Wednesday, March 8, 2023
Thursday, March 24, 2022
Hi. Checking in to say hello. I have been spending my time…I don’t honestly know how I spend my time. Mostly horrified by the news of the world? But I have been kind of into baking again lately. Inspired by some new books and some folks doing great work online.
These cookies, from the wonderful Cookies: The New Classics by Jesse Szewcyzk, are really great. A snickerdoodle for people who prefer shortbread. I am those people! The clever addition of cream of tartar to the dough to give a hint of tang really makes these and complicates them just enough to make them feel special. I might argue they taste more like Cinnamon Toast Crunch shortbread, but that is only a compliment (related: has anyone else tried that Churros cereal?!—so good!). They also recall some of the bizcochitos I ate in New Mexico. Whatever you call them, they are super and make a great springboard—you can easily experiment with other flavored sugars.
I hope everyone is doing as well as possible as we all try to figure out how to live with (or revolt against?!) the constantly changing new normal.
Monday, December 14, 2020
Nigel Slater, food writer and fellow atheist, argues beautifully in favor of a shared ownership of Christmas in his (extraordinary) cookbook/holiday diary, The Christmas Chronicles.
“Christmas is a vast steaming pudding of Christianity, folklore, paganism, tradition, and commerce. Those of us who are part of a tolerant, open-minded and intelligent society can make our Christmas whatever we want it to be.”
For this non-Christian who loves Christmas, the modern season is most fully encapsulated in the holiday cookie platter, a generous fantasia where butter cookies decorated like angels mingle with rugelach and rum balls. The cookie platter doesn’t care about your religion, or lack of one. It welcomes everyone and promises that you’ll find something you like. It reflects the kind of inclusive and joyful time that Nigel Slater and I both hope to find during the Christmas season. read more+++
Sunday, June 16, 2019
Last month we escaped to England. We ate well and walked and saw friends and visited old houses and gardens. It couldn’t have been better.
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Jam bars are not usually my jam. These are an exception. They’re from the Tartine All Day book, which I still really love. They are gluten free if you use the right oats and wholesome and super easy to throw together. In the past when I have made jam bar recipes I eat one and then never really want another. They wither so quickly, the jam seeping into the dough and turning it all wet and sweet. Not these! I ate all of these. They keep pretty well in the fridge (or at room temp), but you could also freeze them individually and they’ll thaw fast. Kind of nice to have in case of emergency. The tricks here are the confident amount of salt and the wise addition of lemon juice (and salt) to the store bought jam. The almond butter lends a nice richness to the whole thing. They’re great. read more+++
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
There were never any chairs at Bad Wolf Coffee, a beloved Chicago coffee shop known for its stellar pastries. You don’t think much about chairs until they aren’t there. There was a table customers could stand at, but the message was clear—don’t linger. When Val Taylor, a former Bad Wolf employee and supertalented pastry chef, took over the space a couple of years ago, one of the first things she did was add chairs. It was a small correction that significantly changed both the way the space worked and felt. Taylor also changed the name to Loba, Spanish for wolf, or more specifically she-wolf. The name is perfect. read more+++
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Dorie Greenspan posted a recipe for raspberry and rose sablés in her Times magazine column recently. They are absolute perfection and you should make them tout de suite.
But then you should also spend some time LOL’ing about the people who comment on New York Times recipes. This round many of the comments center around people being exasperated that they are not familiar with some of the ingredients. Whenever I don’t know about something, I definitely lash out at people who do. Of course!
Luckily, a hero arrives to say:
To other readers: clearly you go online to post a question here. Why not just google terms like “sanding sugar, ” ” dried raspberries,” “rose extract.” You can get an immediate answer!
Although props to the person who retorted: Because we crave human contact.
But seriously, these comments: read more+++
Monday, January 30, 2017
After the presidential election in November, we were suddenly (at least it felt sudden) confronted with the holiday season—for many Americans a time of celebration and gathering. But enjoying Thanksgiving can be difficult when your president-elect is filling his cabinet with people whose only qualifications are being white and rich. Watching lawmakers play games with people’s healthcare can make it hard to enjoy unwrapping gifts. Though the holidays were a salve in some ways, providing a distraction and an opportunity to spend time with people we love, they highlighted the fact that we need to change the way we live. Hopefully more of us who have had the privilege and disgrace of ignoring things for so long, are waking up.
Having the time, energy, and resources to throw a party is a privilege. Having something to celebrate is a privilege. I hope in the new year we can all spend some time thinking about how we use that privilege. I propose that it is possible to have fun and throw parties while also doing some good. In fact, I think our hosting and homes will feel better when we combine the two. Remember, everything is political. And rich people seem to throw fundraisers all of the time, why can’t we? They rent ballrooms and have Beyoncé perform, we might have to settle for our backyard and a boombox. Our parties will be more fun and have better food.
We hosted a small holiday open house in December and turned it into a Planned Parenthood fundraiser. The deal was, I would bake a lot of cookies (cookie parties are the best parties), Bryan would make some drinks, and our guests would bring cash to be donated to Planned Parenthood. We made it clear that our guests should not bring anything else (no host gifts or cookies or bottle of wine or whatever—CASH. But we all stressed that it was not necessary, we do not want to make friends who may be strapped for cash feel bad about not being able to donate—there are other ways to help.). I put some latent crafting skills to work to make a donation box. We designed and produced three custom buttons for the event (I bought a button maker years ago). And I printed some fact sheets about the great work that Planned Parenthood does and had them available throughout our apartment. Otherwise, it functioned as a fairly standard holiday party, though with perhaps a bit more talk about politics. At the end of the night we had spent time with some of the people we love, had eaten our fill of cookies, AND we had raised $750 for Planned Parenthood. Not a bad score for an afternoon with friends. Even if we had only raised $50 it would have felt like a success. Something is always better than nothing. The revolution starts with lots of little things. We need a revolution—now. (We needed it ages ago, but now is all we got.) read more+++
Monday, November 21, 2016
2. Quit Facebook.
3. Hugged my friends.
4. Donated to Planned Parenthood.
5. Made this galette. (It’s wonderful.)
6. Read this. (Funny)
7. Read this. (Not Funny)
9. Went on some walks.
10. Visited the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line.
That’s a list of some of the things that I’ve done since November 8th. I thought by now I would have something to say about something, but I don’t. I don’t know any more than anyone else. And I think that is why the present moment is so painful. None of us know what to do or what will happen. Sorry, it sucks. But there is work to be done. And here I am writing about cookies, which is both the best and worst thing I can do. read more+++
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
I met Dana Cree this past autumn when I moderated a Taste Talks panel on one of my favorite topics, ice cream. Dana is one of Chicago’s most celebrated and beloved pastry chefs and is responsible for the sweets at both Blackbird and Avec, two of Chicago’s most celebrated and beloved restaurants. She has twice been nominated for a James Beard award for her work at Blackbird. Dana really loves making (and eating) ice cream. She’s been selling small batches of her carefully produced pints at Chicago’s Publican Quality Meats, where each one warmly introduces itself with a “Hello my name is…” tag. Someday she’ll undoubtedly have her own ice cream shop (I can’t wait!), but for now we hoard pints. Her ice cream landed her on that panel with me where I learned that Dana is funny (she talked about poop!), smart (further evidence available on her beautiful blog) and generous (here she is!). read more+++