You GUYS. I know you’re probably in the middle of trimming your tree or lighting your menorah or wearing your craziest sequined sweater or whatever you do to celebrate the holidays, but I’m interrupting your crazed online shopping and boozy nog-drinking schedule to share with you something that is super important.
I’d like for you to meet the face of the beautiful beast that has taken over my life for the past 15+ months (and no, it’s not another human baby, good grief!). Isn’t it a DELIGHT? It’s the cover of Real Sweet, my hunk of a third cookbook, which will be born into the world this coming April, courtesy of the brilliant folks at William Morrow. I really, really can’t wait for you to bake your way through its pages and use it in your own kitchens. It’s a whole new way to bake, and I really couldn’t be more excited about the whole thing.
Real Sweet is a baking and sweet treat-making recipe collection, yes, but it’s also a primer on the wildly delicious world of natural and unrefined sugars. Unlike my first two books, which ran on lots and lots of white granulated sugar, you won’t find a speck of the white stuff in the pages of Real Sweet. Instead, you’ll find sugars here that are decidedly less processed, infinitely more flavorful, and do so much more than just provide sweetness a la white sugar.
From granulated alternatives like sparkling turbinado, coconut sugar, maple sugar, heady dark muscovado, and brown-buttery panela, to tasty liquid swaps like honey, agave nectar, and pure maple syrup, the sweet stars in this book pull double duty as both sweetener and seasoning. After months (and months!) of recipe testing, it still blows my mind what a simple change of sugar can do for the flavor, texture, and overall crave-worthy power of a baked good. I’m hooked on these alternative sugars, people, and I hope you will be, too.
What I’ll deliver to you when Real Sweet drops is a whole bunch of real-world recipes for the treats we really love, but made with better, more flavorful sugars, with a more “hip” than “hippie” vibe. The more virtuous items that we can feel good about tucking into our kids’ lunchboxes are in the mix, but so are whimsical candies; bake sale classics like cookies and bars; custards and ice creams; and a whole chapter dedicated to some seriously impressive, fancy dinner party desserts. It’s a book you can bake from all year long, with ingredients that you can feel good about baking with and playing with, including whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fruits, but don’t worry–there’s plenty of full-fat dairy and chocolate to round things out. Life’s too short! Good times all around!
This sexy beast of a book weighs in at 272 pages, chockablock with recipes and info, sweet tips and tricks, and loads of gorgeous, full-color photography from the gloriously talented Leigh Beisch. And guess what? You can totally pre-order it!
In the coming months, I’ll share some Real Sweet samples so you can look forward to what you’ll get when you have a copy in your hot little hands. I know we’re still in the middle of the holiday rush, but I’m feeling really good about 2015 and all that’s in store for us–let’s make natural sugars a thing in the New Year! Heck yeah!
Hi hi! I’m writing today for no other reason than I’ve been missing you guys and this space and wanted to keep you updated on everything that’s been going on in the Piece of Cake kitchen and beyond, lest you think I’ve been trapped under something heavy. Of course there’s the business of that behemoth called cookbook number three, which, if you’ve been following on Twitter or Facebook, you’ve heard about plenty already. Sometimes I share actual details specific to the book, other times I just reveal personal neuroses:
Writing a cookbook: 25% writing, 40% dishwashing, 10% floor mopping, 10% shopping,15% staring out the window, worrying about the book.
— Shauna Sever (@shaunasever) March 14, 2014
In any case, I am officially in the homestretch of creating this third title, all baking and sweet treat making with natural, unrefined, and lower-refined sugars. No white sugar, no corn syrup. Basically a complete 180 from my first book, which ran completely on the white stuff. But for me, baking is about playing with all kinds of ingredients and every type of sugar, and it turns out that stepping away from the usual suspects can make all kinds of delicious things happen.
The title of this post is a bit misleading, I admit. Because truthfully, the bulk of what I’ve been into lately involves not very exciting things like nursing nonstop (so sitting in a chair, then?), thinking of things to eat that can be prepared and shoved into my face with one hand (which evidently doesn’t leave much time for the baking or taking pictures of food), and trying to find time to pee alone. But what I really wanted to do was pop in today, say hello! and we’re still all alive! and sometimes even bathed!, and share a few things that have made my days a little brighter while careening through the Newborn Tunnel of (Sometimes) Hell.
I’ve managed to get back on track with exercise, which has been key in maintaining my sanity. In an unexplained bout of inspiration (and a longing to get back into my regular clothes), two weeks ago I decided to take up running again after nearly a year. To be kind to my post-pregnancy joints and bones, I’ve decided to take it allll the way back to 2003 when I first started running, and ease back into a running routine with the Couch to 5k program. Of course now, instead of obsessively glancing at a watch to track intervals while listening to the very first Maroon 5 album on a CD walkman, there are fancy things like this Couch to 5k app that does all the thinking for you, and features voice cues that gently interrupt your iPhone’s playlist to tell you when to run and when to walk. Awesome. I love technology when it’s idiot-proof.
I ordered this book recently and have bookmarked the bananas out of it. I’ve got mad kitchen plans, believe you me.
I’ve been making this recipe for dinner probably once a week since the baby was born. Add some broccoli and instant brown rice (cooked with chicken or veg stock instead of water), and BOOM. Ultimate easy-yet-satisfying meal. So simple, cheap, kind of old school, kid-friendly, and unreal delicious. And good for two night’s worth of dinners–hallelujah!
We also got a few awesome meals out of this fantastic take on Spanikopita from one of my favorite people, The Wednesday Chef. No better way to get your greens, people. Just add wine.
In the “I’ve made them 100 times, but never blogged about them” category, here are some of the world’s best cookies. In fact, I have a Ziploc full of these frozen cookie dough balls in my freezer right now. It’s how I’ve been keeping my family in freshly baked cookies all these weeks like some kind of deranged June Cleaver.
I haven’t bought any new clothes just yet, but when I do, I’m using this resource. The concept gives me a major case of “Why didn’t I think of that?!”. I’m getting all into it within the next couple months, which is to say when I get a bit more weight off of my maternal midsection.
Okay, so, I lied on that last point. I have purchased these flip flops in Light Gold, which add a little bit of something special to my Dreary Mom Outfits.
To further celebrate the fact that I’m no longer retaining water and my feet have stopped looking like Shrek’s, I got a glorious pedicure with this nail color, which is always my Happy Color. It makes me feel more together even when I’m in pajamas. I have decided that it’s my Forever Toenail Polish. I’ll be working it into my will.
Unlike my strategy with my first child, I’ve had this new kid on the move and out in the world since day 4. It’s saved my sanity. But it’s a bonus when the days involve more than marathon trips to Target. Like lunch at the perfect restaurant with an amazing friend, and making it a double with a dessert pitstop at one of San Francisco’s best bakeries. Now that’s a good day, even if you’ve got a sweaty baby strapped to your chest.
Add to that an actual, in-person meeting (at a new-ish, and completely perfect SF bakery) with a heretofore strictly online friend, during which you find out that she’s as fabulous as you’d hoped, and every bit as lovely as her website. Again with aforementioned baby strapped to chest, but a magical meeting nonetheless. Big ups for real people in an unreal world.
It can only mean one thing around these parts–Sir Baby has arrived, bringing with him much love, joy, and one serious brow. Be back soon!
Know what’s super fun? The influx of emails, tweets, comments, and Facebook messages I’ve received from folks working through the recipes in Marshmallow Madness! in recent weeks–lots of sweet stories and photos of fluffy, puffy successes that warm the cockles of my heart. ‘Tis the season for homemade mallow making and gifting!
But I’ve also gotten some requests for a few marshmallow-making tips and troubleshooting help for the recipes, which I also happen to love. Happy to help. For those new to mallowing, it is most certainly wacky, leaving plenty of room for self-doubt and simple mistakes. But don’t freak out! It’s just sugar! Everything will be okay. Keep in mind that the following tips refer specifically to recipes and techniques in MM, but some will cross over into any homemade marshmallow recipe you might try.
So here’s what’s happening right now: Today I am buzzing about the kitchen with the Reality Bites soundtrack on repeat, prepping a whole lotta mini versions of Twinkie Bundt Cake, in preparation for a most excellent event celebrating Pure Vanilla here in San Francisco tomorrow. If you’re in the Bay Area, I hope you’ll come by to say hi, watch me attempt to bake and talk at the same time, and pick up some mad vanilla knowledge. I’ll also be signing books immediately afterwards! I may end up dressing like Lisa Loeb. Or Winona Ryder. Who knows? You’ll just have to come by and find out. Here’s the details:
Macy’s Union Square
Cellar Demo Kitchen, Lower Level
170 O’Farrell Street
San Francisco, CA 94108
Hope to see you there!!
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