Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Who Wants Some Dirty Sugar Cookies?: The Dirty Sugar Cookies Virtual Book Tour, Day 20

I think I found my epicurean soul sister.

If "epicurean" is the right word to describe us, that is. Because the word "epicurean" implies that one is well studied in the art of food and drink--that one has, according to Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, "sensitive and discriminating tastes especially in food or wine." When somebody says that someone is an epicure, thoughts of ladies and gents with eating with turned up pointy noses come to mind.

So maybe "epicurean" isn't the right word to describe my newfound (insert word pertaining to food here) soul sister
Ayun Halliday, author of Dirty Sugar Cookies: Culinary Observations, Questionable Taste. To be quite honest, when Ayun first approached me and asked if I'd like to participate in a virtual book tour to promote her new book, I had no idea who she was. I never read her other books The Big Rumpus, No Touch Monkey or Job Hopper nor have I ever heard of her 'zine East Village Inky. And maybe because I hadn't, and because at that time I didn't know much about Dirty Sugar Cookies except for the fact that it was some sort of food memoir, I pictured Ayun as the stereotypical epicure...you know, the type that has serious discussions about foie gras with a group of wine snobs. But I was sooo wrong! (Please forgive me Ayun!)

Ayun knows food the way I do. We like it; hell, we adore it. But come on, let's be honest here. We didn't always like what we like, or dislike what we dislike. And we weren't all born with a silver palate, but we did have curious obsessions with those that seemed like they were. Dirty Sugar Cookies takes us along the long, sometimes awkward, but certainly humorous road to culinary self-discovery. She brings us back to her chilhood and adolescence where Pop Tarts weren't just something she scarfed down at camp, but something that fit into an almost obsessive-compulsive pattern of breakfast eating where everything, including Count Chocula and the Pop Tart, had to be placed just so. I'd pretty much pushed Seventeen Magazine deep down into the dregs of my memory until Ayun resurfaces those memories of prom fashions and lip gloss in telling us what role the beloved teenage magazine and food played in her coming of age. She tells us of post-coital breakfasts and why certain neighborhood diners were more well suited for them. We go with her to Indonesia and Thailand where she shows us why we'd never want to order an Austrailian Pizza and also about how she fell in love with (but never again could find) mangosteens.

But perhaps my favorite part of Dirty Sugar Cookies is an earlier chapter titled "Fruit Basket Upset" where Ayun reminded me of my childhood definition of good cooking. Now I'm not talking McDonalds, pizza and candy; I'm talking about those things that I identified as good eats when I first realized that cooking's a process--that it's an art. With that being said, I'm not talking about miso glazed black cod or osso buco either. When I was young, I thought the most bad-ass chefs were the ones who could make some outrageously over-the-top creation like the coveted "Enchanted Castle" cake from the Betty Crocker Boys and Girls Cookbook that Ayun so fondly remembers. It was a cake situated on a lawn of coconut shreds that were dyed green and that had ice cream cones as turrets; it was a cake that was big, gaudily ornate and colorful and which had a big fancy picture within the cookbook, luring both boys and girls in everytime they looked at it and making them think "Gee, when I grow up I'm going be a chef and make a cake just like that one!" Little did one know that the inside of that cake probably tasted like paste. Yet at that age, that cake stood for real cooking, dammit.

So, because I'm a sucker for sarcasm, I decided to recreate "Shitty Kitty Confection" from a cake recipe at the end of the chapter. Ayun calls it "a trompe l'oeil treat"--a bit wacky, I say, but I fucking love it. Imagine all the "oohs" and "aahs" Mrs. Happy Housewife would receive as she brought this out to the dinner table back in the day! Here the excerpt from Ayun's book...follow along, won't you? (And maybe make one yourself someday!)

"Prepare 1 large package of vanilla pudding mix according to package directions. Most likely this will involve milk. (You'll want to have some on hand anywayto wash down the horrifingly realistic finished product.) Stick the pudding in the fridge in a container of your choosing.

Mix 1 box of German chocolate cake mix with whatever eggs or oils it may call for, and bake according to the instructions on the side of the box in whatever pan grabs you.

(My supplies! Fortunately, everything was on sale at Albertson's.)

(Mixin' it up with Duncan Hines)

Repeat the above process with 1 box of white cake mix.

Get ready to fuck your blender up with 1 package of vanilla sandwich cookies...you know, the kind you hated as a kid because they weren't dark, like Oreos. If you're the old fashioned type, get out your rolling pin and clobber them up to crumb city that way.

(Since I have a food processor, I guess I didn't have to fuck up my blender)

If you want to get really fancy, dude up 1 cup of cookie crumbs with a few drops of green food coloring. Stir them up good and set aside.

(New and improved extra deodorizing formula!)

Once the cakes have cooled, crumble them up into your largest mixing bowl with half of the undyed cookie crumbsand enough pudding to bind it all together, without turning things too boggy.

(Mix it up good!)

Line the brand new litter box you bought at the pet supply store with one of the brand new disposable litter box liners picked up on the same trip. This is one step where it doesn't pay to skimp, no matter how fastidiously you wash dishes.

Strip the wrappers off a few small Tootsie rollsand heat them in the microwaveuntil they are as pliant as if you'd tucked them into your armpits for an hour (which you can totally do if, like me, you don't have room for a microwave in your kitchen) Now that they're warm, these little brown logs are yours for the shaping. Pay special attention to the ends, which should be tapered. Make as many of them as you'd like, but at least one per guest. Follow your muse. Just work in small batches for maximum plasticity. Bury most of the doctored Tootsies in the cake mixture.

(I showed Isaac my first turd attempt. He's had a cat before (poor Isaac) and would be able to tell me if my Tootsie turds were passable. He took it from me and said I had to make 'em smaller & more dimply. The above is what the finished product looked like. )

(Carefully inserting a Tootsie turd into the cake litter)

Over this mess, sprinkle the remaining undyed cookie crumbs. fancy types can follow this up with judiciously spaced, chlorophyll green "odor crystal"crumbs.

For good measure, plop a few more Tootsies defiantly atop the "litter"--you know, the way felines do.

(The practical side of me told me to not buy a real litter box since I will never, ever own a cat. So I used my trusty 9x13 cake pan.)

("No, no, cats don't leave all their turds on the top," Isaac advised, "you gotta bury them more." I left one sticking out just for kicks.)

Serve with a pooper scooper that, if not brand new, is at least reserved for culinary purposes such as this."

(Mmm! All nice & clumpy--just like kitty would have left it! Note that I didn't have a kitty litter scoop either, so I used the next best thing.)

It tasted kinda like...paste! But oh what fun it was!

Dirty Sugar Cookies is available for purchase now through Powells.com.
Buy it. Now.


Professor Salt said...

Looks awesome!

elmomonster said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
elmomonster said...

That looks hilariously disgusting!

Anonymous said...

aaaaaaajehehheheheh LOL :D great recipe :D

they should serve this at the Wynn, with a gold plated pooper-scooper

BoLA said...

Ahahah! I'm sure my cats would LOVE this! =)

Stephanie J. Rosenbaum said...

Oh my god, that's the most disgusting thing I've ever seen happen to a box of cake mix. Rock on, Ayun!

Acme Instant Food said...

This is totally nuts. I love her (and you for bringing it to me)!

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, the good ol' gag reflex just kicked in after viewing the "finished" results of the Pretend Cat Squat. If I closed my eyes, I could probably wolf down the whole thing, though! Fun blog--and oh--Happy Birthday!

Daily Gluttony said...

Prof Salt,

you want some?


it was even more hilarious trying to make it. imagine trying to roll tootsie turds in your hands.


yes, we should propose this to the wynn!


i still have some leftover--you can give it to your cats if you want. LOL!


betty crocker should put this recipe on the back of a boxed cake mix, eh?


thanks! we love you too!


thanks so much for the b-day wishes!!! now i gotta go celebrate with some shitty kitty confection!

Anonymous said...

Aaaah Kitty Litter Cookies as only DG could create. Hilarious...... And no Cats don't leave their turds on top, unless you haven't changed the litter in a loooong time!

BoLA said...

Kirk is SO right! They love a clean fresh box o'litter. haha! But wouldn't you? LOL!

And yes....Happy Happy Birthday! =)

Colleen Cuisine said...

Oh no you didn't. YOU DID!!!
This is by far the last thing I expected to see made into food form. I am shocked and strangely... intrigued? What does it smell like?

As a cat owner, you definitely gave me some flashbacks - a couple years ago, we traded our litter pan in for a Litter Robot (yes, it's a real robot). So I haven't seen a litter pan for a while - seeing your creation I felt surprisingly... at home. I need help.

Anonymous said...

Crap, did I miss both DL & DG's B-days? (actually I sent a pre-B-day to Susan/Sarah the day before) And how the hell did DL manage to get in a real-time entry before Pam, do wonders never cease to amaze :-).

Hmm, I think Pam's gotten a bit more demented with a year of blogging under her belt (and from the looks of things that belt is going to need another hole of expanding...this is your idea of a W-Diet? Both you and DL are killing my... *ahem* youthful, hunky, six-pack abs figure...like I ever had them, lol)? This is clearly a (if I call DL a 'boneheaded stubborn woman', which if you believe MBC America English subtitle translation for the K-drama series, is typical vernacular of modern day Koreans; see I'm not really insulting DL) case of Pam going all Butthead on us. Cat turds really now ;). Naturally, with all *naughtiest* food pr0n going on over with Sarah (you know I have to do my part) my first gut reaction to the title was something more along the lines of *dirty* as in these kinds of cookies...Doh. hehe, guess I'm a bit of a Beavis too.

Happy B-lated B-day! (sorry I didn't bake any cookies for you ;))

Christine D. said...

I didn't read this post NOT because I was grossed out by it (trust me, I am dubbed as "The Sickest One in the Head" of our family), but because I thought i had already read it!! I got confused because I saw the same book cover on The Amateur Gourmet, HAHA.

MAN! What an awesome book! I think that I would enjoy it mucho too. I wonder if you can make little hairballs out of grey-colored sugar? lol

Oishii Eats said...

Pam, you so dirty!

Passionate Eater said...

I was holding off on commenting because I was temporarily rendered speechless, but as I was looking through your comments, I found out that Jeni said it best!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely vile. I can imagine that this would go down exceptionally well at any kids party. For some reason...i'm thinking I won't be making it though.

Daily Gluttony said...


Oh you mean you're supposed to change the litter? LOL!


Thanks for the b-day wishes!! I guess this would make the kitty litter box my b-day cake!


It smelled like...vanilla! LOL!


long time no see, dude? what's up? and thanks for the b-day wishes!


yes, buy the book! i'm not just saying that 'cause i participated in her book tour. seriously, it's hilarious! ooh, sugar hair balls--excellent!


i am, huh? haha, just kidding.


cmon now, it wasn't my recipe. i didn't invent the kitty litter box cake. i just made it. (i bet you're still thinking "ew, you so dirty!) LOL!


c'mon. make it. everyone's doing it. haha!

mpken said...


rickmond said...

urk... this made me wince as i was reading it >.<