Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ugly Baby Bread

Today I'm taking a break from the normal psycho to bring you an entirely new flavor of psycho.  Is this an altruistic urge to broaden your horizons?  No, sillies!  It's a blatant attempt to win the lovely Rhoda the Sock Zombie in an awesome contest from fellow blogger Chelle and her hilariously funny Coffee & Zombie Movies blog.  How does one win a sock zombie?  By creating some ugly bread and sharing it with the world, that's how!

My biggest obstacle in this ugly bread mission would be my ability to bake wonderful, beautiful, delicious bread.  Hey, it's not bragging if it's true!  Now, if the contest involved making an ugly cake, I'd be a shoo in!  I have loads of practice with ugly cakes because I lack the patience and finesse to decorate a cake in any sort of attractive way.  Yummy, yes.  Pretty, no.

Which gave me an idea.  All this thought of ugly bread and ugly cake reminded me of one of my all-time favorite blogs:  Cake Wrecks.  If you're not familiar with it, the folks at Cake Wrecks share pictures of professionally decorated cakes gone terribly wrong.  The most disturbing cakes on the site, in my opinion, are the baby shower cakes decorated to look like newborn babies.  Here's an example from Cake Wrecks:

Is it just me, or is that completely disturbing?  Yeah, it's kind of cute, but somebody has to cut that thing up and serve it on pretty little plates!  Who wants a baby shower that involves cutting up and devouring a baby?

This makes me want to go to school to learn how to make and decorate baby cakes.  ONLY baby cakes.  Then, I'm going to start a party planning business but ONLY plan baby showers that feature my specially-made baby cakes.

When my clients show up for their baby shower, they'll be amazed at the decorations.

Yeah, that's very classy decor inspired by the hit Showtime series "Dexter," which happens to be the best TV show in the entire universe.  It's the perfect setting for carving a baby cake.

Not just any baby cake, by my very own baby cake featuring Red Velvet Lava filling.  It's like a chocolate lava cake, but with a red velvet twist.  Here, I'll let that disturbing baby cake from Cake Wrecks give a demonstration:

If you're going to have a creepy cake at your baby shower, you might as well embrace the creepiness and run with it.  This almost makes me want to get knocked up again just to have a creepy baby shower with a Red Velvet Lava Baby Cake served in a Dexter kill room.  Almost.

But hey, if you're planning a baby shower in the future and would like to consult with me, let me know!  I'd be happy to help!

All this ruminating on baby cakes, besides probably qualifying me for some kind of mental disorder, led to the inspiration for my very own ugly bread.  If someone can make an ugly baby cake, why couldn't I make some ugly baby bread?

I started off with my favorite, easiest bread recipe.  It's quick and doesn't involve any kneading or real effort.  Just warm water, yeast, flour, and salt.  The dough started out looking like it always does.

After a bit of rising, I oiled up a baking pan with olive oil and worked a bit of Frankenstein magic that dough.  I brushed it with more olive oil and covered it so the yeasties could get busy and help put some life into my ugly baby bread.

Vaguely humanoid and satisfyingly ugly, but something was missing.  I rummaged through the cabinets and found some stuff to make my ugly baby bread really pop.

Trail mix, dried cranberries, and one cinnamon Cheerio totally transformed the ugly baby bread into something spectacular!  Still ugly, but with pizazz!  Now the ugly baby bread only needed to work on his tan.  After 25 minutes in the tanning booth (a.k.a. the oven) at 400 degrees, he looked like this:

That's some ugly baby bread all right.

With a face only a mother could love!  Sure, some of his "hair" fell off in the oven, but don't most babies develop bald spots from lazily lying around all day?

As the children trickled in from school, they had various comments about the ugly baby bread.  Terzo asked if he could eat the head and Secondo requested a limb or two to gnaw on.  Prima just asked, "What is that?"  I said, "It's ugly bread!"  She said, "You got that right."  I really don't understand why my kids are so warped and smart alecky.

The ugly baby bread was laid on the sacrificial altar of Afternoon Snack.  He might have been ugly on the outside, but inside he was beautifully chewy with a delicate, moist crumb.

He was awesomely delicious, as a matter of fact.  I think he knew it, too, because even after being pulled apart and devoured by human vultures he still looked happy.

All in all, the ugly bread journey taught me a valuable lesson.  Who needs beautifully decorated cakes, anyway?  So much time and effort for something that gets hacked apart and eaten after only a few brief moments of admiration, when throwing together a batch of ugly bread is so much faster, easier, and versatile.  We had ugly bread with dinner (tuna melts!) and ugly bread for breakfast, toasted with a bit of apricot preserves.  Ugly doesn't mean not yummy!

Now gimme my sock zombie!! 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Neighbor, the Cookie, and the Flaming Bag of Poo

A few days ago, Prima and I bundled up and braved the enormous piles of snow in order to carry on a well-loved tradition:  the selling of Girl Scout cookies.  Unlike most Girl Scouts today, Prima actually walks around from door to door to peddle her overpriced and overprocessed (but overyummy) wares.  Her goal was to surpass last year's sales, which were rather dismal because every stupid person on our street wasn't home on the one afternoon she attempted to sell cookies.

So, we first tackled our own side of the street with great success.  I noticed that people were very willing to buy cookies and didn't need much in the way of encouragement.  At each house, we found people home and hungry for cookies, so happy to fill out that little order form.  By the time we made our way to the house directly across from our own, Prima had already beaten last year's sales.  As we worked our way through the snow to the door of our next victim, I smugly thought of how happy this particular neighbor would be to buy a box or two of cookies.  Even though I don't know her name and haven't spoken more than a handful of words to her over the past several years, I knew without a doubt that she would have to buy some cookies out of sheer obligation.  Why?  When she wasn't home on her birthday, I accepted flowers on her behalf and hand delivered them when she got home from work.  When the snow plow knocked her mailbox off its post during each storm we've had this winter, we* fixed it for her.  We* dug a path to her mailbox so her mail could be delivered.  When my husband and Secondo saw her struggling to shovel her driveway, they went over to help her even though they were worn out from shoveling our own driveway.

That woman owed us.  Like, a lot.

Such were my thoughts as Prima knocked.  We waited.  The door opened, and the woman snapped, "I'm sorry, we're not interested" in a tone that really meant "Get the hell away from my door and how dare you bother me!"  Prima didn't even get a chance to say hello, let alone extol on the wonders of the Thin Mint or the Thank You Berry Munch!

Outwardly, I was Good Mom.  I made excuses for the woman's behavior, shrugged it off, laughed about it, and simply walked with Prima to the next house.  Inwardly, I was Evil Mom.  I mean, what kind of person is rude to a Girl Scout?

Let's analyze this for a minute.  You're having a quiet afternoon at home when you hear a knock on the door.  You aren't expecting company.  If you're like me (and you might want to start praying that you aren't), your first thought is something like, "Oh crap, how do I get rid of the religious fundamentalists without being an asshole?"  Then, you look through the door and see this:
(R.F. = religious fundamentalist)

Clearly, a Girl Scout selling cookies.

Now, let's take a look at what was going on with the neighbor.  She was not on fire.

I'm sure we would have noticed something like that.  She also did not appear to be suffering from an axe murderer attack.

Again, pretty obvious.  Being on fire or having multiple axe wounds excuses one from following conventional forms of manners, don't you think?

Just to cover all the bases, she was also not being eaten by a large carnivorous reptile.

In other words, she had no discernible reason not to devote an extra ten seconds of her time to communicating her thoughts in a way that wouldn't have been completely rude.

The more I think about that rude woman, the more annoyed I get.  I'm not completely delusional and don't expect every person in the world to order Girl Scout cookies from my kid.  But is it too much to expect an adult to be polite to a kid, especially when it seems like so many adults are moaning and groaning about the lack of manners in children today?

Now I spend way too much time gleefully thinking of ways to sabotage this lady's life.  I daydream about her coming over to borrow a cup of sugar so I can say no and quickly shut the door in her face. Maybe I'll pelt her with Girl Scout cookies as she runs, weeping, across the street.

Maybe I'll call every single religious establishment in town, pretend to be her, and ask to be put on their mailing list.  Might as well include religious establishments in the surrounding towns as well.  To be thorough, I guess I should put her on the mailing lists for some of those adult "toy" stores too.  I'm a firm believer in that whole thing about variety being the spice of life.

There's always that classic standby...

We don't have a dog, though, so I'd have to get one of the boys to...OK, never mind.  When I start to disturb myself, that means it's time to stop.

One thing I can tell you is, she's fixing her own damn mailbox from now on and if the florist drops her flowers off at our house, I'm giving them to Prima.

*"we" refers to my husband in this context and in most other contexts involving actual physical labor