Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Chocolate Cake With Mocha Dressing Frosting

The lovely lady from whom I cribbed this recipe calls it her "crazy cake," but since I baked it up and served it to friends for the first time on Election Night 2006, I've been thinking of it as Victory Cake.

Either way you call it, it's the most straight-forward and reliable recipe for classic American chocolate cake I've ever seen.

This is the cake part.

Mix together:
--3 cups flour
--2 tsp. baking soda
--1 tsp. salt
--2 cups sugar
--1/3 cup cocoa powder

Pour in:
--1 tsp. vanilla
--3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
--2 tsp. white vinegar
--2 cups water
Whip with a fork until smooth, pour into 11"x13" tin (or equivalent, bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.

This is the frosting part.

--3 cups powdered sugar
--6 tsp. cocoa
--6 tsp. melted butter
--6 tsp. hot coffee
--1 tsp. vanilla
I'm telling you; it looks ridiculously easy, it is ridiculously easy, but it's awfully good.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Eats

This year Christmas had a more Eastern flavor.

Christmas Eve dinner was celebrated with friends, and shockingly! at a restaurant. The most appetizing restaurant open that night on Atlantic Ave. in Brooklyn was Zaytoons, a warm, remarkably inexpensive, Middle Eastern place. The pita comes directly from a hot brick oven, the management was generous with free goodies (if there had been a delay with our order to merit them, I hadn't noticed), and the four of us left happy and fed for under $30, before tip. A minor miracle.

On Christmas Day, my honey and I made one of my favorite Iranian recipes: Adas Polow, or "Rice with Lentils." Doesn't sound like much when you describe it that way, I suppose, but that title leaves out most of the ingredients: meat, dates, raisins, blanched orange peel, onions, garlic--and of course saffron, tumeric, cinnamon, rose petals, and cumin. This recipe provides a barebones outline for the dish, but we've tended to use the more elaborate version from A Taste of Persia. Just in this photo you can see some of the ingredients and steps the Farsinet recipe leaves out: the empty bottle of ghee used as oil, and the ziploc baggie of advieh, or "spice mix" (I think). Also, in the elaborate version of Adas Polow, it's pretty important to cook the ingredients separately, and then pile them in short layers on top of each other for a long steaming. That's the step you see in the photo.

I'm very sorry that I have to report that, once again, my rice failed to upend into a perfectly formed "golden cake"-style tah dig. I'm well on my way toward getting a complex about this.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Question That Apparently Must Be Asked

In August 2004, Apostropher wandered across some LiveJournal user who wondered whether Barack Obama's charisma, as demonstrated at that summer's Democratic Convention, and the burgeoning Presidential hype around him were signs that Obama might be the foretold Anti-Christ.

Since then, Apostropher's post has become one of the top google hits for "Barack Obama" "anti-christ" (it is the top hit for "Is Barack Obama The Anti-Christ," the title of the post). The crazies of every stripe have shown up, and they will probably continue to show up.

It must be admitted that certain people of my acquaintence have engaged with some of these people, have taken on (transparently) false identities to argue with them under different logical parameters. It is possible that I have done so a few times.

But this ridiculous thread has alrady been active for two years. Just imagine what kind of activity it might get if or when Obama actually announces!

You want to get your apocalyptic political scenario in early, folks.


Advice For Combatting Low Spirits

Sydney Smith's Advice For Combatting Low Spirits: Teresa Nielsen Hayden starts an open thread with excerpts from this 1820 letter to Lady Georgiana Morpeth.

Smith gives Morpeth a list of suggestions for how to work to improve her state of mind, from the immediate--"Make the room where you commonly sit, gay and pleasant"--to the existential--"Don’t expect too much from human life—a sorry business at the best."


Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Iraq War In A Retrospect

Billmon goes through his archives, excerpting a history of the war as it was experienced by the online left. It's amazing how right Billmon has proved to be; his site always seemed to be the outlet for the most pessemistic, the most disenfranchised---and yet here we are.


Holidays Are For Catching Up

This is my Christmas Tree. It's a Norfolk Pine, which can, apparently, grow into diversely imposing shapes.

I figure that I'll give my fifteen-incher some time and space to declare its intentions.