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”.)
Lately I’ve been playing a lot of mind games with myself:
The laundry/kitchen/bathroom is half clean, not half dirty.
It’s not a six-month-old color job here on my head, it’s Unintentional Ombre.
My belly button is getting higher! (As opposed to other things getting, er, lower.)
You see where I’m going, here? It’s so Zen, right? I think I’m going to stay on this Thought Train as long as it keeps working for me. And since the latest affirmation is “Bread pudding isn’t dessert, it’s breakfast!”, I’d say you’re gonna want to go on ahead and get on board.
To be real, does the Internet really NEED another pumpkin pie recipe right about now? Hhrrmm. But that’s how good this particular pumpkin pie is, friends. I think it’s got tons of fun twists on the regular and is totally worth sharing. It’s my favorite kind of recipe, really–something that, quite literally, on the surface looks like every other pumpkin pie you’ve had in your life (I mean, just look at that picture up there–golden crust, burnt orange sea of spiced pumpkin custard, kitschy dollops of cream and all), but the process and ingredients are just different enough that it takes the final result to some level of pumpkin pie that makes it all brand new and has everyone asking how you made it. Instant baking cred! Now there’s something to be thankful for.
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?
First things first–congrats to the five randomly selected winners of last week’s giveaway! The winners have all been contacted by e-mail. Woohoo!
So it’s fall, y’all! I really do love this time of year, don’t you? I’m all up in the fall baking season already. I’ve stocked up on flour, butter, and sugar, washed all my aprons, and have more new cookbooks to flip through than I can even deal with (more on that in an upcoming post–there are some newly released gems out there!).
Along with getting to work through some brand-new-to-me recipes, I’m totally in the swing of book promotion stuff, and one of the best parts about that is getting to revisit recipes in my own dang book. Which is to say recipes that were worked and reworked and obsessed over like potential cancer-curing experiments, and then once deemed publish-able, were put away in the far, far reaches of my mind. With a bit of distance to calm my nerves about some of the more crazy-making recipes, I can now look at them like old friends with whom I share an embarrassing history. It’s like a college reunion, without all the Abercrombie sweaters.
I’m not one to dole out lots of unsolicited parenting advice, but hear this: there are very good, fun, smart kitchen projects you can do with small children. Aaannnnd…then there’s pitting pounds of cherries together. My kitchen still looked like a crime scene several days later. Oh, well. I tried. Back to the television for you, offspring!
Call me an Ina Disciple (no, seriously, I wish you would, it’s my truth), but I’m a big believer in getting a few good classic recipes down, and then putting your own twists on them. Take My Favorite Pie Crust, for example. I love the stuff. I use it pretty much for any recipe that calls for pastry, adjusting the sugar as necessary to match the filling, whether it be sweet or savory. I use this dough for pies, quiches, pot pies, tarts, crostatas, homemade pop-tarts–whatevs. It’s basically foolproof, works for me, and I haven’t thought to rock the boat. Until last week.
See, I’ve gone through a bit of overhauling in the home, as of late. Working on a shoestring budget (and really, is there another kind of budget?), I was determined to make our living space not feel like we were living in a dorm. (I suppose it really wasn’t THAT bad, but you know that feeling when you wake up one day and just suddenly want to throw a grenade at your whole house? Well, THAT.) So I traipsed around the Bay Area looking for effortlessly chic home accents, all the while swearing under my breath about how maddening it is, the freaking effort it takes to make something look effortlessly chic. Anyway, it took some doing, but I spruced things up around here, after many trips to IKEA and various TJ Maxx stores and Pier Ones.
(Sidebar: Can we talk about the headiness of Eau de Pier One? All the stores smell the same, and STRONGLY so. Is it, like, some kind of Pier One hallucinogen designed to make us buy more wicker things? See more beauty in tapestries and elephant-shaped candle holders? I don’t get it.)
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