Thursday, March 24, 2011

Red Velvet if You Please

Red, it’s such a wonderful color. Just think of all the lovely things that wouldn't be the same without it: rubies, roses, rosé, strawberry (fields forever la la ♫ ♪ Sorry, I couldn't help myself) poppies, cherry lemonade, M. Night Shyamalan films...the list could go on but before I stop droning, let's not forget red velvet cake. Given my recent baking and cooking woes, (i.e. not having a kitchen of my own etc) and with my Rhys out all yesterday, I decided to take advantage of the empty house and kitchen and bake a culinary masterpiece. Well, at least I hoped something along those lines. I think everyone should try red velvet cake at least once in their lives. Red Velvet recipes are easy enough to google. My only advice is never try recipes that try to make cake healthy. All things in moderation...
I hope you enjoy my photographic documentary.

Warning: Almost all creative endeavours require mess. Not for the faint of heart. My fingers are still a bit dyed. As I understand, the old, Dutch style of cocoa was originally responsible for the cake's striking red color. While some people still use that type of cocoa today, it can be difficult to find so red food coloring is a must.

Using a hand mixer was a bit of a mission. I dream of the day when I take home a yellow Kitchenaid mixer but alas, that day is still far off.
 I've never made a layer cake before, nor have I made a cake without a hole in it. So I think I overfilled the tins a bit but it wasn't fatal. On a side note, I can just hear my Mom's voice quoting My Big Fat Greek Wedding: "This cake has a hole in it!"

 Yum! Cream cheese icing really is, well, the icing on the cake.

In the end, my cake really did feel a little hounded by the paparazzi with Rhys and his cousin coming at it from all angles with their cameras flashing. I just blushed like a flamingo and sliced the cake but I love making people happy by cooking.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Desparately Seeking Spaghetti

No surprise, I am thinking about food again. I'm sure it's fuelled by my reignited love of watching cooking shows + my current access to the food channel. Without obligations or self-restraint, I'm sure I could spend the whole day watching. I have so many new ideas of foods I'd like to try but it's somewhat frustrating that as my mouth waters, I don't currently have my own kitchen to work in. All my great kitchen wedding presents are packed away in boxes at the moment. Sigh.

The food that has been on my mind for weeks is Spaghetti, more specifically, my mom's spaghetti. Never mind that I used to call it Basghetti...but what is without sauce? (Or if you want to impress you Italian friends, "gravy.") My mom's spaghetti sauce is the best. It is so savoury and flavorful. You can smell it throughout the house. Like in the old cartoons, the aroma takes on a life of its own, putting you in a trance, luring you against your will towards the kitchen to taste it.

Fortunately, I watched her cook it enough times over the years that I almost know it off by heart. Of course mine isn't nearly as good. I mostly blame my lack of experience though; it's also fair to say that some of the problem is the availability of the right kind of meat. Italian sausage is hard enough to find here. I think spicy Italian sausage might be nigh-on impossible since spicy food isn't a huge part of food culture in NZ. Cest la vie. Though, I have to say, a good sauce would be worth moving back home for. I can see it now: being able to buy the perfect coil of meat. Letting it simmer away till all the flavors have come out. Violin music would be playing as Rhys and I sit down to eat. Somehow, unbeknownst to us, we would start eating either end of the same string of spaghetti. We would be so absorbed in the great food that we wouldn't notice until it's too late and...Ok maybe not, especially since I'm very bad at sharing good food. I am, however, willing to just have a spaghetti night at my parent's house… with everyone eating from their own plate.

In the end, all this thought of pasta has triggered a new food goal for me; I would love to try making my own pasta. I think ravioli would be a fun one to try. How about you, are there any foods you've always wanted to make for yourself?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Film News

Rumor has it that director Baz Luhrmann will begin filming his adaptation of The Great Gatsby this month. The Great Gatsby being my favorite book, of course I was excited when I started to hear whispers and noises about a remake in the works. There have been six film adaptions of The Great Gatsby! Still, I assure you, the wheel has not been reinvented as none of the six has captured the greatness of  Fitzgerald's novel. How is it possible? Why hasn't someone snapped it up and blow us away with a great movie? And why have there been such great gaps of time between the last few attempts? THE American Novel. The roaring 20s, Long Island, love, intrigue, prohibition, flapper fashion! What's not to love?

...Well then, I was positively over the moon when it was announced that Carey Mulligan had been cast for the part of Daisy. As the story goes, she was chosen over Scarlett Johansson, Keira Knightly, and Natalie Portman, just to name a few. Win! While I don't deny the acting ability of any of those three, I think Mulligan really will be perfect for the part. And I've had time to think about this; when I was studying media at university, I used to dream of remaking The Great Gatsby. I thought about the fashion and sound track but most of all the casting, pondering who would be the best Daisy, or Nick, or Gatsby. Leonardo DiCaprio has been cast as Gatsby and I am pleased. While I also imagined someone as bit more damaged seeming, like a great bottle of wine, DiCaprio has gotten better and better with time. 

However, I was greatly disturbed and put off when I learned that Toby Maguire had been cast for the part of Nick Carraway. The casting choice was released months ago and I'm still wrestling with it. I always envisioned Jake Gyllenhaal. Nick Carraway being the narrator, one would have hoped Luhrmann would have picked someone with a lower, cooler, voice. Sigh. Unfortunately Maguire's casting isn't the only alarming piece of info; in the last few days I've read that Luhrmann not only plans to make the film in 3D, but he also plans to film in Australia. Be still my heart but obviously not in a good way. Nevertheless, I'm sure I will be at the theater when it opens if for nothing else but to scrutinize. I am also sure there will be a lot more to tell as it gets closer to the release. 

". . . one autumn night, five years before, they had been walking down the street when the leaves were falling, and they came to a place where there were no trees and the sidewalk was white with moonlight. They stopped here and turned toward each other. Now it was a cool night with that mysterious excitement in it which comes at the two changes of the year. The quiet lights in the houses were humming out into the darkness and there was a stir and bustle among the stars. Out of the corner of his eye Gatsby saw that the blocks of the sidewalks really formed a ladder and mounted to a secret place above the trees—he could climb to it, if he climbed alone, and once there he could suck on the pap of life, gulp down the incomparable milk of wonder." 
The Great Gatsby 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Whaddaya say, Patrick?

Dear Patrick,
Can we be friends? I'll have you over for tea and cake and we can discuss all our favorite cinematic masterpieces. What's your favorite genre? Is Citizen Kane really the greatest movie of all time? We will be so busy chatting that we'll lose track of time and I'll have to ask you to stay for dinner as well. What do you say? 

...Since I was little, I've always thought Patrick Stoner a legendary guy. I love the way he has his "Quick Picks" segment in which he reviews the movie, interviews the star, and shows you a great clip, leaving you even more intrigued than you started. Best of all, it takes only a few minutes. No need to be strung along watching previews for movies you'll never desire to see or watching the clip only to hear the movie gets 2 stars, before the feature film gets reviewed. Yes, I am rambling a bit...The point is, I always secretly wished that someday, I could be "The. Next. Patrick. Stoner." Not that I want him to go anywhere, maybe I could just be his apprentice.