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Sep 17, 2012

‘Pure Vanilla’ is Almost Here!

We’ve known each other for long enough now that I don’t need to tell you that I’m a bit of a square. Okay, except for that one summer abroad in college. Other than that, I’m really a square. So it might not come as a total shock when you find out my second cookbook is called ‘Pure Vanilla’. But! Here’s the thing: the world of vanilla is vast. It is rich, complex, and insanely delicious. And as it turns out, every single person who hears that I wrote an entire cookbook about vanilla replies breathlessly “Ooh! I looove vanilla!”. Vanilla rules, people!

The more I dug into the topic, the more I realized that vanilla is anything but ‘vanilla’. It’s not just heavenly on the tongue–the journey of this underappreciated spice from flower (yes, from an orchid, true story!) to market is full of drama and intrigue. This stuff is sexy, people. Trust.

I received my first advance copy of the book a couple weeks back, and am so, so excited about the whole thing. Like Marshmallow Madness!, this book was shot by the completely incredible Leigh Beisch, and we were once again so lucky to have Sara Slavin on board for prop styling and art direction. For my part, I flapped around the studio like a crazy person for several days, prepping and baking and tweaking as food stylist. We’re covering everything from Breakfast to Cocktails and even some savory in this book. It smelled dang good up in that place during the shoot, I’ll tell you that much. The day we shot the Vanilla Cloud Cake was especially epic–it’s once of my favorite recipes in the book, encompassing everything that’s awesome about vanilla. It looks like this and it’s the sort of ethereal thing I’d be happy to attack, alone in a quiet room, wielding a large spoon. Vacant stare, drool. 

The official release date is October 2nd (you can pre-order now–whee!!), and I’ll have more of a preview for you in the coming weeks. But for now, I wanted to check in with you all and see if there are any bloggers who might be interested in nabbing a review copy. The hope is to spread the vanilla love far and wide, so that no one will ever, EVER! shove Vanilla aside for her sexy sister Chocolate again! (Well, you know what I mean. Just get into it, is what I’m saying.)

If you want to check out a review copy, send an e-mail to Eric Smith at Quirk Books–he is adorable and funny and loves vanilla as much as I do. Send him your name, blog name, and URL and he’ll take it from there. 

eric (at) quirkbooks (dot) com

You can also check out my Book page for more info on upcoming tour dates and Vanilla Tasting events! I hope to meet more of you on this tour, so we can wax poetic over vanilla and compliment each other’s skin and hair in person. It just feels so right, doesn’t it? More dates will be listed in the weeks ahead, so stay tuned, friends.

May 21, 2012

News!

Happy Monday, dear readers. For those of you following my madness on Twitter and/or The Facebooks, you might have already heard the latest from these parts over the weekend. WE GOT A PUPPY, OMG. He is delicious and high maintenance and we are drowning in a sea of cute and newspaper. I may become one of those bloggers that posts pictures of her puppy now, so just get prepared for some of that. To begin, let me justify such postings by offering proof of just how illegally adorable this puppy is. We’d been looking to add a pup to the family for a while, but have always looked at older dogs, and then we ran into this little guy at a sidewalk SPCA setup and BOOM–game over. His name is Jake, he’s a two month-old Spaniel mix and he’s TOO MUCH.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, it’s time to ask a big favor of all y’all. The other news is that I’ve teamed up with a really fabulous production company to produce a special baking-related project. It’s been in the works for a little while, and we’re finally close to shooting. Here’s where you come in, friends. If you happen to live in NYC or the surrounding area and are available Saturday, June 2nd (or the 3rd for a raindate), I’d for you to come visit for a couple hours and be part of the whole crazy experience, and round out a group activity that we’ll be shooting as part of the project. You may or may not be asked to bring a baked good as the date gets closer, but really, we just need some good people to come hang out for a couple hours who don’t mind appearing on camera. Selfishly, I also love that this could be an opportunity to finally meet some of you in real life and enthusiastically compliment each other’s skin and hair.

So what do ya think? If you’re into it, send me an e-mail at shauna (at) shaunasever (dot) com and I can provide you with more details. This is nuts, right?! I’m pretty pumped about it, and even more so having some of you be part of the action. I’ll be back soon with a cookie recipe that I loved so much, I ate the whole dang batch myself.

May 2, 2012

Margarita Marshmallows

So yesterday was a big day, folks. The sort of day that I’ve been giddy about for weeks on end. Yesterday I got up, mainlined about half a pot of coffee, and actually managed to shower and dress myself before dropping Little C off at school. Post-drop off, I drove to the KQED studios here in San Francisco, got settled in front of a microphone and tried to act like it was a totally normal day. Except it so totally wasn’t. Because I was there to talk with Lynne Rossetto Kasper and record an interview about marshmallows for The Splendid Table. Ohmahgah. 

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Apr 26, 2012

San Francisco’s Food Bloggers’ Bake Sale!


I gotta tell ya, I’m all on edge over here. With the third annual San Francisco Food Bloggers’ Bake Sale coming up this Saturday, it’s a little like Christmas all over again. I’m so serious! All the planning, anticipation, loads of baked goods smelling up the place all delicious-like. The past two years have been full of light and love and butter and sugar, all in the name of a good cause, and we’re expecting this year to be no different. I’m all geeked up, as you may have noticed. Here’s the details:

What: San Francisco Food Bloggers’ Bake Sale
When: Saturday, April 26th from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Where: Omnivore Books
3885a Cesar Chavez Street (at Church Street)
San Francisco, CA 94131

 If you’re in the Bay Area, we really would love for you to stop by, say hey, meet some of the best food bloggers around, and try some of their wares for yourself. Bring lots of cash and a big old shopping bag–you’ll be glad you did. (And come Monday, I’ll be sharing a recipe for one of my contributions. It involves cake, coffee, and caramel. So there’s that.)

Hope to see you there!

Apr 1, 2012

How to Make Homemade Marshmallow Peeps

I totally get the glory of the drugstore candy aisle at this time of year. Trust me, friends, I do.

(The bag of Reese’s Pastel Eggs in my basket at Walgreens today proves my point.)

(Giant Reese’s Pieces, people, OMG GET SOME.)

But in spite of all the readily available, totally craveworthy store-bought candy that’s only available at Easter, there’s still room to blow minds and influence people with some seriously amazing homemade treats. And I can’t think of too many other things that will make people think you’ve really gone off the deep end and into a Sea of Martha quite like making your own marshmallow peeps. From scratch. I know!

Of course I had to address this very topic in Marshmallow Madness!, and recently I had the chance to shoot a few marshmallow-y how-to videos with the incredible folks at CHOW. Click the image above to check out our latest installment on making your own fluffy, puffy chicks and other mallow shapes, and get ready to let your crafty self run wild.

Mar 17, 2012

Sweet Home Chicago

Really, guys, is it just me, or does being on the internet while riding on an airplane never cease to make you feel like a total baller? Anyway, I am indeed on a plane again, but this time with Little C taking up an exorbitant amount of space for such a small person, all spread out, bored, plugged into a DVD player and stuffing herself with snacks. I, on the other hand, am talking with you, so excited that so many of you have picked up the new book and have taken the time to e-mail, tweet and get all up in your Facebookery about it. And even better, you guys are really using these recipes and riffing on them like the brilliant bloggers participating in Marsh Madness. Hooray!

New York was a total delight, super busy and productive and completely glorious in that I-want-to-toss-my-hat-in-the-air-like-Mary-Tyler-Moore sort of way. I met a bunch of you at Posman Books, made mallows on TV, and met with some very fancy people who made me think about my outfits for two months ahead of time. And the food! I hit up ABC Kitchen, Pastis, Eataly, and positively gorged myself at City Bakery.

And yes, I totally bought a pack of City Bakery’s famed marshmallows, most of which I put in my face very ungracefully on the ride home. They were fabulous, and very different from mine, much sweeter, closer to divinity than my bouncy confection version. Variety is the spice of life, people! For scientific and business purposes, clearly it is my DUTY to find and eat all the marshmallows. ALL OF THEM. I am committed to the cause.

I hope to be back in my home kitchen, wholly glamourized in my sweatpants and favorite apron right quick, making something crazy and telling you all about it. But in the meantime, my next stop is my Sweet Home Chicago, where I will see family, friends, enjoy supposedly record-high temperatures (!!!), and hopefully see you, too. Yes, you! If you live in the area, I would love nothing more than to see your face and meet on the real. I’ll be signing books this weekend and waiting for you to show up! Here’s the details:

Sunday, March 18th :: 12:00-2:00 pm

Barnes and Noble

Deer Park Town Center

20600 North Rand Road

Deer Park, IL 60010

Mar 6, 2012

New York Shenanigans

New York friends! The time has come. To meet each other face-to-face, compliment each other’s skin and hair, and sample marshmallows together (like the Concord Grape gems you see above). I hope you’ll stop by my signing for Marshmallow Madness! at the swoon-worthy Posman Books at Chelsea Market tomorrow evening. Check the fluffy, puffy details:

Posman Books

Chelsea Market

6:30 p.m.

See you there! I’ve got my bags packed with loads of mallows, marshmallow-making tools, clothes that aren’t pajamas (plus accessories!!), and little ziptop bags of confectioners’ sugar that basically ensure my luggage will be completely torn up by the TSA. Let’s do this, NYC!

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