In my early teens, I was obsessed with this magazine called YM – do you remember it? “Young and Modern.” Shortly after, I moved on to the slightly mature Seventeen and then to the ever-trampier Cosmopolitan. Like most young women, I looked at the pimple-free Cover Girl faces and toned-stomach beauties, agonizing over how they could possibly look so good and, still, so happy. As the years went on, I graduated from “how to lose that arm jiggle” and “what not to do in bed” and turned my attention toward the word of colorful, delicious, creatively designed food. I subscribed to Bon Appetit, invested in a gorgeous collection of cookbooks, and regularly drool over photos of imaginative food design from the creative minds on Instagram and throughout the food blog world.
But now, in my late 20s, reading through my blogroll creates the same facade of beauty that those magazines did all those years ago. The posts we all see are nothing but the same photoshopped, untouched photos of Britney Spears that made us suck in our stomaches and drink cayenne-spiced maple syrup water for days in our teens. The food blogger world creates the illusion that what happens in our kitchens is not only delicious but also art. All the time.
Last weekend, I had the biggest #kitchenfailure of my life. It was so bad. Bad like when I left Adam and my mom to handle dessert once, and I walked in on them chopping up peppermint candies to put on top of an apple pie.
Car, meet cheesecake.
I woke up early last Saturday to make a cheesecake for my friend’s birthday. If you live in San Francisco, you know that last Saturday was 75+ degrees and there was, obviously, sunbathing to be had. So, my friend had his birthday party at the beach. So, okay, you’re thinking — cheesecake for a beach party? Bear with me.
Everything went smoothly in the morning — I popped the cake into the oven, and in the last 10 minutes of baking time, I noticed steam shooting through the top of my oven. I opened the door for a peek, and within seconds, my kitchen filled with smoke, my eyes started burning, and my hair began to frizz. I pulled the jiggling cheesecake out of the oven and thought, “What the hell do I do now?” I could bring…apples? So I let it sit. (In my mind, the baking equivalent of turning my computer off and on.) I left the apartment to — you know — breathe, and when I came back, my apartment wreaked. The air tasted like the bottom of a burnt oven. And my cake was a wobbling mess. I threw it back into the smoky oven and the whole miserable experience happened again. That’s when I realized my springform pan had a leak. At that point, there was no time to throw the cake into the fridge (a cheesecake must), and I had come so far, that I figured I would just bring my wobbly cake to the party and everyone could just … deal with it!
I put some strategically positioned strawberries on top of the cake, sat it on the car seat next to me, and drove seven blocks before I looked over. When I did, the entire top layer had slid down onto one side of the cake and my strategically placed strawberries were drowning. After screaming a zillion expletives, I frantically called all of the two people I knew who lived within a few blocks to borrow an oven and recook that damn cake. No one was home. I drove to my aunt’s house, hoping and praying the my cousin was sleeping in late, and he did not disappoint. I re-cooked that baby, washed and replaced my strawberries, and headed to the beach. With one hand on the wheel, one hand holding my cake straight on the center consul, cold air blasting in the hopes of helping the cake “set” faster, I drove like a psychopath, an hour late to the party, completely frazzled and frizzed out.
I parked, reached for my cake, and then the corner of my jean jacket swiped the top layer, creating a nice big crater. I thought, “@#$fhdfaj!!!!” Never one to miss an opportunity like this, I tasted the cake on my jacket and nearly gagged. It was completely burnt. Again, I thought, I’ve come this far, my friend’s going to, at least, see this cake and hear every detail of this miserable story.
I brought the cake to the beach, and — no surprise here — it melted in under 10 minutes. Completely defeated, I pushed it to the side, covered it with a dish towel, and talked about it ad nauseam. Everyone was all, “Oh yeah … cheesecake is hard,” and I wanted to scream, “NO! It’s not! My oven this … the car that … the strawberries … my jean jacket…” We hung out at the beach and had a great time for a couple of hours. When I got ready to go, I lifted up the cake, and the soggy mess fell through the bottom of the springform pan and all over someone’s beautiful beach blanket. I would have cried if I wasn’t so fed up with this damn cake. I picked up everything and threw all $40 worth of cheeses straight into the garbage, including the miserable pan that started it all.
The next day, I needed a corrective experience. I had a bag of blood oranges that were too soft to eat and went from there. It was so much fun. There was juice everywhere, thyme leaves all over the floor, and sticky fingers for hours. But it was so worth it. It was so easy. Although I can no longer participate in the illusion that everything that happens in a food blogger’s kitchen comes together swiftly and seamlessly, I can tell you that making a fancy popsicle sure makes a girl feel good. Enjoy!
What You Need
2 1/2 c blood orange juice (about nine blood oranges)
1 T fresh thyme leaves; finely chopped
1 can unsweetened coconut milk (full fat)
4 T agave nectar; divided
2 tsp vanilla extract
How To Do It
In a small bowl, juice the blood oranges, mix in the thyme, and add 2 Tblsp agave nectar. Set aside. In another small bowl, combine vanilla, coconut milk, and 2 Tblsp agave nectar.
Pour the coconut milk mixture among the popsicle molds evenly. Freeze for about 10 minutes. Pour the juice mixture among the popsicle molds evenly. Freeze for another 30 minutes. Add the sticks and freeze for at least four hours. Enjoy!