Archive for August, 2011

August 19, 2011

The Biggest Mess/Obsession of All

Hi there! I’ve been keeping a pretty low profile the past month or so. Standing as far away as possible from a knitting needle, sewing machine, pasta machine, yarn, embroidery thread, hoops, fabric, notions! And I’m telling you, I have never been happier. I have a feeling that’s all about to change as Halloween and Christmas crafts begin to pop up. I have a folder on my computer at work that holds wish lists of things I want to make. The folder is getting larger and larger, but I’m really interested to share my latest and greatest obsession. The craftiest mess of all time, well, maybe, not as bad as a pasta bits stuck to the inner most corners of the machine, but a fairly big mess that I’ve been working behind the scenes trying to make some headway on.

What is this crafty mess you may ask? I won’t keep you waiting a minute more.

It’s me!

Standing at 4’11”, I am the biggest crafty mess of all when it comes to style, wardrobe, all things me. I work two really challenging jobs. I love them so much and am lucky to have them and am forever grateful that I get to work in a super creative environment surrounded by talented people that I learn from each day. I work in a man’s world and I only want to be judged by talent, not appearance nor gender, so often style takes a back seat. I cover up winter, spring, fall and summer in blue jeans, flip flops and an oversized hoodie. My hair has been pulled up in a bun since high school and the little bit of makeup I own has seen better days. However, that is all about to change. For the last few months, I’ve decided to put the crafts aside, for monetary reasons and really focus on myself. I lost so many quality things in Hurricane Katrina, it’s been hard for me to want to reward myself with fun things in fear that it may all be taken away again. However, the wonderful feeling I get knowing my husband and I are this amazing team, has made me see things in a new and different light. I don’t want life to pass me by and my tombstone to read: “She really liked to wear old jeans!” haha, not to worry, more than anything, I do not have a serious attitude about all this stuff. In fact, I poke a lot of fun at it. In order to document this change, I’ve decided to blog about it and I would love for you to visit the blog and catch up with me as I’ve been scouring the web and online sales to learn more about fashion, beauty, expensive purses I can’t own and Kate Middleton. So far it’s been about 2 months and a lot of fun and already I can see and feel a difference. I stand up a little taller and realize that focusing on appearance enhances all aspects of my life! Don’t worry, though. I haven’t given up crafting for good. Just setting it aside while I focus on a few more important things!

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August 1, 2011

Krewe de Fail

It’s been awhile since we last spoke. I have been firmly sticking to my ‘no crafting’ plan for the last few weeks and let me tell you, I am a lot less stressed. However, I did slide a little this past week and revisited a craft fail from the past, The New Orleans King Cake. I’ve been failing long before this blog went into effect. Unfortunately, I didn’t document a lot of those earlier fails but let’s all catch up and relive the great bake fail of Mardi Gras 2011. This is a bit of a lengthy read, but then we are talking about the KING CAKE!

Every year around Mardi Gras season, I long for those yummy King Cakes that you can only find in New Orleans. Whether it be a Randazzo’s or a Haydel’s version, the King Cake lives in a kingdom of its own. Purple, green and gold sugar, sprinkled over a thick sugary glaze on a brioche style cake, filled with cinnamon or jam, cream cheese, chocolate, almost anything you can think of. And of course, let’s not forget that famous king cake baby, which represents the Epiphany, where the three kings search and discover the baby Jesus. (I didn’t even have to wiki that one, every good Catholic New Orleanian knows this!). I usually send for a king cake each year, but while they may only cost $15 at Rouses, it costs about $50 to have one shipped! I don’t need the beads or a Mardi Gras cup, nor do I need the history of the king cake sent with it. In fact, Randazzo’s should make a special king cake for those of us former residents. Anyway, I decided that I could make one. I researched many recipes and while I should have stuck to reliable ol’ Marcelle Bienvenue, I opted for John Besh’s recipe. Making the dough was actually fairly easy. In fact, it was a success until I had to braid the dough. I handled the dough for too long and it eventually just broke apart. I baked it anyway but it was a mess. Needless to say, I had no king cake and another Mardi Gras passed me by. My mom was well aware of this disaster and promised to help me next time. Not like she had baked one before but she has the patience of St. Monica. I didn’t know that one off hand, but I’ll be praying to her from now on and declare her the Patron Saint of Crafts.

Well, that promise turned into a reality last weekend while visiting my parents. My mom purchased a Mam PaPaul’s mix from Zuppardo’s on Transcontinental. It had been in the pantry for months waiting for me to arrive, or as I like to call it to Search and Destroy! It came with everything minus butter and eggs. And I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical. People just don’t sit around making king cakes. You leave that sort of task to professionals.

One of the first steps was to knead the dough and yeast in the provided paper bag. This was genius and not messy! I’m always taking off my rings when I work with dough and here I am watching my mom knead it in bag. (I was her assistant, wink, wink). Next, it kneaded to rise(can’t help myself). The directions suggest heating up your oven for two minutes on the lowest setting and then turning it off. Place the dough, still in the bag, in the oven, in an oven-safe dish of course and watch it rise! Genius again!

Once the dough was ready to be rolled out, my mom and I witnessed a turn of events. My dad was watching us roll at the dough and in his opinion, we were doing it wrong! So he pretty much swiped the rolling pin and the project out from under us and got to work. He rolled that dough like a madman! I was shocked! Where did this come from? I had one of those moments where you realize your parents really are human and they actually knew how to do stuff before you appeared! But you know, he rolled that with love and maybe that’s what my problem is. I bake to finish. Gosh, still learning from my parents!

After the dough was rolled, my dad let me assist with jellyrolling the praline filling into the dough and that was pretty much my last contribution to the cake. My dad baked and then even went so far to decorate the cake.

Look at that! Isn’t it beautiful?? And, why does it have a chunk taken out of it? Well, my mom had to try it before she served it to people. And??? FAN-TAS-TIC!!! In fact, it was as good as any king cake I have ever had. Not nearly as sugary as the real thing, which was kind of nice. I was so proud of my parents for pulling this whole thing off. We served it at our weekly Favaloro Fam-Jam. There was not a crumb left.

While I maybe completed 10% of the work, it was reassuring to know that they did not pass an impatient gene on to me. I’m not quite sure where I got it from. Maybe it’s all in my head and that I use my parents as an excuse for my impatience. Could I be turning over a new leaf? Will I have to rename my blog? I need to find a baking project to solidify that maybe I’m not a crafty mess. Maybe I’m a crafty maven? Stay tuned…