Monday, June 21, 2010

Hot Writing and Chocolate Sprinkles Latte Cake


Last week after a little rain shower, I stepped outside to take photos of the caladium on the front porch. The humidity was so high, I could practically feel my hair frizz. Even the camera lens steamed up. I shot the picture anyway. Yep, the image was hidden behind a watery glaze.

Carefully I wiped the lens with a clean lens cloth -- the tail of my
t-shirt -- and tried again.

There was a big difference between the two images. Just as there can be a big difference in the effectiveness of our writing, if we go for clarity. Part of the fun of writing is using words precisely.

Here are three word combinations where the lines seem to be getting fuzzy:

flesh out - flush out    Flesh out means to add substance, make something more weighty; while flush out means to uncover something or drive it into the open. We need to flush out the culprits in the BP oil incident in order to flesh out the report of what went wrong.  (Find more about this at

famous - notorious   Fame refers to a widespread reputation of a favorable nature. Notorious refers to being widely and unfavorably known. Tiger Woods once was famous, but he is now notorious. (Find more about this at

eager - anxious Eager refers to a feeling of happy enthusiasm. Anxious is about fear or failure or disappointment. I am eager to have a paycheck again but anxious about starting a new job for which I am underqualified. (Find more about this at

Anxious, notorious, and flush out are so widely used now for either of the two possible meanings that I fear (yes, dahling, I fear) the nuances of the word pairs may be lost. The first photo above wasn't just hideously frighteningly horrible. Nor is it horrible if we use these words a little sort of maybe vaguely. However, better is always better. (You follow that, right?)

Let's keep the humidity out of our writing.


Put a Diet Coke in the freezer. Do a ten-minute writing using one of these words: humid, steamy, muggy, sweaty, drippy, or a hot word of your choice. Get the Diet Coke and drink it. Write more.


This cake is light, low calorie, very low fat --  and it has chocolate and coffee. What could be better?  From

Chocolate Sprinkles on Latte Angel Food Cake

1 box (1 lb) white angel food cake mix
1 1/4 cups cold coffee
1 tablespoon unsweetened baking cocoa
1 tablespoon chocolate candy sprinkles

Mocha Topping
1 envelope whipped topping mix (from 2.8-oz package)
1/2 cup cold fat-free (skim) milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 teaspoons unsweetened baking cocoa

1. Move oven rack to middle position (remove other racks). Heat oven to 350°F. In extra-large glass or metal bowl, beat cake mix, cold coffee and 1 tablespoon cocoa with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds; beat on medium speed 1 minute. Pour into 2 ungreased 9-inch loaf pans. Sprinkle with candy sprinkles.

2. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until top is dark golden brown and cracks feel very dry and not sticky. Do not underbake. Immediately place each loaf pan on its side on heatproof surface. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Run knife around sides of pans to loosen cakes; remove from pans.

3. Make topping mix as directed on package, using milk and vanilla; add powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons cocoa for the last minute of beating.

4. Serve cake with topping. Sprinkle with additional candy sprinkles if desired. Store in refrigerator.

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