I've been super excited to write about one of my latest baking experiences. Like, it was an epic failure. But first.
My giant project runs tomorrow. Eek! I've basically been working on it nonstop. I'm really excited about it but pretty nervous too. I kind of wish I would have kept track of how many hours I worked on it, from the reading and researching to the interviewing to the drafts to making a slideshow. I'd probably rather not know. I'll post a link on here after it runs. I'm also excited just because it will be done, and that's gonna be a great feeling. I'll be done with the class, too, so my first class finished this semester. So after tomorrow, I just will focus on my other major commitments this week. Good news is, once this week is over, I only have two tests and a paper between me and walking down the hill.
It's seemed like college has gone by so quickly, but I guess when I look back on my freshman and years, things were so different. There's been a different group of Kansan friends every year, most of whom I still talk to and love to see. I used to go to Manhattan all the time for the ex, and now I love spending all my time in Lawrence. I've traveled a whole lot to some new places, seen Elvis' mirrored-room and NYC for the first time, and hope to visit some more. I've taken a whole bunch of completely meaningless classes, a few interesting ones and just a couple really important ones. Right now, though, graduation seems SO far away.
I'm excited to see everyone coming for graduation, though. My mom's coming from Michigan (and gets here on her birthday!), I might have another few aunts or uncles coming, then Dad, Cathie and Grandma. It's going to be a great weekend, especially because I got it off from work! First weekend off since I started.
Anyway, about the food. For Valentine's Day, my mom got me a Martha Stewart Living magazine subscription, and on this issues first pages are rhubarb recipes. It's not something I'd ever really liked until just recently, but it's SO good in desserts. This was a recipe for rhubarb upside-down cake. Rhubarb is just coming into season, so we got it at the Merc. And then started my most epic baking fail ever.
The cake is assembled as such: rhubarb sliced thinly and soaked in sugar in the bottom of the pan, then a sour cream-orange pound cake on top, then a crumb mixture on top of that. When you turn it over the rhubarb's on top, obviously. Anyway, I read the recipe really carefully, except for the part about the pan. Normal cake pans are one inch deep, and this one needed a two inch one. I didn't feel like going out and getting one by the time I saw that, so I decided a springform pan would work. False. Rhubarb is kind of the texture of celery, but when you soak it in sugar and start baking it, it gets a lot softer and starts to make its own syrup. Some of that syrup started leaking out of the springform onto the bottom of the oven, which was pretty gross. So I put a baking pan underneath and wrapped the bottom of the pan with aluminum foil to try to stop it from leaking. The cake bakes for an hour, but about half an hour in I just decided to give up. It's a good thing I decided to then, because when I opened the oven door, the cake had some pretty awesome flames coming off it. Yup, that's right, I set a cake on fire. Took it out of the oven and they were like a foot tall. I guess if I'm going to fail, it might as well be with fire, right? Unfortunately, I wasn't in the mindset to take a picture for the blog, so you'll just have to imagine. So the next day, I tried again, with a normal pan. It turned out awesome and tasted great. It's not quite as red as the magazine's picture, but the rhubarb isn't that color yet. Too early. Also, it's the most interesting flavor if you haven't tried it. I think it's nature's Sweet Tart, especially with desserts. It's poisonous when raw though, FYI.
After this epic failure/redemption, I didn't have much time to bake, but I felt like making snack mix later in the week and went back to an old faithful recipe from a family friend. It makes a giant amount (check out the picture!) and takes forever, but is totally worth it. Eventually I should just give in and make my snack mix entirely with Chex. No matter what percentage of my snack mix is Chex, I always end up eating it all first and am left with a mish mosh of Cheerios and crumbs. Anyway, this takes two hours, stirring it every 15 minutes. It's totally worth it though. And I can actually post the recipe! Check it out at the bottom of the post.
Then a couple days ago my mind was so overloaded with stress I just took a break and made red velvet cupcakes for the LJ newsroom. Still a favorite and super pretty. It always freaks me out a bit when, at the end of mixing the cupcakes, you mix together baking soda and vinegar and put the fizzy mixture in. Whatever it does, it makes it yummy.
Tonight I hang out at the newsroom to work on my project, so I'm making cupcakes for that. And the number of things I'm baking for graduation is growing: ice cream cake for my mom's birthday, cupcakes for our cookout, cupcakes or cake for another lunch...I'm sure more will be added. And I'll love it :)
Anyway, here's the Chex mix recipe, courtesy of Marilyn Livingood.
2 lbs. mixed nuts
1 Tbl. seasoned salt
1 box wheat squares
2 c. salad oil
1 box rice squares
2 Tbl. Worcestershire sauce
1 box Cheerios
1 Tbl. garlic salt
1 package pretzel sticks
(I usually add a box of corn Chex too)
Mix all ingredients in a LARGE pan (two disposable turkey roasters work well). Bake in a 200˚ oven for 2 hours. Stir every 15 minutes.