Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Makin’ whoopie

Filed under : Food
On November 27, 2011
At 6:00 pm
Comments : 4

I really wanted to make this post “I can’t believe the break is over” in its entirety but that seemed more like a tweet or a Facebook status. Those things have really stolen the thunder from short blog posts, I tell you what. Anyway, I like my job very much but I like doing nothing better. This is why I could never be president.

I did just want to share this fun recipe I made for Thanksgiving because it is really, really excellent, and next year, when people Google for “Thanksgiving cookie,” this is what I want them to find. Because I have been searching for a proper cookie for Thanksgiving for years and there just isn’t one. Someone at our meal always makes a pie, so pie is out. Then someone makes something chocolate, like a cake or a mousse our a torte, so nothing like that either. That leaves me the cookie or bar and I have never found anything right…. until this year.

It’s the Pumpkin Whoopie Pie! And it turned out awesome. I actually combined two recipes because I liked the cookie part from one and the filling had to be non-dairy so I took it from another. This is where I’d put a great picture but I didn’t take a great picture, just a bad picture. But go to these pages and find delicious looking pictures. They were a big hit and people have already asked me to make them again. According to Niece2, they smell like “pancakes and waffles and everything good.”

Here’s the cookie part, and I’d really like to make it with its original filling, maple cream cheese, at a later date.
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple-Cream Cheese Filling

And here’s the filling I did use: maple marshmallow.
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple-Marshmallow Cream Filling

When I make the other version, I’ll let you know! Yes, we’d all like a taste test but I have to work. And fit into my pants.

Happy baking!


What were you thinking of when you dreamt that up?

Filed under : Famous People,Food,Music
On August 23, 2011
At 2:00 am
Comments :Comments Off

Rock stars: if you didn’t want to be one, you wanted to marry one. I fell into the latter category when I was about 12 and I am not naming the band or member of said band for reasons of non-Googlability. See last night, I made this great salmon and I got the recipe from a blog I follow which is a cooking blog, yes, but at the same time not really. It’s written by a former model who was married to the guy I wanted to have babies with when I was 12. Well, not when I was 12, but I imagined he’d wait. Instead, I discovered at 13 while on line at a checkout during a family vacation that he’d married this model. I was, let us say, saddened. I bought the People magazine and I think I still have it but I am not going down to my storage area to find out. Apparently, they had quite the wedding but they divorced ages ago.

I have long wanted to write about this woman’s blog because I can’t figure out what to make of it and the way I sometimes do that is to write about those kinds of things here. If it was merely a cooking blog, I doubt I’d subscribe. I mean, I do have lots of baking blogs on my feed reader and maybe a couple of food ones, as well, but the recipes on this one, I think, wouldn’t be enough to draw me. Each post, though, begins with some photos of her past and description of some wonderful time with the band in Ibiza or modeling for a fancee fashion house or being painted by a famous artist. And I wonder why she does that. Is it because the past was so much better than the present for her? If I had been a stunning model married to a glamorous rockstar and was now cooking for a living, I too would miss the past. But somehow I don’t think so. I think she is savvy. I think she knows people like me (and there were a lot then and a surprising number who still exist today) want to hear tidbits about what it was like to live that life and see pictures of it. Sometimes she repeats the pictures but I don’t mind. Sometimes there are pictures of their child who is now an adult, but I don’t think that’s a calculated gesture.

I thought about her as I made the salmon and I wondered if it would be better or worse to start out living a fabulous life and then end up as someone living an ordinary one. And I wondered if I were her if I would make my blog a repository of old memories. Every time I read her posts, I think, “I can’t believe you’re showing another picture from 25 years ago!” while simultaneously devouring it and knowing I wouldn’t be reading if she hadn’t. And so, maybe, it’s really me who shouldn’t be wallowing in the past. Too bad it’s so addictive.

By the way, she still looks great, and much more naturally beautiful than she was then. He has not aged as well.

Title comes from a song by a band I saw on that vacation in New Orleans.
Echo & The Bunnymen – Back of Love

Unrelatedly, I did just want to tell this story. When I was a freshman in high school, someone in my high school had a party and I wanted to go but felt like I didn’t have the right thing to wear. So on the night of, I told my mother that I changed my mind and wouldn’t go. She told me that when she was in high school, the same thing had happened, she didn’t go, and the next day everyone told her how great it was. She still remembered and wished she had gone. So I went. And had a great time. I remember very well dancing to this song. RIP Nick Ashford.
Ashford and Simpson – Solid


The vast melting kugel

Filed under : Food,Judaism
On April 4, 2010
At 1:15 am
Comments : 11

Last night, partially inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (in which he shows schoolchildren, in disgusting fashion, how chicken nuggets are made) and partially by my missing my regular meals, I made my own chicken nuggets. Now, unlike the elementary school kids, I don’t actually eat chicken nuggets very often. But I confess to snarfing down lots of Chik’n nuggets, that is, the Morningstar brand of fake chicken. That’s because, a. for Koshery reasons, it’s aggravating to make meat dishes at home, and b. I’m actually sort of partial to Morningstar’s fake meats. As to why I eat such a convenience food, I can’t really describe to you how often I mis-time my day and only realize about a half hour before I am supposed to leave that I’m about to spend the next three hours in transport and in class, neither of which are conducive to eating, without any food in me. So I make something quick which can be nuked in the time it takes me to get dressed.

But it’s Passover and I miss my Chik’n nuggets and tangy BBQ sauce snack/quick meal. So I went to my local Kosher shop and just knew that they would have pre-made chicken nuggets and they did. But even if you are like me and are well aware that all the extra costs of cleaning for Passover are built into your food, you might not be prepared for the fact that they were selling four chicken fingers (maybe about the size of 1.5 nuggets each?) for $5.15. Seriously. The mind boggles. So instead I walked away with a package of chicken breast and a box of the Passover equivalent of Shake n’ Bake which is made of the ubiquitous mix of matzah meal (or matzah mel as my mother called it; I think that’s Yiddish), potato starch, and spices. Then I went home, cut up the chicken into nugget size, and proceeded to create some semblance of what we call chicken nuggets. And they tasted fab!

Hey, did you know that you can’t have dishes made with flour or corn, like breaded chicken nuggets, noodles, or corn flakes, on Passover? If so, then you are already ahead of the Pioneer Woman, everyone’s favorite Internet recipe sharer. Now, this is not to take an easy poke at Ree because God bless her for doing a Passover recipe when she’s not even Jewish and I doubt more than 5% of her readers are. For the record, here are her three mistakes:

1. A noodle kugel, and with corn flake topping, for Passover
2. Stating originally that a dairy recipe should be served with meat.
3. Correcting herself to state that the kugel isn’t Kosher for Passover because it’s dairy and the seder is a meat meal. In fact, you can easily have a dairy seder, but either way, serving dairy with meat isn’t not Kosher for Passover, it’s not Kosher, period.

But again, hurray to her for trying, and the inadvertently comical nature was kind of awesome. No, instead I’d like to pick a quibble with the commenters. I should state right off that it’s already my pet peeve when people ewewew others’ food choices (if I had to list my top ten reasons why I’m happy to no longer be at Big Ass Record Company, the guy who said “ew, that is so gross” every time I had fish for lunch would be way up there), but it’s somehow even more disturbing when it’s an ethnic or religious food item. Maybe I’m too politically correct but those “I could never eat that staple of life those people have been eating for forever” comments just rub me the wrong way. That’s all to say that, Ree, I forgive you for your totally wrong Noodle Kugel on Passover recipe and bringing a ham to someone’s seder (really!) but I just cannot forgive your commenters for:

“When I saw the word ‘Kugel,’ I thought you were giving us a recipe for Kegel exercises.”

“this is the first time I’ve questioned your recipe sanity. I twitched a little when you dumped the sugar in the noodles.”

“Well, I cringed when I saw the peaches.”

“Sorry this one does not look good to me at all. Peaches and noodles in the same dish. ??”

“I have a thing about mixing foods together that should not be. Noodles-Peaches- nuh-uh!”

“Umm.. This has got to be one of the most bizarre recipes… LOL… not sure I want to try it…”

“No… nope, nuh-uh, negative. You will NEVER convince me to eat noodles mixed with peaches and baked in milk… blargh”

“Nastiest crap EVER!”

One person even blogged about how this Jewish custom was an aberration of nature. Thanks!

So, a PSA for an Easter-Passover morning: Ashkenazic Jews eat something called kugel. The noodle kind often has bits of fruit in it. Get over it! Learn to live experimentally like this well-intentioned yet spellingly-challenged person:

“I would never think to combine egg noodles with fruit…so different, at least to me. I need a potlock dish, so maybe I’ll try this. Thanks for expanding my pallet.”

Indeed. Remember, we grew up on hummus before PW’s readers could tell it apart from spackling paste. And look at what’s the trendy food now. But even if you could never do that, how about, “I’ve never heard of such a dish, with noodles and peaches. Interesting. Very interesting.” Someone did say that, despite the fact that I didn’t put it in blockquotes. It messed up my unified paragraph. But see how you can say, “I would never eat that” without telling an entire culture that you think their customs are freakish?

Not to mention, realize that things you eat every day would seem gross in abstraction, you are just used to eating them. Dried out, processed grain cereal floating in cow’s milk….ew! A chicken’s unfertilized egg? Blech. Have you never traveled and tasted something that you’d never even considered a food but that tasted divine? No? You need to get out more. This is one of the reasons why Jamie Oliver thinks he needs to change Americans’ food habits. But as much as all that annoys me, mocking someone’s traditions is always off-limits to a well-brought-up person. I’m not trying to be an offense collector, I just think it’s sort of a rude thing to do. I always wanted to call that guy at work’s parents and tell them they missed an important piece of parenting.

But thanks, Pioneer Woman, for being inclusive, even if your audience isn’t quite ready to expand their, er, pallets. Just don’t bring a ham to my seder.


Monday evening quarterback

Filed under : Food
On March 1, 2010
At 6:30 pm
Comments : 5

This is the only thing about football I know: on Monday, you analyze what you did on Sunday. On Sunday, I baked. Well, Saturday night too. In all, I spent about twelve hours baking and the thing that hurts most is my feet. I need some sort of new ergonomic situation that enables me to roll dough while sitting down. Next kitchen!

Anyway, to mix up my sports metaphors, let’s go around the horn, beginning with the Craisins since those are labeled and clear. By the way, I ran out of Craisins so some people got dried apricots. Those are in 70 calorie packs, which is weird. Could they not stick in a couple more apricots to keep the marketing trend going?

So just below the Craisins are the Cookie Dough Truffles which came out awesome! Just as I predicted but really, how could they go wrong? They actually turned out to be a bit more time-consuming than I thought which would be OK except I was making three other things. Still, totally worth it.

Below those are the Oatmeal Carmelitas and they came out super as well. I once did a bad batch of these and I’ve nightmares ever since. No worries this time. Fantastic!

To the left of those are the Peanut Butter cookies. You can tell from the cross-hatch pattern. What cross-hatch pattern, you say? Oh right, it disappeared. That was so odd, they just faded away in the oven. Now, I have a new oven since the last time I made these but I wasn’t aware that it baked up cookies fluffier than before. Or, maybe it was because I accidentally bought crunchy peanut butter instead of smooth. It was hard to feel motivated to go out and buy a replacement at 3am when I was making this dough.

Lastly are the Hamantaschen in the three flavors. Well, two of them. I had a last minute change of heart with the raspberry and decided to be interesting or something. I did blueberry instead. That’s the one right up front (I like to make the new guy stand right up front). Behind that is Apricot, and Nutella is in the rear, which is where it ends up fat-wise when I eat a lot of it.

Then I threw a bunch of chewy Israeli candies on top to fill it out but this is before that step so you could enjoy the view. I hope you’ve enjoyed the view. And now, back to picking at the baskets from other people that are obstructing my dining room table. It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it.

No song today. Too busy snacking.


Someone should have left this cake out in the rain

Filed under : Food
On April 6, 2009
At 12:15 am
Comments : 10

I alluded the other day to my Failcake and so I thought I’d follow up on that. I didn’t do that right away because you know how much I love a happy ending so I had to wait till there was one. And there was! Good cake is always a happy outcome.

I had a task, and that was to make an olive oil cake, something I had heard of but imagined tasted like a bottle of olive oil, not something I enjoy in my desserts. But the theme was Mediterranean and since I don’t do baklava (well, I eat it, I just don’t make it), this seemed the best alternative. Particularly when I Googled and found a recipe from the Food Network, specifically from someone who is supposed to be an expert in Mediterranean food. I don’t know from such things, I only watch Ace of Cakes (one day, I will work at that place), but it had great reviews so I went for it. Actually, the idea first popped into my head from an article and recipe in the Times a couple of weeks ago which involved blood oranges and looked great. But it looked like a pound cake, not a fancee cake you serve people you want to impress (anyone other than myself is someone I want to impress) plus, it involved hacking an orange into pieces, not something I had the patience for.

But yeah, this did not turn out well. I should have known any cake calling for a cup and a half of something you usually put on salad or cook fish in was not something that was going to have a good result. This cake ended up having the texture of an Alaskan oil spill (you know how your fingers feel after eating pizza? yeah.) although I will admit it tasted pretty good. You may wonder how I knew it tasted and felt thus when in theory, I should not have been able to cut into it until serving it. But this is how. You see, this thing WOULD NOT be extricated from the pan. I made it in a non-stick bundt, something I use all the time with no trouble, but this was the cake that would not be released. I slid a knife around, then a sharper knife, then a frosting knife, then a spatula and nothing. I pounded on the back of the pan. Stuck. This was at 1am, so it’s lucky I hate my neighbors.

In the end, as you can imagine, it finally came out with half the cake still stuck to the pan. This is what I call Failcake. It looks something like this:

Ouch. I know.

The next day, I was all set to say, “Fuck the Mediterranean” and make the cake I do best, double-banana, but luckily, Alfa passed along yet another citrus olive oil recipe, this one from Cooking Light, which had tangerine instead of orange (whatever) and more importantly, 1/3 the oil (I guess that’s why they call it light). This one needed a little help releasing but did fine and although it didn’t have any olive oil taste (people just had to believe me on that one), it did taste moist and tangeriney and delicious. Oh, and it looked great, judge for yourself:

Yeah, now that’s what I call cake.

Now I just have to figure out what to do with the Exxon Valdez Uglycake.

Good cake


NY Times Cake

Title based on:
Donna Summer – MacArthur Park