Racine, Wisconsin

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We accidentally ended up in Racine, Wisconsin at the same time as Sarah Palin and Donald Trump. We realized when we saw a copy of the local paper at a bakery stop on our way into town. Oh, look, Trump is going to be here. Today. What. We’d made the trek to Racine for the most noble of travel reasons, to eat kringle.

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Kringle is the state pastry of Wisconsin. Did you know that states had pastries? Some do. Illinois’ is the Pumpkin Pie. Maryland’s is the Smith Island cake. (This is a cookbook waiting to be authored.) Kringles are originally from Scandinavia, but through the Wisconsin lens they became these giant rings of danish pastry that are filled with something sweet and typically topped with a glaze. Racine claims the title of kringle capital of Wisconsin. I happen to love both Wisconsin and pastries. But our innocent visit to our northern neighbors (Kringle Krawl 2016 is how we christened it) was suddenly under the dark (orange?) cloud that is Trump. We were all a little tense. Would there be traffic? Would kringles be sold out? Would all of this end in national controversy? read more+++

Chopped Tofu Salad and more….

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We can’t stop with this chopped tofu salad that is posted over at Sprouted Kitchen. I can always rely on Sara for solid recipes that make me feel good. Love her cookbook, too. This recipe makes enough for 4 moderate servings. It keeps well in the fridge, even with the tofu and cashews, so I’d consider increasing the yield if I were you. read more+++

Prune, Oat, and Spelt Scones

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A quick note to say: make these scones! They’re superduper amazing. You should make the whole batch and freeze a bunch to improve future mornings. They are definitely best served hot from the oven.

The recipe is from The Violet Bakery Cookbook, a book that I am slowly growing to love. I didn’t trust it for a long time (see issues below), I don’t believe some of the recipes and there are some conversion problems between weight and volume. But the book is very beautiful and the kind of dumb dreamy read that I often enjoy. I was surprised (and happy!) by how far it made its way through the recent Piglet cookbook competition this year, which is partially what prompted me to use the book more. You can read those reviews to get more perspective on the book.

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Talking and Not Talking

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This election season is rough, and November is still months away. On the one hand we have people promising to “make America great again!”, which is really coded language for “Save the white-supremacist patriarchy!”. On the other hand we have my current (decidedly liberal) Facebook feed which is suddenly revealing itself to be full of bullies—people who are constantly telling me who to vote for and that the other option is a monster who will destroy us all with her evil vagina (but it definitely isn’t about gender!). I don’t know if I am going to survive the summer.

Elections really highlight the divide that exists in America. It is both disappointing and terrifying to see that we all live in this country together and have come to such different conclusions about what it means to be a community. This year feels particularly outrageous. I yell at the television a lot.

I find myself looking for some common ground, and right now all I can come up with is soup.

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Spicy Cold Celery

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I was surprised by how much I like the 101 Easy Asian Recipes book that was published by Lucky Peach last year. I am ambivalent about the magazine, in which I find both brilliance and bro-ness, but the book doesn’t have any of the tone-baggage that the magazine sometimes suffers from. As the title promises, it is a collection of genuinely easy to prepare Asian recipes. The authors (“Peter Meehan and the editors of Lucky Peach”) gave themselves two rules when creating recipes for the book, no deep frying and no recipes containing sub-recipes (as in, a recipe that requires you to execute multiple other recipes to complete). It is informative and breezy. I especially like the guide to ingredients at the front of the book. It is the kind of book I will cook from a lot. In fact, I already have and have liked every recipe I tried.

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Panettone$

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I am currently living like the one percent.

Usually I dismiss $65 jars of honey or spice blends when I see them written up in publications. I am naturally skeptical and also aware of the PR machine that drives most food journalism these days, so I assume the products are bullshit. Except for when I don’t. Like when I pay $50 (DOES. NOT. INCLUDE. SHIPPING.) for a panettone because Charlotte Druckman told me to. Druckman appreciates a good pastry more than most people and her NY Times article convinced me this was an important financial investment. Also, I was able to use the excuse of Valentine’s Day to justify this as a gift to myself (and Bryan, I guess). read more+++

Nan-e barbari

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Chicago has something called the Jean Banchet Awards, which are described on their website as “the only Chicago-based award ceremony recognizing culinary distinction in the Chicagoland area”. That is all you really need to know about the awards for our purposes, other than the fact that they recently added a category called “Best Ethnic Restaurant”. I looked to see if I could find a description of what the organization thinks an “ethnic restaurant” is, but I couldn’t find anything. I guess it goes without saying. It is particularly confusing because restaurants like Momotaro (Japanese), The Radler (German), Osteria Langhe (Italian) are not nominated in the “ethnic restaurant” category but rather in the “best restaurant” category. If they are not “ethnic restaurants” then “ethnic” must be code for something else.

Ugh. read more+++

Torta della Nonna

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A friend recently posted this article on Facebook that addressed the difficulties of Christmas gift giving between adults, which is something Bryan and I have been discussing a lot. As people who are celebrating the secular side of Christmas, we’re struggling to figure out what that means now that we’re all grown up. As kids with little or no financial power of our own, gifts were the greatest thing ever (we also weren’t as smart as kids, so surprises were easier). I think we hold on to the hope that gifts will still feel the same, but they usually don’t. And while I still give and enjoy receiving some gifts, I am trying to find other ways to show my friends and family I care. Baking is one of those ways.

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Occasionally, I like to throw a real project of a recipe at you, especially at this time of year when you don’t have anything else going on. I have wanted to try this Torta della Nonna recipe since I first got The Mozza Cookbook (which remains a favorite cookbook of mine), but I have been a little reluctant because the recipe spans 3 or 4 pages of the book and sometimes even I just can’t. But I did finally try it, and am here to encourage you to do the same. It might be just the place to channel some of your gift-giving energy, and what better gift than sitting around a table eating a pastry with friends? read more+++

Lottie + Doof Gift Guide 2015

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These Ceramics! I have been a little bit obsessed with Cécile Daladier’s ceramics for a few years now. They are truly weird and wonderful and designed with flowers in mind. They have been sort of difficult to obtain (you used to have to email the studio and it involved a lot of back and forth) but a couple of stores (here and here) in the states seem to be stocking them more regularly now. Daladier is truly my dream ceramicist. If anyone is looking for a gift for me, send me ALL of these. (Bonus: her studio!)

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This sweatshirt! Because the future is female, and a percentage of the profits from the sale of this shirt will benefit Planned Parenthood.

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This watch! I have always worn, more or less, a version of this watch. For years it was a Swatch, until I found this Casio beauty at Tortoise. The watch was inexpensive at Tortoise, but is dirt cheap in other spots making this the Best Watch Ever. It is also a good size for a wide variety of wrists, so really it would be good for almost anyone.

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This Boob Rug! This has made the rounds on the internet, but I couldn’t resist including it because it was definitely one of my favorite purchases of 2015. What you maybe can’t tell from photos is that the rug itself has a really beautiful quality—plush.

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This Trivet Set! Honestly, this is one of the most beautiful objects I have come across in a long time, and it cost me all of $10. Maybe the most exciting purchase of 2015.

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This Aesop Stuff! I can’t really afford these beauty products, so I feel a bit conflicted about including them—I had a gift card. But holy hell, I love this stuff. The Fabulous Face Cleanser is the best smelling thing ever. I look forward to washing my face every morning. The packaging is too good. I get it, Aesop, I get it. So, maybe take this as a reminder that sometimes it is fun to treat yourself to something completely unnecessary (and hope for a gift card!). read more+++

Friendsgiving

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I’m about to leave my thirties behind and a friend (who is only halfway through) recently asked me what I thought of the decade. I liked the last ten years of my life a lot. It was full of milestones: I fell in love and got married, bought an apartment, started a blog (!!!), and became an uncle. It was full of so many good things, and certainly beat my twenties by a mile. But after some reflection, I told her that the only thing I didn’t love was that the thirties felt like a tough decade for friendships. Many people (myself included, at times) turn away from friends and toward partners, or babies, or their career. Of course there are exceptions and friendships that remained constant. But there is a tendency to become more isolated. The intensity of friendships that I had in my twenties was, for the most part, waning. The spontaneous fun of hangouts, stopping by unexpectedly, watching TV together for hours, or sitting in bars was replaced with dinner in three weeks. It has all become decidedly scheduled.

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I recently watched the first season of Doll & Em on HBO. It is a show about a friendship. You don’t realize how rare and radical that is until you see it in front of you. There are a bunch of shows that claim to be about friendship (most notably, Friends), but mostly they’re about dating or New York or whatever. Doll & Em is about the beautiful (and sometimes difficult) complexities and value of friendships, and in particular about adult friendships (not a euphemism). I’ve loved both Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer for years, and so it was especially satisfying to see them tackle this subject together. The two are real-life friends, and they shine in the series. I laughed, I cried (I actually cried a surprising amount—fair warning) and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It is a beautiful argument for the importance of working hard to maintain our relationships with friends. read more+++