I learned to make jam a few years back at a class at The Brooklyn Kitchen taught by Kelly Geary. That day, she made a thick and syrupy, crazy lemony blueberry jam with no pectin. My early experiments didn’t turn out as well, though, so I started using pectin. This year, something changed. I wanted to perfect a simple small-batch jam-making technique I could use to quickly preserve summer berries (which always seems to be on the verge of expiring) without anything special on hand. [Read more…]
I have a knack taking simple things and making them complicated. It’s not always a good thing in life, but with food, it usually works out nicely.
Classic shortcake, the kind made with fresh strawberries, biscuits, and whipped cream, is wonderfully simple. But, in search of new layers of flavor and an only slightly more complicated summer dessert, I devised this blueberry shortcake. The blueberry topping contrasts the sweet intensity of cooked blueberries with lots of lemon zest (zest is back, people) and is suffused with the faintly floral herbaceousness of fresh bay leaves. It’s spooned onto a warm, tangy, stretchy, generally really good biscuit, and topped with airy, lightly sweet whipped cream. [Read more…]
Last week, I fell into a serious internet rut. Among the thoughts troubling me: Is blogging dead? Am I using lemon zest as a crutch? Can we ease up on the edible flowers? (Please?) I felt doubtful and blocked. I had a pile of strawberries on my table and no plans for them. As I leafed through my copy of The Flavor Bible, I decided I needed to create something MAJOR. [Read more…]
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My house is full of old chairs and antique cabinets, many of which I picked up working at an antique store during and just after college. It’s all simple furniture, a bit rickety, and covered in all the dings and scratches and stains that convey generations of lives well lived. [Read more…]
To thumb through Sweeter off the Vine is to wander through a year of gorgeous food. Yossy Arefi’s photos overflow with tactile details and beautiful elements from each season – clear light shining on a basket of June blueberries or fall gloom surrounding a crate of pears. True to the book’s title, we see countless fruits hanging from vines and branches as she leads us through her favorite orchards and markets. We flip the page to find those same Concord grapes or apples baked into a pie covered by a golden brown crust flecked with big grains of sugar or nestled into a tender cake.
It’s this juxtaposition – living, thriving fruit on the vine being transformed into beautiful celebratory food that gives this book such heart. [Read more…]
In the world of cake, I’m accepting of a wide range of crumbs. I love the slightest bit of crackle on the outer edge of a 1-2-3-4 cake. I love slicing into the silky fudge of a flourless one. Dense, moist, or spongy, I’m into it. Fake vanilla pudding cake with grocery store buttercream? Same.
Despite my egalitarian approach, there are a few favorites I turn to again and again. And this simple vegan chocolate cake might just be my most go-to of go-to cake recipes. Its light, springy crumb makes it a cake you can count on. And, with a simple list of pantry ingredients – flour, cocoa, baking soda, oil, and vinegar – it’s a cake you can easily make. Like, right now. [Read more…]
It’s been a trying week. The list of trials is long on the mundane but the presence of some heavy stuff too is enough to keep me in the moment. Enough to make me realize that needing to get the car towed, breaking a major appliance, having a kid home sick with pink eye, or even all three, are actually pretty great problems to have.
The shorter version is: this weekend everything broke and we got some health news about a loved one, and either despite all that or because of it, we’re incredibly fortunate to be muddling through such a rich life. [Read more…]
This pie started as a complicated pie. A multi-step, four-hours-to-make pie. You know, a show-off kind of pie. But then, with the crust baked and ready, I decided I didn’t need to show off. So I ditched the complicated recipe and filled my crust with a silky bittersweet chocolate pudding, chilled it in the fridge overnight, and got on with the important business of eating pimento cheese and country ham sandwiches and watching The Muppet Christmas Carol with Brian and the girls. [Read more…]
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The first holiday party invites arrived before Thanksgiving. For a few weeks anyway, I resolved to ignore them – Christmas planning makes me panicky. The obligations of the season – the cooking, driving, shopping, decorating, baking, wrapping, recitals – can quickly become overwhelming. Before they do, I’m reminding myself that the trappings of Christmas are supposed to make the holiday fun; when they do the opposite, it’s time to step back and focus on the joyful moments – putting a Christmas record on the turntable; pouring mugs of apple cider and sitting on the couch with Brian; listening to the girls read their (hilarious) wish lists. These are the moments that make the season. [Read more…]
Before I’m mired in Thanksgiving shopping and to-do lists, I’m taking the time to pause. Thanksgiving at its best is about gratitude and calls for a little reflection. This year, even more than most, I have much to be grateful for. My work on the blog and elsewhere has been going swimmingly, Brian has a new job he loves, and the girls are healthy and happy. There are a few struggles on the horizon for those I love most, but optimism still rules the day. With all this in mind, I’m planning to prioritize gratitude on Thanksgiving by exchanging the stress of an epic feast for something smaller, simpler, and more considered. I’m trading perfection (which I’ve never been great at anyway) for presence. [Read more…]