Thursday, October 31, 2013
Dale and I have come to the conclusion that we can never make dinner on Mondays. We like to plan our meals for the week and always include one for each weekday. But it never fails that we end up running some errand or working late or meeting up with someone or spending way way too long in the consumer culture Halloween store black hole, looking for a plastic skeleton to spookily hang on our front porch and candy to hand out to the little ones. We inevitably end up grabbing pizza or tacos or whatever else is easy and quick and actually available on a Monday at 9:00 PM... because we waited too long to eat and got all hangry.
I have similar experiences with store bought ice cream. Virtually every time I am at the grocery store, I head to the frozen food aisle in search of something sweet. But the flavors are either too generic or just the wrong combination of flavors. I hate when I read the description on the tub and something sounds delicious until I get to the last component, which most often ends up ruining the entire thing for me. It's like when you go shopping and see an awesome dress that you would totally try it on if only it didn't have that weird buckle thing on the shoulder that's not at all necessary and pretty much ruins it. Yeah, it's exactly like that. Anyway, even though I never find the ice cream I really want, I continue to traipse to the aisle and gaze at the massive selection and settle for something I wasn't looking for or leave empty handed.
You'd think I would have just bought an ice cream maker by now, but alas, I have not. My kitchen doesn't offer much in the way of real estate, and the last thing it needs is another gadget. So in the aftermath of a recent failed ice cream hunt, I decided it was officially time to give the no-churn thing a try. And holy moly is it a thing. A delicious, creamy, sweet thing. It's sort of a play on semifreddo, substituting sweetened condensed milk for the zabaglione (some versions also include meringue). I am probably definitely in love with it. And so was everyone else who tried it.
Since fall is here, I decided to pit warm flavors--bourbon, walnuts, sorghum molasses--against the cold. It was the perfect combination. Boozy and nutty with sparks of exceptional syrupy sweetness. Dale and Thomas (our temporary roommate) devoured it on the most precious ice cream cones (which also happen to be gluten-free), and I reveled in the glory of my creation. It was pretty epic. Especially the part where grown men eat ice cream from tiny cake cones. It was the best, really.
Bourbon + Walnut + Sorghum Swirl No-Churn Ice Cream
Note: Go for a nice bourbon here, as it's the primary flavor and what makes this ice cream so delicious. I ended up using a touch over 1/4 cup of bourbon, but I (and my better half) like a pretty good kick. Of course, feel free to adjust to your tastes.
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
3+ Tbsp. bourbon (see note above)
100 g (1 cup) raw walnut halves
480 ml (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sorghum syrup
Toast walnuts in a skillet over medium heat or on a baking sheet in a 350 degree F oven for 6-8 minutes until fragrant. Once walnuts are cool enough to handle, roughly chop.
In a large bowl, whisk together the condensed milk and bourbon. Stir in walnuts, reserving a small handful for garnish. In another bowl, beat cream to medium-soft peaks then fold into the bourbon mixture until thoroughly combined. Pour half the mixture into a loaf pan. Drizzle 2 Tbsp. of the sorghum syrup over top and run a knife in a zigzag motion to create a swirl effect. Top with the remaining ice cream mixture and repeat the drizzling/swirling of the sorghum syrup. Cover and freeze until firm, preferably over night. Keel over.
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Weekend afternoons at our house are one of my favorite things these days. The sun comes in through the kitchen window just right. The neighborhood is the perfect combination of lively and quiet. We do things like plant, hang, lounge, bake, craft, create, and nap. Lately, it's been particularly delightful. With the cooler weather comes open windows and patio chilling. And now that our house is pretty well together, I hope to have more daytime visitors.
This past weekend, Dale and I saw friends who were in from out of town. Rather than go out for brunch, we decided to make a Saturday afternoon feast of sorts. We had fresh coffee, Chemexed by Dale, which is a treat for me since most mornings I make it myself, and it's just never quite as good. We also had a veggie-loaded frittata with zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, and things. I made some butternut squash pancakes with buckwheat and oat flours. And Dale made these damn delicious Bloody Marys. Because my friend can't eat gluten (unless she wants to pass out and feel like poop), everything we made was gluten-free, including the Bloody Marys. It's sort of weird to me that Worcestershire sauce is not gluten-free and is typically not vegan either, so Dale left it out and came up with this amazing concoction, which I have officially declared my favorite Bloody Mary of all time. We found the cutest gluten-free salami sticks at Whole Foods, which we used to garnish. These Bloody Marys fit in perfectly with the rest of our epic brunch, with the chatting, and with the porch sitting, perfect weather afternoon.
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
I sliced, peeled, and froze a boat load of peaches while they were still in season a couple of months ago. I knew that at some point in the late summer or fall, I would want their sweet, juicy, peachy goodness. After I extracted the boat load from the freezer, cooked them down, and made these popsicles, I had a mason jar full of leftover cooked peaches. So they seemed like the perfect thing to pile atop this cake, what with its tender cornmeal crunch, subtle honeyed sweetness, and almond overtones. Of course October is not the time for fresh peaches, but no worries, any fruit or jam or cream or whatever you like will do as a topping to this beauty. Although, an unadorned slice of this cake is just as honest and delicious. Happy fall!
Thursday, September 19, 2013
It has come to my attention that it's mid-September. Clearly not the most appropriate time for popsicles or for peaches. But the thing is that I spent my summer with my face in books and bars (not the drinking kind). I didn't get to eat near as many peaches as I typically would want. And I didn't get to make all the popsicles of my dreams. I'm about two months behind on this whole summer thing. So, bear with me.
I snagged a couple of bags of peaches during Pearson's last farmer's market appearance of the season. I let the peaches get perfectly ripe, eating a few along the way, before pitting, slicing, peeling, and freezing the rest. You see, I had been dreaming of soft, juicy, cooked peaches swimming in floral infused coconut milk and knew I would, at some point, have the time and energy to make that a reality. And friends, that time is now!
Friday, September 13, 2013
Over the past year, I have become much more conscious of the nourishing qualities of my food. At least for the foods I eat regularly and for those I make at home, I much prefer the idea of eating food that's as whole and nutritious as it is delicious, as opposed to food that's been stripped of its nutrients through heavy refining or other processing or that's been otherwise modified or adulterated. I want sustenance, food for strength, food that's complete.
Although not practical or possible in every instance, eating with purpose is pretty straightforward. It's a simple matter of paying attention to ingredients, doing your best to determine how food was treated before it got to you, and making deliberate and informed choices. And not sacrificing taste along the way! Take this loaf for example.
This loaf is nothing short of revolutionary. I have made it a few times now, and I am officially obsessed with it. Not only is it full of wholesome, nutritious ingredients, it's freaking delicious. Toasted, room temperature, or straight out of the fridge, with cashew cream, fruit, jam, hummus... or cheese.
Friday, August 30, 2013
Dale got me the most gorgeous cast iron bundt pan for Christmukkah last year. We were wandering around an antique store and came upon a table of old, dirty cast iron things. Pots and pans and odds and ends and then in the middle of it all, this cast iron bundt pan. I had been on the lookout for vintage bundt pans for some time but never even considered the possibility of cast iron, so when I saw this one, I was sort of in awe. Even so, I really had no intention of buying it. I was looking for gifts for other people at the time and needed to spend my money on those other things. Dale, however, decided that I would not be leaving without that pan and snatched it up and carried it around the store the rest of the time we were there. I later realized what dedication that took, because this pan is a monster. A badass, lady monster. I love it.
So we took it home, and Dale schooled me on cast iron care. We re-seasoned it and got it all ready for caking, and I pretty immediately made a chocolate cake in it. I even took pictures and intended to share it here but just never got around to it. Actually, the first three times I baked with this pan all involved chocolate, which is sort of weird for me. Dale doesn't really like chocolate, and although I do, I tend to prefer other flavors. But this pan, this pan makes what I have decided is the perfect chocolate bundt. Fudgy, moist inside and tender yet crusty outside, which I tend to like in a chocolate bundt. So it seemed appropriate that I finally introduce this most wonderful cast iron bundt pan to the blog with a chocolate cake.
The day I made this cake, I locked myself out of my house without my phone... after I had put the cake in the oven. I had a moment of panic and then decided that it was as good a time as any to meet my neighbor. Even though I woke her up from what I imagine was the most ideal Sunday nap on the most wonderful weather day, she was nice enough to let me use her phone. As I sat on the porch on that most wonderful weather day, I could hear the timer going off on the oven. It was for some reason so torturous, and I was certain that the cake was over baking, drying, or, God forbid, burning. When Dale got home, I rushed inside and took the cake out of the oven, fully prepared to discover it ruined. To my surprise, however, it was perfect. So, my slip up baking time is included in the recipe below.
Friday, August 23, 2013
This week, I officially became a full-time member of the workforce. It's pretty weird, what with having been in school full-time for the past... my whole life. Although a lot is different, mornings especially are. I mean, I've had early classes before, but you can sort of just roll out of bed, throw on some leggings and Keds, and pretty much sleep type your way through classes. That isn't so much the case now. I've really been hoping that I will, at some point, become a morning person. Mornings for me, are a sort of slow, disorderly routine. Alarm --> snooze --> alarm --> snooze --> alarm --> etc. I generally blame my cat for the fact that getting out of bed is so hard. He lays right between me and the edge of my side of the bed, making it pretty much impossible for me to get up. Impossible. It's totally the cat.
I always think I look funny in the morning. Not in a sleepy way, more in a I-shouldn't-be-seen-by-other-people-at-this-hour way. I usually will take a few seconds to gaze in the mirror and decide whether or not my hair "slept" well enough that I don't have to do anything to it. The bangs I'm trying to grow out typically do not, but I will generally decide that the rest of my hair has. And I don't have time to do anything about it anyway. But I do have time to make coffee. There is always time for coffee. So, while brushing my teeth, I'll start a kettle of water, weigh out my coffee beans, grind them on the setting Dale has instructed me is the one for Chemex. At some point I'll stop brushing my teeth after realizing that I am still brushing my teeth and have been for much too long. I may make a salad for lunch, or not and instead grab a banana and some PB or chips and hummus or whatever else I can stuff into a plastic baggy or throw in my massive handbag. I may turn on the Today show for background noise about some band called One Direction or whether it's appropriate to spy on my toddler's Facebook account or the latest opinions of professionals on professional things. I may do my makeup while sitting on my bed, or in the bathroom, ...or in the car (only at stoplights, y'all, chill). I almost always accidentally let the water for the coffee get too hot and have to wait for it to cool to the proper temperature (coffee-making is serious business), during which time I likely could have done something about that poorly slept hair. Then I'll realize that not only is the water too hot, I'm freaking hot and so I'll fall flat on my back on my bed with the fan on high to try to stop sweating and then think about the fact that I'm still in pajamas and was supposed to leave 20 minutes ago and "what happened to all that time I had?" and ohmygodmorningsaretheworst.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
I have tried to write this post so many times but can't seem to figure out what to say. Disappearing from this blog for five-ish months was not in any way intentional, and I hope I have not lost any of you along the way. Life sort of took over, and I decided to just let it. I took my final finals ever in April. I graduated law school mid-May then left town for a road trip from Atlanta to San Diego to help a friend move. When I got back, I immediately began studying for the bar exam. I started a new job mid-June. I went home to Texas mid-July and took the bar exam at the end of July. Then about a week and half ago, I moved from my condo to a house, and here we are.
I baked quite a bit throughout all the foregoing madness, played with new-to-me ingredients, had many a failure, and many sweet and satisfying successes. The more I think about it though, my absence here wasn't just a result of being busy in real life (and I hate when people complain/brag about being busy anyway). I also spent some time just thinking about my food, how I want this little internet space of mine to move forward, the conversation I want to contribute to, and generally how I want to live my food life, both savory and sweet. I have so much that I want to share, and my thoughts will come out in due course. For now though, I am back with tartlets.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
I feel as though the last three weeks of my life happened in a matter of hours. One second I was talking about being real with pancakes and the next thing I knew, three weeks had passed. As I pressed post on all that pancake talk, unexpected things began happening left and right. People moving on, being forced out, going new places, breaking things off, making amends, not getting what they deserve, doing the unexpected, and being altogether crazy.
Despite all of it though, I was seemingly handling myself pretty well. All the uncertainty was rolling right off my back, like nothing had happened. Then, I almost severed the tip of my left ring finger. As in, I cut more than halfway through, nail and all. Standing over the cutting board, staring down at bloody bell pepper, I slowly realized how bad it was. I transitioned to the sink, and placed my hand under the running water, holding the tip of my finger on. I kept thinking how it was weird it didn't hurt and how those knives were actually pretty sharp, despite my complaining otherwise, and how I really freaking wanted some tacos damnit. I was completely composed as Dale cleaned and bandaged me up. And then, I sort of lost it. I was suddenly full on hysterical. It sounds silly, but apparently this was my breaking point. Dale, knowing it was about more than a cut finger, finished the tacos. And I ate them, through tears and despondence. Because I was determined to have those tacos. I had been "fine" this whole time--you know, that "blessing in disguise," "things will work out," "nope, haven't heard anything yet, but it's ok because," "things will be hard but we can do it," etc., attitude. But I guess I needed to just be sad, to be scared about the future, to be angry that life isn't fair. So I had my moment then gathered myself again over the next day then made cookies.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Lately I've been thinking a lot about living and experiences and simple things. About image and how people portray themselves, announce themselves, cloak themselves. This started to come out a little bit in my last post, but I've been struggling to put into words what I've been thinking and feeling. Then I read some posts that really resonated with me and brought everything I'd been thinking together (this one for example). The yearning for honesty. The desire to really feel and experience things.
I find myself continuously questioning all the moments and images that seem too easy, too perfect, too deliberate. All the pretend friending and pretty lifeing. Because my reality looks very little like all the dreamy, filtered pictures and nice outfits and styled life settings. And quite frankly, that's ok. In fact, that's pretty great. I want real connections, real people, real moments and memories. I want to experience everything genuine and be present in reality and be myself with other people being themselves. Lately I've felt like everything is a big competition. I look around and wonder if I'm losing. And I compare and overanalyze and even get upset sometimes. But then I stop myself and refocus my gaze upon what's right in front of me, what matters, and I realize that I'm definitely not losing. Sometimes life is messy and hard, but it's real. And real may be less pretty in some respects, but it’s far more beautiful in so many others. It’s fulfilling and disappointing and happy and sad and hectic and lazy and ridiculous and nowhere near perfect, and that’s what’s so great about it. Although I love adventures and fresh, wholesome, seasonal meals and beautiful photos, sometimes I’m tired and overwhelmed, and I eat chips and drink soda and lay on the couch with my boyfriend and my cat, and I’m totally ok with that. So I'm going to work on expressing that more here. I'm going to freaking live y'all, and it may not always be picturesque, but it will be real.
My pathetic attempt to get my gif on à la Izy.
These pancakes have become my go-to Sunday breakfast. I love how puffy and fat they are, and they stay that way sitting in the oven while you scramble to fry some eggs (!!) because you didn't time breakfast so well and you broke the yolk when you tried to flip the first egg and the bacon is still crisping and the coffee isn't ready and maybe you want to shower before you eat. They're patient pancakes. Real life pancakes.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
This is such a simple recipe that I almost didn't share it here. Then I saw a post over on London Bakes, eloquently discussing how great simple can be in the midst of all the stuff and the fuss and the noise. So on point. After reading her post, I realized that my latest favorite baked good had been exactly that--simple. A vanilla bean bundt cake, whipped up by hand, in one bowl, with one whisk. I am certainly a lover of recipes with many parts and steps (as I am sure can be gleaned from some of the more involved recipes here). But sometimes, I want cake y'all, and I want it now.
I think part of what I love about this recipe is that the steps usually completed by a stand mixer or electric beaters--whipping the butter and sugar, beating in eggs one at a time, etc.--are instead done by hand. I realize that may turn some people off, but I feel a sense of satisfaction in putting a little elbow grease, a little extra love into it. Especially when the results are as moist and delicious as these.
The ingredients for this cake are things I virtually always have on hand, and the method is super quick and easy. The only prep required is room temperature butter, which is typically not a problem for me since I usually keep at least a stick of butter out of the fridge at all times anyway (ya know, just in case). But if you aren't crazy like me and need room temperature butter in a flash, simply cube the butter and let it sit in a sunny window for 20 minutes or microwave it on low power in 15-second intervals until soft.
Monday, February 18, 2013
I have sort of been meringueing my face off lately. I made meringue for precious coffee custards. I made tons and tons of meringue for buttercream for Dale's coffee shop anniversary party cakes. And then these lovely little (or should I say huge!) cream pies.
These cookie sandwiches came into being in steps. It all started with a search for a gluten-free cookie recipe of the chocolate chip variety. I found a recipe by Aran Goyoago and adapted it based on what I had in mind and what I had on hand. The cookies turned out wonderfully chewy and subtly spiced with oatmeal leanings. The addition of chocolate chips and pecans added the perfect sweetness and warmth.
Monday, February 11, 2013
When I was in middle school, my mom would buy the cinnamon rolls that come in a can for Sunday breakfast. I loved waking up to a gooey cinnamon roll and lathering on that thick, canned, cream cheese frosting. My mom wouldn't partake in them, I suppose because she just doesn't have much of a sweet tooth. Nowadays, I likely wouldn't partake in them either. They just don't compare to homemade.
Making homemade cinnamon buns is a bit laborious, what with the two rises, but it's totally worth the effort and time. The yeast dough is so soft and sweet, the filling perfectly spiced and sticky. And since they're homemade, they're totally customizable.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
This custard almost defeated me. I made it three different times before I got it just how I wanted. It was a bit of an experiment really. Every recipe I came across for anything even remotely similar involved instant coffee or espresso powder, but I wanted nothing to do with that.
I actually find the use of instant coffee or espresso powder in desserts somewhat perplexing. I guess I get it in some sense--it's easy, quick, and cheap. But I so often hear about the importance of using the best quality chocolates or top notch vanillas or freshly squeezed lemon/lime/orange juice or freshly grated spices or unbleached flours, but what about coffee? Why, in baking, do we settle for instant (i.e., freeze dried, low grade, poor quality coffee) instead of the good stuff (i.e., good quality, freshly roasted, responsibly bought, thoughtfully treated coffee)? And when coffee is the sole or primary flavor in a dessert, why use something with no flavor at all except the roast?
In this custard, I didn't want just roast flavor. I wanted everything I get from drinking the greatest cup of coffee ever. I wanted the sweet, the fruit, the delicate, the nuance. I wanted it all!
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Today I am twenty-six. A quarter century of life behind me.
I really feel like twenty-five taught me a lot. What I love, what I don't. What and who really matters to me. How to embrace the good fully, completely, and honestly. How to let things go and brush things off. That I don't have to like and/or please everyone, or even pretend to. That things aren't as bad as I sometimes think they are, and that things are far better than I sometimes realize. What I want to be, who I want to be with, where I want to end up. How to be better and more and enough and myself. That I am so incredibly lucky for all that I have.
Big things, important things, worthy things, I guess. Things to get me at least through twenty-six.
Sometimes I think that my life is so much different than others around me. That's probably true in some ways and not at all in others, but it can, at times, feel that way. I suppose the weight of decisions, responsibility, disappointment, and reality has something to do with it. These have been reoccurring themes throughout the last year that have, I think, taught me all that stuff up there.
But, today, I am twenty-six. And despite all the seriousness behind/within this post, I am happy today! And I feel like I have so much more to come as I say goodbye to twenty-five. There is cake after all.
Friday, January 4, 2013
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that it snowed at my dad's house on Christmas day. It's quite the rarity in Texas (and Georgia). So the day after Christmas, Dale and I woke up early to take a snowy walk before everything started to melt. It was beautiful and quiet and so so cold.
Part of my dad's land houses wild horses being broken for riding. They're all so majestic with hair-covered hooves, long manes, and feisty spirits. Seeing them run and play in the snow was nothing short of amazing.
See more photos from Texas here.
When we got back from Texas last Saturday, Dale and I headed to Pura Vida for a final dinner there. It closed as of the 31st and was our most favorite date spot with the best coconut steamed buns and sangria. I will miss it.
I must say, it was nice to return to my kitten and my bed and a bit of normalcy. Although I do miss Texas.
On New Year's Eve, we had dinner with some friends. It was a southern style potluck situation, and I was asked to bring dessert. Our friend who was hosting the party has Coeliac disease, so I wanted to make something gluten-free so that she too could have dessert!