This week's hack cake could be called "clean out the fridge cake." Some may call it a red velvet cake which I'm not a fan of due to the the dye. It always seemed odd that folks got excited about a cake with a slightly different hue. The red velvet cake has a somewhat muddled history with different claims as to its origin as well as the origin of its color.
The trick with natural red ingredients is the compounds that create the color are very fragile when exposed to heat. Even in plant-based dyes for textiles red is often a cold dye process and there is considerable attention payed to the mordants used to fix the colors.
My beet-based cake looks like any other dark chocolate cake. Unlike other beet cake recipes which call for shredded veg I chose to purée. This removes the texture. Think applesauce cake vs carrot cake.
Simply substituting a fruit or vegetable purée or sauce for liquid doesn't work. There are balances and our beet purée takes the place of some of the fat, sugar and liquid in the regular recipe.
Note: as I've gotten older my tendons decided "stir with a fork" was rather tedious. Now this cake uses 2 vessels: the 9 x 9 baking dish and either a stand mixer or a food processor bowl. When done all-in-one-pan the pan doesn't need to be lined or greased-and-floured.
Begin by making a shredded beet side dish, having. It with dinner then not eating all the leftovers. Roasted or steamed are also acceptable but will likely mean the recipe needs more oil.
The wine flavor will also be broken down by the heat so in this recipe the wine can be leftover from dinner a few nights ago that's just starting to turn to vinegar.
2 C cooked shredded beets
1.25 C red wine
.5 t salt
.75 C Sugar
4T cocoa (Heaping)
1.5 C Flour
3 T salad oil
1.5 t baking soda
1C chocolate chips
Put the beets and red wine into the food processor or blender and start puréeing. Scrape down the sides with a spatula and add the next 4 ingredients. Purée some more. The flour and cocoa may also need to be scraped down. Add the salad oil and make sure the mixture is the same consistency. At this point it should be pourable, like any boxed cake onced mixed. If it is too thick add a little more liquid through the feeder. Get your 9x9 pan prepared and have the chocolate chips ready. Add the baking soda and purée to make sure it is throughly mixed. Transfer half the batter to the prepared pan, add the chips and then the rest of the batter.
Bake at 350° for around 35 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick or sharp knife comes out clean. Let cool completely before serving.
Marmalade is a perfect expression of Scottish thrift. Instead of discarding peels during the height of the clementine harvest I collected them in a storage bin in the freezer. This morning when I realized space was the scarce commodity I made marmalade. Like many marms before the recipe is a bit ad hoc.
Pith of one blood orange
2 c water
32 oz frozen clementine, lemon and orange peels.
2 c orange peel infused sugar
1 c Reisling
3 T molasses
2 c warm water
The pith is obtained by peeling a blood orange and slicing a thin layer of zest off for use in another marmelade. Place pith and the first 2 cups of water in a sauce pan. Cover and bring to a boil. Boil 10 minutes and turn off the heat. Let sit 10-20 minutes. Add frozen peel and Reisling. Bring to a boil again for another 10 minutes. Turn off heat and mash with a squiggle-masher. Break the peels into 1-inch square chunks.
Add sugar. Ideally the molasses jar only has 3 tablespoons left in it. Add the water to the jar and shake vigorously until no molasses is stuck on the bottom. "'Cause ya wounna wanta waste anythin'." Add molasses-water to the pot and bring to a boil again.
Boil for about 15 minutes then turn down to a simmer. Stir periodically, scraping down the sides to get "alla tha' guid stuff."
The marmalade is done cooking when it is a fairly uniform thickness and a dripped spoon holds two drops melding into one rather than one stream. How's that for an esoteric visual indication of consistency? Strangely, it makes more sense in this context than the drop-on-a-chilled-plate-gells method.
This isn't the party favor or newspaper-play hat., this is a practical hat for the heliophobic. Fair skinned folks who are allergic to sunscreen need summer hats. I decided to crochet one last year, finishing it en route to Hawaii. We were going to be closer to the equator after all.
This brim sits sloped slightly downwards like the fishing lure filled hat worn by Henry Blake on M*A*S*H. It is firm enough to keep sunbeams off the nose yet still crushes to fit in a beach bag or suitcase.
Everyone liked it so much I thought I'd publish the pattern. This one is in a slate-grey and white yarn called Katia Paper. The colors have faded a little so it almost looks beige on top. Unfortunately this yarn is discontinued and you can't lead folks down a path towards making something if they can't get the ingredients.
I had to replicate my crochet hat with paper yarn that is currently available. The first thing I grabbed was Habu TextilesShosenshi Linen Paper. Its a beautiful yarn available in eight colors.
The haby yarn is almost a quarter of the size of the Katia used on the original hat. The re-creation process took several iterations to get it right. The finer weight yarn resulted in a floppier brim which tended to flip up like Paddington Bear's fisherman hat in the wind.
Onlookers were aghast as I ripped out the brim on three separate occasions. The second edition used two strands held together. The third edition added a third strand of ultra fine stainless steel yarn. Finally the solution arrived in a box of milinary supplies: brim wire. The outer edge of the hat now consists of a loop of brim wire crochet-over with more linen paper yarn.
Now that I have a successful reproduction the next consideration is cost. The Katia version used 1.75 balls which equals $17.50 in materials. The habu version, sans stainless steel, with brim wire is around $50 in materials. That's retails, the bargain hunters may be able to find web and trade show specials.
Note: Both versions are hand-washable but this should be done carefully. A trip through the washing machine and drier practically mangled the original model.
Is it bad if a bar of soap smells just like food? I made this loaf with espresso and cocoa powder. The base needs to be quite a bit smoother to integrate such a dark set of colors but with a little marketing it works. J said it smelled wonderful and observed that the white bits of not-completely melted rebatch looked like nuts.
My Gran didn't get it. "Won't it stain your linens?"
I hadn't considered this usage scenario. I know a number of people who set a fancy bar in the bathroom soap dish for themselves or guests to was their hands. In the kitchen and shower we have liquid soap. Does anyone nowadays rub a bar into a wash cloth?
When I was a kid the giant Valentine candy box was the best thing ever. Its an icon that even shows up in cartoons as a symbol of smittenness. If someone was lucky enough to get one in real life it was proof they were loved.
My husband must've had the same insight because one year he bought me the big box of chocolates from Godiva and started a collection. I can't find the photo of that right now and we don't put them out until February 1st. There isn't a box for each year, mind you, sometimes I just ask him to pick one to refill.
This year I'm working on making my own. There's something very poetic about learning build your own heart-shaped box. Makes me want to sing.
Forever in debt to your priceless advice.
Or something like that. There is a lot of paper in my studio and sometimes it needs to go 3-D instead of being made into flat art. They're small but they're turning out pretty nice.
What do we call this process? Its not quite decoupage. Its not paper maché. Paper lamination?
Personally, I'm not a fan of cinnamon candy or gum but I like the way they smell. I begin my first official rebatch soap experiment with a variation on the Pumpkin Fiasco soap B & I made a couple years ago.
The bars and the hearts on the right were made using a double-boiler, with no real idea of the ideal temperature needed for the melt. Most likely they wee too hot. Note the uneven shrinkage.
The smoother hearts on the left were made in a consistent hot-water bath with a temperature around 155. This is still too hot. Plus the mix cools too quickly so there's not enough time to go from the bath to the mold before it starts to get a frosting-like consistency.
Not quite ready for sale yet but we're getting there. Need to do some more research before the next experiment.
Working on a set of knit summer wraps with a long ripple pattern, I wondered what to call them. The combinatio of colors and pattern in theis one reinds me of sand dunes, MK's Person reference Turing patterns because Alan Turing's chemical biomorphology models form the foundation for studies on physical wave pattern generation and other fractal-based disciplines.
This pattern is essentially a rib, a 1-5 rib, with the one stitch doing a cable right or left every 5 rows. It oscillated back the opposite direction after 5 repeats.
It is is a very limited example, probably just a sine wave but it could generate some interesting patterns with other modifiers.
Interestingly the wave is only visible on the reverse or wrong side. Otherwise it just looks like stockinette,
These examples are from a vintage cone called "Acrylin 75." The white appears to be acrylic and the tan is linen. Its an unusual blend, perhaps intended to limit shrinkage during laundering. Most modern linen-acrylic blends such sa Berroco Remix and Linus have other fiber in them. Unwashed Acrylin 75 has a feel similar to a linen-cotton blend. I'm waiting to see how it literally comes out in the wash.
Dropping a stitch can be tedius or it can be a happy accident. In this case I dropped one early on in several of the one-stitch ribs. Luckily the pattern let them drop all the way down to the cast-on, creating an interesting visual effect on the right side of the knitting.
In this variation think it looks even better the reverse. The openwork allows color to show through. Wouldn't that look awseome over a marin-blue t-shirt or swim suit?
This one reminds me of the lacey traces left behind at water's edge. It isn't sea-foam, per se, but foam created by the sea on the sand.
One looks like the waves were created by wind and the other by water. What should I call them?