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friday afternoon thoughts

1. i want to make brownies but the recipe i think looks yummiest requires browned butter and i am scared

2. i have a grad school interview next week and visions of disaster are romping through my head

3. i told my poor mother that if i don’t get into grad school, i might just turn to the oldest profession

4. or open a bakery, that does sound a bit…wiser.

5. WHAT WILL I WEAR TO THE INTERVIEW?

6. i locked myself out of my office suite for like, 30 minutes this morning. it was not cool.

7. i want more coffee, but i’m scared that the combination of stress-energy and caffeine will cause my brain to stop.

8. an iced latte sounds frickin’ amazing, though.

red velvet cupcakes with dark chocolate center

 

i do not like to brag on myself, but sometimes i worry about how things turned out, and today? today i ruled the kitchen. these cupcakes are legitimately my all-time favorite, my roommate told me she’s never had a better one…it was a nice ego boost.

dear grad schools: accept me and i will bake you cupcakes.

i used martha stewart’s red velvet cupcake recipe (here), but used butter instead of vegetable oil. a few reasons – i prefer the taste of butter in baked goods to oil, i like the crumb of a butter-based treat, and oil-based baked goods just have a greasy feel to me. butter-based ones taste right. the internet suggested that i sub in 1 1/4 cup butter for every cup of oil. i did a direct one-to-one ratio and was pleased with the results.

i also used my own touch – a dark chocolate snuggled into the middle of the cupcake. let’s take a look at how this went down.

chefs call this the mise en place, or at least food network chefs do. i call it “getting all the ingredients out ahead of time because i do not like going back to the pantry every five seconds”.

dry ingredients: cake flour (pop quiz, kids, how do you make cake flour when you do not have any?), salt, cocoa powder.

butter and sugar, beaten till fluffy in the standing mixer.

add in two eggs, one at a time…

plus vanilla and a good deal of red food dye. i did not edit this very much, because i like this image a lot. but it was bright – just not QUITE this garish.

pop quiz – how do you make buttermilk, loves? you should know this.

mixing flour and buttermilk in (alternating, of course)

add baking soda and vinegar to a bowl, stir, add to batter and beat briefly.

best method for this was to have me on batter duty – fill it halfway, have my roommate add a chocolate, then i covered the chocolate so that the cupcake tin was filled 3/4 of the way

out! i’m not sure why they’re marbled, but i like the look.

 

enjoy!

love

me

the pigeon hole, charlottesville va

sunday, the gentleman friend and i went to a relatively new restaurant in charlottesville for brunch. now, charlottesville has something like the highest number of restaurants per capita, which is (1) insane, (2) a blessing and a curse. sometimes a horrible restaurant will pop up and stay due to the economic power of drunk college kids. i can’t really say much on that, i’m certain that my inebriated undergraduate food decisions have helped keep some places around. and sometimes, great restaurants go completely unnoticed because, well, drunk undergrads, etc etc. also, when every other building in town is a restaurant, you can overload and just not care.

this, folks, is a case where a great restaurant needs to stay. please. go there. eat everything. tell your friends.

a friend told us about the pigeonhole (their website is here) at a viewing of mega-python versus gatoroid. she said she knew the owners, that they had done a great job renovating the interior of a building on the corner, and we should check it out. so we did!

and oh, i am so glad we did. first, i went to high school with one of the owners, which is totally awesome. here’s a quick shot of some of the interior – bright, cheery, a kind of diner vibe without feeling greasy.

any place that paints bubbles on the bathroom door wins my love.

i am battling the mini-plague, so went with tea. excellent tea selection, for what it’s worth. let’s see. things that charmed me. water is served in mason jars. mismatched silverware that appeared to be real silver. funky salt and pepper shakers. one of the owners was chatting with a guy near us about using his massive coaster collection in the restaurant, and their website asks for local art submissions. that kind of effort to bond with the community is great.

i went with a classic breakfast – french toast with warm spiced apples and grits. this was a good breakfast. not the best french toast i’ve ever tried, but good and delicious. the grits, though? i would come back to just order a bowl of the grits. or two bowls. or three. i do not know what they do to the grits there, but holy lord they are SO GOOD.

to the gentleman one table over who asked “what’s a grit?”…i’m sorry that you are so sheltered. you missed out if you didn’t get grits.

i completely plan to return for lunch one day. sometimes, it takes a brand-new eatery a bit of time to hit its stride. in this case, the pigeon hole has found its stride already – good southern-inspired food. what it needs is the love of our community. so go for an inexpensive lunch with a friend, take a co-worker there, send everyone you know there.

love,

me

brief update from the sick bay

downside of working in education? children, as adorable as they are, are walking petri dishes. all of them. tiny, adorable, lovable, sentient petri dishes.

and having spent a week with four rooms full of those germy little angels, i am now down and out with the plague.

which, looking at my sentence above referring to “lovable, sentient petri dishes”….i may be more feverish than i thought.

dear future employers: i love children. i’m just plaguey and loopy and cannot breathe properly.

anyhow. i also have no food, beyond something green that might not be green on a good day. so i’m thinking that i’ll put on pants and trek to the store to buy soup makings.

i’ll post later about the new brunch place we found.

love,

me

best dinner? possibly

co-worker and i discussed this today at dinner

in decatur, the brick store pub is what south street (in charlottesville) aspires to be.

and the iberian pig is what mas tapas (also in c’ville) aspires to be.

we ate at the iberian pig tonight, where the owner remembered us, greeted us warmly, our waiter remembered us, and the service was beyond impeccable.

if you go, try to pork cheek tacos (unholy levels of delicious) and the mac n cheese.

that mac n cheese? perfectly swimming in a manchego crema.

if i could take a swim in food, it would be that mac n cheese

love,

me

 

dinner at leon’s full service, decatur GA

i’m too drunk on food to type. this is chicken. it was delicious. there was a mushroom bread pudding with it. i loved it. i do not like mushrooms. this is a big deal.

dark chocolate espresso tart.

good god.

delicious.

love,

me

i’m very easily swayed by food suggestions

so, for work, i’m spending the week in decatur, georgia, working in a pre-school center nearby. today the class we were in listened to a song about silly weather, including the possibility of milkshakes raining from the sky.

and now?

now i want a milkshake.

like those!

probably *not* the same milkshake as mentioned in the following, though…

and not really the same idea as this image:

(boyfriend, that is for you)

anyhow. all of this is to say…i would pay good money to go to chap’s ice cream in charlottesville and get a milkshake.

love,

me

eating at ‘the iberian pig’ in decatur, georgia

oh. my.

i have no words for how divine that meal was.

yelp told me to expect mostly good food, with mediocre service.

uh. lies?

let’s see. our server was a rockstar, training a newbie, and kept us feeling loved.

he recommended we try a cheese as an appetizer.

sure. my co-worker and i love us some cheese.

this is what we got

this, ladies and gentlemen, is the Idiazabal cheese appetizer. it comes with triple sec honey, toasted bread, and olives. and happiness. a hearty side of that.

so. freaking. good.

THEN. then we ordered meals. my co-worker is vegetarian, and got the quinoa dish, which looked amazing. seeing as he cleaned his plate completely, i think it was pretty f*ing awesome.

i got the pork tenderloin, which came with (pulling from their website) a Cherry-Rioja reduction, parship puree, spiced walnuts, piquillo peppers,  and crispy shallots.

um. why did no one tell me about crispy shallots?

lurve.

first. let’s be impressed that i took this picture in a dimly lit restaurant and it came out nicely focused.

second? BE JEALOUS.

anyhoodle. if you are EVER in atlanta, go to decatur for an evening at the iberian pig. drool over the menu here, and enjoy.

also, the owner stopped by our table to say hello, everyone was happy, and long story short?

i might be in love with the entire restaurant

love,

me

i need this, please

so i’m on a work trip, and while the hotel is lovely, the coffee is…eh…i just…it’s kind of yucky.

and hi, coffee addict over here. also, coffee snob.

so.

that being said.

i uploaded this picture from my weekend in DC (and a lovely coffee-date with the manfriend)

if i stare at the coffee long enough, will i feel more alert?

love,

me

german chocolate cupcakes

again, from martha.

i won’t post the recipe, but you can find it here, and the recipe for the filling here

do you see how this is all in the stand mixer? sigh. love it.

i know the color is not lovely here, but our kitchen lights give everything an odd tint.

batter plus three eggs

flour and buttermilk, ready to go!

so. much. chocolate. love it.

making the filling. i like to call this stage “vomit”

but it gets to this stage, which is the “i want a latte now” stage

pecans! how do you pronounce it? i can never figure it out because i think my brain’s instinct is to imitate whoever just asked me how i say ‘pecans’. it appears to be a survival technique.

and coconut, which i usually do not like

nom. i have a lot left over, which will be slathered on a cake tomorrow, i think

aaaaaand cupcake!

love

me