Monday, September 24, 2012

Blueberry Blackberry Buttermilk Cake

This morning at 8:20 am, my cousin Claire sent me my weekly inspirational text: 


She texts me this every Monday, religiously. That is just how beyond fantastic she is. 

It is the most important thing in the world to remember. 
I was having such a fine day today. I slept in. I went for a beautiful walk. I felt a lot of love for humanity and life and trees and just everything. 
I thought about the change from summer to fall, and how it's almost a physical feeling: you feel it in your bones. I thought a lot about how I need to find some new dreams to fit the new season. And then I started thinking too much, and suddenly I got overwhelmed with school and with life and how little I know, and how many people I talk to in a single day, and how much there is to learn, and where am I going and what am I doing and what will I do tomorrow and the next day and I want to talk to everyone and do everything, but I also need to read books and write and sing and how do you fit all of this into a day when things like Facebook exist? 

I don't know. 

The thing is, I want to be the kind of girl who simultaneously talks about Botticelli paintings AND rides a motorcycle.

And I had the realization that I'm just not that girl yet. 

I was feeling pretty terrible, until I remembered about LIGHTENING THE FUCK UP. 

And then I began to laugh. And I thought back to this weekend, which was kind of a dream, but also very weirdly wild, and I thought about all the crazy people I know, and I thought about this fantastic cake I baked late last night, just because I wanted to. 

And I remembered that things really aren't bad. 
Actually, that's a lie. 
Things are actually perfect when you eat this cake. 

But just because you do not know what is coming next, it does not mean that things are bad, and just because you are uncertain, it does not mean things are bad, and just because you are young and occasionally do ridiculous things that you maybe say you regret but actually don't, it does not mean things are bad. 
So just LIGHTEN THE FUCK UP. And bake that angst right out of your system. 
Right. Now. 


Raspberry or Blueberry or Blackberry Buttermilk Cake
via who adapted from 
Gourmet, June 2009

I used blueberries and blackberries instead of raspberries as the cake originally called for. This is divine. A very tender, and very perfect everyday cake that takes minutes to whip together, and even fewer minutes to devour. 

1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick (56 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup (146 grams) plus 1 1/2 tablespoons (22 grams) sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)
1 large (57 grams) egg
1/2 cup (118 ml) well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup (5 ounces or 140 grams) fresh raspberries OR blueberries OR blackberries OR both

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 2/3 cup (146 grams) sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla and zest, if using. Add egg and beat well.
At low speed, mix in flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter (see Note) raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons (22 grams) sugar.
Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Creamy Avocado Pasta

Cooking for one is difficult. 

My whole life I've always made things for groups of other people: birthday cakes, family dinners and parties.

This whole cooking for one thing is just... very confusing. 

Because now I can eat whatever I want whenever I want. 
It's very overwhelming. 
So I eat lots of scrambled eggs and apple fritters and cheese at weird hours. 
This is not how I intended to live my life. 
I intended to cook real meals and sit down at a real table with a cloth napkin and possibly a glass of wine. 
This happens exactly never. 

So I eat lots of avocados. Avocados are the perfect thing to eat alone. Which is great, because I'm very greedy when it comes to avocados. 

I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be ONE. To be alone instead of part of a couple, or part of a family. 

I buy my groceries alone. 
I debate with myself, alone, in the cheese aisle. 
In fact, the other day, in a moment of tremendous self-empowerment I bought four different kinds of cheese. And there was no one to tell me not to. 
I was alone. 

I am not whining. 
I am not lonely. 
There is a difference between being  lonely and being alone.  
And I like to be alone.
Yet, I think there's a huge stigma, in our culture, especially among people my age, that you are never supposed to be alone. 
If you spend a Friday night alone, WHO ARE YOU. 
If you go to a show alone, WHO ARE YOU. 
If you eat lunch alone, then WHO ARE YOU. 

But I like it. 
It is okay. 

It's okay to not be part of something all the time. It is okay to not belong to someone. It is okay to take a break from people. It is okay to eat as many apple fritters and avocados as you wish. 
It is okay to make a strange avocado pasta sauce, just because it sounds weird and good. And it is okay to eat it all.  And it is okay to eat it on the sofa, in dying afternoon sunlight, without a cloth napkin or glass of wine, and it is okay to eat it in silence, and it is okay to be happy in that moment, and happy that you are alone.  

Creamy Avocado Pasta
The recipe says that this makes four servings. I adapted it for one. I also did not roast my tomatoes, was out of both lemon juice and pine nuts and was too lazy to deal with garlic. I give you the original recipe because I'm sure that it's superior to whatever adaptions I attempted... xoxoxo

recipe via
prep time: 10 minutescook time:1 hour 10 minutes

10 - 12 small Campari tomatoes, quartered
3 - 4 tbsp olive oil
4 servings of fettuccine noodles
2 ripe avocados, seed and skin removed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup pine nuts
grated fresh Parmesan cheese
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 300 ºF.

Wash and quarter the tomatoes. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with 1 - 2 tbsp olive oil, just enough to make the tomatoes glisten. Bake for 1 hour in the oven.

Ten minutes before tomatoes are finished, fill a large pot with water and a sprinkle of salt. Bring to a rapid boil. Add the dry fettuccine to the water and cook until al dente.

While the pasta is boiling, add 2 tbsp olive oil, avocado, garlic, salt and lemon juice to a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are smooth and creamy.

Strain the pasta, and combine with the sauce in a large bowl, until all the pasta has been covered.

Add the roasted tomatoes, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and pine nuts. Add some salt and black pepper to taste.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How to Be Brave With Squash

A letter to my brothers:

I miss you.

I miss your hands and your smiles and the real talk and I miss how noisy you are and how nosey you are, and even though we live in the same city, I'm living such a different life now, and I wish I could share the best bits of it with you, because I know you'd like it.

I want to tell you some stuff that has been in my head.

I want to tell you that people are awesome. That if you ask, people will tell you really magical things. That there is so much learning you can do, if you just listen. No one ever told me. 
I want to tell you that people are disappointing. That given the chance, people will disappoint you. And that this is the hardest lesson to learn. No one ever told me. 

I want to tell you that no one is actually judging you, and if they are: fuck 'em. 
I want to tell you that you should not be afraid, that whatever you are doing in this moment, is okay.
I want to tell you that sleep is really grand. 
I want to tell you to hold doors open. 
I want to tell you to stay away from users and losers. 
I want to tell you that making things is good. Even if what you make is shitty.

I want to tell you about this squash.

It was too big.


I bought it with some friends at the Hope Farmer's Market. I think the name of the squash is "Marrow Squash." It was huge. As big as a medium sized pumpkin. Which is very large for a squash. 
I called it my baby. 
Which was awkward when I cut it up and roasted it and baked it into a savory tart. 

And it was really fucking good. 

Darling boys, here is what I really want to tell you. 

Be brave. Be brave. Be brave. 

Be brave in the kitchen, especially with intimidating squashes. 
Be brave with putting yourself out there. 
Be brave with friends. 
Be brave with strangers. 
Be brave enough to go to the party, and brave enough to leave when you're ready.

And as we all run into strange new worlds, in which we lose touch more easily and speak less, I just want you to know this:

If nothing else, be brave with the squash. 


How To Be Brave With Squash

I cut my monster baby squash in half, scooped out the seeds, and rubbed the insides with olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, red pepper flakes, dried thyme and basil. I cooked it for half an hour, at 4oo degrees, until the flesh was soft. And then, when it was cooked through, I scooped the insides out, chopped them into a soft pulp, and added more salt. Then I patted it into a soft shell of uncooked pie dough that I hadn't used yet, grated Some Very Fine Irish Cheddar Cheese over it and baked it at 375 for 30 minutes. 

It tasted good. 

I was lucky.