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.

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.

Introduction

The theme is simple.

Baking and writing are two things I desperately love in life.  You should find some way to combine them.

This advice comes from a very wise friend that did not mean that I should write a cook book.  I am pretty sure John was talking more about connecting my passion for baked goods and my passion for bloody modern fantasy fiction.  So of course the first thing that came to mind was a serial killer that killed people and then baked in their kitchens as their blood seeped into the carpeting and made a mess of the hardwood beneath.

My first attempt did not go so well.

In fact, I am pretty sure I dropped it after two paragraphs because I knew in my heart of hearts that I was doing something that would enrage the baking gods.  And I had a cake to finish that night.

So we come to Poached Prose. 

I am not a professional baker.  I am self-taught, mostly from being planted firmly in front of the Food Network since I was seventeen and two loving grandmothers and one loving mother as well as perusing my mother’s battered edition of the Betty Crocker Cookbook that she received as a wedding gift more than three decades ago.  I don’t even own a cookbook.  The advent of the Internet has made it possible for me to fulfill my passion for baked pears and giant cupcake cake.

I am a professional writer, but the professional part is somewhere in my muddled past when I was more focused on not selling out than I was on keeping food on the table.  So now I work freelance and spend my day time at a day job where I struggle to keep my brain from imploding.

Good food and smart fiction are things that can turn me on faster than seeing my husband willingly hang up his towel.  I hope to see if somehow, somewhere, I might combine them into something that leaves me as satisfied as watching my husband struggle to do things that keep me from being irrationally pissed off.  We’ll just have to see.