Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What I Am Doing This Week

Man, this week is crazy! No Salad Days today. Usually we have a salad entree on Tuesdays but yesterday I didn't drink enough water during my workout and I ended up with a whopper of a dehydration headache, so we got takeout from the Chinese place down the block. (It's actually in a gas station, but it's the best Chinese around - true, that's not saying much, but some Chinese students at the med school told me that it's the best and that's where they all order from.)

This week is the busiest one of my month (I hope). In addition to work, I'm making Dan's birthday present (he turns 29 on Sunday), I took on three major baking projects, I turned it my film notes today, and our weekend is packed with plans already - no downtime for us.

If you're wondering what film notes are, let me tell you: the single best thing about living in the Upper Valley for me is the Dartmouth Film Society. They project over two hundred films per year and if you're on directorate, like I am, every single one of them is FREE. Directorate is the board that decides on the program for each term. To stay on directorate, each term you have to attend at least five meetings (did I mention that the meetings include free dinner?) and write one set of notes, which are distributed at the screenings in the larger theater. I got on the directorate my first term of freshman year and convinced Dan to join a few years later. When we moved back to the area, our directorate status immediately reactivated, so we've been enjoying free films and cinephilic camaraderie every since. This week, I wrote the notes for G.W. Pabst's Pandora's Box, a silent Weimar masterpiece starring Louise Brooks.

And about those three baking projects - the first (cookies) is almost done, the second (cupcakes) will take place on Friday and Saturday, and the third - no idea, but it has to be done by Sunday evening because it's Dan's birthday cake. All three will make use of a new technique for me: royal icing motifs. I've used royal icing for assembling a gingerbread house, but since I had some meringue powder on hand, I wanted to try making decorative royal icing shapes in advance for later application to cakes and cookies. Here are the results:

Fun, right? Some of the hearts and squiggles and things are now on sugar cookies which are only awaiting some final buttercream touches; the rest are going to be used on Valentine cupcakes that I'm bringing to a brunch on Saturday. The green leaves are mostly for Dan's birthday cake; he requested a Lost theme (it's our favorite TV show), and I don't know exactly what I'm doing yet, but I know it has to involve lots and lots of jungle foliage. Hence the leaves.

I know some bakers consider royal icing to be inedible because it's too hard, but I actually really like the crunch and the tangy taste. What do you think? Do you pick off royal icing decorations or just eat them?

I'll post pictures of all these projects as I finish them. Now I'm off to complete the cookies!

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