Archive for July, 2011

Favorite Shots: “The Branch: An Ethereal Ring Analogy”

I am titling this photo “The Branch: An Ethereal Ring Analogy.”

Which is about as interpretive as I will probably ever ask you to be.

I love trilogies,


Pipe Dream #50: To Pipe Creatively

So I made this perfect frosting right? Which coincided nearly perfectly with the reception my new piping tips. And I figured that it would be baked injustice served on a platter if I didn’t try out some pretty piping.

The classic cupcake swirl, just fine on its own, or a pretty foundation for the quins, the pearls, the dragees.

The “bouquet.” I made this one up, but I like it. I felt like I was giving myself flowers. Edible flowers (bonus!)

And finally, the rose with optional mini flower. This one is probably my favorite. It is so elegant.

Try these on your own! It is a really forgiving technique and they look fabulous. Another neato thing–I used Wilton’s 1M tip for all of them. The versatility! Let me know if you come up with more creative swirls; I would love to see them.

Happy piping,


P.S. I didn’t even know I could dream 50 things in my life.

Pipe Dream #49: To Dream Deep Enough To See Brilliant Colors

Don’tcha wish you lived here? I do.

I mean, I actually live here for now.

As you can probably tell, I was playing around with filters and color balance in these shots. Technically, these should all look the same, color-wise. Can I just say, color makes things so interesting. It is crazy that changing the color of something even a little bit can dramatically affect the mood of an experience. Case in point: Photo #1 is sweeping grandeur, while Photo #2 is merely creepy.

You know what else can dramatically affect the mood of an experience? Chris Rice. Here. Probably one of my more favoriter artists.

Anyway, on this particular evening, the valley was graced with a light mist. Combined with the sunset, the landscape made for an irresistible photo opportunity. And I took advantage of it. Gasp!

This is my favorite shot. Despite the fact that the computer I’m working from is making the foreground too dark, I’m enthralled by the way the light plays over the white flowers in the front.

Dreaming deeply,


Pipe Dream #48: To Do More RAKs

I made a wickle cake for mes amies downstairs a while back. It was an impromptu birthday cake. A random act of kindness if you will.

Though perhaps some of the downstairs girls wouldn’t consider it a kindness. My comm prof last semester tried to impress upon us the Platinum Rule: Treat others as they would like to be treated. Ha. That’s probably true.

Anyway, they look happy enough in this picture, even though I couldn’t get a clear shot to save my life. Ain’t they pretty? Pretty and they put up with me all year. Amazing specimens of their kind, full of unrandom and consistent acts of kindness.

Git a-way.

This cake was teeny because I was using leftovers. Chocolate cake, peanut butter cream cheese filling and chocolate icing. Actually, the icing may have been sort of chocolate but mostly just colored brown. Either way, it was tasty.

If it is your birthday today, happy birthday.


Pipe Dream #47: To Recreate A Decent Chocolate Chip Cookie, Revisited – Updated Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Do you remember the time I told you that I experience chocolate chip cookie bliss and then could never return to eat of its goodness? I felt like Perspehone, abducted by my conniving recipe, allowed to eat the sweet fruit of my labor, only to be told that I was never to return to the surface of cookie dough heaven again.

It was dramatic.

And I could not give it up. Seriously, I have been burdened because I can’t get these cookies right. So I tried them again, for the fifth time. After three failed attempts. What was I thinking?

But let me tell you. They worked this time. WorkED.

Because this recipe involves melting butter instead of merely softening it, I think the key is to let the butter cool a bit after you melt it. You want almost room temperature butter instead of hot butter. This could explain why my previous fails turned out so crispy. Unfounded theory that is sort of founded: Maybe the hot butter I used melted the sugar in the dough and made it crunchy. I’ll pretend that’s right.

On the other hand, my theory could be wrong, and these cookies could be the best of accidents. But if I were you, I would still try your hand at them. You have a 1 in 5 chance of having the best day of your life.

I was inexplicably interested in Greek mythology as a child,


Updated Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.

Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.

Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time (for giant cookies) or a tablespoon at a time (for smaller cookies) onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

Bake larger cookies for 15 to 17 minutes, or 10 to 12 minutes for smaller ones (fa-lease don’t overbake these) in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Favorite Shots: Jewel Tone Quinoa and a Bonus Recipe

This bowl is so vintage. I’m fairly sure it is from my grandma’s shop. She and my grandpa used to rent a little place in the mall that sold dishware and unique decorations. And now they have lots of neato dish sets.

Quinoa is versatile. It is health food, but it is also delicious. It can serve as a hearty grain to warm you up in the winter, or a protein-filled base to a cold salad.

Here’s what I did to make this salad for another of the fam’s ultimate deck parties, complete with tiki torches:

Prepare quinoa according to package directions. Let cool.

Toss with cranberries, chopped carrot and red pepper. Sprinkle the top with minced chives and crumbled feta.



Pipe Dream #46: To Be Super Chill Like My Fictional Antithesis

Ok, this is my new favorite photograph. Isn’t it your new favorite photograph too?

I took it at a wedding. A very lovely, classy wedding. I happened to make the cupcakes for it.

All of the decorations were darling. It made taking pictures so easy. My work was practically done for me.

I was worried that because I was doing four different cupcakes, they would look too eclectic and disorganized. I was wrong. World 2 Lauren 0.

Despite the heavy rain that hit the cardboard carriers, the heat that threatened to dislodge the cream cheese icing and the severe knots in my back that resulted from watching a box of cupcakes flip over when I had to slam on the brakes in the middle of I-94 (so not my fault), everything went off pretty well. The cupcakes in that box got totally smoked by the way. I may not recover. Strike that. I’m recovered, but the knots remain.

Incidentally, I feel that I finally understand Buddy Valastro and the stress of moving cakes. It is legitimately the most worrisome thing. And I even like baking.

It is in times like these that I think of the perfect person. It is the person who is the exact opposite of me. The grass is always greener, eh? Anyway, this fictional antithesis of myself would never get stressed out about things like this. He is super chill. Maybe he just doesn’t care what people think of him. Actually, I know that is true. It means he rarely worries about how things are going to turn out.

Despite the smoking, the remaining cupcakes were just fine. People took them anyway. I know because I was watching the table like a hawk from the corner of my eye. No, of course I wasn’t feeling the pressure. Silly.

For this wedding, I made four different types of cupcakes. I made the most delicious strawberry cupcakes with a strawberry buttercream.

I made a gluten free dark chocolate cherry cupcake with almond buttercream, the recipe for which is soon to come. I particularly appreciated this recipe. The cake was moist and happy! Unlike some other gluten free bricks of cake, which are lame.

There was also an adaption of my honey poached pear cupcakes with a cream cheese cardamom frosting and candied ginger. They were mini and cute. Anything mini is cute. Like mini tea sets. Or mini rose-colored whale pendants that you find at antique stores for two dollars.

And finally, key lime cupcakes with coconut cream cheese frosting. Marvy.

How happy these people look. They don’t know they are on my blog probably. I particularly like the expression of the guy on the top middle. He seems to be saying, “Whaddya know? A cupcake just did sure show up in my hand.” Smile smile smile.

Thanks forever to David and Becca. What a beautiful story and a beautiful wedding. I am excited to see them use their creative talents together. If you are ever in the neighborhood and are looking for a church, check out Mill City.

Chillaxing like a hippie until the next wedding,


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