April Daring Bakers Challenge!

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

This month we were pretty much invited to let our imaginations run wild – we were given a basic cheesecake recipe and the instructions to get creative! Now, I love cheesecake (who doesn’t?!) and I love margaritas (again, who doesn’t?!), so…I think you can see where I’m going with this…I made a margarita cheesecake!

I think it’s basically a key lime pie, but it does have orange flavoring (though you can’t really taste it) and tequila (um, again, though you can’t really taste it) along with the lime juice and lime zest. Still, it’s a really nice lime cheesecake – it’s super-creamy and not too rich. It’s just the right amount of sweet. If I were to make it again – and I do expect to make this recipe again –  I think I would use some orange zest – for some reason, the zests always have more flavor than the liqueurs and extracts.

At any rate, what with the weather finally getting quite nice lately, it’s, if nothing else, a good excuse to have a real magarita. So, yes, quite a successful Daring Bakers challenge!

If you’d like to see other beauteous cheesecakes, click on the Daring Bakers logo above to go to the temporary blogroll or click here to go the The Daring Kitchen and have a look around!

The newest members of my household have arrived!

They were eagerly greeted at the door by Arthur and Josephine (and me, if I’m honest).

Do you know what it is yet? Of course you do!

Isn’t it pretty? It’s all shiny and candy apple red! Unfortunately, I neglected to also order a cord to connect the two of them together and a strap, so the most I can offer is another picture of Josephine welcoming the guitar so that she doesn’t become jealous of Arthur…

ETA: In my excitement to post about the new arrivals, I neglected to tell you anything else about them or my first lesson last Saturday! I think it went as well as a first lesson can go – mostly I think I managed to entirely confound my teacher when I told him I can already read bass clef:

Teacher: So are you interested in learning to read music?

Me: Oh, I can already read music – that’s no problem.

Teacher (slightly confused): Oh. So apart from voice, do you play any musical instruments?

Me: Well, flute and a little bit of violin when I was only tiny.

Teacher: So…how do you know bass clef?

Me (forgetting I have a minor in music): I don’t know – I guess they taught us when they taught us treble clef.

Teacher: Okay, here. Read out the notes for this song (imagine the most basic song you’d find in a beginner’s bass book).

Me: *Reads*

Teacher (entirely confused): Oh. I guess you do know how to read bass clef.

Me (thinking): Why would I lie about something like that?!

But other than that, it went fairly well. I had borrowed a guitar from the Music Shoppe because I wanted to chat with my teacher before I committed to buying or renting something. And I ended up with the very pretty (but super-cheap [since the end goal involves an upright bass, which is expensive to begin with, and whose price also includes a new car, I figured I should save my money on this end of things] and probably pretty crappy) guitar that you see above!

It’s fretless since that’s more similar to the upright bass, but it does make it harder to learn (no harder than learning upright bass, but harder than learning a regular fretted guitar). Especially since this one doesn’t even have fret lines on it like a lot of the other ones I looked at did. But that’s okay – I’ll put in the extra time now and then there will be less upheaval when I finally get my proper bass. Yay!

Miscellaneous news!

In major appliance news:

I am the proud owner of a dishwasher! I wasn’t expecting to buy it quite so soon, but it turns out that the counter guys need to have everything in place before they can measure for the counters (even though the dishwasher is not the end of the counter – I told my dad to tell them that I’d crouch in the space we’ve left for it and they can pretend I’m the dishwasher, but apparently that’s not good enough). It’s not in place yet – it won’t be delivered until Friday. Would you like to see what it looks like?

The only downside is that it’s a Frigidaire brand dishwasher. Not that I have anything against Frigidaire per se, but my Hated Stove is a Frigidaire and I’m afraid seeing the new appliance will make it uppity. Hated Stove, you are on the list of big purchases:

  1. Dishwasher – Check!
  2. Wii
  3. Stove
  4. Couch
  5. Garage door opener
  6. Mattress

Your days are numbered, Hated Stove! Numbered!

In book news:

The next offering from the people who brought you Pride and Prejudice and Zombies have announced their next book: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Word on the street is that Seth Grahame-Smith has been offered, um, A LOT of money for it (even though he was just assigned to write Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). So quick, start thinking of a classic mash-up! According to the article at Publishers Weekly, the editor who thought of PP & Z has already heard A Farewell to Arms and Legs and The Corpse of Monte Cristo, so think again…

Now with 25% more zombies!*

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Yes, you read that correctly! Pride and Prejudice. And Zombies. And it is awesome.

The premise is awesome, the cover is awesome, Elizabeth is awesome (Mr. Darcy often makes her long for her Katana sword so that she can disembowel him and strangle him with his own intestines), even the famous first line is awesome:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.

Seriously, how much better can you get!

The premise is that, for approximately 55 years, there has been a strange plague in Britain which causes, well, zombies (i.e., unmentionables, the sorry stricken). So the zombies are actually treated in quite a mundane manner – not that Grahame-Smith skimps on the gross-factor when the zombies make their occasional appearances, it’s just that it really is Pride and Prejudice. With zombies. No one is fazed by the fact that zombies sometimes shamble into the scene, they simply unsheath their Katanas or ninja throwing stars and go to town. A good use of zombies, I feel.

There are also a number of juvenile (though they still made me laugh) double entendres regarding organised dancing events and musket ammunition – think about it , you’ll get it – mostly funny because Elizabeth and Darcy are the ones making the slightly risque jokes.

My main confusion is about where this book is shelved – YA. Not that young adults shouldn’t be reading it or anything – more power to them if they want to – but that’s the thing. I’m not sure they’ll want to. Oh, I’m sure they’ll buy it because you can’t move in the YA department without knocking over some display of the newest supernatural/undead/vampire/ghost/whatever book to sweep the publishing world, but it’ll be lost on them. I really can’t imagine this being a very effective read if you’re not familiar with the real Pride and Prejudice. In that case, it just becomes a regency + zombie book, not a funny parody of a classic book. But whatever – maybe today’s teens are much more sophisticated than I was at their age and are reading things like Pride and Prejudice earlier and earlier than ever before.

One can only hope.

My rating: A is for AWESOME CAKES!

*This is not entirely accurate, seeing as there were no zombies – not even a little one – in the original. Also, now I’m trying to think of what other books need this treatment. Jane Eyre‘s already got its fair shar of ghosty, ghoulish goings-on, but I think Wuthering Heights could do with a werewolf or two – I know Heathcliff just cries out to be an angsty vampire, but, really, there are enough of those and all those characters wandering across the wild moors are just asking to be chased by a werewolf.

4 out of 5 voters say I should learn to play the bass so…

…I picked super-secret option C!

Bass guitar!

Acoustic/upright bass is still the end goal, but it is ridiculously unrealistic at this point (nowhere to rent one, nowhere to take a lesson, no way to get it in my car even if I could find one and find a place to take it to learn to play it), so I have a plan:

  1. Learn to play bass guitar.
  2. Join/start the Next Big Thing in pop/rock bands. I’m thinking the new U2. Or the new Radiohead. Either one is fine, really.
  3. Use my new millions of dollars as the sexy girl bassist in the Next Big Thing to buy an acoustic/upright bass AND a car to carry it around in.
  4. Learn to play the acoustic/upright bass.

Easy, right? Okay, well, I also have a secondary plan, just in case that one falls through:

  1. Learn to play bass guitar.
  2. Learn to play cello.
  3. Bass guitar + cello = acoustic/upright bass. Ta da!

Which means there is a new poll for you!

A lasagna winner!

I know it seems like all I’ve been doing lately is cooking or baking, but I think I’m starting to be kitchen deprived (progress is being made just…slowly) and am taking it out on my parents’ kitchen. But in the meantime, I’ve made a very lovely lasagna recipe! Lasagna is pretty standard fare, but this recipe, from Sunny Anderson, takes it in a slightly different direction – Latin Lasagna (obviously I left out the pork, though)!

Would you like to see a pretty, close-up, yummy photo? Yeah, you do.

So yes, a very nice twist on traditional lasagna – I particularly like the fresh tomato salsa instead of the canned, cooked tomato sauce and the mushrooms (I told my dad they were bacon so he’d stop complaining – I don’t think he believed me, but at least he ate it) with a hint of cayenne. And the spinach. But I really think it’s the fresh tomatoes that make the difference here. It did take me a full hour to get it all put together – a 30-minute meal, this is not – but it was easy and if my knife skills were better, it probably would have gone faster and didn’t feel like hard work or a long time.

Guess where I’ll be September 13th?!

I couldn’t get tickets for the Saturday show, even though I was at my computer at the very second the tickets went on sale – lame! But thank goodness, the lovely lads added a second show and I was able to get tickets for that this morning – at the very second the tickets went on sale! Yay!

I was particularly desperate to get tickets for this tour because rumor has it that…wait for it…MUSE ARE OPENING FOR THEM! I don’t know if this is true, but if it is, it will be AMAZING. And if not, it’ll still be amazing.

Is it September yet?

ETA: Oh, and look who’s wearing my shoes! The Edge, you are the best.


Well, the other day I ate my last roll of Wine Gums. Which made me very sad. So I decided to cheer myself up by making one of my other favorite British foods – Banoffee Pie! It’s basically dulce de leche, bananas, and whipped cream in a graham cracker crust, so it’s super easy and, well, how can you go wrong?!

I’m afraid it’s not much to look at, but it certainly tastes super yummy!

Oh, and though you don’t really need a recipe for this pie, I used Paula Deen’s. I followed her instructions for the dulce de leche (usually, I like to walk on the wild side and just boil it in the can for three hours, but I decided to give her method a try) and I found that after an hour and a half, I didn’t really think it was ready. I let it go for about two hours and I thought it was pretty good. I’m thinking the pie might have been a bit sturdier if I’d let it go for longer – something I might try next time. Oh, yes, there will be a next time!