Posts filed under 'Dessert'
Since I was here last, it seems a whole autumn has unfolded. In my last post, I complained about the dreariness, which was a drag, I suppose, but then so is complaining. I’m happy to report that in the weeks that have elapsed, I’ve learned to appreciate fall in Seattle. The problem, I think, is that I was expecting the Midwestern version of the season, with its lingering warm temperatures and golden sun and clear blue skies and bursts of flame-hued colors.
To be sure, I still missed all of those things. But, at the same time, there is something to be said for the way the colors on the trees here in Seattle look against a thick grey sky. I came to that realization when I took a jog around Greenlake one recent Saturday morning, with fog hovering in a ring around the lake, and mist rising from the lake’s surface. As I rounded the lake, sprays of red and gold leaves continued to materialize through the fog. It was gorgeous—so moody and somehow cozy.
I know I shouldn’t complain (already!), especially because Seattle did spring and summer so right, but the fall here in the PNW has left a little to be desired. There has been a lot of rain and the skies have been mainly gray. I suppose I should get used to it. The other day, someone commented on the “winter so far,” as in winter is happening now. It was October 2! Of course, there have been a couple of golden sunlight-drenched days here and there (like the day I took these photos), and we’ve tried to take advantage of them as much as possible.
On the other days, my cooking has gotten heavier and heartier. As in beef stew heavy/hearty. And I’m feeling drawn to the oven again. We don’t have air conditioning in our home (it’s really rare in Seattle, apparently), so I did almost no baking this summer. But the cooler air has given me the itch again.
If you walk out our front door and take a right, the road quickly dead-ends into a street that climbs a steep hill, wide enough for only one car to pass, with houses on one side and a thick wall of trees and bushes on the other. A month or so ago, I noticed that many of those bushes were suddenly bearing not-yet-ripe berries. They were still small and pale, but I suspected that they were blackberries, which grow wild all over Seattle. A few warm weeks later, the berries have plumped and turned a deep, inky purple. They’re ripe, as they say, for the picking.
When we learned of our neighborhood’s annual block party, which was held a couple nights ago, I wondered what to bring to the party to share, and my mind quickly turned to those blackberries. I settled on a pound cake, and determined that I would thread a ribbon of blackberry puree throughout it.
A big change has been approaching around here, ever so slowly. When we first learned about it, it felt significant and exciting and a little bit crazy and also right. Over the past weeks, pieces have been falling into place, one by one, and suddenly the final picture has all but come into focus. And, you know what? It still feels significant and exciting and a little bit crazy and also right, and each of those feelings are even more vivid. Friends, the big change is this: we’re moving to Seattle! One week from Monday. So, how’s that for news?
Here in Chicago, we’ve reached that time of year when the leaves on the trees are outnumbered by the leaves that pad the sidewalks, crunching underfoot (or, these days, under the stroller wheels). When dinner is increasingly eaten after the sunsets. When the farmers’ markets are winding down, or preparing to move to their scaled-down, winter locations. And when at least one early morning walk has required a big scarf or even a knit hat.
It’s when a panic sets in. After summer’s seeming endlessness, autumn, my hands-down favorite of all the seasons, is suddenly waning. I do the only sensible thing to combat such panic: I stockpile canned pumpkin and I preheat the oven. Or warm the waffle iron. Or set the soup pot over a flame. Well—you get the picture. This annual panic means that I start cooking and baking with pumpkin, and frequently. Halloween just ups the ante, emanating that candle-burnt-pumpkin-flesh aroma, which sends me straight into the kitchen.
First—thank you so much for all of the encouraging comments and emails on my last post. I’ve got a lot of cheerleaders for this final leg, and it’s pretty great. Second—and, really, I hate to keep harping on this, but I’m guessing some of you might be wondering: I’m still pregnant. And that’s all I’ll say about that.
In other news, a few weeks back, on the weekend after the Fourth of July, we had some friends over for a barbecue—our first in our new place. Kevin made his bourbon-glazed ribs, I boiled corn and chopped a few summer tomatoes for a simple salad, and we set the table with some fresh flowers.
As you may have noticed, over the past few (ahem, or maybe more than a few) months, my posts have been sporadic. The time between updates has slowly stretched and, to be honest, there have been times when I wondered if I’d return. Sometimes the thought of walking away would carry an immense sense of relief: one thing off my over-crowded plate. But, more often than not, the thought made me sad. There have been a lot of reasons for the less-frequent posts (one of which is more visible than others), but every time I’ve returned to this space, I’ve been grateful that I didn’t let it go. I draw so much energy and inspiration from this site, and it’s something I don’t want to fade away.
A lot of things have fallen into place for us recently (we’re moving, for one thing!) and a very welcome slow-down at work is finally here. So, I’m hoping to be able to post a bit more frequently over the next couples of months, and then we’ll see what happens when the baby arrives later this summer.
I have a good excuse.
For weeks, I’ve been meaning to tell you about this hot fudge sauce, which is decadent and thick and glossy and everything a hot fudge sauce should be. The recipe has been on the docket since Valentine’s Day, in fact. I had a post planned, half drafted in my head. I intended to come clean that my annual protestations about Valentine’s Day were something of a hoax. For several years running, I’d posted a chocolate dessert in honor of the mid-February holiday (“holiday”?), so there was no denying that I was on board for at least one part of Valentine’s Day: the chocolate part. That would be the post’s title: “The Chocolate Part.” I quite liked that.
Every January, I end up on a citrus tear. I’m not much for resolutions, and January is far from my favorite month (I grew up in Minnesota, and I live in Chicago, after all), but I do love the sunny spectrum of citrus that shows up at the grocery store this month. Weekly, I haul home a heaving bag of ruby red grapefruits. Each morning, I top segments of their tart flesh with yogurt and granola. A pair of clementines accompany me to work every day; a crate of the little orange guys rarely outlasts the stretch between our weekly grocery trips. Less frequently, but still dependably, I get hankerings for key lime pies, the urge to make a citrus-hued curd, and an inexplicable desire to squeeze blood oranges until my hands are stained with their brilliantly-colored juice.
And always, there is a lemon cake.
After a busy couple of months, I was just starting to think that I wouldn’t have much time for holiday baking. But that’s when the urge to make these biscotti hit. I was in the mood for a not-too-sweet cookie with crunch, and one of my favorite combinations (almond extract and poppy seeds) leapt to mind. The dough came together in a flash, and I multi-tasked while the biscotti underwent their double-bake. In no time, I had a tin full of festive, poppy seed-flecked cookies, redolent of almond.
With the biscotti behind me, I’m feeling less sorry for myself and my lack of time for holiday baking.