Snack Trek: FORAGE (Silver Lake)

September 18, 2011

More than I can eat.

This week my friends and I finally tried out Silver Lake hot spot Forage, at Sunset Junction. It’s sort of an upscale cafeteria– you order the food at the counter and they scoop up a plate for you. Since the food is locally sourced, I expected it to be fresh and healthy. It was fresh, but more decadent than healthy.

I opted for the protein-and-two-sides plate. For my protein, I chose the Crispy Mushroom Ragout sandwich. It was on some sort of flaky, crusty bread that was probably 200% butter, and also had cream on it. Rich city!

What is this, France or something?

Next time I’ll try the Jidori chicken. Actually, I’m dying to try the Coca Cola and soy marinated steak, but there’s a rotating menu and it wasn’t available on the night we went to Forage. So– I’ll try the chicken, if the Coke steak isn’t around.

I’m not a huge mac ‘n cheese person, but it seemed to be one of their specialties. It was good, but definitely a WAY bigger portion than I would have served myself. Luckily Cole was willing to help me do the heavy lifting (eating).

Same food, different view.

My second side was mercifully veggie-based– a Fattoush salad with a zaatar dressing. Or something like that. (Basically– a bunch of veggies in a light dressing.) It cut all the fats of the rest of the meal nicely.

But then… we ordered dessert.

Why? WHY???

The first slice was some sort of chocolate-hazelnut cake. And the second was a maple pear upside cake? Something like that. Bad life choices!

Never trust a pretty cake.

In conclusion, Forage is definitely a sometimes-restaurant. I think if I went there weekly, my heart/stomach/cholesterol would explode. Very unbecoming. But I’ll be back… because sometimes you just can’t stay away from those bad boy… foods.


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Do It Yourself: Spice Cake (BETTY CROCKER)

August 18, 2011

Round cakes always reach a Pac-Man stage.

You guys– I am SO BEHIND on blogging so much stuff. Cakes. Puddings. Cheeses. Food trucks. Home-cooked dinners. One of the things that deters me from blogging is the time that it takes to add “” to all the pictures. So guess what? I’m going to stop doing that. I have mixed feelings about throwing the pictures up naked, but whatever keeps the posts coming.

For all I know, I’ll drop the fancy URL and the “” stamp won’t even be accurate anymore on all those old pictures. Haha. Life happens.

Okay– for the longest time I would walk down the baking aisle of the grocery store (danger!) and ogle Betty Crocker’s Spice Cake mix. I was really curious how it tasted, because I typically love spice cake– but not all spice cakes are created equal. (I don’t think I’ll ever figure out the recipe for the AMAZING honey/spice cake that USC’s Hillel used to have on the High Holidays… but that’s life, too. Shit gets lost forever.) (Getting deep on a Thursday morning.)

So here are some pictures of the process…

Ingredients... most of them, anyway.

Those cake pans were about $5/each. I could have gotten one-use pans, but real pans seemed like a sound investment… sorta. (This means I will be making more cake… dangerous when you live alone.) (I have literally been making up parties and gatherings as an excuse to do dessert-making experiments.) (Yes, I use people as guinea pigs– er, taste-testers.)

I also don’t own any electrical mixing apparatus. I just do it all by hand and hope for the best…

Ready for the oven...

It was my first time using the oven, and I realized that certain important numbers were rubbed off of my oven dial– so I was guessing at what temperature I had dialed up. I was pretty sure I was right, but the cake LOOKED done about 10 minutes before it was SUPPOSED to be done. I was taking pictures of it through the glass and texting them to Sam, trying to get his opinion on whether it was burning…

To burn, or not to burn...

But I decided to just go with it, because baking is an exact science. If Betty Crocker says wait 10 minutes, I wait 10 minutes. (And there was no burning smell in the air.)

I’m glad I let baking cakes lie, because the layers came out perfectly cooked, not at all dry. (I didn’t have any toothpicks, so I used a fork to check the centers.) (Like a boss.)

Just forked.

I realized that I didn’t really have a method of flattening the tops of the cakes, and wondered if that would affect my ability to stack the layers. But then I had a revelation– Invert the bottom layer, so the two flat sides touch. (Probably not recommended by professionals, but it worked out okay for me.)

Looks happy.

Pro-tip– don’t stack the layers while they’re cooling, or the insides will keep each other hot, and you’ll wait forever to ice them. (My sister likes to ice cakes while they’re still hot– impatient person that she is– and it always results in weird melty-ness.)

After a long wait (I think I went to dinner in between), the cake was ready to be iced! I chose Cream Cheese frosting, and one container was perfectly enough to achieve full coverage, including between-layers.

Delicious inside and out.

I finished it off with chocolate sprinkles, for looks and for just a hint of chocolate-y goodness.

It's alive! Er-- it's a cake!

I covered it carefully in plastic wrap and let the frosting harden in the fridge. Guess what? It was a very delicious spice cake. Good for breakfast or dessert.

Piece of cake.

Luckily Lauren was staying with me that weekend (the Renegade Craft Fair was in LA), so she helped me with the eatin’. But it’s a dangerous thing to have a cake in the fridge. I didn’t eat the cake in irresponsible portions, but I DID finish the whole thing… over the course of about a week. (Middle class problems, am I right? TOO MUCH CAKE IN THE FRIDGE!)

So while I love baking cakes (easy ones from mixes, at least), I think I’ll only bake them for social gatherings and special occasions. Lest I become like Miranda in that episode of “Sex and the City” where she drowns her sorrows by baking sheet cakes and eating them by herself. (Because the bakery she frequented was prohibitively expensive.) (I happened to see that episode a few days before I baked this… perverse inspiration?)

I’m excited for the next cake-gathering opportunity, because there are so many flavors and combinations to try! Yellow cake with chocolate frosting! Strawberry cake with buttercream frosting!! Funfetti everything!!!

Let me know when your birthday nears… (Mine is Saturday!)


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Turkey Cakes & Other Solutions for Leftovers

November 26, 2010

Gobble gobble us up.

Friend/reader Brie tipped me off about this year’s turkey cake… uh, is it a craze? Or is it just an idea? Are people really making cakes out of their leftovers?

While foodies are making turkey into cake, cake-makers are making cakes into turkeys. I discovered these sweet– and slightly odd– renditions at Ralph’s yesterday.

Does it have white meat and dark meat?

I’m sorry, but Thanksgiving is not a day for cake, turkey-shaped or otherwise. It’s a day for pie– pumpkin, apple, pecan, etc.

As far as the actual-turkey turkey cake goes, I’m not opposed to eating every element of the dinner in one bite. In fact, I tend to try to pile everything on my fork at once. Somehow Thanksgiving foods taste good all mingled together.

Maybe I would get on the turkey cake bandwagon if the turkey was sliced and not ground. (I like ground turkey, but it’s not Thanksgiving-esque.) And if I didn’t already have a plan for my leftovers.

In my family we eat a 2nd-day leftovers feast (basically Thanksgiving part two), and tomorrow we will boil the turkey’s carcass, add parsnips, barley, carrots, Manischewitz soup mix, and… some other stuff… and make a delicious hearty turkey barley soup.

Mr. Tea told me of his classic leftovers sandwich, piled high on marbled pumpernickel bread– and we’re talking all the leftovers at once, from potatoes to pie. The finishing touch is a quick press in a George Foreman grill. (Sorry if that was a government secret, Mr. Tea.)

How do you utilize your leftovers?


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Frost in Peace: GRAVEYARD CAKE

October 30, 2010

A grave situation...

Here are the pictures of Daphne’s graveyard cake. You guys, she make it from scratch! The dark chocolate cake, the raspberry filling, and the buttercream frosting.

I didn’t get a picture of my individual slice (don’t worry, it didn’t contain any coffins or dead bodies), but here are some other angles of the decorations. She spent hours and hours on this, as you can probably guess from the details.

From the top!

Halloween coincides with an office birthday, so we candled this baby up. I think it really adds to the spooky Halloween effect. Torches in the dark graveyard…

I like the rainbows in the fire.

In a few hours my Halloween weekend festivities will be in full swing.

I don’t want to give away what my costume is, but here’s a hint:

Sort of.

Be safe, kids. Don’t eat too much candy while you’re drinking. Don’t ask me why. Just trust me.


Happy Birthday to Me!

August 20, 2010

Let there be cake!

It’s my birthday today, but my family celebrated last weekend. My grandpa and I always have a combined thing, hence the “Nat.” He was turning 86, and I was BORN in ’86. CRAZY!

So… here are some pictures of the traditional Baskin Robbins mint chocolate chip ice cream cake! Cake porn!

But first– can you tell that my family reads the blog?

Do you think they know that I like cake?

Here’s the cake, outside and en fuego.

Action shot!

In the background you can see our Villeroy & Boch mugs. Those are… probably at least as old as I am, unless they’ve chipped and been replaced. If my life were a biopic there would totally be a scene where I’m an old old lady and see a Villeroy & Boch dining set with that pattern and it totally symbolizes my family, but only the audience knows because they SAW my family using them in a touching childhood scene.

I kinda believe that those rustic scenes are paintings of what my family was doing pre-America.

You can also see our fake sugar. Whichever fake sugar is in vogue is the one we’re using. Right now we’re on Truvia and Sun Crystals. For years and years it was Splenda.

And now for maybe my favorite piece-of-cake picture ever.

The middle of my name is "lys"... LIES!

I love those colors, and I love the plumeria blossoms. My dad picked those from our tree… I didn’t know we had a plumeria tree! (That’s what happens when you move away.)

Not sure if there’s any cake in store for me today, but I already had this and my BAGEL and I’m going to be having some delightful baked goods (including something PUMPKIN!) at a (town)housewarming tomorrow, so I am a HAPPY CAMPER!

Also a few birthday miracles happened to me this morning:

-I did one of those full back bend things at the gym, which I have never been strong enough to do in yoga class. I lifted my head off the floor and everything! I collapsed out of it and just started laughing with glee. Then I tried to do it again, and could not. It was a one-time thing, maybe. (And now my wrist feels tweaked.)

Like so, but probably a little less extended... and a lot less graceful.

(It’s called the wheel… thanks, Internets.) (And not to get all “Mad Men” season 1, but that’s appropriate for a birthday… a wheel… the circle of my year is complete. Or something.)

-Walking out of the gym, I saw a cockatiel in a cage, at this auto tune-up place. I’ve never noticed the bird before, and it looked exactly like Sweetie, my pet who flew away a million years ago. I said, “Pretty bird” to the cockatiel, and it said “pretty bird!” Which is exactly what Sweetie used to do!

-”Jump Around” played on the radio on my way home from the gym. Not really a miracle, but for some reason I was really excited about it. It’s nice to hear different songs every once in a while.

-When I woke up I weighed myself and was pretty bummed by the number. When I got back from the gym I weighed myself again, and I was THREE POUNDS less. I mean, whatever, weight is arbitrary and dumb. But it’s a nice little birthday miracle! Now I can eat more cake and feel slightly less anxious about it!

In the near future I will have to get some cake/cupcakes and take it/them home with me for a little photo shoot, because I am now the proud owner of THIS:

Thanks, Mom!

This has been a very good year, and I can only hope that the next one is equally full of goodness. Thanks to everybody (and all the food and TV!) who helped make this year so memorable!

And maybe on August 20, 2011, I will do TWO consecutive back bends! (Or TELL you that I did! You’ll never know the difference!)


The Attack of the Chocolate Burger

July 29, 2010

Can you see it lurking, ready to destroy us?

Last night I went to Tender Greens with Whit and Brent, and we were feeling festive because Brent is moving to NYC in a matter of days. Running out of time! So we got a bottle of wine (Gruner… of Austria). (We were on our way to a long movie, and the extra liquids in my bladder would prove near-fatal.)

As we approached the registers, we came upon the desserts. “Is that a chocolate BURGER?” Brent asked. Then: “We have to get one.”

Once the universe starts handing you cake, it just doesn’t let up.

Soon everybody around us (including the people who worked there) were abuzz about the “chocolate burger,” because it is such a hilarious concept. (The girl at the cash register told me that it’s actually called a whoopie pie… we’ve spoken of whoopie pies before.) (And whoopie pie is still a more ridiculous name than chocolate burger.)

I mean, it really did look like a burger.

You be the judge.

It’s two round fluffy cakes with frosting in the middle… the cake version of a macaron.

And THEN as we walked to our table, buzzing about our chocolate burger, we caught the attention of the table next door.

“How’d you manage THAT?” a woman asked. “A bottle of wine!”

“Uh… we bought it?” I said, with maybe a bit of I’m-hungry snark in my voice. Then I realized that the woman was Famous Actress Jennifer Coolidge. Ooops.

We didn’t actually acknowledge that we knew her, so I think she thought we were unawares. She told us that her table of three had eaten FOUR desserts, including the chocolate burger (we had a respectable two desserts– also bought some blueberry cobbler bar thing). She also took a picture of us with our food, because we probably seemed like tourists.

So any actress who eats lots of desserts and is willing to take pictures of idiots with their food is a-okay in my book.

Later, when I recounted this to my mom, she said, “Oh… the ‘bend & snap’ lady?” That hadn’t occurred to me at the time. But yes. Awesome.

I'll bend and snap for cake.

Oh yeah, and the other day I was late for a dinner with some friends (including Brent) and missed seeing JANE LYNCH. That would have been more blog-appropriate. I apologize to everyone.


Snack of the Afternoon, 3/19/10- SUPERMAN CUPCAKE

March 19, 2010

It's a bird, it's a plane... No, it's not.

If you’re guessing that it was somebody’s birthday today– you’re right. If you’re guessing it was Superman’s birthday– WRONG. (According to the NERDS, it’s June 30th.) Was it a small child’s birthday? Not so much. Was it a super man’s birthday? The jury is still out. (BURN!) But yeah… why am I still talking?

The little Superman logo is actually a ring. Which I am wearing as I type this. On my left ring finger. Does this mean I’m married to Superman? That I pledge allegiance to Superman? Probably not. Does it mean I’m bored at work? A little.

The cupcake was good and spongy, like a grocery store cupcake should be. I scraped off the frosting, because… STORY! (Actually because calories, but the story is my excuse.) When I was in kindergarten, some kid brought in cupcakes for his birthday (maybe they were also Superman cupcakes…), and I wolfed down a big cupcake, frosting included. (And you know grocery store cupcakes are 65% frosting. Proven scientific fact.)

And then I barfed. Which was pretty common during my childhood.

But ALSO, my mom always used to say that frosting was not meant for human consumption, and would demonstrate her point by putting clumps of frosting in water. (It doesn’t melt! It’s oil-based!) Gross. (And I pretty much scalded my hands just now, using boiling water to clean the frosting off of MY PRECIOUS… I mean, the plastic ring.)

The other day a woman was distraught because I wiped frosting off a cupcake that she frosted, so I had to tell her that whole rigamarole to make her understand that it wasn’t a personal slight. (Moral of the story: I eat too many cupcakes.)

MY PRECIOUS SNACK! (In case you didn't get it.)

Then again, I could have been referring to my PRECIOUS: BASED ON THE NOVEL PUSH BY SAPPHIRE.

Welcome to 2010's pop culture references. (I love you, Gabby.)

No Precious pun intended, this cupcake kind of bummed me out because I bet it negated the 45 minutes I spent in the gym this morning. (I am not going to lie and call it an hour.)

Also, sorry for all the movie references. Is this a TV blog or what? (Or what?)


Snack of the Afternoon, 8/25/09: COLD STONE CREAMERY ICE CREAM CAKE

August 25, 2009
Too. Much. Cake.

Too. Much. Cake.

What can I say? We had lots of birthdays in our office this fortnight.

The cake was pretty, but the flavor was so-so (I don’t think it was really red velvet, even though it was red). Let’s just say that when it comes to ice cream cake, I’m still a Baskin Robbins devotee.

Also, that generic Kit Kat thing on the top was so stale that I had to run out of the room and spit it out.

That was our last August birthday, and hopefully the end of this cake streak. Too much of a good thing!


Funfetti is the Best Kind of -fetti

August 21, 2009
The colors! The colors!

The colors! The colors!

Here is the (highly anticipated) Funfetti cake that Roomie made for me! You can see that we gave plates of cake out as “party favors.” The original plan was, Two Girls, One Cake. UH OH! Luckily, we managed to pull together a few friends, and it ended up being a Party of Five. (A very good number, because that’s about as many people as we can comfortably fit in our living room.)

This was Rachel’s first foray into the world of cake-baking (okay, I won’t get too dramatic– it was from a mix), and I do declare that she did an excellent job. Keep up the good work!

I had cake for breakfast this morning, and it definitely put a spring in my step. My solution for world peace: Funfetti cake for breakfast– for everyone! (Let them eat cake!) (How could this possibly go wrong?)



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