Monthly Archives: August 2021

Pic of the Day


Cooking vs. Baking

I can cook most anything. Sometimes, I use a recipe, but sometimes I don’t. However, baking is a different story. Other than cookies, I’ve never been much of a baker. I can make a very tasty coconut custard pie, but I inevitably overfill the pie crust and it overflows when cooking and causes a hell of a mess. Before i go further, let me explain what I think of as the difference between cooking and baking. For me, cooking usually refers to a savory dish that you eat as part of a meal, whereas baking is sweets or desserts made in the oven, such as cookies, cakes, or pies. For a more detailed and precise definition of the two, see this article about “Cooking vs Baking.” Cooking is an art, while baking is more of a science. With cooking, you can experiment with the ingredients to make the dish a creation of your own, and the variations can be endless. Baking, however, requires exact measurements. The order in which ingredients are added is also often a factor in baking. While I can follow a recipe just fine, I’ve often not been very successful with more elaborate cakes. Cookies and pies, I’ve pretty much mastered. The exception is pound cakes.
I have been craving a good pound cake for a few days now, and I plan to make one. But, what kind should I make? My mother is a master at cake making, and while measurements have to be exact during baking, my grandmama could make most of her cakes with her eyes closed. Also, pound cakes are usually a pretty simple recipe with only four ingredients and one measurement: a pound each of butter, flour, sugar, and eggs. But there are many variations of the pound cake: classic, butter, sour cream, cream cheese, etc. I love a good buttery pound cake, but my favorite is a brown sugar pound cake, so that s what I plan to make, a Brown Sugar Pecan Pound Cake. I doubt I’ll have the energy to make one after work tonight, and I probably won’t make one tomorrow night. However, this weekend is supposed to be cool (our high Saturday is 65) and rainy, so what better day to make a cake and have the oven on for over an hour.

This recipe is a Southern twist on a classic. I’ve never made this particular recipe. It comes from dinnerthendessert.com,which claimed that this Brown Sugar Pecan Pound Cake is rich, moist and full of pecan crunch and takes just over an hour to cook. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Brown Sugar Pecan Pound Cake

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 1 hr
Serves: 12 Servings

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Unsalted Butter
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar, (packed)
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 3 large Eggs
  • 1 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 cup Whole Milk
  • 1 1/2 cups Flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup Chopped Pecans

Preparation Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray a 9×5 loaf pan with baking spray.
  2. In a stand mixer on medium high speed, add together the butter, brown sugar and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add in the eggs one at a time until fully combined, then add in the vanilla.
  4. Add in the milk and flour, baking powder and salt (alternate them in thirds) until just combined.
  5. Add in all but a handful of the chopped pecans and stir.
  6. Pour batter into the loaf pan and sprinkle on the rest of the pecans.
  7. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Pic of the Day


Farewell Lunch

We will be having a farewell lunch for one of my coworkers today. I hate the reason why she’s leaving, but I understand. She stood up for her principles, and the university went against her. It’s been an infuriating sequence of events. I did all I could to keep her here, but it wasn’t enough. She’s going to be very difficult to replace at the museum. She won’t even be staying in Vermont. She’s moving back down South to be near her family.

I will miss her when she’s gone. She’s been a great friend to me while I’ve been here. She welcomed me when I first came to Vermont, and she’s done her best to make me feel at home up here. Whether that was having me for Easter or Thanksgiving or making fried green tomatoes together, she’s always brought a little of the good parts of the South to Vermont. She always had some sweet tea for me when I’d go to her house. I really will miss her. She’s irreplaceable as a friend.


Pic of the Day


Three Poems by Timothy Liu

Blind Date
By Timothy Liu

He slept with his back
towards me, a ladder
I’d learn to climb
even if it took till dawn—
we who wanted to live
past the expiration
date that was printed
on the condom wrapper
neither of us had
wanted to tear open—

Do Not Disturb
By Timothy Liu

Offshore salt lapping up against a lighthouse flashing red,
my husband next to me in a waterbed by the sea
with “Do Not Disturb” signs hung on every door—
my lover on the other side of the ocean, unable to tell
if the fog will roll out as the day’s first headlights
make their way down a coastal road as he texts me
a face I cannot touch, a mystical rose that keeps its own
scent. What good would it do to say I miss him
when saying nothing makes me miss him all the more?

I Need Your Body Near Me
By Timothy Liu

An ocean is nothing, there is no separation
between two lovers. And I knew just what
it took: six hours, two meals with a movie
in between, blinders over eyes, plugs in ears
as I tried to get some sleep. When I awoke,
I knew I’d crossed more than a time zone
for my body was always nearer to yours
than anyone else’s still sleeping in your bed—

About the Poet

Timothy Liu (Liu Ti Mo) was born in 1965 in San Jose, California, to parents from the Chinese mainland. He studied at Brigham Young University, the University of Houston, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

He is the author of Luminous Debris: New & Selected Legerdemain 1992-2017 (Barrow Street Books, 2018); Kingdom Come: A Fantasia (Talisman House, 2017); Don’t Go Back To Sleep (Saturnalia, 2014); Polytheogamy (Saturnalia, 2009); Bending the Mind Around the Dream’s Blown Fuse (Talisman House, 2009); For Dust Thou Art (Southern Illinois University Press, 2005); Of Thee I Sing (University of Georgia Press, 2004), selected by Publishers Weekly as a 2004 Book-of-the-Year; Hard Evidence (Talisman House, 2001); Say Goodnight (Copper Canyon Press, 1998); Burnt Offerings (Copper Canyon Press, 1995); and Vox Angelica (Alice James Books, 1992), which won the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award.

About Liu’s work, the poet Fanny Howe has said, “Timothy Liu writes out of an angry materialism, ill-fitting body, disappointment at every turn. He takes on his point of view wholeheartedly and compresses the consequences into phrases that echo and mimic each other, thereby increasing the sensation of claustrophobia and fever.”

Liu’s honors and awards include a Pushcart Prize and the Open Book Beyond Margins Award. He is also the editor of Word of Mouth: An Anthology of Gay American Poetry, (Talisman House, 2000).

He has served as a core faculty member at Bennington College’s Writing Seminars and is currently an associate professor at William Paterson University. He lives in Manhattan.


Pic of the Day


Henri

It looks like today might be a very wet day in Vermont. According to what Tropical Storm Henri does overnight and what I wake up to this morning, we could get a lot of rain. In my life, I’ve been through a lot of tropical storms and a few hurricanes (Opal [1995] and Katrina [2005] being the most memorable), but I thought once I moved to Vermont, the most I could expect was the remnants of tropical weather. We’ll see what today brings. It looks like most of it will be in southern Vermont. Central and northern Vermont are expecting to get very little, if any. However, you never really know. Tropical weather systems, no matter how strong or weak, can be very unpredictable. Henri has basically changed course every hour, but as of last night, it looked like the storm would turn east and go across Massachusetts.

The thing about storms like Henri, I really wish I could stay home and not have to get out in it, but if it’s not too bad, I know the museum will be open, and I’ll have to go into work. Thank goodness for umbrellas.

Early Morning Update: It looks like Vermont will be spared from Henri. NJ, NY, RI, and CT will most likely continue to take the brunt of the storm today. It is tracking East heading out into the Atlantic, but it appears to be slow moving. Vermont could see some rain this evening, but nothing close to what was originally predicted.


Pic of the Day


Positivity

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 

Philippians 4:8

Ever heard of the saying “You are what you eat?” Well, the same is true with our thoughts; we become what we think. It’s the power of positive thinking. Fixing our thoughts on the positive allows our outlook to be positive, even if we are surrounded by negativity.  Paul is trying to show us that we can rise above behaviors we detest. It all starts with thoughts, which lead to actions, and eventually become habits.

If we let the negativity int his world, especially the negativity that is often aimed at the LGBTQ+ community, then we will become consumed by it. We can’t let other’s negative attitudes bring us down. If we stay positive then the negative naysayers cannot have a hold on us. We have to live by example and that means having an attitude that is positive and encouraging.

The easiest thing we can do is to smile at another person. I know it’s not always easy to smile, but we can still try to make an effort. Smiles and positivity can be contagious, and in the present, we need something that contagious that is positive. Too much suffering is occurring because of hate, fear, and negativity. The best thing we can do is to live and lead by example.