Hey! So basically last week I was all, “You must try dark muscovado sugar! I am totally giving you a fabulous recipe to do just that!” and then BOOM. Ball dropped hard. I’m so sorry. Let’s just say that ever since my girl started kindergarten, she’s turned our entire household into a veritable petri dish. Yeah. Lotta Kleenex around here, not a lotta sleep. Good thing she’s adorable and does hysterical things like making her father play all four judges simulateneously while she pretends to audition for The Voice. Otherwise she’d be wearing a hazmat suit to school and/or possibly living in her own apartment.
Okay! So, cake. This cake. This seemingly innocent, plain-looking, how-great-can-it-be-REALLY? cake. You know what I love about this? It’s dead simple, it’s packed with flavor, and it’s the kind of thing that’s such a nice surprise when you take a bite. Because of its deep color and complex fragrance, you start out thinking it’s going to taste like a spice cake, but really, there’s no spices involved. What comes up instead is a huge amount of rich, dreamy molasses flavor from the muscovado sugar, and a soft sweetness. You should know about it.
Oof. This WEEK. I-yi-yi.
Can’t we just stop everything and do coffee and cake and not think for like an hour? Excellent.
So do you ever get sort of obsessed with a certain website, enchanted by how it just ‘gets you’? And you find yourself wholly relating to every post and wanting to invent a device that would allow you to sort of live inside said website? Well, that’s me and Camille Styles’ lovely online digs. Love the content–the interviews, the recipes, the decor ideas, the whole lot. It may sometimes make me feel like I’m living in the slums because it’s so fabulous, but hey, that’s the risk you take falling in love with a website, I guess.
I’ve shared a few recipes with Camille’s audience in the past, and the other day I helped her kick off her sure-to-be-swoon-worthy Valentine’s Day content with a sweet idea for an edible gift. Bounce on over to Camille’s site for more photos and the recipe, a modern, Frenchy twist on the kitschy Valentine’s Day combo of chocolate-covered cherries.
Inspiration can be awfully hard to come by, don’t you think? I mean, maybe I’m really just speaking for myself, here–sometimes getting inspired is a serious challenge, sometimes the wheels start turning with a bit more ease with just the spark of a new idea, but overall, the well can run dry far too often. And when it does, it always seems like everyone else is living in a state of eternal Pinterest Brain, constantly ticking off what they want to write or photograph or refinish and paint or who the heck knows what and it can really start to get depressing, seeing all these perpetually creative people out there. I admire you, Constantly Inspired People, and yet I am annoyed by you. Does anybody feel me?
Know this: I often fear, with increasing regularity, that I am becoming a Cathy cartoon. Which is to say that sometimes I feel I am composed entirely of foibles. The most certain of these is my dependence on coffee. I suppose I’m well within the limits of what’s considered “healthy” in terms of my coffee consumption, but nevertheless, I am starting to get concerned about what can be described as sheer primal need for my first cup of the morning. I swear I can even hear Cathy-esque thoughts happening in my head as I stumble to grind the beans and fill the pot. “GIVE ME COFFEEEEE OR GIVE ME DEATH!! ACK!!”
It doesn’t exactly make you feel youthful, these Cathy thoughts. I’ll tell you that right now. But on the plus side, always having coffee on the in morning leaves a little leftover to play with, which is super fun when you’re a mad scientist baker like myself.
(Sidebar: Isn’t it also totally an Old Lady Thing to refer to coffee as being “on”? Gah. )
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So here’s the thing: the past several weeks have just about blown my head off my shoulders. Lots of travel, lots of appointments to keep, and many, many lists. (Lists are my savior. The hand-written kind, scribbled on scraps of paper or in my little planner book. I get endless grief from the husband about my very non-technical list-making efforts, but there you have it.) And every time I’ve written one of these lists lately, I’ve lamented the fact that none of them have had a “make ___” entry. No cookies, no cakes, no little homespun confections. Well, except for lots and lots of marshmallows.
Turns out, when you write a single subject cookbook and go places to pimp it out, everyone wants you to bring samples. Not that I’m complaining at all–I still love making those fluffy, puffy gems just as much as when the recipe testing flurry began more than a year ago. But after dozens of batches of them over the past couple weeks, I was so ready to make a dang cake the first chance I got. And the push came from a source from whom I’ve been gleaning much book promotion inspiration throughout this whole crazy cookbook process.
You know Ree Drummond, don’t you? This lady is everywhere, people. Blogger! Author! TV! Supermom! Wearer of Amazing Tunics! It’s almost maddening, the amount this woman can accomplish in a day. And her second book just came out, full of the lovely photos and ranch life anecdotes for which she is totally famous on the interwebs. She has the sort of easy, warm persona that makes everyone think they’re best friends with her, like, say, daydreaming about co-hosting a hybrid cooking/parenting/musical variety show with her or something but hey I don’t know whatever I’m just saying. Anyway.
Holy bananas, people, it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow! How did this happen? I swear I’m totally one of those old people now that walks around proclaiming that it was just Christmas! and I don’t understand this iPhone! and what on Earth is a Nicki Minaj?!
Where’s my Sanka?
Anyway, it’s here–the holiday that’s not actually a holiday, but you’d really better observe it in some manner for the ones you love, lest you feel really guilty. I’m a fan of the little things on Valentine’s Day, myself. I like a little thing of flowers, chocolates, a nice card, sweet little tokens like that. Please don’t escort me to a heart-shaped hot tub with rose petals floating in it and Sade playing in the background, or give me a giant teddy bear holding a velvet heart that contains an ugly necklace that I have to wear all the time and pretend to like it. I may not physically drop kick you, but I will be doing just that, in my mind. Keep it sweet, keep it simple.
To me, edible gifts are the perfect kind for faux holidays like this one. And even though God has nothing to do with turning February 14th into an emotional carnival for so many people, I’m sure that the good Lord would insist that if you are going to participate in some Valentine’s Day gift giving, you best include chocolate. It’s the right thing to do.
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