some protein that isn’t tangy and creamy.

Oh that's better. Thank goodness.

So that’s all well and good. But the next day it was even better, because I had some tomatoes and a red bell pepper that looked like they were about to go belly-up, so I sauted the whole thing together, then put more of that magical goat cheese on top. This was even better! The red pepper really adds a little sum’n-sum’n to the cheese, and the whole thing gets brightened up a bit with a squeeze of lemon over it. Yum.

I wish I had a picture to show you of day two’s leftovers meal, but I ate it too fast to think about taking a picture. Instead, I’ll post a picture of a baby goat, in keeping with the ingredients list.

Hey dude.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go use an old toothbrush to clean the molding along my floorboards.


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For Fourth of July in the nation’s capital, we like to go all out. Sparklers. Fireworks. I personally sing “Rock Flag and Eagle” no less than a half-dozen times. Whatever. It’s America. I also make an American Jell-o poke cake.

This caused a lot of controversy in our group, mostly because I don’t think people understood the phrase “jell-o cake.” This is understandable if you didn’t grow up in a household where most recipes were modified from a) eastern European stink-bombs or b) the back of Kraft food packages. This one is probably the latter, but was also big in my dorm cafeteria. So easy.

You’ll need:

A box of white cake mix (seriously, it’s the Fourth of July; do you really want to be screwing around with a homemade cake? Do this one, and in forty minutes you’re in the pool. Go!)

One small (3 oz.) box of red Jell-o (I like strawberry)

1 C boiling water

1 container Cool Whip

Strawberries, blueberries (I also used white currants)

OK, so make the white cake as directed. This is the easiest part of a very easy recipe. When that thing is done, let it cool completely. When it’s done, use a fork (I used one of these guys) to poke holes in the top of your cake at random intervals. Mix the boiling water with the Jell-o and pour it over the top of your cake. Refrigerate, perhaps overnight.

Now you’re going to decorate. Take out your cake and ice it using the Cool Whip. Then, use your berries to create a stars and stripes pattern. I liked the white currants because they had a little star quality to them.

When you carry it to your barbecue, make sure you use toothpicks to keep the whipped topping and berries from getting messed up. Also, beware that this cake apparently entices older cab drivers to ask if you have a husband and would you like one. Ignore that guy! Get to the cookout and wow people with both the exterior and interior of your cake.

And don’t let youngsters hit you with snaps. No one wins when that happens, especially America.


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