Sammy the Seal

Archive for February, 2013|Monthly archive page

“Hey, hey lover, you’re still burning”

In delicious, vinyl on Saturday, 23 February, 2013 at 9:29

Song: When The Sun Hits
Artist: Slowdive
Album: Souvlaki

I wanted some noise. It’s got a classic quiet-loud-quiet, which is always good for air guitar and/or headbanging. The final crescendo is the best: it’s the heaviest and loudest. It hits instantly at 4:13, and it feels really good. It’s also a great way to start the coda/fadeout. The rhythm is decent too, no slow, plodding, aimless pace– it’s got some verve to it. Rhythm is so important. Without it, it’d  probably come off as merely a “pretty” piece. Plus, languorous, dreamy, obscured vocals, a divine, bittersweet melody, and a overall subtle melancholy– yeah, this is some good shoegaze.

This is a couple days old, my checkerboard cake. Inside it has alternating sections/rings/layers of chocolate and white cake (hence the name). This is the first cake I did start-to-finish on my own. The others required finishing with fine detailing that wasn’t going to be entrusted to me, as justified by my fondant faults here:

checkerboard faults 1

and here:

checkerboard faults 2

Also, only some borders came out okay. I got better halfway through, though unfortunately I didn’t get any shots of it, they’re on the other side. Dang pressure control, still have trouble. The rest looks presentable though:

checkerboard 2

Though I highlight the fondant trouble and ugly (in places) border, it doesn’t look too bad, when looking at the finish as a whole, even with the teeny, yet visible faults on top. I bordered a cake last week that I felt not too confident about as I was piping, but when seeing it as a finished border, it came together. So I still feel good about this one:

checkerboard 1


Practice cakes

In delicious on Wednesday, 20 February, 2013 at 1:29

practice cakes

Just trying to get some cake deco practice in outside of school, I just want more so I get better. The piping and icing part, that’s where I feel weak. Very frustrating time I had, it’s rough without a turntable. Everything from scratch, of course. Time-consuming, but I wanted practice, so I can’t complain. The one on the left is a three-layer genoise brushed with rum syrup, filled and iced with italian buttercream, with apricot jam on top:

practice cake 2

The other is my cinnamon cardamom yellow cake, filled and iced with french buttercream (so rich, even I, the guy who doesn’t much like cake, fell under its rich, sweet, fatty spell), with three not-so-pretty italian buttercream roses on top (the french was impossible to pipe roses from). A full batch made one cake and five muffins:

practice cake 1

Finally, the cross-sections, to test how even my splitting and layering was:

practice slice 1

Not bad, just need to work on keeping my icing uniform. I think my splitting is okay. The other one’s even thicker icing layer:

practice slice 2

I guess it’s not that bad on this one. Some of the other slices had it bad. Again, there shouldn’t have been such variation. Also, I probably could’ve scraped some crust off, it’s too visible in the top layer.

So, not bad without a turntable. I thought I’d like the sponge better because of the apricot, but it didn’t have enough apricot. I ran out. I suppose I could’ve added mango jam, oh well. Despite the fattiness (it’s a butter cake, as opposed to sponge), I liked the cinnamon cardamom french better, as it had the best flavor. Then again, it had egg yolk icing and spices working for it, as opposed to egg white icing and sponge cake.

“Feign care and warm concern, the kiss you did not earn”

In music videos, vinyl on Sunday, 17 February, 2013 at 19:59

Song: Sad Eyes
Artist: Crystal Castles
Album: Crystal Castles (III)

First off, I believe most music within any given genre is interchangeable. It’s not judgment nor negativity so much as it is statistics. I admit bias when I say that I think it’s especially true of electronic, techno, house, rave, or any similar style or combination of those. There’s a facelessness, which I think is actually built into it– the nature/purpose of the music is not really about nuance.

Of course, there are always exceptions. The aesthetic and dynamic this duo fashions is singularly theirs, which I think is impressive, given that the sounds, templates, and style are things you’ve heard before: you know whom you’re listening to. And, they’ve grown way the hell up; their second and third albums leave their debut in the dust. (Bias again: I don’t think the genre is really given to growth, for the same reason it’s not much for nuance.)

Ah, the old days of VHS– horizontal lines, color bars, sigh… There’s something about old images, older film stock and video, etc., that’s so imperfect and rough and warm. I’m such a relic. They cut over a minute from the song though, it just ends after the second verse and chorus– boo!

On an album full of tension and despair, I coulda picked most any song to go here, but I stuck to my guns (take that, indecisiveness) and went with the one with the most urgency and heightened drama. Unfortunately, it’s over in 3.5 minutes. (The whole album is only forty minutes.) What a tease. I’m reminded of a song similar in its sense of concentrated, pumped up melodrama, that I know of only because of the film Lilja 4-ever, whose soundtrack is techno all the way.

Song: The Ride
Artist: Double N
Album: Lilja 4-ever Soundtrack

Without knowing the context, the tension and stakes sound high, perhaps artificially so. It gains a bit more heft when you’re aware the film is about human trafficking, and remember the scene it plays over. Can’t much stand the genre, but I genuinely like this song. The movie helps, but the song still has to earn its keep. If you’re in the mood for serious movie that has one of my favorite bittersweet endings, check it out. Just be prepared to be bummed out.

Fried plantain cream pie

In delicious on Tuesday, 12 February, 2013 at 1:17

plantain cream pie filled 1

Dang you, little dark fleck of crust in the front. Anyway, this is a good one. My trusty recipe for pâte brisée, which has yet to fail me, with a couple of dashes of cardamom in it, fried plantain, pastry cream (pudding, essentially), and mace sprinkled on top. Not fancy or upscale at all, but lovely nonetheless. I’m not too big on cream pie, everyone knows I love fruit so much, but it’s still delicious. My pride overrules my tastes.

plantain cream pie filled 2

The plantains get obscured, so I wanted to give them the spotlight first. There should’ve been more, but I couldn’t help myself. I probably ate 4-5 coins. (Note: when you’re lucky enough to have, or buy, soft, overripe plantains, fry them soon before they shrivel and toughen!) This looks really nice on its own, like it could be just a plantain basket. Very homey and rustic. I got great color on the crust, I was quite satisfied.

plantain cream pie empty

Pouring in the pastry cream warm, and then chilling, will give you perfect, clean slices. And the flaky…… I love you, pâte brisée recipe.

plantain cream slice 1

Pretty mace speckles. Stinkin’ eyelash got on the plate, though, I have to mark down for presentation.

plantain cream slice 2

Raspberry bavarian charlotte (not mine)

In delicious, You're a kitty! on Sunday, 3 February, 2013 at 22:08

raspberry charlotte 1

This was made by a classmate, for production. I really don’t need more dessert, but I ended up buying this because, 1) it looked wonderful, and 2) it was marked down on Friday to get rid of it for the weekend. There was one other one, that didn’t have the gelee run out a little, but one of the chocolate strips fell over and raked across the whipped cream rosette. So I went with the unblemished finish. Just gorgeous. Delicious too, even though I really need to stop my stomach from sticking out even more.

The plastic ring was removed, and unfortunately some of the ladyfingers stuck to it, so it’s not as perfect as before.

raspberry charlotte 2

raspberry charlotte 3

raspberry charlotte sliced

Why stop at pretty dessert? How about some pretty cat:

The seldom-seen box cat.

The mythical box-cat.

morning lounge stare

morning lounge

Pear normande tart

In delicious on Saturday, 2 February, 2013 at 6:18


Up late baking on a school night leads to little sleep, which leads to falling asleep early the next evening, which leads to waking up at 4am, which is why I’m here. But I did change some filters on my auto, so it’s not like I was goofing off. Still, it was a school night. This formula was cribbed from school, except it’s my tart dough recipe, which doesn’t have hazelnuts, which cost money anyway. I did make the frangipane filling according to specifications though. And since it only needed a couple T of dark rum, and you can only buy a whole damn bottle, I used half of it to macerate the pears in. Only for a few hours though, it wasn’t terribly boozy, unfortunately. I’m not including recipes on here any more, hell no. No time. Just pretty pictures, which is all people really have patience for anyway. If you’ve ever been to a more established baking blog or website, almost all the comments are akin to “that looks so yummy!” or “omg, I want to eat that!” or “I want to make that”, and cynical me says no one ever does. Even though baking is mostly about following established directions.

Still though, wouldn’t recommend baking after midnight when you have to be somewhere at 7a.

mother normande

1st little normande

2nd little normande

3rd little normande

4th little normande

These are just for presentation. On a whim, I bought a cheap case of cake boards (while shopping for other things, of course). I have dozens more to burn through anyway. They’re not gold board, but it’s still a bit nicer than a grimy cookie sheet, surely:

presentable mother normande


little normande group