Sunday, September 28, 2008

Extravablogiversapaloozathon 2008!

My friends, the 3rd annual Extrava was a blast! It was a beautiful late summer night in Downtown Ashvegas. The good beer, good cheer, music, food, and bloggy-elbow-rubbing was flowing. I was happy to be able to be there with my husband Duncan, friend Ursula, and (almost) all my blogger heros of BlogAsheville.

Thank you to all the lovely supporters of Short Street Cakes who voted for my life in cake... my life in cake won all 4 awards that it was nominated for! I was exhausted from the day and a little drunk by the time the awards got passed out. I felt sheepish for having won because I felt sheepish for having campaigned for it. So I took the mike and sheepishly and drunkenly kind of apologized for winning. But the beautiful people of the blogosphere have encouraged me to be proud of this achievement, and I am! I will post my buttons with PRIDE! I will find 4 kitchy gifts for next year's winners! And I will continue to try to create a blog that's worthy of the recognition y'all have given me. I'm proud to be a part of such a fine community of writers, art-ers, crafters, social critics and dreamers. Yall are one fine bunch!

Friday, September 26, 2008

"The Gift of Southern Cooking" Cookbook Review and Bibliomancy Part 3

This is a lovely night on Short Street. Its late September, with a slightly chilly drizzle outside. The cakes and icings are all really fresh and happy from the cool weather. Eileen and I have been working all day on the three weddings plus the Blogapolooza Cake. Its been a good, productive day, and I'll be working into the night and all day tomorrow. I got to take a break and get pizza with my family a little while ago. They left to go to a party and I came home to bake- so I'm feeling rejuvinated and listening to loud music and having a Friday night by myself in the bakery/house.
And I feel inspired to write tonight while I bake, about a recipe book I love, called "The Gift of Southern Cooking" by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock.
And now I'm going to mix up several batches of lemon cake and put them in the oven and come back and write some more.
I would like to say that Beck's "Midnight Vultures" is a freaking great album.
I would like to add that there is a huge amount of dishwashing involved in this project.
And now:

"The Gift of Southern Cooking, Recipes and Revelations from two great American cooks," is a collaboration between the late Edna Lewis, storied and celebrated Southern chef, and Scott Peacock, Executive Chef at Atlanta's Watershed Restaurant. The two (one a young, white, gay man and the other an eldery black woman) had a long and enduring friendship that included them living together in Peacock's Decatur, GA home for the last 10 years of Miss Lewis' life. Their stories that unfold in the pages of the book are touching, and dignified, and interesting, from Scott's upbringing in rural southern Alabama, where he remembers picking field peas and making chowchow with his family, to Miss Lewis' hipster bohemian days in New York in the 1940s as the chef of the Cafe Nicholson, which was frequented by guests such as Truman Capote, Marlene Dietrich and Tennessee Williams.
And the recipes, the recipes are beautiful.
Where to begin? The lard biscuits. The Lemon Cheese Cake (which is not a cheesecake but a layer cake iced with lemon curd, or "cheese"). The okra pancakes. The cardamom-scented sugar cubes. The snapper. The deviled eggs. The AMBROSIA! Who would have thought that I could love an Ambrosia without marshmallows and maraschino cherries? But their simple rendering, with only oranges, coconut, sugar, cream sherry, and salt, is sublime.
Am I gushing? I'm not exaggerating. Their recipes are nothing less than an exquisite, subtle harmony between intuitive, seasonal, necessity-based seasonal home cooking and high culinary art born of imagination and studied professionalism. And the regional balance of Miss Lewis' Virginia upbringing- where the cuisine is much more informed by French and English cooking as well as cooler-weather crops- and Mr. Peacock's Gulf Coast-influenced culinary roots, is enlivening to the recipes, as well.
Other highlights are a description of the plantation history of the "cake walk" and the origin of the phrase "that takes the cake;" and beautiful photographs of the striking Miss Lewis from past decades, as well as beautiful photographs of Mr. Peacock and Miss Lewis together.

Like all good cookbooks, love is deep in every page, and in this case, its not just the love of food, or a landscape, or a time gone by that one feels when using it. I think it is also the love that the two great chefs have for one another that ultimately makes this cookbook so, well, beloved.
I love this book, the biscuits are my staple, and if you get a chance to pick up a copy, I think you'll be glad you did.
And now, for the bibliomancy:
"Corn pudding is a true Southern delicacy, and one of the great treats of summer. It can be served as a light supper dish, as an accompaniment to meat, or as a part of a vegetable plate. Use only the freshest corn, and bake until just set for the best texture."
There you have it. Part 3 of the Cookbook Review and Bibliomancy Series on My Life in Cake.
2 of the lemon cakes have fallen and I need more sour cream.
I'm tired and I'm going to bed and I'm going to start over on them in the morning.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

This Weekend's Weddings

Friday night, there was this Dark Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Icing at the Courtyard at Pack Place:

Then, yesterday, there was this one at Taylor Ranch, in Fairview. This one was a Vanilla Almond Cake with Almond Buttercream Icing. It was for a lady who is my bank teller. So all the other bank teller ladies were there in their pretty dresses. Which is pretty funny, because I've used the same bank ever since I moved to asheville 7 years ago, and I've had alot of emotional meltdowns and toddler discipline "moments" in the Downtown Branch of Asheville Savings Bank. So its pretty cool that my bank teller hired me even though she knows I'm a wierdo.

And, finally, today, at The Farm in Candler (otherwise known as The Farm Party Barn) there was this lovely little cupcake display with a vintage cake topper for the gluten-free raspberry white chocolate cutting cake. The cupcakes were Triple Chocolate Ganache, Georgia Hummingbird, and Carrot Spice Cake.

I really love driving around to all these random places all over Western North Carolina to deliver wedding cakes. It gives me a welcome break to being in my kitchen, I get to rock out to whatever-the-fuck-i'm listening-to-at-the-moment (today it was MIA, the Avett Brothers, and the mixtape Lewis made for me) smoke cigarettes, and freak out about the process of delivering a wedding cake, a process I like to call the "Odyssey of Fear." Oh, and I've developed this habit of going to the Admiral in West Asheville for a meal when I'm done. Which is very good. Very, very good. Please go now and eat a catfish sandwich. You will thank me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Blogasheville Blog Awards: Voting is Open!

Please click here to vote for the BlogAsheville 2008 Blog awards. My Life In Cake has been nominated for two awards; if you, gentle reader, believe that our beloved little blog is deserving of the title "best food blog" or "most likely to make money by blogging" then please, click the link and vote.

The Wolf is at the Door

xposted from blogasheville. thanks to uptownruler for the image. Damn. Everybody over at blogasheville is really getting into this thing. Its exciting! It makes me want to remind everybody that my life in cake has been nominated for "best food" and "most likely to make money by blogging" in the blogasheville blog awards. I would be happy to take home either of those titles (although "best food" would look nicer on my blog). So feel free to vote for me.

Monday, September 15, 2008


A wedding cake for a Day of the Dead Wedding Fiesta outside of Spruce Pine, NC. Congratulations Jason and Amy! Blessings and love...

Cake Baker to the (indie rock) Stars

Thanks to my sweet friends Mark and Matt over at Harvest Records, I was hired to do a birthday cake for Tony Crow of the Silver Jews. (and also, Lambchop) The band was gracious enough to let me hang out backstage for the birthday cake eating part of things, and take a few photos. They seemed to enjoy the cake, despite the fact that, due to the last minute nature of the order, I think I left the salt out of the recipe. Thanks Mark and Matt, and thanks Silver Jews and David Berman. Happy Birthday, happy tour!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Local Apples are In!

Just got my first peck of beautiful Henderson County Apples! I'm using the Mutzus right now but I'll be switching it up pretty soon. I'll be making lots of Caramel Apple cake from here on out through the fall: brown sugar apple cake with caramel cream cheese icing... very old-fashioned, moist and yummy, with 2 pounds of local apples in each batch! And who knows, maybe I'll get crazy and cook my own local pumpkins this year for my Pumpkin Spice Cake. I'm excited for fall!

(photo credit: Tom McDonald)