Friday, August 8, 2008

the luckiest day ever!

At least for the Chinese it is. 8 is the luckiest number in Chinese culture, so it wasn't a coincidence that the Beijing summer Olympics fall on 8/8/2008, that shit was planned out. Also, I heard that Zhang Yimou (one my favorite Chinese directors, I'm using two of his movies for my master's thesis) is "directing" the opening ceremony tonight. I hope everyone plans on watching it! My only regret is I didn't make Olympic themed cupcakes for the event, but media cupcake did so I can just dream that they're mine.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

the world makes sense again!

The last few weeks of my life have been a little crazy, to say the least. Attempting to learn Mandarin in 5 weeks? Insane. Having class 8 hours a day? Tortuous. Packing up my life to move out of the country? Nuts.

So, when I logged on for about the 10th time yesterday to icanhascheezburger and saw that tomorrow is LOLcat day, none of that stuff seemed to matter anymore. Everything in my world seemed to make sense. How can I possibly worry about anything when it's LOLcat day? Answer: it's not possible!

I don't know what I'm going to do to celebrate this glorious holiday, it was kinda thrown at me last minute. Maybe I'll do a pet photo shoot with Tater Tot and Spongecat and make some LOLs out of them. Who knows! The possibilities are endless.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

sprinkle's strawberry cupcake recipe

I was supposed to visit my besties today at Google but had to cancel last minute due to Tater drama. It was a very last minute decision to not go and I was super disappointed to have to reschedule, after all, I had already prepared for the trip. And by "prepared for the trip" I mean "made some delicious cupcakes." No guest should ever visit a person empty handed, in this girl's opinion.

A few weeks ago I shamefully stood in line for over an hour for something that did not result in a roller coaster ride or an iPhone 3G. It was for a Sprinkles Cupcake. Was it worth it? Yes. Would I stand in line that long ever again for a cupcake? No. But I mean, you can't live in SoCal and not try a Sprinkles cupcake at least once. It was my fault, I came two hours before closing and everyone else that thought "Hey, a cupcake would be a fun way to end the evening" was there along with me.

Imagine my delight when I found THE Sprinkles Cupcake strawberry recipe posted on Martha Stewart's website! Since it's strawberry season, and well, I am Strawberry, I just had to test it out. Results: absolutely delicious! And good thing is, you can use frozen strawberries and enjoy this delicious recipe all year long!

Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcakes

For Cupcakes:
2/3 cup whole fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt (or regular salt if you don't have coarse salt)
1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature

2 large egg whites, room temperature

For frosting:
1/2 cup whole frozen strawberries, thawed
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
Pinch of coarse salt
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

HINT: Don't just set eggs on your counter, because, uh, eggs roll.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.

2. Place strawberries in a small food processor; process until pureed. You should have about 1/3 cup of puree, add a few more strawberries if necessary or save any extra puree for frosting; set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, and strawberry puree; set aside.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.

5. With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.

6. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.

7. Place strawberries in the bowl of a small food processor; process until pureed. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat until well combined. Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons strawberry puree (save any remaining strawberry puree for another use); mix until just blended. Do not overmix or frosting will incorporate too much air. Frosting consistency should be dense and creamy, like ice cream.

I added two different pink sugar sprinkles just for looks, but these babies are delicious with or without any kind of decoration. Mine didn't rise very high because I used self-rising flour instead of all-purpose flour which the recipe called for (I didn't have any and didn't feel like going to the grocery store), but it didn't affect taste at all.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

tater tot the toothless wonder

A while ago Tater Tot and Smokey the Bandit (the raccoon that comes and steals cat food from us every night) got into an epic battle which surely would have ended with Tater Tot in a pool of blood and Smokey sneaking off into the night with cat food in his hands had my dad not broken it up. Tater Tot is all bark and no bite. He talks the talk, but can't walk the walk, and I don't know if any of you have ever seen an angry raccoon, but they friggin' run the walk. That's how intense they are.

Needless to say, I urged my parents to take Tater to the Vet to get rabies shots but since Tater acted fine post-battle they sort of forgot about it. Today I decided I should take him just to get checked out and get an update on all of his vaccinations. Not to mention, yesterday I noticed that one of his teeth was missing and I had a flashback to a few months back when yanked a cat food can from his mouth and thought, "OH NO, I pulled out one of his teeth!" I didn't do a thorough inspection or anything, but I figured it would be worth bringing up to the veterinarian if I was going to be in there anyway.

One hour, 3 walks around the parking lot, and lots of whining at the female pomeranian in heat sitting in the waiting room (hence the walks outside), I was informed by the veterinarian that Tater Tot's gums are severely infected. I don't know how this could happen. He gets professionally groomed ALL the time and they always brush his teeth. Supposedly. I know it isn't their fault, but I am very disappointed that they never brought it up to me that his teeth are in such bad shape. Do you ever inspect your dog's pearly whites? Because I don't!

Well, after I stopped crying hysterically and found a hankerchief in my purse to semi-compose myself, the vet let me know that for sure his front teeth need to be extracted, possibly more, and the infected pieces of gums need to be removed. It's horrible, I know, but the first thought that flashed through my head was How much is this going to cost?

The first thing I asked, though, was "Well how is he going to eat?" I imagined Tater, toothless, drooling as he tried to nom on some leftover tamale casserole. And the waterworks started again. The vet tried to calm me down, and let me know that dogs don't really need their front teeth at all, and a lot of dogs lose their teeth and they eat just fine. So why even get the surgery, then? Well, turns out that if the infection isn't removed then it can spread into the bloodstream and then into the heart and then HE CAN DIE. Clearly, I really had no options in this. The vet told me she needed to go work out an estimate for the surgery, which of course meant it was going to cost a lot.

In total, it's going to be around $550 (give or take $50 depending on how many teeth they end up removing). So, faithful bloggers, I'm putting up a "Tater Tot the Toothless Wonder" donation button for the next three weeks. Ya, donation buttons can be lame, but y'know what? I'm moving to China and don't really have an disposable income at the moment, so desperate times call for desperate measures. No pressure.