Ok, kids. I tried to seed it with a few posts but they are not my best work (trying to get back into my voice, but it’s not easy).
Anyway, it’s a work in progress. Have at it:
Ok, kids. I tried to seed it with a few posts but they are not my best work (trying to get back into my voice, but it’s not easy).
Anyway, it’s a work in progress. Have at it:
Oh boy, guys. What has it been? 3+ years? Anyone still here? Probably not, but that’s ok, I erased all my old blog subscriptions who never updated too. And anyhow I’m thinking I need a fresh start. But I’m just here to be like, HEY Y’ALL I AM ALIVE AND I FEEL LIKE BLOGGING AGAIN SO GET READY! I hope you are! My thought is that I’m going to start a new one, the link to which I’ll post here when I’m all ready to go. It probably won’t be completely cooking-related (but then, this one wasn’t really either), but I sure as hell still cook a bunch so that’ll be in there. Mostly I want to just write and vent and let my freak flag fly and be creative and all that bullshit that will likely reduce my blood pressure, which I’m told is genetically high, thanks ancestors. Also I’m older/wiser/smarterquestionmark? and there’s all sorts of new shit that I’m into to help make my career feel less pointless, and I feel like I want you guys to be in on it because I am a habitual and enthusiastic over-sharer.
That’s probably enough for right now. I just wanted to commit to this, here, in front of these witnesses on this balmy late-August day in San Francisco. I will blog again. I will. I do.
Internet, I don’t know. I flat out haven’t wanted to write in the last 6 months. It doesn’t mean I’m not baking or getting into trouble or being hopeless. I am still very much all of those things. I just got tired of having a baking blog. First of all, every idiot does it now (and has for a while). No offense to idiots out there, myself included, but I am soooooo bored of vegan this and healthy mom that and gluten free everything and paleo and juicing and rustic lives with so much unfinished wood. I get it! Everyone is a photographer, everyone is a master of their domain, everyone is some person whose life was turned around by some new way of living or a pair of lululemon spandex. It feels really false to me. It makes me want to take a picture of my disaster of an apartment. I don’t live in a dream of how I want to live. I just live alone in a studio and sometimes it’s lonely and sometimes it’s not. God, can I just do that without having to read about how tiled your kitchen is and how you got married in Maine and there was so much twine?
It’s just that I am trying to come to terms with how difficult life is sometimes. I thought it would be different, and people keep perpetuating that. Like I just need to find that right person or right job or give up gluten and then it’ll all click into place, and if it doesn’t then it’s something I’m doing wrong or some attitude adjustment I need or I’m just unlucky. I’m too bitter or my heart isn’t open or I’m just not cut out for heavy emotional lifting. I’m tired of people pretending they have things figured out because it makes them look more adult or less crazy or it makes buying expensive couch pillows feel like the right choice.
The bottom line is that I am fully in this. I am alive and sometimes that makes me say, out loud, to myself, “this is a nightmare” (I literally actually said that to myself at 2am a week ago), and sometimes it makes me laugh and say, “if this isn’t nice, then I don’t know what is” (credit Kurt Vonnegut, my man). It’s all those things and other things I shouldn’t say out loud or in searchable writing, all put together.
Tonight I was watching New Girl (leave your Zooey Deschanel hate at the door, that show is so lovely) and one of the commercials was for cat food and the lady feeding her cat put down a tray with the food on it and also A VASE OF FLOWERS. For her cat. Flowers on a tray. What? Where am I? I also sprayed soup in my eye tonight. Right in there!
The point is, I made some great soup tonight, but I didn’t come up with the recipe and I didn’t photograph it on my natural wood counter and I don’t have any stories about a life perfected and you will not see a cookbook from me…ever. I am still mostly dismayed by money and power and what goes on in this world and a lot of the people I meet who ask for my trust and get it no questions asked and then do questionable things with it. But I had a beer and I ate really good soup and I watched some shows on my computer and it was a moment I logged in my brain as life being really ok. You can’t count on your decisions being good, because you just never know what they’ll bring. You cannot set yourself up for happiness, it is impossible. But you choose what to enjoy and what to gripe about. I hope you think about that a lot. I know I do. That’s my rant for tonight. Like, is that cat going to enjoy those flowers as he eats? I mean really!!!!!
Internet, I’ve been panty-robbed. I also made some rugelach!
Ok, admittedly, these things didn’t happen at the same time. No one was stealing my panties WHILE I made rugelach, though it was pretty close. You see, I live in a tiny studio apt without a washer/dryer, so I patronize my local laundromat. It’s about a block and a half away, and I used to sit vigilantly by my clothes the entire time for fear of theft. I am one of those people who only does laundry once a month (at best), so when I finally get around to it, it’s pretty much my entire wardrobe. But I inured myself to living in a city, and leaving my clothing unattended while I ran some errands finally seemed to me to be pretty sensible. God, I’m such a hard city girl.
Which is why someone decided to steal ALL OF MY PANTIES from my load in the dryer. Not my socks, not my jeans, not my shirts. Just the panties. All of them. To be fair, the panty-grabber missed like one or two pairs in what I assume was a rush-job to get in there and swipe them without being caught, so it gave me some wiggle room to go buy 20 pairs of new underwear (sigh). But someone, somewhere in San Francisco, has a lot of low-quality (let’s be real, the Gap, your panties are shoddy at best. THERE I SAID IT) women’s underwear on their hands. Or on their crotch, perhaps! I have no idea who took them, and I know not the purpose.
And I don’t want to know. Thankfully, they were already washed. Let’s not talk about them not being washed. That would be the creepiest. Oh god, I just shuddered. Uhhhnnnn. People. The worst!
Well anyway, it relates to these rugelach because the theme for their inception was major-kat-stress-out-time. I’ve been pushing my limits for what seems like months now, work-wise and socially and emotionally. Sometimes baking calms me because it’s one thing I know pretty well, and it comes out decently for the most part, and then there’s a tangible thing I can point to and say–I made that and it’s not the worst and I’m not a failure. This particular night I was feeling A LITTLE CRAZED so I made 4 batches of rugelach and 2 loaves of banana bread. The banana bread was nothing to write home about, but the rugelach was awesome, as it always is. I made them with 2 different kinds of jam (black currant and raspberry) and alternated between walnuts, raisins, & chocolate chips. My favorite combo, unsurprisingly, was raspberry jam with walnuts and raisins. Most people preferred the chocolate chips, however, so that’s what I’d recommend to anyone who isn’t a Fruit Over Chocolate Always person.
Welp. That’s all for me. Til the next time I find a gold grill or someone steals my panties or my zipper falls off my jeans as I’m walking past my ex or I wear a dress to work backwards.
from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours
For the dough
4 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into 4 pieces
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the filling
2/3 cup raspberry jam, apricot jam or marmalade
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts or almonds)
1/4 cup plump, moist dried currants (I used raisins)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or 2/3 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
For the glaze
1 large egg
1 teaspoon cold water
2 tablespoons sugar, preferably coarse sugar
For the dough
1) Let the cream cheese and butter rest on counter for 10 minutes. It should be slightly softened but cool.
2) Put the flour and salt in a food processor, scatter over the chunks of cream cheese and butter and pulse the machine for 6 to 10 minutes. Then process, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, just until the dough forms large curds. Do not work the dough too long that it forms a ball on the blade.
3) Remove the dough from the food processor, divide into half, shape each half into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to a day. (Wrapped airtight, the dough can be frozen for up to 2 months.)
To make the filling
1) Heat the jam in a saucepan over low heat, or microwave until it liquefies (yeah, I SO did not do this). Mix sugar and cinnamon together.
2) Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
To shape the cookies
1) Pull one packet of dough from the refrigerator. If it is too firm to roll easily, leave it on the counter for about 10 minutes or give it a few bashes with your rolling pin.
2) On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into an 11- to 12-inch circle. Spoon (or brush) a thin gloss of jam over the dough, and sprinkle over half of the cinnamon sugar.
3) Scatter over half of the nuts, half of the chopped chocolate and half of the currants. Cover the filling with a piece of wax paper and gently press the filling into the dough, then remove the paper and save it for the next batch.
4) Using a pizza wheel or a sharp knife, cut the dough into 16 wedges, or triangles.
5) Starting at the base of each triangle, roll the dough up so that each triangle becomes a little crescent.
6) Arrange the roll-ups on one baking sheet, making sure the points are tucked under the cookies, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (The cookies can be refrigerate overnight or frozen for up to 2 months; don’t defrost before baking, just add a couple of minutes to the baking time.)
Getting ready to bake
1) Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degree F.
1) Stir the egg and water together. Brush a bit of the glaze over each rugelach. Sprinkle the cookies with sugar.
2) Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until they are puffed and golden.
3) Transfer the cookies to racks to cool to just warm or to room temperature.
Yes, it’s true, I cried in the driver’s seat of my rental car last night in the IKEA parking lot. Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? Come along on my journey.
Listen, internet. I’m 29 and I live alone. Some days I get swept away with Brilliant Ideas, and yesterday’s was that I needed a new couch and I needed it immediately. Some cursory research and a zipcar later, and I was standing at the Furniture Pickup area of IKEA looking at all the couples buying new MALMs and SVALGADs and one of them watching the cart while the other went to get ice cream cones while a nice IKEA employee loaded a box larger than my body onto my cart. Followed by 4 more boxes, 2 of them incredibly substantial.
But I was going to do this, dammit…and plus I’d already paid for the stupid things! I’d rented a car (a pickup! because despite the fact that I grew up in suburban Long Island and went to a preppy northeastern college and have killed every plant I’ve ever owned [and some that I have not] and have never sown a row of any crop in my life and currently live in the tech hipster capital of the world, i still believe that I am at heart “a pickup truck kind of girl.” right.) and I make enough income to buy a couch on a whim (ish) and I work out so obviously I can tackle any physical feat. I’m a stubborn type, especially in the face of things I should ask for help on, but don’t want to. I hate to admit when I’m overwhelmed. So, I loaded up the truck and after a brief silent sob I decided it was a silly thing to be upset about and hit the road.
Aaaand got lost in Oakland on my way back, secretly thinking getting car-jacked wouldn’t be terrible because 1) what a story! and 2) no facing up to somehow getting/not getting these boxes up to my apartment!
After finding my way back to my apartment, I discovered that if I, to quote Ice Cube, put my “back into it,” I could roll the hugest box end over end to the bottom of the stairs. Then I rolled it up until the first 90° turn, where I spent the next 25 minutes struggling to twist it so it could be rolled up the rest of the stairs. 25 minutes. No exaggeration. I’m not sure if my neighbors saw me, but it might’ve looked something like a small girl trying to mount an incredibly boxy whale. I kicked and pushed and heaved and climbed and sweat through my shirt and then lo! I found out that if I climbed outside the railing of the stairs, jammed my foot under the box, leaned back and kicked with all my might, it unstuck and I was able to keep pressure with my knee while crawling under the box to flip it end over end up the rest of the stairs. Triumph!
Then, it rained. For the first time in 6 months. Because I left my box on my deck while I returned my rental car. Ha ha, universe. Ha, ha.
Like I said, internet, I’m 29 and I live alone. So I ordered 4 people’s worth of Indian food (delivery minimum, sigh), cracked open a beer, and got to work. And wouldn’t you know it! What else I discovered was that since the box was taller than me, if I climbed on top of it I could finally install that last lighting fixture I’d been trying to install in my ceiling! So you see? I didn’t even have to rent a ladder, though I must say the box was not exactly “stable.” Again, my neighbors looking in might’ve thought I was doing some sort of core balancing workout on top of…well, a very tall cardboard box. But I installed that light and then I spent the next 2 hours building my couch. Which I did! Successfully!
The lesson here is that there are going to be times you are over your head, literally, in boxes. And you’d like to sit in an IKEA parking lot and cry and think to yourself, how is it that I don’t have someone to help me with my IKEA boxes? But that’s the wrong way to look at it. You are ok, you are alive, you have a beer in the fridge, and you can crack it open, roll your sleeves up, and get to work unpacking your own shit.
Oh also, since this is a baking blog, here is some apple sauce I made from a bag of 99 cent apples that were almost bad but not so bad that they couldn’t be sauced!
6 or 7 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
a cinnamon stick
a squirt of lemon juice
Seriously just cook the apples down with the cinnamon stick and squirt in some lemon juice. You’re welcome.
Funfetti is kind of the best, as far as sweet cakes go, which is why I gave it another shot after the immersion blender disaster of ’11. I don’t know what it is. Is it the size of the ‘fettis? Is it the colors? I mean, white chocolate in and of itself is not my favorite thing to add to desserts. I have a really big problem with white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, in that they are SO SWEET, and SO BORING, and SO WHITE. They’re like…..Tobey Maguire. JK I love Spiderman!!!
Well, the point is, this is such a pleasing cake; aesthetically, flavor-wise, and nostalgically (word? not a word?). It’s not my go-to birthday cake, because it is actually a fair amount of work. But sometimes it feels really good to spend a lot of time on something and go through a lot of trouble for someone. Some people deserve it, you know?
I vanilla-flecked the frosting because I could, and because it’s totally classy. Because we’re all grown ups here, I wanted to make this feel a bit more adult. Like when I try to put on heels and my coworkers laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh, but sometimes when I’m standing still I totally look like A Lady.
I’m feeling pretty nice tonight, so I’m not sure what else to say. I just cooked and nailed a really great dinner, I’m drinking an unremarkable yet completely lovely beer, and I gave a homeless man $1 outside Whole Foods and he was just so pleasant to me. Just a simple thank you and a wish for a good night. I suppose it worked, because it just warmed my little heart.
Sometimes it’s those little things that really pull you into a better way of existing. Which is why we should all bake each other cakes more often. Reciprocity is a strong human desire. When people do thoughtful things I want to cry with how amazing this stupid species is to one another. Sometimes I totally do (when I’m on my period or when I’ve been watching YouTube videos about Unlikely Animal Friends), and it fills me up with the good kind of emotion (not the kind of emotion that causes people to tell me I’m acting either “like a dude” or “like such a girl right now”).
Well so anyway. Don’t you think, instead of maybe watching Dancing With the Stars one night, you might spend a little time and make someone a homemade funfetti cake and then almost cry when they say it’s one of the nicest things they’ve gotten on their birthday? You do, you really really do. In other news, I think I just swallowed a salmon bone and I have to go ask the internet if I’m going to die.
Homemade Funfetti Cake
same as this! (but better)
I found a grill on the sidewalk on my walk home tonight. Yep. A gold grill. From the mouth of someone I do not know. And I picked it up (with my sleeve covering my hand because other people’s mouths are weird). Lest you think me a liar, I have 1) photographic evidence and 2) a witness, as I was walking home with my coworker, J. Here’s 1):
I am a big believer in signs from the universe. I get signs from the universe ALL THE TIME. Whether or not I listen is a whole other story, obviously. However, on this walk home I found 2 lucky pennies and a GOLD EFFING GRILL. I don’t even know what to do with this information. Is this hilarious or tragic? Where did this grill come from? How did it escape its owner’s mouth? Do I go to cash4gold.com? Am I going to die in gang-related gunfire? Well? Am I?
It’s just that I never thought I’d have an occasion to wonder about the price of gold. This seems as good a time as any to tell you about the time I made cupcakes that looked purposefully like kitty litter, because they were made for my witness, J. I think it was a very successful final product.
That is, if you can ever call food that looks like cat shit on purpose a success.
Some people might argue that you can’t, but those people also might not be excited to find a random person’s dental jewelry on the sidewalk on a cold and foggy San Franfuckingfrisco summer walk home from work, during which the topic of conversation lolled happily from “do you think I can recite the entire script of Dumb & Dumber?” to “does the permanence of your actions ever just HIT you all at once?” So you know, it was just a walk home to remember in general.
And here are some cupcakes that look like an animal pooped on them. You’re welcome.
One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsps baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tbsp safflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, mix until smooth.
2. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to wire racks and let cool. Cupcakes will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.
Creamy Vanilla Frosting (from epicurious, where it was reprinted with permission from More FromMagnolia: Recipes From The World-Famous Bakery and Magnolia’s Home Kitchen, by Allysa Torey)
Makes enough for one 3-layer 9-inch cake
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a medium-size saucepan, whisk the flour into the milk until smooth. Place over medium heat and, stirring constantly, cook until the mixture becomes very thick and begins to bubble, 10-15 minutes. Cover with waxed paper placed directly on the surface and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
In a large bowl, on the medium high speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter for 3 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating continuously for 3 minutes until fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat well.
Add the cooled milk mixture, and continue to beat on the medium high speed for 5 minutes, until very smooth and noticeably whiter in color. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes (no less and no longer – set a timer!). Use immediately.
chocolate marshmallows dipped in melted chocolate (for the wet ones)
warmed and sculpted tootsie rolls (for the dry ones)
Graham cracker crumbs for kitty litter
Yep. Went there.