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Inspiration Gallery: Gifts From Your Kitchen

Thursday, November 29th, 2012
By Twistie

With the holidays coming up quickly and belts everywhere tightening, it can be hard to come up with great gifts for friends and family… that is, unless you’re a fellow crafty person! Just a few basic ingredients and a little time and effort will produce delicious gifts nearly everyone on your list will love.

For instance, see that elegant cruet of rosemary infused olive oil? If you have a rosemary bush nearby, bottles with firm stoppers or caps, a stove and some olive oil, you’ve got a great gift for the foodie on your list. Just follow the simple instructions at Lulu’s Bites and delight your friends!

Oh, and don’t forget that you can use the same method with a lot of other herbs, too. Thyme? Or maybe even some chili peppers? And citrus zest is a winner, too.

But how about some things that are ready to eat rather than an ingredient for future cooking?


Last Minute But Lovely

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012
By Twistie

Last night our Thanksgiving plans fell through.

Usually we go have dinner with a good friend. She cooks the turkey and the stuffing and the gravy. I make the rest of the meal. After Thanksgiving dinner, Mr. Twistie goes home and I spend the weekend with our friend hanging out, doing media marathons, and stuffing ourselves silly with leftover Thanksgiving goodies.

Today, I’m scrambling to come up with a turkey dish and clean up the table for a formal dinner for two. I don’t have a lot of time to make things pretty… but there are some easy things I can do. If you’re scrambling at the last minute to make your table pretty for the holiday, whether it’s because plans changed or you didn’t happen to come up with something yet, then I suggest you hie yourself over to Casa Sugar for a couple great and ridiculously simple ideas based on things you probably already have in your kitchen.

Tomorrow, I’ll come up with a long list of things to be thankful for… but today, I’m thankful for Casa Sugar’s great last-minute ideas!

Butter Me Up

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012
By Twistie

It sounds like a concept for one of Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries. It sounds like a throwaway line on an episode of Paula Deen’s cooking show. It even sounds like something Martha Stewart might suggest to make life so much better.

What it doesn’t sound like is something that people do competitively or for a living… but it’s real.

What it is? Butter sculpture.

That’s right. Sculpting with butter. See that manatee and diver above? They are painstakingly carved out of butter and displayed in a refrigerated case. Well, they were back in january at the Manatee County Fair in Palmetto, FL. That gorgeous sculpture is the work of food artist Jim Victor, and he’s done some truly amazing work. Seriously, he sculpted Paula Deen’s grandson in butter, Milton Hershey in chocolate, and the Mona Lisa is all Italian food products. When you get done marveling at those, be sure to see what he does in wood and mixed media, too.

But the butter. For another idea of how amazing this medium can be to sculpt in, take a look at Sri Lankan  artist Vipula Ahtukorale’s magnificent Pied Piper in pastry margarine:

And, with the new movie Butter opening in limited markets last weekend, we add to this notable list… Jennifer Garner.

The film follows Garner as the reigning queen of butter sculpture at the county fair while she is challenged by upstart newcomer Yara Shahidi. So far the reaction from audiences has been lackluster. All the same, I may just go see it when it comes to my neck of the woods. I have some burning questions about butter sculpture and I’d like to see it in action.

Still, I would have loved to see Christopher Guest and his crazed band of co-conspirators get ahold of this concept. Imagine what Fred Willard might have sculpted!

Actually, that just might not bear imagining.

Pipe Nightmares

Thursday, October 4th, 2012
By Twistie

Many of us who like to create holiday (or other festive occasion, or just because) treats do our best to make them pretty, too. To that end, we may wind up piping decorative icing swirls or making shapes in meringue using the old standby of a pastry bag and specialized tip.

There are, sadly, times when this works out spectacularly badly. One of my favorite tales in this regard, because I’m a smutty-minded adolescent at heart, is this tragic tale of meringue mishap suffered by Cakeboule last winter.

In my experience, most meringue winds up featuring a similar point somewhere in the shape, so perhaps the key is placement rather than avoidance. You know, like these ghost cupcakes.


Fabulous Fondant

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012
By Twistie

Are you planning a spooky centerpiece for Halloween? A bountiful one for Thanksgiving? Looking for a pretty decoration for a fall wedding? Just into either pumpkins or cake decorating?

Well then, head on over to King Arthur Flour for the step by step instructions on making these winsome fondant pumpkins.

But wait! First you’ll need the fondant. Not to panic. KAF carries pre-made fondant, or you can check out the instructions for making your own basic rolled fondant at

Happy Birthday, Julia Child!

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012
By Twistie

One hundred years ago today, Julia Child was born. Hip hooray!

In honor of the woman who made American women unafraid to try French cuisine and who made a joyful career out of playing with her food, I urge you all to check out this super cool gallery of photographs of food styled into the flags of countries around the world.

Check out this delightful ode to the French flag, chosen in honor of Julia:

Bon appetite!

Keep Your Identity Secret!

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
By Twistie

Sure, they’re for kids, but I see no reason these awesome felt superhero masks couldn’t be expanded for grown-ups. Jessica at Cutesy Crafts came up with them for favors at a child’s superhero/princess theme birthday party (there’s a boy and a girl both celebrating their birthday together, and there will be instructions for princess crowns, too)… but I want them for my next birthday bash.

Go visit Jessica’s site for more information and instructions… and superhero/princess cake pops, too.

Now, do I want to be Spider Man, Iron Man… or maybe I can come up with a Cat Woman mask.

What? I imprinted early on Eartha Kitt.

Quickie Question: Play With Your Food?

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012
By Twistie

(Via instructibles where you can find instructions for making these alligator ‘Nomsters’)

Disaster at Casa Twistie! Our refrigerator – the one that’s needed two new motors(!) in the six years we’ve owned it – bit the dust in the wee hours. I’m going to spend the day cleaning rotting food out of the fridge and researching replacement models. Great.

So since food is a miserable thing in my home right now, I long to make it fun again.

I’m curious, have you ever come up with a particularly imaginative way of styling some sort of food? Funny breads, molded Rice Krispie treats, sugar art, or cheese sculpture… tell me all about it!

Inspiration Gallery: I Feel Pretty, Oh So Pretty

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
By Twistie

Years ago, I knew a woman who had an intriguing method of making up her face. She couldn’t stand buying tubes of this and jars of that… but she had two small children who loved painting with watercolors. One day, she looked over the ingredients in a pan of children’s non-toxic watercolor paints, found there was nothing in there she wouldn’t put on her face, and decided that would be her make up from then on. I actually tried out her method. I liked it for eyeshadow. The colors were pretty and lasted quite well.

I wasn’t as wild about it for blusher. I found I couldn’t control it as well as a powder. As for my lips… yeah, watercolors that come off with water didn’t really work out well for me.

Still, it was my first introduction to alternative cosmetics, and it was pretty cool. I got curious about what other alternatives out there might work. After all, I reasoned, if Elizabeth I could make her own make up (an egg white based product her last stepmother, Catharine Parr, is reputed to have taught her to make), why couldn’t I?

As it turns out, there are a lot of women out there making their own make up and other beauty products. I’ve waded through a few of their websites to recommend some you may find useful.


Twistie Gets a New Toy

Monday, April 23rd, 2012
By Twistie

The weather of late has been seriously bizarre. A week ago I was using the heater nearly every day for at least a few hours.  Last week we had torrential downpours complete with a massive thunderstorm. Today, for the second day in a row, I’m fanning myself and seriously considering sticking my head in the freezer and leaving it there for a couple days. Later this week? Rain is predicted.

But whatever the weather decides to do for the next few days, I’m set here in Casa Twistie. I have a gorgeous, huge oven to bake and roast warm, comforting goodies when it’s icy out of doors… and I just got this great new Cuisinart ice cream maker for when I want to take a trip to the North Pole for the weather. It’s even the same, cheery, candy apple red as the one in the picture.

The upside: This sucker makes 1 1/2 quarts at a go with a flick of a switch and a tiny bit of advance prep. Basically, once you put your milk, cream, eggs, sugar, and flavorings into the bowl, you’re roughly half an hour away from icy, creamy goodness. The base is stable and its footprint isn’t large, so it can be used or stored in a kitchen with limited counter space easily. In fact, when not in  use, the cord can be neatly fitted into a depression in the base so it doesn’t get tangled up with anything else. I love that design feature! And while it’s not precisely silent, the motor isn’t terribly loud, either. It’s much quieter than my KitchenAid stand mixer.

The downside: Well… I may find myself eating more ice cream than is necessarily good for me for a while.

The really upside: It’s available at Amazon for just $61.89 (list price $77.99) with free super saver shipping.

Oh, and if you’re thinking that an ice cream maker is great… but only if you have recipes to work from, check out this great site all about ice cream. From recipes to history to trivia, they’ve got it all when it comes to getting the scoop on frozen goodness. There’s even a page for those who don’t have an ice cream maker, but still want to make ice cream.

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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