Thursday, February 25, 2010

Too Unique for Algorithms

This past Sunday during a slump of mid winter blahs I had the sudden urge to tempt the mighty waters of internet dating (again). I’ve been on hiatus for the past 3 months, just enough time to refocus and reignite my passion for the inane, so I logged onto EHarmony (I could not summon enough energy to rent my sole to and in seconds I was checking the “Matching ON” box and submitting my new debit card information. Now all I had to do was sit back and let the robot love monkeys of the world wide web locate 5 suitable matches that connected to my 29 character points outlined in my lengthy personality quiz.

In the past Eharmony hasn’t really been on target, nor have they matched me with members who were paid active subscribers, but I was matched nevertheless. This time though, I got nothing! Out of the tens of thousands of members they could not locate ONE man to fit my niche. This is totally bizzaro because they are using the same personal info from just 3 months ago (when I was receiving matches) the only difference is that in the past 90 days I turned 39. Really EHarmony, are you gonna get all ageist on me?

With my ego gently bruised I took to Google and queried “EHarmony no matches” searching for the answer to my apparent anti-datable dilemma. Not surprisingly many people have the same issue or worse, they get denied service from EHarmony because they are so severely unmatchable- yikes. The majority of web blabber focused on the possibility that EHarmony does not look kindly on perspective matches who are TOO open to dating diversity. Tell me more… well the theory goes like this, EH is all about marriage (not dating) so if you rate things such as number of children, marital status,race,religion as ‘not important’ you are more likely to fall to the bottom of the list. Seems a bit counter intuitive to me. I thought by broadening my circle of acceptable matches I would have a greater chance of finding somebody – but that is NOT what EH wants from you. They want you to say I am White, and I only want to date white people and this is VERY important to me. Ughhh, how tiresome.

So I returned to my “preferences” page (you can never update your personality quiz but you can edit your matching preferences) and instead of choosing ALL under religion I chose just 4 basic Judeo–Christian options then clicked Very Important. However I was a bit confused because I was unsure if it meant that it was Very Important to me that I was Jewish, or if it meant that may match’s religion should be Very Important to them, or if it was Very Important to me that my match be one of the religions I chose. After over analyzing that whole mishegas I opened my search area to 60 miles (from 20) – I hope the guy owns a vehicle – and waited.

Now I am mid way through day 4 and still EHarmony has yet to find one man who can match my ‘kick ass-ness’. Whatever EHarmony, you obviously have a dearth of exceptionaly marginal lame gents who could never intrigue me anyways. Suck it!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hot Stuff

I’ve become a bit obsessed with my latest hobby, cupcake baking. This is not a bad thing considering I am hardly a cook and much less a baker. Baking two batches of cupcakes a week has inspired me to THINK about cooking other things and with the extra bonus of my freshly re-painted kitchen and shiny new fridge I find myself really enjoying spending time in a room that previously only hosted me during my 4 ½ minute morning coffee and bagel prep. However along with all this buttery sweet goodness I have unfortunately discovered one small impediment to my complete and utter domestic bliss, lady aprons have not been designed to properly cover my bodacious assets. Yep my lovely black and white toile apron fits (surprisingly) around my goddess like hips however the hankie sized top ether falls prey to my cleavage or migrates to the left thus exposing my right side to extreme hand mixer splatter.

I am now left with two options, One – buy a manly apron (that is SO not cute), Two – have
Mom fire up the ol’ Singer and construct a custom apron. I choose option #2! Mom is on board with this plan and assures that not only will the top span my ‘region’
but with the addition of two strategically placed pink plump cupcake appliqu├ęs the apron is sure to be a stunner!

Friday, February 19, 2010

I am the Schindler of Bakers

Last night as our U.S. Ladies were shredding it at the half pipe I was baking batch numero dos of Cupcake Month. As you may remember I began the week with a spectacular ½ dozen spiced cupcakes so in keeping with this cold weather flavor pallet I chose to bake pumpkin (or as my upstate farmish friends say, “Pun-Kin”) cupcakes with a rich cream cheese frosting.

I began my sophomore baking attempt with the unfortunate realization that the recipe was intended to produce 24 cupcakes, I however only required 6. Not to worry, I have a 40K loan that proves I posses a mathematics mastery at a minimum sixth grade level, so dividing a recipe by 4 will be cake (insert coy grin at pun). Through the help of both my laptop and my itouch I was able to ascertain the correct ¼ reduction of measurements such as ¾ of a Tbl. (.75/4 = .187 Tbs = 9/16 of a tsp which is really just ½ tsp. + 1/16 tsp.) It took some creative problem solving as well as a good deal of scooching (like how do you divide 2 eggs by 4?) but within the half hour I was the proud mamma of a small bowl of orangey goo. While basking in my triumphant achievement of sifting and combining ¼ of the stated ingredients I was suddenly awash with the sinking feeling that this tiny dollop of cupcake batter may not fill the awaiting 6 paper cups so cheerfully arranged in my muffin pan. YIKES! It was then that I pulled out every size rubber spatula and began to rescue the droplets that lay fallow on my table top and every drip that dangled from my hand beater. As I scraped the sides of the mixing bowl I thought, “How many more errant drops can I collect, how many more cupcakes can I save?” From the corner of my eye I spotted a huge dollop on the edge of the counter and thought, “That’s a cup cake…. and that’s a cupcake, and that’s a cupcake.” Just like Liam Neeson, but instead of saving humanity, I was saving mini cakes (it really is very similar however I do not think I will be entombed at Yad Vashem). In the end my 6 cupcakes proved delicious, if demure, and not unlike my gingerbread cookies that were resurrected by gobs of surgery frosting, a cupcake can be bumped up a few notches by a heaping swirl of cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and sugar.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Winter Olympic Cupcakes

It’s cold, like really cold. The last time I experienced a winter this long I was living in the great white north of Rochester. But at least we do have bright sunny days here in the big city, Rochester was cold, snowy, and dismally gray from October 1st through Mother’s Day. Yet still I am totally over building time into my morning schedule for sufficient “bundling”,changing from boots to shoes and back again, and dry hair and pasty skin, ick. However there are two good things that come with the February winter white out of 2010, the Vancouver Olympics and CUPCAKES

In December I dove head first into the deep dark pool of baking and surfaced victorious with my lovely miniature gingerbread houses. After that foray into the land of milk, eggs, and sugar T-bone and Bookie suggested that we proclaim February, “Cupcake Month”. Fantastic idea however at the time I did not foresee lurking in the distance ‘fridge fright-fest’ which unfortunately put the kibosh on all kitchen stadium antics. Thankfully last Friday with the hope that a new refrigerator would be awaiting my return from Mi7, T-Bone gently reminded me that we were halfway through the month and she had yet to taste a freshly backed morsel of cupcake goodness. True that homes, true that.

Now with a new, yet slightly diminutive refrigerator, installed I dialed up the ol’ Fresh Direct on the interweb, stocked up on all things yummy, and set to work on my first batch of cupcakes. I discovered immediately that baking cupcakes is a hell of a lot easier than gingerbread cookies and as an extra bonus they possess a quicker gratification factor. Yeah for cupcakes! The inaugural batch consisted of Spiced Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Molasses frosting, very seasonal. I thought the molasses was a bit too sugary so on my second tasting I covered the cupcake with whipped cream then gingerly drizzled the molasses topping over the creamy nooks and crannies…perfection! T-bone and Bookie loved the batch (however we all felt that the cupcakes were a bit more on the muffin side of the cupcake continuum) and they were totally into the sweet molasses topping.

Next up, Mens Finals Figure Skating and Pumpkin Cupcakes. GO USA!!!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

License to Chill

Upon returning from my southern sojourn thirteen days ago I was greeted by a very unfriendly smell emanating from my disgruntled refrigerator. My refrigerator and I have not been on good terms since I begrudgingly adopted the sad sack several years back after my original late 1970’s whirlpool gave its last gasp. This newer vintage unit arrived with only one wire rack (4 inches too short), two cracked veggie bins, one missing door shelf, and a blue appliance light bulb that gave my sparse collection of groceries a rather ghoulish hue.

It always ran too cold, freezing my gallon water jug and turning my yogurt into a tasty thick custard dessert – but what could I do? I live in a rent stabilized building, paying a fraction of what my cohorts shell out monthly. Some people pay major clams to get a sub zero refrigeration system, I got mine for free.

Old Blue and I cohabitated for several years until this past Fall when I noticed a small puddle of water collecting around the base of the unit. This was only a sign of bad things to come. Quickly the exterior hydration issue became an interior hydration issue prompting me to place aluminum baking pans on the one wire rack to contain the drippage. I informed the super of this sloppy mess while he was ineptly affixing my precariously shifting living room window back into its frame– not surprisingly he shrugged and said ‘OK’.

Fast forward a few months later, I’m stuck with a 52 degree fridge with a freezer that just about hovers at the 32 degree mark – great for ice, bad for frozen food. Since my unfortunate discovery 2 weeks ago I’ve called my management company daily and have been visited by my super several times (I don’t think he has been up to the 4th floor since my window expulsion of ’09). At first he told me it was fixed, funny because the thermometer still read 52 degrees, he then recanted and said he would get me a new fridge (Yeah!), but when it arrived it was an OLD fridge (Booo). When I called the next day to inform him that the ‘new to me’ fridge was still at 50 degrees he said I was impatient, it needed at least 48 hours to get to the proper temperature – hmmm that sounded odd, but OK. After 48 hours it was freezing ice BUT the fridge was still holding at 50. Now the super got real crafty, he entered my apartment about 20 minutes before I returned home moved my frozen leftovers from the freezer into the fridge then propped the thermometer next to the frozen food and viola, fixed fridge. Yeah that fooled me for about 2 hours until the frozen food thawed…..ughhhhhh. Next step, replace some parts and leave the proof behind – thanks super for the empty cartons! Now the thing was really humming, ice was icing, fridge was fridging and I was itching to place my Fresh Direct order – since for the past 10 days I had been living off of single serving cans of tuna (no mayo), toast and tap water. Not sure if I was just too lazy to press the ‘place order’ button or I had lost all faith in a 40 year old refrigeration system but I paused and thought – maybe give it one more day.

Freekin’ bastard proved me correct; the next day not only was the fridge up to the mid 70’s but no more ice! I thought about propping open the refrigerator door, setting up my beach chair and humidifier in the kitchen and pretending that I was on an island oasis but instead I set off to find a cooler place to store the only remaining item in my refrigerator, the butter. Thankfully my building was constructed in 1929, dutifully appointed with all the charming accoutrements that befell the pre war era such as outdoor ‘milk boxes”. Yep I finally have a practical use for that cold dairy storage box that hangs off my exterior kitchen wall (see pictures).

I think tomorrow I will heat my iron on the stove and utilize the fold down ironing board that is concealed behind a tiny trap door while I await the arrival of old fridge number THREE!