Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I feel like it's been ages since I last posted. I guess that's a good thing that I've been posting regularly enough for a (short) while now that a week and a half feels like ages. Well, I don't really have time right now, because I may or may not have a ginormous semester-long project due tomorrow, and I may or may not have procrastinated starting it until, well, today. But check back Friday, because I have lots of posts waiting to be written.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Stone House

As much as I love cooking and eating and learning everything there is to know about food, there's one thing I don't like about culinary arts school—writing. I've always been a boring, logical, academic type, nothing like the artsy-fartsy creative minds in my culinary arts program. But as much as imagination scares me, I'm finding I love it more than I ever thought I did. And even if the writing stresses me out, I have to admit the homework is the best. My most recent assignment was to review a white-tablecloth (AKA fancy-schmancy) restaurant. I've never eaten at a fancy restaurant before, in fact as a kid, McDonald's was about the only eating out I did, and even they only a few times a year, in 7th grade I thought Arby's was a fancy restaurant because it served actual roast beef sandwiches instead of burgers, in 11th grade I thought Chili's was about as fancy as it got, because you sat at a table and they brought food to you, and until last week going out to sushi was the fanciest thing I could think of. (hmmm... I need to think of some synonyms for "fancy") But the standard has been reset. For the first time in my life as I sat eating, as much as I wished and hoped that I could someday learn to make these things myself, the food was so good that all I could think was that I wanted to eat it forever, it didn't just make me want to cook. I almost can't believe I'm putting this on the internet for the whole world to see (because, you know, the whole world reads my blog), but everyone needs to know about this amazing restaurant, so here's my review:

What is it like when a five-star chef invites you to have dinner in his own home? Not many are lucky enough to be able to answer this question, but anyone in the Reno area can have a similar experience at The Stone House Cafe. A cozy home ambiance is combined with fantastic food for a wonderful and unique dining experience. The slightly informal atmosphere and service almost don’t seem to match the extravagant menu and outstanding food—but in a good way, offering the best of both worlds.

The bright interior of The Stone House is a breath of fresh air, just as the cute, welcoming exterior would suggest. The restaurant was once a home, and almost feels like it still is. Walls have been partially taken down and opened up, but still separate the restaurant into rooms with only two or three tables each—creating a close, comfortable setting. But despite the down to earth decor, customers each receive the star treatment.

The staff is friendly and eager to serve, making each patron feel like a personal guest. Drinks never empty as any server walking by quickly takes your glass to the bar for a hand-mixed refill. The hostess not only greets and seats newly arrived guests, but mingles among the tables, checking to make sure everything is perfect, getting anything a customer may need, and striking up friendly conversations. Guests never have to wonder what to order because each server quickly answers questions about any item and lists and explains the extensive off-menu specials.

During my visit to The Stone House, I was delighted to try five separate menu items. My fiancé and I started with the Antipasto Plate—a perfectly proportioned assortment of meats, cheeses, Ciabatta bread, and a mushroom tapenade. The plate had just enough to sample each wonderful flavor without filling up before our meal. Each component was delicious separate or mixed-and-matched with the other items. Next, we each indulged in a specialty entrée, crab-stuffed salmon for him and risotto-topped filet mignon for me. Both were magnificent—the sweet, sour, and spicy pineapple sauce was the highlight of the salmon while the sun dried tomatoes, oozing cheese, and crunchy-outside-creamy-inside made the risotto cake a little taste of heaven. We ended our meal with a simple crème brûlée and a rich, cinnamony, flakey-crusted apple dumpling.

When we received the check—though by no means small—we were pleasantly surprised given the incredible dinner we had just experienced. Overall, The Stone House offered an all-around fantastic meal for a great value. The menu offered a wide selection to accommodate many tastes (and wallets). The decor, service, and food blended together to create a perfect restaurant for your next night out.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mount Horeb

I just got to Wisconsin! Until now, Utah was the farthest East I'd been in about 12 years. I left my mom's house at 5:30 am and got to my sister's house at 11:30 pm. Of course, we lost two hours so it was only 16 hours, and that's flying. I'll spare you the long story of my family's crazy bad luck, but before I head off to bed I have to mention some of the highlights of this fabulous town I'll be staying in for the next week. Apparently, Mount Horeb is the Troll Capital of the World. If you don't know much about these fantastical creatures, here's a little info from their brochure (or their website, here):

"Most trolls are shaggy and look a bit frightening, but are mostly good-natured and naive. It is advised to maintain a good relationship with trolls as they are often known to be guarding treasures of gold or gemstones-in our case, they guard the friendly people and wonderful attractions of our community!

"Our trolls are known to relax outside watering flowers, tending chickens, playing music or just plain ol' hamming it up for your viewing pleasure!

"[One of these trolls, The Accordion Player] once captured the attention of a busload of Norwegian tourists who also happened to be accordian players. According to Mike, the bus unloaded, the passengers disembarked with their accordians- and much to the delight of onlookers- proceeded to serenade the troll for at least 20 minutes!"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

28 Days

Life is crazy right now. School, work, projects, essays, cooking, cleaning, kiddos, church, family, LIFE. This last week it seems like things have been ten times as crazy as usual, just when I wish I had a moment to breath and just enjoy how wonderful my life really is. But in four weeks, it will be SUMMER. Blogging, sewing, playing, relaxing, and planning my WEDDING! I've never been one to care much about summer, I don't like the heat, I love being in a routine and being busy. But for the first time in my life I'm actually counting down the days. If I can just make it through 28 more days of thinking about nothing but keeping the house clean and doing my homework, then I will have all the time in the world to look at dresses and cakes and flowers.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Remember that boy I said I started dating about six months ago? Well one week ago, he asked me a question, and I said yes. So now when I do something messy, like knead bread dough, I have to make sure I remember to take off this first.

(And more importantly, I have to remember to put it back on when I'm done)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

March Cakes

In March, my BF's niece turned five. She requested a Strawberry Shortcake cake, like this one that's made from a Strawberry Shortcake pan.

But I had just bought these adorable mini tiers (among other things) and was dying to try them out. I figured the family was big enough that I might as well go ahead and make two cakes, no big deal right?

I decided to be uber prepared this time and not wait till the very last minute, so I started making everything two whole days before the party. Thursday night I made the fondant. I finally tried out Wilton's marshmallow fondant that I've been hearing so much about, and let me tell you, it's a miracle. Super easy to make, super easy to work with, and all it is is marshmallows and powdered sugar, not crazy stuff like glycerin and glucose.

Friday I set out to make the tiered cake. It was exactly one boxed cake mix to fill the four tiers. Perfect, right?

Not so much, turns out cake rises more than I thought while baking, oops.

And when you check it a million times because the adorable pans don't come with any sort of instructions (and take to pictures for your blog with the oven door open and letting out heat, probably a bad idea), it sinks back down.

And since when this happens the edges are much thicker than the middle, even if a toothpick comes out clean in the center, when you run a knife around the edges to get the cake out, it's still gooey.

So you have to bake them some more, even if they're already out of their pans and you have to put them on a cookie sheet.

Now to fix the shape and fill in the holes. I may be a terrible baker, but I'm an excellent fixer, so never fear. Just take all the bits that overflowed, crumble them, and mix them with some frosting, and it's just like those cake pops that are so cute and trendy now. Yeah, it's cute and trendy, just keep telling myself that.

So a bit of reconstructive surgery...

...and a healthy dose of buttercream frosting...

...and these lovely little rounds are good as new.

Now for the decorating. I made a "sketch" on my computer of what I wanted it to look like.

Then to work rolling, cutting, and wrapping.

And move all the details onto the cake.

By the way, do you know how insane the color red is? It's nearly impossible to get a good red. I used HALF of a tub of red food coloring (for other colors I need only a couple of dips of a toothpick) on just a baseball sized ball of fondant, and this was the best I could get. Remind me to just by some red fondant if I ever need it again.

Saturday morning I made the flat cake. I started with a pattern for the shape.

And a couple of sketches, one color at a time, so I wouldn't miss any details and have to go back after I'd already moved on to a new color.

Then cut the cake.

And crumb coat it.

With the scraps I made a quick camera cake for BF's boss's b-day (say that 10 times fast).

Divide the frosting.

And color!

Base colors.

And here she is, all finished, just in time for the party. Next time I need to remember to actually use a frosting tip, not just a a sandwich bag with a hole cut in the corner. Oh well.

Birthday girl's reaction when I brought in the cakes, "That's weird."

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I cannot fail!

This weekend was fantabulous! It was so wonderful to hear from the Lord's prophets, seers, and revelators. When I was in a Living Prophets class at BYU, my teacher told us that if we write our thoughts and feelings, rather than just the words the speakers are saying, it invites the Spirit to teach and makes General Conference become Specific Conference. I definitely learned that this is true. In all my writing, I wrote "I'm trying to press forward." At the time I wrote them, I wasn't even listening to the speaker, I was just continuing on my own thoughts that had been triggered from a different talk, but not even two minutes later, Elder Bednar had started speaking, and said the words "Just keep pressing forward and you cannot fail." Isn't it wonderful how much our Father cares?