Category Archives: Food

Making Cake Mix Your Own: A Guide to Baking With Two Ingredients

cake

-Rache’ll Brown

I’ll admit it, I am a lazy baker. I always try to find recipes with the least amount of ingredients, and my online search history is mainly, “how to make cookies/cupcakes/brownies without eggs/butter” (I don’t keep a lot of necessary baking items on hand—sorry).

A few weeks ago I was searching Pinterest for an easy recipe, as per usual. Suddenly, I stumbled upon something groundbreaking: two-ingredient cake. All that’s needed is a can of crushed pineapple and boxed Angel Food cake mix. Then I remembered that when I was younger, my mom used to make pumpkin muffins with boxed yellow cake mix and a can of pumpkin puree. This made me wonder: how many modified boxed cake recipes are there? So I did my research, and now I am going to share it with the masses. You’re welcome.

Out of everything I found, one recipe in particular was screaming my name. One box of Funfetti cake mix, some Greek yogurt, water, and that’s it! I’ve never had a bad experience while subbing yogurt for oil; my baked goods are usually moist and delicious after using this technique, so I decided to give it a try. I did my own variation, one with a box of Devil’s Food cake mix, one cup of low-fat vanilla yogurt, and one cup of water. I baked according to box directions, and it was delicious. Other options? Combine a box of Angel Food Cake with a can of pie filling—cherry, blueberry, lemon, etc. Also, dark cake mix with a can of coke, or light cake mix with a can of 7-Up apparently creates an airy treat. Regard the Internet for more inquiries.

So next time you’re in need of a cake, skip the eggs and oil for a more minimalistic approach. There really is no way to mess up a two-ingredient cake, so go forth and prosper—cake mix awaits you!

Frosty Treats for Spring Heat

popsicle

-Rache’ll Brown

Sweltering temperatures and lazy spring days bring forth a yearning in me like no other. An overwhelming desire to consume something icy and sweet ensues, and I’m at a loss of what to do. But one day when I was browsing the Internet, and it hit me—why don’t I make my own frozen treats? So I bought a Popsicle mold and some supplies, then got to work. Thank God for Pinterest.

First thing’s first, decide what kind of treat, or treats (I always go with the plural), to make. The options are endless. For Popsicles, gather things like juice, crystal light, and fresh fruit. Simply freezing sliced fruit, like strawberries, kiwis, mangoes, and more, in a Popsicle mold with some water creates a satisfying and extremely healthy treat. But freezing juice or crystal light can be better—I love buying Jet Mango Mania Real Fruit Puree/Tea Infusion Smoothie Mix and freezing that for a flavorful treat (pictured above).

Craving something rich and creamy? Homemade fudgsicles are the best. Chocolate Covered Katie has an array of recipes to choose from, but my personal favorite is the classic chocolate fudgsicle, which I like to make slight changes to. Skip out on the cocoa powder and added sweeteners, and use the required amount of coconut milk with hot chocolate mix to create a satisfying variation on this treat. Desserts like this are so fun and simple because they are open-ended. If it can be frozen, make a treat out of it!

So when the sun is out, save money on over-priced, over-sweetened treat and create something tailored to your tastes. Nothing is more satisfying than a frosty treat on a hot spring day, and your friends will supply you with endless amount of love and gratitude if you supply them with a delicious snack.

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Rita’s Super Moist Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

cake

-Rache’ll Brown

I love going home. Not because I get to see my two beautiful Boxers and my loving parents—although that is a plus—but because I have free reign over a fully stocked kitchen to make anything I can dream of. And of course the only thing I ever want to make is, well, cake (which I can attribute to the strange amount of cake-themed music I listen to). So while I was home for spring break, I grabbed my mom’s cookbook and found her friend Rita’s cake recipe, which is a family favorite, and got to work.

Rita’s Super Moist Chocolate Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
½ tsp salt
1 stick of unsalted butter
½ cup of vegetable oil
1 cup Water
¼ cup cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup of buttermilk
1 tsp of baking soda

Peanut Butter Frosting

6 tbsp of unsalted butter at room temperature
¾ cup of peanut butter
1 cup of confectioners’ sugar

#1 First, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and set it aside. Next, put the butter, vegetable oil, and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, and then add in the cocoa powder and mix until dissolved. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir until combined.

#2 Next, mix the buttermilk and baking soda in a separate container, then add it in with the rest of the ingredients and stir until the batter is smooth. This batter will be extremely wet and runny, so don’t worry about it—it seems like it’s all wrong, but the result is a super moist cake that is out of this world.

#3 Put the mixture into a greased and floured 9 x 13 pan, and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched, and the cake has started to pull away from the sides of the pan.

#4 Once the cake has finished baking, let it cool for at least 30 minutes before frosting. And when the cake is cooling, it is the perfect time to whip together the most mouth watering and simple peanut butter frosting. In a medium bowl, cream together room temperature butter and peanut butter (hint: while measuring peanut butter, spray the measuring cup with a little Pam first to prevent it from sticking).

#5 Once the wet ingredients are light and fluffy, slowly add in the confectioners’ sugar. It might seem clumpy and thick at first, but the longer it is beaten, the creamier it gets. Stick the frosting in the fridge until the cake is completely cooled, and then smooth it on in a thick layer.

This cake is so unbelievably moist, delicious, and easy to make that I will literally never make a boxed cake again. The peanut butter frosting is a perfect compliment to the chocolate cake (which isn’t too rich. The cake has a subtle flavor with an out-of-this-world texture), and I can guarantee there isn’t a human on this planet that would dislike this delicious recipe.

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It’s pronounced “Rine-hites-ge-boat”

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-Casey Klekas

In case you missed it, April 23 was German Beer Day—well, the official one, anyway. It is a day to celebrate the 497th anniversary of the German Beer Purity Law, known as the Reinheitsgebot. Besides appreciating the oldest food-quality regulation in the world, it is a day to celebrate the German character in its fantastic, meticulous, compulsive rigidity.

On April 23, 1516, the Duke of Bavaria, William IV, signed the Reinheitsgebot, or “purity order,” into effect. Among other things, the law contained a list of ingredients that could be used in the production of beer, a list three words long—barley, hops, water. Violation would be met with the swift punishment of confiscation of the accused kegs without monetary or sudsy compensation.

The idea was to discourage brewers from using grains that were needed for food, such as rye and wheat, thus making barley a brewing staple. Hops were found to prevent early spoilage of beer, acting as a sort of natural preservative. Their antibacterial effect also helped make beer a safe (and swell) alternative to questionable drinking water. This decree also partially reflected the German’s insatiable thirst for purity.

In 1871, Germany was born. Before the wars of unification, Germany was only a loose configuration of kingdoms. The Kingdom of Bavaria demanded that their ancient Reinheitsgebot be adopted by all of Germany, which meant bye-bye to Belgian style beers, fruit beers, spiced beers, and even the Hefeweizen (no wheat!). This also meant that Bavarian-style lagers and pilsners would forever define what we think of as German beers.

The reign of the Reinheitsgebot endured two world wars and the partition of Germany. Tragically, it didn’t live to see Germany’s reunification, having been declared illegitimate by the European Union as an interference with a free-market.

Thankfully, in 1993, the Provisional German Beer Law, or Biergesetz, reinstated the Reinheitsgebot with only minor changes. Wheat was now OK, as the Germans were no longer dealing with medieval fears of famine. Yeast was officially included, although it had really been there all along. Before the 1800s, no one knew those microorganisms existed, nor their vital role in the brewing process. They normally just scooped some germy sediment out of the last batch of beer or else hoped for some sort of natural fermentation. Cane sugar was also allowed in the production of ales (top-down fermentation), but still not in the treasured German lager (bottom-up).

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To this day breweries will label their beer as being in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot. This mark of quality has lasted nearly 500 years. So, next time you are in the German beer section, check the bottles for the little golden words that read something like, “Brewed under the purity law of 1516.” Tip your hat to the German people in all their meticulousness and enjoy half a millennium of beautiful tradition. Prost to the Reinheitsgebot!

Don't Worry Be Healthy: Superfoods

-Marissa Tomko

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s superfood!

Alright, alright, that was a bad joke. But come on, you wouldn’t have been able to resist either! The Oxford English Dictionary defines superfood as “a food considered especially nutritious or otherwise beneficial to health and well-being.” Basically, these foods are really high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and polyphenols. These are all things that keep us feeling good in the short run, and reduce our risk of chronic disease in the long run.

I’ve already told you about five foods that aren’t so good for you, so in the spirit of keeping things balanced, here are five foods that you should be keeping around!

Blueberries

Blueberries have numerous health benefits, all of which blow my mind! I mean really, how can those tiny little morsels pack so much power? Blueberries are high in the antioxidants by the name of anthocyanidins. These help fight oxidation in your body that cause heart diseases, cancers, and macular degeneration.

Salmon

If you don’t like fish, then I don’t understand you. The best meal I ever had was this past summer, when my parents grilled the tastiest salmon I have ever laid my tongue on. Not only were they pleasing my taste buds by providing me with such a meal, but they were also helping me be healthy; sneaky move, mom and dad! In addition to providing your body with omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can give you 58 percent of your daily protein intake. Salmon is heart healthy, and high in vitamins and minerals!

Avocado

Word on the street is that people avoid avocados because they think they are too high in fat. To the people on those streets, I urge you to turn down a different one! These fats are heart healthy, and come along with the benefits of antioxidants and vitamins (especially vitamin K). You know what I always say: an avocado a day provides you with your vitamin K!

Tea

Tea is great for when you’re sick or you want to appear classier. Especially of the green variety, this beverage is chock-full of antioxidants. Additionally, it boosts your metabolism with EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate), an antioxidant that reduces risk of cancer and other diseases. It can even benefit your bone density by way of your body absorbing catechins.

Oranges

In my research, this is the superfood that surprised me the most. Yes, I have always been aware that oranges are healthy; whenever I get sick, my mom blames it on low OJ intake. Oranges are most well known for having a lot of vitamin C, but they have also been credited with prevention of cancer, diabetes, and enhancing a healthy heart. By bringing some orange slices in a snack bag to school or work, you can revisit your grammar school days and enhance your health! One thing you won’t be able to do? Find a word that rhymes with this superfood. Sorry.

Visually Oriented: The Alchemy of Mixology


-Emily Fraysse

Sitting on a leather and zebra-hair chair in a dark bar on the Hollywood Strip, rows of jars full of a variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs are placed in front of me.

“What do you like? Raspberries? Cinnamon? Honey?”

“I like raspberries and vodka gimlets.”

“Okay, I’ll add little twist to it.”

That was the conversation between the mixologist and I at The Library Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. Perfectly blending classic and artisan cocktails, a mixologist’s skill  is expertly preparing mixed drinks. By taking common drinks and putting a twist to them, they create original, interesting concoctions. They are commonly commissioned for particular events, menus, and themes. While generally considered to be a “higher” study of mixing cocktails than the average bartender, neither bartending nor mixology is better than the other. The difference between the two lies in the skills.

A bartender needs to know how to make the common, popular cocktails, serve multiple persons at once, and be the ultimate “people person.” A mixologist focuses more on creating a unique drink by studying the classics and then concocting new, exciting combinations. Mixologists tend to have a greater knowledge of obscure and lesser known spirits and mixers. There are many fine mixing professionals who fall in both categories as well as many more who specialize in one or the other. Some dismiss the term “mixology” all together and others are the opposite.

I was lucky enough that I just happened to find a mixologist, but beware: the specialized drinks can get pricey, especially in Los Angeles. There are many courses and schools that you can enroll in to become a mixologist like the Columbia Bartending Agency and School of Mixology or through the PBSA, the Professional Bartending Schools of America.

Image by Dan4th.

How to make a perfect cup of coffee using the Aeropress


-Casey Klekas

The word addict, as in “I am a coffee addict,” comes from the latin word addictus, meaning “to surrender” or “to pay religious devotion.” My girlfriend has helped me explore new ways of devoting myself to the coffee bean. She has opened me to newer and more elaborate rituals of transforming those roasted seeds into a subtler and more intricate cup of coffee. For instance, she bought me an Aeropress, a plunger of a device that combines the advantages of the French press and the espresso machine—all for less than thirty bucks.

The Aeropress is a cylinder of two inches in diameter, five inches in length, with a screw on cap at the bottom for a paper filter. You’re supposed to put two scoops of ground coffee inside the tube with the filter locked on. You fill it half full with water, wait thirty seconds, then “press” the plunger device to push the liquid out of the grounds, through the filter and into the waiting cup below. This normally gives you a double shot of espresso, which you top with water for an Americano, or milk for a latte. I have experimented with countless techniques for using the Aeropress and have come to accept a variant of the “inverted method” as my favorite. Here’s what I do (at least three times a day):

I heat the water to just below 200 degrees F. Water should never be boiling (212 degrees) when it hits the coffee or else your liable to get stuck with a burnt flavor. If you’re using an electric kettle, let it sit for a minute after reaching boil, or if you’re as sick as me you’ll use a thermometer for perfection.

Put the plunger bottoms up and place the cylinder just over the lip of the rubber, so as to get the same water tightness as the regular method. Take a rounded scoop of medium ground coffee and dump it into the tube (use the funnel that it came with).

Pour the water so it just barely covers all the grounds, then let it sit for thirty seconds or so in order to “bloom.” Blooming is when the coffee puffs up and releases CO2 at its first contact with hot water. It’s important to let the CO2 escape now rather than slipping into your cup.

Stir with the paddle-thing it came with, then fill to an inch below the top of the brewer. Or fill then stir. Just make sure it is stirred and filled, ok? We wanna get all the coffee grinds soaking, alright? Mmkay.

Let it sit for one minute or more, but not more than two minutes because you’ll be flirting with bitterness. While you’re waiting, put the filter in the cap and rinse with your hot water. You want to rinse the filter so as to get rid of any papery flavor, unless you are one of those who liked to eat the paper as much as the cupcake. I am guilty of doing this well beyond my adolescence. Rinse the filter over the cup you’ll soon fill with coffee. You want to avoid any big temperature jumps so as not to stifle the potential flavor of your (Roma) beans.

Pour out the water in your cup, screw on the filter, then carefully but quickly flip the whole brewer on top of your mug. Press until you hear the hissing of the last bits of liquid being squeezed out of your grounds. Sometimes I press all the way, but you’ll get a “cleaner” cup if you don’t.

Fill another half of the mug with water, let sit for a minute, then pour it on your keyboard, I mean, all over your pillow—no wait, just drink it. Drink it with your mouth. Open your lips and start to suck. Once the liquid fills and scolds your entire mouth, then swallow…

The Chronicles of Zipfizz: One Woman’s Story

-Marissa Tomko

Zipfizz did me dirty.

This self-proclaimed “healthy energy mix” comes in powder form with the intent that the user mixes it with water to his or her desired dilution. It does not boast that its energy comes from caffeine—one serving only contains 100 mg, which is less than one-third of the caffeine found in a grande sized Starbucks blend. Instead, Zipfizz is proud of its all-natural mixture of vitamins, particularly the 41,667 percent recommended daily intake of B-12. Yes, you read that right: 41,667 percent. The mix is only ten calories (which I love) and is artificially sweetened (which I hate). Now that you’ve learned a little bit about this beverage, back to my story . . .

In the name of research, I decided to replace my habitual cup of afternoon coffee with this strange-sounding energy drink. After knocking back my grape-flavored concoction, I awaited the natural burst of energy that I was promised. While I was waiting, I fell asleep.

I rolled over, looked at my phone, and shot up into the air like a cat that just got hosed; I had exactly five minutes to make the quarter-of-an-hour journey to my meeting for this very publication. I pulled on some boots, swished around some mouthwash, and muzzily wandered to campus.

When I arrived, I gave an exasperated hello to my fellow Pulse writers, and collapsed into my seat. I was sad that Zipfizz hadn’t affected me; I wanted it to be my new thing because carrying around the vile that the powder came in made me feel really cool! If I could go back to that moment, I’d look myself in the eye and say “Oh my dear, sweet Marissa. You don’t know what you’re in for.”

The time came to meet with my fellow writers and our editor, so I stood up—that’s when it hit me. For lack of a better medical term, I felt high. My mind was airy, my arms were jittery, and every time I spoke I wanted to face-palm myself. As I giggled my way through my meeting, I pondered if this was a normal reaction to be having. After all, I’m not exactly the poster child for having an average amount of energy. Or sleep. Or caffeine. With these variables in mind, I did a little bit of research when I got home. After perusing the internet and texting some friends, I came to a conclusion that Zipfizz has about a thousand different effects, and no two people that I talked to had identical experiences.

Maybe I’m just crazy and my Zipfizz episode was all in my head. Or maybe I’m crazy for a different reason in that it makes me feel like I’m on pain killers—I don’t know. In any case, all I can say is if you want to know if this product works, try it! As for me, I’ll continue to run some Zipfizz experiments to see if the life of excessive B-12 is the life for me.

Coffee, sweet nectar for the weary!

-Casey Klekas

My morning ritual consists of drinking two glasses of water and three pots of coffee. That’s not true; sometimes I forget to drink any water. Regardless, I’ve picked up the nasty habit of buying a new coffee appliance every few months. Long ago I resigned my automatic drip brewer to the cupboard. Now, my coffee station consists of three brewers: the French press, the Aeropress, and the Chemex. If I’m entertaining for Easter brunch, I’ll use the French press. If I want a single cup of coffee, Americano, or shot of espresso, I’ll use the Aeropress. When it’s just me and my old lady—I wanted to say “Me and the Mrs.,” but there isn’t a standard unabbreviated form for Mrs. (forgive me, dear)—I use the Chemex. The Chemex is essentially a Melitta, the little plastic cone that is often used for single cup brewing. I can’t squeeze four years of coffee experience into 500 words, so I’m devoting the next few posts to the elixir that got me through college.

The best beans in town at the most agreeable price is a pound of whole bean, house coffee from Espresso Roma. I’ve long thought Roma to be the best coffee on campus. In my opinion, the next best coffee in Eugene is either Stumptown or from the Wandering Goat. However, they price their coffee adjusted for hyperinflation, and they have too many “floral” coffees that I don’t fancy. No, the beans to buy are from Espresso Roma for eleven bucks a pound. Do not buy your coffee from Starbucks. A twelve ounce bag goes for nine clams. As Dr. Bill Nye will tell you, there are sixteen ounces in a pound, so two extra greenbacks will get you four ounces more of higher quality beans if you go with Roma.

Next, you’ll need a coffee grinder. It is best to grind your own coffee immediately before brewing. Do a taste test between a pot of coffee made with fresh ground beans and the one made with your usual choice of musty shavings. You’ll never go back.

For years I used a standard blade grinder, loud and messy though it was. If you’re a snob, like me, you should invest in a burr grinder. These do not randomly hack the beans into submission. The burr is like a pepper grinder, where two blades or abrasive metals revolve in opposite directions. This gives you an even consistency in your grind.

Why is the grinder important? There is a noticeable difference in taste and aroma between the blade grinder and the burr grinder. The burr creates less friction, meaning less heat, therefore less flavor lost in your grinder and more in your cup. Also, you will want to grind your beans according to the brewer being used. If you need a medium grind for standard drip coffee, your blade grinder will give you pieces, big and small. Those grinds will give different tastes according to their size, leaving you with an unpredictable cup of joe. The coffee bean is a sensitive seed that, should you treat it tenderly, will repay your respect by ten-fold.

If you’re not using an automatic brewer, you’ll need a kettle. I prefer electric to stove-top kettles, but this is only a matter of preference (my stove sucks).

Well, that’s all for now. My next post will include step-by-step instructions for various brewing methods. The coffee is good enough to make anyone into a coffee snob. I should warn you: it’s an expensive lifestyle. Remember, get a burr-grinder and fill it with Roma beans!

Don’t Worry Be Healthy: 1,3,7-Trimethylxanthine – Part III: Red Bull

-Marissa Tomko

If you follow “Don’t Worry, Be Healthy,” you’re probably well aware of the fact that I love caffeine. After all, you know what they say, you should write about what you know!

So far, I’ve talked about the way caffeine works and given a little bit of background on coffee. But what’s next you ask? Here’s a hint: it gives you wings.

If you’re not a college student, have never taken a long drive, or have never been into a 7-11, then maybe there’s a chance that my hint means nothing to you. But as for the rest of you, you know what I’m talking about—Red Bull.

I have been a fan of this beverage since I was a freshman, and in the past two and a half years, I’ve heard it all: “They’re full of sugar,” “You drink too much caffeine,” and “Did you know you don’t need that much taurine in your diet?” I am fully aware of all of these things, and my guess is that you are too. I could write about how energy drinks are bad for you, and list the negative health effects you may or may not experience when drinking them. But what I find to be more interesting is why we still drink them, despite what we know about them. It all comes down to one thing: killer advertising.

In my opinion, Red Bull has one of the most effective advertising campaigns out there. It doesn’t sell a drink; it sells a lifestyle. The brand appeals to the adventuring, extremist, free-spirited athlete in all of us. The Red Bull website has next to nothing to do with that skinny silver can that I love to drink from; it’s full of sports videos, action photography, and the latest remixes. Red Bull’s Twitter profile is slightly more geared toward the actual beverage, but its main purpose is still to sell a persona. The bio on the social media site reads: “Red Bull is the only Energy Drink that #GivesYouWings. Likes: F1, racing, skate, surf, snow, moto, BMX, MTB, X Games, wake, music, art, culture, gaming. Fun.” The feed is full of inspiring thoughts, crazy videos, and has snow-covered mountains as a background picture—that right there sold me!

I know, I know—you think I’m a sucker for advertising. And maybe I am. But this campaign does more than sell a product. It taps into the person inside of us that we love the most: the fun-loving, dancing, carefree one that we wish we could be all the time. Even though drinking a Red Bull doesn’t make that come true when we’re studying or driving home on the interstate, it is sure to remind us that that person is still there, and that the possibilities are endless.