Archive by Author

I am no longer in denial about the inevitable transition to winter.

3 Oct

Dear Emma,

I love picturing you out at Mary and Steve’s farm, horse-sitting. Despite the raucous cat-dog-puppy fight that I overheard, it sounded so peaceful – a warm end-of-summer-sun shining down over the fields and horses, turning everything golden. I miss home.   Zoe

Being from Iowa, I like to talk about the weather. Honestly, I don’t think it’s as dull as it sounds, (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C, I rest my case).  But the past month, in Washington, DC the weather has been DULL. Day after day of gray compounded by an unrelenting drizzle of cool rain, and no spark of sunshine as a quick break.  September had no wild and windy thunderstorms, no cold snap, or heat wave, just weird mix of humid warm air, cool rain, and gray, gray, gray.

Gray, Gray, Gray

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Melons in the Midwest

18 Jul


Dear Emma,

Honeydew melons remind me of you and of childhood. They flash me back to Stringtown Grocery with its gas-lamps and Amish ladies selling peaches, apricots, Muscatine melons and honeydews in bulk. Then rattling home in the “way-back” over country gravel roads, pretending that we were driving the car backwards while dust filtered in through the cracks in the van.

Our friendship, which spans the whole of both of our lives, is so engrained in my own history that I can’t help but be reminded of it all the time. Especially while standing at the grocery mulling over melons.

xoxo, Zoe

I worked briefly at a French restaurant in Milwaukee. During my two-month tenure of 10 shifts a week, I would wake up every morning, fling myself out of bed and immediately fall over. My feet were tingling stumps, an odd combination of numb, swollen and on pins and needles.

The evening kitchen was manned by a chef, a true Frenchman with a growling accent, a cloudy disposition, and an allergy to any politesse. The female servers were salopes and his male kitchen help had an equally endearing nickname (dumbfu*k). Though I made less money, I preferred working lunch shifts because the Frenchman was at home in bed.

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Happy Wedding my friends!

3 Jul


Dear Nina and Becky,

I am supposed to write a blog about making your wedding cake, and somehow it seems like this is a harder task than making the cake itself.

The original theme I settled on for this post was, “Sweet tooth satisfied yet?” as it lent itself naturally to baking metaphors to describe your love ratification. Unfortunately, my first attempt was full of words like, tender, sweet, and moist (as in my eyes were the whole dang weekend…). My sentences came out (dare I say it?) well, gooey.

It is absolutely true. Your ceremony was tenderly sweet. There was not a dry eye in the house, and I know I was not the only one full to the brim with tender, sweet, gooey love while watching you together. xoxo Zoe

I realize now, that the self-doubting tone I took in my previous cake posts here, here, and honestly here too, was not the best way for me to put my friends at ease about their wedding cake. I’m a big baby whiner, but I always had complete faith that the cake would work out in the end.

Yes there were a few surprises along the way. Yes, my super duper awesome baking strips and frosting knife stood me up and decided to party at the post office instead. Yes, I did leave all of my recipes at home. Yes, the pans were 2 inches deep instead of the 1 inch I had prepared for, so all of my recipe calculations were wrong anyway, and also yes, being stubborn and anxious I did overfill the first cake pan (to the brim!), causing a sickly sweet, smokey mess in the oven.

But no matter because Cape Cod is a magical wonderland. It is the kind of place where you can use a stealth canoe to sneak up on your friends and spring upon them with yelps and ukuleles. Continue reading

I have a lot of questions for you, also some excuses, and also I made mayonnaise

26 May

Dear Bec,  Is there such thing as a vintage blog post?  How long would a blog post have to exist on a hard drive before it becomes vintage?  Is two months enough?  Is said blog post vintage if  it has only previously been viewed by a couple of private eyes?  I wrote the following insanity back in March.  March!!  It was sitting pretty, all ready to post every single day of these past two months when everyone was like, “Who’s turn is it to post again?”  And I was quietly filing those emails under “Blog” and thinking, “Tonight!  Tonight!  Post tonight!”  Well, anywhoo.  Things happened!  I quit my job, went to France, and started a new job! 

I was told yesterday, “Excuses make you feel better; reasons make everyone else feel better.”  I’m not sure if these count as reasons or I’m just making excuses.  Either way, let me resolve to reason with myself no more and post the post!  After all, vintage or no, any recipes yielded from wedding cake leftovers should be shared BEFORE the wedding, right?  xoxo, Zoe

Gin & Tonic & Uke "I've been too busy to blog"


PS:  I’ll see y’all in Cape Cod (Piece) later today.  I may have just peed my pants out of excitement.  (How embarrassing!)

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A Crumby Start…

11 Apr

Dear Nina and Becky,

Here is my dark confession.  I guess I’m looking for someone to blame right now.  I feel something happening inside me right now and even if  the rest of humanity does not understand, no one can convince me that I’ve made it up.  Like a monkey who’s bored in the zoo and starts throwing his feces at the voyeurs, I just want to throw my blame somewhere!  WOW.  I’m not sure where that simile came from, but I’m blaming it on my sugar high, and that, my friends, I am blaming on you.  But I loves you both anywayz.  XOXO, Zoe

In order to teach myself to bake a decent cake for the Nina and Bec’s wedding; I’ve been using every excuse in the book to bake a cake.  Roommate/Bestie’s birthday?  Yes, let’s bake a cake.  Rommate’s coworker-who-I’ve-never-met’s birthday?  Yes, let’s bake a cake.  Guy on the street talking to the tree says it’s his birthday?  Well, why not?  Let’s bake a cake!

So the ladies have requested a strawberry cake; something white and fluffy with fresh little tangy berry-jewels dotting the layers.  It’s a beautiful idea, but this party-pooper veto’d it, when she instead imagined a soggy, strawberry-soaked Leaning Tower of Pisa wedding cake.  I suggested that we instead try the beautiful Pink Lady Cake from Smitten Kitchen.

The cake looked so delightfully pink, and with strawberry essence and cream cheese frosting absolutely nothing could go wrong!  Oops.  This wasn’t the biggest cake disaster – (no one complained about having to eat it, except me after my 3rd piece).  Then again, something just didn’t go all the way right.

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Nueva Yorkie, Bunnies and Sugar

3 Mar

Dear Nina and Becky,

You know that I’m excited for your wedding, right?  Like super, “pee-my-pants” kind of excited, where I’m going to be hopping from one foot to the other in anticipation for the next…ooooh, three months.  I’d like to reiterate what I also expressed to you over Skype. Mainly that I am equally “pee-my-pants” terrified for your wedding, because you geniuses asked me to make a wedding cake for you.  Take a look at the photos below, and take this opportunity to second guess yourselves.  Xoxo,  Zoe

Radioactive Rainbow of Sugar

So last weekend I made a last-minute trip to New York.  With four three-day weekends within the span of two months, it was practically a requirement that I get out of town and with my options limited to places with free lodging and Chinatown transport, New York it was.  Plus, there are some real quality people who live there and a shot adrenaline and sometimes good shot of three-day old urine fumes is just what the doctor ordered.  Continue reading

Pie Day, Part 2

24 Feb


When she baked a pie, my mother’s hands were blackbirds;

they flecked butter at heaps of sugared apples.

Her hands were wings around the piecrust’s edge,

and she fluted it until it swooped around

and down. Never worry your crust, she said.

You love crust like a child; roll it

and imagine it pretty and whole.

My grandmother could weigh flour

with her hands and measure vinegar with her eyes.

She rolled her crust with a rolling pin

cut by her father from a single apple limb.

My mother cut out star cookies from what was left.

I think about my mother and her mother

and every mother before they came along

on the days I roll out piecrust with the rolling pin

my grandmother gave to me: the rolling pin

that was part of a tree, swelling apples

from blossoms, apples to swell and dimple

crust.  My God, think of it, all those women

on fine September afternoons like these,

rolling piecrust and not worrying,

seeing things whole.

Katrina Vandenberg, Atlas

Originally uploaded by The People V. Picket Fence

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