this chocolate cake is not a lie

The vast appeal of a boxed cake mix, besides not having to measure dry ingredients, is that it’s a one-bowl operation.  Dry mix goes into the bowl; liquids go into the bowl; presto, cake batter.

I can get that down to a bowl, a bag and a drinking glass, with the advantage of reusing the bag – as soon as one cake’s worth of dry mix is emptied, scale in the next cake’s worth, re-seal the bag and smugly reflect on your water conservation skills and environmental conscientiousness.  Or toss the bag, preferably whilst lighting a contraband legal Cuban cigar with a Ben Franklin and laughing maniacally.

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achievement unlocked: hipster

My hipsterCard arrived in the mail today, along with a MyStudio MS20 tabletop light kit.  I had to read the instructions multiple times to figure out what the fuck was going on (ironically, the instructional photos were so crappy, they failed to illuminate the sometimes vague text), but once it was built, it made sense.  The price tag ($180) should be worth the frequency of use, especially since it obviates the need to buy a big-girl camera.

Both shots taken by an iPhone 5S at 5:45pm yesterday, unlit shot on the left.  I was in love at first shot, but it is a sensible, logical love.  The light kit will not be a gateway drug to selfie sticks, a Go Pro, a Canon Rebel XT or any hint of devotion to anything except the pursuit of tasty food.  Including cake made with bread flour, which shall be attempted later this morning.



a random act of kindness

I was at Vons the other day, contrary to my better instincts, because Amazon Fresh still doesn’t deliver alcohol. Vodka in hand, along with three other items, I went to the checkout lanes and saw that the express lane was closed.  Fine, no big deal, I wasn’t in a rush. I stepped into a line behind two women, one of whom had a lot of groceries and the other of whom had two or three items.

Three Item Lady and I exchanged a comment about how the express lane was closed, not that it was anything against the woman in front of us with a lot of groceries. It wasn’t her fault that Vons can’t keep it’s fucking express lane open. By that time, a gentleman had queued up behind us, with a couple of items in hand.

The lady in the front of the line, who hadn’t begun being checked out, turned around to see three people behind her who had (in total) about a 10th of the groceries that she herself had, and performed one of those little random acts of kindness that make even the worst days much, much better.

She let all three of us go ahead of her – and allowed one more to go as well, who had just stepped into line behind us with just a couple of items.  She commented about how she had no particular place to be at the moment, and she too, would get frustrated when the express lane was closed and she only had a few items but still had to wait in a long line.

We all thanked her profusely for kindness, and vowed to pay it forward.

Hopefully, I can find a chance to do so, before it becomes a fucking holiday cliched moment.  Hope springs eternal.

dirty rice (my daddy would not approve)



I’ve been noodling over The Food Stamp Challenge, again.  Nope, still not taking it; looking at it from a home ec perspective, though.  For a family of three in Los Angeles County, the maximum monthly SNAP benefit is $511/month.  The Hillbilly Housewife has two meal plans that could take the challenge – one devoid of meat (but with eggs) and the other with a bit more variety.

The last time the author updated the meal plans was in 2009, but the core items in the lowest-cost plan can be purchased from Amazon Fresh, in most of the quantities indicated, and come in at the $511 price point for the month.  (My basket for the week was $96.81 – $20 to spend for the last two days would be pretty slim pickings).  So, in theory, one could buy through Amazon Fresh on a food stamp budget without starving.   But I think I could do better, for my specific situation, with that monthly allotment.

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home ec for the spoiled brat

Giving a bare nod to The Food Stamp Challenge whilst waxing profane about Megachain shopping got me thinking.  Not so much about taking that challenge – again, BTDT, couldn’t afford the t-shirt.  But the relativity of Home Economics – it’s a value proposition.

You have a general idea of what you want to eat; what you want to spend over the course of a week (or month); a tipping point between the cost and quality of items; and the lengths to which you will go in pursuit of obtaining those items.  From that point, home economics is about maximizing value, so as to best balance the use of finite resources (time, money).

I use grocery delivery because I want to save time for other things more than I want to save money.  That choice isn’t available to a large part of the population of the United States, and certainly not available to 97% plus of the inhabitants on earth.  I recognize that, so when I talk about some facets of home economics, mentally appending “for the spoiled brat” is absolutely appropriate.

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the best fucking meatloaf, ever (imo)





I love Deb Perelman.  She is a goddess in the kitchen, who is not afraid to publish her failures as well as her successes.  Her book contains a recipe for meatballs which was meant to be the Anti-Meatloaf. . .but makes the best fucking meatloaf I have ever tasted.  If you buy her book (please do!) and follow the recipe, outstanding.  If you want a simplified version of it, read on.

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