Archive for February, 2012

Pipe Dream #89: To Not Go Back To High School

I like taking group shots. They are so fun to play with because you are dealing with more than one person. You can create a lot of interest. Example, one person jumping, kinda weird. Four people jumping, cool.

One thing I especially love about group shots: it is easier for me to capture a feeling of movement because you are working with people who are trying to relate with the people around them as well as the photographer. Candid group shots are precious.

Group shots are also really indicative of the relationship between the people in them. Body language is often more natural because the subjects are posing in relation to each other. Ha. Actually, not always true. If I was really on top of things, I would scan in and post a photo from my high school dance. Most awkward pose with a boy ever. We were so awkard that when the photographer (his mind obviously lacking inspiration after years of posing unfortunate high schoolers in obnoxious dresses and duct tape suits) told my date to put his hands around my waist, we just kind of stood there with my fists resting on top of his fists. Fists. For heaven’s sake. Anyway, maybe you had to be there.

Some people think that high school was the best time of their life. I don’t,


I Got It Right: Peppermint Patties

York Peppermint Patties. They sound English, but I have yet to see one here yet. They are also one of my favorite candies. I’m a sucker for peppermint and frosting if you couldn’t tell.


These were so good that though I had planned to leave them for the staff here, I ended up taking all 30 of them back to my room to “share.” Don’t worry, I did share them. But I didn’t want to very much.

And the sick part of these is, they are so easy that I have to actively stop myself from making them on a weekly basis.

Have fun without me,


Bonus picture:

Homemade Peppermint Candies

Adapted from savorysweetlife

1 can sweetened condensed milk

5 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon peppermint extract

3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

3 tablespoons shortening

Add condensed milk, two cups of powdered sugar, and peppermint extract to a large mixing bowl. Mix everything on medium speed using the paddle attachment until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Add more powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is stiff but still pliable.

Roll 3/4″ balls of dough between the palms of the hands.

Press each ball down slowly and set the flattened disk on a flat cutting board or plate. Transfer peppermint disks to the freezer for no longer than 30 minutes. While the dough is chilling, temper the chocolate coating.

Place chocolate chips in a microwavable bowl. Melt the chocolate in 30 second increments, making sure to stir after each time until chocolate is smooth. Stir in shortening to thin the chocolate. Remove patties from the freezer.

Place a patty on the tines of the fork and dip in the chocolate until completely covered. Allow excess chocolate to drip off the patty before setting each one on top of wax or parchment paper.

Allow the chocolate coated peppermint patties to completely set up. This can be done quicker by placing the patties in the refrigerator. The peppermint patties are ready when they are dry to the touch. Enjoy!

Favorite Shots: My Lip Gloss Is Poppin’

I like this song. I can’t help it. Once, I even got a drunk text about it. So obviously, it holds a dear place in my heart. These shots remind me of it. And they also remind me of the days when I had a point and shoot and I could take fun, flashy pictures all the time.

Here’s to the years,


Pipe Dream #88: To Feel My Way Places – Swiss Meringue Buttercream

My dad is good at driving. He is less good with following directions while driving. We’ll get to talking about how the head gasket is breaking for the third time this year, and suddenly he’ll realize that we’ve missed our exit. The thing is, my dad never gets lost. He feels his way places. It annoys some people, but it’s really not such a bad way to live. You always end up where you’re supposed to be.

Some people are intimidated by bain-maries. I count myself as one of them. I don’t think this is because I am bad at using them necessarily, it’s just that all the things that require double-boiling are usually delicate and easily wrecked.

That being said, I’ve made this frosting three times with perfect results, even though this recipe is more of a feeler recipe than a lab recipe. It doesn’t require an exact temperature for the sugared egg whites and you just have to whip it ‘til it’s good. And by “perfect results,” I mean an extremely smooth, light and buttery frosting. It kind or reminds me of a boiled buttercream, but I would say that this is even more fine.

I flavored the frosting for the brownies with peppermint (because it is winter and I’m addicted) and flavored the frosting for the walnut blondies with vanilla.

With vanilla and feeling,


Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Adapted from smitten kitchen

For a 9-inch cake and filling:

1 cup sugar

4 large egg whites

26 tablespoons butter, softened (3 sticks plus 2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk egg whites and sugar together in a big metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk occasionally until you can’t feel the sugar granules when you rub the mixture between your fingers.

Transfer mixture into the mixer and whip until it turns white and about doubles in size. Don’t get any water in the bowl, now.

Add the vanilla.

Finally, add the butter a stick at a time and whip it ’til it looks like frosting and not a curdled mess.

Pipe Dream #87: To Befriend People Who Don’t Like Chocolate – Walnut Blondies

This is a true pipe dream of mine. How close can we really be if you don’t like chocolate? Chocolate is a significant part of my life, and if it is not a significant part of yours, well…

Blondies are kind of the perfect dessert because they get people who don’t like chocolate. Although these interesting specimens are few and far between and barely deserve to be called human, I sometimes like to practice mercy and make non-chocolate desserts. With blondies, you get all the consistency of a brownie, and the absence of chocolate opens up the door to any number of interesting flavors. In this case, toasted walnuts.

The thing that attracted me to this recipe was that it didn’t include any baking powder or baking soda. This just speaks dense and rich to me. The opposite of angel food cake!


I added some frosting on the top not because I thought these needed it, but because I figured I might as well do as much as possible while I was in the kitchen. And bonus, frosting stars are cute. I’ll show you this frosting later because it is ultimately awesome.

And by ultimately awesome, I am for serious,



Adapted from How to Cook Everything

8 tablespoons (1 stick, 4 ounces or 113 grams) butter melted

1 cup (218 grams or 7 3/4 ounces for light; 238 grams or 8 3/8 ounces for dark) brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

pinch salt

1 cup (4 3/8 ounces or 125 grams) all-purpose flour

Butter an 8×8 pan (or line with parchment).

Mix melted butter with brown sugar – beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla.

Add salt, stir in flour. Mix in any additions, like toasted walnuts, or a 1/2-1 cup of anything that strikes your fancy.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350°F 20-25 minutes, or until set in the middle. Underbake them a bit, duh, then let cool before cutting.

Favorite Shots: Children With All Levels Of Imagination

Continuing in my creepy fascination with children and statues, or children’s propensity to hang around statues in cities, I give you this. I love it.


Pipe Dream #86: To Explain The Exclaim

I went to Neurnberg! It was sweet! There were cathedrals!

There were lonely people!

There were vistas!

There was music!


There were castles!

And there were friends.

What a happy day,


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