Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Chocolate Idiot Cake

This is my last post to you for the year. 
What a year it has been. 
I've learned so much. 
I like it when things tie up into tidy morals and easy stories. 
But this year didn't have one. 
There's too much for me to recount and remember. 
I want to tell you all of it and I want to tell you none of it. 
But mostly I want to say thank you for this year. 

I want to say thank you to the beautiful girls who share victories and defeats with me, and thanks to those same beautiful girls for letter writing and eating doughnuts and laughing and making me dream bigger. Thank you for the Happiness List. Thank you to the family, for being unconditional. Thank you to the friends, who laugh and listen and talk and eat and delight with me. Thanks to sender of that letter, I'm a better writer because of it. Thanks to the glorious boys who kissed and held me. Thanks to the music. Thanks to the restaurant. Thanks to the brilliant professors. Thanks to everyone who told me their histories of love. Thanks to the stars, driving late at night and the radio. Thanks to whoever reads this. 
Whoever you are. 

I have had this fear lately, that if I don't tell you, then you'll never know. And then where would we be? 

I want to say thank you. 
Thank you and I love you. 
I love you. 
I love you.
I love you. 

Don't forget. 

Chocolate Idiot Cake
One 9-inch (23 cm) cake
From, who adapted from Ready for Dessert 
This cake is ridiculous. It melts in your mouth. Literally. Note that it requires a water bath, which is no big deal, just make sure you wrap your spring form pan tightly with aluminum foil, some water leaked into mine, which ended up not being a big deal, but just so you know. Also, this cake is really so easy it's for idiots. That's why it's called Chocolate Idiot Cake. 
10 ounces (290 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
7 ounces (200 g) butter, salted or unsalted, cut into pieces
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (200 g) sugar
Preheat the oven to 350F (175C).
1. Butter a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan* and dust it with cocoa powder, tapping out any excess. If you suspect your springform pan isn’t 100% water-tight, wrap the outside with aluminum foil, making sure it goes all the way up to the outer rim.
2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler (or microwave), stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar, then whisk in the melted chocolate mixture until smooth.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and cover the top of the pan snugly with a sheet of foil. Put the springform pan into a larger baking pan, such as a roasting pan, and add enough hot water to the baking pan to come about halfway up to the outside of the cake pan.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
You’ll know the cake is done when it feels just set, like quivering chocolate pudding. If you gently touch the center, your finger should come away clean.
5. Lift the cake pan from the water bath and remove the foil. Let cake cool completely on a cooling rack.
Serve thin wedges of this very rich cake at room temperature, with creme anglaise, ice cream, or whipped cream.
Storage: This Chocolate Idiot Cake can be wrapped and chilled in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Blueberry Boy Bait

Now is the time for staring out of windows at gray skies, or lying on your bed and looking at the ceiling. 
Is it wrong that sometimes, when terrible things happen in the world, I can't quite summon the energy to feel rage or even sadness? 
I just feel numb. 
It is winter now, and I am methodically eating my way through a box of clementines and wishing that someone would cuddle me, while we both drank wine and got silly. 
This is not happening. 
To comfort myself, I baked a cake for the first time in months and months and months. 

I forgot about the calming power of baking: You measure everything, neatly arrange your ingredients on the countertop. The mixer hums, and the measuring spoons clink, and for a while, your mind can just rest from thinking about everyone and everything. The world dissolves in favor of blueberries and brown sugar. This is what I like about making things. This is why I like kitchens and washing dishes. It's real. Tactile. You can feel it. Hear it. Smell it. Taste it. 

There is a line from the T.S. Eliot poem "The Wasteland" that I will never forget, it goes:

“What shall I do now? What shall I do?
I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street
With my hair down, so. What shall we do to-morrow?
What shall we ever do?”

What shall we ever do when babies cry or your parents cry or people get sick or death happens or people forget your name or the grocery store is unbearable? As my dear friend Zoe said, "And I want to save everyone and I don't know where to even begin to fix so very many broken things." How do you fix the broken things? 

I don't know. 

I don't know if walking the streets with your hair down is the answer. 

I think you should bake this cake. Not only because it's called Blueberry Boy Bait, (the idea being that it's so delicious you'll have to beat your suitors away with a stick)  and the alliterative possibilities are endless. 
You should bake this cake because it is simple. You should bake this, because in a world where nothing is certain, to know that you can measure things and combine them in such a way, that when you are finished there will be cake to eat, that's special. That's something. 

Now is the time for staring out of windows at gray skies, or lying on your bed and looking at the ceiling. 
But is also the time to hold the ones you love close, despite all our imperfections and collective weirdness. 

All I feel is love. 


Blueberry Boy Bait
via who adapted from 
Cook’s Country, which adapted it from the original

Serves 12, generously
2 cups plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk (though buttermilk, which was all I had on hand, worked just great)
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not defrost first as it tends to muddle in the batter)

1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
Whisk two cups flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. With electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping down bowl. Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture. Toss blueberries with remaining one teaspoon flour. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries. Spread batter into prepared pan.
For the topping:
Scatter blueberries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl and sprinkle over batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter (topping side up). Serve warm or at room temperature. (Cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tomato Sauce

I like it when songs perfectly fit into the rhythm of your life. 

I like it when the lyrics are what you would have written, if only you had known how to say it. Like this one

I like this time of year, because things are wrapping up. 

I like this time of year, because suddenly it's all about conclusions and twinkle lights and endings.

I like this time of year, because people make a lot of top ten lists, and a lot of top twenty lists, and a lot of top fifty lists. 

I might make a top ten list.  

I don't know. 

I want to make a top ten list of moments that I do not want to forget. 
There are too many. 
I don't want to forget all the doughnuts and the one drink too manys and the 3ams and the kisses and the hands out of windows in fast cars and the learning how to write songs and the clouds and the walks in the morning and the being bored and the being busy. 
Mostly though, I do not want to forget how beautiful everyone is. 
Everyone is so beautiful. 

My roommmates stood around me and ate this pasta. 

They are so beautiful. 

It was a top ten moment. 

I don't want to forget. 



Tomato Sauce

This is no work. 

Take 3 cans of nice canned tomatoes. Add a hunk of butter. How much depends on how nice and rich you like your sauce. Chop an onion. And combine it all. Let it simmer for a while. Until the onions are soft. Ideally for about an hour or more. If the sauce starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, simply add water. When the onions are soft your can add cream if you're feeling luxurious. Salt and pepper liberally. 
Combine with cooked pasta and crumbled goat cheese. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Hi Sweet Darlings,
I haven't abandoned you exactly.
I have been so busy and so tired.
Which maybe is not a good excuse but I'm using it any way.

 I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be strong. And brave. 

Because this year, the one thing I've learned is how strong being vulnerable makes you. 
When you say to someone: Here are my bones. Here are my insides. 
And some people will take you and hold you and all of your ligaments and vertebrae, and they help you love and forgive them. 
And others do not. 
These things make you strong. And brave. 

You will trip and fall and be foolish. 
And you and your bones and insides will get up again. 
And this will make you strong. And brave. 

You are strong. And brave. 
I am too. 

Be safe. Be good. Maybe next time there will be something zesty and delicious to share with you. 

But until then. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Macaroni and Cheese and Roasted Broccoli

What College Has Given Me:

-The Smiths
-Sleeping until noon
-Ability to wear bright lipstick
-Mild  Severe coffee addiction
-Friends who are so smart and so kind
-Roommates who see me at worsts and bests and somehow still tolerate me
-Overall improvement in personal style
-More facebook friends
-Fewer real books read

-Ability to ignore mountains of homework to write this blog
-Realization that truly brilliant professors are few and far between
-Desire to be Better
-Late Night Doughnuts
-Lots  of knockout conversations
-Realization that everyone is basically the same and simultaneously very different and very weird
-Realization that just because someone is hip does not mean that they know what is actually good
-Appreciation of cheap-ass champagne
-Decreased fear of meeting new people
-Every Wes Anderson movie (other than Bottle Rocket)

-Ability to use bed for studying, sleeping, eating, AND drunken jumping
-New understanding of the relationship between race and dance in America
-Twinkle lights
-Several tremendous, Vesuvius-like, emotional meltdowns
-Ability to wear a dress and heels while riding a bicycle
-Less socially awkward (kinda sorta)

-Re-realization that life is not fair
-Letters, received and sent
-Lots of milkshakes
-Unintentional over-sharing
-Fake it till you make it


College and cooking for myself has also instilled in me a deep appreciation for pasta.
 Specifically macaroni and cheese. 

Some days, when the daily grind begins to wear you down, all you want is macaroni and cheese. 
With some roasted broccoli. To make you feel better about all those late night doughnuts and milkshakes.


Stovetop One Pot Macaroni and Cheese 

  • 2 cups large elbow Macaroni, uncooked (about 1/2 lb)
  • 2 cups low fat Milk (about 16 oz) , or more if needed
  • **if more milk is needed, additional 1/4 cup milk at a time for final cooking. **Macaroni pasta varies so much! have additional milk on hand, or be ready to increase the heat if your macaroni doesn't absorb fast enough.
  • 1 tablespoon Butter, for flavor
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt, plus additional for final season later
  • generous dash of Nutmeg
  • 1 cup Grated Cheese, any one or combination of  ( jack, cheddar, swiss, mozzarella, gouda)
  • black pepper to taste (optional)

Place raw pasta in colander and quickly rinse under water. Let it drain.In medium sauce pan add milk, raw elbow macaroni, salt, butter, mustard powder and nutmeg.On medium heat, slowly bring milk/macaroni mixture to a simmer, stirring the macaroni frequently as it comes up to a simmer. Stirring keeps macaroni from clumping together, keep an eye on things to make sure that mixture doesn't boil over. Once at a simmer, immediately turn to low (too high heat will evaporate milk) pasta will cook in milk.  Continue to stir the mixture frequently so that macaroni will cook and absorb milk. Keep stirring to prevent the pasta from clumping. It's a little bit like making risotto.  Cook for 15-20 minutes or until milk has been fully absorbed.
If macaroni is not fully cooked, add some extra milk or water, and anticipate spending about five more minutes stirring the macaroni to absorb the extra liquid. Once milk has evaporated, stir in grated cheese, and throughly combine. Turn off heat. Place lid on top of pan and cover for about 5 minutes. This lets the macaroni absorb liquid. Stir a final time and salt to taste. 
Serve immediately.
Roasted Broccoli 

Two large bunches broccoli (about four lbs)
4 garlic cloves
Olive oil
pinenuts (optional)
parmesan (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 F. 
Put broccoli on a cookie sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. (She says 5 Tbs olive oil, 1 1/2 tsps kosher salt, 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper, but I just eyeballed it.) Now add 4 garlic cloves that are peeled and sliced and toss them in too. Roast in the oven 20 to 25 minutes, until “crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.”zest a lemon over the broccoli, squeeze the lemon juice over the broccoli, add 1 1/2 Tbs more olive oil, 3 Tbs toasted pine nuts (I left those out), and 1/3 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I left these out as well.) 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How to Make Chicken Broth

I was so excited. I bought a rotisserie chicken. 

And I was going to use the bones to make a deep, rich broth for my favorite soup. I pulled the meat from the bones, and found the wishbone. 
I covered the bones in water, added some garlic and onion and salt, and set it all on the stove, simmering. 
And then I forgot about it. 
And then, when I remembered, it had burned. 
I don't even know. 
I also tried to bake a blueberry crisp that night, only we were out of flour. And I tried to get inventive. And I ended up with mild blueberry disaster. 

I don't even know how you burn soup that isn't even soup yet. 

The point is, Beloveds. 

Do not give up. 

Your soup-that's-not-yet-soup may burn, your blueberry crisps that you were craving may not taste the way you know they should.

So what?

I've been thinking so much about failure lately. 
Because I feel like I've been having my share of it.
These disappointments, they will not stop me. 
I will not stop. 
I will burn my soups, until one day I don't. 
I will not give up on my blueberry crisps. 
And I will fail boldly. 
Because life is too short to be afraid, and to be afraid to fail. 

If you're failing, maybe it means you're really living. 

Or maybe it means you just burned your future soup. 

How to Make Chicken Broth

- leftover bones and skin from a cooked or raw chicken carcass
-optional celery, garlic, carrot

Put leftover bone and skin from a chicken carcass into a large stock pot and cover with cold water. Add vegetables. Add salt and pepper, about a teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper. 
Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to bring the broth to barely a simmer. Simmer uncovered fat least 4 hours, occassionally skimming off the foam that comes to the surface. 
Remove bones and strain the broth. 

Blueberry Crisp
adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

For Crisp Topping:

6 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats or chopped nuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

6 cups blueberries, tossed with an optional 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and maybe some lemon zest if you're feeling fancy

Preheat oven to 375 F.
Using your fingers or the paddle attachment of a mizer, work the butter with the rest of the ingredients (except blueberries) so that each piece is coated and you have a coarse crumbly mixture. Butter a 2-2 1/2-quart baking dish. Pour in blueberries. Gently cover with the topping. Bake for about 45 minutes. Or until topping is lightly browned and blueberries are luscious and bubbly looking.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Why I Eat Doughnuts

Right now I feel a rage at college and at the process of "being educated" in general. 
Because I don't know how what I'm currently being taught in my philosophy class about a bunch of dead white men, specifically John Locke, applies to my own strange life of early mornings and late nights and too many Conversations About Everything and The Future. 

I want someone to explain to me why I should care. 

Because I have a job at a restaurant where chefs work fourteen hour days so that people can pay $40 for a a plate of pasta. And at that same restaurant the other night I ate a sea urchin that tasted what the ocean would taste like, if the ocean gave you only the sweetest kiss.

I want someone to explain to me why John Locke matters when you can taste kisses from the ocean, prepared by fat men in white, whose life's work is to make you remember a flavor?

I want someone to explain to me the value of John Locke, when I go to parties and make small talk with people who are determinedly hipper than me, though they are not cleverer or more interesting. But the point is, none of them will be impressed by my knowledge or lack thereof, of John Locke. 

I want someone to explain to me how John Locke will make me a Better person. I want someone to explain how John Locke will make me a wiser, kinder, more joyous, more thoughtful, more industrious, more generous, less judgmental, more loving human being. 

Because at the moment, John Locke and my philosophy class are doing absolutely none of those things. And it is making me lose some faith in the ultimate purpose of education. 

I just wanna be Better y'all. 

However, I do know one thing that always makes me Better:


Always. Every. Single. Time.