Thursday, January 21, 2010

Statehouse re-dedication

Over the last few years, Idaho's capital building was being renovated and remodeled. During this time, the Legislature convened in the Ada County Courthouse. The Court house is remarkable because it reminds of the creepy building from Ghostbusters. I would not be surprised if some Babylonian God came out of it one night to bring doom upon the inhabitants of Boise.

The renovation was finished earlier this month and since Dad was in the Legislature all those years, he got invitations to the re-dedication. I hadn't been to Boise in a while and decided to endure the drive to see the remodel.

They had a pretty nice ceremony. There was a premiere of a piece for band and choir called "Under Eternal Sky" by Dr. Paul Aitken. I am always in support of new music and thought this piece fit the occasion very well. Dr. Aitken did a good job of making the music seem modern without being weird. A good choice, because while I like funky 20th century music, most people don't. There were also some speakers. I wasn’t really paying attention to them. They probably said some things.

I was impressed with the work that was done. A lot of excellent craftsmanship was put into the remodel.

The Governor C.L. 'Butch' Otter, I like to imagine the C.L. stands for Carlheinz Leslie

This reception area used to be some offices (my dad's office was here), this is a return to the original design

One sad loss was the replacement of a pepto-bismal colored elevator, with a newer, more stylish model. The old pink elevator was so absurd and out of place, it made me smile every time I saw it. You will be missed, ridiculous elevator.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fruitcake can be tasty

I'm sure when you read the word fruitcake, you made 'that face'. The face that says, "Ewww, fruitcake is gross. I would rather eat dog food." I'm here to tell you that it doesn't have to be that way. One day, years ago, I was eating fruitcake and I said to myself,"Hmmm, fruitcake would be good were it not for the disgusting candied fruit."
In order to save fruitcake I did some looking into recipes and methods of fruitcake productionology. I have created a fruitcake that is highly edible and tasty. This is based largely on Alton Brown's recipe.

First, you need real fruit...and liquor.

The liquored fruit must be spiced and sugared

The sugared spicy liquor fruit is then doughified

When removed from the oven the cake is liquored up once again. I spritz it with brandy every few days and keep it wrapped up so it can absorb the boozy flavor. It's a good idea to let it sit because fresh brandy tastes like Listerine.

It's extra tasty and ultra Christmasy. Eat it, sissy.
Here's the recipe:

Edible fruitcake

1 cup golden raisins
1 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup dried blueberries
1 cup sun dried cherries
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
Zest of one lemon, chopped coarsely
Zest of one orange, chopped coarsely
1 cup gold rum

1 cup sugar
5 ounces unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks)
1 cup unfiltered apple juice
¼ heaping tsp ground cloves
¼ heaping tsp ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 cup toasted pecans, broken
Brandy for basting and/or spritzing

Combine dried fruits and both zests. Add rum and macerate overnight, or microwave for 5 minutes to re-hydrate fruit - this method will make awesome rum steam.
Place fruit and liquid in a non-reactive pot with the sugar, butter, apple juice and spices. Bring mixture to a boil stirring often, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for at least 15 minutes.
Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Combine dry ingredients and sift into fruit mixture. Quickly bring batter together with a large wooden spoon, then stir in eggs one at a time until completely integrated, then fold in nuts. Spoon into a 10-inch non-stick loaf pan and bake for 1 hour. Check if it's done by inserting toothpick into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, it's done. If not, bake another 10 minutes, and check again.
Remove cake from oven and place on cooling rack or trivet. Baste or spritz top with brandy and allow to cool completely before turning out from pan.
When cake is completely cooled, seal in a tight sealing, food safe container. Every 2 to 3 days, feel the cake and if dry, spritz with brandy.