Monthly Archive: September 2011

Music Obsession: Gotye – Smoke and Mirrors

My music obsession for this week is Gotye’s “Smoke and Mirrors”. I just love everything about this one, how it builds layer by layer, the awesome brass samples and the over all bitter feel to this funky song. I know this will appear on one of my book soundtracks in the future. Take a listen!

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Recipe Tested: Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

The Premise

My in-house editor loves him some Pumpkin Pie. But I’ve never been a particular fan of it. And he’s one of those guys who feels guilty if he’s nomming on a yummy dessert all by himself. So I’m always on the look out for pumpkin desserts that I’ll like too to replace his pie. What seems to end up happening is I merely have a cache of pumpkin desserts to make in addition to the pies.

In any case, I saw this recipe a few months ago back when our air conditioning was out and we were sweltering here in the Midwest. So when the opportunity to cook for a group presented itself this weekend, and the high temperature was only supposed to get to 74F, I decided to pull this little baby out of the stack and try it.

The Findings

Wow. These cupcakes are good! But it’s not the cupcake that I adore, its that icing. I think lovers of spice cake and pumpkin bread would love the cupcakes themselves but I’m neither. However the sweet, sweet, yummy frosting with just the right amount of saltiness makes up for it.

How Hard Is This?

I had help making the cake but it was fairly easy. The recipe I used claimed it makes “~18 cupcakes”. We ended up with 24 and extra (enough to fill two large mugs halfway).

The icing was difficult for me. I won’t lie. I botched my first two batches of homemade caramel (yes, homemade!). The third batch was passable but not great. My guy declared that next time I made it, we’d be buying Smucker’s Caramel. (He’d claimed to have a 40 page how-to on how to create homemade caramel that included such things as needing to have the correct barometric readings for ideal caramel making.) I think if I’d had store bought caramel this would have been a simple process.

Getting Fancy

For this batch I decided I wanted to get a little fancy with my icing. I’d considered tossing it in a ziplock bag, cutting a hole and icing them that way but I’d seen the results of this at work and it had reminded me of dog poop! So I decided to check Teh Walmart for an icing kit. I bought this Wilton Decorator Plus kit because at $12.50 it was only a few dollars more than the package with three metal tips and 12 bags. I liked that this was reusable rather than having to buy bags every time I wanted to decorate something. It claims it will use those Wilton metal tips too but the five plastic tips that came in the box are plenty for me because I’m not heavy into decorating.

So I loaded up the tube with my icing and went to town. The only problem with doing it this way is that the icing goes fast (and a good-sized dollop is unusable inside the tip section). I probably needed a batch and a half to do all of the cupcakes I had. However a little of this frosting goes a long way because it’s very sweet.

What People Said!

The comments I got over and over about these was that “they were evil” or I was “evil evil” for making them. No one could eat just one. So be prepared to have some whining people if you run out :)

Get the recipe at Made in Melissa’s Kitchen.

October Update

So I made this recipe again two weekends ago. And this time without making caramel from scratch.
After looking at the ingredients and consistency of the caramel available to us at the store, AND noting they all said “caramel flavor” rather than caramel, I decided to use the bottle of Hershey caramel flavor topping I already had on hand (yes, the bottle one not the jar).
I started off with 1/4 cup then tasted to check. It needed more so I poured some extra directly in the bowl. I’d guess I used anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 a cup but you’ll want to stir and check for yourself. The consistency was a little bit different this way. I’d say it was actually firmer than the original batch. This is definitely the way to go in my mind. Far easier, less mess and it’s much harder to screw up the frosting.
Happy baking!

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Thrust & Plunge Game

I was going through my RSS feeds today and happened upon this Studies in Crap blog by Alan Scherstuhl on SFWeekly. This particular post called “Thrust & Plunge: The Lusty Game You Can Play with Romance Novels” made me laugh.
From the article:

One game I still turn to, especially when laid over between flights or waiting for a prescription to be filled. That is Thrust & Plunge, the great romance novel competition. The rules are simple. Anyplace where there is an impressive rack of romance novels, or even just a couple romance novels whose covers boast impressive racks, you and any number of players each select a promising title: Spicy Pirate, say, or Rogue Hearts Aflutter.

Then, after some agreed-upon starting signal, you race through your book, hurrying to be the first to find a sentence using any form of the words thrust or plunge. This sentence is then read aloud and marveled at.

Later I’m going to have to open up one of my stories to see when the first instance of thrust or plunge appears. If it’s Lore book 1, I bet it isn’t sex related :D

Do you have any doozies to share?

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On American Football

Or why I like College football better than NFL.

I’m not much into American football these days so I’ve stayed out of the office football pools during my four years at my current job. This year my co-workers begged me to join in on a pick-the-winner pool. They decided I would be the wildcard, the one who chose teams based on my favorite colors or who had the best logo. I feigned indignation but it’s not far from the truth of how I’ve picked my winners for this weekend. This whole football pool got me thinking back to my youth when I did care.

When I was fifteen I enjoyed football here and there. I didn’t particularly understand what was going on but I watched nonetheless. However I was only into college football. NFL bored the hell out of me. I had a BIG love for the Miami Hurricanes and the Florida Gators, mostly because they were winning and I liked their colors. (I shouldn’t have been so surprised when I decided to major in graphic design).

I supposed I should start off by saying that my opinion of preferring college over pro isn’t fully formed. I’ve only been to high school and college football games, never a Pro game. I can’t form a definite opinion until that’s remedied.

So why do I prefer college over NFL? I love the school spirit, the dueling bands, the marching band halftime show, and mascot displays before the games. When I asked someone that had been to an NFL game if there was a band I was told no. To me the band is an integral part of the football experience. Another thing that I love about school football is the fact that the players on the field are students rather than employees earning millions of dollars.

Rabid LSU Fans' Roast Pig Head

But also there’s a feeling of belonging to something when you go to a school game. It’s one thing to be a fan of an NFL team. It’s a whole other feeling to experience a game played at your alma mater.

Two years ago I got to go to the Arkansas vs. LSU game played at Tiger Stadium. It was a BLAST.

LSU band plays at half time 2009 LSU vs. Arkansas
The tailgating in the parking lot on LSU’s campus was insane, the fans were rabid, the game was so close that it engaged my attention throughout the entire three or so hours. I didn’t even mind that the band seemed to only know “The Eye of the Tiger”, that I hadn’t worn enough layers to combat the chill or that my butt was numb on the hard seat.

LSU's Mike VI gets paraded around Tiger StadiumAnd when we all filed out of the huge stadium down to our cars I couldn’t help feeling like I’d been a part of something big. It certainly helped that LSU had won in over time!

So which do you prefer, NFL or College?

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Lore Updates

It’s been a while since I wrote up any official posts about the Lore series. Most of my writing updates are on the Works in Progress page hidden in all that content. It’s probably time I put something up for y’all here in the main blog.

A few months back I’d tossed around the idea of rebooting the Lore series from book 9 (I’d had book 11 finished already). I wasn’t sure that I liked where the characters were going. But when it came down to writing a new ending, I just couldn’t bring myself to cut everything I’d written and start fresh. Then thanks to a brainstorming session with my in-house-editor, new life was breathed into the final books.

Then I sat down to finished it all up. I’d written a good 40,000 words into a new book 11 when I decided I didn’t like how THAT had gone. All of the new content was cut (but set aside for future use) and the old content was returned (with one change to lay the ground work for book 12). I’m currently 20,000 words into book 12 and nearing the point where I’ll bring in the content I’d cut from 11. Maybe.

So what does this mean for you? It means I’ll release book 9 in fourth quarter 2011 rather than first quarter 2012.

If you haven’t already noticed it on the Current and Upcoming Books page, Book 9 is called Lore vs. The Addiction. And it’s another cliff hanger, admittedly not quite as dramatic as book 8′s cliffhanger (which is just plain evil). So keep an eye out for that in 4th quarter 2011!

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