just a little sweet, sour, salty, and bitter

July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Filed under: Uncategorized — tjchang @ 7:54 pm

Hi World. Time to update!

Summer has been amazing since I ended summer school and actually got to start each day without an agenda. I went to San Diego for a conference with some co-workers and my professor at work, and once I got back, I hung out with people and cooked. A lot. My roommates and I have been bonding over good food, cleaning, and doing groceries…

This is what happens when you have an awesome roommate who drives and an awesome friend who has Costco membership. Oh, and this is what happens when you go to Ranch 99 and Costco in the same day.


With the other 3 objects in the picture, can you see how big of a bag of flour I got from Costco? And it was 25 pounds for only for $8!!!


Mexican Food in SD. This place's tortillas were so good...

I just got back from an amazing Fourth of July picnic with my church. My apartment definitely went all out in preparing food for the potluck. We had so much food that we had trouble transporting everything to the car…

Jamie made scalloped potatoes that were demolished at the picnic, Cindy made Japchae and chocolate oatmeal cookies, Jane made green bean soup, and I made corn and tomato salad, lemon bars, red velvet American flags, and a very patriotic cake.

Colorful, yeah?

I don’t know what pushed me to try making the patriotic cake. I am not a very artsy person, so I really don’t have any skills in decorating and arranging cakes. But, when I saw the cake on foodgawker.com (my new favorite site), I was thoroughly impressed with the genius mind that came up with that recipe (see the amazing cake here: http://glorioustreats.blogspot.com/2011/06/4th-of-july-flag-cake.html or here: http://17andbaking.com/2009/07/01/a-little-taste-of-independence/).

I thought to myself, “What an amazingly planned out cake. But I could never do it. I’ll just gawk at it.”

Then, a few days later, my small group leader asks if I can make a dessert for the picnic on Monday… and I say yes with nothing but that cake in mind. I looked up some more patriotic dessert recipes to see if there is anything easier to do, and found this: http://www.ericasweettooth.com/2011/06/mini-flag-layer-cakes.html, but those didn’t satisfy the desire to challenge myself as much. After discussing with my roommate, I decided to try making both of the cakes.

The real challenge behind making both of the cakes is not making the cake itself, but the arranging and designing. Hence, this was one of the few times that I used cake mixes to make the cake (one of my roommates was quite surprised that I was using cake mix). I decided to make the cream cheese frosting from scratch though! Boy, were my right arm’s biceps sore after mixing cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract, and 4 cups of powdered sugar together….

Anyhow, as I was decorating the red velvet cakes, I realized 1) I need an icing piper to decorate cakes nicely and 2) I don’t have the skills to design cakes… more and more I’m starting to feel that I’m a “lets toss this all together and just bake it as is” person. Here is how my mini cakes turned out:

My art. I tried.

As for the other cake, I had more fun because it felt more like assembling a puzzle. I began with 2 round red cake pieces, 1 blue cake piece, and 1 white cake.

I cut each one red cake in half and one white cake in half, and then cut out 4 inch circles out of the blue cake and one piece of the red and one piece of the white cake.

The pieces for the cake and the glue (aka frosting)

Then, (are you ready for this? ready? ready?) I started with one layer of red on the bottom, plastered frosting over it with a spatula, then put on a piece of white cake, coated that layer with frosting, then put one more layer of red on top of that, then put more frosting on that layer, then put the blue layer with the hole on top of that, then put frosting on the sides of the hole and in the hole, then put down one 4 inch round of white cake, put more frosting on that, then put the red piece on top of that to get….

coating frosting liberally as if it were glue



The cake, with its true form revealed.

Okay, so at this point, I feel kind of accomplished. This didn’t require that much artistic talent… but then came the frosting of the whole cake. The American flag in the cake is supposed to be a surprise when you but the cake open, so you need to frost the whole cake all over. Honestly, that part was kind of hard. How was I going to conceal all these uneven layers of cake behind the seemingly little frosting that I had left? But, thankfully, it all worked out, especially because my roommate with scraping-OCD volunteered to do most of it for me =)

the end result. eh.... not that pretty huh. frosting is harder to control than you would imagine it to be

Okay okay. So now, the cake just looks like a giant 5 or 6 pound of… cake. But the beauty is within! Only today did I find out that the assembling worked out okay when I cut the cake open at the picnic.


That’s just about how crazy I will get with cake decorating. I think I will stick with fruit tarts and banana bread and yogurt loaves for the most part though. It was a good challenge though, and a good experience.

(What happened to the scraps? I played with them in the early hours of the morning because I was procrastinating from cleaning up the mess I made in the kitchen and in the dining room. This was how creative I could get with the mess:

my mess.

this is as far as my creativity and art skills go)

Now, you may gawk at the picnic potluck food. Happy fourth of July! Try to go out and catch some firework shows!

Corn tomato salad and napa cabbage salad

more of the feast

Desserts galore

oh, and what is a fourth of July picnic without meat?

MY SISTER IS COMING TO VISIT SOON! more eating and cooking to come.



    Comment by neeyuh — July 5, 2011 @ 2:03 am

  2. why did i decide to visit your blog at 2 am :( now i’m soooo hungry….:)
    that cake was awesome btw :)

    Comment by chris y — August 3, 2011 @ 2:14 am

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