Cookies are a sometimes food!

But cupcakes are for everyday!!

So, having handed in my thesis (yay), I finally have time again to indulge in some kitchen experiments. Last week, there was oriental couscous with raisins, cinammon, orange glazed tofu and creamy Sambal Oelek. And today, there were cookie monster cupcakes.

I was inspired by some pictures I saw online last year (I guess I’m behind the hype), but also wanted to try a new cupcake recipe. The first thing that came up googling “cheesecake cupcakes” was Martha Stewart, of all sites. So, I mixed and matched a little bit to come up with a good two dozen little blue monsters. If you wanna give it a try, here’s how:

CRANBERRY CHEESECAKE COOKIEMONSTER CUPCAKES

Batter
Ingredients (makes about 24)
• 600g cream cheese, room temperature
• 1 1/8 cups sugar
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature (yoghurt works, too)
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 3 small eggs, room temperature
• canned whole cranberries

Directions (mine are a little less sophisticated than Martha’s. The original recipe also recommends a sour cream topping which is possibly very tasty, but definitely very boring looking. It does use imperial measurements, though ;))
1. Preheat oven to 175°C. Line the cupcake tins with heavyweight aluminum liners, and spray with nonstick cooking spray. paper liners are fine, too =)

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

3. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, soda and flour. With mixer on low speed, gradually add sugar mixture to cream cheese; mix until smooth. Add sour cream and vanilla; mix until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined; do not overmix.

4. Divide batter evenly among cupcake liners. Add one or two craberries – they’ll sink on their own.

5. Place on a low oven rack and bake for 15 minutes.
Switch to a higher rack and bake until golden brown.
Now, here’s the deal – if you take them out right away, the cupcakes will most likely sink in a little. Which is fine if you need room for lots of frosting – if you do insist on a bulging, well-rounded monster you may want to try these cupcakes a few times before presenting them. Or use a different batter.

The “skin”
In order to make the fur stick, you need to coat the cupcakes. I used a cream cheese frosting, but sugar icing etc. is fine, too!

Ingredients for the frosting:
• 175g cream cheese, room temperature (do not use the fat reduced kind, it’ll be too sour!)
• 75g butter (soft)
• 120g powdered sugar
• blue food coloring (optional)
• a pinch of salt

Directions
Mix butter and salt. Gradually sift powdered sugar and stir well. Add spoonfuls of cream cheese until smooth. Cool for a bit.
Now, you can just add blue food coloring and top off the cupcakes. But, honestly, monsters have FUR, so let’s give it some:

Fur
Ingredients
• 150g dessicated coconut
• blue food coloring (lots!)

Directions
If you have lots of time, you can grind the coconut a little, but using what you buy is fine, too. Generously add blue food coloring (I used a mix of dry and gel, just try and see whatever works best for you). Dip the frosted cupcakes in the blue coconut.
Some also use blue sprinkles, but I think the coconut looks furrier.

Eyes & Extras
There are lots of ways to make the eyes:
click for another recipe!I saw some recipes featuring little balls of marzipan or white icing with chocolate chips. I used chocolate dragees (think smarties or m&ms) and attached pupils made of teenie drops of molten dark (70%) chocolate.
Additionally, you might want to add miniature cookies (or pieces) – stick them in where the mouth is supposed to be. It looks really great, but I felt it was a bit of an overkill 😉

Enjoy!

addendum RE Ocean Marketing…

From a discussion on Nate‘s google+ – I wrote a bit, so I figured I’d use it again. Recycling’s all the rage nowadays, right?

1) I don’t necessarily agree with the way penny arcade published the whole e-mail-exchange, nor with the bullie-argument. I’ve been bullied and I don’t think burning everything down is the best solution.

BUT Christoforo has made it SO much worse on his own, so he (imo) still deserves all the shit he’s getting. Until he actually sees the point!

2) I read Christoforo’s response on Kotaku and I think it shows exactly what’s the problem with his “apology”:

“I didn’t know who that guy at Penny Arcade was. If I had known, I would have treated the situation a little better. PAX is a great show. What he does is what I’ve been idlolizing since I was a kid. It’s admirable he’s put that together. He has a lot of connections, ones I want too. […]
Ultimately, if I was able to control the customer, it never would have happened. I’ve dealt with thousands and thousands of customers with similar complaints, they were all asking the same question. When is it big enough that it hits the news? When it hits Penny Arcade, when it hits a guy who has the biggest affiliations in the industry.”
(quoted from Kotaku)

Essentially, what he’s saying is “I would’ve been nicer, had I known this would be publicised” He’s also saying “had I known this person was important, I would’ve been nice” (which is basically what he told Nathan this summer). So really, his defense is “I’m only nice when I know there are cosequences for not being nice” and now he’s asking for people to back off, NOT because of his behavior, but because he behaved like this toward the wrong people.

That’s not how it works.
a) be nice to people. period.
b) especially to your customers. No matter if they’re John Doe or the mayor of Boston. Honestly, from everything that I’ve read so far, I’m gathering that Christofor either has no customer service personnel, or they are equally incompetent as he is. So, this is all him and there are simply no excuses either for the way the e-mail-exchange went (“Dec. 17” in itself is inacceptable for customer service) or for how he handled the ordeal that ensued.

“Welcome to the internet, bitch”.
Or at least this is how I roll.

Penny Arcade vs. Ocean Marketing

(I originally wrote about the incident elsewhere, but the tumblr’s for fun, really, so I’m transferring the issue here.)

Paul on TwitterSo, here are some news:

Paul abandoned his “OceanStratagy”[sic]-Twitter-Account as well, claiming someone had been messing with his iPhone. He said he was going to take a break.

He then changed his handler to “OceanDeepSea”, using it to attack Scott Lowe, who, along with Sean Buckley from Endgadget, has publicly distanced himself and IGN from Paul. (as have G4, Kotaku and basically everyone else Paul claimed to be besties with. I’m honestly waiting fo the mayor of Boston to issue a statement…)Paul tweeting to Scott LoweIn the meantime, the interwebs have found out the following:

  • Paul had a court hearing for domestic violence. He claimed that charges were dropped. (I’m not linking this, because the name of the woman really doesn’t matter, nor does sending her facebook messages etc. do any good. You can easily google it, tho.)
  • Paul says he’s gotten e-mails and phone calls to his house over this – which probably is what happens when you do things like this AND have your number on the interwebs.
  • Paul’s website has been plagiarized.
  • Paul claims his family is in danger over controllers.
    I beg to differ.
  • Searching for different e-mail-addresses (e. g. cstrophic@hotmail.com) Paul has used in the past, the interwebs have (so far) discovered
    – Paul likes tropical Fish
    – Paul likes him some steroids, so maybe this is just a hormonal glitch.
  • No, wait – Paul also apparently commited identity theft, pretending to be Brandon Leidel. I think this is the legally gravest offense so far and hope they get him for that, if nothing else.
  • And no, he’s really not learning from all of this.

Please note:
both N-Control (distributor) and David Kotkin (inventor) have distanced themselves from Christoforo.

“We apologize for our poor representation from Ocean Marketing. We wanted to give Paul a chance. He was rough around the edges, but he had drive and enthusiasm. However his behavior was unprovoked, unnecessary, and unforgivable. We are no longer represented by Ocean Marketing.”
David Kotkin on Kotaku.

However, there seems to be some shadiness regarding Kotkin and Christoforo being in business together (which Kotkin has brushed off).

Still really, there’s really no reason to down-vote the controller on Amazon, etc., it’s still assisting disabled gamers and accuracy in controlling, despite the abysmal PR.
The issue’s Christoforo. Even though Dave seems to have forgiven him.

How to annoy Facebook

So, we all know that facebook is a data kraken in the bottomless abyss of the interwebs.

Even though facebook now offers a download of the data they stored on you (go to “account settings”, the links is on the bottom left), word is on the street they know more about you then they let on.

For a complete picture of what they know and what they deleted – and more importantly, what you deleted, but is still in their database…Click here for the direct link.

Austrian law student Max Schrems has started the much publicized project Europe vs. Facebook – he doesn’t have anything against Facebook, but wants them to abide the law.
And apparently, Facebook already feels there’s something happened: They can’t process all the requests in the 40 days they originally promised… (Screenshot in German).

And yeah, producing, burning and sending out CD-Roms is hard on the environment. That’s your personal choice.

I’m still debating on whether I want to send them a picture of a government issued ID — if I do, I will also download the info they provide under “settings” and update you on whether the two data packages are the same.

Occupy the world.

In America, you are the 99%, but to the rest of the world you're still the 1%.

harsh. crude. true.

People are on the streets.

In principle, I think that’s awesome. Regardless of what I will write in this post, I think it is remarkable how people are shaken out of their lethargy, their complacency, out of their god-given role of being a powerless victim.

I suppose that in my generation I am not the only one wondering if there’s still cause to demonstrate. For women’s suffrage, against the Vietnam War, for Free Love, against the Cold War, for Nuclear Disarmament, against tuition and nazis if you’re German, or for solidarity with Africa — there are a lot of things that people took to the streets, but they are all a little outdated.

Today, we complain on Twitter, on Facebook, or, like me 😉 on our blogs. About “the war”, “the terrorist threat”, “the economy” and people’s general stupidity. There’s so much “kinda wrong”, but because we are also “kinda safe”, warm, well-fed and online, we are appeased, perplexed, and lazy. We watched the Arab Spring with a sense of awe and longing for a revolution, some kind of action that gives us back hope that we can change our world.

And now, suddenly, there’s this (western-)world-wide movement. Occupy Wallstreet, Occupy London, Occupy Frankfurt, Occupy Rome, riots and trash, and food donations from bankers to the crowd – food and blankets, mind you.

My question is very simple:
What is the goal of the demonstrations?

People protest against the pecuniary power wielded by banks and international organizations. They are angry because the arrogance of investors and bankers are shoved in their face, because they are expected to pay up for the sins of a globalized financial system that has yet to figure out how to put cooperation and the greater good of the masses above financial advancement of the few.

Commendable reasons, sure. But what good is camping on Wall Street gonna do? There are no easily changed laws or policies that will satisfy the demands of the movement. Really, what are you asking for?

Allow me to guess…
Anyone should be entitled to adequate nutrition and housing, to affordable education and health care. The single citizen should not have to pay taxes to support grand scheme banking failures. One job should be enough to support a decent life, the stock markets should be less volatile, prices must be reasonable, politicians noble and children should respect their elders. And, of course, we’re not self-centered and ignorant. We want this for everyone in the whole wide world.
So really, these protesters seem to be asking for the banks, investors, cooperations, to change their policy of making money using every legal and moral loophole they can find, to a world where the law is reasonable and everyone abides by it.

Fat chance ‘o that…

So yes, let’s get loud. Let’s be active. Let’s try and change the world.
But may I suggest that we take some of the energy that goes into tent buying and park cleaning so you’re not forcefully evicted for something that might be smaller, but will also make a direct impact?

Buy local and organic if you can. Even if you can’t afford it right now – ask your supermarket to widen their product range. Educate yourself. Educate your children, your family and your friends. Smile at strangers. Help out at a shelter. Donate what you can. Take re-usable fabric bags to the grocer. Eat less junk food. Capitalize on left-overs. Tolerate your neighbors lifestyle choices. See past their religious believes. Turn off the lights when you don’t need them. Carpool. Join a cooperative. Buy less cheap china-made clothes from minimum wage shop assistants. Don’t print out all your e-mails. Plant a tree. Tutor a child. Take away your fair trade coffee in your own mug. Don’t buy at Wal-Mart. Or Kik. Campaign for your cafeteria to avoid multinational companies in favor of local soda-drinks. Introduce meat-free days. Recycle, dammit! Adopt a child from the third world. Start a Free Box. Visit someone at a hospital. Send a card to an estranged friend.

These are no either/or-decisions!

Let’s change the world in every way we can. And don’t believe anyone who says it’s easy.

Peter King on "Occupy Wall Street"

amen.

(Who the hell am I to lecture you?
I am, unfortunately, not a perfect person living a perfect life. I try to do more, I fail at lots.
So, please believe me when I say I’m not trying to lecture. Instead I’m trying to raise awareness on a heart felt topic that’s been on my mind ever since #occupy became the next big thing.
But I believe that there is no excuse to be blissfully ignorant. Always strive and always propagate the strife. Do Good, Be Good, Feel Good. Because it doesn’t do any good for you to be dispirited.

Occupy Your World.)

* I don’t own the pictures, they were shared with me on Facebook.
Please notify me if I’m infringing your rights. 

What a gay posting…

How many Homophobes does it take to change a light bulb?
None.
They fear change, even if it would make the world a brighter place.
~ source

This is a video which reached me via Otep Shamaya.

Some time ago, in response to the growing number of suicides among gay youths in the US, Dan Savage started the “It get’s better“-project. It encourages queer adults to share their stories and struggles of coming out and dealing with being different and being bullied and harrassed because of it, with the aim of assuring struggling youths that they are not alone, and, of course, that it gets better. The campaign received widespread attention when it was endorsed by Lady Gaga.

In the youtube-video above, you see 14-year-old Jamey from Buffalo, NY, struggling in his surroundings, and yet speaking of hope.
He comitted suicide shortly afterwards.

I would love for campaign to expand to everyone struggling:
IT GETS BETTER.

As for living proof:
You might remember that quite a while ago, actor Ian McKellen participated in a pope-critical gay pride parade, wearing the same motto-shirt as everyone else, and then some wise-ass nerd ‘shopped it and fooled the news for a while? Yep, that’s right, he’s gay and has been out for over 20 years.

~ source

But, despite being gay, not only is he a pretty decent, successful and wealthy actor — he’s also got a wicked sense of humor.

I haven't been able to figure out the original source, hints are appreciated.

Go ask, go tell.
Let’s make it better. And don’t forget the hearts. ♥

Dear Facebook

Addendum Sep. 26:
Okay, so apparently now you cannot delete tags of yourself on photos (unless, maybe, you tagged yourself?)
You can only mark that you don’t want the picture to be shown on your profile and ask the person the photo belongs to, or facebook, to remove the tag. Yay.

So. Let’s talk about those recent changes that I’m not allowed to complain about

A while ago you changed the photo view.
First, it was all normal and html. Then you made it pop up in black and we couldn’t deeplink anymore. Then you made it white and hid the close-button in the top right corner of the screen while with other applications, the close-button is in the top right corner of the app.
Also, now the caption looks like a comment and I cannot tag people that aren’t on facebook anymore (we used to be able to do that… :

It's all good tho, because right click and "open in new tab" gets me back to the regular old html-view...

Then you changed the chat.
It is now ALWAYS visible, no matter whether I want to chat or not (I usually don’t, because the chat sucks…), but that’s alright, because I can’t go offline on the chat anymore anyways. I can only mark myself “unavailable”, but I still show up on my friends list, inviting them to message me.

Messages and chats are also mixed now, so whatever I chat about is stored in endless histories in my inbox. Who cares whether I might be searching for stuff in a message thread that was actually somewhat important.
Oh, and who needs subject lines in messages, anyway, right?

THEN you added another division into the chat buddy list: I can now always see some people (who, I assume, I communicate with sometimes? Or what other criteria did you use to choose to display these?), no matter if they’re online or not.
If I then scroll down, I can see other people who are online. Who I can actually chat with.

Yay….. That looks SO awesome on a 10″-screen </irony>
Then you changed the friends-lists.

Because, really, your users weren’t able to create lists for the close and not-so-close friends themselves…
Now, when I view my friends and want to sort through my lists, I click on the list-button.
I used to be able to just check the appropriate links then, but, because you added a bunch, NOW i have to click on “view all”, leaving my friends-page, then choosing the lists, going back and do it all over again FOR EVERY SINGLE FRIEND.

Seriously?
screenshot of my small browser-window

And now… the homepage

Where shall I even start?

First of all, what’s the deal with the chat?
As if it wasn’t screwed up enough in the first place, you have now added ANOTHER row to the ever-visible chat column, one that changes by the second.
I can now see that someone I don’t regularly speak with has liked the picture of a random friend of theirs, whom I don’t know.

Facebook, that is SO awesome.
I REALLY needed to know about this, even though I neither know the person who posted it, nor can I see the actual picture. THANK YOU!

And what’s the deal with those “top stories”? WTF?
Where did you get the impression I wasn’t able to decide what I care about?
Apparently so, because now you pre-digest the content for me – who knows by what standards and if I want to see everything that’s happened, I have yet another button to press to see those things.
Thanks, though, that you believe my own posts are top stories for me and need to be displayed at the top of the page.

Yes, I realize I’m not a paying customer. Yet, facebook is making money off of me!

A few versions back, you used to be able to choose whether you wanted to switch to the new version. Now it’s forced down our throats – facebook is putting the money they make with their users into developing things that everyone complains about?

I don’t get it…