Thursday, 13 March 2014 | 79 comments

A marmalade cake

When I was growing up, my mother ordered big boxes of citrus from Florida as Christmas presents to family members. This strikes me as a really ’80s or early ’90s food thing to do, sort of in the same category as raspberry vinaigrette or a big tri-color pasta salad. In any case, now that she’s no longer with us, my stepfather dutifully carries on the tradition. He sent me a big box of honeybells in January. I love citrus in winter, but we couldn’t keep up with 25 pounds of it. So I made marmalade.

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Wednesday, 21 August 2013 | 28 comments

Peach & cornmeal upside-down cake

i recently read Rebecca Solnit’s The Faraway Nearby. The book is not about food, but nonetheless begins with the story of a pile of apricots that arrived at the author’s doorstep from her ailing mother’s home. Solnit spreads them on a sheet, observing them in various states of greenness, ripeness, and decay, too many to eat at once. She likens her pile of apricots to the Impossible Task of fairy tales: the water to be carried in a sieve; the pile of seeds and grains to be sorted in a single night. Doing something with all those apricots before they went to waste became more than just a matter of practicality, it was a puzzle to solve, the feat that proves you’re worthy enough to marry the princess, the story that allows Scherezade to live another day. » Click to read more

Friday, 16 November 2012 | 25 comments

November, so far

Around here there’s been a lot of cooking but not much posting; funny how that happens. I want to talk Thanksgiving with you all, but it’ll have to wait until tomorrow or Monday. Until then, I thought I’d check in with a few photos of what my November’s been like. There have been an unusual amount of turkey encounters to report. 1) Wild: I woke up one damp morning to this enormous flock (21! 21 wild turkeys!) making orp-orp noises in our front yard. 2) Domesticated: I cooked a bird for a project I’m working on; I’ll tell you about it soon.Detritus after Sandy power outages: burnt down candles, oil lamps, dead laptop, abandoned banjo. A praying mantis that we watched grow up through the spring and summer clung to our window screen for a week, her swan song before the first hard frost. I cooked a giant pot of soup (this one) over a fire (unfortunately out of necessity rather than romance; our stove/oven broke AGAIN, I don’t want to talk about it). We had good people over to eat it. We took a whirlwind Midwest roadtrip where the only photos I took were blurry self-timer portraits in a Michigan vineyard. And I baked this cake, except with vanilla sour cream frosting, on an afternoon with exceptionally pretty light.

Can you believe we’re heading into the holidays? Things have been a little distracting for me—I’m starting a new job in December—but I want to be here more often. So, see you soon.

Friday, 14 September 2012 | 31 comments

A simple pear pie + more pear recipes

“Welcome to my office,” Ben says as we climb out of the car. Neat rows of pear trees stretch their limbs out of the morning mist. It’s kind of obnoxious, actually—does he have to brag?—when you consider that my “office” is a cube with padded, circa-1981 salmon pink walls. Ben, by contrast, makes his living here:We grab a ladder and start picking. The crew has been through here once already and most of the harvest is in—they’ll use it to make pear wine, which they then send to a local distillery to make pear brandy—but there are some stragglers. These get sold in the tasting room. We get to take home the “ugly” pears, the ones with spots or lumps or hard patches where they were damaged by insects. For the next couple weeks, bins of the fruit take up residence in our house, and I start thinking of pear pie and pear bread and pear butter. » Click to read more

Monday, 6 February 2012 | 78 comments

A grapefruit olive oil cake for a cold winter day

I take pleasure in the spareness of this season: the quiet, the grey light, the bare branches. It’s been such a mild winter so far that whenever we get a rare dusting of snow, I find myself walking around in the woods for hours.All the silence and sparseness are a bit misleading, though. I think about the secrets under the quiet white veil; the life that is there, dormant, waiting to wake up; the soil that’s teeming, always, with all kinds of micro-critters. Nature is like this, I think. She enjoys vibrance hidden beneath humble exteriors. Like seeds.And jewel-bright grapefruit. » Click to read more

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