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.
Can I get a little deep with you for a brief moment? Because I feel like I need to talk about a fear I’ve been having. My fear is that we’ve forgotten about the beauty of simplicity when it comes to dessert. I feel like we’re getting taken over by the new, the now, the Pin-worthy. A world where a baked good is deemed a bore unless it’s a Frankenstein hybrid of three other desserts, or has, like, four candy bars shoved into it (ahem, I’ve totally done it), or has a racy name that should probably come with a Parental Warning.
When it comes to writing cookbooks, one thing I’ve learned from those who have come before me is NEVER READ THE ONLINE REVIEWS. Nine times out of ten, I resist the urge to peek. Nine-and-a-half times out of ten, when I do peek, the reviews are relatively positive and thoughtful and an affirmation that at least I sort of know what I’m doing and throwing my creative self out to the wolves isn’t all bad. Nine times out of ten, naturally I will obsess about that half a time in which a review is less than glowing. And within about half of those, I can find the constructive criticism that might actually improve my work. I feel like this is a pretty good record overall, considering that readers and reviewers are humans with all kinds of expectations and thoughts and feelings and so am I.
September didn’t quite go as planned around here. Take, for instance, this recipe. I started this post nearly two weeks ago, when Italian prune plums were readily available for their fleeting season (I hope you can still find some where you are?), and summer was just showing signs of letting go. Now, moving into the first days of October, I’m finally getting to tell you about this cake, and feeling quite a bit different about life in general than I did just a couple weeks ago.
…And just like that, Labor Day is behind us. Unreal, right? It’s been a busy summer here–lots of coming and going, more book work (final edits, tweaks, design decisions, last-minute recipe makeovers because I can’t leave well enough alone, etc.), feeling out new projects, starting those first weeks of a new school year. It’s all very exciting and a little bit crazymaking. Something I love about this time of year, though, is celebrating Little C’s birthday at the end of August.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, she’s turned into the type of child who talks about the approach of her “birthday month” during the entire last week of July, so the weeks leading up to the big day can be somewhat excruciating. Both because she likes to remind us roughly every hour how many days are left until her birthday, and because the reminders give me pause and make me think about how fast she’s growing up. I mean, six! SIX. Any trace of baby girl has been left in the dust, blazing a trail of pink and purple glitter and waters-testing sass. It’s a little sad, and fantastic, all at the same time.
Something else that’s fantastic about six is the certainty with which I was given her request for this year’s birthday treats. There was to be no cake at Miss Six’s weekend birthday party (we opted for loads of sprinkle-fied Rice Krispie treats instead, which received raves from the crowd–such a nice change for those of us who attend about 50 caked-up kids’ birthday parties per year). But on her actual birthday, after dinner at home, she wanted “a very tall strawberry cake with cream”. And so we did exactly that. Who can argue with Miss Six?
SUMMAH! It’s hard to believe that this season is already upon us. Seems like just yesterday I was trapped in a nursing chair with a newborn, pitching an idea for a new cookbook in a hormonal haze, with my first baby heading off to kindergarten. Now, as of this week, that newborn is careening into toddlerhood (and careening into everything else in the process), a cookbook manuscript has been officially completed and delivered, and my little girl has just graduated kindergarten the same week that she lost two (!) teeth. The past few seasons have meant serious business.
But just in time for summer, things are shifting, and with that comes a slightly slower pace, and a little more time that can be spent doing whatever the heck we want–more time inhaling my kids’ necks, more time to write in this space, and–hooray!–more time to finally pour over the stack of new cookbooks that I’ve been collecting on my desk since last fall and have barely gotten to flip through.
Having just finished many months of dealing in the currencies of sugars (albeit less-refined ones), butter, and flours, and coming into some glorious weeks of sunshine and gleaming summer fruits, I’ve been in the market for simpler, lighter fare to satiate the sweet teeth around these parts. And during one recent, delicious, totally free moment to flip through all those aforementioned cookbooks, I found my answer in the pages of Donna Hay’s latest, completely gorgeous book Fresh and Light. (Seriously, is there anything that woman can’t make look painfully beautiful? I am constantly in awe of her vision. I call her “Donna Haaayyy Gurl Haaayyy”.)
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