Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hurricane Calories and Hurricane Isaac

Hurricane Calories
Why do I eat so much during a storm?

So this blog will be abbreviated because I am currently braving a hurricane.  That sounds so much more  dramatic than the fast moving grey clouds, wind and rain happening outside my window. 

My mom, dad, family dog Penny and Oma are all hunkered down in Rasco and my's small place.  As I have crossed a new threshold of adulthood, my parents have evacuated to me. 

Let the cabin fever begin.  

Like any good hurricane hostess, I bought jugs of water, froze a pot of water, charged batteries, gathered candles and flashlights and, of course, consumed 94843908630580934095842958 calories and counting.  

A friend of mine posted a Facebook status yesterday that rung out with truth, it stated: What is it about hurricane prep that makes me wanna eat everything in sight?

Amen to that sister.

And I think the reason is three-fold:
A) I better eat all this ice cream and better tasting sweet stuff in my fridge and freezer before the power goes out.
B) I deserve comfort food. It's stressful here!
C) Buy a bunch of junk food because it won't spoil. I am so smart. 

But don't worry about a storm of calories, because they'll get burned off in post-hurricane clean-up!

Seriously, fellow Louisianans, keep calm and stay dry!

Hurricane Food:

Hurricane Necessities. Photo by Robert Giglio

It's important when one is a hurricane hostess to buy only the essentials.  An educated hostess knows to prepare for panic attacks and power outages.  Once you've obtained your water, emergency items and a deck of cards, one must make sure to stock the pantry with non-perishable items. 

- Canned Goods
- Bread
- Beer, Abita the better 
- Nutella and Peanut Butter for bread 
- Cheese Its, Pepper Jack seemed festive 
- Dark Chocolate (This stuff is good. Hide it from your guests and eat it when things feel crowded.)
- Apples, it'll even out the junk food right?
- Beer

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Three Birthdays & Cake Batter Truffles

Birthday Week
‘Tis the season for cake and ice cream

This week I’m light on story, but heavy in cake and calories as I want to pay tribute to a busy birthday week. No, it’s not my Cake Day, but the week of August 27, holds birthdays for three important people in my life: My Dad and two of my best friends Rachael and Emily (who actually have the same birthday). 

With Rach back in 2008. But we look the same :)

A very silly picture with Emily junior year of college.  

As Rachael and Emily both recently moved out of Louisiana to do exciting doctor and grad school things, respectively, I will not be spending the day with them. But, I hope they have wonderful, relaxing days — these hard-working ladies deserve it. 

So with birthdays on the brain, I made some of my cake batter truffles. They are super rich, but insanely delicious. Did I mention they taste just like birthday cake?

Photo by Robert Giglio

   1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
   1 3/4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
   2 3/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips, melted
   1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
   1 1/2 cups confetti cake mix

Beat cream cheese and confectioners sugar until smooth (cream them).
Blend in Cake Mix.
Add melted chocolate and vanilla.
Blend until smooth.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. 
Pinch off pieces of dough and roll into 1” balls. 
Roll balls in sprinkles for a festive topping.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Liebster Awards

Hello All!  It has come to my attention that my lovely friend Haley has nominated me for a Liebster Award.

Here's the rundown of what that means (according to Haley's blog): "The Liebster Award is for blogs that have 200 followers or less. The word "Liebster" is German for kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, valued, cute, pleasant, endearing and welcome. It's a great opportunity to meet other bloggers and gain more followers." 

I am very excited because A) I get to meet new bloggers. B) It is such a sweet recognition. C) It is in German. And as you know, Germany is my family's Old Country and blog namesake!

Here's how you play along!
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Answer the questions the tagger has set for you. 
3. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag with the award. 
4. Choose 11 bloggers (with less then 200 followers) and tag them in your post.

1) Eleven Random Things About me: 

2.  As a kid, I never went to Disney World on a family vacation. But we did dig for fossils — both of my parents are geologists. 
3. I have eaten raw cow ... Yep, it's a Lebanese delicacy called Kibe Nia.  I am Lebanese and a great-aunt made me try it at a family reunion.
4.  I swam with Manatees once.
5. In Junior High, I was on a breakdancing/hip-hop team. lolz
6. I also used to highlight my naturally black hair blonde-ish ... 
7.  When I was a kid, I would watch the movie Overboard to fall asleep.  What can I say, I find Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn soothing.
8. I have studied German, Arabic, Latin and Spanish. Sadly, I only speak English.
9. Cake Ball baker since before it was cool.
10. My childhood dog Penny Lane is still kicking. I got her in first grade, and I just graduated from college. She's a sweet 15+-year-old schnauzer. (You guys already know Rasco)
11.  ESTJ - If you do not know your Meyers-Briggs type I suggest you drop everything and find out now

2) My answers to Haley's questions: 

Vintage dresses in summer make me feel like this (image from Pinterest).

1. Favorite recipe? Eggplant Parmesan. Not too unhealthy. Easy. Seems fancier than it is.
2. What's in your bag? Audio Recorder (for oral history project), Wallet, Keys, Phone, Pens, Moleskine, Heavenly VS spray, Dove Deo, Chapstick, Collapsable Reusable Grocery Bag, my God why do I save so many receipts?!
3. Secret celebrity crush? Salma Hayek
4. Dream job? Travel Writer
5. Favorite type of clothing? Vintage Dresses in the Summer Time
6. Something you loved when you were little? My pink pillow
7. Favorite song at the moment? Barbara Lynn covering Elvis "Don't Be Cruel"
8. Savory or sweet? Sweet
9. Early morning or late night? Late at Night
10. Favorite season? Fall (HALLOWEEN AND BIRTHDAY TIME!)
11. One goal for the year? Lower my cholesterol?

3) My questions for the winners:

I want to be LL's BFF (again, from Pinterest). 

1.  Weirdest thing you have ever eaten?
2.  Favorite vacation?
3.  Best advice you have ever gotten?
4.  Favorite ice cream flavor?
5.  TV show you have watched every episode of twice?
6.  What song gets you pumped up?
7.  Cats or Dogs?
8.  If you could befriend a fictional character, who would it be?
9.  Got any bad habits? 
10. Why did you decide to blog?
11. Describe your perfect date.

4) My picks (I'm bad, I didn't hit 11)

Chelsea at Going Dutch
Stephanie at SeeStephBlog
Shanna at Baby Eliza Boutique 

Of Course my nominator? Nominatoree? ... the lovely Haley at Les Petite Joies 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hurricane Season & Hurricane Cocktails

What’s Brewing:  Hurricanes
An Inside look at Louisiana Hurricane Season

When I was a kid, I asked my Dad if we would get a bad hurricane that year (something I had never before encountered).  He told me that if you flip a coin over a map that included the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, you wouldn’t know where it would land.  That’s pretty much the same probability as a hurricane.  Sometimes the coin hits your city and sometimes it doesn’t.

But almost every year one looks like it’s heading your way. Sometimes you laugh because you know the media is over emphasizing a Tropical Depression. And, sometimes a police officer shows up on your doorstep telling you it’s seriously time to get out.

School was cancelled once when I was 12 (much like other parts of the world have snow days, we have hurricane days built in to the school year) because one of the shoddier weather services said a hurricane was heading straight for us.  But, the day proved to be blue skies and beautiful.

I remember asking my mom what would happen if a big hurricane ever really did hit us. And she calmly said, "Well it would probably change your life forever."  Man, was she right because three years later one did. 

Growing up on the New Orleans Northshore, I was so incredibly lucky. I did not lose my home or community. But living so close to the devastation, losing my grandmother’s home (and all of her photos) and school being closed for two months was all quite stressful. And Hurricane Katrina certainly did change everyone’s lives forever.  

I want to note that I do not feel like my situation was unique. In fact, I am fortunate to have maintained the normalcy that I did.

These things are on my mind because we are now in the worst part of hurricane season, August.  Many people don’t know that hurricane season spans from June to November, but August is peak hurricane season. Katrina, for example, hit in late August.

But, Katrinas don’t happen everyday.  You could be unlucky in the coin toss and get hit by a hurricane two years in a row, sure. Or, like what happened in New Orleans, you could have 40 years between bad storms.

In my research this summer, a lot of my interviewees have said the same thing, something I have also heard before.  Non-Louisianans ask natives why they rebuild at all if another hurricane could hit?  

The answer is simple: A) Most New Orleanians didn’t see destruction like Katrina until Katrina.  Many historic homes NEVER flooded until 2005. B) There are natural disasters everywhere. At least you can predict hurricanes. C) Quite simply, it’s home.

The Brew: Hurricanes      
A cocktail that can cause blackouts … the Hurricane

A hurricane so strong it turned my umbrella inside out. Photo by Robert Giglio.

New Orleans has found a way to cope with knowing another storm could be lurking in the Gulf.  The city simply does not lose its spirit and looks at hurricanes with a wicked sense of humor.  You can’t walk five feet in the French Quarter without seeing something satirical about Katrina. Heck, New Orleans is called the Crescent City because it dips in a crescent shape below sea level.  This mix of self-awareness and joie de vivre brings me to the hurricane, the cocktail that is …

Pat O’Brien’s in the French Quarter is home to the New Orleans Hurricane, not to be confused with the Bahama beverage of the same name. The drink is said to be a product of WWII when there was a Whiskey shortage, according to Pat O’s website.  In order to purchase one case of the liquor, one had to also buy a multitude of rum by the case, as supplies were too plentiful. To unload the rum, the hurricane was invented. And, it apparently was not named for the storm, but the shape of its glass, which resembled a hurricane lamp.

Whatever the reason, thank you Pat O’s.  And Cheers to safe hurricane season.

It’s no Pat O’s but here’s my Hurricane recipe:

·       1 -2 oz light rum
·       1-2 oz dark rum
·       2 oz orange juice
·       1 Tbsp lime juice
·       1 Tbsp triple sec
·       1 Tbsp grenadine

*1 oz = 1 shot, so feel free to vary the alcohol to your liking

To make yours taste like the Bourbon Street staple, you can buy Pat O’Brien’s hurricane drink mix in their online store.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hubig's Pies and Mini Pie Zoos

The Note: A love letter to Hubig’s Pies
High hopes for a full recovery … high apple pie, in the sky hopes

For those of you living outside Louisiana, I must first explain what a Hubig’s Pie is.   It is a grocery store checkout pastry, bona fide New Orleans made. The pies are shaped more like empanadas and are packaged in a sleeve printed with the brand’s logo, a jolly chef named “Savory Simon.” (Simon Hubig founded the company.)  They come in a whole host of fruity flavors from apple to sweet potato to coconut. 

Photo found online

But these New Orleans Style Pies, are in trouble. On July 27, the bakery was destroyed in a fire.  This is the same Faubourg Marigny location that has been home to Hubig’s Pies since 1922. 

After the fire was put out, Louisianans were posting social media statuses like “I’m buying all the strawberry I can find. If you see any, buy all of them for me and I’ll pay you later.” I felt like it was the scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life” where there’s a run on the bank.

And people were scrambling and anxious because New Orleanians know what it means to lose something.

Hubig’s plans on a full recovery.  A statement on their website goes as following: “Rebuild, Restore, ReHubig’s, we will not lose our flavor!”

To support this local favorite in their time of need, one can buy a t-shirt or other merchandise in the online store.

The Pie: Animal Shaped Mini Pies! 
A mini Audubon Zoo, that you can eat too!  

With pie on the brain, I decided to try something new: animal shaped mini pies.  

Yes, that's right, I made a sweet, edible zoo from scratch using my cheesecake pie crust recipe and lemon filling!

Photo by Robert Giglio

 Ingredients and Recipe for Crust:
-       3 cups all-purpose flour
-       ¾ cup sugar
-       3 egg yokes
-       1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
-       1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
-       1 ½ teaspoon lemon zest
       Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, grease baking pan.  Set it aside.  In a medium size bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and lemon peel.   Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and cut the butter into small pieces and into the well.  Add the egg yolks (set the whites aside for later) and vanilla to the well.  Quickly mix all ingredients with fingertips until it holds together and you have a smooth ball of dough. 

 Lemon Filling:

-       1 tablespoon unsalted butter
-       1/3 cup granulated sugar
-       1 large egg
-       1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
-       1 teaspoon lemon zest
-       1 teaspoon vanilla

Use a double boiler (or use a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water):  melt the butter in the top bowl. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended and pour into the top bowl. Cook and whisk constantly (to prevent  the egg from curdling)over the simmering water. Keep whisking until the mixture becomes pale in color and thickens to the consistency of sour cream (160 degrees F  on a candy thermometer).  This will take 10 minutes of steady whisking!  Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer if there are any lumps. Keep the cooked lemon mixture off the heat, and stir in the lemon zest and vanilla extract.  Chill in refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours (Can be a lot less).


Now that the dough is done. And so is your filling.  Find your favorite cookie cutters. I chose my zoo collection. Now, cut out shapes. 
Lay down one shape. 
Drop a dollop of filling in the center (maybe in a thumb print).
Place like cut out shape atop and pinch edges together.
Use those egg whites you set aside. Brush a light coat of egg over the dough to crisp.
Sprinkle a smidge of sugar over the mini pies.
Bake 6-8 minutes on greased sheets.

If you want a Hubig's pie, you should buy one now and help support the rebuilding effort!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Weddings & Cookies

The Love Story: Cookies and Caroline
And also the one between my lovely friend Haley and her new husband Jim.

You know those childhood name games where you have to state an adjective that describes you and is also the same letter as your first name, for example Joyful Jane or Funny Fred.  Well, I usually opted for Cookie-Eating Caroline — as you can see I’ve been self-deprecating about my love for dessert for nearly two-decades.

Cookies are truly the way to my heart. 

So, when I first met Haley freshman year of college and she brought me her mom’s chocolate chip cookies (with a hint of walnut) for the first time, I knew we would be best friends. That and our shared love of Gilmore Girls, ballet, desserts and all other things that are good.

With Haley, just being fabulous circa 2010.

Haley became my best friend and then my roommate for the last half of college. When she moved in she brought a cookie jar (that she kept full) and stories of teaching dance to Baby Ballerinas. It was like how I imagine living with the sugar plum fairy would be. And we had a lot of fun chatting, eating and living with Rasco.

But all good things must come to an end, to make way for even better things. I am on a job search and will be leaving our place soon and Haley has already flown the coop to start law school … and her marriage.

Haley the Bride and me.

That’s right Haley got married on Saturday to my other good friend from college, Jim. I actually introduced these two lovebirds. I was very honored to serve as maid of honor at their whimsical, Louisiana country wedding.

The yummy favors.

It was simple and lovely.  The old, historic chapel was decorated with flower petals and the reception had big, happy, purple balloons. Every detail, right down to her mom’s chocolate chip cookie favors, was quite sweet. Just like Haley.

The Sweet: Fig Cookies
A dash of love and sprinkle of simple

So Haley’s family cookie recipe is top secret.  But, I would like to share a recipe for another pastry that crumbles — that is just as sugary.  When I interviewed one family this summer for my National Geographic project, who had moved from the Ninth Ward to rural Louisiana, I was met with overflowing kindness. The interview went well and the ~90-year-old matriarch had a cake waiting for me.  And, to top it off, her son would not let me leave without a bag of homegrown figs. What better way to use figs or culminate an act of kindness than making cookies? 

Instead of making fig preserves or eating the whole bag before they spoiled (figs do so quickly), I opted to make fig cookies. But the Internet did not have that many fresh fig recipes, so I had to create my own from several others and bakers intuition.  This is what I came up with:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground clove spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon spice
  • Fill a 1 cup measuring cup to the brim with mashed figs
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat to 350 degrees
Cream sugar, butter and egg
Fold in dry ingredients, and figs, and nuts (don't use up all the spices here)
Drop spoonfuls on greased baking sheet
Bake ~10 minutes, may need up to 15 minutes (toothpick test)
Sprinkle more clove and cinnamon atop the cookies

Honestly, I was pretty liberal with these proportions, especially the spices. 
(I pulled recipes from here and here to create this ingredients list)

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