Thursday, May 26, 2011

Here a Cupcake, There a Cupcake, Everywhere a Cupcake!

             I made all of the cupcakes for Darcy's graduation party and I survived.  156 cupcakes.  When my coworkers hear about it, they give me a strange look and say "You're nuts."  I then make it very clear to them that I would only do this for family... no one else.  I don't want people getting any ideas... right Nancy?  I took a week off work to help get ready for Darcy's party.  On Tuesday I made 2 batches of chocolate cupcakes and a batch of yellow cupcakes.  Grandma did all of the dishes for me.  It was the perfect set-up because I hate doing dishes and Grandma doesn't mind it.  We froze the cupcakes so they'd still be fresh for Sunday.  I had planned to make the white cupcakes on Tuesday instead of the yellow but hit a snag when we realized we had forgotten to buy almond flavoring while grocery shopping.  Wednesday we went grocery shopping before Grandma's dental appointment and forgot the almond flavoring again.  We had just a few things on our mind while at the store!  On Thursday I made the white cupcakes after buying the almond flavoring in Emmetsburg.  Grandma made the spice cupcakes on Friday because I was decorating for the party.  So I guess technically I didn't make ALL of the cupcakes... 
              I made 4 different kinds of frosting: cherry, Butterfinger, chocolate and cream cheese.  I had brought a half batch of the cherry and Butterfinger frosting.  The secret trick to these frosting was the base.  Each started with very basic cake decorating frosting.  I made another batch of the basic frosting and split it in half.  Half was added to the cherry frosting; the other half to the Butterfinger frosting.  Each frosting had been too strong previously.  I wanted the frosting to have a faint taste.  The chocolate frosting was very bitter after I made it.  Grandma fussed with it the next day while I was in Emmetsburg and the result was perfection.  The cream cheese frosting was made Saturday before frosting.  I didn't want to make it sit too long.  The cherry frosting was for the white cupcakes.  The chocolate frosting, the yellow cupcakes.  The chocolate cupcakes had the Butterfinger frosting.  Cream cheese frosting suited the spice cupcakes.
              Saturday Grandma and I took the cupcakes out of the freezer...which wasn't the funnest thing I've ever done.  We put the cupcakes in metal cake pans.  It was a long dash from the freezer in the garage to the counter in the kitchen with the freezing metal on our hands.  Grandma figured it would take us an hour to frost the cupcakes.  We finished frosting in an hour and a half... Grandma was pretty close!  We sprinkled sanding sugar on the white and yellow cupcakes to add a little extra elegance.  For the chocolate cupcakes, Grandma sprinkled a little extra crushed Butterfinger on them.   The spice cupcakes were elegant enough with the cream cheese frosting (and also, anything added to that would have been really gross). 

             On Sunday I took the cupcakes to the office and set them out.  I did plan for the cupcakes to be part of the decoration with the different frosting and the fancy black with white polka dot liners.  I think they turned out very nice.  (And yes, I did fuss with the presentation.)  People seemed to really enjoy the cupcakes. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat"

        Every year I struggle with what to give up for Lent.  But last year and this year, I decided to do something a little different.  I decided not to give anything up.  I decided to instead donate $10 each week to the food basket at church.  Last year John Morrell closed their plant in Sioux City.  It did make the city smell better but the closing left over a thousand people without jobs.  Sioux City's economy took a beating.  A lot of the laid-off workers had a difficult time paying their bills and feeding their families.  It was hard for me to think of their kids not having enough food.  It was something that, thankfully, had never happened when I was a kid.  I had to do something.  My church has a basket inside the doors for food donations.  I decided that every week I would donate $10 worth of food.  It was my small way of helping these families.  As most of you know, food is not just food to me.  It's comfort, love, an apology, a celebration, a way to release frustration and stress, and so much more.  Food is every emotion you could possibly think of.  This year I kept track of my food donations:

Stove Top stuffing
Velveeta cheese
French's fried onions
Jell-o (grape)
corn x2
creamed corn
spaghetti sauce
beef chow mein with sauce
pasta sides cheesy cheddar
pasta sides alfredo broccoli
pasta roni shells and white cheddar
mac n cheese
roasted garlic instant mashed potatoes
pork and beans (Van Camp's) x2
cream of chicken soup x3
white rice
elbow macaroni
Wanchai Ferry Cashew Chicken
Sweet Peas x2
diced tomatoes x2
cream of mushroom soup x3
mandarin oranges
rotini noodles
rigatoni noodles
chunky pineapple
chunky mixed fruit
vegetable broth
tuna x2
instant potatoes x2
Bush's chili magic x2
funfetti cake mix
tomato soup x2
Hamburger Helper x3
egg noodles
Knorr Italian Sides
Knorr Fiesta Sides
Knorr Pasta Sides
Knorr Rice Sides
Knorr Asian Sides

This is what $60-$70 worth of food looks like.  I shopped sales so I could get a lot of food for my $10.  And I did occasionally go over that amount (the cake mix...I thought there should be something fun in the food basket too.).  Now you might notice that some of the food on this list is not food that I would eat at home (ahem, potatoes). I thought it was more important to provide food items that could make a complete meal rather than food items that catered to my personal tastes or views about nutrition.

I'm a dork

           It's true.  I'm a dork.  Not only am I a dork but I publicly admit it... with examples.  The best part of my day today was buying a cupcake stand.  Yes, a cupcake stand.  And I was a little picky.  Target had a cupcake/dessert stand but it wasn't what I wanted.  I just looked it up.  It was a dessert pedestal for $16.  Here's the link:  Not what I wanted at all.  My best friend's mom (my second mommy) and my sister-in-law have similar cupcake stands and that's what I was looking for.  I remembered Hobby Lobby carried theirs.  The brand I bought is a Wilton cupcake stand.  I had three different choices: 13, 23 or 38 cupcakes.  I, of course, chose the 38 cupcake stand.  Here's the link to the one I got:

My little sister is graduating this month and I'm making the cupcakes for her party.  (I'm sure you're well-aware of that fact.)  Her party gave me the perfect excuse to buy the cupcake stand.  Darcy and I were talking about her party a couple weeks ago.  I told her that I was going to buy the stand for her party and she said "You so want one, just admit it.  You have a blog about food.  You want the cupcake stand."  Yup, it's true.