Monday, September 20, 2010

A Sprint Kinda Weekend in Seattle

Thursday evening I found myself boarding the 5:00 nonstop to Seattle. I was heading west for a weekend full of events; Friday night we had The Boss’s 10 year high school reunion (nothing like giving away his age right?), followed by Saturday morning’s Kirkland Sprint Triathlon, and then Sunday morning- without even time for breakfast- I was on my flight home! Just like that… another weekend down. IMG_0182

Friday morning I woke up and made the morning commute with the fam into downtown Seattle. Since the Boss didn’t arrive from his work trip until that afternoon, I took the opportunity to go check out Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market.

IMG_0219No matter how many times I’ve been there, I still love poking around this downtown market. Hands down, my favorite part about the market is the fresh flowers!

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I’m also always amazed by the number of booths and visitors there are. The market sports everything from fresh produce to local craftsmanship.

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I hung around for a while before going to my favorite breakfast place… IMG_0235

Mmmm this Russian Bakery has an huge assortment of sweet and savory pastries. I had the Chicken, rice, mushroom, and onion piroshky! Seriously folks, it’s a good think this bakery is on the west coast… otherwise my training/ racing would not be going so well! This stuff is a little rich!

IMG_0237 Speaking of training and racing. That leads me into the second event of the weekend! The Kirkland Sprint Triathlon.

IMGP1136 Now I have to tell you at this point in the morning I had not been totally honest with the Boss. I was (and still am) feeling like crap. I have been coughing like a 40 year smoker, and I swear I’ve been spitting out my weight in sinus crap for the past 2 days (pretty picture isn’t it?). I think it actually peaked on this morning! I wasn’t totally sure/ convinced that I was going to race or not. BUT I didn’t want to tell him that for fear that he’d feeling bad about racing with me standing on the sidelines. Luckily his swim wave was before mine, so I could send him off with a smooch and a “good luck”, and make my decision after!

IMGP1138 So I stand here alone feeling bad for myself and trying to conceal from the Boss’s dad that my eyes that are welling up. “what am I going do??”. 5 minutes later my wave is called, and racing instinct took effect “what the hell are you thinking…get your ass in the water”. So off I went..

IMGP1160 … and shortly there after I emerged from the water. I will say that that swim was much easier than the warm-up swim I did earlier in morning when I tried to swim with a mouth full of cough drops. If you haven’t tried that yet…don’t!

kirkland tri2Next came the bike. Seattle in true from had rained all morning, adding a super slick surface to what was an already technical course. The bike wasn’t as fast as I’d have liked it to be, but there were several times I had to sacrifice seep for safety. Once you’ve survived one sideways skid for the day you don’t take a second for chance! I will give a super shout out to the organizers of the race for having at least one volunteer on every single intersection; no matter if it was a small side street or major intersection.

Finally my favorite part of the race… the run. With my cough drops in tow I set out to post the fastest female split of the day!

IMG_1810 800 x 533 The Cough

kirkland tri3The Finish

kirkland tri4 With a 1st place age group win (4th place overall female) I was pretty happy! Sick yes.. but also pretty pleased with what I actually pulled off. Although I will admit winning really makes it more difficult to convince my Coach that I actually was sick and not just whinny!

So now I’m back on the plane to DC to recover before heading back west to Las Vegas to check out the Interbike Festivities and more importantly for the Las Vegas Olympic Triathlon! I’ve been looking forward to that one all summer!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bertie’s Bakery Makes a CAKE!

So It’s my Big Sis’s burrrrphday! I’m a huge birthday fan; I really think that when It’s someone’s birthday you should make them feel really (I hate to use this word) “Special”! For the past 4 years my sister and I have finally lived either together or at least within 15 minutes of each other (we were separated for the college years…sad) and ever since we have really taken birthday’s to the next level! Each year for our birthday’s we’ve put on our Party Dresses, rounded up the crowds, and gone out like we were the ladies on Sex in the City! Strutting our stuff! For my birthday last winter I invited all of my friends to our local bowling alley… what was the catch? We made it a formal event! Cocktail dresses and Suits and ties! That’s right, bowling gone classy! 

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It was my birthday… and I did what I wanted!

Anyways this year is no different! Birthday’s mean it is time for a Gooood Time! My sister requested to enjoy one of the summers last weekends outdoors!

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IMGP3091 800 x 451 There’s my Birthday Girl!!!

IMGP3089 800 x 451 Surely you know who these two are!

So we went about an hour outside of DC area to enjoy a loooong hot day on the river! We had a blast and everyone took advantage of what will probably our last chance for the season to expose ourselves to the cancerous and yet oh so good UV-Rays!

To top off a Grrrreat Birthday, you know there is one thing every Birthday Girl NEEDS to have!!! I present to you the FIRST official “Bertie’s Bakery, Birthday Cake”….

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“Shreeeeeeeeeeeeeak, MYYYYYYYYY Birthday cake!”

“WOW. How did you make that????”

“Do we actually eat that?”

“Did you reeeeally make that?”

“pretttttty”

I think these were the top 5 sayings for the night! I have to say, I usually think my cupcakes are in the category of “kinda cute”, but I was really pleased with this Cake!

So I’ll start off with the flowers. They are made of a combination of Fondant and gum paste. And I made them a few days before I made the actual cake. It’s good to do this because it allows for the flowers to really take shape and harden. Also, they take some time to create if you want them to come out nicely.

IMG_3366 800 x 533 IMG_3367 800 x 533 The flower army! Always make a few extras in case of an “Ooops" moment.

Then comes the actual Cake! My Sis is a vanilla – vanilla girl! Vanilla cake and Vanilla icing!

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Nothing too dramatic about this recipe (Sorry Sis), just good Ol’ Vanilla. So I’ll skip ahead to other matters of creating such a cake.

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So what is happening here? Well since I don’t actually have a real bakery, and therefore there isn’t much revenue from my efforts, I have to “save” where I can! Before you even take the cake out of the pan you need to have somewhere to put it! Now I don’t know about your past experiences, but every time I’ve ever made a dessert for another person and gave it to them on my favorite platter, I’ve ended up having to go out and find a “new favorite” platter… I never get them back! So I’ve started to make my own disposable cake boards! I’ve started buying moving boxes from the storage/moving places and cutting them down into cardboard squares. In the picture above I’ve laid the cake pan (6”x6”) on the board and with my hot pink highlighter traced out the size board that I think would look best. Grab the scissors and trim it down. Now add Aluminum Foil.

IMG_3435 800 x 533 Ta-da! 

Yes, I am well aware that somewhere out there, there is a better way… but for now, my expense aware self is going with homemade!

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Yes, this is actually a layer cake! I liked the idea of making it really boxy and it’s too hard to put all of the cake mix into one 6”x6” cake pan and expect that it is going to bake evenly. PLUS, in this case the birthday girl that was receiving this cake is madly in love with my vanilla buttercream icing, so I figured this was a great opportunity to insert MORE ICING!       NOM!

Once you have the two cakes glued together with lots and lots of icing, go ahead and ice that sucker!

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My favorite cake decorating discovery so far has been the Wilton Cake Frosting tip (XXXX link). You simply fill up your icing bag with the base color icing and cover the entire cake in long strips of icing. This helps do two important things. Initially it gets the icing on the cake without you dragging the spatula back and fourth, back and fourth, then up and down the cake just to make sure you’ve covered every square inch… if you’re not following me here, slapping icing on in wads and then spreading it causes a lot of crumbs to get lifted off of the cake and mixed into the icing; ultimately your master piece is sporting brown cake speckles through-out! Secondly, if you are using a stiffer/ thicker icing on your cake base, this tip (XXXX Link) really helps initiate the spreading of the icing over the edges. You simply start at the bottom of the cake, squeeze uuuuuuup the cake and flop the last part up and over the top edge (shown best in the first icing picture).

Once you’re all iced, the fun begins! Start putting your design on the canvas!

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And that’s it folks. Another birthday bites the dust!  Happy Birthday “Love”.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Blueberry Upside Down Cake

Growing up in Newfoundland, Canada we were not endowed with a huge choice of fresh fruit in the produce department. BUT, my family every August (late August) and September would make a big trip out to the barren lands to pick gallons of Blueberries! Enough Blueberries to last us through out the winter months. Let me tell you… we LOVED our blueberries, and all of the blueberry desserts, muffins, and breads my Momma cooked up!!

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Now, since the boarder control wouldn’t look highly upon my mom sending gallons of Newfoundland Blueberries into the US of A, The Boss and I decided to do some picking of our own this summer.

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We picked a lot of Blueberries, and ate a lot more blueberries in the process! So “what is my point?” you might be asking, my point is, now that I have my very own endless supply of blueberries I can make an endless supply of blueberry creations! And today’s creation is “Blueberry Upside-down Cake”, right from Momma’s kitchen!

First we start off by creaming the butter, eggs and sugars until they are nice and smooth! I find that taking the time to cream your butter and sugars together for 3-5 minutes until light and smooth will make the difference to a fluffy recipe!

IMG_3204 800 x 533 *Remember the 3-5 minutes is longer than you think, set a timer, you’ll thank me later!!

Then, while your butters are creaming, sift together in a different bowl the dry ingredients. Once the creamery has finished, add the dry ingredients in 3 parts while the mixer is still on.

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From here I prepare a little bit of blueberry and brown sugar goodness in the cupcake trays. It’s a mixture of brown sugar, butter (but of course!), and the super important ingredient… lemon rind!

IMG_3224 800 x 533 IMG_3227 800 x 533 after whisking the ingredients above, distribute evenly between cupcake sheet.

IMG_3236 800 x 533 Now, the finishing touch… BLUEBERRIES! Yum!  (try not to over do the berries!)

Once the bottom of the cupcake sheet is prepared, you’re going to want to stop dipping your finger into the batter, and start dividing that too into 12 even portions.

IMG_3242 800 x 533 IMG_3251 800 x 533 One of my favorite baking utensils is this medium sized ice-cream scoop. Even scoops every time!

IMG_3267 800 x 533 Now Bake!

While our scrumptious blueberry cakes are-a-bakin, it’s time for me to get crackin’ on the blueberry cake topping! Yes! Yes, there is more to go with this dessert. A light, lemon based, citrus drizzle.

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Always get the good juices rolling with and citrus fruit by lightly rolling it under your palms and against the counter. This helps squeeze out more juice, or maybe just makes it easier? Anyways, this is something that I always do and I’m pretty sure the habit came from watching Rachel Ray or Martha Stewart at some point in my life!

Once the cupcakes are done, let them cool and set for at least 15 minutes before doing anything! (To be safe, leave the kitchen and don’t think about them for 15-20 minutes) This way the blueberry conglomerate can cool and solidify making for a much prettier turn-out and a MUCH easier clean up!!

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When you’re ready, and the cakes have cooled, it’s time to flip!

IMG_3286 800 x 533 Don’t forget to put a cookie sheet underneath the flipped pan- this will catch any uncooperative blueberries!

IMG_3295 800 x 533 Then, be patient! Let it sit for another 2-3 minutes! No Peaking!

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Mmmm, who’s hungry?

Then pick out your favorite looking cupcake and dress it up with a little lemon sauce!

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Bon App├ętit!  

IMG_3326 800 x 533NOM!

 
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