Into It, July 22

We were in Michigan last week and on a very hot and humid day went to an orchard to pick fruit. We came home with more sour cherries and blueberries than we probably needed and the seasonal fruit timer ticking away. I made a cherry pie (this recipe has become my favorite) and then decided to make jam with the blueberries. I used a recipe from Camilla Wynne’s Jam Bake (I know I am a broken record) that infuses the blueberry jam with coffee. Weirdsies! I couldn’t really imagine it but gave it a try because I’m a wild and reckless guy. The jam is super good! It’s hard to describe what happens. You can taste the blueberry jam, and also a hint of coffee. They don’t necessarily blend together, my palate kind of vibrates between the two. And if I didn’t know there was coffee in the jam, I might think there was just a sort of vague nuttiness which helps temper the sweetness. Anyway, I am a fan. The recipe I used made 5 pints of jam and all you would need to do to try is to put a tablespoon or so of coffee beans into a tea strainer and boil away with the jam. Or buy Camilla’s book.

Some other stuff I’m into…


Into It #1

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I think is cool and why. Or maybe, more accurately, I have been thinking more about what is not cool.

I regularly get sent catalogs from Flamingo Estate, a company in Los Angeles that insists it is selling a “natural” hedonistic lifestyle, but actually feels like a 1990’s shopping mall Crabtree & Evelyn (with a dose of Colonialism). Flamingo estate, which is…a farm? a house? an ad agency?…a brand! sells Instagram-ready vegetables and other household products to rich people who believe in vibes, pseudo-science, and “clean” ingredients. The catalogs are highly (read: expensively!) produced, inexplicably full of aesthetically ideal bodies (mostly unclothed) and $180 jars of honey. I wonder where I went wrong to end up on their mailing list. It all feels like it was created by some sort of horrible advertising algorithm made sentient. Somehow humanless and absolutely humorless. And also strangely untrustworthy—there is no way this relatively small organization can be producing the number of products they are producing to the quality they claim. But it is the humorless part that really kills me. Even when they do ridiculous things, like sell a bag of animal shit for $75 (I’m not joking), they somehow make it no fun. Maybe stuff that is only for rich people will never be very cool. The whole thing feels, as the kids would say, a little cringe.

On the other hand, Laila Gohar, along with her sister Nadia, recently launched a houseware company, Gohar World, that sells bonnets for fruit, black silk bags festooned with bows and ribbons to carry your baguettes in, and adult bibs made out of linen, lace, and silk ribbon. Gohar, who straddles the line between chef and artist (leaning art), is regularly profiled in the NYTimes and Vogue and it is hard for the term It Girl (groan) to not cross your mind when observing her role in our culture. But the thing is, Gohar is cool, despite it all. And the stuff she is selling is all ridiculously wonderful. A friend recently assumed I would not like Gohar and lumped her together with Flamingo Estate. I argued. The two could not be more different. Gohar’s work feels earnest and fun and understands the parts of itself that are ridiculous. It makes all the difference! And while most people won’t spend hundreds of dollars on a silk bag for their baguette, the buying of things seems beside the point. Anyone can make jello centerpiece, or find some doilies at a thrift store. We could all get weirder. Her relationship to art and food doesn’t feel exclusive, it feels inspiring. If coolness requires humor, Gohar’s got it.

“When you put my work into these spaces, it’s sort of like an equalizer,” Laila, 33, says. “Everyone is equally confused.” (quote from The Cut)

Genuine lol.

Some other stuff I’m into:

Snickerdoodle Shortbread

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.


2021 Lottie + Doof Gift Guide

Cruche from La Soufflerie

I dig the classical shape of this pitcher which feels like something you’d bring to a bacchanal. It works well for water or flowers and even on its own as an objet. This company makes a lot of great stuff including some odd head-shaped vases that I love.

Material Cutting Boards

Cutting boards always seem to be either heavy or ugly—and obviously neither is ideal. These recycled plastic boards from Material come in great colors, and they are the perfect size for a general purpose cutting board. The colors make them special, I get a tiny charge of pleasure every time I use one. These are especially good for anyone, like me, whose last name starts with an M—we can just tell ourselves that these are monogrammed and not branded.

Caramelo Flour Tortillas

I love flour tortillas and these are the best I have ever had—by a mile. I know this seems like a huge indulgence, and it is, but you’re worth it. Stock up and freeze some for future meals. They are ridiculously good and turn a quick quesadilla into something very special. The pork fat are my favorite. Thanks to my friend Helen Rosner for the recommendation. Speaking of Helen, she writes a great gift guide over at The New Yorker that you should also check out.

ZigZag Drinks Table by Jermaine Gallacher

I know you’re unlikely to buy someone a table as a gift but you might buy one for yourself, and isn’t that what gift guides are all about? I had been searching for a drink table that had a sense of humor, and found what I was looking for in this beauty from Jermaine Gallacher. It comes in a variety of colors and makes a big impact in a room, despite its diminutive size. They also make a candlestick that is really good (in case anyone is looking for a gift for me).

Grist by Abra Berens

Full-disclosure, Abra is one of my best friends. But she is also my favorite cook and her newest book is so good. I am obsessed with the meatballs and farro risotto recipe, and the little barley cookies are great. But more than any one recipe, Grist will help you learn to cook more like Abra—which should be everyone’s goal.

Beatrix Bakes by Natalie Paull

I’m obsessed with this book from the popular Melbourne bakery. The recipes are well-tested, and exactly what I want to be baking. A carrot cake with a layer of cheesecake in the middle! Shortbread made with olive oil and walnuts! Every page I am like: OMGYESSSSS. It is a beautiful book and anyone who cares about baking should own it.

Bee Brooch by Charlotte McLeish

A while back the NY Times wrote about men wearing brooches and I am fully onboard. My favorite is this little bee from ceramicist (her work made it to the guide last year) and jewelry designer, Charlotte McLeish. (Navy jacket by forever favorite Carrier Company)




My birthday was a couple of weeks ago and we planned a small celebration in our friend’s backyard. The day before the party multiple people had to enter quarantine for exposure to COVID and so we cancelled the party. Still such weird and unreliable times! But I had already planned on baking myself a birthday cake and so went ahead with it and then spent my birthday dropping slices of cake off to friends, which it turns out was a nice way to spend the day.

I have admired Bronwyn Wyatt’s work from afar for years, and was very happy that she has had a couple of cake recipes published recently. I tried the Apple/Rye/Hazelnut number she wrote about over at Bon Appetit and it is SO GOOD. I recommend you try it too, it might even make a nice Thanksgiving dessert if you have pie-averse friends (and you are not reevaluating those friendships). For my birthday I made the cornmeal/vanilla/sour cream cake (I think of her cakes as slash/ cakes) with OLIVE OIL buttercream that she wrote about at Food and Wine. It’s so good. Like, just the best simple vanilla goodness—what you always want a wedding cake to be but it never is. And the olive oil buttercream is a real revelation. A couple of notes: I used a finely ground cornmeal, which I was glad for. I don’t like the grit that can sometimes come as a result of using the more coarsely ground stuff. Use a really assertive extra-virgin olive oil for the buttercream. You’re only using 2 tablespoons as flavoring and so it needs to be punchy. Bronwyn says the citric acid is optional, but I think it should be required. It adds some zing without any citrus flavor, which is ideal. It can often be found in the pickling/canning section of the grocery store, or ordered online.

Bronwyn is also serving as my guide (spiritual mentor?) as I attempt to develop a fruitcake recipe I am happy with. More on that later. You can find Bronwyn on Instagram here.

Kitchen Projects

Everything feels pretty horrible right now, so I am taking pleasure wherever I can find it. For most of this year, it hasn’t been in my kitchen. Cooking has continued to feel like a chore that I am, frankly, tired of. It doesn’t lead to great blog posts. 

The notable exception to my ennui (anxiety and depression?) has been Nicola Lamb’s brilliant newsletter, Kitchen Projects, which has been one of the bright spots of the past year. I am here today because I wanted to make sure you knew about it. In the newsletter Nicola tackles a range of pastry projects from the relatively simple to the complex, and somehow makes me want to take them all on. Projects that have extended over a couple of days have felt like no problem at all thanks to her careful explanations and encouraging voice, as well as her exceptionally good recipe design.

The newsletter typically follows Nicola down a rabbit hole investigating a technique or recipe. More than you ever thought you wanted to know about meringues, or custards, for instance. In a way it is the kind of writing that Serious Eats or Cook’s Illustrated has popularized, but without the joyless and quasi-scientific prose. There is real enthusiasm and camaraderie in Nicola’s voice, there is humor and emotion. The teacher that wants you to share in their excitement and curiosity versus the teacher that has prepared a lecture and isn’t really interested in your questions. 


Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana?

The weird shit I’ve bought during this pandemic! Sadly, there are days when the only way to interact with the world or to feel anything is through commerce and so I find myself buying things I don’t need to feel alive. It doesn’t work! But one of the better impulse buys was a case of Seville oranges from a company in Florida with the wonderfully literal web address floridaorangeshop dot com. I ordered them and kind of forgot about it until they arrived on a snowy day here in the Midwest. To be honest, I was mostly annoyed that I now had an obligation to do something with them and spent the first day avoiding eye contact with the cardboard box that said something like “A Gift of Sunshine for You!” on the side. I started plotting ways to make them disappear in a way that wouldn’t lead to questioning by Bryan. What happened to all of those oranges? Eventually I accepted my destiny and mustered the energy to make some marmalade which in turn gave me momentum and lead to a brief increase in kitchen activity which I do not necessarily regret.


What We Talk About When We Talk About Christmas Cookies

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+++

Lottie + Doof Gift Guide 2020

Debbie Carlos has long been one of my favorite Midwestern artists and then she goes and blows my mind with this gorgeous Pond Vase. I wasn’t alone in my adoration of this broody little vessel, and they are often sold out. But follow her for shop updates to snag one from the next batch.

Martha Mae was, for years, the coolest shop in Chicago. While the retail space may have closed during the pandemic, the dream lives on. The most beautifully chosen office and art supplies and other wonders are all curated by the super rad Jean Cate. I am in love with this glass dip pen that writes beautifully and is a sight to behold. If Wonder Woman had a pen…

This coriander is bonkers! I didn’t really understand coriander until trying this stuff. Like everything Diaspora sells, it is really special.

This sweatshirt is clever and the perfect weight—not too heavy, not too thin—for wanting to wear every day. Book/Shop, who made this and other things I love, is a real delight of shop.

Like many people, the number of houseplants we own has increased over this weird year. I have found myself really frustrated by how difficult it is to find pots I like and that aren’t very expensive. They’re all, somehow, wrong—too modern, too rustic, too faux-French. I do love this terracotta weirdo from EQ3 (which is Canada’s answer to CB2—I guess? Ugh.). The huge flat rim is a nice frame for whatever plant you want to showcase.

Carrier Company in Norfolk is my favorite place to buy clothes, and I’ve bought a lot from them over the years. It feels good spending money on clothes that will last, and that are made in a community-minded and sustainable way. This year they made this beautiful Celtic Wool Jacket that is admittedly, a lot of look. But a nice burst of color on a grey autumn day. I love Carrier. 

Perfumer H is where I splurge for myself on things that smell really good. After spending a lot of time in their shop last year when we visited London, I have become a devoted follower and fan of Lyn Harris and her vision. She’s thinking about things like sustainability and scale while producing really evocative scents—as well as some related products that are equally lovely. She works with Michael Ruh on the handblown glass bottles and glasses she uses for perfumes and candles. (For those of you in the UK, the shop offers a refill service on the candles, cutting the subsequent cost of them in half.) This is a real splurge, but also one of the things that makes me really happy. The Frankincense candle is hands-down the all-time best holiday scent. 

At the beginning of all of this, I imagined writing letters to people. Ha! But I am still so happy I bought this stationery from Polk Paper in collaboration with Avery Williamson.



Socket Pen by Fort Standard

I’m a long-time fan of Fort Standard and this pen is one of my favorite objects they have produced. Made of stainless steel with a nice weight to it, the pen can be used to pivot the ball that rests in a little stand—a satisfying plaything and a beautiful writing instrument. A bonus is the perfectly formed cork container the pen arrives in, making this a great gift. It’s also available in brass.

Work Jacket by Ijji

I’ve been making an effort to find clothing that is more ethically produced by people who seem to care about things other than profit. Ijji is a company I have grown to love and these jackets/tops are my favorite thing they make. Sadly, they stopped making the denim version but the canvas and corduroy are equally wonderful. Also, everything they make is deliberately genderless and they’re working on expanding the available sizes with the goal of making a more inclusive clothing line.

Globe Cushion by Klay

I don’t want to become one of those people who cares about fancy pillows, but here we are. One of the most beautifully constructed and special objects in my house, these pillows are individually made in Aukland, New Zealand. The attention to details on these is really something. An absolute treasure.

Perfumer H Fragrances

This is unfair of me and impractical because really I am recommending an experience that can only be had in London—but maybe you’ll find yourself there! If you do, go spend some time smelling the beautiful fragrances crafted by Lyn Harris in her perfectly designed shop and laboratory, Perfumer H. Earlier this year we visited twice, smelled all of the scents, and I came home with a bottle of what has become my favorite fragrance. If you really feel like a splurge, spring for the hand-blown glass bottles that can be customized with your initials. Perfumer H is starting to be sold in limited ways outside of the shop, but trust me when I say that they shopping experience is a part of it. (Thanks, Caroline!)

Tote Bag from Lady of the House, Detroit

Has there ever been a better restaurant tote bag? (also, if you’re in Detroit—eat at Lady of the House)

Ruffage by Abra Berens

Midwest Made by Shauna Sever

Cooking for Good Times by Paul Kahan

Three of my favorite cookbooks this year were from the Midwest. Proving once again that Midwest is best. In Ruffage, my buddy Abra Berens wrote one of the year’s best books which highlights the glory of vegetables through the lens of the Midwest. Midwest Made is Shauna Sever’s homage to the baking of the region and is full of recipes that you will be anxious to make including iced oatmeal cookies, kringles, and poke cakes. One of Chicago’s favorite chefs and restaurateurs created one of the best entertaining books of the year with Cooking for Good Times. It is unorthodox in a fun and inspiring way.