I have a list of beloved recipes for fall, the holidays, and beyond, and pretty much stick to them, especially when things get busy. Also, I don’t like change. Even so, sometimes an idea or book comes along that changes my ways and pushes me to re-imagine even my very favorite things. Samantha Seneviratne‘s The New Sugar and Spice: A Recipe for Bolder Baking is just that kind of thing. In it, Sam moves beautifully between engaging family stories and insights into baking, spices, and the history of how such far flung ingredients made their way into our kitchens. It’s also overflowing with perfect recipes. Just enough sugar to be delicious and with an admirable restraint – rather than the typical cinnamon/clove/nutmeg/ground ginger wall of flavor, Sam achieves culinary splendor by thoughtfully highlighting just a few ingredients in each dish. Think of it as the anti-pumpkin pie spice. [Read more…]
Tomorrow is the last day to vote in the Saveur Blog Awards. It’s been an incredible month, but I’m starting to feel like Cinderella at 11:55, afraid it’s all about to disappear in a poof. In two days, I may find myself alone with a pumpkin and some mice, so I’m having one last celebration. Being a finalist (for Most Delicious Food, no less) is a dream come true. Seriously. It’s been a long road – learning to take a decent picture, to write like “myself,” and to come up with recipes I think you’ll love week in and week out. Each time I hit publish and your thoughtful comments, likes, and shares start rolling in, I feel so lucky to have you here, reading and appreciating my work. [Read more…]
March has me feeling a little overwhelmed –– between colds, sick days, gentler weather, the time change (What is up with that? It’s been brutal this year.), and too much work, I’m feeling the crunch. But, for now anyway, things are calmer and I’m ready to head into a restorative week.
I made this pound cake a few weeks ago, when spring still felt a little iffy. But now, as the sun shines and pretty blossoms start to dot the landscape, it feels like a good fit for the times –– bright, frosty, and a last hurrah for citrus season. Head over to Handmade Charlotte for the recipe. [Read more…]
Things have been the usual kind of nuts lately. Our days have been busy, spent juggling deadlines and this and that. Yesterday, we made last minute dinner plans with friends, and sat down to a perfect winter feast that included these roasted chicken legs (my fourth go around on the recipe – it’s that good), plus a batch of savory cheddar waffles (recipe coming later in the week), and a green apple and spinach salad with shallots and garlic. We made palomas and sampled great tequila. All that revelry has left me a little behind today, but no matter – it was totally worth it.
I wish I could tell you the night was capped off with a slice of this pretty chocolate layer cake with a kumquat glaze, but we devoured it long ago. [Read more…]
When you work for yourself, when a hobby turns into a job, it’s tough to measure success. And, where the internet is concerned, it’s nearly impossible.
My friend Kelly, the talented woman behind Design Crush, has an ongoing project to share a quote a day everyday this year. I must confess to kind of hating the typical quote sharing on the internet and can guarantee that I do not follow your inspiration board on Pinterest. (It’s not you, it’s me – if I never see the Keep Calm meme again it will be too soon.)
Kelly’s quotes are different. They move beyond the fluff and hint at the best quiet, focused, or selfish bits of driven people. They reveal truths, minus the saccharine. And occasionally, the smart words she shares stop me in my tracks. [Read more…]
Our family of four relies heavily on a delicate balance of personalities. Brian, whether by nature or force of will, is stoic and patient almost all of the time. I strive for the same, but most days just holding it together feels like an accomplishment. If there’s one thing you don’t have a lot of as a parent of two, it’s space, both personal and mental, and I need a lot of it. I thought, now that our littlest one is in school five days a week, I’d have plenty of time to recharge and conquer the world, but it seems the more space I have, the more I need. Making up for lost time, no doubt. We had thought our girls each took after one of us – the oldest being sensitive and prone to the same types of high highs and low lows that her mother experiences. Until recently, our youngest seemed to have inherited her father’s quiet introspection and mellow exterior. I say until recently because just a couple weeks after she turned three, something changed. All of a sudden, there were tantrums, as well the intense desires and a stubbornness that you might expect from any other toddler turned preschooler. We just really didn’t think it would happen to us. [Read more…]
The best bit of parenting advice I ever received is this: don’t listen to anyone. My friend Patrick told my friend Lucas that when he had his daughter, and then Lucas told me. Shouldn’t all advice be so simple? You already know what’s up, just do it.
This is my way of telling you that both my daughters had birthdays this week and I’ve spent too much time scrolling through old pictures and crying. Not necessarily ugly crying, but still. This parenting stuff is real.
And where there are birthdays, there is cake. [Read more…]
Our life has been all stops and starts lately. Good things (really good things!) will happen and then a moment later there’s an avalanche of annoyances and frustrations. If I could make a blanket fort and wait out spring’s real arrival, I would, but there’s just so much to do. So, I’m starting with the little things. Trying to get right whatever I can. Mostly, this means cleaning and organizing. But also cooking. The cooking has been a good thing. Mostly. [Read more…]
Observing a person’s cake preferences is akin to peering into the very depths of their soul. Some people, for instance, appear to be impressed by a cake that is covered in impenetrable layers of marzipan has had the hands of about twenty bakers on it and looks very much like a 2013 Chevrolet Camaro. Some people will spend thousands of dollars on a cake like this and others will watch television shows about bakers who make such cakes. Those people–people who prefer the artifice of a well-decorated cake to the taste–are alien to me, not the least for the amount of time they have to waste. Spending hours making a cake look like a golf bag makes as much sense as spending the same time trying to make a golf bag taste like a cake. A cake is for eating, people! [Read more…]
People, it’s time. The season of decadent foodstuffs has begun. Even though in the past few weeks I’ve tested new dessert recipes, whipped up a Thanksgiving pie, and attended a cookie party, I decided that a recent weeknight birthday celebration for five called for a three-layer chocolate stout cake. I know what you’re thinking, but don’t worry, because I lightened things up with a whipped cream frosting. Instead of ganache. It’s called restraint. [Read more…]