Well, hey! I figure now that it’s April and we’ve all clearly gotten over carb-banning early months of the new year, that we can get real once again and talk about the good stuff in life. Like bread. And let’s just go all in here and talk white bread. YOLOOOOOOO.
Since relocating to my hometown of Chicago from San Francisco a year and a half ago (!!), I’ve gotten deep into the art of Midwestern baking. What it looks like, what it tastes like, what it means, the roots of it all. It’s been good for the brain, the spirit, the soul. When I left the Midwest in 2003, there was so much about this place that I didn’t realize was special, interesting, or different from other parts of the country. I guess that’s to be expected when you grow up somewhere and just take the little things for granted, and I realize this is not a unique story. But what is unique is getting the opportunity to come back, not just after having spent my entire early adulthood on the west coast, but the early part of motherhood, too.
Because now coming “home” isn’t just about me. It’s about making a real home in the place where my earliest memories live, and suddenly recalling those memories, one after the next like I’ve unearthed a dusty box of Polaroids and Beta home videos, with my kids who are currently forming their own earliest memories. TRIPPY. I even might use the word “meta” here if I felt confident enough about using it correctly?
Every once in a while, it occurs to me that it’s been a long time since I first started this here blog (July 2007, to be exact, whaaaaat). I’ve not always been the most, er, consistent of bloggers, but it’s kind of amazing to have a record of life both in and out of the kitchen nonetheless. It’s most fascinating for me to look back through the archives and see the recipes I was drawn to at certain points along the way, what I had time for or interest in learning and discovering throughout the years. And much like my life from about 1994-2000, there’s plenty of cringeworthy moments among the entries (although any regrets here don’t involve ill-fitting plaid or intentional visible bra straps).
But! Sometimes a recipe is just so completely perfect, so part of my personal fabric, that it’s worth updating and telling you about it all over again to make sure it doesn’t get lost. In fact, when I first posted about this recipe, I just realized that it was exactly on this day, nine years ago. How about that? So indulge me a little, won’t you? It’s the holidays, after all.
Photo by Leigh Beisch
Hi! Just a quick pop-in today, and I’ve got an A+ reason. With just a handful of days left to legitimately spend a whole day baking, eating, and sharing cookies, I realized that I’ve never shared one of my very favorite recipes. Last night I had the pleasure of teaching a super fun baking class at Give Me Some Sugar here in Chicago. The focus was edible gifts, and as the world solidified into a frozen tundra outside, the ovens were roaring and laughs were coming easy in the cozy shop. So good.
We had a grand old time, talking homemade marshmallows, Lemon-Vanilla Dream Bars from Pure Vanilla, and these gems: Spiced Chocolate Molasses Buttons from the pages of Real Sweet. The raves that this recipe received reminded me that I’d not shared it beyond the pages of the book, and that’s just not very Christmas-y of me, now is it? So in the spirit of not hiding our lights under bushels and all of that, here we are!
We have now officially entered High Baking Season, and can balm ourselves in butter and sugar. We can surround ourselves with our favorite cookbooks, and tune out the crazy. That’s my new personal strategy, anyway. And just in time for its implementation, I received Sarah Kieffer’s new cookbook, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book. Which is perfect, because it’s packed with enough crave-worthy recipes to keep me avoiding American reality until February, at least. Excellent!
WELL, HELLO! Here we are, another October all over again. Can you believe it? It’s been a busy couple of seasons around here–some TV and video projects, contributing for The Splendid Table (hi, dream job), and developing book #4. Oh, and that not-so-small detail of mothering a a third-grader (!) and a finally potty-trained (!!!) 3 1/2-year-old whose personality is basically Male Sybil on Steroids. There’s a lot to take in. I’m sure a lot of you feel me. In fact, can we all just go somewhere? Like a retreat in Big Sur where we all have our own private, sparkling clean bedrooms and bathrooms and we just breathe deep all day, and then convene in the evening over a case of wine and our favorite new cookbooks? Excellent. I’m bringing that one, up top, and seeing if the author wants to come with us.
DON’T YOU DARE TOUCH THAT CAKE IT’S FOR COMPANY I MEAN IT.
Does that remind anyone else of childhood?
Whether it was made from scratch, a boxed Entemann’s, or something more stepped-up, like say a coffee cake from the local bakery, I think most of us knew to approach a cake on the countertop with caution. Because clearly it was something special, right? And like getting one of those flouride treatments as a kid and being told you couldn’t eat for 30 minutes, nothing makes you want to eat something more than being told you can’t. Counter cakes are magical that way. The pull of a counter cake on a kid is vortex-like.
Pssst. You guys. Come here. Like, closer; I don’t want to jinx anything. Because I think we’ve done it–I think we’ve finally gotten over the hump. Which is to say that winter might just be gone for good, and we’re really, actually reveling in spring. At least, I hope we are, if not for my own sanity then for the life of the poor magnolia tree that bloomed in my neighbor’s yard during the last week of March and then shivered to death during a two-day snowfall four days later. I was braced for a harsh winter this year, but I had forgotten all about the super charming Sybil quality of midwestern spring. But like I said–fingers crossed, here–I think we’re in the clear. And now, if we get another blizzard the first week of May, you know who to blame.
sites i love
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.