Crime and Punishment, Trump Administration Edition / Mint Chocolate Chip Cake

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This week’s recipe: Mint Chocolate Chip Cake

In the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Mikado, the title character sings a famous song about “let[ting] the punishment fit the crime” when it comes time to sentence criminals. Since we almost all agree (ahem Jeff Sessions) that this country incarcerates too many people, and since at least some members of the Trump administration seem destined for criminal charges, I have taken it upon myself to come up with some punishments that I believe will fit their crimes while leaving almost all of them (ahem Jeff Sessions) out of prison. Here is my very humane endeavor to turn these evil livers into running rivers of harmless merriment. In a few years’ time, we can all hope that the following members of the Trump administration and adjacent will be doing the following:

Donald Trump – middle school janitor making $30,000 a year
Mike Pence– case worker for foster kids in a state where abortion is illegal
Steve Bannon – head of public affairs for the Anti-Defamation League
Reince Priebus – Chief of Staff in the Trump administration, has name changed to “Reince Priebus”
Kellyanne Conway – can keep doing what she’s doing, but only allowed to speak to the deaf
Ivanka Trump – sent to work in a Chinese sweatshop
Jared Kushner – forced to reapply to Harvard every year until he gets accepted on his own merits
Don Jr. and Eric Trump – Tiffany’s personal assistants
Stephen Miller – nothing, looking the way he does at age 31 is punishment enough
Jeff Sessions – sentenced to life in a for-profit prison, assigned to an all-black cell block
Michael Flynn – official Polonium Tester for Vladimir Putin
Tom Price – party clown who performs at children’s cancer hospitals
Sean Spicer – mans a Dippin’ Dots stand
Sarah Huckabee Sanders – spends the rest of her life fruitlessly submitting God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy for various literary and journalism prizes
Scott Pruitt – cleans up Superfund sites
Mick Mulvaney – sent to take remedial math classes at an underfunded public school
Betsy DeVos – sent to teach remedial math classes at an underfunded public school
Mitch McConnell – bottom of Yertle the Turtle’s stack
Paul Ryan – forced to have sex with an Ayn Rand lookalike
Chris Christie – parking attendant at the beach, but he’s never allowed to go in

P.S. While researching this blog post, I read Kushner’s Wikipedia article, and I have to say that it has some EXCELLENT shade in it. Some choice excerpts:

“According to a Kushner Companies spokeswoman, he was an honors student and a member of the debate, hockey, and basketball teams. Former school officials described him as a less than stellar student.”

“In 1998, Charles pledged $2.5 million to Harvard University and smaller amounts to Princeton and Cornell…Kushner matriculated at Harvard in 1999.”

“Trump put Kushner in charge of brokering peace in Israeli–Palestinian conflict as well as making deals with foreign countries, although in what way he is in charge is unclear.”

So anyway, here’s a cake. This tasty guy comes courtesy of A Cozy Kitchen, where it looked so beautiful that I just knew I had to make it. As is usually the case when I make mint things, I added more extract than the recipe called for, but I was definitely glad I used cacao nibs, they tasted awesome! I am glad to be posting this recipe on the day that my nephew comes back from his first summer away at sleepaway camp, since mint chocolate chip is his favorite flavor. I’m sorry he missed this delicious cake but maybe his return is an excuse to make it again!

Mint Chocolate Chip Cake

From A Cozy Kitchen

Ingredients

To make the chocolate cake:
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
To make the mint chocolate chip frosting:
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 drop of blue food coloring
  • 1 drop of yellow food coloring
  • 1 tablespoon of cacao nibs

Directions

To make the cake:
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour three 6-inch cake pans or two 8-inch cake pans. Butter and flour your cake pans. If you’re like me and are a little paranoid of a cake sticking, line it with parchment, too. Set the pans aside.
    2. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand-up mixer (with the paddle attachment), add the all-purpose flour, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix until combined. Next, crack in the egg and egg yolk, pour in the buttermilk, warm water, olive oil and vanilla. Mix until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth, about 1 minute. The batter will be thinner than cake batter that you’re probably used to—that’s ok!
    3. Divide the cake batter amongst the cake pans and transfer to the oven to bake for 27 to 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Clean out the bowl you used to make the cake and dry it thoroughly. While the cakes are cooling, make the frosting.
To make the mint chocolate chip frosting:
    1. In the bowl of a stand-up mixer with the paddle attachment, add the butter and heavy cream. Beat until smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute. Take the paddle attachment off and place a sieve on top of the bowl, sift in the powdered sugar. Turn the mixer to low until the powdered sugar is almost incorporated. Add the peppermint extract and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Add one drop of blue food coloring gel and then 1 drop of yellow food gel coloring. Lastly, add the cacao nibs and mix one last time, until they’re evenly dispersed throughout the frosting.
To assemble the cake:
  1. Place one layer on a cake board or cake stand or plate. Add about 1/4 cup (you can eyeball this measurement) to the top of the first cake layer; smooth it out so it’s a nice even layer of frosting. Place the second layer on top and repeat the process, then frost the outside.
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Save the Dates / Oven Baked Fries

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This week’s recipe: Oven Baked Fries

Our wedding is a long way away, but because it’s on a holiday weekend and therefore a popular date to get married, we are already in the thick of planning. Our need to get everything locked down over a year in advance was brought home to us this week when we found a photographer whose pictures we loved, and when we contacted him about our wedding that’s in over 13 months…he was already booked.

Because of the aforementioned holiday weekend, we are also sending out save the dates earlier than usual so that NO ONE ELSE CAN STEAL OUR DATE YOU DEVIOUS BITCHES. We have found some designs that we like, but it seems like, unlike for invitations, most save the dates (or STDs as they are colloquially known in the event planning world) feature photos of the couple. And not just any photos. They must be professionally taken, and follow certain strict parameters, with slight allowances made for hipsters versus yuppies:

She: has long, luxuriously wavy hair. Is wearing either an off-the-shoulder top/ long flowy gown/floppy hat/wreath/other Coachella-appropriate wear (hipster edition) or the latest from the J. Crew collection (yuppie edition)

He: has about a week’s worth of beard growth and is wearing either a long-sleeved plaid button-down shirt or a tight t-shirt that shows off his biceps (hipster edition) or is clean-cut and looks like he’s doing this shoot during his lunch break from Goldman Sachs (yuppie edition)

They are softly lit, shot from behind, embracing on a beach boardwalk/mountaintop/field of wildflowers. Or they are nuzzling each other’s noses in what used to be known as an Eskimo kiss but is probably considered racist in 2017.

And apparently you can only get married if you have a gender-ambiguous name that could also be a last name. Let’s play a game and see which of the couple names below are taken from the mint.com Save the Date collection, and which I made up for comedic effect:

  1. Bailey and Jamie
  2. Emery and Hayden
  3. Reese and Avery
  4. Addison and Cameron
  5. Morgan and Loren
  6. Devon and Tanner
  7. Aubrey and Harper
  8. Leighton and Reed
  9. Kennedy and Marley
  10. Francis and Grayson
  11. Moore and Ashton (was this one inspired by a certain May-December celebrity romance of the mid-2000s?)
  12. Dallas and Logan
  13. Harley and Gray
  14. Kendall and Presley
  15. Kennedy and Campbell
  16. Emerson and Mackenzie
  17. Taylor and Nolan
  18. Sydney and Theron
  19. Asher and Skyler
  20. Kelley and Holland
  21. Hadley and Dylan
  22. Rowan and Sawyer
  23. Parker and Payton
  24. Carson and Finley

Answers: 1-24 were all taken from mint.com. No joke.

The point is, until white people learn how to give their kids “normal” names (i.e. names from the Bible, kings and queens of England), they can’t be trusted.

So anyway, here are some fries. Getting oven fries to be crispy is always a trick but the whole soaking-for-as-long-as-possible method seems to have been quite effective–these were much crispier than normal oven fries after only 90 minutes of soaking. And they were tasty to boot! (I mean, what’s not to love about potatoes, oil, salt, garlic, and rosemary?) Enjoy these French beauties over your Bastille Day Weekend!

Oven Baked Fries

From Vegan Family Recipes

INGREDIENTS
  • 1.3 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼ inch strips
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh, chopped rosemary (can use dried rosemary as well)
  • ¼ of a teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced (can always use more if you’d like)
  • ¼ of a teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Soaking: Soak your peeled and cut potato strips in a bowl of water for as long as possible. If you can soak them overnight, that’s awesome! If you can only soak them for an hour or two, that’s great! Even just soaking them for just 15 minutes is better than not soaking them at all!
  2. Preheat your oven to 410F (210C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Remove your soaked potatoes from the water and pat them dry using paper towels. If you forget to pat them dry, you’ll end up with steamed potatoes and not deliciously, crispy ones.
  4. Place the dried off potato strips in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, rosemary, salt, garlic, and pepper until coated well.
  5. Bake the fries for 30 to 45 minutes, flipping them twice while baking, until fries reach desired crispiness.
  6. Remove fries from the oven, season with more salt and pepper to taste before serving them with your favorite ketchup or sauce.

1776 / Rhubarb Sour

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This week’s recipe: Rhubarb Sour

1776 is the second-greatest musical ever written about the American Revolution. Yes, we all know what the first-greatest is, but Thomas Jefferson is the only character in 1776 to overlap with Hamilton. (Mostly: George Washington appears frequently by missive in 1776, and John Adams appears in the lyric, “Sit down John, you fat mother******” in Hamilton—a lyric that is in fact an homage to 1776.) But 1776 has much to recommend it. It has Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World as John Adams, unsung hero of the Continental Congress. It has dirty jokes. It has, to my knowledge, the longest-ever break between songs in an American musical. It has a truly chilling villain song about the hypocrisies inherent in the Triangle Trade. It has Gwyneth Paltrow’s mom in an incredible dress that I want for my wedding. It has what is maybe the best summation of our politics today in the line, “Don’t forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor.”

But most importantly, it deglazes the mythology from the Founding Fathers. The movie ends with the Congressional delegates posed similarly to the famous John Trumbull painting, as the Liberty Bell rings. But by that point, you know that the men posed like heroic statues at this solemn historical moment are just humans, with all the human weaknesses and pettiness. They’re snobs and insult comics; brawlers and cowards; horndogs, fatties, and alcoholics. (Even the brilliant Jefferson can’t get it together to write the Declaration of Independence until Adams arranges a conjugal visit for him.) And that’s just the protagonists. The movie’s main villains are more sinister, evincing a deeply cynical attachment to the privileges afforded to them by the status quo. To work with them, the heroes have to sacrifice and compromise, and the stuff of those sacrifices and compromises— racism, state’s rights, regionalism, who qualifies as an American—are the seeds of so much of what is wrong in today’s politics.

Still, I come back to a memorable exchange where Adams tells Benjamin Franklin that if they strike a reference to slavery from the Declaration, posterity will never forgive them. Franklin replies, “What will posterity think we were, demigods? We’re men, no more, no less, trying to get a nation started against greater odds than a more generous God would have allowed. First things first, John. Independence, America. If we don’t secure that, what difference will the rest make?” 241 years later, what difference has it made, if we’re still fighting over the same shit? It feels like our country is very sick. We have self-styled “patriots” calling the Declaration of Independence trash because the references to King George remind them too strongly of their Dear Leader. We have TV personalities filming commercials that call for true lovers of liberty to gun down their opponents in the streets. Things feel less safe and less stable than they have in my lifetime. It’s nice to think that the Founders went through the same struggles and arguments that we’re going through today – hopefully we can come out of it as well as they did. Happy July 4th 5th.

So anyway, here’s a cocktail. Every year, a friend and I watch 1776 on or around Independence Day, and since she doesn’t like wine, I take it as an excuse to try a cool new cocktail. There was some nice rhubarb at the farmer’s market last week so I decided to make the rhubarb sour recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Date Night In. It was the perfect mix of sweet and sour, and the nutmeg adds an unexpected twist. I liked it so much that I told my sister about it, and we tried to make it at our aunt’s house on July 4th, except our ingredients were limited and we had to substitute vodka for the gin and Newman’s Own pink lemonade for the lemon juice. It made rather a different sort of cocktail, but still yummy!

Rhubarb Sour

From Date Night In

Serves 2

Rhubarb Sour

  • 3 ounces of gin
  • 3 ounces of rhubarb syrup (recipe below)
  • 1.5 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Lemon peel (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (optional)

Rhubarb Syrup

  • 1 pound chopped rhubarb
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Additional flavorings: cinnamon stick, freshly grated nutmeg, vanilla bean, or citrus peel

For the syrup: Place the rhubarb, sugar, water, and your choice of flavorings into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly so the mixture continues to boil gently for 15 minutes, or until it is reduced by nearly half. The rhubarb will break down and the liquid will get syrupy. Remove the pan from the heat and let the syrup cool to room temperature. When cool, strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve. Transfer the syrup to a storage container with a lid. It will keep covered in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

For the cocktail: Combine the gin, rhubarb syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into two glasses and garnish with lemon peel and nutmeg, if desired.