Friday, June 29, 2012

Another Engagement and circumcising dogs

Today we celebrated the engagement of one of our graduate students.  Indeed a happy occasion!  To whet our sweet teeth as part of the fete we had an array of treats including a cake, some fresh berries, ice cream with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. After all you don't get engaged every day and we don't have a good excuse to go a little overboard every day!

Quite a selection and an engagement to boot!
Chocolate cake and pound cake!
Fresh berries for the healthy set!

And the good stuff for the not so healthy eatera!

The future bride to be!

The temporary ring!

Down to business!

Since everything was purchased in a supermarket the cake was fairly basic. Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, some candy confetti and jimmies for a festive touch and lastly the appropriate message to go with the event.  These cakes, if purchased close to the creation date, are actually pretty good. They are not sickeningly sweet but are usually pretty moist and light. Easier to eat than some of the dense choco-cakes we've dealt with.  They also go great with ice cream so score having also had the ice cream today.
A nice generic but good chocolate cake with the day's message!
The group joins in.
The berries were good and helped the health conscious among us participate.  The pound cake, intended to go with the strawberries turned out to be overkill so it was saved for another day.

Smiling while slicing berries!

And a great job of slicing indeed!
Enjoying the fruits of their labor!
Our newly anointed fiancée was quite excited and her plans called for a wedding somewhere like Alaska or Antarctica - someplace unique but cold. There was a little comment about whether it was appropriate to choose a place like that and expect people to get there and it was conceded that whether that was fair was being discussed.
Smiling with the fiancée!
Suggesting how to raise the dogs!
The counter suggestion came to have it in the jungle which did not go over well since one of the criteria for the place was that it be cold.  There were also subsequent remarks about how the children should be raised and that they should be raised Jewish.  The fiancée, not being a practitioner of Judaism, despite perhaps some heritage, countered that wouldn't be done and besides they were not going to have children but rather dogs.  Their would only be dog children. This was countered with the suggestion they could raise the dogs Jewish...but you would have to circumcise them. It probably should have been left there but our protagonist, being a veterinarian, responded with that it was doubtful it could be done.  "There's a bone there."  And that's the end of that conversation.

Don't ask me how it came to dog circumcision!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tate's and a basking land shark

We were at a loss for a volunteer today but managed to fill in the gap with an always favorite when no one steps up to the plate...Tate's Cookies.  Fortunately they are for sale at a nearby gourmet emporium so they are easy to grab when a cake hour treat is needed.  If you haven't seen any previous posts, these are quite good cookies made at a bakery somewhere on Long Island.  Unlike the tendency to make chocolate chip cookies mushy or cake like, Tate's sticks with a recipe that makes them good and crispy.  Maybe even a little too crispy because they always seem to break in the package. But regardless of that fact they taste very good. They are not outrageously sweet with plenty of chocolate chips or nuts depending on the recipe.  Today we went with the walnut chocolate chip and the macadamia nut cookies.  Good stuff, for sure and one should definitely try them if you come across them in a store.

We talked about whale watching as one of our colleagues had gone on a New England Aquarium Whale Watch over the past weekend resulting in her face looking about as red as her color enhanced hair. Apparently it was a successful trip with none of the drama say of the Whale Watch trip I took out of Provincetown once with 6-10 foot seas and 75%+ of the people on the trip vomiting.  Whale watches can sure be a lot of fun.

Our colleague's trip came across a few whales but the featured creature of the deep that they found was what they understood as a basket shark. We took that to mean basking shark and after a quick search with some images included it was confirmed that a basking shark is what they saw.  So we learned about basking sharks.  They are vegetarian, filter feeders existing mostly on plankton but are the second largest species of fish. On average, the adult basking shark reaches a length of 6–8 metres (20–26 ft) and weighs about 5.2 tonnes.  That takes a lot of plankton!  We speculated what would the sharks response be if it accidentally sucks in small fish and other things.  We presumed they have a method of spitting it out.  Given their size we are glad that they are harmless to men.
This is one big fish!

When trying to view pictures of a colleague's phone the phone reverted back to a previous screen and would not show the shark again. This prompted a comment "I thought they were called smart phones" and the wag response was "they are for smart people." Very funny!   Later the touché response was when the comment came about the basking shark having a big mouth the answer was "just like some people here." Ha, ha!  Is there a similarity? Hmmm!

Basking Shark

 Filter Feeder with unfiltered brewski!
Basking Land Shark?
Shappy Shark!

There was also some chocolate brought back from a co-worker who visited Peru. Unfortunately the gluttons here could not wait for cake time to spread the wealth and largely finished it off before it could be properly recorded. The wrapper was nice, though!

Nice wrapper!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thousand Layer Cake from Taiwan

Something new today.  You would probably never guess from the bag from Amo's that we are going to be dealing with a treat from the island of Taiwan.  Amo's does not exactly sound like a Taiwanese enterprise but the .tw at the end of the website does indeed stand for Taiwan.  Our Taiwanese delight was brought back by a summer student who was spending some QT there prior to starting her research project for the summer.  We were supposed to eat it on the day she brought it but we had a ton of cakes to go through before we could get to it so here we are about four days later than expected.
Looks like something you would find at a mall!
Could be just about anything!
Amo is from tw or Taiwan
It's a cake!
Interesting texture under the plastic!
Nicely browned top!
And nicely textrued!
Now you see why it is called thousand layer cake!
It turns out that this is called a thousand layer cake and it is pretty easy to figure out why. It is a pretty densely packed confection of multiple layers of yellow cake. Unlike typical layer cakes that are separated by frosting, this one has each layer baked separately and then assembled so it is the browned surface of the layer that marks the separation of the layers.  The batter is heavy on egg yolks and butter which probably helps stabilize the texture and destabilize cholesterol levels!  As you can see when slicing it there is no danger that it will fall apart as it is that tightly packed!
Tightly packed thin layers...quite impressive!
No danger of these layers collapsing!

Even if it's a Mashiko piece!
Despite us having it about 6 days after the suggested consumption date, it was still pretty moist.  It was not too sweet which is typical of desserts from the Far East and had a good flavor that was basic but good.  All in all it was a nice surprise and was very well received. Our first treat from Taiwan was a success and thousand layers or not the name still gets your attention.

Without frosting between the layers it's like a pound cake made up of layers!
Speaking of Taiwan we learned that they have a great museum of all the treasures that were taken from the Forbidden City in Beijing as the communists were taking control of the mainland and the Nationalists were driven to Taiwan.  Small wonder that the People's Republic doesn't want to let Taiwan become independent. Actually it is a little more complicated...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Another one's off to Medical School in...ta, da! Tennessee!

The amount of murine dendritic cells isolated in the laboratory is going to take a precipitous decline now that the researcher mainly performing that function has finished her work and departed to take off to medical school in Knoxville, no..Chattanooga..that's not it, Memphis...nope,...Murfreesboro, er try again...what's left?  Oh, NASHVILLE, Tennessee!  Who knew they had a medical school there to go with the Grand Ol' Opry and the Parthenon.  Nashville...the name conjures up Country Music and the Robert Altman film of that name from the 70s.  Whatever happened to Ronee Blakely now that you mention it? Her song "Tapedeck in his Tractor" was a classic, no?
Something's afoot!
Another one's off for medical training with a bunch of Methodists!
Not a bad combo!
Tennessee here I come!

But I digress, our star departee for the day started as an undergraduate student and continued her career as a post-baccalaureate in research applying for medical school in the meantime.  Her acceptance came from Meharry Medical College and so off she had to go.  We had a going away fete featuring goodies from Lasalle Bakery in Providence and a nice bottle of French wine for a toast to her future success.

The crowd gathers for the celebration...
...and a bit of a toast...

...and a gift of a book about the great Influenza epidemic...
......hilarious don't you think?
Being a fan of the strawberry shortcake cake from Whole Foods we went with one of those from Lasalle and also a classic chocolate cream pie.   The shortcake was food with a strawberry filling in the center instead of just cut up fresh strawberries as in the Whole Foods case. It's a little bit sweeter in that regard but good nonetheless.  The chocolate cream pie was indeed classic.  Lots of whipped cream on top of a chocolate pastry cream/chocolate pudding filling.  There might could have been a bit more chocolate filling but that's a minor point. It's good that there are bakeries around making things the good old fashioned way.
Getting down to the business of eating!
As a departure gift we presented a nice impressionistic type painting of Waterfire a well known Providence attraction where they light small bonfires along the downtown rivers and everyone walks around aimlessly looking at the fires, listening to music and breathing in the smoke.  It actually is an interesting spectacle and has put given Providence a bit more cachet. For more information check out  They are even planning a flash mob!

It's Waterfire!

The group good bye photo!

Final farewell!

Wishing you many cake hours to come!

With celebratory head piece!  Quelle mode!