Buzzworm news briefs

The lost canines

A lot of folks adopt wolf dogs because they think they’re “cool.” All too often, however, these people aren’t willing or able to give their new pets the special care and training they need. As a result, 50 to 80 percent of wolf dogs born each year will end up dead or in a rescue facility by their second year, according to Full Moon Farm, a nonprofit sanctuary for abused and homeless wolf dogs.

Unfortunately, wolf dogs that end up at local animal shelters are often immediately put to sleep, regardless of their temperament, age or percentage of wolf blood. Only specialized shelters accept these unique animals, and almost every shelter in the United States is currently full — including Full Moon Farm.

The Black Mountain sanctuary provides a safe middle ground for those wolf dogs that can be adopted into permanent loving homes — providing psychological and physical rehabilitation to ensure a safe and happy placement. Animals that, for whatever reason, cannot be placed are given sanctuary and care for the rest of their lives. All animals receive medical care during their stay, including spay/neuter services and shots.

To help support this work, Full Moon Farm will hold a barbecue/fund-raiser Saturday, May 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Fairview Community Center on Hwy. 74A. The event will include a tag sale, a silent auction, live music and, of course, barbecue ($6 a plate). Visitors can also meet some of the rescued wolf dogs and learn more about these special animals.

For more information, call Full Moon Farm at 669-1818 or visit their Web site (www.fullmoonfarm.org).

— Lisa Watters

Surviving unemployment

There really ought to be some kind of survival kit for major life challenges — divorce, death of a parent, major illness — a little packet someone gives us to help us navigate these uncharted waters.

Well, there is such a packet for people who find themselves unexpectedly unemployed. The free Financial Survival Info Kit, aimed at workers who’ve recently lost their jobs, provides information on free debt counseling as well as low-cost small-business training and financial-planning assistance.

The kit is a joint project of the Community Angels Fund (a philanthropic fund of the Community Foundation of WNC, supported by W. Wall & Company), the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of WNC, and the Mountain Microenterprise Fund.

To order one, call the 24-hour hot line: (800) 893-5798.

— Lisa Watters

Bizworm

A cake of one’s own

I count myself among the culinarily challenged. I’m in awe of people with kitchens chock full of spices and herbs, kitchen gadgets and well-thumbed cookbooks. And while I love to eat the fruits of their labors, I’ve never been a member of their club — at least until now.

Because after reading The Artful Cupcake: Baking & Decorating Delicious Indulgences, I not only believe that I, too, could make yummy things that come out of an oven but, more important, I actually feel inspired to make the effort.

With its snappy introduction, easy-to-follow instructions and beautiful, glossy, full-page photographs, this is a fun book. That should come as no surprise, since Marcianne Miller had so much fun editing it. “I tested every single cupcake. I gained probably 10 pounds!” she confesses.

Miller (who’s also a regular contributor to Xpress) explains that she wanted to do this book “because I feel that cupcakes are basically fun — everybody can do them, everybody loves them. And people who don’t know how to bake — and there’s a lot of us — they start their baking with cupcakes.”

Given half a chance, Miller can even wax philosophic about cupcakes, which she sees as downright paradoxical little fellows. On the one hand, you don’t have to share them. As Miller puts it, “When you see a cupcake resting on a plate or nestled in a basket, you know you can say to yourself, ‘It’s mine, all mine!’

On the other hand, “By their very nature [cupcakes] are a group activity,” she points out. “No one ever makes just one cupcake. Whether it’s for a school event, a business meeting, a dinner party, a community fund-raiser, or for the guys coming over to watch football, we make cupcakes with the intention of sharing them with others.”

In other words, “The ultimate joy of cupcakes is that you get to eat all your cake and keep your friends happy, too!”

Published by the Asheville-based Lark Books, The Artful Cupcake is a Good Cook Book Club selection. All 32 recipes were created by “Asheville baking stars,” notes Miller, including Laurey Masterton of Laurey’s Catering, Heather McMullen and Andrea McMullen Sailer of The Sisters McMullen Bakery, and Charles deVries of Chez Nous Confections.

There’s a cupcake recipe for just about everybody, from projects for kids (Caterpillar & Friends and Cupcake Solar System) to the adults-only Chocolate with Cabernet Cupcakes. There are recipes for fruit aficionados (Key Lime Cup Tarts and Raspberry Hearts) and chocolate lovers (Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes and Chocolate Mousse Layered Cupcakes). There are even recipes for cupcakes reminiscent of other desserts (Lemon Meringue Cupcakes and Maple Walnut Streusel Cupcakes). How about Wedding Cupcakes instead of those giant, gooey-frosted cakes? Or such decorative touches as crystallized flowers, chocolate leaves and sugar butterflies. And for folks with special dietary needs, there are gluten-free Poppy Seed & Almond Cupcakes and the vegan Musical Notes.

Another thing cupcakes have going for them, says Miller, “is that it’s really hard for little kids to help decorate a three-layer cake you’re going to show off for the neighbors, but you can have kids help make cupcakes.” And as for grown-ups, she notes, “Men aren’t intimidated by cupcakes. … Cupcakes are the quintessential family sweet event.”

But in the end, what makes these personal morsels more fun than cookies, muffins or any other baked treat, she maintains, is that “cupcakes touch the child in all of us.”

The Artful Cupcake is available at Malaprop’s, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers.

— Lisa Watters

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