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What Miss Plumcake is… | Manolo for the Big Girl

What Miss Plumcake is…

Ah Tuesday, or as I like to call it “Oh-No-Is-That-the-Garbage-Truck-Quick-Where-Are-My-Pants-Is-This-a-Bad-Lemon-or-a-Good-Kiwi-Never-Mind-Let’s-GO!”

Yesterday I spent much of the day at the American Consulate waiting for Hot Latin Boy to renew his tourist visa.

As such, I spent four hours people watching and wondering what sort of decision-making process would start out “What should I wear to my very important potentially life-changing government interview” and arrive at “shredded thigh jeans, shooties ordered from the back of Modern Streetwalker and a hickey the size of Gorbachev’s port wine stain.”


Anyway, it’s been a while, but since it’s time to resurrect the featurette and see What Miss Plumcake is…

Reading: “The Sunday Philosophy Club” by Alexander McCall Smith. Not quite as good as his more famous and thoroughly charming No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, but a pleasant, entertaining light read for people who don’t leave their brains behind when they go to the beach.

Watching: Mary and Max. An uncomfortable yet tender black comedy from the country who does it best: Australia. The story of a neglected Australian school girl and her middle-aged Asperger’s penpal from New York is somewhere between Nick Park (Wallace and Gromit) and Tim Burton, with the signature dark quirkiness of the best of Oz cinema . It’s not without flaws, but it’s worth a watch just for the blackboard at the Over-Eaters Anonymous meeting.

Hearing: La Bamba: Sones Jarochos from Veracruz. Like most Americans, I was only familiar with son jarocho via Ritchie Valens’ electric iteration of the oeuvre’s 800 pound gorilla, La Bamba; but last night Hot Latin Boy and I were treated to a more traditional setting of the Afro-Cuban influenced music of Mexico’s largest Atlantic port. Two scruffy young men in tight-brimmed fedoras called out verses while playing jaranas, small eight-stringed guitar-like instruments native to Veracruz, while a willowy woman –all shoulder blades and arrogance– stomped out a sort of flamenco percussion with her feet. I downloaded this album last night as a sort of primer course, and I’ve been listening to it nonstop.

Smelling: Poivre by Caron. Scandalously expensive, notoriously hard to get and heart-wrenchingly sublime, Caron’s 1954 ode to pepper and carnation is a masterpiece of composition, a savage dance contained within absolute restraint; it’s Stravinsky in a bottle. It’s the 1913 Sacre Printemps riot at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. It’s magnificent and I’d trade my Birkin for an ounce of the original juice. Interestingly, I’m not the only one making symphonic comparisons. Read more about Poivre and its little sister Coup de Fouet, at Perfume Shrine.

Loving: Kay Unger Shimmer Bolero on Super Sale (sizes limited). Where the heck was this when I was going to six weddings a month and couldn’t find a damn dress with sleeves?

Hating: Candycornsayswhat? I can almost see a good dress in there somewhere, were it not afflicted with the dreaded shapelessness that Saks Fifth Avenue (among others) seems determined fat people want.

Wanting: Gourmet Sea Salt Sampler There’s nothing quite like a good dose of cholera to set one’s usually adventurous dining habits straight back to “just some buttered toast please” for another six weeks. I take my toast –and there’s been so much toast– buttered, with just the lightest imaginable sprinkling of salt. I’m a sucker for exotics, and although the local cheapo stuff is actually a surprisingly subtle, flaky sea salt, I’ve been having almost untoward fantasies about this sampler.

Buying: Almond Meal. A few weeks ago while fantasizing about my future life in Spain, I whipped up a simple orange and almond olive oil cake inspired by one I sampled at a dinner party thrown by a charming Iberian lawyer and his two equally charming (and equally Iberian too, I suppose) sons.  At least it would’ve been simple if I hadn’t had to grind the almonds by hand in my molcajete. The cake is right up my alley –a simple unfrosted round, bright with citrus, olive oil and ground nuts– so I invested in a large bag of raw almond meal. Now I add it to everything I bake. I love the texture, the nutty taste and hey, replacing a bit of wheat flour with almond meal increases the nutritional value and flavor profile at the same time. What’s not to love?

12 Responses to “What Miss Plumcake is…”

  1. Thea May 15, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    LOVE Mary and Max! I saw it on a plane last year and inexplicably forgot about it after the trauma of the luggage carousel. Thanks for the reminder.

    And which designer’s child/boytoy/shoes/art collection do we have to hold hostage to get dresses with SLEEVES? Cardigans are NOT my friend

  2. Alexis May 15, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    That orange/olive oil/almond cake sounds delish! I can haz recipe?

  3. Genevieve May 15, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    Ah, Alexander McCall Smith! Always a good read! Your love of complicated perfume has me wanting to give a shot at smelling like something more complex…

  4. Miss Plumcake May 15, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    @Alexis: Anything for the Haus of Doodle! This is the closest approximation of what I did.

    Spanish Orange Almond Cake

    Blend the zest of 2 large oranges with 2/3 C white sugar until combined. Dump that into a medium bowl with two eggs, and 1/2 C each olive oil and fresh orange juice and whisk until light-colored and uniform. Fold in 1/2 C of almond meal, 1 C flour a pinch of salt and pepper and a tablespoon of baking powder. Pour into a prepared 9″ cake pan (I actually use a large cast iron and enamel gratin dish). Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test. Provecho!

  5. daisyj May 15, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    Do you suppose the almond meal would be good in muffins, or would it make them too heavy?

  6. Miss Plumcake May 15, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    @Daisyj: You’re asking the wrong person because I love almond meal in everything, but I don’t see any reason not to give it a go. I’d just err on the side of caution and maybe replace 1/4 cup the first time to see how you like it.

  7. Weezy May 15, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

    I used to have this recurring dream when I was younger that I was being forever chased by an ever enlarging claymation ball ala Indiana Jones. I would wake up so filled with anxiety that to this day I want to punch Pingu in the face.
    I am however going to have to try Mary and Max, thanks muchly for the heads up!

  8. aa May 15, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

    You really need to try Santiago Cake then, Plumcake:


  9. Ellen W. May 15, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    I just wanted to mention that one of Martha Stewart’s cats, Emperess Tang, naps in Martha’s molcajete.

  10. Lisa from SoCal May 16, 2012 at 1:42 am #

    Yay! A return to the happy topics! Stop making me want perfume, woman! I has plenty.

  11. Madame Suggia May 16, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    I’ll see your Spiced orange Almond Cake and raise you this


    a DELICIOUS and foolproof Damp Lemon & Almond Cake from the divine Nigella. Even people who don’t like a) lemons, b) almonds or c) cake love it.

  12. Christine June 3, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    The recipes all look great!

    Plumcake, omg, cholera…I hope you are all better! Was there an outbreak where you live?

    Take care! xo