Quick in the Kitchen

I’ll admit it–I am ADDICTED to food porn. I check about 20 of my favorite food blogs every time I get a hold of a computer. At my desk. At home. Under the covers late at night. It’s a sickness. Ooooh matcha white chocolate cookies. MMMMM peanut butter banana bread. Yummm pesto. Some people have a “goodies” drawer. I have my bookmarks bar that I open when I have a craving.

Not only do I have an obsession with food, but I also aspire to be a foodie/gourmet chef. This of course is not too convenient with my lack of funds. Two Sundays ago, I had my frustrations realized when my parents spent the day in Hoboken as the first warm Sunday in 2008. As we were walking down the main street after lunch at Elysian Cafe, a French bistro inspired place (I had a Croque Madama…gruyere cheese, Canadian bacon, and a fried egg), my mom asked me about every restaurant we passed. And there are a lot of them.

“What about this place?”–as she points to an Italian restaurant I’ve been dying to try.

“Nope.”

“Ooooh Ali Baba’s Indian food–that looks soo good! How’s the food there?”

“Wouldn’t know, Mom.”

“Oh what a cute little outside setting! What about that cafe?”

“Mom! I have only been to a restaurant here if it sells pizza or bagels. Or if I’ve had a date, and it’s been a little dry in that area as well. Drop it.”

We touched upon two sensitive subjects. But as for the first–my foodie desires are too well developed for my wallet. So for now, I have tastespotting.com to help me pretend that the scoops of peanut butter I shove into my mouth are really bites of French brioche toast or pink macarons.

But this weekend, it was the perfect excuse to be a food blogger for the afternoon. Lookie what I made for my friend Ms. Ball O’ Sunshine’s 25 birthday:

Aren’t they pretty?? So girly–I love it. After countless mornings of passing the cake display at the deli we got our morning coffees, where she would scratch at the glass over the coconut cake (I would lick the glass over the carrot cake), I promised her that I would make her coconut cupcakes for her birthday.

The only thing is, coconut cupcakes are quite labor intensive, and by intensive, I mean, you need a lot of materials that just aren’t to be found in my kitchen. My spice rack/baking ingredients consist of garlic powder, chili pepper flakes, and an empty bottle of vanilla extract, and all the recipes for coconut cupcakes were from scratch. This was going to be interesting.

Duncan Hines supposedly makes a coconut cake mix, but it is rumored to be hard to find. A&P sure didn’t have it. I had to improvise. A week short of my paycheck, cupcakes from scratch weren’t going to happen. I ended up using a vanilla cake and icing but threw in a lot of shredded coconut. I almost bought coconut extract, but for a tiny bottle priced at $5.00, even Ms. Ball O’Sunshine reassured me, as a fellow Splenda stealer, “Screw that!” She gets it.

All in all, the cupcakes were a hit. I really love making food and preparing for dinner parties and such. I can’t wait to have a decent working kitchen. Until then, this is where I prepare my food:

on our dining table/mail table/bill organizer. Who says you need a fancy island in your kitchen like Martha Stewart to make good lookin’ food?? A little crowded, but it works. As long as my cell phone doesn’t land in the batter, I’m good to go. I’m learning to improvise for what I don’t have:

one muffin tin: I bought foil liners that stand up on their own to finish off the rest of the batter

no oven timer: cell phone alarm

two cup measurements with the numbers faded off: I crossed my fingers hoping what I thought was a 1/3 of a cup was

and perhaps my greatest improvisation of the day–no tupperware or large plates in which to transport the cupcakes: a boot box

After my cupcakes cooled, and I iced them, I suddenly realized I had no way of bringing these guys out of my apartment. I had thought about this earlier in the week, yet whenever I get to a grocery store, I remind myself–only buy the bare necessities. I always seem to talk myself out of buying luxury items, which in this case would have been a foil pan or tupperware or even paper plates to carry my cupcakes, but I guess I like a challenge?

I start walking around my apartment looking for something big enough to carry my treats. Ceramic dish? Not big enough. Two dinner plates? Not big enough either. Luckily, I found the box to one of my boots that I had shoved under the futon because I was too lazy to throw it out. My laziness paid off.

Cupcakes….I can see you….

Perfect! No one would have known that it was really a boot box except for that “size 9” sticker, which I had forgotten to peel off. But the pretty cupcake display distracted away from that evidence, plus after a few glasses/bottles of wine, no one really seemed to care.

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