Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Over a year ago I brought home a bag full of sad and unwanted pomegranates from work.  I had no idea what to do with them, but I knew they were on the verge and needed to be loved-up soon.  So I made syrup.  What I remember is that I put all of the seeds into a blender until the juice/pulp had separated and then strained the juice out- then combined it with equal parts sugar and cooked it over med/low heat until it had reduced and become thick.  I had a glass syrup bottle that I had saved and cleaned, so in my syrup went.  And then I forgot about it.

When I moved to Seattle I became a beer drinker.  Originally because of ridiculous liquor laws that make it impossible to buy booze past 6pm in most parts of town, and then eventually because I stopped drinking only to get drunk.  Meaning no more 40oz of Big Bear or smuggling tall boys of PBR into the park... Well, to an extent... whatever.  On top of that I can't remember the last time I actually bought a bottle of booze and mixed drinks at home (never mind coolerfulls of sangria... la la la).  ANYWAY.  Point being- I don't really like mixed drinks and I definitely don't make them at home.

Saturday was the exception.  Chi Chi + Ryan and Mant Jerkson came over to hang out for a hot second before making a sad attempt at tearing it up in the new neighborhood.  Manty picked me up first and with the discovery that our neighborhood liquor store is open until NINE on weekends- we decided to get a little wild.  "Little" being the operative word.  So, with a wee little bottle of Jameson and some high quality (hah!) gingerale- we raided the contents of my fridge and came up with THIS:

(We may have spent a little bit of time photographing it.  Maybe.)

 Jameson with muddled basil, pomegranate syrup, and gingerale.  THIS WAS SO GOOD.  No, I didn't measure anything, and yes we probably could have died from consuming year+ old syrup that wasn't properly sealed- but we did not die and measurements don't much matter when you aren't bar tending (okay yes, within reason).  I don't know that I'll spend much more time in the future mixing drinks- but we do have a bottle of really nice vodka that my boss gave me that could use a creative cocktail mixing hand.  Plus it's Schliebers birthday this weekend, and she's staying with us, so at least we'd have a good excuse.  We will see!

Monday, September 21, 2009


Finally!  We are moved into the new place!  I honestly can't even put into words just how good it feels.  I love it here and I feel so relaxed and content as soon as I walk through the door.  We live on a quiet street and get lots of light in our unit.  We have new carpet, paint, fixtures, and STOVE which I am currently breaking in with brownies.  We still have to finish cleaning the old place, and organizing everything here, but we're already very settled in after just a few days.  I took a few pictures today of some of my favorite little things.  I've spent a lot of time at Goodwill/Value Village/Target/Ross this past week and luckily I'm a crafty ass bitch with a good eye- so we have a ton of really fun stuff, plus lots of plants and more on the way.  AND they had pineapple plants at Trader Joe's today!  I almost peed.  I didn't get one since I had to walk home, but Matao is going to have one hell of a time if he thinks he can talk me out of it.  Hmph!  Anyway- here are a few pictures.  I'll take many more once we're all settled with art on the walls and less clutter everywhere.


This little book shelf is pretty much my favorite favorite thing ever.  Mostly because it holds my snail collection, but also because the whole set up is just so damn cute.


The yogurt containers on the window sill all have seeds in them, and will hopefully pop out a few flowers before the sun peaces out on us for the winter.  How very, very me of me.


The last picture is the south-ish facing view from our deck.  You can't see much, but it's definitely not bad.  If you know Ballard- our apartment is basically wedged between Leary and Market, right by Swedish.  It's basically the best location ever.  Clearly.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Broken Hearted

I'm in the process of writing a rather obnoxious and detailed post about moving into our new apartment this coming week.  I've been collecting ideas for decorating projects and hunting down fabric.  I'll get that up in a day or two.  This post is not about that.  This post is about the fact that I went to Value Village today just to see what they had- and I found THIS:

This couch is my soul mate.  I can feel it in all of my guts when I look at it.  It was in absolutely beautiful condition, didn't smell or have any stains or tears, the green matches the couch that I already have- and it was $20.  TWENTY.  On top of that I took the Suburban from work this weekend so I can run errands and move some things on Sunday, so I had the room and means to take it home.

And I didn't buy it.  I came back to it seriously about six times, and every time my heart just ached.  I told myself I should just get it, and if doesn't fit in the new place, or ends up surprising us with some funkalicious stench we could just get rid of it.  But, no.  I had to be practical, and now I want to cry.  Even the picture makes my insides smushy.

So, instead I bought a bunch of tacky old art, a ceramic owl that you put a candle inside of, and structured leggings with silver zippers which I think are also my pants soul mate.

Ugh.  Comfort me.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

15 Layer Russian Honey Cake

A little back story/recap:

I work in a small office where we celebrate birthdays. In the past year or so things changed from us buying pre-made cakes and other bits and pieces to me making just about everything. I love doing it and am now defensive over the right to do so. Oh, me.

Last week I asked my Russian co-worker what she wanted for her cake (this week). She gave me this "oh no no I'll make it" run-around-line-of-crap that I wasn't taking. No way. I finally got out of her that she wanted something called a Honey Cake, or Napoleon Cake. I figure- EASY, I got this. HA HA. Foolery.

Honey Cake is one thing- Russian Honey Cake is another. I posted the recipe that I decided to work from last week (here), but just reading through it I knew it was going to take more than one try to get it down.

Lucky for me I had all weekend, plus a boyfriend and a roommate who like to eat everything I make. My first shot was an ugly mess (although delicious) but it gave me a good place to work from. I made my second one last night, and although it took nearly 3 hours and my kitchen was coated in flour- it came out beautifully. There were a lot of adaptations that I had to make to both the recipe and my technique, and I feel like I finally got it down pretty well. I'd feel confident in my ability if I were to make another (which I might, just to torture myself further).

So, here is my revised recipe and very, very detailed directions. This cake is 110% worth making if you enjoy tormenting yourself for the sake of insanely delicious food. It is an absolute winner, and if you have the time and want to challenge yourself- do it. You won't regret it, and if you actually love anyone else enough to share it with them- they probably won't regret you making it either.

One major note- I doubled all of the ingredients to make this. The original recipe resulted in a tiny cake that just wasn't worth the effort. This cake is made to be placed on a dinner sized plate or tray.

15 Layer Russian Honey Cake- My Way

Ingredients for Dough:

- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 4 tablespoons warmed honey
- 1 cup butter
- 4 cups flour

Cream Filling and Coating:

- 40oz sour cream (you can also make your own sour cream by combining heavy cream with lemon juice and beating until thick)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup honey
- 6-8oz fruit preserves of your choice (optional)
- 1 cup crushed walnuts- plus cake crumbs (details below)

Directions (for dough):

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (or 180°C).

2. Using a large bowl- Beat eggs well with sugar; add baking soda and warm honey, then beat again until mixture is frothy and thick.

3. Melt butter in a large pot over medium/low heat- paying attention to make sure it doesn't burn or come to a boil- turn heat to low.

4. Add sugar and egg mixture to pot with melted butter, whisking hard until ingredients are well combined (it will sit in layers unless you mix the hell out of it).

5. Add flour to your pot one cup at a time, mixing slightly between each addition. Continue to mix until all ingredients are incorporated and your dough is smooth and thick- it will become very hard to stir. Remove from heat.

6. Coat your mixing bowl (the one you used for the eggs and sugar is fine) with a generous layer of flour. Using a rubber spatula to scrape- pour your mixture into the floured bowl, then allow to sit for about 15 minutes until it is cool and easy to handle. It will be incredibly sticky and hard to handle while still hot- but rest assured it becomes much easier to handle as it cools.

7. While your dough is cooling make your cream filling- mix sour cream with sugar and honey and set aside. Crush walnuts and set aside.

8. When you are ready to start baking your layers- be sure to have 2 (or 3) cookie sheets, a rolling pin, a plate or the bottom of a spring form pan (BSFP), a butter knife, lots of extra flour, whatever you want to build your cake on (this will need to be bigger than the other plate or BSFP that you are using) and plenty of counter space ready. You are going to be working fast, and alternating between steps constantly.

9. Grab a handful of dough and form into a ball (I have small hands and my "handfuls" were very true to that size. They weren't a scant or a large handful- they were just a handful. The thing about this is that you can use however much dough you are comfortable using. You want very thin layers, but they don't HAVE to be paper thin if you don't want. Your cake just won't have as many layers.) Anyway. Give your ball of dough a good fluff with flour, then place on your first cookie sheet. Using a floured rolling pin- roll your dough as thin as you can get it without it tearing, trying to maintain a fairly circular shape and even thickness. Once you have it rolled out- place your floured plate/BSFP on top of the dough, then trim around the edges with a butter knife, and return extra dough to your bowl.

10. Place in the oven, and check at 1-2 minute intervals. You want your dough to be nicely browned without being either too light or too dark. You are actually better off with darker cake than you are lighter, as it will soften before you eat it. Just not burnt. Remove from the oven when it's the color you want, and allow to cool for a minute or two.

11. Using a metal spatula (plastic or wood is okay too as long as they're very sturdy) remove cake from the pan and place on whatever you've decided to serve it off of. You are going to want to use some pretty good pressure in doing this as they tend to want to stick to the pan. Scrape any crumbs off of the pan into a separate container to use for later.

12. Glop a good two tablespoons of cream mixture onto this first layer and spread evenly.

13. Continue this process until you have all layers baked and stacked with cream in between (make sure to save some of your cream to top the cake with at the end). I got into a routine where I was rolling one layer out while another baked. Sometimes I got a bit thrown off, but it's okay to slow things down if you need to. Just don't forget when you have a layer in the oven. I also used apricot preserves between a few of the layers to add a little extra something. This is totally optional, but delicious.

14. Coat your entire cake with cream, and then top with crushed walnuts and your saved crumbs. If towards the end of baking you feel like you might not have enough crumbs- it's okay to sacrifice a layer to crumble up.

15. Place cake in a clean/cool place and allow to sit for at least 6 hours, if not 24 or longer. The longer it sits the more your layers come together and the softer and more delicious it becomes.

16. NOM.

Here it is!  These pictures were taken in my office, so excuse the funny shadows, ugly table, and paper plates.  This went over so, so well.  My co-worker couldn't stop thanking me and told me it was exactly what she had hoped for.  WIN.  That made it so worth it.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Food Links!

I am still in the process of changing things around and may eventually switch over to using Wordpress, but either way- my address is now (and will continue to be) http://www.areyoumyghost.com so check your bookmarks! I'll make a post if I switch to Wordpress in case in affects anyones Google Reader settings (I use it too so I'll know).


I've been in a bit of a cooking rut which I'm trying to snap myself back out of. I usually do what I can to use up all of my CSA box bits and pieces before my next one arrives- but I'm struggling big time right now. We have a head of purple cabbage, a bag of tomatillos, two bags full of peppers (mostly green and small), and a bag of tiny zucchini. I'm going to try to use it before this weekend is over, so we'll see how that goes. Yikes. Please tell me if you have any ideas that don't involve coleslaw. BLEH. That aside- my lack of cooking hasn't been due to a lack of inspiration. Check it!

- 15 Layer Russian Honey Cake. My Russian co-worker requested this for her birthday next week, so I'm thinking I need to try making it at least once before the real deal. I'm scared. Mostly of what it will do to me when I eat the entire thing by myself.

- While looking for that recipe, I found this: Lavender, Blueberry, and Youghurt Mousse Cake which just sounds ridiculous and insane and amazing all at once.

- Herbed Goat Cheese Tart. Lavender and goat cheese? Yes.

- Oatmeal Knots look so so good, and I've been wanting to try making yeasted bread again soon, so I may start there.

- Pickle Party!? WHAT!? Why won't anyone have a pickle party with me? Wtf.

- Homemade Chocolate Pop Tarts. YES. I want to do this with Theo bars.

So many delicious things. Jam post soon! I have been struggling with my crappy apartment light trying to get some good pictures. I can't wait to have our patio... ah!
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