I got to see Boston (and my dear, engaged-to-be-wed, friends Emily and Jarrid) for a day at the end of my trip out East last week. The sun was shining, and soon after walking past the Government Center, I had my first ever bakery fresh cannoli from Modern Pastry. Sweet little fried pastry tubes stuffed with sacchariferous ricotta. In my head were the song lyrics, “Oh that feelin’ inside we’re gonna transmit it to life!” from The Modern Lovers. Here’s hoping for future cannoli transmissions to/from my kitchen.
Isn’t it the best to see something in the mailbox other than a doctor bill or credit card application? A few weeks back I received a handwritten cardboard apple postcard in the mail, and it has been cheering me up ever since. It was from the artful and thoughtful Katie, who took on the month of letters challenge and mailed at least one item through the post every day last month.
It was my turn to write, so I leafed through scraps of old end papers from bookmaking projects and sorted out all of the floral patterns (because SPRING is coming, you know!). This year I am trying not to buy any new paper or fabric until I use up what I already have. I cropped them into postcard size and sewed them onto cotton paper and the backs of old stationery. The zig-zag stitch reminds me of a postage stamp. Sewing paper always takes me back to practicing steady machine sewing in Mrs. Dafforn’s middle school Home Ec. class (we were allowed to start work on our fabric ”Super Pockets” once we acheived a certain amount of control and straightness in our paper stitching).
Since I can never do just one of anything, I now have a pile of stitched postcards. The timing is perfect, because I will be traveling for a few days this week to attend a library conference in Philadelphia. When I am away I like to write cards, either at breakfast or before bed at night. For me, it is important to share a bit of the experience I’ve been granted.
If you would like to see something in your mailbox from me, email your postal address to email@example.com I have seven postcards unaccounted for, and I would love to write to the first responders. Oh! And this will be my first time in Philadelphia, so I would be grateful for any tips you may have to share.
Anyone remember the marshmallows in Voguemallow Grilled Sandwich? This weekend I took a quick trip with my friend Courtney to the source, where we learned from the mellifluent marshmallow makers at 240sweet. Chef Alexa and Co. were generous and funny (as we all hope good confectioners to be). While the mega batch of mallows were mixing, we were treated to samples of artisan marshmallows that were skewered and toasted on the spot. Flavors like Banana Split, Elephant Ear, and Salty Caramel Swirl = pillowy roasted gooey bliss. We all got to taste spoons of the fresh mango mallows right off the beater, then we put on plastic aprons and shaped up our own vanilla bean mallows with powder and pizza cutters (Courtney snapped my picture in action!). Hers were wedges that looked like a wheel of brie and mine were something like abstract picket fences and piano keys. I wanted to buy all available flavors, but I had to limit myself to two pouches. I chose the Hoosier Strawberry and March’s Flavor of the Month: Dirty Leprechaun (creation forthcoming). Thanks, 240sweet for a good time, and Happy March, All.
An inspiration storm hit when I opened a package that came in the mail for me last week. A friend, who knows a thing or two about treasures, sent me this tin of cutters that she uncovered at a thrift store! I gave them each a bath and decided to start out with a classic shortbread recipe. Since I was using the pear shape, I made a pear glaze to coat the shortbread. To cut the sweetness, I added shaved slices of the salty Italian sheep’s milk cheese and topped it off with a toasted walnut. Flavor boomerangs! I will make these again with other fruit, cheese and nut combos. Fun little pick up snacks made with a super pick-me-up gift.
Cookies: I use Ina Garten’s Recipe.
Pear Glaze: In a saucepan, stir together one cup of pear nectar (I like Looza or Knudsen brands, but if you have time, I suppose you could make your own) and 2 T brown sugar. Add 1 T unsalted butter and bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat until liquid reduces by half (about 10 min).
Walnuts (optional): Toast 8-10 min. in 350-degree oven.
I have been practicing my felt-cutting skills intermittently over the past few months. It all started with my niece’s party, a couple of co-worker gifts, and a birthday present for my sister. I just kept cutting out pennants and letters and putting them together (giddy over the idea of a felt swatch collection), and now I have a stack that need homes. So, as a simple sign of gratitude for clicking over to my blog, mail me your postal address at firstname.lastname@example.org (or however it is we normally communicate) and let me know which ones you would like to have for yourself or to give to others. I know that each one will find the perfect place to proclaim YUM or remind LOVE.
Inspired by a menu item from an old restaurant on Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis over 50 years ago called Doyle’s Eat Shop, I made bread pudding from day old donuts. I happened to have a few leftover glazed applesauce donut holes from Heyerly’s Bakery, so I used those as the bread and made up my recipe based on what I had at my apartment. I learned about the magic of cardamom in bread pudding from my friend Lindsay, who could make her recipe blindfolded. Since the donut holes were glazed I didn’t use too much sugar and decided that butter was unnecessary. I also sprinkled a few walnuts over half. These would be good with a white chocolate sauce. I heated up some peach and raspberry preserves to top the warm, spicy, sweet substance.
For the puddin:
half about 2 dozen donut holes and stack in loaf pan / whisk together 2 eggs, 1 c cream, 1/8 c dark brown sugar, 1/2 t cardamom & pinch of nutmeg / pour over top of halved donut pile and press down till soaked / bake about 30 min in 375-degree oven or till loaf is springy to the touch
I always say that my first college roommate was a saint, and she still is. When I visited her last week, she treated me to a super brunch in Grand Rapids at Marie Catrib’s. I loved everything about this place from the people to the flowers to the font all over the restaurant. Not to mention the food! We split two dishes: Marie’s own gluten-free pancakes made with sweet potato and cranberries, served with real maple syrup and honey butter & Esperanza’s Omelette with Marie’s seasoned potatoes. I was having such a good time I had to cut myself off from my fourth coffee refill. Sharing joys and sorrows of the past year goes best with brunch.
Just a few of my favorite things! I met up with my old college roommates and summer camp counselor friends in Grand Rapids Friday. It was the last weekend of ArtPrize 2011 filled with treats visually & gastronomically in good company. These desserts are from San Chez in downtown Grand Rapids, including Empanada de Chocolate (chocolate fudge filled pastry, dolce de leche ice cream, brandy caramel, raspberry sauce), Pastel de Queso de Cabra (vanilla goat cheese cheesecake with shortbread crust, lemon curd, blackberry caviar & pecan tuile), and Tarta de Chocolate al Whisky (whisky soaked cake, caramel pecan ice cream, brownie & white chocolate mousse), respectively. The dishroom didn’t have much work to do once we were finished.
Prior to this weekend, my knowledge of John Chapman was merely a caricature image of a barefoot Lincoln-looking man carrying a seed sack and wearing a tin pot for a hat. After traipsing around the festival named for him (eating fried and kettle-cooked things with the name petal attached to them and touching beads and bones and furs), I started to read Howard Means’ recent book about the folk hero. In it, he “explores how our national past gets mythologized and hired out.” From the book: “Johnny Appleseed, of course, does live on, but less as a whole person than as a barometer of the ever-shifting American ideal: by turns a pacifist, the White Noble Savage, a children’s book simpleton, a frontier bootlegger in the fanciful interpretation of Michael Pollan, patron saint of everything from cannabis to evangelical environmentalism and creation care–everything, that is, but the flesh-and-blood man he really was.” This folk hero was a real guy with a seemingly steady moral compass and passion for the literal and figurative sweetness in life. I wonder how he would navigate life on modern day Parnell Avenue as opposed to 19th century wilderness. Would he find it all a bit too cloying?