old years

every year, around the last days of december, i get a little antsy. i think we all do, especially in anticipation of the start of a new year around the corner. those last days of december are usually thrown away in a flurry of anxiety regarding past regrets, new (and especially fervent) promises, and apprehension of what a new year will bring. while i've always been wedded to the symbolism of the january 1 new year, grace constantly reminds me that every day is a new opportunity for growth and change. obviously true, but still hard to remember. so, late this year, i've tried to integrate this lesson into my life by making these last few days of the year particularly meaningful, and peaceful, by renouncing the usual resolution making and stock taking, and instead talking long walks amid snowflakes, watching old movies, and talking by candlelight. maybe because of this, i've never been sadder to see a year end.

happy birthday dad!

your ability to carve a turkey skillfully while having mom in the background cheerfully and hysterically berating you is just one of the many traits that makes you my hero. others include your kindness and extreme generosity of spirit. sending you wishes from afar for the happiest of days! i love you!

more than the sum of its parts

while this phrase can be used to describe any number of things, when describing the pizookie it finally achieves the full intended effect. obviously there is nothing bad about a warm chocolate chip cookie the size of your pillow or ice cream or hot fudge or caramel sauce, but take that same cookie and cover it with a full on ice-cream sundae immediately upon removal from the oven and you've got yourself a winner. grab a couple of spoons, a handful of friends, and new year's eve tv countdown, and start the year off oh-so-wrong.

you can use the chocolate chip cookie recipe here. oh, and thanks to heddy, my best college roommate for introducing me to this midwestern bastardization of dessert. without you, my life would never be so good.

dyker heights redux

this time around the first snow of the season fell during our outing, making it feel even more magical. also, i was startled by a very fat man sitting outside his house with a santa suit and a tin can for collecting dollar bills. in the car on the way home i took off my glasses, and all the lights blurred into receding waves of color, making every stoplight a hallucinogenic experience.

note to self re: holiday parties

1. lighting must be low enough so that squinting is almost necessary.
2. there must be at least one thing that is vegan, and it better be delicious.
3. provide triple the amount of napkins you think you need; still none of them will get used.
4. cheese is always a crowd pleaser; especially if you plant little flags in it with the country of origin.
5. popular white elephant presents are usually suspiciously expensive looking.
6. there will never be enough alcohol. and make sure to spike everything, including cider.
7. cats are welcome, unless they're not.
8. desserts of the cheap, but decadent, sort are most pleasing to all parties.
9. using toothpicks to secure anything is never a good idea if you want to relax before your party.
10. no matter how much set-up, clean-up, and parental calling involved, it will always be worth it.

holiday crafts

hey there, are you similarly battling the alternating feelings of recession thrift and holiday spirited shopping? to deal with this, and the inevitable holiday stress, i've turned to my favorite friend: crafts! you feel productive, thrifty, and relaxed all at once! here are some quick crafts you still have time to do that will ensure a merry holiday.

brussel sprout wreath
inspired by this apartment therapy post , i spent a week nervously plotting how to make this, since the post has no instructions. at first i was convinced i'd have to buy a wreath frame, but, as the link shows, these things can really only be found at that mecca for suburban crafters, michaels. us urban crafters are SOL, as they say, and have to get even craftier to make up for it. eventually, i ended up constructing the frame out of 2 wire hangers, bent so they formed two concentric circles, and some 18 gauge aluminum wire wrapped around them for support. then, i used a drill bit to poke holes through the brussel sprouts (they can be surprisingly resistant!) and threaded the aluminum gauge through them two at a time. i had to use pliers or else the wire would bend. maybe if i had used a harder metal this would not have happened? when i had enough (about 25 pairs of two), i started to attached to the frame, twisting the aluminum wire around the frame. i ended up making a couple of single sprouts, and attaching them in various places to fill in some holes. and then i busted out the glue gun, and used remnants of our christmas tree, some berries i picked up at the coop, and part of a gift of holly from my friend lis (thanks lis!) to spruce (ha!) it up a bit. i'm really happy with the end result, considering the total cost was about $10 and only took one evening. the sad part is that it needs refrigeration to stay fresh and will probably only last about 2 weeks, tops. but i'll make sure to keep the frame for next year!

salted caramels
these basically speak for themselves. i have nothing more to add except they are just as easy to make as they are to look at, just make sure to read all the reviews on epicurious. i owe these people all my success- if you just follow their directions exactly, and make sure to test your candy thermometer beforehand, you too can put your past candy making failures behind you and wow your friends with a unprecedented edible delight. oh, i just wrapped these in unbleached parchment paper and put them in old coffee cans decorated with (free!) subway maps. total cost was probably around $7 for 5 cans, mostly for the cream.

lavender, rose, and chamomile sachets
file this under the "admitted over the internet" weakness, because i'm too embarrassed to tell anyone in person. until grace corrected me last week, i'd been pronouncing this word "satch-ets". i have no idea where i got the extra "t", but, hey, i'm an immigrant, and the only association i have with the word that sounds like "sash-ey" is that thing you do in dance where you move your legs sideways flouncily. whatever the pronunciation, i thought these would be easy to make provided you have easy access to loose-leaf teas, and know how to sew straight. which, if you live near any major city with a chinatown, and have hands that can type, you do. the hardest part of the whole project was getting them closed at the end, and i eventually outsourced this problem to grace, who handled it with her usual aplomb. i used some rice to provide a little heft, and cut up a bunch of old dresses and t-shirts for the fabric. total cost: $12 for 20.

oh, and because somehow, crazy-cat-lady is historically synonymous with crafter:

el quinto pino + craftbar

usually i stay away from restaurant reviews because they're so subjective. i like my food a little more salty than most, love anything cured, and am a sucker for a jelly doughnut. grace loves things i would never order (scallops, for one), and i'm not a savvy enough eater to judge high quality no matter my preference. i'll always prefer in-n-out over this place, for example. but once in a while i come across a dish really extraordinary and immediately i know i've found something that transcends my biased palate. this was the case recently with the two items below:

spanish chicharrón at el qunito pino
i can describe it no better than this flickr description of "bag o' bacon." warm, melty fat sandwiched by salty, crunchy skin; it must be what angels eat to watch movies. because only in heaven could you eat this and not immediately fear for your shortened life expectancy. okay, maybe you'd expect me to like this, but trust me, like doesn't even start to cover how i feel about these friends.

house-made ravioli, goat cheese, medjool dates,
hen of the woods at craft bar

there is no meat in this dish, and i still ordered it, which is usually a sign something might be extremely good. (oh, hen of the woods are mushrooms! confusing, right?) while looking at the menu i kept thinking "goat cheese + mushrooms= good, goat cheese + dates= good, mushrooms + dates= yuck, what is going on here?!?" i am happy to report that what is going on is great. the sweetness of the dates plays off the earthy flavor of the mushrooms, and the goat cheese ties it all together with tang. friendly for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

what i am (links)

a calamansi (philippine lime) in my aunt's garden


the history of love by nicole krauss
far more often than warranted, a book is described as beautiful or haunting. while these two words are used constantly in reviews of this book, i think the book's true spirit is better served by a quote from its own pages: "i don't know what to say about it, except that it moved me in a way one hopes to be moved each time (s)he begins a book. what i mean is, in some way i'd find almost impossible to describe, it changed me."

twilight by stephenie meyer
embarrassingly enough, i've actually read the whole four-book series. and loved every minute of the experience. they are horribly written, with poor (i'm being kind) plot development, flat characters and weird mormon overtones. as one amazon reviewer writes of the basic premise "aromatic airhead falls for vacuous vampire." but they're a *good* kind of bad, you know? a really good-teenage girl-airplane reading-kind of bad. like eating twinkies at the co-op. deeply satisfying.


the amazing race
as much as i hate tv, watching the amazing race doesn't make you feel like a couch potato. seeing remote corners of the world whizz by while teams of two attempt to not kill each other under incredibly stressful circumstances makes you feel a little smug about your cushy couch, cup of tea, and group of friends who come over to watch.

i was embarassed enough reading it, but once hooked, i had to see the movie for, uh, comparison purposes? it was triply as awful, but also triply as awesome. i'm sure it'll go down as a cult classic, at least once everyone gets wind of the vampires-playing-baseball part. (they're in costume!!)


mitzy's macarons
my love for french macarons is well documented here, and these are some of the very best i've tried. conveniently located at the brooklyn flea, and generously handing out full sized samples, mitzy and her team are well on their way to success.

butternut squash soup
i'll post about this soon, but honestly, every time i've made it, it has been totally different. what surprises me the most is how forgiving it is- i might not have enough garlic one day, so i'll throw in some ginger instead, and it still comes out creamy and tasting of fall.

i know, gross right? actually, kale is super delicious when just lightly steamed and dressed with a simple combo of garlic, lemon, soy sauce and sesame oil. it is also amazing boiled, lightly pickled with some lemon juice, and it is very, very good for you. give it a shot!


you'll see....! i don't want to spoil the surprises!


a new shower head
i could get this one, which my brother became obessesed with on a family trip to hawaii. my parents splurged and got him one for our shower back home, and it literally feels like you are draining the entire pacific ocean for one shower. amazing doesn't even cover it. but, i'm cheap, so this one will have to do. from the reviews i read, it should be pretty good.

a wiry haired dachshund
my parents will be horrified to know that i'm even thinking of getting another pet (don't worry mom & dad- it won't happen any time soon!), but these little guys are so cute, and apparently so smart, and after meeting a particularly cute one and his owners the other day walking around park slope, i'm a little lovestruck.


my new coat
for the past three winters, i've made do by layering coats on top of on another. while this may sound fashionable, the end result was something more akin to "marshmallow lady is pregnant." don't laugh. so finally, i've got a proper coat. and it keeps me so warm. i am so grateful for being able to wait at a bus stop in the dead of winter without shivering- and it looks pretty too!

hammy on his birthday
he's officially no longer a kitten! but he's still as cute as ever, and for his birthday treat, he gobbled up two leftover pieces of tuna sashimi excitedly. although, since we put the christmas tree up he has been acting very very naughty. i wonder who's getting coal in his stocking?!!

cranberry sauce

up until this past thanksgiving, i'd never had it. (which is the best proof i have that i wasn't born in this country) but i've had my sauce cherry popped (sorry if that sounded dirty!), and now i know what all the fuss it about. it's GOOD.

moon, eyes, pies

another new culinary discovery for me, and one which opened up so many exciting possibilities: pizza dough is cheap + easy to make. for the longest time i would buy the frozen kind and defrost it in the fridge, only to find it tough and unwilling to stretch beneath my knuckles- which is a key requirement of pizza dough. enter my friends jes (of hello popliteus fame) and shannon, who showed us how simple homemade pizza dough is to make via a delicious white bean, garlic and cheese specimen.

while that pizza was very good, i can't really consider anything food that doesn't have some sort of meat in it (sorry my vegetarian friends!), so my own take on the homemade dough base consisted of the classics: last sweet tomatoes of the season, fresh basil from the yard, fresh mozzerella, and some crispy pepperoni. i can't say it gets much better than that.

ironically, this recipe is from vegetarian planet.

hawaiian island vowels

in the middle of this terrible cold spell (it feels like even my bones are frozen solid by the windchill), i'm getting great pleasure out of looking at our pictures of hawaii.

this whole adventure started last fall when, by an extraordinarily improbable stroke of luck, i just happened to be browsing the internets at the exact time that some dolt at united mis-listed an $850 roundtrip ticket from nyc to honolulu for only $250. yup, that's right. so for $300 (with taxes), grace and i jetted off to hawaii for a week of sun and rest. oh, and b/c i'm a total daddy's girl, and my dad is awesome, he upgraded us up to first class with his miles. first class airplane food, ftw.

so, due to our primary interest in life being food, we decided to stay on oahu because of the abundance of good, cheap, local food. because of budgetary concerns, we split our time between a fancy resort on a remote part of the island and my aunt's house in diamond head. i had no idea what to expect from the house, since it's only her vacation home and she wasn't going to be there, but it was beautiful, with wide, sweeping ocean views and those heart stopping sunsets. uhhh, the only thing i can say in my defense is that these situations rarely happen to me, and i've probably used up all my good luck/karma in this trip.

staying on oahu was a good call, because we were able to eat our way around the island with ample time for repeats of our favorites. highlights included shave ice (no, it's not called shaved ice; it is purposefully present tense. don't ask me why) at aoki's, hawaiian food at ono hawaiian foods, (see my before and after pictures below), and the aforeblogged taro pie. and the sine que non of every future trip to anywhere within the hawaiian islands: giovanni's shrimp truck, which convinced me, with probably a pound of butter and head of garlic, that i really, really, really like shrimp.

oh, and the beaches were nice too. all blue-green water and white sand, and at dusk they'd turn into these mirrors of pink wisps and of course there have been millions of people who try to describe the trifecta of relaxation, contentment and beauty that is hawaii, so i'm not really going to bother here. i will say though that the hawaiian people are particularly enamored of vowels, which makes giving and getting directions in hawaii an experience straight out of the muppet show. and makes me love hawaii even more.

yup, but just relax

a typical hawaiian sunset

it's a real shit show out there. i keep promising myself i'll write to explain what happened with the macs (fannie and freddie), then lehman, then merrill, then AIG, and then the bailout, and now another bailout, and all the while the market seriously tanking.

i still might, but in case i don't, basically all you need to know is that you should probably not stress out that much unless:

1. you're about to retire, in which case, you should probably hold off for a bit or find a nice sugar daddy/momma.

2. you have the majority of your short-term savings in the stock market, and you need that money asap. if this is you, see someone much more qualified than me to help you extract yourself in the least damaging way.

3. you're still not tracking your expenses and have no clue what is going on with your money. if this is you, please please please leave a comment and your email and i'll send you my super easy expense tracking worksheet. and i'll include a handy set of instructions to boot.

i stand by my initial assessment of this disaster, which is to say that had we provided more comprehensive financial education (and i don't mean fancy degrees, i mean basic, "common-sense" type education) to all parties involved, none of this would have happened. we wouldn't be spending more than we earn, and we would still extol the virtues of frugality, and fiscal responsibility. so let's get back on that bandwagon, and make being good with your money cool again. see here, here, and here.

and if you're too rich for any of this post to even matter to you, please see my holiday wish list.

for the rest of us, this is actually a really good time to re-assess our spending habits, and attempt, maybe for the first time in our lives, that age-old wisdom of our grandparents, to live within our means. hell, might as well go all out and try and live *below* your means. you never know how bad it's going to get! kidding! but only just.

thanksgiving desserts?

there are two potential thanksgiving desserts here; one from my mom's kitchen, and one from the mcdonalds in hawaii. you can guess which will be more probable at our thanksgiving table, although i'm sure us filipinos would enjoy the taro pie just as much.

the first is from my recent trip to hawaii with grace (oh, i didn't mention it before? btw, we went to hawaii!) where an advertisment for this very taro pie greeted us constantly on our drives. let's just say mcdonalds is pretty popular there. after seeing it in techicolor so many times, we were curious to see the live model, especially since it is so innocently wrapped in the same apple pie exterior. to break an "apple pie" open to a flood of pale lavender is quite an experience. and actually really delicious too, if you like taro, which is from the yam family, and similar to a golden sweet potato but a little starchier. in the philippines they call it ube, and they use it primarily in desserts.

the second is one of my mom's many amazing creations, and sadly, i don't think it will make it to thanksgiving. to give some context on my mom, this was just for a regular potluck. seriously. this woman is not joking around with dessert. the recipe (including my mom's handwritten comments) is below. i think for thanksgiving she is making pumpkin cheesecake and some probably equally as impressive apple something. oh, and i looked over the recipe and it looks complicated. props to you if you make it, and mad props to my mom!

tortilla inspiration

despite always knowing it, i've only recently come to really realize how much attitude plays a part in overall contentment. in the last two weeks, i've felt pretty down, and not just physically. but none of my circumstances had changed, so it was a mystery to me why i was so uninspired and bored. after days of being sick and watching bad tv, i decided to take matters into my own hands. i've started a great new book, nicole krauss' the history of love, read lots of poems, made comfort food, and spent time with friends, all of which have made me feel much more lively. and which i could have done two weeks prior!

my attitude is much improved, and so am i. and of my home-grown remedies, i believe my friends had the most impact. having people around you who stretch themselves gives you the water you need to start growing again. one of those people is my friend miguel.

a while ago, in the midst of his "mex in the city" project, miguel invited us over to have homemade tortillas. having never had homemade tortillas, i was naively thinking they were going to be something akin to those white disks you get at the grocery store. they are not even close. for one, the grocery store tortillas are vegetarian. yes, my meat-loving friends, the secret to excellent homemade tortillas (as this mexican housewife told me) is lard. lard adds richness and lightness and produces an above-par tortilla. and if you're doubting how healthy it is, check out this article in food and wine titled lard: the new health food?

anyway, i don't actually have the recipe, because since i already blurted out the secret ingredients i'm probably not to be trusted with these family recipe heirlooms. but, in looking at these pictures, i do have some much needed inspiration, and a renewed desire to embark on my own projects.

purple + royal jelly

most of us read "matilda" and "danny, the champion of the world" with nothing but delight, but did you know roald dahl was a master of the creepily terrifying short story? i remember reading one of his best examples, royal jelly, while on vacation when i was 10 or so and being thoroughly messed up by it. the story opens innocently enough, with a dad worrying about his ailing baby, but soon takes a super creepy turn when he takes royal jelly (the food bees make for their larvae) from his beehive to strengthen her and she (and he) start to resemble bees. okay, maybe it's a little obvious nowadays, but it scared the crap out of me at 10.

fast forward to 7 or 8 years later, i'm in some nondescript health food store and i see "royal jelly" on the shelf. other than totally creeping me out, i was fascinated by the fact that human do indeed harvest and consume it for medicinal purposes. what does this long winded story have to do with today, and the pictures above?

well, for one, i am battling an epic cold that has reduced me to staying indoors for 4 of the past 5 days, and can probably use some royal jelly about now. and two, for some reason i always imagined royal jelly as purple- maybe that "royal" part about it? it's not- it looks like condensed milk. but wouldn't it be fun if some purple royal jelly was all i needed to rid me of this awful cold? here's to hoping!

p.s. the macarons are from madeline in chelsea and the grape cider (i asked for it cold) was from a tiny storefront in fort greene that i passed on my way home from "the great pupkin"- pics to come!

chili for mikel

my brother just moved into his own place, which is a BIG DEAL for a 20 year old, and i'm sure elicits a certain amount of anxiety about cooking. knowing he was going to have limited access to his college dining hall, he spent time this summer in my mother's kitchen watching her make his favorite recipes and diligently copying them to take with him back to school. now he's right in the thick of it, and has already exhausted many of the recipes he learned, as well as most of his bank account. i'm impressed that he dove into cooking so quickly, but knowing a). how good my mom's food is and b). how much he eats, i guess i'm not too surprised. so when he called me earlier this week for help with some recipes, i wanted to be prepared, and directed him to a chili recipe i posted on this here blog.

except i didn't post any chili recipe. oops! i make this chili so often, and it has become one of the rotating staples of our household that i just assumed it was on this blog by osmosis. it is a great winter meal- hearty, with as much heat as you want. the preparation involves no more than a can opener, a few chops, and some palms full of spice, along with a little time, making it perfect for the college student trying to cram in some reading. add some diced avocado, cilantro and sour cream on top, and it can even double as something nice enough for a party- although the kind of party my brother is having maybe doesn't involve food as much as drink? he is in college, after all...

here's the recipe finally. good luck!

all-american beef chili, adapted from america's test kitchen

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
about 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds ground beef
2 cans kidney beans, rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato purée
fresh ground black pepper

heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat under shimmering. add onions, chili powder, cumin, cayenne and salt. cook until onions have softened, about 7 minutes. stir in garlic and cook 15 seconds.

add beef and increase heat to medium-high. cook until no longer pink, breaking up beef with a spoon. stir in beans, diced tomatoes with their juice, tomato purée and a bit more salt. bring to a simmer, cover and cook 45 minutes.

remove lid and continue to simmer 45 minutes. stir occasionally. season with salt and pepper to taste before serving. you can add avocados, cilantro, shredded cheddar, and sour cream as well.

american history

let america be america again.
let it be the dream it used to be.
let it be the pioneer on the plain
seeking a home where he himself is free.

let america be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
let it be that great strong land of love
where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
that any man be crushed by one above.

o, let my land be a land where Liberty
is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
but opportunity is real, and life is free,
equality is in the air we breathe.

-langston hughes

thank you to everyone who celebrated with me last night. and thank you to everyone out there who made last night possible.


oh hello again friends. i hope you're having fun on the internets without me. with this wild election season, the onset of fall, and craziest of holidays, halloween, there are many other ways to procrastinate online other than caketime. like maybe watching this painful but endearing video? or checking out this delicious recipe? or indulging yourself by playing this over and over? (maybe that last one is just me) however, without caketime, you'd never have this:

i guess i named this blog right, because here's yet another cake. the cake is via my best cooking lady, nigella lawson, but the decorations are inspired by my love of eyeballs. i'm only a little ashamed to admit i was up way later than i should have been crafting these candy eyeballs. who knew what some colored frosting and halloween candy could do?! fyi, i plan to request this cake at every subsequent celebration i am a part of, if only for the sheer joy of getting to make bloodshot eyeballs out of marshmallows.

old fashioned chocolate cak
e, via nigella lawson

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup cocoa
1 1/2 sticks soft unsalted butter
2 large eggs (i used three medium eggs- you'd be surprised how much that matters!)
2 teaspoons good-quality vanilla extract
2/3 cup sour cream

6 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
3/4 stick unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon good-quality vanilla extract

preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

put all the cake ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream into a food processor and process until you have a smooth, thick batter.

divide this batter, using a rubber spatula to help you scrape and spread, into the prepared tins and bake until a cake tester comes out clean,which is about 25 mins. remove the cakes, in their tins, to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before turning out of their tins. don't worry about any cracks as they will easily be covered by the frosting later.

to make this icing, melt the chocolate and butter in a good-sized bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water. go slowly- you don't want any burning or seizing.

while this is melting, put the powdered sugar into the food processor and pulse to remove lumps.

add the corn syrup to the cooled chocolate mixture, followed by the sour cream and vanilla and then when all this is pour this mixture down the funnel of the food processor onto the powdered sugar, with the motor running.

spoon about 1/3 of the frosting onto the center of the cake-half and spread with a knife or spatula until you cover the top of it evenly. sit the other cake on top, normal way up, pressing gently to sandwich the 2 together.

spoon another 1/3 of the frosting onto the top of the cake and spread it. i used a star tip to make the crazy swirlies, and then a variety of candy and dyed royal icing to make the eyes. candies used included: mini m&m's, malt balls, gummy lifesavers, flavored tootsie rolls, dots and marshmallows.

oh, and if you made it this far, i'm planning on a deluge of posts in the near future, so hopefully i'll get back on your procrastination roster in the near future. besides, what are you going to do after election day?!

yellow cake and chocolate icing

one of my favorite things to do in life is to celebrate. as silly as that sounds, i find the act of celebrating any event to be very meaningful; a way of being thankful, recognizing victories, and propelling one through hard times. i firmly believe there is always something to celebrate, from the typical birthday/anniversary to a particularly smooth morning commute. and the real beauty of celebrations is that they are equally useful in good times and bad; grace and i have celebrated surviving a particularly hellish work week with the same sense of festivity as our excitement over the start of summer. and for us, most celebrations involve food.

this celebration was long overdue. we've had francie for about 9 months now and we have yet to formally commemorate her introduction to our family. and what better way to do that than a cake? i wanted the quintessential childhood cake; buttery yellow cake complemented by fluffy chocolate frosting. after doing some initial online research, i found my new cake recipe gold standard. one bowl, pantry ingredients, same amount of time to make as a boxed cake. the frosting was more of a challenge, and in the end, we gave up and used store bought. a minor set-back, but a good opportunity to test out another frosting recipe, for another celebration.

quick yellow cake from the kitchn

makes one 9x13 or two 9-inch cakes
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

take the butter out of the fridge to soften and preheat the oven to 350°F. prepare two 9-inch round pans by greasing them thoroughly with butter or non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening. you can also flour them, if you want, although this isn't strictly necessary. sprinkle a little flour over them, tilt and shake to distribute evenly, then tap out the excess over the sink.

mix the ingredients together in the order they're listed - creaming the softened butter and sugar first, then adding the eggs, flour, salt, baking powder, and finally the liquids. using an electric beater, beat everything together on low for 30 seconds, then high for 3 minutes.

immediately pour into the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the tops spring back slightly when pressed.
let cool on wire racks for at least 15 minutes, then flip each pan over onto the rack and tap gently all over. lift the pan slightly. if the cake doesn't feel like it's falling out smoothly, lay a slightly damp kitchen towel over the pan and tap again.

cool completely then frost and eat!

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