Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars, originally uploaded by sockmonkeyrevolt.

Is it possible to go wrong with cheesecake? I think not, though I do make an effort not to jus make cheesecake every week, though I think I totally could and be happy. My love of cheesecake borders that of the driver in the absurdly awesome King Missile song ‘Cheesecake Truck”

Sometimes the hardest thing about the Guinea Pig Monday initiative is deciding what I want to make. Sometimes I’m not even really in the mood to whip something up. I don’t really feel the pressure to make something just because it’s become tradition, I mean I went the better part of a year in between the first Guinea Pig run and the current one, but I have found that forcing myself to get into the kitchen on days I might rather do absolutely nothing is kind of beneficial. As a person with a horrible track record of dropping the ball when it comes to follow through on things, I’m quite guilty of the ‘ooh shiny’ distraction of the next big project. This week all I knew I wanted was a lemon and blueberry combination. I was prepared to have to improvise, but it turns out there’s a ton of items to choose from, so I ended up following a recipe to the letter. The idea of making little cheesecake bars so it wasn’t quite so rich and heavy as an everyday cheesecake. I must say I was a little worried about how the taste would come out when I tried the batter before baking, but in the end, they are really good and would make a nice potluck dessert.

You can find the recipe on Food Network’s site

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Nature is out to get me

lolbat, originally uploaded by Stevie-B.

Today I wish there was an emergency exit slide to inflate and slide down. Mainly it’s because I slept like crap and am tired.

I slept like crap and am tired, because some psycho bat got into our room somehow and proceeded to run over my pillow only seconds after my face vacated it because I realised that something was alive under my bed and scratching at the underside of the pillow.

I’ve never been so glad to be a light sleeper. I didn’t know bats couldn’t take off from a flat surface until I found this photo uploaded by Stevie-B on flickr while looking for a suitably terrifying bat photo. This info makes it seem less likely that the bat was rabid, so I feel less paranoid even though my doctor already said not to worry about it if I wasn’t bitten.

I am making Floof check the attic tonight, at the rate I’m going I’d get bum rushed by a pack of bats and fall down the stairs. I’ve already been attacked by a cicada flying into my hair this morning.

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[Tuesday’s] 10: Lunch

I was feeling back to school, but not quite ready to do the typical back to school themes, so 10 incredibly awesome lunchbox related things it is.

1. This Enameled stacked lunch box from VivaTerra
stacked enamel lunch boxes

2. An adorable cat to watch over your lunch bag in the office fridge from WeOpenSecret

Lunch tag

3. Ninja Apple Cosy at natalya1905

photo of apple cosy in action

4. Retro Thermos Pair at GallivantingGirls. How do you pluralise Thermos anyway? Thermoses? That looks weird, like it should be a hertofore unknown Egyptian Pharoah of the old kingdom. King Thermoses the 2nd ruled over an era of peace, prosperity and Tomato Bisque.

photo of 2 cool plain thermoses

5. Why just cut the crusts off when you can do so much more? Dog and house bento food cutter from kawaiigoodies

photo of dog and house shaped sandwich cutter

6. I get too creeped out about the idea of the reusable fabric sandwich bags, but for snacks I can get behind this cute stegosaurus bag from HarrietsHaven.

stegosaurus fabric snack bag

7. cool vintage metal lunch box at vintagecottagegarden

vintage train design metal lunch box

8. Maybe you’re a little more pop-culture nostalgic. I know this Hardy Boys lunchbox (with the thermos even!) over at Anaspaceship would fit the bill.

hardy boys lunch box

9. I love the graphics on this bento set from natsuriku2007

cute bento set

10. I’m probably too lazy to make the super cute bento lunches seen on Adventures in Bento Making like the one below, but that doesn’t stop me from admiring those who do.

photo of a lunch from adventures in bento making site

And just for fun here’s a good link on inspiring yourself to take you lunch to work a little more often from Livehacker

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Guinea Pig Monday: Watergate Cake

The frosting is addictive

I love Watergate Salad. Always have, always will. To be honest I’m not sure how the cake ended up having any frosting on it, I probably could have eaten the whole batch right there in my kitchen. We’ve been going through everything in my grandmother’s house to clean it out to sell. (We moved her into an assisted living apartment last month.) She was the one I obviously inherited my baking obsession from since my mom used the smoke detector as an oven timer and I don’t think I’ve ever seen my dad cook anything besides eggs, so there are lots of I’m-not-even-sure-what-that-is-kitchen-gadgets to discover and cook books to explore (not to mention the desserts recipe card box that is stuffed full.) This weekend I was going through a United Methodist Women’s league community cookbook from the late 70s I now own and I ran across Watergate Cake. I knew I had to give that a go, even though Floof made over-dramatic shocked gasps when I picked up the boxed cake mix it called for in the grocery store.

Yes the ’70s when everything came in a box mix. There are too many nuts in the batter if you ask me. I don’t think I even used as much as it called for and now that I’ve tasted it,  it could have used about half that.  You could probably use half in the cake and then the other half in the frosting, since they work better in the frosting.

Watergate Cake

Adapted from the United Methodist Women community cookbook


1 box white cake mix
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup 7 up
2 boxes pistachio instant pudding mix
4 eggs (well beaten)
1 cup chopped pistachios or pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350º and butter a 10″ bundt pan.

Mix all the cake ingredients together, pour into pan and bake 45-50 minutes. Cool in pan 15 minutes, turn out cool and refrigerate several hours before frosting.

1 box pistachio instant pudding
2 envelopes dream whip
1 cup sour cream
1 cup 2% cold milk.
3-4 oz. crushed pineapple
1/4 cup chopped pistachios or pecans (I’m just guessing here, it wasn’t in the original recipe, but I felt like the frosting needed the texture nuts provide so I just sprinkled in until it felt like the right amount)

whip all ingredients in bowl of mixer with whisk attachment until fluffy. frost cake and refrigerate.

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Wake me up when it’s fall outside

image, originally uploaded by sockmonkeyrevolt.

My boyfriend and I are polar weather opposites, this sweltering, humid hell doesn’t bother him that much, but I don’t know how that’s possible? I don’t mind the winter so much and grey rainy days are my cup of tea, so I’m not doing so great on a week where the “feels-like” temperature is between 105 and 125 every day. It’s my week to cook dinner too and it took entirely too long to figure out my menu of things I’m in the mood for that feel light and airy (I’m the queen of soups, stews and mac and cheese.)

I am glad to be back from New York though. The trip and conference were great until Tuesday night, where things went downhill fast. First I got what I’m sure had to have been minor food poisoning from the salad at the hotel. It was the only thing I’d eaten and I was 90% better after I finished being violently ill for a couple of hours. This was not a fun way to end the conference.

It was also not fun to get to the airport for the return flight, only to discover that the administrative assistant who booked our flights booked the return tickets for the wrong day and we were thus stranded at LaGuardia. More fun involved sitting around the Atlanta airport for over 4 hours and stomach churning turbulence, but I suppose that’s all part of the excitement of travel, and makes you appreciate being home even more.

I’m a day behind still, however, so Guinea Pig activities will not commence until tonight, but I can tell you that I’m planning on playing with a recipe I found in a 70s community cookbook I recently got, for Watergate Cake. I love Watergate Salad, so I’m expecting awesomeness out of the cake. It also sounds like the kind of cake that’s just right for a broiling August day.

The photo is from a park in New York, I don’t know if the lens on my phone was smudgy or what but I like how they petals look sort of ghostly. They felt kind of ghostly in the dusk when I walked by too.

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Feeling guilty about sleeping in the city that does not

No GPM this week(and Tuesday’s 10 will probably be more like Thursday’s 10) I’m in New York for SpeechTEK 2010 (the technical conference for my day job that’s both inspiring in how cool Speech technology is and feeling inadequate at my complete inability to network and schmooze and the non-existence of graduate degrees after my name. I’m probably more bothered by my lack of offline social charm because it’s honestly the most detrimental of the two.)

The funny thing is while I love coming back to the east coast, and particularly New York, which is probably the only place I know where I feel un-selfconscious (excepting of course interactions with PhDs with decades of experience and camaraderie) I am terrible at being a tourist. I get most excited about going to the hole in the wall restaurants I used to eat at all the time, or a store I used to go to, but I’m just as likely to sit around the hotel watching cable, and just going out for food. I’m like this everywhere really. If it’s somewhere new, I’ll meticulously research the hidden treasure locations that only locals go to. I’m not interested in being a tourist, I’m interested in becoming a temporary local and since I can be a bit boring and stay-in at home, I do it when I’m abroad too, but I feel guilty. Right now I feel that instead of typing this, I should be out burning down the town until 3am and worrying about the morning payback. I am probably going down to the Village for a slice of my favourite pizza on the planet (which is at Viva Herbal on 2nd ave between 10th and 11th incidentally) in not too long, but odds are I’ll be back before primetime is over.

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An aside on genre-hate in creative writing programs

This started as an aside in my Tuesday’s 10 post, but when I previewed the post it took up an enormous amount of room and I realised that it really ought to be it’s own post as it really had nothing to do with making movies of books, but clearly I was passionate about it to have rabbited on so may words.

I don’t really get the “no genre” rule that Creative Writing programs have enacted to  ostensibly keep the work done artistic instead of commercial. I’ve taken studios at multiple colleges and they all seem to have this policy, and I think it’s counter productive and stupid. Shouldn’t it be no lazy fiction? No half-assed attempts, and not “no dragons and aliens?” The rules didn’t squash me since I’ve never been into sci-fi or fantasy books, which seem to be the number one victim of the genre rule, I suppose it’s hardest to cloak those in the garb of “legitimate non-genre” fiction to get it through the critique, but I fail to see how something like JRR Tolkein or CS Lewis is somehow less complex and critiquable than Melville or Henry Fielding. If serious fiction departments think they cut the tripe by declaring no genre fiction, they are incorrect, what they cut is diversity, which in the end makes for a very boring experience, because everyone is writing the same sort of thing they think the professor will deem serious enough. My favourite studio ever was the one where the professor told us she didn’t give a crap about the department’s genre rule and to write whatever you want as long as it’s worthy of making everyone hear it all semester while we work on it. (This was also my favourite studio because we did work on once piece either the whole semester or until we decided it was as good as it was going to get instead of bringing in something new every time you were up in the rotation, so not only did you get to see everyone’s work evolve, but you got a really good experience at the editing process. I really think less of the program I ended up getting my cw degree from because they did not use this method and in fact banned you from bringing the same work in more than once, except for the final half of senior studio, apparently you’re only supposed to revise if you’re a senior? I guess?) Okay end of rant, sorry, I have a lot of opinions about writing programs apparently. I’m just saying I’d rather read good fantasy stories than bad coming-to-terms-with-sexual-abuse-and-your-first-serious-relationship stories.

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