March was nuts; I have safely arrived in the month-o-birthday. Yay! My, that was one jam-packed month of … culture! Also, now that I craft the list of out-of-the-ordinary activities, there was some fulfillment of big-picture goals: spending time with family, enjoying some local arts, cooking for friends, etc. Check this out:
- 5-week knitting class: I’ve made a sock and started on a second.
- Synthetic Biology Slam (PDF): I judged, but mostly had fun and was inspired by kids.
- A kirtan-infused yin yoga class: I attended someone else’s yoga class at the studio where I teach. It was light on the chanting, heavy on the … heavy (long holds).
- We had friends over for dinner.
- I went to a Zumba class. Possibly determined that Zumba is really not very good for my plantar fascia. Boo. Ah well, at least I don’t have to worry about not being able to find a class I like.
- I went to a new podiatrist who gave me
marchingcalf-stretching orders, to try and keep the plantar fasciitis at bay
- I got a haircut. Short, again!
- Steve and I went to a UXPAMN talk about user-centered design with large companies. The DevJam party room was groovy, and it was reassuring to hear stories about injecting user experience exercises and tools into product development. Well done, Dave!
- With the Amazing Jillie, I went to an art talk at the Walker Art Center: Job Wouters gave us a great tour and demo of his hand-lettering work. Afterwards, we enjoyed some snacks and cocktails at Café Maude: my “Para-Noir” was dark, mysterious and lovely.
- Steve and I headed down to Heimie’s Haberdashery to get him set up with duds for our upcoming Kentucky Derby trip. He went for a seersucker suit, a Panama, and bow ties! This is going to be fun. Now I need to buy hat-festooning supplies… after I pick a dress. Oh, so much to do.
- We went to Heimie’s on St. Patrick’s Day: it’s in downtown Saint Paul. I’ve lived in Saint Paul for maybe 10 years total now, and this is the first year I’ve gone downtown to mingle in the green (in more ways than one), boisterous, Irish-loving crowds there. It was fun, up to a point (about when a rabble-rouser got thrown out of Bar Amsterdam while we were congratulating ourselves for buying fancy clothes, with beer). I may do St. Patty’s in Pig’s Eye again … or I may just enjoy it from up on the hill, from now on.
- My brother visited for a few hours – he was on his way back from Sweden to Park City, on a long-enough layover. I’m glad we work close to MSP and that MSP has a restaurant outside of the security checkpoints!
- Steve and I went to two excellent music shows: Bajofondo (here’s a great video that really captures the spirit of their music) at the Cedar Cultural Center, and Lianne La Havas, at the Varsity.
- I got together with two girlfriends, and then later somehow managed to finally connect with our mutual globe-hopping friend Mary Irene via Skype.
- I’ve built up my running mileage. Slowly but surely, I’m up to 30 minutes, with no foot problems. Two trail runs were so much fun that I’m thinking of doing more trail running this year.
- Celebrated TableTop Day with Ed, Amy, Jessica, Mike, the associated kids, and Steve. Had a lot of fun playing Apples to Apples, Blokus, Taboo, and Unexploded Cow, all down in the lovely town of Northfield, Minnesota. The soup, smiles, and sammiches there were great, too. We finally got to meet the new Smith dog, Chico. I brought some dessert items: a Mint Julep Bundt, and some “Vienna Fudge” candy. Both were a success: I’ll share one of the recipes, below.
- Enjoyed an Easter brunch with Bill and Mary – and Mary gave me the lovely and strange cookie jar, pictured at the top of this post. I’m fond of it for many reasons – perhaps the best one is that biscotti fit into it lengthwise.
Mint Julep Bundt
Adapted from … sorry, I can’t recall. Our friends in Kentucky sent us a bunch of Derby propaganda, and this recipe was in one of the magazines. It’s also available on the web, here, for example. My adaptations are just with the finishing touches.
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 3 cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup butter
- ¼ cup bourbon (I used Bulleit Bourbon)
- 1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon white crème de menthe liqueur
- Preheat oven to 325ºF. Coat a 10-inch Bundt pan with cooking spray.
- Beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl.
- Add eggs one at a time to butter mixture, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla.
- Sprinkle half the flour mixture into the butter mixture and stir until just combined. Add half the buttermilk, stir. Repeat with remaining flour and buttermilk. Pour into prepared pan and smooth evenly around center.
- Bake for 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on cooling rack. Meanwhile combine the ½ cup sugar, butter and bourbon in a small saucepan and heat until butter is melted. Stir until syrup is smooth and remove from heat.
- Using a skewer, poke holes into cake. Pour syrup evenly over the cake – or, to ensure maximum Bulleit penetration, use a very pointy turkey baster. Let cake cool to room temperature in the pan before removing.
- Meanwhile whisk confectioners’ sugar, water and crème de menthe until smooth. Add more water or liqueur to reach desired consistency. Drizzle sauce over cooled cake; serve pretty soon, or the sauce will disappear. Well, it’ll still be there, but all your artful drizzling will vanish.
- You could decorate the cake with a few fresh mint leaf sprigs, but I’d save them for the julep cocktails. They’ll wilt pretty quickly, it’s tough to get them to lay right, and once they wilt they don’t smell all that great.