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.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
|The water is cloudy cause I didn't know to rinse the rocks first, I assume.|
In 8th grade there was a girl who's name starts with an S. I wish I could remember exactly, so that all of the men out there would know she is BAD NEWS. Well, we were young and she was telling me about how she had gotten drunk the night before with her cousins (this was a year before my cousins got me absolutely wasted so I pretended to be cool with it). I guess they poured vodka into some guys fish tank and tried to feed the fish pizza before they all passed out with the oven still hot and fish still marinating in BOOZE. Needless to say, they woke up to dead fish and a cool oven. I work in two hours and I'm currently losing sleep over this story. I think of this every time I put off cleaning my own little Chunk's bowl. I got Emily Jalapeno Chunk in June and because I'm a good mommy, today we made a significant life change in his pineapple under the sea. The lead picture is from the day I got him. The picture below is the new habitat. I'm afraid that the color of the neon pink rocks will kill him so I have his night light on so I can make sure he isn't in there thrashing around/trying to off himself on the new seashells. I hope he starts eating soon. I'm really worried he is going to die because he spends half of his life playing with his food and regurgitating pieces of beta bites all over his house. But at least if he cacks it's because he had an eating disorder, and not because I got shit canned and poured chardonnay in his bowl.
|That touch light in the corner is so he doesn't have to be in the dark all day while I'm working.|
Praise for good parenting.
Friday, December 2, 2011
There are certain beauty products that I will swear by until I am dead or the products discontinue: witch hazel, KMS Hairplay Makeover Spray, Vaseline, Olay In-Shower Body Wash, Crest White Strips, and Redken Smooth Down Butter Treatment.
The newest addition to my shower shelf fam is Montagne Jeunesse. Don't even try to say that without knowing how to speak French. Jeunesse sounds like a trendy new age church when a Minnesotan tries to sound it out in English.
I have always been a big fan of the face mask concept, and I used to have this small tube of Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque back in the day that I coveted for years after it was finished, yet I never ran into it again after the trial run. Fast forward to adult life: I didn't realize that impulse purchasing a 1 ct. Raspberry Banana clay mask by Montagne Jeunesse would resurrect my face mask yearning. I found MJ at the cash register in Ulta on Black Friday. I happily purchased the packet along with my hoards of other unnecessary things that I eventually returned. (Except the MJ, imagine the cashier's face if I tried to return a used clay mask...) I went back for the next three days to buy more packets, and to rack up some mad points on my customer card. On the last day I found out that MJ is a UK product that has hardly been introduced in the US, so I went back a few days later and practically bought the store out. After, I "followed" MJ on twitter (@MontagneJeunesse) and "Liked" them on Facebook so that I can be the first person notified when they decide to ship o're yonder.
MJ sells their products in single use packets in the same way that Taco Bell packages single servings of hot sauce, it's just not enough. I found small tubes tucked back on the bottom shelf of the skin care aisles right next to the foot cream. Guess what else they were stocked next to. You won't believe it.
Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque.
My exact words at the time: "WTF?"
And you know what? After literally ages of longing for another, larger tube of Mint Julep, I skipped right past it and bought a MJ product that I hadn't tried yet. Talk about obsessed. My sisters came home from their after school activities that Monday and we smeared the stuff all over our faces. It was heaven. My dad laughed pretty hard when he got in and we were all "relaxing" on the couch with face masks on and Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny) playing on repeat.
So far these are the versions that I've tried and how I've felt about them:
Fruit Smoothie Face Masque: This is a gateway masque. One whiff of the stuff and you're completely screwed. Don't eat it.
Dark Chocolate Deep Cleansing Mud Mask: This gave me a flashback to my grandma giving me those Terry's Milk Chocolate Orange balls that you smack on the table or on your younger sister until the pieces break off into what resembles orange slices. My flashback was interrupted by the slight burn of a warming sensation. Burns so good. Fine for me and my teenage sis, but not the youngest. She loved it, but I saw faint traces of irritation from the "deep cleaning" portion when I washed hers off. Lesson learned: Not for babies. (Just joking of course, she is not a baby.)
Dead Sea Mud Pack: This smelled like shaving cream. I said so, my sisters said so. But the feeling is sweet, sweet glory.
Cucumber Peel Off Face Masque: Once I put it on, I became skeptical that it would peel off well, but it did! Almost like when you put too many layers of aloe vera gel on a sunburn and it peels off like a second, green skin. Anyone? Maybe that's only happened to me. (photo taken from www.buy.com)
I definitely recommend getting your hands on some of these products. They have endless choices. I'm dying to try the cellulite masque for your thighs. YOUR THIGHS. Can you believe it? They also have a mens line that I'm going to try on my dad while he sleeps. If you can't wait another second, get to your nearest beauty supply store and ask for the MJ. If you can wait a hot minute, go to amazon to get the MJ products in the U.S.A. If you're from the UK, you're a lucky bastard.