Sunday, December 18, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
I've had this song on my blackberry all year
I impulse purchase coconuts all the time. I like shaking them in the grocery store and making everyone jealous that I know what a good coconut sounds like (a squeaky baby) and they don't. One time a woman at Byerly's asked me advice on different foods to feed her picky kids because she saw me shakin' the coconuts like a boss (For the record, I said starfruit, avocado, and seedless purple grapes). Some day this on par produce analysis of mine will land me a husband... or a TV show.
The best coconut is heavy for it's size and has a lot of liquid in it when you shake it.
I wanted to show my little sister how to master the coconut, but we are never around at the same time, and my coconuts were about to go bad. The squeaky baby was beginning to turn into a pubescent teen so I decided to make some sort of cake that was friendly to all of the coconut haterzzz in the world. I have a family of 19 relatives on one side and only two of them actually like coconut. "This will be a cake to please," I thought to myself as I flipped to "Cakes, Tortes, & Cupcakes" in my copy of Joy.
I decided to get the maximum use out of my coconuts I would drain the water inside of fruit and incorporate it somehow into my cake. There was a disclaimer wrapped around my coconuts saying to throw out the brown liquid inside of the coconut. DON'T THROW IT OUT. It is very versatile. You can use it in an adult alcoholic beverage, you can make it into coconut milk, or you can use it for coconut butter. I also have a sneaking suspicion that the liquid can be reduced to a pure coconut essence, but that is for another day. If your liquid tastes sour instead of sweet, it means your coconut has advanced into old age and is useless. Throw it out.
In order to get to that little mine of liquid, you have to take a clean screw driver and pound it into two of the three eyes on the face of the fruit with a hammer. Remove the screw driver and strain out the juice into a liquid measuring cup with some sort of contraption like the following photo. Or just cheesecloth would work sufficiently.
One healthy squeaky baby coconut will yield about a cup of liquid. If you have more than necessary for your recipe, freeze the excess in ice cube trays and drop it in your nighttime pina colada.
To get to the meat of the coconut, crack the shell with your hammer and peel back. Please do not take it out back and smash it on the concrete. Not sanitary! Slice off any excess brown covering, like so:
Coconut Chocolate Sheet Cake (taken from Joy but adapted to my liking)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Grease a baking dish.
Stir together into a large bowl:
2 cups sugar
2 cups all purpose-flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine in a medium saucepan and bring to boil:
1 cup coconut water taken from a fresh coconut
1/2 cup vegetable oil (EVOO)
1 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 cup baking cocoa
Pour hot over dry and mix until just incorporated
Whisk together, then stir into batter:
2 large eggs
1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup freshly grated coconut
Pour your batter into a pan and spread evenly. Grate more coconut over the top.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserts and comes out clean. Remember, you can always add time, but you can never take time away! Let cool completely.
To frost I combined store bought cream cheese frosting with the baking cocoa and more grated coconut. Don't frost before it is cool. Go shower, rinse the egg out of your hair, and come back. Patience!
Voila! Coconut Chocolate Sheet Cake that pleases everyone. Your family will hardly know that the coconut is there until after they've gobbled down three pieces.
Have a good week everyone. Go see New Years Eve in theaters if you get a chance. It is truly heart warming. In the mean time, how do you feel about coconut? In food? In skin care products? Let me know!
Friday, December 9, 2011
Broke Girls Guide to Christmas gifts!
I have recently been thinking about what to get my girls for gifts this year while living on a tight budget, so I headed over to my nearest Trader Joes. TJs carries their own brand of wine called Charles Shaw. It's most famously known as "Two Buck Chuck" for that very reason; It's priced at under $3. In 2005 the Chardonnay was awarded Best Chardonnay in California at some competition or another, which gives praise to Chuck's good name. The solid reputation is precisely why I deemed Charles Shaw good enough to give to my friends for Christmas! ($19.00 for 6)
On my work break yesterday I had sketched out how I wanted the tags to look. I've had some practice at being crafty thanks to marketing projects at my job, and I came up with what you see here:
That's a cream colored cardstock paper ($0.60), red sticker letters ($2.99), and gold wire ribbon ($0.99).
I got all of the tag supplies at Michaels for almost no dollars. The only things that were a bit pricey were the wine labels. Listen, THANK GOD FOR MARTHA STEWART LADIES AND GENTS. (Maybe Martha is God. Or an apostle... I mean, she spent time in jail like an apostle.) I was truly stumped at how I was going to package the wine bottles. I had seriously thought about going to a flower shop and buying those cellophane flower bags, but I practically collided with the Martha Stewart Crafts display in Michaels and saw these nifty wine labels! They come in packs of six with three different designs. LIFE SAVER! No need to package! ($6.95)
It took two bottles before I got the hang of it, and so two out of six gifts look entirely stupid. Sorry! The labels don't come with any instruction so I just went by trial and error. I ended up not pressing the stickers down completely at the top because the Charles Shaw bottles are slightly smaller than average. Use a rubber band over night to make sure they stay on. I put the holiday labels over over the smaller label that has the surgeon generals warning and other unimportant cautions. Any other way and the real label sticks out on the sides. There is really no reason to try and peel the originals off. Also, I would recommend doing this project while the bottles are at room temperature. I did all of this work when they were straight out of my freezing car, and they were difficult to handle.
In the lead picture there are a few bottles that also have one Montagne Jeunesse masque hanging on the ribbon. The masks I purchased at Ulta. The deal was 5 for $5. I punched holes in the top most corner where the packaging is sealed and strung it through underneath the name tags. Read my previous post about how much I adore Montagne Jeunesse products to see why I chose them.
So that's it! The cost of each gift? $5.08.
If any of my girls are reading this, these aren't for you. I made them for my imaginary friends so don't get excited.