July 13, 2012

Baking teaches life lessons.

Well things are whirl-winding all around here. I think something's set in stone and then BAM it changes.

So I went back on the bananas yesterday. I have one for lunch today. I am in love with bananas even though I'm afraid this relationship is going to turn abusive. But I have to stop. I have to stop the banana love for another week. I'm going to eat today's banana because I can and I imagine it's potential toxins will be out of my system by Wednesday. Wednesday I am going on mini work trip after all. Go figure. I get to take a sea plane and stay in a nice hotel! I'm such a world class traveler.

So last night hit me like a bag of bricks. You'd think, at 23, that I'm still young and can do everything I did when I was in university. You'd be deluding yourself as much as I am if you did, though. When I was in high school I'd work until 10 and then go watch movies with my friends, coming home at one or two in the morning. I used to stay up until four reading in bed when I had nothing to do on my summer vacations. Sometimes I'd stay up until four and then have to get up early. And you know what? I did it. Like a champ I did it.

Even in my first few years of university I could push myself to stay up late and, indeed, found that I wrote essays the most productively between 11 pm and 1 am. Now, however, staying up until midnight isn't unusual but I can't handle much later than that. I get zombified and, if it's really bad, emotional. Kind of like a toddler.

Last night I made magic happen in the kitchen with my bean cake. No sugar of any sort, no gluten, let alone flour, just cocoa, eggs, butter, sweeteners, and beans. Seriously. And I got to use my blender to kill those beans. I even buttered the pan, sprinkled it with cocoa powder as instructed (not something I would normally bother with) and decided that putting parchment paper in the pan and spraying it with oil was over kill. I'm basically a baking master. I followed every other instruction as directed, even using butter instead of margarine for once.

The first step in cake making, even though it looks like it could be a protein shaking.

Yep, everything went really well in the prep stages. Sure it was only nine and I was dragging my feet, but I was optimistic that throwing on a little Audrey Assad, pouring myself a glass of wine, and plowing through it would give me renewed zeal. Well, I plowed through it sure enough and even cleaned the toilet to the tune of The Deathly Hallows while the cake was baking, but it didn't give me much more energy. I even worked on my secret project for ten minutes while the cake cooled. My mystery project that I completely forgot to take a photo of this morning. I guess you'll just have to wait.

When it came time to take my decadent cake out of it's pan I knew something was wrong. It wasn't coming out. I cut around the side of the pan, tipped it over onto a plate, gave it a good upside down wiggle, and, when that didn't work, smacked the bottom of the pan really hard a couple times. I tried everything I could think of and eventually Karl came did the exact same things but more forcefully. And lo! The cake came out, and landed on the plate upside down. Except something went wrong; only the top half of the cake was on the plate and the rest was still in the pan.

Dead cake. I'll be holding a funeral for it later in my belly.

My heart broke. I was officially dragging my feet, wondering how on earth I was going to have the energy to actually shower and get into bed, and all of a sudden thoughts like, "My cake is dead!" and "I should make a nicer one!" are flying through my head. Thankfully my exhaustion didn't give me a jelly brain and I was reasonable about the whole thing. I broke the rules and stuck a dome on it and admitted that I couldn't change the past and would just have to pile the icing on thick enough to hide the fact that underneath was a pile of crumbs. My original top, now the new bottom, had been absolutely perfect and would have made icing, one of my many downfalls, as easy as ever. No such luck. Tonight I'm going to have one heck of an icing related challenge as I try to make it look like nothing's wrong. Looks can be deceiving even though everyone will know once they cut a slice that the beautifully iced exterior (not likely) is actually hiding what looks like earthquake rubble.

Oh well, at least the stale crumbs I picked up off the counter this morning taste amazing. Even the batter was delicious last night. It might even be my first cake from scratch. I'm not sure, though, so don't quote me. I do know one thing, though, and that is that it was definitely my first bean cake. I wish I'd taken a picture of it while it was still in the pan, though. It looked gorgeous.

Apart from last night it's been a busy week for me. Monday night I made these bad boys to help cure my breakfast eating blues. They're pretty good. I think I could have cooked them for maybe five minutes longer, and I also had to sub half the amount of almonds for cashews because it's all I had, but I'm going to call them a success. They caught my eye because they're supposed to be filling enough to get you through until lunch. Sure enough, they do the trick for most of the morning. It's safe to say that I'll be rotating breakfasts between them and smoothies for a while. I get bored easily, though, so maybe I'll give them a try in a couple weeks or so. I'm also out of erythritol and that stuff does not come cheap. I forgot to take a picture of the bars. It's probably the first time in months I haven't photographed my baking endeavours to show off.

In case you haven't noticed, I really like Healthy Indulgences recipes. I like trying to cook with things other than just flour and sugar. As the main eater of what I bake, it's nice to know I'm not putting as much unnecessary junk into my system. I don't want to go up another pant size!

Monday night also saw me working on the super amazing nightstand I found online. We did some measuring and it turns out it's identical to mine. Yeah, I've clearly got a good home decor eye for these things. The only thing that stands out between the two is that the new nightstand has a really nice drawer whereas mine is too shallow and wants to fall out when you pull it out. Since I don't really use it much that's not proving to be a big issue. It's lasted me two years, after all.

This is the photo that I found online.
Why people feel the need to photograph their furniture outside is beyond me. 

After my Monday night priming session.

The finished product.

I need to figure out how to take better pictures with my phone because the last one really doesn't do it justice. It's a dark chocolate brown and even though it doesn't match our IKEA stuff it still looks quite dapper. I plan on doing mine tomorrow so that I can show Karl how superior I am when it comes to home projects and have a matching set. Mostly to have a matching set.

Since I kind of started by going backwards I'll go back to Saturday now. I guess I just got bitten by the bug and was getting stuff done left right and center. That or I was having some sort of psychotic episode.

A place for my book hoarding to call home!

Vile and disgusting home invader outside the window, now behind a wall of books.

I added a little more protection between us and the predator. Out of sight out of mind, right?
Yes, that is wrapping paper. It's cheap but it's working for now.

Who am I? I'm a freaking genius, that's who I am!
Ugly frame be gone! This is only one of three frametastic makeovers I did this weekend.

So there you have it! A little bit of photo evidence that I'm not all talk. I actually enjoyed putting photos up and might do it more often. We shall see.

If you take anything away from this post today, let it be that you may think you know better than the recipe says, and sometimes you do, but when it comes to making sure your cake doesn't stick to the pan, better safe than sorry.

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