Sunday, June 29, 2014

Epic Triple Layer Banana Pineapple Cake with Ginger-Pineapple Filling

After spotting Ken's from HungryRabbitNYC amazing looking Banana Pineapple Cake on Pinterest, I was inspired to make my own version for my SO's birthday.

I am not going to lie the recipe seemed quite intense and it took me hours to prepare and finish this cake but I have to say not only was I impressed with the results, I actually felt proud of being able to create it.

Maybe it's because I miss eating butter but the Ginger Milk Frosting was so good, I wanted to eat bowls of it alone. The filling tasted like store bought candy sauce.

A lot of times you see amazing things pinned and then you try them and either they're a huge flop, a waste of time or just not as easy as you thought it looked.

I was short of some ingredients and I often like to go rogue when following a recipe: I ended up using 1 lb of frozen pineapple instead of 3 lbs, I added in applesauce to try to make up the difference. I used honey, agave, molasses and regular sugar where I was short of light brown sugar. I used nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. I decorated my cake differently. I used Seven Tiki Spiced Rum because it was all we had on hand. I didn't use a mixer or processor, I did everything by hand. I made this cake my own.

And there is a certain pride that comes with this.

Perhaps, it is a remnant from my mother's poor, rural upbringing in Ponce, Puerto Rico, or even my grandmothers' before her but the thing is you make do, you work with what you have and you waste nothing. You don't have to follow the rules, they're are just parameters after all. Resilience, grit, creativity, those are the things my mom consigned to me, as I watched her cook every day from my perch on the kitchen counter as a small child.

As much as she could, she used fresh ingredients, never from a box, and made everything from scratch. It's ironic to me that this  farm to table/DIY mentality is in vogue now especially with scrappy millennials, affluent hipsters and the Whole Foods/Trader Joe's folks. I mean my mom saved every jar, plastic tub and button from going in the trash bin because tu nunca sabes.

Not only was I really mindful but I made a serious effort to put everything I had into baking this cake, this labor of love. My mom used to always tell me that the most important ingredient to add to your food was love and lately with all the talk of mindful eating, I've resolved to mindfully cook the hell out of this cake.

My Ginger Pinapple Filling was amazing!
We have such a deep connection with the food we eat and our memories and senses. It brings to mind, the stories of Like Water for Chocolate where the food was imbued with the emotions of whomever cooked it.

I recall that various tribes of American Indians not only thanked the animals they hunted for sustaining them but also treated and prepared them very respectfully. I've always loved this idea, not of thanking some abstract religious figure but the organism who we are actually consuming.

Ginger Milk Frosting
It took me several hours to bake the cake, at point I had to leave the house to get more ingredients for the frosting. I had to let the layers cool off, I had to make the filling and then make the frosting. I was grateful for the summer Friday hours that day.

It was hot in the kitchen and we hadn't put our AC in yet. I hadn't decorated nor even made a cake in a very long time. It was hard to stack the cake and keep the frosting from melting but it worked out. It was pretty intense but this cake turned out phenomenally.

My version of Triple Layer Banana Pineapple Cake with Ginger-Pineapple Filling
The birthday boy thought so too. I knew I had done well when he kept repeating how very sweet I was. We broke our pre-wedding diets that weekend with this fabulous cake made from scratch but steeped with love.


Friday, June 27, 2014

#FridayReads: The Antiquarian by Gustavo Faverón Patriau

The Antiquarian by Gustavo Faverón Patriau: Three years have passed since Gustavo, a renowned psycholinguist, last spoke to his closest friend, Daniel, who has been interned in a psychiatric ward for murdering his fiancée. When Daniel unexpectedly calls to confess the truth behind the crime, Gustavo’s long buried fraternal loyalty resurfaces and draws him into the center of a quixotic investigation.

While Daniel reveals his unsettling story using fragments of fables, novels, and historical allusions, Gustavo begins to retrace the past for clues: from their early college days exploring dust-filled libraries and exotic brothels to Daniel’s intimate attachment to his sickly younger sister and his dealings as a book collector. As the circumstances grow increasingly macabre and intricate, Gustavo is forced to deduce a intricate series of events from allegories that are more real than police reports and metaphors more revealing than evidence.

With sumptuous prose and haunting imagery, Faverón Patriau has crafted an unforgettable, labyrinthine tale about heartbreak and suffering, the healing power of stories, and the unbreakable bonds of friendship—a spellbinding novel of murder, madness, and passion that is as entertaining as it is erudite and dark as it is illuminating.


Gustavo Faverón Patriau is the director of the Latin American Studies Program and an associate professor of Romance languages at Bowdoin College. He is the author of two books of literary theory and has edited anthologies on Roberto Bolaño and Peruvian literature. As a journalist and a literary and social critic, his articles and essays have appeared around the world in such publications as Daily Kos, Etiqueta Negra, and Cuadernos Hispanoamericanos.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Friday, June 20, 2014

#Fridayreads: The Appetites of Girls by Pamela Moses

The Appetites of Girls by Pamela Moses:

Self-doubting Ruth is coddled by her immigrant mother who uses food to soothe and control. Defiant Francesca believes her heavy frame shames her Park Avenue society family and, to provoke them, consumes everything in sight. Lonely Opal longs to be included in her glamorous, adventure-seeking mother's dinner dates—until a disturbing encounter forever changes her desires. Finally, Setsu, a promising violinist, staves off conflict with her jealous older brother by allowing him to take away the choicest morsels from her dinner plate—and from her future. College brings the four young women together as suitemates, where their stories and appetites collide. Here they make a pact to maintain their friendships into adulthood, but each must first find strength and her way in the world.


Monday, June 16, 2014

#FridayReads: Bulletproof Vest: The Ballad of an Outlaw and His Daughter by Maria Venegas

Bulletproof Vest: The Ballad of an Outlaw and His Daughter by Maria Venegas:

The haunting story of a daughter’s struggle to confront her father's turbulent—and often violent—legacy

After a fourteen-year estrangement, Maria Venegas returns to Mexico from the United States to visit her father, who is living in the old hacienda where both he and she were born. While spending the following summers and holidays together, herding cattle and fixing barbed-wire fences, he begins sharing stories with her, tales of a dramatic life filled with both intense love and brutal violence—from the final conversations he had with his own father, to his extradition from the United States for murder, to his mother’s pride after he shot a man for the first time at the age of twelve.

     Written in spare, gripping prose, Bulletproof Vest is Venegas’s reckoning with her father’s difficult legacy. Moving between Mexico and New York, between past and present, Venegas traces her own life and her father’s as, over time, a new closeness and understanding develops between them. Bulletproof Vest opens with a harrowing ambush on Venegas’s father while he’s driving near his home in Mexico. He survives the assault—but years later the federales will find him dead near the very same curve, and his daughter will be left with not only the stories she inherited from him but also a better understanding of the violent undercurrent that shaped her father’s life as well as her own.

Maria Venegas was born in the state of Zacatecas, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was four years old. Bulletproof Vest was excerpted in Granta and The Guardian. Venegas’s short stories have appeared in Ploughshares and Huizache. She has taught creative writing at Hunter College and currently works as a mentor at Still Waters in a Storm, a reading and writing sanctuary for children in Brooklyn. She lives in New York City.

Friday, June 13, 2014

#FridayReads: Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique

A major debut from an award-winning writer—an epic family saga set against the magic and the rhythms of the Virgin Islands.

In the early 1900s, the Virgin Islands are transferred from Danish to American rule, and an important ship sinks into the Caribbean Sea. Orphaned by the shipwreck are two sisters and their half brother, now faced with an uncertain identity and future. Each of them is unusually beautiful, and each is in possession of a particular magic that will either sink or save them.

Chronicling three generations of an island family from 1916 to the 1970s, Land of Love and Drowning is a novel of love and magic, set against the emergence of Saint Thomas into the modern world. Uniquely imagined, with echoes of Toni Morrison, Gabriel García Márquez, and the author’s own Caribbean family history, the story is told in a language and rhythm that evoke an entire world and way of life and love. Following the Bradshaw family through sixty years of fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, love affairs, curses, magical gifts, loyalties, births, deaths, and triumphs, Land of Love and Drowning is a gorgeous, vibrant debut by an exciting, prizewinning young writer.

Tiphanie Yanique is from Saint Thomas, Virgin Islands. The author of the story collection How to Escape from a Leper Colony, she is a 2010 Rona Jaffe Writers’ Award winner and was named by the National Book Awards as one of 2011’s “5 Under 35.”  She teaches at the New School and lives in Brooklyn and Saint Thomas

Friday, June 06, 2014

#FridayReads: Faces in the Crowd By: Valeria Luiselli

About Faces in the Crowd By: Valeria Luiselli
A multi-layered story told by two narrators: a 21st-century Emily Dickinson living in Mexico City who relates to the world vicariously through her children and a past that both overwhelms and liberates her, and a dying poet living in a run-down apartment in Philadelphia in the 1950s. 
While she tells the story of her past as a young editor in New York City desperately trying to convince a publisher to translate and publish the works of Gilberto Owen-an obscure Mexican poet who lived in Harlem during the 1920s and whose ghostly presence constantly haunts her in the subway-she also relates the slow but inevitable disintegration of her present family life.
Luiselli's novel stands apart from most Latin American fiction. She avoids worn-out narratives about drug wars and violence, and her downbeat supernaturalism feels quite different from the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez. Concerned, above all, with literature's ability to transcend time and space, Faces in the Crowd signals the appearance of an exciting female voice to join a new wave of Latino writers. Via The Guardian
 
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