Baklava

I’ve been obsessed with making baklava since I had a late-night school-induced baklava binge last month. I figured, the ingredients are so simple it must not be hard to make. Most recipes brag that it only takes an hour of prep and then 45 minutes of baking, but they’re all liars. First you have to thaw dough overnight or for up to a full day. And for the prep, I watched exactly three 45 minute shows on Netflix while making this, so it took fucking forever. Also, I brought this to a work potluck, so I basically spent an eternity making a dish and only ate four or five pieces.

Overall, I don’t really recommend that anyone make baklava. Yeah, it’s expensive to buy baklava, but you probably aren’t going to do that very often. Mine was by far the best tasting baklava I’ve ever had, and I’m still probably never making this again. But, if you are under house arrest and someone is willing to get the ingredients for you, it might be worth it.

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How can something with eight ingredients take so fucking long to make?

Recipe adapted from http://natashaskitchen.com/2014/12/21/baklava-recipe/

Ingredients

1 package of filo dough

2 sticks of butter

1.5 pounds of nuts (I used a mix of almonds and pistachios)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup sugar

Juice of ½ a lemon

1 cup water

½ cup honey

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I should have just poured the butter on the filo and not bothered spreading it out.

Instructions

Thaw filo dough for 8-24 hours in the fridge and then take out about an hour before you’re ready to start making baklava

Make syrup first so it has a chance to cool. Boil water, honey, sugar, and lemon juice for about 4 minutes and then set aside to cool.

Melt butter and then butter the sides of a 9×13 pan.

Pulse nuts in food processor until they are coarsely ground, then stir together with cinnamon.

Set up a fairly large workspace (you actually need to clean your kitchen before you make baklava or you’ll end up yelling a lot, which will make your baklava taste angry).

Trim filo dough to about 9×13 or 9×14.

To butter the filo dough, I found that it was best to drip a lot of butter on the dough and then brush it around a little. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t want to miss an important part of the show you’re watching since doing this without a distraction would be boring.

Buttering every other sheet, place 10 sheets of filo on the bottom of the pan. Then add a thin layer of nut mixture (about ¾ cup). From there, alternate 5 sheets of filo (buttering every other sheet) with ¾ cup nuts. When you are out of nuts, end with 10 sheets of filo on the top, but butter every sheet so these stick together better. Cut the baklava before baking either in squares or diagonals. Use a very sharp knife because it is easy to fuck up the filo dough. Bake for about 45 minutes, then immediately pour the syrup over the baklava. It sizzles in a very satisfying manner. Cool uncovered for several hours or overnight. Cut again before serving.

 

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It’s best to crush your nuts by hand if you’re looking to make this process take as long as possible. I used a food processor, but I also hand-shelled the pistachios, so I still maximized my cooking time.

I can’t tell you what to do with your life, but if you have like three hours to dedicate to making baklava, you should probably re-evaluate your priorities.

-Serafina

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Southern Style Tomato Sandwiches and How to Make Simple Dishes Fancy

I didn’t want to do another Saturday post, but here we are nonetheless. It’s no excuse, but I’ve been busy working on my heavy metal jazz infusion album, which drops this coming week. So, now that that’s out of the way, I should have a much less hectic schedule. 

When I was growing up, my dad used to make us tomato sandwiches for lunch on the weekends. I loved them. I assumed he made them because we were so poor and couldn’t afford ingredients and also that he was lazy. But it turns out, that it was actually a southern thing I was unaware of until recently. 
The recipe is easy: bread, tomato, mayo. That’s it. I’m sure you can figure out how those come together, but I’ll write down the recipe just in case. 

And I’m going to make it fancy and pretentious. 

There are a few simple rules to make any dish fancy. First, add butter. It doesn’t matter what it is, just add a lot of butter to the dish. Second, buy oddly shaped, expensive baked goods with a French name. And finally, make sure you add in at least seven extra steps to your dish to make it more complicated. It doesn’t matter if they’re unnecessary. Just do it. 

Tl;dr – get all ingredients at Whole Foods and speak in a French accent while you cook. 

The traditional recipe calls for Wonder Bread, whatever tomatoes are on sale, and generic fake mayo. We can only go up from here, people. 

Mary Ellen’s Tomato Sandwiches to Make You Feel Sorry for Her Childood:

Bonus: use vegan mayo to give it the extra “in your face” pretentiousness we all crave.

Ingredients:

  • Mayo
  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Fancy bread
  • Lettuce*****
  • Salt
  • Butter

Directions:

Cut the fancy bread with a chef’s knife because you don’t have a bread knife.



Melt butter in an iron skillet. No, none of this is negotiable. Go out and buy all these things. What? You want to just toast the bread in a toaster? Wtf is wrong with you? You toast the bread in the skillet!

You will become french toast later, my prettys.

Slice some tomato. Apply mayo to bread. Yes, I know, butter AND mayo? Isn’t that too much? Yes, but so what. Lightly salt the tomato with pink Himalayan salt. Lay down some lettuce. Put in mouth. 

This is what a sandwich looks like. Serve with whimsically cubed watermelon.

Make sure to buy my album. I will sign all digital copies, but only if you promise not to sell them on eBay. 

Music is lyfe,

Mary Ellen 

*****Editor’s note: don’t use whatever bullshit lettuce Mary Ellen used. It’s iceberg or bust if you want the satisfying crunch. 

Garden Green Curry

Man, oh, man, I’ve been having a lot of GI issues lately (I wish I could just insert a poo emoji here, but I don’t know how to do that on my computer… I’m only technically a millennial). Anyway, I’ve had a number of conversations with my significant other about how if I die from this illness, he will need to make sure my headstone reads “Here lies Serafina Bearafina, who died out of her butt”

I’m obviously hoping that doesn’t happen, but you have to have a plan in place.

Anyway, prior to my…problems, I was spending a shitload of time gardening. A few weeks ago, I made this lovely dish (I only mention that it was a few weeks ago so no one thinks that this curry will make you die out of your butthole)

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If you’re wondering, no, the broccoli isn’t supposed to look like that, it was basically broccolini, just grown from regular broccoli seeds because I planted it too late.

This curry was born out of the most wonderful of circumstances. My boyfriend, who refuses to eat curry after an incident with his freshman year cafeteria, was away for the weekend. My garden produced about 10 zucchinis and some other unidentified stuff. And (most importantly), I discovered a jar of green curry paste that was about to expire. I know you all wish you can be as inspired in the kitchen as I am, but I’m hoping by sharing these little genuine moments, you can learn how to make edible food.

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Here’s another tip to help you on your food journey: if you think the cauliflower your grew looks weird, taste it before you drop it in the pan.

Ingredients

Brown rice, cooked

1-2 tsp coconut oil

Garlic powder

Ginger powder

Green curry paste

Splash of water

Several cups of garden vegetables (or grocery store vegetables if you don’t understand how to water your garden)

1 can coconut milk

1-2 tsp coconut aminos

1 tsp lime juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Cilantro to garnish

 

Instructions

Cook your rice if you didn’t already (it doesn’t taste very good raw)

Heat coconut oil with ginger and garlic powder for a few moments, then add green curry and a splash of water. Add veggies and saute for a few minutes. Add coconut milk and cook until veggies are soft (maybe 15 minutes?) Once cooked, add lime juice, salt, pepper, and coconut aminos.

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Try not to text your boyfriend a picture of all of the things he hates, unless you want to make sure he doesn’t actually come home.

*poo emoji*

Serafina

Guide to a Happy Marriage (actually I’m just going to make sex jokes) 

Yesterday, Annie and I celebrated our five year anniversary, so sorry the post is a day late. I was too busy having celebratory sex all day. Just kidding. I’m married and have a one year old, so we were both sick with the plague again, after less than two weeks of health. 

We just watched kpop videos until the late hour of 9pm, then went to bed. This is basically the secret spice to our life.
No one has ever asked us about the secret to our happy marriage, which kind of makes me a little resentful. How can I be smug as hell about it when no one asks? How can I bring it up in daily conversation, unprovoked? 

A lot of Mormon mom blogs out there have very nice lists to a happy marriage. Usually the lists consist of having sex whenever your husband wants, and praying to Jesus. I can’t really argue with those list items, I suppose, because they really do go hand in hand. But what about the rest of us, who really just phone it in on a daily basis with, basically everything, until the point where our lives become a shit show? 

Just like how I’m writing this post on the fly, with no forethought, because all my other planned posts will take too much effort and right now I’d really like to take a nap, that’s how I approach marriage. Sure, sometimes I plan things out. I waxed my legs recently. Sometimes I plan dinner in advance. But usually, my marriage is like an improve show, and the audience is throwing up the weirdest shit ever and we just have to say yes to it all in order to not get booed off the stage. There is no Emcee monitoring it, so it gets chaotic. 

I’m so fucking deep. You guys are writing this all down, right? 

We’re always a mess. *giggle*
Serafina was at my wedding, and I’ll never forget what she said to me, because they’re the words of a true friend: 

“I can just keep driving and you don’t have to do this.” 

I’m getting teary just thinking about that moment, when I almost ran away. Maybe it was the love I felt for Annie, or the confusion I felt for the “Call Me Maybe” song Serafina was blasting on the radio, or maybe it was my cousin forcing us to go to the venue, but I’m glad I got slightly buzzed and went through with it all the same. Because now, instead of running away from my problems, I can thrust them upon someone else to carry (and we still run away). 

I hope this helps other couples with whatever they might be going through. If it doesn’t, bondage does wonders for any marriage, as well as your soul. 

50 shades of sass,

Mary Ellen 

More Egg Rice 

I’m sorry that I’ve been MIA for a long while. I was sick, died, ressurected, and then I’ve been busy coming up with the perfect playlist for working out. I love making playlists for everything because they are the modern form of mix tapes, which I used to actually make for people all the time, because I was adorable/a creepy nerd. Have a crush? Let them know with a heartfelt compilation of emotional Hanson songs. I continued this tradition even with the advent of CDs, and even went so far as to make a “I’m sorry we broke up, I want to be friends, but I also still want to have sex with you/I will stalk you every day until you love me” mix. When CDs died, I ran to iTunes, and now I’m resting comfortably with Spotify. 
Since I’ve been so busy making playlists, I hardly have time to cook, clean, or have foresight in general. Actually, I don’t think I even made dinner for my husband last night. I think I had a bowl of cereal, I wonder what he had? 

I eat sweet potatoes sometimes as meals. This was painstakingly made by wrapping in foil and throwing it into the oven, where I forgot about it because I didn’t set a timer. Luckily, it turned out well for me.

I go back and forth on the egg thing. I love eggs most of the time, but then I need like, several months of a break. I make a lot of egg scrambles with whatever ingredients I have on hand. This recipe, however, was inspired by a dish at a local ramen spot near my house. A true gem of a place. We went with friends, and it took a couple of hours to get all our food, which was fine since they brought out my sake and I didn’t care about the rest. After like 90 minutes of still missing half our order, I walked up to one of the dudes walking around, and politely informed him that we were still missing our dishes, and like, wondered if they were going to get them for us. He didn’t speak English, and ran away. He was scared of me the rest of the night. 
Anyway, one of our friends and Annie both ordered vegetable fried rice, and they brought out rice with egg in it, and no vegetables. I was jealous. 
This recipe is not fried rice. I’m too lazy for that.  
Egg Scramble with Rice (adapted from a local ramen joint with communication issues)

Ingredients: 

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup frozen vegetables of your choice 
  • Cheese (optional) 
  • 1/2 TBSP butter or oil
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice of your choice
  • Soy sauce 

Directions:

Heat butter or oil in a pan at medium heat and add vegetables. Cook until heated through and add cheese (if you want) until it melts. 

Today I used peppers and corn that was genetically modified to taste like carrots. It counts as an extra vegetable.

Scramble the eggs in a bowl and pour into pan. 

Serafina would just eat it at this stage because she doesn’t even have time to cook her eggs.

Prepare a bowl of rice and drizzle soy sauce in it and mix it in. Top it with the scramble and eat it while silently wishing you were eating cookies for lunch instead. 

Not cookies, but I guess it works.

That’s all for this week. If you would like your own personalized mixtape from Mary Ellen, send an inquiry through the Contact Page and a representative will be with you within 1-12 days. 
Scrambles are just free spirited omelettes. 
Mary Ellen 

Tomago Kake Gohan

AKA the ridiculous shit you eat when you never go to the grocery store

Oh, hi there, friends. It’s been a minute what with Mary Ellen’s baby getting her sick again (babies are so gross) and my summer Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman classes (we learned how to make hats!)

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Regular doctors wear lab coats, but in my program, hats are actually preferred.

I’m just glad we’re all here now, so I can finally admit that I eat raw eggs. I had my chickens’ poop checked out by a vet, and for several months I went around telling people that there was no salmonella because my chickens are basically perfect. Then my boyfriend pointed out that the vet might not have checked for salmonella. What a dick. Both of them. I would have been perfectly fine living in my world without salmonella.

Anyway, I still eat raw eggs anytime I bake anything. And also, anytime I’m hungry.

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Imagine my shock when my boyfriend, who definitely doesn’t have weird food preferences, refused to eat this!

I read about this somewhere. I thought it was the New Yorker, but I couldn’t find it. It’s not like it’s a hard “recipe” though…

Ingredients

About a cup of hot rice (I used white rice in the pictures, but I often use brown rice)

1 egg

Seasonings (all optional): Siracha, toasted sesame oil, and/or coconut aminos (or soy sauce)

Instructions

Place rice in bowl

Crack egg directly into bowl

Whisk the shit out of it with chop sticks until it gets foamy

Add seasonings if desired

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It starts to hold together and gets kind of custard-y, which is what you want

Serafina

Morally superior granola

These are difficult times for people who constantly take the moral high ground and sometimes forget to point it out to people. For example, I recently got curbside compost (in addition to the backyard compost) and only put my trash out every other week. So, I’m a lot better than everyone else. The guys who pick up my trash know it, but I can’t tell if my neighbors have noticed. I should knock on their doors to tell them how environmentally friendly I am, but I’d hate to contribute to their carbon footprint when they open their doors and their air conditioning has to work extra. I just can’t take on that kind of responsibility for them.

It’s hard enough keeping your own household running. Did you know I caught my house keepers throwing my recycling away with the trash? And I found that monstrosity of a trash bag in the compost bin. Don’t worry, I wrote a very harsh review about the whole fiasco on Yelp. I’m waiting to hear back from the management to see how I can be compensated for the emotional toll this has taken on me.

Are you looking for ways to be more engaged in the community? You can start by providing spontaneous feedback to others about the choices they are making and recommendations about how to improve. Oh, you didn’t rescue your dog? You should abandon your dog right now so a better person can rescue him. Your dog doesn’t want to be with the kind of monster who got him from a breeder.

Another important aspect of being morally upstanding is making your own food, instead of buying food that may have indirectly caused human or animal suffering. Not only is this granola vegan, but it’s guaranteed cruelty-free (unless you accidentally burn yourself on the side of the oven).

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Laying out your ingredients with a clean towel also helps you feel like you’re better than other people, if you need some help on that front

Adapted from Cookie & Kate

Ingredients:

4 cups oats

1 cup nuts (I used slivered almond and pecans)

½ cup melted coconut oil or unsalted butter

1/3 cup maple syrup or honey

½ teaspoon salt

½ tsp vanilla extract

½-1 cup dried fruit (I recommend anything but raisins because raisins are the worst)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° degrees.

If you want this to be morally superior granola, you’re going to need to melt the coconut oil in the oven while it’s preheating. If you just want to make regular granola, I guess you can use the microwave, but I fully expect you to judge yourself for your decisions.

Mix oats, salt, nuts, coconut oil, vanilla, and maple syrup in a large bowl.

Spread thinly on a baking sheet or a 9×13 pan.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until oats and nuts are nice and toasty

Once cooled, stir in dried fruit.

Store in a jar that your boyfriend has tried to recycle numerous times, but you keep foiling him. You can’t recycle it until you’ve fully reused it. Try to make eye contact and bring up the history of the jar every time you get a handful of granola.

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Blueberries are the dried fruit of choice. After our jar argument, I explained to my boyfriend that raisins are bad and he should feel bad about himself for liking them.

Defeated Eggplant

A Saturday post? What am I doing here? I thought it was still Tuesday. I’ll have to talk to my assistant about keeping a better schedule for me, and maybe limit my daytime drinking just a bit. 
This week has defeated me in almost every way. I am so excited for this weekend, where I still have a shit ton to do, but Annie is also semi available and I can just ignore it all and go drink sake in the corner. 

Since Serafina already shared my likeness, I’m sharing this intimate moment with Annie post coitus. Sorry we look like shit. I’m wearing my house/chore clothes and he’s a corporate accountant and has let himself go.

I promised myself I would never do an eggplant recipe on this blog, but, just like I do with everyone else, I break promises frequently and aggressively. This recipe will not win anyone over that is scared of eggplant.  It really is for people who already like it. 
It’s also adapted from my sister’s recipe that I saw her make once many years ago. I was going to call her and ask how to do it, but I just sent her dance videos for hours instead, never mentioning that I was destroying her recipe and posting it publicly. 
Let’s get to it. 

On the plus side, this recipe doesn’t involve much attention, so it’s good for fellow lazy assholes like me.

Sista Ethel May Darkhorse’s Eggplant Appetizer (pillaged from the mind of Mary Ellen’s sister, Inception style)

Ingredients:

  • Eggplant
  • Bell pepper (I like yellow)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Salt (I used course Himalayan in a grinder)
  • Goat cheddar (don’t fucking use anything else) 

Directions: 

Slice the eggplant fairly thinly, salt, and put in a colander to sweat for several hours. When ready to bake, rinse and pat dry. 

Eggplant sweat lodge. Yes, that’s my dirty pan from breakfast. It’s fine. I’m fine.

Lay the eggplant out on a pan with parchment paper and brush with the vinegar. Bake at 375 degrees until it’s pretty done. I didn’t time it, sorry. It’s up to you, young Jedi, to figure that shit out. 

I like to put the pepper on top because it’s pretty.

Remove from oven and flip the eggplant. Brush the other side with vinegar and then lay out cheese slices and pepper on top. Drizzle with oil and salt. Put the eggplant in to broil until the cheese is melted. 

If you didn’t almost burn the house down with the parchment paper, then good for fucking you. Guess you are just perfect at everything, huh?

Remove from oven, and eat it. It’s weird and eggplant-like. Yummy. 

Ugh, need to get a manicure.

The odds aren’t in your favor,

Mary Ellen 

How to create more positive self-talk

Listen, everyone. There’s a lot of negativity in the world, and if anything is going to change, we need to start with ourselves. I’ve included some examples of self talk that starts off not-so-positive, and how to flip it around to be more self-loving (but not in that way, stop being so gross).

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Peaceful pictures of apple blossoms help inspire positivity

Example One:

“You really need to put on some make up so you don’t look like such an ugly hooker”

First of all, it’s best to use the non-pejorative term ‘sex worker.’ Next, you want to turn the statement into a positive. Try this instead:

“Maybe if you put on some make up you won’t look like such an ugly sex worker”

Didn’t that feel better?

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This is a real picture from the back room of the vegan topless bar in Texas where Mary Ellen and I met

Example Two:

“You just ate two entire pints of ice cream, no wonder you’re such a fat ugly cow”

Cows aren’t fat, that’s just how Goddess made them. Let’s try taking a more cow-friendly, positive spin on this self-talk:

“Good job eating those two pints of ice cream, you’re such a fat ugly person. Cows are beautiful creatures.”

I don’t know about you, but I feel better when I’m noticing the beauty and majesty of cows, instead of focusing on the negative.

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See, cows are beautiful

Example Three:

“I can’t believe you overdrew your bank account, you goddamn dumb bitch”

That sounded a little harsh, didn’t it? I bet it felt harsh when you said it to yourself. So, maybe don’t overdraw your bank account next time, you goddamn dumb bitch.

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If you didn’t overdraw your bank account and get evicted from your apartment, you wouldn’t have moved to the forest to live with the squirrels

Namaste,

Serafina

 

Vegan Chocolate Sheet Cake (with non-vegan chocolate frosting)

Guess what, everyone? I tried to find a recipe for a vegan chocolate sheet cake last week (I was low on eggs and had to bring cake to a barbecue). I could not find any vegan sheet cake recipes. What the fuck? Is this because vegans don’t have enough friends to bother with sheet cake? No offense, vegans. But maybe if you used some butter you’d have more friends. #realtalk #sorrynotsorry

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I am pretty new to sheet-cake-level popularity, so I don’t have large platters. I’m working on it, and I made do with the cake carrier this time

Anyhoo, I ended up making a few slight adaptations to a vegan chocolate layer cake recipe that I have used for years. It turned out marvelously, and thanks to a butter-filled frosting, everyone wanted to be my friend.

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I poured my vanilla and apple cider vinegar into bowls for you guys, instead of just taking more pictures of my vanilla jar with the rusty lid. Making friends takes effort. And butter.

This works as a layer cake with two 9in cake pans, or it could also make 24 cupcakes. I found this handy baking time chart for all you type A vegans looking to make friends with cake.

Adapted from Joy the Baker

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup canola oil

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

2 cups cold water

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9 x 13 in pan and line with parchment. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside.

Mix flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Sifting is advised because cocoa power is a pain in the ass and clumps.

Mix the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla together in a medium bowl.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined (vegan cakes get cranky when they are over-mixed, no one wants to eat a cranky cake)

Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for about 35 minutes. It is done when the skewer comes out mostly clean.

Cool completely then transfer onto a cake platter to be frosted.

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I was not sure about the baking time, so I stabbed the cake with a bamboo skewer about 20 times. It was effective. Also, I didn’t use a timer

Chocolate Frosting, adapted from a recipe on the back of a box of baking chocolate

Ingredients

8 oz baking chocolate (I usually do ½ unsweetened and ½ bittersweet)

6 tablespoons butter

About 1/3 cup milk (I use unsweetened almond milk)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

About 3 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

Melt butter and chocolate. I usually use the old put a bowl over some boiling water method. Once melted, take off heat and let cool for a minute. Add vanilla and salt.

Alternately beat in powdered sugar and milk until you get a thick, but spreadable consistency. Spread evenly on cake. This frosting hardens and becomes fudgy when it cools.

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I don’t know how there are already splashes of butter and chocolate on the cake carrier, I hadn’t even mixed in the powdered sugar at this point, and that’s the messy part

You don’t make friends with salad

Serafina