Brownies on a Stick

These brownies mock me because my own will not look this good.

One of my few splurges before I move is going to be a brownie pan that makes individual sized brownies.  Just enough for a bite or two.  I want this not only to own it, but because I want to make brownies on a stick.  I think I could make them adorable, and even in different flavors if I tried.

I want to use candy melts to dip them in, and probably popsicle sticks from the craft store unless I can find something a little smaller or more elegant.  I plan on dipping the stick in the candy melt first, then putting it in the brownie.  Then when that is dry, a full dip and then decoration.

This could help me work on my piping skills, as well as my dipping skills and my creativity.  Just think of a raspberry candy coating on a brownie.  That would be delicious.  Or a mint coating on a brownie.  If I can get the extracts for it, it would be delightful.

What does this have to do with writing?  NOTHING.  Nothing at all.  I just was really excited about getting this pan.  Time to get into some creative baking!


OMG! Cookies!

My secret weapon against the husband-person!


I was overwhelmed last night with the urge to make cookies.  But only while writing.  The moment I set aside my especially bloody chapter though, the urge was gone.  No cookies, no chocolate-y chip-y goodness coming my way.  What is it about violence that makes me want to bake? 

I can only wager a guess, as my degree is in English and not in psychology or one of a dozen other -ologies that would give me any insight into the frightening place that is my mind.   Perhaps it is my response to violence, to try and make something comforting.  Maybe I am reacting to the violence I create by feeling the need to also create something gentle, harmless, and joy-inducing. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I loves me some violence.  I can’t stop laughing during those movies like Jason X or Friday the 13th Part MXVIII-2, where they just keep killing people in ridiculous ways.  My favorite part of Eastern Promises is the scene where Viggo Mortenson’s character is grappling nekkid with those two Chechen guys (and it has nothing to do with him being nekkid, I swear!).  I find something in baking cookies that centers me, just as much or more as violence in my writing centers me.  I have control over it, over the characters, over the violence, over the cookies.  I can make those cookies crispy or puffy, chewy or flat, and I can control that violence and make it blatant and blood spattering or subtle and leave it to the imagination of the reader. 

Baking cookies may not be a lot like killing demons with angel-forged swords, but in the end, perhaps it has the same purpose.  Defend the honor of innocence, destroy the demons (inner or otherwise) and create a new world, one where fewer demons and more cookies exist.

Giant Cupcakes Will Eat Us All!!!

This pan rules my world.

Seriously, the world will eventually bow to the giant cupcake.

The Wilton Giant Cupcake Pan is the best gift I never knew I wanted.  I received mine when my sister surprised me with it at Christmas, and since then, I’ve made giant cupcake cakes for any occasion possible.

Work party?  Giant cupcake cake.

Elder Sibling’s 29+1 Birthday?  Giant cupcake cake (that looked like an aquarium when I was done!)

Funeral?  ….Somber giant cupcake cake?

I can’t get over how much fun this pan is to use.  All you need is the recipe to make one 9×13 cake, and you’re ready to go.  It’s seriously simple, and as long as you spray the pan well with Pam (or your cooking spray of choice you Anarchists.  Seriously, who doesn’t use Pam?) it will come out just fine.

I like to decorate with my piping bag and tips, and have come up with a few tips about this pan.

1.  Bake low and slow.  325 degrees F for an hour

2.  Bake the bottom part for 15 minutes, then add the batter for the top and bake another 45.

3.  Always decorate the bottom before putting on the top.

4.  Filling is optional, but a great idea or that is one huge piece of cake.

5.  Trim the top of the bottom and the bottom of the top for a more snug fit.

6.  Put a little frosting on the bottom of the plate you are using to keep the bottom in place.

7.  Leave the cakes in the pan until they have cooled slightly, this will make it easier to get the cakes out.

I hope other folks have gotten a chance to use this pan.  Because it rules my world.

Melts in Your Mouth

These are crack to some people. Delicious crack.

I learned last night that M&Ms are made up of 25% blue candies, 25% orange candies, 12.5% brown candies, and a mixture of the rest of the colors.  I had no idea it was that simple and yet that scientific.  It reminded me of writing, and how formulaic and yet unique it can be.

Using a percentage can be invaluable when you are writing.  Thinking about what is most important to get in there, what is less important, and what needs to be left out all together (I’m looking at you, weird pretzel piece M&Ms) can help you craft your story as easily as if you had already planned the entire thing out.

Cultivating your own ideas is excellent, but pouring out your elements in exact proportions can be invaluable to the idea of your story.  Adding in elements too thickly, such as too much sex, or too much exposition at the beginning of the book, is something that can ruin a story that has a very good start.  Balance is very important, and should always depend on what kind of story you are writing.

If you are writing a zombie horror epic, I think it would probably be best if the sexy bits were part of that “assortment of red, yellow, and green” that you get with your M&Ms.  While the horror should definitely be your 25% of blue, the zombies your 25% of orange, and smart writing should always be your 12.5% of brown.

No writing is going to be as formulaic as this.  If it is, you’re doing something wrong.  But thinking about the M&Ms percentage mix can truly help you decide what is most important, what is least important, and what should probably be left out of your world-roving zombie horror epic. 

I’ll give you a hint.  It’s the sex.

Sexy Food

I should not have to think of work when I think of luscious strawberries and chocolate.

There are foods that are inherently sexy.  Honey, pears poached in red wine, whipped cream, strawberries and chocolate, all of these fit into the category of sexy food.  It is not just the flavor of these foods that make them sexy, or their viscous properties that lend to unique uses in places other than the kitchen.  It is the demure siren’s song of actually eating them, and sharing them with someone you care for, or lust for, that makes them sexy.

I began baking because I liked to bake.  Then I learned more about baking because I learned that men, especially those who I was looking to snare in my sex-food net, enjoyed a good brownie.  I admit, I probably snagged my husband because I seduced him with chocolate covered peanut butter Oreos and home-made, takes three hours to even get made and another two to cook potato soup.

That being said, there is something WRONG with celebrating one’s birthday by bringing sexy food to work.  I have pushed the limits of this, I understand.  My patented Demonic Fudge Cake is as naughty as one can get.  And amaretto cheesecake deserves it’s own cardinal sin.  But today I was opened to a new world of horror.

Someone at work, a lady I both respect and admire, brought in treats for her birthday.   She brought spinach dip in a bread bowl.  She brought those meat rolls with cream cheese and cheddar inside.  And she brought strawberries doused in chocolate.  Not just any chocolate either.  Godiva chocolate.

Needless to say, I was beyond help for about an hour as I enjoyed with sinful glee what a woman who had just hit sixty had brought to be consumed.  I later remembered with a gentle tremble of hands that the only other time I had experienced such bliss was with my husband.

I hope the rest of you are now deeply disturbed too.

There is nothing wrong with cupcakes or donuts, people.  Keep the naughty food right where it belongs, in the fridge, or more so, in the bedroom.  Keep me from waking up screaming, for the love of God.

Cake By Any Other Hands

I could do this. With some time, money, strawberries, cake, and Duff Goldman.

I rarely purchase bakery cake.

There are two reasons for this.  One is because bakery cake gets expensive, and two is because I think I can make pretty good cake on my own.  I’ve been told that my cake is life altering.  This got me thinking this morning as I stood in line for the bakery cake I had ordered and paid through the nose for, about writing and how it can be a lot like ordering cake, or making it yourself.

First there is convenience.  Starting with ideas that other people have come up with is convenient as hell.  Fanfiction is a prime example of this.  You are allowed to take a world that already has rules and characters, and make it into something that pleases you with a minimum of fuss.  Sure, you are sacrificing artistic integrity, but is it any worse than paying $32.99 for  cake a shade of chartreuse that you could not manage in your own kitchen?  It is also handy to know that you can always go back to the source work, and siphon off just a little more if need be.

On the other side of the convenience coin is satisfaction.  Does it satisfy you to work within someone else’s world and rules, just like it satisfies you to bring in a beautiful cake to work, say on the last day of your department’s long-suffering temp (so sorry Ashley) and then have to admit you got it at a bakery?  The spice of satisfaction, the essence of being able to claim something as your own is gone.  Nobody will ooh and ahh over your confectionary skills, because in the end, you did nothing but pay for the damn thing.  The same thing, in concept, can be said about writing using someone else’s source-work.

Now, I can hear you all saying:  “But Monica, what about things you have enjoyed, like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies“?  Okay, I admit I enjoyed it.  But I don’t have any respect for the author.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to remove the words peasants and townspeople and replace them with zombies, scourges, and the undead.  That’s what the fine and replace feature is for in Word.  The fact of the matter is, you can’t be as satisfied with such an endeavor.

Before I get any angry comments, I will admit, there is something satisfying about writing fanfiction or amalgams of a new idea and something already published.  You get to finish the story the way you would have preferred.  You no longer have to rely on your imaginary endings to make things go right.  And you get to see your favorite characters in adventures that the author may never have considered.  In the end, you could come up with something seriously clever and entertaining and even better, profitable.

But in the end, you have bakery cake.  You have someone else’s work with your name on it.  And that, my friends, smells like the stench of mediocrity that follows Lindsay Lohan around like a blind poodle.

Take some pride.  Write it yourself.  Bake your own cake.  And get the kudos you so desperately deserve.

Chocolate Is Good Eats

I got to see my favorite episode of Good Eats the other day.  I’ll be the first to tell you that I am desperately in love with Alton Brown.  He’s kind of geeky, super smart, and on top of it all can make a badass chocolate ganache.  If I weren’t married to the most wonderful man in the world, Alton would be number two on my list (the number one spot is reserved for Batman).  There is nothing sexier in food and in writing than chocolate.  Aside from being versatile, it just slides on your tongue and down your throat, coating your insides in a way that I don’t even have to try and make sound sexy.

Think about it for a minute.  We bring chocolates on dates, we write about pouring chocolate syrup on someone else’s naughty bits for a bit of kink, and we indulge in it at all times for all reasons without stopping to think that it might be dirty or taboo.  Chocolate is the perfect drug, the perfect plot device, the perfect seduction tool, and the perfect ingredient.  And we take it for granted.

Try to imagine a world without chocolate.  Would Anne in Anne of Green Gables been nearly as endearing if she had not attempted to share her chocolate drops with her bosom chum Diana?  Would we care nearly as much about Nigella Lawson if we could not watch her sink her teeth into a toothsome chocolate cupcake without shame?  Would anyone have gone to see that piece of shit werewolf movie Blood and Chocolate if the title had not been so provocative?

Even eating chocolate is sexy.  The act its self is sinful, the way you can’t help but take the first luscious big bite so that you can get the flavor of it in every corner of your mouth.  Then after all that, you find yourself licking your fingers to get every last drop, every crumb while doing something extremely sexually stimulating.  And to top it off, you can do it alone, with one other person, or in front of an entire group.  Chocolate touches on almost every fetish out there, if you really want to get into it.

I get that not everyone cares about chocolate the way I do.  Not every woman in the world is a “chocoholic” and not every man in the world dreams of pouring a stream of Hershey’s over his partner’s quivering form during a session of extended foreplay.  But the next time you’re baking something with cocoa in it, just slowly lick your fingers and think about how good it feels to do so.  Or the next time you are writing, add in someone eating a piece of expensive, fine chocolate and how it would make them act.

And then go take a cold shower.

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