Sunday, March 20, 2011

I Refuse to Include Indigo in my Spectrum

I had two goals for the weekend: try this curried chicken recipe that I found in the slow cooker cookbook (there are 1400 recipes in that book; I'll be finding recipes in it for the next several years) and go on a few photo walks.

The curried chicken turned out really well and was really easy, and since I told my friends Pam and Liz that I would share, here's the recipe:

2 pounds chicken, cut into chunks
3 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 apple, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced (or processed down to paste)
14 oz can of chicken stock
2 tablespoons curry powder

1) Dump the first four ingredients into the slow cooker. The recipe didn't say to peel the apple, but the apple is going to break down while it cooks, so if you don't peel it, you'll end up with little scraps of apple peel mixed in with everything. It still tastes ok, but the texture of soft chicken, soft potato, and apple peel is a little weird.

2) Mix the curry powder into the chicken stock, pour it into the slow cooker, and then stir everything until you decide it's coated enough. It will look something like this:

curried chicken with potatoes (1)

3) Cook on low for eight to ten hours. Stir a few times, and then serve. After nine hours, mine looked like this:

curried chicken with potatoes (2)

The recipe said to serve it over rice, but I figured the potatoes were enough starch all by themselves, so I just ate mine right out of the cooker. When I make it again, I will probably use another spoon of curry powder, because this comes out sort of mildly curried, like, "Oh, there's a hint of curry in here. How delightful," and I like my curried chicken to be a little more assertive, like, "HEY... CURRY. IN YOUR MOUTH. PUNCHING YOU IN THE TONGUE."

The curried chicken was the only unqualified success of the weekend, though. I went on three different photo walks, in three different parts of town, and am pretty unhappy with most of the pictures that I took. The weather was beautiful and the light was great, but nothing really sings to me. I guess I just wasn't feeling it this weekend. I do like these pictures I took at the University Gardens:

petal pathway

fuzzy buds

pink flower center (1)

chipped saucer

but four pictures for over three hours of walking around makes me feel a little disappointed in myself.

Disheartened and hungry, I noticed a box of white cake mix in my cabinet, which I think I'd been intending to make cookies out of. (My mom has this recipe for making cookies out of boxed cake mix that we've used since I was a little, little kid. Eating them makes me think of home, so I usually keep a random box of cake mix in my pantry in case the mood to make them strikes me.) I thought about making cookies, but then I remembered a discussion I was having with my friend Febi a few weeks ago about rainbow cupcakes, and I decided to take a stab at baking them. I had white cake mix, and I had food coloring, so really, how hard could it be?

You think you already know the answer to this question, right?

Well, yeah, if you thought the answer was, "Harder than it looks," you'd be right, but I ended up at least partially successful.

First I made the white cake batter, which only uses egg whites instead of whole eggs like regular cake, so I had to whip out the egg separator:

egg separator

It's gross, but easier than using your fingers or doing that thing where you slosh the yolk back and forth between the halves of shell. That, to me, just seems like a good way to get shell into your cake.

Once the batter was done, I split it into six bowls and started coloring them:

6 colors of batter

Red (a little pinkish), orange, yellow, blue, green, and violet (which looked a little gray). Since this isn't a "Green Lantern" comic I didn't trouble myself with indigo, since I learned in high school physics that it's not really part of ROY G BIV. With my batter dyed, I started carefully spooning color into my cups:

red (or pink)

I used to have some nice reusable silicone baking cups, but Jeannie borrowed them a couple of years ago to make cupcakes for her staff and I never saw them again. Sorry, trees, but we're back to paper.

By the time I hit yellow, I'd worked out an easy way of slowly drooling the color off of the end of the spoon so that it spread evenly and didn't disturb the layer beneath it, but I also realized that I had a problem:

half done

My cups were already half full, and that's how full you're supposed to make cupcakes. I wasn't just making ROY cupcakes, though, so I shrugged and kept filling until I ran into my next problem:

done filling the cups

I ran out of purple, but had plenty of blue left. I guess when I was scooping out the batter in the beginning I dropped a scoop meant for the purple bowl into the blue bowl instead, because I had the exact same amount of all the other colors, too much blue, and not enough purple. I sighed, blamed it on math instead of on me, and popped them into the oven.

They did not come out quite right:

baked cupcakes

They look kind of scary, actually, like moldy rocks. Undaunted, I popped one out, hoping for a miracle:


There are layers! Sure, they're not even, and the top is a mess, but I see definite layers there. I peeled off the paper and sliced, to see a cross section:

rainbow cupcake interior

Not a total success, but not a total failure.

Thoughts for future attempts:

1) Use two cake mixes. Then you'll have plenty for each color, and you can just make mixed or mono-color cupcakes out of the leftover batter.

2) The bottom layers need to be really thin so they don't bubble up through the top layers as they cook. Actually, all of the layers need to be really thin.

3) Use a pastry bag with a flat tip to layer in the color. Sure, it will take a while, but will keep the layers more even.

Sure, they're not the most attractive cupcakes, but they taste fine.


Liz said...

I love your mutant cupcakes!

I can see you need help however with your curry. *cracks knuckles*

Sandy said...

You lost the cupcake liners we bought at Crate and Barrel when you came to visit me? I LOVED THOSE CUPCAKE LINERS :-(

strong cookie. said...

I LOVE those cupcakes!

Jeannie said...

Oh no, Joel! I did steal your cupcake liners!! They did not get cleaned properly so I was embarrassed to give them back and then they disappeared. I will get you some new ones.

But, those rainbow layers look amazing - great job!