Friday, December 30, 2011

Good Grub: Blaue Gans

So, I've eaten here about a dozen times already and I have not written a review or taken any pictures up until now. A fellow culinary school grad (from the French Culinary Institute) finally dragged me out to this place over the summer. It was just a hole-in-the-wall looking pubsterant. (Restaurant Pub) I always went to City Hall Restaurant, which is located right beside it.

On the bright summer day we happened to go, we had a group of 8 people from the office and we stopped to chat with Parker Posey and Allen Cummings at their Craft table in between takes. They were filming their series at City Hall Restaurant that day. They were totally nice and very pretty/handsome in person. Parker Posey is actually no taller than me!! Go figure. I understand why some people are "made" for television. They may not look like much on tv when cast next to people like Scarlett Johanssen or Brad Pitt, but they are really quite stunning on their own up close and personal.

Anyway, on my first trip, I had the weiner schnitzel sandwich. It was served with German potato salad and a side of homemade lingonberry  preserves. It was absolutely delicious. I was a member of the clean plate club! That time, I paired it with a Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen; a special brew out of Germany that MUST be served in a certain glass or it is not sanctioned to be served at all by the brewery.

Since then, I've altered between the weiner schnitzel and the käsekrainer (sausage with cheese inside). The latter is served with roasted potatoes, in-house made sauerkraut and freshly grated horseradish. I'm not talking pickled, out-of-the-jar crap that we buy in the Kosher aisle of the supermarket. I'm talking FRESH, GRATED from the actual root, which looks like this:
Nothing beats the fresh kind. It's not something you see on the regular down your big name supermarket produce aisle, but lots of farmers markets and many smaller growers do offer it. If you can get your hands on some, try it out. You would grate it with the tiny side of the grater, not slice or shredded- grated.

Anyway, this past week with a very slow flow at work, I got away with my Walking Dead Compendium and I stole away for a solo lunch. I went with the käsekrainer again, because its so damn good and I just really like saying with the German accent and the hacking sound in the back of my throat. I ordered a heavier beer with it; Köstritzer Märzen. This is a thick, dark chocolaty stout-like beer. My favorite! My server ended up comping me because he didn't think I could read German. Little did he know that not only do I have a little German blood in my family and those relatives did, in fact, teach us a little about the German language, but I also had a handful of German pen pals who taught me a whole lot of German when we wrote back and forth about the WWF wrestlers we were obsessed over. Good times. Anyway, I pronounced "käsekrainer" perfectly, and my beer was free. YIPPEE!!

Their menu is compact, but perfectly represents some damn fine Viennese cuisine. I've yet to have the jäger schnitzel yet, but that's next on my list of things to order. They also have a very sweet prix fixed lunch available all year round which gives you a full-sized salad, a full sized entree of your choice from anywhere on the menu, and one of 6 desserts. All that for $23!!! That's even better than restaurant week, and I have seen the portions and they would put restaurant week to shame.
Blaue Gans is not only good grub, it's great grub. It's worth the trip downtown to try them out. Not only are they a popular hidden gem to the government community downtown, but the locals rave about their dinners and brunches. The decor is exciting. You don't know what you want to look at first as the walls are decoupaged with old posters, pictures, and pages out of books. It's quite a site to behold. I hate to give up one of my favorite spots to the general public. I like walking in and always getting a seat right away. But, they are too good to be kept hidden. The service is ALWAYS outstanding. The servers know their food, and that's important to me. The next time I go, I will be ordering dessert.

blaue ganseTheir sister restaurants, menus, as well as this info below are readily available on their website.

For reservations, please call 212-571-8880 or reserve online at
139 Duane Street, New York City 10013
Located in the heart of Tribeca on Duane Street between Church and West Broadway.
Open daily 11 am to midnight (kitchen open to midnight), Bar open until 12 am. Saturday and Sunday brunch from 11am-4pm.

Lunch Bell

Being classically trained and all, you'd think I could make a decent sandwich. Well, I'll let you know right now; I can't. I don't like cold food. I don't like sandwiches. The closest thing to a sammie that I'll crave is a grilled cheese with bacon & sometimes tomato. Other than that, I'd rather go hungry than stand in line for a sandwich.

Naturally, this is unnatural and I'm trying to cure myself of this distaste of breaded lunches. It would save me money in the long run if I made my own lunch, and a sandwich would probably be the most cost effective and quickest thing to make on a daily basis. The possibilities for variation is also endless.

I put up a sandwich post several months ago, and my heavy hand with the horseradish sauce ruined it. I took a walk to train ride to Trader Joe's this time and tried it again. It was much cheaper than Whole Foods, and the employees are a lot more plesant to deal with.

Without further ado, here we go again with the sandwich formation.

I bought some artisan bread at a rest stop on our way up towards Woodbury Commons. It's a familiar rest stop because I've stopped there more than half a dozen times with my exes whenever we were on our way north of the city. On the weekends, there is a small farmers market stand outside with two or three vendors. I bought a loaf of garlic and rosemary artisan bread for 5 bucks. The thing weighed a ton, but it smelled fantastic. Despite my mother telling me I would going to gain even MORE weight, I bought it anyway and called it a day. Sometimes you just need to give in to what your tummy wants.

Artisan Bread- garlic & rosemary

Wild Arugula (Also known as Rocket)

I don't do mayo, so I bought some Goddess dressing instead. It gives the sammie some moisture and the greens a little acid.

This package of Prosciutto only cost $5! And I got nearly 4 sammies out of it. It's salty. A little goes a long way!

See? This was about 3 or 4 slices piled up atop my greens.
No Coke this time. I think I had some water with lemon with this meal. It was good. The bread was a little dry, but at this point it was 2 days old. With my 2nd sandwich, I made the mistake of trying to heat the prosciutto in the microwave for 30 seconds, and what I got was a stinky, steaming, overcooked ham-like mess. It was gross. DON'T TRY TO WARM THE PROSCIUTTO! What a mess!!

Truth be told, this was the last time I made a sandwich. I haven't had the time to buy groceries, and my busy season was upon me. When I got back to work on Tuesday, things are going to be different. No more $10 lunches, coupled with two or three trips to the vending machine for $1.50 Cokes. It's a lot of money wasted on food that just isn't any good for me.

I hope I have the stamina to eat right this year. I think a lot of my health problems stem from a very poor diet. What good is a cook who can't taste anything? Useless. I don't want to be useless and I want to hone my palate.

Here's to a new perspective on an old promise.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fan or FAN?

I love Lord of the Rings and all, but........I dunno.....

I think I'll pass. It's not exactly an image I'd like to cuddle up against on a cold winter's night.


Cooking Comically

If you have not visited this site yet, what the hell are you waiting for??? It combines comics and cooking- the two most wonderful things in the world! Check them OUT:

Cooking Comically

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Catching Up

Some of the more interesting cakes that have come across my work bench:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Normally, I would try to drum up business so I can do my Xmas shopping, but this year I'm trying to raise money so I can get myself into my own place...(or an affordable room at the very least). So, without further ado, here is my 2011 Thanksgiving Menu.

I hope something on here will tickle someone's fancy and you'll throw me an order or two!

Queenie Cakes Thanksgiving 2011

Here it is in a condensed version for all you people too lazy to click my link!

(BTW- it's $15.00 or 2 for $25)

Chocolate Mouse- Chocolate pastry crust filled with a rich milk chocolate mouse, topped with vanilla whipped cream and dark chocolate curls
Southern Pecan- A top seller every year, this bourbon infused pie is pretty, as well as delicious!
Sweet Potato- An American staple- with or without the marshmallow fluffy yumminess on top
Pumpkin- No canned recipe here. I puree my own pumpkin and blend it with cream and spices to create this traditional Thanksgiving dessert. I suggest making some cinnamon whipped cream and serving it alongside this pie.
Coconut Custard- I use a crème brulée base to make my custards. This pie will be richer, smoother, and more decadent than anything you’re going to buy in some other bakery.
Apple- Between two crusts or crumb topped, this has been my baby since the beginning. With a sweet cinnamon-spiced crust and a distinct center, my regulars order this type from me year after year.
Apple-Pumpkin – Traditional apple pie with a pumpkin butter twist! Do you love apple pie? Do you love pumpkin? Do you want a little of both, but can't decide which one to go with? Try this one! It's just a hint of pumpkin mixed in with the apples for an extra-special Thanksgiving treat! Specify a d0uble crust topping or a crumb topping. (Or a crumb topping with some crust decorations.)

Specialty Flavor for 2011

Yes, I know it’s ballsy to take this traditional Italian dessert and transform it into a pie, but if anyone can do it right,  it’s me. My tiramisu base is legendary. I’ve found a way to transform that into a pie. With a “crust” of soaked lady fingers and a tiramisu filling, this sinfully new pie is topped with a dusting of only the finest Dutch processed cocoa powder. Give it a try; you may want one for X-Mas, too!

I also offer Carrot Cake Cookies- which are soft cake-like cookies sandwiched Oreo-style with a filling of cinnamon cream cheese frosting in the middle. A box 0f 16 is only $10.00.

C'mon, guys! Help a baker out!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011


"As we ascend the social ladder, viciousness wears a thicker mask."
~Erich Fromm
Well, perhaps that's not the best quote to match up to this cake I made, but I just read it earlier today, and it's fitting in this age of digital social circles. Be kind to each other.

Well, I worried about it and I lost sleep over it, but I'm fairly happy with the way my pillow masquerade cake came out. What do you think? Yes, I'm aware my seam is a hot mess, but again I ran out of time and showed up an hour and half after the agreed drop off time. (What can I say? I'm having such a beast of a time trying to figure out how long my fondant work will take.) Most of it is rather smooth, except for that seam. I have two silicone molds that I've managed to employ on numerous occasions the last several years, and I think it's time I bought some new ones. Besides my offset spatula, it's one of my favorite tools in my arsenal. It's absolutely mind-blowing the things that can be done with silicone.

If you only have a few dollars to spend on some professional baking tools, I suggest a couple of silicone molds for edging. It will save you a load of time when working with fondant, and it adds a really nice finished look if you use them right. Unfortunately, a rush job made my edging look like complete shit. I'm working on it....

Other than that, check out my latest cake from yesterday. The Sweet 16 Mask Cake. Not bad considering I was working with a surgical mask on to keep my flu germs to myself. Do you see the dent right on the corner in the very front? I was going to hide that corner in the back, but it turned out to be the best side of the cake (despite the dent).

What happened was that I had the two pillow tops done and drying off to the side. My brother came by to see me and bring me some medicine and hot & sour soup. (That's a little secret to clearing out your sinus and respiratory system when you're ill. Chinese Hot & Sour soup. Since you're sick, you can't really taste it anyway, and the heat will help.) Well, he put his jacket down on the table where I had these two pillow tops. The little pillow top started leaned into the bigger one. It was too late when I realized what he had done, and I went nuts, but he apologized profusely and said he didn't know they were cakes. He swore they were just pillows. Anyway, he was trying to convince me the dent make them look more pillow-like. I beg to differ, but it was a funny story after the fact. Everyone was really impressed!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

WTF is Going On Here?

My boss never showed yesterday. It's past noon now, and that bitch hasn't poked her wigged head into my cube yet. As it turns out, she emailed almost everyone last Friday, asking if they would be in on Monday, and everyone who got the email had the same gut-wrenching reactions of- "OH FUCK! WHAT 'S GOING ON?!?!?!"

It's not excusing my deplorable, irresponsible behavior at work. I'm talking about coming in late, not finishing my tasks on time, and getting distracted to easily by the web, the movies, the music and anything else that buzzes and steals my attention.

I made it to work on time today. If I get a stay of execution, it's going to be very different. No more eating out and movies and concerts...More money thrown at the debt monster. Finish my personal projects and triple my cake efforts.

I was thinking of doing a special holiday label for my Seasonal orders this year- something that will match my box decor better than my regular purple square (which I LOVE and will probably never replace). I just think I need something a little more eye-pleasing to go with all the effort I put into the ribbons and scarecrows I do for Thanksgiving and the ribbons and charms I do for Christmas/Chanuka. I was thinking something similar to my label design with colors more indicative of the season? Do you think that's too much work to do for such a short period of time?

Did I mention that besides the new laptop, I also bought a $200 photo printer, scanner, copier, Fax? Oh, yeah. That's still getting paid off, too. It was certainly an impulse buy that I thought I needed to get my shit done. I can't always order labels from a pro weeks in advance. Sometimes I need things right away.

Well, I'm going to do my best to concentrate and get some shit done today before my next 2pm meeting. I'm leaving early tonight.....I'm having dinner out and then hitting up the Duran Duran concert at MSG.

OK, well I said no more eating out and concerts going FORWARD!!!! I can't do anything about tickets that have already been bought!! Also, I've dreamed of seeing them live for 25 YEARS!!! Better late than never.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ready or Not

I'm not sure whether or not I mentioned that my boss in DC sent me a rather cryptic email last Friday, asking if I would be in on Monday because she was coming into town. I don't know what's up, but I have a feeling in the back of my mind that big changes are going to happen.

I've written a lot in the past that I think I'm about to get axed. I still feel that way. Even though this new system has come out and I'm pretty damn important right now, I've still been coming in consistently late. My boss inside my office (the government Boss) doesn't say two words to me. In fact, he NEVER says anything unless it's bad. He eyed me signing in at 10:15 on Thursday morning, after I called out on Monday. Suddenly, my DC boss is heading into town after she was just here less than a week ago?

I tried not thinking about it too much. If it's the end, then it's the end. I can't say I'd miss the job; just the paycheck. I almost feel as though I've shot myself in the foot agreeing to be in this wedding. I depleted my Get the Fuck Outta Dodge Fund. I'm not really prepared for it since I've had all this other bullshit at work going on. I have a wedding card box that is no where near finished and I know my friend is pissed as hell that I haven't answered her emails asking me where the pictures are.

If I lose this job, I'm going to be in super deep shit. I've only been in the position one time where I couldn't pay my bills and the bill collectors' phone calls made my stomach bleed- literally. I dropped so much weight so fast because the worry and the stress wouldn't let me eat. I know I can probably get a little unemployment, even though I've never been on it before, and it would leave me more time to solicit cake jobs. It would probably also free me up to take a part time cake position at some bakery for cash. But, not having a DECENT steady check really shakes me up.

I am holding way too much liability and I need to unload. These fucking timeshares need to go. Period. I'm probably down to about $15,000 on the mortgage for it, but what good is a vacation destination with no one to share it with? And it's not like I have the time to step away from work to go enjoy myself. It seems like I haven't had that time for a long while now.  The credit cards have inched up because of this wedding. Then there's this laptop that I bought that I probably should have held off on.

So, I'm going into work extra early in the morning. I'm hoping to clear up any loose ends I have, and I'll get another jump on clearing out my cube of all the stuff I've collected in there over the past 7 years. Christ, has it been that long? I don't know what's in store. By this time tomorrow, I may be on the unemployment line for government cheese.

My stomach hurts already. I know I can handle this. Let's just hope the rest of me is aware of it, too.

Friday, October 21, 2011


As nice as beautiful compliments may be, it doesn't buy the sugar. It doesn't pay the gas bill. It can't pick up a crate of eggs. Pretty words just warm the soul. If that's all I needed right now, that would be awesome.

Unfortunately, I have a very expensive weekend coming up next week in Chicago. I am still out nearly $200. Part of that won't be recovered because my uncle is no longer employed and I feel weird asking a retired person for money.

My friends who still owes me a nice chunk of change is already talking to me about catering her baby shower in December. No talk on money, but she's already made it clear her mom is hiring me to SAVE money. And, I shouldn't expect an invitation in the mail because I'm being brought in as "help"....but of course I understand, right?

I'm not someone who really busts her ass in the name of the almighty dollar, but that fucking dollar sure would come in handy right now, and I'm busting my ass anyway.

Things just aren't looking too hot right now, and the busy season is coming. I don't even know if I'll have the initial cash to stock up on my pie supplies.

Speaking of which...Pie anyone?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Balut: Not for the Faint of Heart

As per Wikipedia:

A balut is a fertilized duck embryo that is boiled alive and eaten in the shell.
Popularly believed to be an aphrodisiac and considered a high-protein, hearty snack, balut are mostly sold by street vendors in the regions where they are available. It is commonly sold as streetfood in the Philippines.
This is similar to what I saw that day.
So, back when I was a toddler, I remember being extremely excited when my mom came home with a bag of these bad boys from the Filipino Store. It wasn't often, just once every few months. I remember jumping around excitedly, waiting for it to boil so I could crack it open, suck out the clear broth on the inside, soak the rest of it in the chili vinegar and down it like I was starving!

Sometime when I was about 10 or so, I remember my mom opening one up for me and handing me the contents. Then, I saw it. A DUCK FETUS!!!!! How I never saw it's poor little head all curled up around it's body before that day is beyond me. But, I remember jumping back, screaming, and running away in horror, sick to my stomach that I EVER found this monstrosity to delectable. I felt like a monster...I was eating baby ducks and loving it!!!

Fast forward about 20 years, it's gotten much easier to get a hold of these babies. My mom has bought it several times over, and I can easily find a bowl of freshly boiled eggs sitting on the table. What gives them away and keeps them from getting mixed up with regular unfertilized chicken eggs is that they are slightly larger and have a bit of a tan/greenish hue to the shell.

Monday, feeling a little ill and hungry with nothing readily available to eat at my house, I spotted a fresh pot of balut on the counter. I plopped one in a shallow bowl of water and stuck it in the microwave for 45 seconds. I did this for two reasons. One, obviously, was to warm it up without making it explode. Secondly, I don't know how well they clean the eggs after snatching them from the momma duck. Duck butt, duck thanks. I'll just have the embryo, if you don't mind.....So the microwave warm up serves to clean it a little further. I also rub the hell out of it with a paper towel afterwards. Better safe than sorry!

We're going to get graphic here. So, stop while you still can!!!!!!

I made a little dunking sauce of soy sauce, chili rice vinegar, and a little garlic. I grabbed my camera and went to work....

The Egg

Chili Vinegar & Soy Sauce w/ the Egg

CRACK! And suck out the soup!
(Probably best if you don't look while sucking.)

First Sight!! Obviously, this embryo isn't as developed
as the top picture. And that's fine with me!

I separated the embryo from the yolk, soaked it in sauce
and then tipped it back. GULP!

This the the veiny, not very appetizing-looking yolk.

I cleaned off some of the veins and separated it from the
"stone". I dunked it in sauce before devouring.

Overall, okay, it was not as horrendous as I feared it would be. The broth on the inside tasted like mild chicken broth. The emrbyo was gel-like and didn't have the crunch of bones or beak because it was still so young. It also didn't have much flavor, probably because I sauced it to death, and because it wasn't as far along as some of the other balut that some other people look for. The veins were QUITE off-putting, and I'm not a yolk-lover to begin with- chicken OR duck. But, I wanted to see if it tasted different. It doesn't. It just tasted like a bigger chicken egg yolk, which was gross to me because I don't like yolks!! The "stone" is this hard white part that was probably the "whites" of the egg before the fetus developed. It's not edible like a boiled chicken egg white. It's as hard as a stone.

My thoughts that I guess I can handle the funkiness of this very scary-looking food. I just had to keep telling myself that I loved this stuff as a kid! However, I wouldn't go out of my way to seek it out, and I don't think I could do more than one unless I was starving and there is NO OTHER CHOICE but balut.

Be brave and go get your fertilized duck egg today!! ;-)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Elephant Blanket ERROR

Do you know what sucks? Finding a typo on a cake you've already delivered. What sucks worse? Trying to fix it in the picture and TOTALLY FAILING!!!! UGH!!!

Can you spot the error below? Before you all jump on my ass, keep in mind, I tried to fix it with Microsoft Paint, I was using a mouse- not a stylus, and I have shaky hands anyway.....

OH, Katherine.....FAIL!!!!

This is terrible! I can't put these up on my website looking like this, can I? How tacky would that be???

Anyway, take a look at the better shots of my cake!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Close Call

Oh, man. I took off yesterday so I could catch up with my baking and get my cakes done for the baby shower order this evening. I didn't decorate because I fell asleep and I sort of felt as though I was coming down with something- a HUGE no-no with this damn wedding coming up.

I was re-reading the email, wondering how I was going to price this cake, taking a look at the reference pictures they sent me. I thought I had to sculpt a sleeping baby elephant and cover it with this blanket. They sent me a picture of a baby blue and brown polka-dot blanket and a picture of a cartoonish elephant on another brown blanket.

I read the email again, and realized they wanted a cake covered in the pattern of the blanket with a picture of the cute baby elephant, not a sleeping baby elephant covered with this blanket....although I do think my idea is MUCH better than theirs. However, I  can't charge them for the extra work I would have put into the sculpted baby elephant if that's not what they wanted to begin with.

In other words, had I gone and done what I thought they wanted, I would be out a good $30 - $50...more free cake I'm giving away. Well, I'm going to give them what they want, with a few changes I'm making on my own. They said it was my call what changes needed to be made, but with time limits and not knowing whether or not they would pay the extra charges, it's better safe than sorry right now. Also, I am running low on fondant and this isn't the time to go experimenting.

My ride is secure. My cakes are baked. My ricotta is draining for the cannoli filling. The only place I can fail now is in execution. Fingers crossed!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Time Is Money

And I have so very little of either!!!!

I shut down my Less Jiggle blog today. I realized that my lack of proper time to work out and my overall lack of enthusiasm has lead to very poor results. Bad eating habits, poor exercise routine and an overall bad attitude pretty much sums up the reasons for failure. I can't blame anyone but myself for it. Whatever. I'm going to be in a wedding where I will be doing a reading at the mass and a speech at the reception, and I will just have a little more chunk on me than I'm comfortable with. Given the other people there, I'm sure I'll look just fine. ;-)

I hate to be such a complainer (because I'm so good at it), but I just got hit with two cake orders the night before my flight. It's family events again, and I feel like these mother fucks really don't show me any respect. They don't bother to ask me whether or not I'm free to do the cake. They only assume I'm going to do it because, hey, why the fuck wouldn't I do it? right?

I'm leaving early Friday morning, and I need to do a huge 18th Birthday cake that won't be served till Sunday! How the fuck am I going to keep that cake fresh and nicely decorated??? Besides that cake, my family is throwing my uncle a surprise birthday / forced retirement party that same weekend, which means I need to do another cake that same night before I leave. I'm not happy about this at all, but it doesn't seem like I'm going to be able to get out of this.

This past weekend was spent at Comic Con and at Chix 6. I should be back at work at the day job, but I have a baby shower cake I wanted to work on, and I was up all night baking for my mom's bake sale. My candy apples were pretty damn awesome, even if I do say so myself!! And the mocha java cupcakes were amazing. Unfortunately, it left me no time to bake my cakes for my baby shower cake, and I was pooped.

Not only am I pooped from the all-nighter, but I'm pooped from the entire weekend, which started Thursday night!!

Sometimes I think I'm too old for this...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

There Can Be Only ONE

I know I've hinted as possible new opportunities coming up for me, but now they're laying at my feet and I'm at a loss when it comes to what I should do.

I have business in Chicago that could prove to be fruitful. I would have a place to live, people to look out for me, and a chance for a brand new start.

On the other hand, I'm not sure I want to incorporate these people in the guts of my business. I also worry that my trust and ignorance may set me up for trouble again. I worry I'm going to get taken advantage of and all my hard work will be snatched out from under me.

I also have something a little closer to home in the works. Originally, I was only going to come on as a head pastry chef and consultant to a dessert business that my two cousins came up with for the Washington DC / Virginia / Maryland area. However, their little idea has grown into something more material and concrete. My role went from head pastry chef to partner within a matter of minutes, and it looks like something that may do really well.

The Chicago job will get me out of NY and away from everyone here. It's not that I want to run away from all my family and friends, but part of me is just aching for something new. However, the people that I do know in Chicago are not people that I can really take in large doses. In fact, seeing them more than once a year is really too much for me. I don't know how I would deal with them day to day. I also worry that I will be left holding the bag if the business fails or I'll be left high and dry if it succeeds. I'll always be a little suspicious of someone I don't know all the way. Trust is so hard to come by these days, and even harder to give out.

The DC job will probably get me out of state, but I have the option of staying at home if I wanted to and traveling as needed. Realistically, I should be there on a daily basis if I'm really going to do this right. I guess the only real problem I have is my two cousins. They have both been in trouble for legal reasons, and I know my one cousin has the green to bankroll this plan, but neither one has a formal education past high school or real world experience running a business. I also worry that the little baking front will only be used to cover up a more underground enterprise. I don't want my name associated with a felony!

I've been whining for a long time that I wanted to get out on my own, and now I have several opportunities to do it. I am terrified. I am still swimming in 7 grand of debt, not to mention the 3 g's I ended up stuck with because of the fucking middle child my parent's had.

Things at the day job are busier and my role has been elevated significantly since last year. I'm an important part of the process once again, but despite the steady paycheck and the health benefits, I know this isn't a process I want to stay a part of. I hate coming to work everyday. I perform my tasks through gritted teeth and forced politeness. Whenever I leave at whatever ungodly hour I end up working till, my head is pounding and when I get home, I last thing I want to do is bake or create anything.

What the fuck kind of food artist am I if I don't have the desire to do what I love???

It's this fucking job, but I NEED this fucking job!!! I don't know what I would do if I didn't have a paycheck coming the next week or the two weeks after that. I'm lost.  But, I know my window of opportunity won't stay open for long and I have do make some drastic changes fast.

So, what's holding me back? I'm fucking terrified! I'm scared of not being able to pay my bills. I'm scared of not being stable. I'm just fucking scared, and I hate it. I don't have a partner to back me up if my business flops. It's just me. I'm terrified of ending up like that baker in "Bridesmaids". Her bakery goes under, her boyfriend leaves her, she's forced to room with assholes, and ultimately ends up back at her mom's house after she loses yet another job.

Christ....gotta go. My headache has been upgraded to Alleve level. =(

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pay Me

You all know how much I love to help and how happy it makes me to donate or do charity work through my baked goods. However, there are times when the work and the donation I make is actually more taxing than it would be if I just cut a check.

I did a last minute cake order the night before I left for Chicago last month. I didn't get to sleep and I nearly missed my flight because I was too busy working on this last minute cake. I came back, thinking this person had my money ready to go, but here we are in October and I have yet to be paid for this cake. It irks me. I can't tell you how MUCH it irks me because I actually ended up spending some last minute cash on ingredients for this damn cake.

The same week, I left work early, bought a ton of butter and other ingredients to crank out 150 cupcakes all in one shot. I negotiated a price of $1 per cupcake so that they can earn money reselling it and some of my costs would be covered. Once again, I'm sitting here two weeks after the event still not having been paid.

I know these people will pay me if I get very aggressive about it, but I can't tell you how unnerving it is to shake someone down for money they know they should have given me a long time ago. All in all, we're looking at about $200 here, and that's not a whole load of cash in the grand scheme of things, but it's a cell phone bill or a couple of credit card payments I can knock off my list of things sucking me dry.

It's times like these when I really hate working with friends or family. They are always the LAST people to pay me, and I almost always get screwed out of some type of monetary compensation.

Last year, I dropped a couple of hundred dollars on a huge Thanksgiving order I was banking on. A few days before the order, the person had a sudden death in his immediate family and had no choice but to cancel. Those are circumstances that can't be helped or complained about. Shit happens, and that last thing you would ever want to deal with is a sudden death. However, I was still out all the money I spent and had to hustle, cutting my prices, negotiating deals, and allowing credit accounts in order to make up the money I was potentially going to lose by overbuying due to this cancelled order.

In the end, I made out good. All the extra work my mom, my friends, and my family put in to help me pimp out my Thanksgiving Pies really pushed me over the top and I had one of my best seasons to date!! Let me also add that none of my close friends even bothered to try and order a pie from me, but fuck them. I made out well with my regular customers, as well as my new bunch.

This year, I want to cook Thanksgiving dinner. I haven't been able to do it in years because I've had my pie rush in the days leading to the big T-Day. Not hustling would mean little to no holiday shopping money. Thankfully, this year, I'm relieved of the burden of buying for boyfriends, fuck-buddies, families of said boyfriends or fuck buddies, and a whole slew of other people. Not that I didn't enjoy doing all that at the time, but I'm not a person who shows any restraint when it comes to presents and I was deep over my head the last couple of years. Another lesson learned.

Many artists I know often just make something when gift-giving time comes around. Yes, it's super-personal and such, but I've been the recipient of stock-pile art as gifts and that sort of takes the cherished moment out of it, if you know what I mean; especially when they forgot they gave it to you and mention that it was something they had laying around collecting dust in a closet for a couple of years. =[

Last year, I gave a couple of pies to a co-worker for her kids. She was going through a divorce and was asking me for some money-saving recipes so that the holiday season wouldn't seem so skimpy compared to years past. As a thank you, her daughters made me little friendship bracelets. They didn't cost much and are clearly the artwork of tiny creative hands, but I think the gesture was so moving. Kids these days are never taught to say thank you for anything. Even if I got nothing back, I know my co-worker was grateful for the pies, and she has been my biggest supporter at work since then. A little kindness goes a long way.

My closest  friends will get cookies or pies and a bottle of my "Cold Cocoa Sipper" which is a Bailey's-like chocolate/caramel creamy liquor that I discovered a recipe for last year. I tweaked it several times over, and I now feel like it's worthy of gifting to my best buds! I had a shot of a homemade Bailey's drink a few years ago, and it was really good. It prompted me to look up some recipes last year, and this is my favorite. Like I said, I tweaked it a little to make it a little more "Holiday", but I absolutely love it, and I think my friend's will, too!

I have a lot of things I want to do this year. I want to cut out a lot of the commercialism as possible with the store-bought crap that everyone is after, and I want to hand out things that I make with my own two hands. I think it says a lot when someone takes the time to make you something from their heart. That's not the kind of thing anyone can buy from just anywhere.

Yes, I make my spending money from my baked goods. I'm good at it. I'm not going to feel badly about that. But, I do a lot of good with my baking, too. And I'm not going to forget that, either.

With that being said, these fuckers really need to pay me my money!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

New Toy

This post is being brought to you by my brand, new laptop; Cherry Coke! She's a Gateway 15.6"LCD Core i3, 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD Laptop w/Wi-Di. To be honest with you, I couldn't tell you what most of that means. It does what I need it to do and I only got it for $500!

I didn't know whether or not to keep it when it arrived. I kept it boxed up for two weeks. I was considering returning it. It's a big expense. But, I really need my own equipment. It's not state of the art or high-end gadgetry, but it does what I need it to do and I can always upgrade to a better machine after a year or two. $500 isn't bad for something I will use for a couple of years.

Yes, it's red. Hence her new name; Cherry Coke. I'm happy with it. I'm still stressing over the 5 c-notes, but I know it's worth it in the end.

Just to make me feel like a total ass, my brother just bought himself the 17" 2.2 GHz Mac Book Pro for $2,500 CASH. That boy is gangsta. He said since he was buying such an expensive piece of technology anyway, he may as well invest in the best. After I picked my mouth up off the floor, he said my laptop was very "pretty", and when I was ready for a new one, let him know and he would take care of it for me. =/ Then, he ordered us lunch...his treat.

I worried that he just cleaned out his savings account, but he was more than happy to pull up his bank account on his new baller laptop to show me he has another 4g's in the bank. I asked him where he got all that money, worried that he was doing "bad" things. He laughed and said he works too hard to blow all his cash on "socializing". He's also been able to save a ton of money since he moved back home, as well as pick up several side jobs (DJ gigs and some handy man stuff in his building).

I can learn a lot from my little brother.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Back to my Roots

I'm exhausted. Since I landed back in NY, I've been inundated with orders. Thank you to my out-of-state charity orders. Your baked goods were shipped out today and should arrive by tomorrow or the day after. They are sealed tightly in tupperware containers as well as cling wrap. I guarantee they will remain fresh.

I also managed to pump out 100 assorted cupcakes for my friend's hospital bake sale. It was very last minute and she phoned me while I was in Chicago to ask if I would do it. I should have said no, but I just decided not to sleep for a couple of nights in order to get it out.

On top of that 100 cupcake order, my mom took a last minute custom cupcake order for today, which I also baked and frosted before the sun came up. It brought in $50!!! I know a few hundred dollars won't fix all of Frank's house problems, but it's another month's rent paid and some pocket money to cover the things they lost due to the damage. And thank you to all who pitched in to help. It really means a lot to me. =)

The root of the matter is that I'm not exactly satisfied baking and making pretty cakes for money. I did that this year, and the more orders I took for the money, the more messed up the final products turned out because of the mounted pressure. Money doesn't motivate me. I like doing these things to make people happy. When I make a beautiful cake, my customers are happy. If I am pressured to perform, I don't do well and no one is happy.

I don't know exactly where the future of Queenie Cakes lies. I have many options set out in front of me right now in places all over the country. Although it's not as far as I would like to have gone, it's still out of NY, and let's face it. When trying to ditch the past, no place will ever be far enough. We take the past with us.

I have a lot to think about over the next 6 weeks. I have to be brave and do the things I've never done in order to get the results I've yet to get.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Please Help If You Can

My mother's co-worker Frank lost his house during Hurricane Irene. We all laughed about the minimal damage and how NY over-prepared for it, but there were some parts of the Eastern coast that really got hammered. Living slightly north of NYC, his little house was flooded and declared unlivable until it is repaired. He was offered space at a shelter for himself, his wife and their autistic daughter, but because of the major disruption to their normal routine, their daughter is having a terrible time adjusting and is up all night shouting and screaming at the shelter. They had to move into an affordable motel until their house is repaired. While paying for their motel, waiting for insurance to help them, their mortgage is still due each month, as well as medical expenses for their daughter, and basic repair costs to their house. Frank is the only one working, as his wife is home taking care of their daughter on a full-time basis because of her condition.

It really broke my heart to hear what they are going through. I can't imagine a nicer man being hit with terrible luck. They are doing a bake sale at their workplace this coming Thursday, where I have donated about 100 cupcakes for their cause.

I wanted to do more.

I'm imploring anyone reading this to please help, if they can. I understand that no one is really rolling in the green right now with the way our economy is running. Hell, even the ingredients I'm using to bake has increased by at lease 30% over the last year. But, I have money in the bank to pay my bills. I am healthy. My family is fairly healthy and I don't have the responsibility of a sick child. Not everyone is so lucky.

On behalf of myself and Queenie Cakes, I'm offering up baked good for this man's cause. If you buy a box of Carrot Cake cookies or cupcakes or brownies or rainbow cookies....anything I can make- I will donate 100% of the proceeds to this cause.

Because of the nature of his hardship, I don't want to put his name out there to protect his child's identity. Please know, I would never fleece my friends or customers over a few dollars. Anything you buy with this cause in mind will go to this man and his family. I'd be more than willing to give more info out, off this blog in private for anyone who has any questions.

So, 16 carrot cake cookies, brownies, rainbow cookies or 12 cupcakes will be selling for $30, and if you are not local in NYC, I will ship to you. (Not the cupcakes, though. They won't survive the trip.) I also make mini pies, which have not been released on my business blog yet. They are being sold HERE for the first time at  $3.00 a piece. They are bite-sized. Maybe 3-bites total a piece. Try them out before I introduce them for the Thanksgiving season.

Yes, these prices are much higher than what I normally charge but this is all going to a good cause, so I hope you all can go a little deeper into your pockets.

I pride myself in knowing the kindest, most-thoughtful, caring people. I know you all would help me if I needed it. Please place some of that care towards this family. If you have ever had an autistic relative, you can imagine how difficult it is to try and do normal day in and day out. Imagine how much more difficult it is for this family with a severely autistic child, given this terrible circumstance. How many times have we sent $5 overseas or to some text number to "help" strangers we don't know, but  feel compelled to do something for? Well, here is someone I do know, and it hurts to see what they are going through.

Queenie Cakes participates an average of 5 times a year in various charitable events, and I'm happy to help. This is the first time I've had to try and raise money for people I have had the pleasure of knowing. It really does make a difference when you know the actual people who are suffering right now.

Thank you in advance for all your kindness. I know you all will try and do your best to help! And I love each and every one of you for it!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bad Bakers

Goldilocks is one of the biggest bakery chains in the Philippines. I've grown up knowing that something coming out of a Goldilocks box was guaranteed to be good. The first time I ever touched down in California, the first place my friends took me to was Goldilocks. What my family has instilled in me was that if you want a REAL Ensaymada, the place to go was Goldilocks. Period.

Ensaymada: In the Philippines, a Spanish colony for over 300 years; the Majorcan ensaïmada (commonly spelled ensaymada in Tagalog and Cebuano ) has evolved over the centuries and is perhaps one the most common delicacies in that country, the ensaymada is a brioche made with butter instead of lard, and topped with grated cheese (usually aged Edam, known locally as "queso de bola") and sugar. Upscale versions of ensaymada are also topped with butter cream. It is extremely popular throughout the islands, especially during the Christmas season, when it is often, although not always, eaten with hot chocolate. (Thank you, Wikipedia!)
So, that's the background info I have on Goldilocks and why my family has always loved it. Whenever I traveled back and forth from LA to NY, I'd always make sure to stop at Goldilocks before heading to the airport to bring home 3 dozen ensaymadas for my family. In fact, I think that's the only reason they liked it when I came home for visits.

Imagine my dismay when I was scrolling through my feed to see a smallish wedding with a Goldilocks cake. It was a generic looking cake, which probably didn't set the couple back much. I'm assuming it was probably a hundred dollars, at most, if that. Well, look at the pics:

God, where do I start? First of all, it looks like a cake that was sitting in a case, picked out from behind the glass, and boxed up and sent home without much fuss. I'll give it to them for getting it to their destination with no damage. Hell, I'm still working on that feet!

If you look at the first pic with the plastic topper, there's a Goldilocks logo steak stuck right there on top of the cake. WTF is up with that?!?! This is a wedding cake, for Christ's sake!! Advertising on top of a wedding cake? Really?!?!?!

If that isn't bad enough, their cake board is plastered with their logo, too!!! I understand if you want to do this with smaller cakes actually sitting in a case for a walk-in customer, but why in God's name would a business do that on someone's wedding cake? I think it's tacky, unprofessional and pretty low-class.

I'm often told that I am welcome to throw my business cards on a cake table or dessert display at an event I'm making the cake for. The hosts are always keen to ask for cards and encourage me to leave my marketing materials in full view for future business. I've left cards with my host, but NEVER EVER on a table. I've also been sure to make it clear I don't want my cards on the table. How terrible to ruin a beautiful set up with cheap, tacky advertising!! I don't throw my label on small take home favors, either, be it cookies, chocolates or anything of the sort.

If someone wants me, they will find me.

I know Goldilocks is HUGE now in the Phlippines and in certain parts of the US. The Filipino community flocks to them for their cultural baked goods, hoping to be transported back to memories of special holidays back in the homeland. Besides a tacky-looking cake, their tacky-looking ads are just another reason why I'm happy to still have personal interest in my small business, and thankful that I have not ballooned to the size of this corporation yet, throwing a logo on anything it will stick on.

I'm all for self-promotion. I'm also VERY thankful for the people who have helped me get to the step I'm standing on today. That's why you'll only find ONE logo on my website, besides my own, and that's saying A LOT about how grateful I am for the help I got from that graphic artist.  It was also done in good taste and not obnoxiously throw up in people's faces like a low-budget meet and greet set up for networking. And, when people ask me who designed my logo and business card graphics,'s easy for me to point them in the right direction, followed by, "If you can't remember the name, just go to my website and click on his logo. He does great work."

I can do that because I don't have a million and one logos junking up my website. I like seeing my labels on my boxes. I really do. They are designed well. The colors are exactly what I wanted. I feel like the artist reached into my head and managed to make me something that represented me and my work perfectly.  I couldn't be happier with how everything turned out, and I will resoundingly be grateful for the favor that was done for me. When I see my logo displayed on my cards, my website, and my product I'm proud of how far I've come and how much more professional everything looks now with a little help from a friend, who happened to be a fantastic artist.

I won't disrespect my business, my products, or my name by throwing it on anything and everything. I feel that your reputation should carry you before your logo does. I've built a reputation over the years...slowly. The logo just added the much-needed cherry on top.

What Goldilocks has done is very common with a money-hungry company. They are not some huge conglomerate like McDonald's with cold, calculated marketing maneuvers. I feel like this huge, highly successful bake shop has jumped the shark and put people in charge that still operate on the  "in your face" way of getting business. Take every dollar that comes through the door, say yes to any cake job solicited, and treat the business like a factory pumping out products to turn over into profit. I guess if you like doing things like that, it's fine. I can tell you, their customer service has suffered for it. They are not the friendly lot you would expect walking into a shop called "Goldilocks".

I don't operate that way. And I don't respect it when I see a fellow baker (that's what I will call Goldilocks, because at the heart of their business is still a bake shop) unprofessionally throwing their name into someone's special occasion. I feel like their stupid plastic logo and cheap pre-printed cake boards just photobombed this couple's most important day.

Shame on you, Goldilocks. Bad form.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Happiness Is...

Strawberry Goober!!!! My regular grocery store only carries the grape Goober and I think grape jelly is just gross.

So now I have some yummy strawberry goober to dress up my hearty, fat-free, whole grain crisp bread. yay. =(

Well, gotta be happy with the small strawberry goober!! YAY!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"Back to the Start"

I had put up this video on my other blog purely in shock and awe of Willie Nelson covering one of my favorite Coldplay songs ever..."The Scientist". However, after actually watching the cute little short 2 minute film, I decided it had to go up on the food blog.

Good for you, Chipotle! Your food may lack character, but I think you're headed in the right direction! ;-)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Food Porn: Eggplant Overdrive

When I dropped off my elephant cookies, the customer (my day job boss) happened to have just harvested his eggplant crop, hoping to save them from the impending storm. He generously gave me three of them.

Beauties aren't they? I was very excited to take home my bounty. I thought they were gorgeous. For the first one, I decided on thinly sliced and breaded disks for a cheese-less eggplant Parmesan. I had whole wheat seasoned break crumbs and some diced tomatoes for a fresh sauce. Perfect comfort food to get anyone through a storm, right?

First things first. Slice them. Up. As you can see, that's my Baby on the cutting board; 12" Wüsthof Classic Chef's Knife. She went through culinary school with me. Although not used as much since I got my Santoku, she's still a favorite of mine, no matter what. I love uniform, thin slices. It's fun getting into a good rhythm and going to town. What isn't there to love when it comes to this stuff? It's near perfection sprung out of the ground! I love eggplants. I wish I had the yard space to grow them.

Anyway, you cut them up like this, and then it goes to balsamic, olive oil and garlic bath. Eggplants are like sponges. If you fry them, like I'm going to do, they tend to soak up the oil and it's just hell on the diet. The breading and then the oil is just asking for trouble. By giving it a quick marinade in the balsamic, I'm tossing some flavor into the flesh, and I'm putting something else there so that the oil has less place to seep into. I also just love balsamic vinegar. I'd probably find a way to put it in everything if I could.

Next up is dredging and breading. I skip the flour part, and dunk my salted and peppered slices into a seasoned beaten egg mixture. What did I season it with? Italian seasoning blend; parsley, basil, oregano, and thyme. I also threw in some powdered garlic and onion for an extra little kick. Why not? The more seasoning you put into the levels of your dish, the less seasoning the final eater will every have to put on the meal when it gets to their plate. I get very offended when someone feels the need to salt and pepper their food. It pisses me off even more when they do it before they even taste it. That's just some bullshit, right there.

So, this may be where I went wrong. Perhaps a heavy salt hand in the egg or maybe the seasoned breadcrumbs, where I may have thrown in a few shakes too many. I'm not rally sure where my salt hand went nuts on me. But, inevitably it did. There were so many places this could have happened, but I'm sure it started here.

Look at the color on my sauce!!
So, after they were all breaded and coated and what have you, I took out a brand new pan and dropped in a few splashes of olive oil. VERY little oil. Beauteous, isn't it? =) Traditionally, these babies are deep fried, but I couldn't bring myself to do that. Even with the marinade, it's still too easy for eggplant to sponge up the extra oil.
Veggie pasta!

After all my eggplant frying is done, I saute some garlic in olive oil, throw in a can of diced tomatoes, a can of crushed tomatoes, a handful of herbs and I boil all that down into a lovely sauce. I may have over-salted at this point, as well, but it all tasted good when I first took a nibble.

I don't really know why I stopped taking pictures at this point. I thought I had some nice shots of my layered and sauced masterpiece, but there is nothing of the sort of my camera. Poop. =(

I'll be honest. Although it was very tasty and the eggplant was just perfect, it was MUCH TOO SALTY. Yes, I went nuts with the salt. I have no idea where I overdid it, but it was too salty, and after everyone took a polite piece at dinner, no one took seconds.

Just another classic example that you can never take any step for granted when cooking. I ruined this multi-stepped dish by having a generous hand with the sodium. I'll just have to be more careful in the future.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Elephants on Parade

When I got this order, I was already very excited. First of all, it's not cake, they gave me a solid direction that they wanted to go but left artistic creativity to me. You can't ask for much more than that!

I ordered the pricey copper cutter from . Yes, they cost a pretty penny, but they have an abundant variety of shaped copper cookie cutters, and there are many pictures of finished cookies to give you some good project ideas. I would gladly buy from them again in the future.

With that being said, I had only a couple of colors to work with for this job; grey, yellow, and white. After doing several sample cookies and witnessing the colors darken as the royal icing dried, I opted to go with classic grey and white. I did the whole colored sanding sugar on the ear to give it a pop, but it looked amateur and sloppy rather than finished and clean.

My first batch was ruined. Burnt cookies from a moody oven. Soggy cookies from a humid Dungeon. Hurricane Irene humidity fucking up the drying time of my royal icing....It was all seriously fucking up my very enjoyable order!!!

Well, after buying myself some time from the client, I took a break for a run and went back down to finish my elephants. I think they came out precious. I think the borders still look a little sloppy and obvious, but overall, I'm very happy with how they came out and my customers actually paid me DOUBLE what I charged her. She said I earned it. Damn....Imagine? Why can't all my customers be like that?

I had some leftover cookies that I wanted to decorate all funky-like. I really wanted to make pink elephants in homage to my favorite song from Disney's DUMBO movie. However, the humidity from the impending hurricane made the cookies too soft to decorate. They crumbled and got all limp in my hand. =( Story of my life!

Anyway, enjoy the pics!