here’s to the new (maple blueberry coffee cake)

blueberry coffee cake

As this week marks many lasts of 2009, my kitchen and I are marking a first, one I hope to continue into the new year, and it’s as simple as a new ingredient: whole wheat pastry flour, a fresh player in our cooking arsenal.

Do you already know whole wheat pastry flour? Very fine in texture, whole wheat pastry flour comes from a whole white wheat made with softer berries than the kind used for regular whole wheat flour. It’s very fine in texture, high in starch and low in protein, with lower gluten than what’s in white flour. It’s particularly good for using in crumbly baked goods as it yields results similar to those made with regular white flour, though admittedly not as light and airy, and it’s more nutritious. You can substitute it one-to-one for all-purpose flour in cakes, pies, muffins and some cookies.

Working from the recipe for Huckleberry Maple Coffee Cake at 101 Cookbooks, I christened my new-found flour last weekend in a sparkling blueberry coffee cake, the kind that is dense, with sweet crumbles all over the top and chock full of dark blue berries that stain all the dough they touch, creating bursts of almost-purple throughout.

blueberry maple coffee cake

Read More

Good Writes/Reads 2009

christmas 2009

Merry Christmas, everyone! We had a nice, quiet day here at my parents’, but that’s not to say it was without its crises. For example: Have you ever roasted a stewing chicken? Well, don’t—just get yourself some rough cardboard to gnaw on for the same effect and less struggle. Annyywayy…

We did manage to eat well (another of this month’s many smoothies included), and I even found a new! camera! under the tree with my name on it, something sure to get a lot of use in months to come.

Speaking of the months to come, here we are a week from 2010, and you know how end-of-the-year things go: reflecting, looking back, remembering. So in proper form, here are 24 of my favorites posts and articles from 2009, 12 from Food Loves Writing and 12 from all over the Web. Enjoy!

Read More

the heart of things (sugar and spiced candy nuts)

sugar-and-spice nuts

Two days from Christmas, I can’t imagine any of you are still looking for gift ideas. You’re probably nothing like me, who not only hasn’t finished wrapping presents but also hasn’t finished buying them—not that there are many to buy because, whenever possible, I like to homemake Christmas gifts. This year has been as simple as free cards online, whipping up a batch of my favorite sweet and salty granola and baking some cookies, after which I mainly just had these sugar-and-spiced nuts to bake—two batches, because they’re that good, and, like I said, I know you don’t need gift ideas at this point, but if you ever do, trust me when I say these things make great ones.

You know, in the last post, I told you how sick I’ve been, how I spent the full weekend before Christmas at home, in bed, trying to distract myself from my stuffy nose, and that’s true. It’s also true that Monday night, I spent a half hour holding ice against my face while trying to end my first-ever bloody nose. What a week. I’ve been getting kind of sad about it all, thinking how un-Christmasy this end of December has been feeling, how little of the festive and jolly I’ve been experiencing (or how little I’ve been enjoying experiencing).

But then I think about homemade gifts.

After I’d mixed and baked the blend of walnuts and pecans with cayenne pepper and cinnamon and raw sugar and egg whites that go into this recipe, pulling their trays out of the oven and popping handfuls of the hot, fragrant candied nuts in my mouth, I cooled them and scooped them into jars tied with ribbons, labeled with gift cards made by Everybody Likes Sandwiches, which are perfectly shaped for sliding beneath the gold lids.

Read More

all you can do (banana blueberry orange smoothie)

making smoothies at night

Since I left work two hours early Friday, I’ve gone through a few boxes of tissues, several packets of Emergen-C, four bowls of chicken noodle soup, twice daily rounds with the neti pot, hot compresses on my eyes, Vicks on my chest, an entire season of a television show online, some reading in Best Food Writing 2009, a little bit of Food Network and, mercifully, an entire 15-hour block of sleep from Saturday into Sunday that, I’m pretty sure, is a miracle in itself considering all the constant nose-blowing.

I mean, I knew it was cold season, but, people, I haven’t taken sick time at work since Saint Patrick’s Day. A few months ago, when everyone was sniffling and sneezing, I somehow was fine, and so I kind of thought I must have a pretty great immune system or something. Cue the line, Pride cometh before a fall.

frozen blueberries
orange and banana
making a smoothie
banana to smoothie

The thing about getting sick is it reminds you how weak and vulnerable you can be. It doesn’t really matter how much you want to clean the bathroom or go out shopping or meet your friend for brunch; you can’t do it. Your body can’t do it. And so, while you tuck yourself beneath a pile of blankets and think about all the things you were planning to do, you become content to do the one thing you have to do: nothing. Or at least nothing besides the above-mentioned list of home remedies and entertainment/distraction. (What do you all do when you’re sick?) That, and make smoothies.

Read More

the good, the sweet, the best parts (citrus-caramel roasted fruit)

citrus caramel pears

When you reach to pull this dish out of the oven, dark brown juices bubbling and thick around softened, caramelized fruit, prepare yourself: what you will smell will be as good as pine needles in December or the crisp, cold air outside after a fresh snow.

And when, after you let it cool for a bit, you scoop some into a bowl, pouring that still-warm, coppery sauce all over, faint hints of steam escaping as you blow on a spoonful heading towards your lips, even that will yet be topped by the unbelievable taste to come: a sensation at once devastatingly sweet and slightly tart, with subtle lemon cutting through deepened, darkened sugar glaze.

citrus caramel apples and pears

These citrus-caramel roasted fruits are pure decadence, and by that, I mean they are the shining moments, and if the kitchen were a story, these would be the happy climaxes, which make all the rising action and disappointment fade away.

Truth is, I’ve been thinking about shining moments, how they change as we grow older (from the joy and rapture of knowing it is summer vacation and there is no! school!, for example, to the deep peace and satisfaction of sitting around a table with passionate people you’ve met for the first time but with whom you’ve found instant connection, instant friendship).

Read More

Hey, Take a Seat! It’s the Food Loves Writing FAQ!

Sunday lunch

You asked to see my kitchen; I’m giving you a peek. You asked for photo tips; I’m (reluctantly, awkwardly, remembering-there-are-many-much-much-better-authorities-on-this) offering a few. And you wondered how I eat so much without becoming enormous; OK, I’ll take that question on. I’ll even throw in a few recently tested, recently loved recipes at the end.

So what do you say? Got a few minutes for a fun FAQ in the midst of the holiday season? Let’s do this.

Read More
  • 1
  • 2