I come from a long line of reuben lovers, so trust me when I tell you that if you love a reuben, you must treat yourself to the Zingerman’s Roadhouse turkey reuben called “The Dexter.” Pit-smoked (onsite) pulled free-range turkey (from the nearby farm in Dexter Township), thick sauerkraut and baby swiss along with house-made russian dressing and house-made rye bread. On the side, I chose Sea Island Fries: hand-cut, twice cooked sweet potatoes served with spicy mayo. It all washed down so nicely with tart (Michigan) cherry soda. Salty, sour, bitter, sweet, and umami: my taste buds danced happily to the consonance of flavor! Also pictured is the amazingly comforting pit-smoked pulled pork, served with mustard coleslaw and choice of house-made bbq sauce.
Giant cinnamon ribbon candy | Hand-dipped turtles by a man with 35 years worth of practice | 100 year old diner with a lunch counter across from a candy counter | Candy cane heart pendant lights hanging from a tin ceiling | Best-tasting soda shop lemonade ever | My first visit to the Olympia Candy Kitchen, a place ”reminiscent of the days when the world revolved a little slower.” Now that’s more my speed.
During my visit to Portland there were many cherries on top of the sweet sundae of conversation and togetherness with my cousin and her family. One such example: the luxury of a vanilla bean honey latte and fresh macaron in the morning. Sitting and talking in the sunlight that flooded through the garage-door windows of a cafe adorned with flocked red wallpaper, Belgian beer, jewel-toned chocolates and stuffed monkeys, my world was enlightened, comforted, and caffeinated at Pix Patisserie with Jenne.
This outdoor market takes “sample day” to a whole new level. The experience would later be affectionately referred to as the morning toothpick feast. Bacon pickles, huckleberry rhubarb jam, roasted hazelnuts, vanilla & cayenne all-natural maraschino cherries, green chile corn chowder, cardamom rosewater cheesecake, dried royal ann cherries, goat cheddar, marionberry & cream cinnamon rolls, red cabbage slaw, sopressata, and more! Somehow amidst the frenzy of fine samples I managed to take a few pictures of the abundance.
Mom: I love you bunches and piles. All Mothers: may your jam jars overflow with local pleasures.
I have two awesome cousin trips coming up these next two weeks. Later this month I will travel to Kansas to see my youngest cousin on my mom’s side graduate high school (proud!), and later this week I will hop on a plane to visit my oldest cousin (it’s been too long!) on my dad’s side in Oregon. I can hardly sit still I am so excited, though refilling my coffee cup each time I fill up my laundry loads may also have something to do with the extra energy.
As I was packing I realized that I was strangely out of postage stamps. So yesterday I went to the Post Office and found the commemorative Indy 500 stamps and a few others for mailing. Once I got home I cropped some paper and old fruit boxes for postcards (still inspired by the one Katie sent me) to write while I am away. The colors of the nectarine boxes seemed like a great match for Portland. I saved a few back to send to people -YOU- who read this blog. I’ll write you a postcard from Oregon if you send your mailing address to email@example.com.
P.S. Thanks to those of you that either commented on or talked with me about my last post. I appreciate those bloggers who wrote about specifically honest things in their entries. Like I mentioned, I am using this space to mainly dwell on cozy things. If it makes you feel better, it represents about 10% of my life. Now I will go make pancakes, and maybe I will take pictures of them too.
One week ago today, I experienced a full circle moment at the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. In between conference sessions, a library colleague and I met THE CAKESPY for a sweet treat break (evidence: hot pink nails in the last photo). CakeSpy is an internet celeb. to me, and it is against the shy part of my nature to flat-out email someone that I do not know. But when I read from her website that she had relocated to Philadelphia for an artistic project, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. I was going to be in her city for a professional library conference, and my first thought was, “book signing, maybe she will be doing a book signing at the conference, I have to ask!”
She wasn’t doing a signing at the conference, but I was thrilled to receive her response that we could meet at the Reading Terminal Market (do you see how awesome this place is: bakeries, barrel-cured kraut, breakfast diner, and oyster bar ALL under one roof?!). CakeSpy is the real deal: the kindest, most studious sweets seraph you will ever meet. She brought us gifts of baked goods, bookmarks and postcards. Conversation included her sincere interest in our experiences with sugar cream pie and other regional specialties (she’s working on her second book of that nature, and you can purchase her first book at her site or find it at your local library).
The thing is, CakeSpy has unknowingly been part of my entry into the library profession. When I was in library school, I was obsessed with the chockylit site, and at every stress-relieving moment I could, I would try and/or modify these creations and take down baking notes in my Hello Kitty notebook. It was around then that I discovered CakeSpy’s articles and artwork. Cupcakes and libraries were two main characters in my life at the time, and I envisioned an art library filled with sweet treats. Back then, her rainbow candy coated illustrations were available on etsy at an insanely modest price. Once I saved up enough money, I messaged her and asked if she could put Cuppie in an art library. She said YES and even asked me for fav. book titles to include.
Fast forward five years, the framed illustration is sitting on my desk, next to business cards with my name on them that say Gallery Librarian: Art, Music & Media. My library sends me to a professional conference in Philadelphia and I meet CakeSpy. Who knew. It’s fun to look back and think about my spiral-bound library school and cupcake notebooks. I just wanted to secure a job and bake treats in the off-time, because there’s not so much baking and painting time when you work 4 part-time jobs.
It occurs to me as I write that my first blog post was about an Amish-inspired hand pie, which is a version of the treat I picked out to eat that day at the market. Thank you, Jessie for the sweet inspiration through the years. It was truly a treat to meet you!
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.
It seems as though the minute I landed in Philadelphia, it was Spring. The past few days have been unseasonably warm. I ate a Geno’s cheese steak in 70+ degree weather! The outdoor basketball courts and city playgrounds were packed. Fruit lined the narrow city streets of the Italian Market. On a conference break, I had Chocolate Peanut Butter Ripple ice cream in a pretzel cone. Pretzel cone, more on that later. Spring bulbs were in bloom by Independence Hall, Rocky and “The Thinker.” All pleasant Philadelphia Spring surprises.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.