Bess vs Cheese

In this holiday season, like most people, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Since I’m super poor, I’m trying not to buy a lot of presents for people this year. I have had many ideas of things I was going to make people. If you remember a previous blog entry, I once attempted to knit everyone something and that ended in disaster. I thought, “hey, this year I’ll make people food they can’t resist!” So far this has been a bit of a disaster as well.

My first gift idea – HOMEMADE GOAT CHEESE.


Sorry for all the caps, but I really like cheese. This is where Martha comes in.

I’ve long been a big fan of Martha Stewart. I think it all started with my beloved Blueprints magazines that MSLO published. Getting each issue was like Christmas in my mailbox. I actually think I’ve blogged in my past about how much I love and miss Blueprints. Sadly, the magazine folded, and in exchange, I started receiving Martha Stewart Living. I wasn’t expecting to like the magazine as I thought it would be too unattainable. Boy, I was wrong. Yes, there are long sections about pruning my topiaries and collecting my own eggs that my own chickens lay, but actually it’s very useful.

About a month ago, she did an entire episode all on cheese.  I dvr her show everyday and watch it as I get ready in the morning.  With the cheese episode, I saved it and watched it on a Friday night, as to not miss a thing. Well, she shows us how to make goat cheese, and it’s so simple and so awesome.



I’ve now tried to make goat cheese twice. I go to Fresh Market and buy a container of goats milk and fresh herbs to jazz it up. I even convinced my mom to buy me a food thermometer for my birthday.

It starts by heating the milk to 180 degrees. Then you add lemon juice which serves as the acid to separate the curds and weigh. After that, you separate the curds and weigh with a cheese clothe and sieve. You let it sit, then add salt and your herbs and VIOLA.

Well, here’s how mine went. Heated the milk, added the lemon juice… NOTHING

Next weekend – go to the store, buy more milk and herbs. Heated the milk, let the milk cool to room temperature, added the lemon juice… NOTHING.

Each time I try and cheese clothe to no avail.

So sorry family and friends, no one will be receiving the great gift of cheese this Christmas. Martha tricked me in making it look so easy, like anyone could do it.

I’ll keep researching, I won’t give up on you cheese!

But rest assured, I have had some success in the kitchen as of late, but it’s mostly boring stuff like cookies that no one really cares to read about.

Yep, he had it

I came out of blog semi retirement because this picture is just too wonderful not to share.

Nothing says gentleman quite like the ease of Cary Grant waiting for me with an umbrella.

MEN TAKE NOTE.  This is how it should be done

Devine Miss M

I’m totally in love with Bette Midler today. What a trip. I fear if I too made it big I would act just like her.

Here are three of my favorites:

Please note the Sheik. He’s what really makes this video pop.

This is just classic Bette

Ok she’s legit nutso in this one. It keeps going and going and going. But man, she can sing

Bess vs. the knitting needles

I have returned to my career as a knitter (that’s a thing, right?).   I’ll pause here to let the applause die down.  I retired my needles for about a year and a half but I’m finally ready to give it a go again.

My career started January of 07.  I had my senior year Winter Term (DePauw gives the month of Jan for travel, classes, internships, etc) off and was bored out of my mind in Shelbyville.  So, I decided it was time for a new skill and all the girls in the Yellow Vic (senior year house) were giving it a go so why shouldn’t I.  I went to my dear Grandmother’s house for a tutorial and learned a simple stitch.  I was so simple and relaxing.  It took me a while to get the right rhythm, but it was well worth it.  Who better to teach you to knit then your grandma!

I spent that entire month doing nothing but knitting.  I would stay up late in my room watching Degrassi reruns and knitting my scarf.  I tagged along with Mom and Dad on a business meeting to San Antonio and spent the much delayed plane ride knitting next to a large biker man.   No seriously, he was like 12 feet tall with a leather vest and beard and stuff.  I think he enjoyed the gentle click of the needles.

I began extreme knitting when I got back to the Yellow Vic.  All of the girls would sit in the living room watching tv and knit or crochet.  I would knit while sitting on my giant, teal, gym ball.  I’m surprised I didn’t poke my eye out.

In all those winter days of knitting, I never once completed the scarf I was working on.  As a matter of fact, the scarf is currently still on the needles in the truck of my car.  The problem is that I started with like the smallest needles known to man kind.  The stitches on my scarf are minuscule.  Here, I’ll go take a picture of my half completed scarf in my trunk – one sec

scarf 1

I also noted that this picture showcases the bizarre things I keep in my trunk – like a Christmas hat with elf ears, a winter coat, Christmas cds, a bag knitting things, and a tub of old magazines.  Sick, Bess, clean your car.

But I’m not going to lie, my half completed scarf does look pretty awesome.

I have at this point finished some knitting projects.  The first completed project I did was a pair of glomits (half gloves half mittens).  I didn’t go off a pattern, and I totally made it work.  Each hand might not be EXACTLY the same size, but it’s passable.  I would take a picture of those, but I honestly have no idea where they are.  Maybe I’ll clean my trunk tonight and find them.

My first Christmas after college I knitted everyone in the family a Christmas present.  Entry level assistant media planners DO NOT make much money, and I had no friends in Indy besides my brother and sister so I had nothing but time to knit.  So knit I did, and did, and did, and did, and did.  I made everyone a  scarf and carefully choose the right yarn colors and textures from Mass Ave Knit Shop (which is actually located on Virginia Ave so don’t let that fool ya).  On some of them, I think I spent more money on buying nice llama wool than I would had I just bought a scarf.

It was Christmas Eve and I still had one more present to make – Dad’s glomits .  I kept knitting away, furiously working the needles (in my head it’s like that scene from Amadeus where he’s writing and writing).

Start a like the end of min 4 start of min 5

But there is where my GIANT KNITTING FAILURE occurred.

Here is how the one glomit I made Dad turned out.

dad glomit

This picture doesn’t have enough detail, but there was this long point that emerged.  I decided to sew the point up into the wrist area of the glomit to add extra wamth.  It looked completely and utterly ridiculous and kinda like the skirt of a 1950’s house dress.  UGGGG.  I was so done that I didn’t make any mit to the glomit nor did I even attempt to make the second hand.

Since that dreaded day, I haven’t picked up my knitting needles.  I put them away (or in my trunk) for safe keeping.   After a trip to the Greencastle Wal-Mart craft section with my dear Tori, I decided to give it ago again.  Right now I’m working on a blanket.  It’s pretty ambitious, but here’s for trying.  Last night I finally made some progress on it during Gossip Girl.  By writing this, I am asking all of the interweb to hold me accountable and to finish some knitting project.


Here’s more photos of my 1st/uncompleted scarf (and creepy trunk)

scarf 2

scarf 3

Bess Likes the Colts

It’s the start of football season.  WOOOHOOO!!  While I enjoy football alright, as  a Hoosier it is my obligation to LOVE the Colts.  They are the only team I actually watch consistently.  Football season is the start of Fall and I love Fall.  Football requires beer, apple cider, a long sleeve t shirt under my jersey.  It just sets the right tone.  Roomie, Sarah, and neighbor Katie and I are true Colts fans.

bess and katie and colts

We will watch every game in a gear and cheer along and have victory dances.  Even on select occasions, tailgate when someone offers us free tickets (hint hint Dad).  Check out the great seats.

adam in the seats

COLTS roommies

So here’s to the Colts and here’s to their season.  VICTORY!!!

Dream Trip

I asked my parents this year if for my birthday/Christmas/Easter/Valentines Day/Earth Day/Half Birthday/Arbor Day/Executive Assitants Day if I could go on a trip.  I’ve been suffering from CRAZY wanderlust of late.  Like when I watch Only You, featuring Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr, all I can think about is going to Italy.  Gossip Girl makes me want to visit New York in Fall.  And so on and so on.

Mom and I have decided to officially start planning a trip.  Knowing my mother like I do, I know that if we don’t set a date, it will never happen.  Mom, I know you read this, but let’s be honest, you’re not a planner.  You would rather wait and see if you feel like traveling that weekend.  This is a wonderful quality but makes it a little difficult when I’m planning my vacation days for work.  Yesterday we started making plans.  I call Mom and suggest a culinary trip to the Amalfi Coast.  She suggests Mount Rushmore.


What is your dream trip?  Right now I’m really into wanting to go to Egypt.  But I think if the Amalfi Coast is out, so it King Tut.  Any suggestions on where I should go next?

Hark! It tis a Rainbow

I recently recorded my adventures with my Kitchenaid mixer.  I detailed my trials and successes with cupcakes.  Well, now hear about my great trimuph over the rainbow cake.

I love reading good food blogs.  While, they make me quite hungry during the day, they introduce me to new ideas and concepts but are still relatable (most of the time).  While reading Apartment Therapy’s food blog, In the Kitchen, there was a link to another blog.  I know, it’s confusing but follow the logic just a bit longer.  I open the link and low and behold is the most beautiful picture of a cake I had ever seen.  I don’t want to show you the link yet, because I want you to be impressed with my cake instead of the professional blog cake.

The cake was mind blowing.  There are 6 layers with frosting in between each one.  The flavor of the cake was a simple white cake with lemon extract buttercream icing.  So Sunday when I got home for church I started my epic afternoon of baking.  I had a family (cousin, brother, sister, and sister-in-law’s) birthday later that day and I was in charge of cake.  I start baking at like 11.  I Redboxed 17 Again, featuring the ever delightful Zac Efron.  It is a perfect movie to bake to.  After that was done I watched Rushmore, my favorite Wes Anderson flick.  It is also the perfect baking movie.  Ps I love Jason Swartzman.  I mean there’s an entire entry I could dedicate just to him.

Anyway…. I start sifting, mixing, and spatuling.  The 6 layers had to be baked individually and I only have 2 baking dishes.  There were individual bowls of batter placed all around the kitchen.  It was quite the endeaver.

After 3 hours (no joke) my cake and icing were complete.



Each layer has been entrenched in food coloring to create a beautiful (if I do say so myself) rainbow of flavor.  I actually cut the icing in about half.  The blog had equal icing to cake ratio.  My family isn’t a big icing person so I halved it and think it totally worked.    The thing that drew me to the cake initially was how, before you cut the cake, you have no idea it’s special.  It appears to be a plain white cake.  Nothing fancy.  But then you cut into it and discover it’s bursting at the layers with personality.  In the original blog, the cake was made for a friend’s going away party.  She made the cake in honor of a friend because her friend might seem “normal” on the outside but inside is screaming with individuality.  If someone made this cake because it reminded them of me, I would feel truly honored.  It also made cutting the cake quite the experience.  There were drumrolls and excitement.


So here I am with my rainbow cake.  If this cake catches on, I’m going to buy up stock in some food coloring company.

Happy birthday to all out there who might be craving a cake.

oh yeah… here’s the link to the original and awe inspiring blog.


I’ve written many times of my dream to own my book store, B’s Knees Books (complete with the Newfoundland, Louisa May Alcott). Today I was reminded of why I have this dream:

I have a dear friend/co-worker who is about to have his first child. For the baby shower, guests are asked to bring their favorite children’s book. Without thought or hesitation, I knew the exact book to choose – Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney.

Barbara Cooney was my favorite author/illustrator as a kid. She wrote Miss Rumphius, Hattie and the Wild Waves, and many others. She illustrated the Boxcart Man and Emily.

Miss Rumphius is about a young girl who makes a promise to do three things in her life, go to faraway places, live by the sea as an old woman, and do something to make the world a more beautiful place. She manages to do the first two quite successfully, but struggles to figure out what she could do to make the world a more beautiful place. She finally decides to sprinkle lupine seeds everywhere goes transforming the landscape.

Even as a young girl I found the book inspiring. I too wanted to do all those things Miss Rumphius does. While I haven’t really done any of them, I’m hoping there’s still time. I wanted so desperately to plant lupines in our yard, but Mom assured me they wouldn’t grow in our extra shady yard. I also asked Mom what she did to make the world a better place. Her answer, “I had three beautiful kids.” Ahhh shucks.

Man, I miss being a kid.

So, what are you going to do to make the world a better place. I’m all for some suggestions on how I can manage that.

Cinematic Genius

I say this without an once or irony or sarcasm. I think this clip is Cinematic Genius

It has hot ’90s clothes, hair, dance moves. It has a Janet Jackson reference, a God rap. It features Jenifer Love Hewitt, Whoopi, and Lauryn Hill. There is nothing more it needs.

Don’t act like you don’t know all the words and dance moves. Wait, you seriously don’t? That’s just me? Whatever, you’re jealous

Bess vs the Cupcakes 1-1

I got one of the most amazing Christmas present back in 2006.  Santa, aka Connie and Larry, got me a beautiful orange KitchenAid Mixer.

I decided not to bring the beautiful mixer with me back to our college house.  This was probably one of the better decisions I’ve made in my life.  So after graduation, it was like I received the present all over again.  I moved in with my brother, opened that KitchenAid box and gave it a prominent place in the kitchen.  I then tried to get Adam to go with an entire orange motif for the kitchen, but that never really took.  It was hard to believe I had had my mixer 6 months and never touched it.

My first year out of college I was bored most of the time.  All my friends lived in Chicago, or Boston, or Evansville, or Minneapolis, or  somewhere else.  It took me a while to find my footing after school.  While I was trying to find that footing, I took up baking to fill the large gaps of time.  I wanted to use my mixer but didn’t know how else to do that besides baking.  I started making cakes and cupcakes all the time.  It was a weekly experience.  Most of the time, I wouldn’t necessarily even eat what I made, I just wanted to mix it together.   There were always some sort of baked goods sitting on the oven in Adam’s house.  My baked good of choice was the cupcake.  It was easy to give away (Hey Adam, take this tupperware container to the office today) and they are pretty darn tasty.

One thing I struggled with is that many times, cupcakes from scratch are not as good as just buying from the box.  I’ve tried many a recipe and found they were mostly alright, but not amazing.  Here’s a tale about two from scratch recipes I tried:

The cupcake wins:

My cousin Mike got married this summer and so the ladies of the family were throwing his now-wife a shower.  I volunteered to be in charge of cupcakes (duh).  The theme of the shower were her colors – blue and brown.  I took this theme very seriously trying to figure out the most elegant way to incorporate the colors onto the cupcake pallet.  No one wants a mouth full of blue icing so I needed something more unique.  I started consulting people I knew and my friend Bethany suggested this recipe but changing the food coloring.   I thought it was a genius idea.  I went home that night and tried it…. Well, things did not work as planned.  The recipe looks amazing and the color in the recipe is such a vibrant red.  There’s a reason they’re called red velvet cupcakes and not Blue velvet cupcakes.  The cocoa in the cupcakes mix with the color and make it really really hard to get a good color.  I honestly spent an hour mixing different combination of food coloring just trying to get a blue color.  This is the result of the best I could do.

photo-2 Doesn’t it just look like mold?  Mike and Tamara are into camping so I thought maybe I could turn my mold-looking cupcake into a camping theme.  The green would be grass and I could ice in a blue river or something.  I was desperate.

Cupcakes 1 – Bess 0

Finally, on the day of the shower, I just bought a chocolate mix and chocolate icing from the store and then filled the cupcake plate with blue sprinkles.  It actual looked and tasted pretty good.  But it was from a box.  It lacked the satisfaction I was craving.

After that disaster and few others, (sometimes I get bake and broil confused on my oven.  That makes for an interesting cupcake) I put off cupcake making for a while.  My orange KitchenAid lay dormant waiting for chance to combine sugar and butter once a gain, a chance to prove itself with a whip of eggs and flour.  I decided to give it a reprieve last night.

Bess Wins:

Some of you might know but I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE Martha Stewart.  She is just amazing, so classy, so perfect, so awesome (she is great to follow on twitter.  I highly reccommend it.  She will tweat recipes all the time).  And honestly, I don’t see the big deal about insider trading.  A rep from Martha Stewart Living magazine sent me and my co-workers a copy of Martha’s new cupcake cookbook.  First off, it’s a beautiful cookbook and full of tons of recipes and decorating ideas.

Last night my roommate and I decided we would watch disc 1 from season 3 of Weeds.  What goes better with Weeds than snacks?  So before the show began I decided to whip up a batch of Martha’s cupcakes.  After much deliberataion, I decided on the Blueberries and Cream recipe because it was seasonal.  The reciped called for two types of flour – all purpose and cake flour.  I think that might have made all the difference because normally I just use all purpose flour.

I made my own whipped cream icing and the cupcakes are actually perfection and pretty simple to make.

photo-3Aren’t they cute?  Three Chears to Martha.

I guess the cupcakes and I are tied 1-1.  What will the tie breaker be?