Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Agog girl

Is there a noun form of "agog" that you know of? My brief online research says that one does not exist. I'm accepting clever ideas, in part because I've decided to give up completely on attempting cool, ironic detachment. It's time to give in to the agogness/agogity/whatever. There are too many interesting things out there--knockout mice that inexplicably develop a head tilt to the right, Maxim Gorky, Steve Reich's Proverb--not to gush whenever given the opportunity, which I'm sure is obnoxious, but seriously... do you know how cool things are? So cool!

Like this photo of Manhattanhenge:

It may not look like much, but in order to get it, I had to abandon all instincts for self-preservation and follow along with the masses in darting into the middle of 23rd Street when the light was read, then darting back to the sidewalk when vehicles began to advance. Also, in person, it was gorgeous.

Oh yeah, food! These are involtini, which are usually thin slices of beef or veal with a filling. For the vegetarian variety, I attempted to thinly slice a couple zucchini without a mandoline and only halfway succeeded; these didn't roll the way I wanted them to, but when I buy my mandoline (which will be very soon!), I promise the dish will look much prettier. Those slices got boiled until they were flexible then plunged into an ice water bath to stop their cooking. Meanwhile, I pulsed in my food processor some basil leaves from Lazarus, the last of my oven-dried tomatoes, some mozzarella, pepper, and enough olive oil to hold the mixture together. I rolled up the filling in the slices, toasted them briefly in my cast-iron pan*, and dug in! There were other dinner components, but this is the important part.

Additionally, because it is my lovely roommate's birthday tomorrow, I made her carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Here's a picture:

Here's the recipe:

Maria's Birthday Carrot Cake Cupcakes

2 firmly packed cups grated carrots (about 3/4 pound)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large eggs
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 + 1/8 cups vegetable oil
(I didn't include raisins or walnuts as per Maria's preferences, but I'm sure you could if you wanted to.)

Preheat the oven to 350 and put cupcake liners in a 12-cupcake-capacity pan. Sift together the dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Beat the eggs with the vanilla, sugars, lemon juice and zest, and vegetable oil until combined well. Stir in the dry ingredients just until combined. Stir in the carrots. Fill the cupcake liners about halfway, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the pan to cool. Frost with the cream cheese frosting described below.

Totally Awesome Frosting
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened.
Optional: citrus zest of some sort

Slowly whisk the milk into the dry ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat, whisking constantly, over medium-low heat until the mixture boils, then remove it from the heat and whisk until it's thick. Cool completely. Beat the cooled mixture with the cream cheese and vanilla.

Oh, and on the heels of my free pan I got a free book: Geek Love, by Katherine Dunn. I have no idea what it's about, but the front cover notes that it was nominated for the National Book Award, so could I go wrong?

*Yeah, yeah, I didn't have to use it for this, strictly speaking, but I really wanted to!

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