When it comes to putting a healthier spin on baking and sweet treat making, I think we know by now that I’m not really an all-or-nothing type of person. As is evident by the recipes and philosophy in the pages of Real Sweet, I’d sooner jump off the roof than try to pretend that a brownie made with black beans makes life worth living. Of course, there is something lovely and virtuous about wanting to live a healthier lifestyle, and still find a way to treat ourselves, but I think there’s a way we can get there without resorting to trickery or deprivation masquerading as comfort food.
We’re pretty much all in the thick of summer fun right now, so I’ll get right to the point. Sometimes I have a recipe making and eating experience so transcendant, it haunts me for weeks. These Dream Bars from Mindy Segal’s Cookie Love fall into the category of Insanely Haunting Recipe. Like, say, even after two solid weeks where I ran off to my hometown of Chicago and chewed-and-sighed through the world’s best hot dogs and Italian beef, new-to-me bakery visits, beer and pizza and a burger so smack-the-table good that it probably ruined every burger experience for the rest of my life, I was still thinking about these cookie bars.
I used to be the queen of multitasking. Before children, I had the awesome ability to keep all kinds of balls in the air–thoughts, plans, chores, jobs, appointments, workouts, clicking off items on my to-do list with relative ease. (Never mind that I always thought OMG I’M SOOOO BUSY AND EXHAUSTED. Heh, heh, little Shauna. Weren’t you so sweet and naive in your perceived level of craziness? You had no idea what was coming, love. Why don’t you and your tiny jeans go and spend three hours getting a haircut and highlights without having to find a babysitter and try and wrap your brain around it. You can’t even.)
Quick note: Hi! If you’re visiting my site after having watched The Kitchen, thank you and welcome! How awesome to have you here. I’m thrilled and crazed to discover that Amazon is actually out of stock for Real Sweet! We are on the case and more copies will be available through Amazon within days–they are gloriously quick about resolving stock issues. You can still place an order now and it will go out to you within the week. You can also check these other lovely online book sellers, or support your local brick-and-mortar bookstore and get a copy of the book in your hot little hands immediately. Thank you again for stopping by! And now back to our regularly scheduled blog post….
Oh, helllooo. I’m just sitting here, still basking in the glow of last week, which was decidedly more exciting and glamorous than my regular life. By that I mean I kissed my babies goodbye, and got on a plane to New York for a series of media hits for the new book with nothing but a bunch of carefully curated outfits and a book I’d been trying to read for months. Not a packet of Goldfish or juice box in sight. It was an event, I’m telling you. However, any time I embark on a trip out of town without my kids, I figure that it takes a solid 18 hours to wind down from the grind of motherhood and realize that I am actually, truly on my own. For example:
• On the plane ride there, I nearly offered the guy next to me a snack, tissue, hand wipe, etc. at least half a dozen times.
• Upon landing, I got into a taxi, fully expecting to have to sweatily install a carseat, then suddenly realized I didn’t have to. Gave myself a mental high five.
• After settling into my hotel room and taking a shower without someone else in the bathroom with me for THE ENTIRE LENGTH OF THE SHOWER, I ordered room service and took to a cushy, clean bed to horf a hamburger and two chilled glasses of Sauv Blanc while watching non-animated television, and I’m pretty sure my guttural sighing became a little much for whoever was on the other side of the wall.
• I had been anticipating a delicious solo night’s sleep for weeks, which, sadly, never came–between the time change from west coast to east, and the constant startling to ghost toddler wailing, my wake-up call came cruelly early. Upside: multiple cups of coffee the next morning, sipped leisurely with no spillage, due to lack of small people unexpectedly pulling on various parts of my body. Good enough for me.
Once I got into the groove, though, it was a terrific trip. Busy, but super productive. I had a few great Business Lady Meetings, and hit up Wake Up with Al before sunrise to make some Homemade Fruit Leather. Professional hair and makeup before 6:00 a.m.–now that’s living.
And then! There was one of the more fantastical moments in my book tour history. This weekend, on June 13th and 14th, you can catch me making a cheesecake and sharing embarrassing college photos on Food Network’s awesomely fun show The Kitchen. It was Oprah-level greatness, guys.
First things first: for once, I’m not just spazzily doling out superlatives: the name of this cake is not of my doing. Also called Kvæfjordkake, this cake was popularized in the 1930s in Kvæfjord, a tiny town in northern Norway. It has been a national sensation ever since, and several years ago, this heavenly specimen was given the title of “verdens best” (world’s best) by the country itself.
My friend Luisa informed me that this style of meringue-topped cake has German roots as well, baked in round pans with the name Himmelstorte, but I’m not here to start a war or anything. As far as Norway is concerned, however, it’s a cake that comes with literal accolades, people. It’s enough to make me want to move to Norway right now. Who can resist a magical land where people so highly regard cake? And birth so many supermodels? LET’S ALL GO.
I’m gearing up for an exciting trip to New York in just a couple of weeks, and I just can’t wait. In addition to eating all the pastries on the island of Manhattan, I’m looking forward to a couple of TV appearances, some meetings, uninterrupted sleep, and the most thrilling bit of all: a chance to party with some of you!
I’m sure you all know about the genius that is Baked bakery–first the location in Brooklyn, then numerous awesome cookbooks, insane merchandising, and now a second, gorgeous location in Tribeca. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to go from Baked fangirl to actual friends of Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito (though I’m still an ardent fangirl). I might have teared up when Matt offered their Tribeca space for an event for Real Sweet. I mean, it’s not everyday you get to celebrate a book you wrote in the bakery owned by people who endlessly inspire you to do things like write cookbooks in the first place. Good grief.
So all gushing aside, if you’ll be in New York the first week of June, I’d absolutely LOVE for you to use my book event as an excuse to hang out at Baked bakery, sample treats from the book and ones from the Baked pastry case, enjoy a glass of wine, and say hello!
You can RSVP for the event via Brown Paper Tickets, and even purchase a copy of the book through the link, if you haven’t already. Hope to see you there!
Fellow moms out there–holla if y’all hear me?–this is our weekend. Our legit ticket to be pampered and flowered and gifted upon and generally do whatever the heck we want without apology or guilt. I encourage you to embrace it, whatever that means to you at your given stage of motherhood. It could be as extravagant as a spa day, or just some extra sleep and plenty of wine, or for some of you with toddlers and younger, this simply might mean peeing alone. For me, it will mean a little family getaway, and maybe, if I’m lucky, this necklace, a lemon meringue cake from Tartine, and a t-shirt that says I SHAMELESSLY ASK MY HUSBAND FOR GIFTS BY BROADCASTING MY WISHES ON THE INTERNET. A girl can dream.
The point is this–you do you, ladies. Whatever it takes to remember that we all deserve a little breather and a major high five for keeping our offspring alive and cracking open our souls for them every single day, and living with the sort of constant, low-lying anxiety (what do they need/where are they/how are they/who will they become) that buzzes deep within us at all times because we are mothers. We should treat ourselves with a little something homemade and sweet and simple, or at least give our partners and kids a simple, awesome recipe that they can make for us (and for crying out loud, clean up afterwards). And if you’re not a mother yourself, consider this recipe the perfect way to treat the mothers in your life in a breakfast-y way.
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