Thursday, April 30, 2009

2 teaspoons Martha Stewart, a Pinch of Betty Crocker, and 2 Cups of Clueless

Last year I decided that I was going to contribute something to the Biedermann Thanksgiving Dinner. I actually decided this the day that I thumbed through the Martha Stewart Living magazine and discovered the most amazing looking cake, an Carmalized-Apple Spice Cake. I knew that I had to make this cake. Plus, selfishly, I wanted to impress my family!!

Since the recipe was on two separate pages I had a genius idea to type the recipe up, plus I would be able to keep the recipe on my computer, so if I lost the magazine, it wouldn't be a big deal!! See? THIS is what I learned from six of college!! 

So I buy my ingredients, the apples, the apple cider, dark brown sugar, eggs, flour, and so on. I get home, and I immediately begin. I'm so excited, I begin the first step, which is to peel, core, and grate 2 pounds of Granny Smith apples. After 45 minutes I finally finished grating the apples and began the rest of the work. I scraped the seeds from a vanilla bean and cooked them (and their pod!) with the butter, I preheated the oven to 450, I whisked, I beat the batter, I folded the apple mixture and pecans into the batter, and got ready to pour the batter into my two round cake pans. But that was about the time I realized that my "batter" looked more like play-doh than actual batter...oh great...

So I go back through my recipe and check everything off. Apples? Check! Butter? Check! Ginger? Check! Baking soda & powder? Check and Check! Eggs? Eggs? shoot...okay, so I find my four eggs and add them in, instantly making my batter look like, well, batter!!

I fill my two cake pans, put them in the oven, then wonder if maybe they will spill over so I decide to place some aluminum foil underneath them just in case. I don't want to get in trouble with Momma Walker by making a mess in her oven!! Setting the directions I so carefully typed out, I set the timer for 50 minutes and begin to make my Brown-Sugar Swiss Meringue Frosting (that's right I made this baby TOTALLY from scratch!!).

As I'm finishing my frosting (which surprisingly turned out pretty well!) my mom came home and immediately asked, "What's burning?" turns out that it's not a good idea to put foil underneath a cake when you're baking it, as it does something to make it hotter than what it should be (my mom explained it, but I don't remember) and it will burn the cake. However, that was not my problem.

The second thing my mom asked was, "If you're making a cake, why is the oven set at 450?" Apparently when you bake a cake, you aren't supposed to set the oven for a pepperoni pizza, but actually for a cake, which would be 
350!! I take the cake out of the oven, and let it cool. After about an hour and a half or so, I decide it's time to frost the cake. I take the cakes off the cooling racks and stick a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. I put one hand on the cake (don't worry! I washed them!!) and one on the pan and flip it upside down so the cake can fall neatly into my hand.

Only it doesn't. Instead, it sits in the pan. I flip it back over and put the knife back between the cake and the pan, trying to loosen it even more. I flip it back over, and...nothing. I shake the pan a little, still nothing. I shake it harder, nothing. I call for my dad to come help me. He shakes the pan, MY CAKE IS BURNED TO MY CAKE PAN AND IS REFUSING TO COME OUT!! My dad finally suggests that I take a fork and try to get it underneath the cake. Which I do, and in two pieces my cake comes out of the pan!! Unfortunately, it's got about 2 inches of burned cake on the sides, the bottom, and the top...after I cut those off, I got through the same shaking and loosening procedure with the second cake pan, and in 3 pieces it comes out as well.  I grab my frosting and procede to glue the cake back together. 

It actually doesn't turn out too bad! I even put some purple mums on top to make it look pretty! And the taste?? Well, not to toot my own horn, but, tasted pretty darn good!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

True Life: I'm a Wimp

About a week or so ago my sister left for a mini-vacay in Florida. I was so sad that she wouldn’t be home, but at the same time, I was a bit excited for some much needed Claire Time. After a trip to Meijer for some veggies I headed home to chop up my peppers & cucumbers, and make baggies of my grapes to take to work. I forgot oranges, so I detoured to stop at another grocery store, and on my way there saw my dad taking his afternoon walk, and then ran into my mom at the store. It was kind of funny to run into them both, but nice too.

When I got home I noticed a stinkbug on the screen of the window that’s next to the door. Being the “bug lover” that I am, my pace quickened and I unlocked the door and slammed the door behind me in record time, because there was no way I was having some bug come in the house! Now, perhaps you think I’m exaggerating a bit, but if that’s the case, then you don’t know me as well as you think you do. You see, I’m actually the world’s biggest wimp. There’s a good chance that if you look up WIMP in the dictionary, there’ll be a picture of me fainting next to it. I’m okay with an insect or two…OUTSIDE! But even then, I turn into a screeching 9 year old when bees come around, and don’t even get me started on lady bugs! Sure when I was a kid I played with lightening bugs, counted the dots on ladybugs and wanted nothing more than to catch the most caterpillars…but then I became an adult and learned that the best way to deal with something that was smaller than my pinky was to scream and run.

So, I enter the house, and go to put my groceries on the kitchen counter when I realize that someone spilled coffee grounds all over the place. Muttering to myself, I instead walk into the dining room to put the groceries on the dining room table. Going back into the kitchen I reach for the sponge to clean up the coffee grounds when I realize that the coffee grounds are moving, and they are in fact, not coffee ground, but ants. Taking a few deep breaths and trying to remain calm, I remember that you are supposed to vacuum ants up.

So I go to the front closet and drag out the vacuum cleaner. I pull it into the living room, then look around for an outlet to plug it into, but what do I find instead? ANTS! They’re all over the dining room floor!! I see them crawling towards the living room and realize that they are in the carpet and on the floorboards of the living room too! Well, I’ll tell you what, whatever calmness I had was gone. The tears came faster than I’d like to admit and I called my dad (remember that my mom was in the store, I knew she’d never hear her phone, but I knew my dad had his with him on his walk!) and as it rang I cried out, “they’re everywhere!! EVERYWHERE!! They’re everywhere!” in the midst of my crying he answered, and through my tears I all but yelled through my phone, “They’re everywhere!! The ants! There are so many! You have to come over!” And my wonderful father just said, “okay, I’ll be right there. Start vacuuming. Don’t worry, it’ll be okay!” Although I’m pretty sure all he heard was “sob sob sob…everywhere!...sob sob sob…come over!” He probably thought we were overrun with mice or something…poor dad, if only his daughter could maintain herself…

But I did just what he said and started to vacuum up those little baby slab ants (Who were apparently looking for water). After I’d cleared the dining room floor of at least 100 ants, I turned to the kitchen. Putting the attachment on, I started to vacuum the ants off the counters, then noticed them on the kitchen drawers, and the cupboard doors, and the floor, and the sink…I really did try to not worry, but it didn’t really work. Fresh tears kept spouting out, try as I might to make them stop, I couldn’t. Through my tears I vacuumed somewhere between 50 to 75 ants throughout the kitchen. I turned around to turn off the vacuum cleaner, and that’s when I saw MORE ANTS!! I swear, it looked as though the vacuum cleaner threw up ants! There were so many, and they were all over. I didn’t understand where they could be coming from! But they just kept scampering all over the floors and counters! Everytime I’d vacuum one section, I’d turn around there would be more somewhere else!

As I attempted to remember how to breathe, I dropped the vacuum and ran to my room where I threw my gym bag on my bed and quickly started throwing clothes into it. There was no possible way that I would be staying the night in the ant hotel! I would stay at my parents tonight, they would totally understand. As I was packing I heard my dad knocking on the door. As soon as he came in he took control, stopping only to laugh at my packed bag and insistence that I was staying at his house. He helped me vacuum, made me watch the ants after I vacuumed so we would know where they were coming in, duct taped those areas, and did our dishes since I wouldn’t go near the sink. After a lecture on leaving dishes in the sink, he helped me explain the situation to my sister who contacted the exterminator.

My mom soon arrived to relieve my dad (who still had three sermons for Holy Week that he was working on!), and she sprayed Bug Killer along all of the floorboards and areas that we saw ants, then she put down two different kinds of ant poison both inside and outside. We vacuumed and sprayed so many ants I couldn’t even give you an exact number, but it had to be in 2-300’s…I thanked my mom for everything she did, and then thanked her for letting me stay the night at her house since there was no way I could stay in the house. And do you know what my wonderful mother said to me? “Oh yes you will! You’ll be just fine! You just watch your show, leave the vacuum where you can get to it, and vacuum any stray ants you see. It’ll be fine. We killed most of them anyways.”

Well, I have to say, with my parents taking control and ridding the house of the ants, and my mom not letting me stay over (“face your fears” is just another way to say, “we just got used to having the house to ourselves!”), I stayed the night in my own bed and did not see another ant! I didn’t stop shaking until after lunch the next day, and for the next week every speck I saw turned into an ant (until I realized it was dust, a piece of dirt, a pen mark, a chocolate chip…), but now I know that I am fully capable of handling slab ants…as long as I have a vacuum cleaner, duct tape, LOTS of ant poison…and of course, my parents!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

MIA...or Back In Action!!

Okay, it's obviously been waaaay too long since I've posted anything!! Things are going really well with me. I'm going back to school in the fall (yay!), I've even signed up for classes (yay!), and am just waiting for my financial aid to come through!! I really just want to kick myself sometimes for not finishing in the first place. What was I thinking and why didn't someone try to seriously talk me out of it?! In case you're wondering, I would LOVE for you to talk me out of a decision like that again, any time in the future, okay?

I'm so excited to go back to school, challenge my brain, read some great books, learn how to write poetry, create lesson plans and TEACH them!! I'm really hoping that I get into a school nearby, hopefully a middle school. I've only worked with high schoolers, and I from those experiences, I've really learned that I don't have the patience for them. They generally think they're better and smarter than anyone else, and will push push push you til you can't go any further. Middle schoolers, on the other hand, they are still a little afraid of you. You might get one or two who really gets your goat, but for the most part, they listen and do whatever you tell them to.

Okay, I have to interrupt myself for a minute to tell you something that is driving me crazy. While I've been writing this, I've been hitting the backspace button like crazy!! I'm not kidding!! Like, once every other word almost! I'm apparently letting my fingers fly faster than they should be because I am making mistakes like it's nobody's business! You would never know I was an English major if I didn't hit backspace to correct these mistakes! And they're so simple too!!! But it's really made me realize how much I rely on the auto-correct perk of Microsoft Office products (like Word and Outlook). To prove how reliant I am on it, I will now complete the rest of my blog about my current life WITHOUT correcting myself...okay, I would also just like to state, that this is going to drive me crazy and I may not be able to actually follow through with it, but we'll see if I can bear all the mistakes...okay, here we go...

So (I already hit backspace!) the question now becomes, do I quit my job and try to substitue teach three days a weke, or do I stay at my ob and teach once a cweek? (oh my...I need ot go back to tyupeing calss! GAH!!! I hope my mom doesn't see this, she'll die!_) If I could stay at my current job i would at least be able to have a somewhat decent paycheck that would be steady, you know? if I substites teach, then i'm nota lways gauranteed a job...what a decision!

Okay, that's enough. I can't take it anymore!! I PROMISE I CAN SPELL!! I just need to slow down my typing...