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


Summer Solstice with Sally (and Brunhilde) = Savory Satisfaction

21 Jun

Dear Emma,

Your cherry-rhubarb preserves look incredible – what a perfect favor for your guests!  When Nina and I had our love-ratification party, we gave everyone seed bombs – little packages of three clay-and-dirt balls with seeds inside which you can throw anywhere and flowers will sprout.  Unfortunately, we forgot to explain this to anyone, which is how my poor cousin Suzie ended up trying to eat one!  Yours look much more self-explanatory.  Looking forward to hearing all about your adventures in party planning.

Love and luck!


About one week from today last year, and the year before that, and the one before it, I get a horrible sinking feeling in my stomach that summer is passing and I haven’t been paying enough attention.

For today is that dependable day when the sun seems like it might spend the night. It’s still bright at 8:00 and by 9:00 twilight is still lingering and all the little children are giving their parents a hard time because the sun is still up and the big children are still outside yelling and running around and why can’t I?

Today is the summer solstice.

And so, in the desperation to cling to summer like there is no summer tomorrow, Nina and I sacrificed most of a perfectly good work day to create the ultimate homage to the longest day of the year: BBQ.

And not just BBQ…

also strawberry shortcake!

Continue reading

(Secret) Recipe for Summer Perfection

12 Jun

Dear Bec and Nina,

Summertime is all about perfection.  And from what I saw of your wedding weekend, it fit the bill!  I am so happy for you…as happy as I was one recent sunny Saturday making jam.  And so, I dedicate this post to you: to love, to happiness…to summer perfection!

Love, Emma

When it comes to cooking in the summer, I like to stick to cold salads and other meals that involve minimal cooking heat.  But I regularly make one exception to my hot-weather cooking habits; when it’s time to preserve the summer’s harvest I set no limit to the number of giant pots I might simultaneously set to simmer on the stove top.  To keep things cool in the kitchen I like a cool breeze and an icy cold drink.  This careful ratio of hot water baths to cool relaxation is often elusive.  But one recent Saturday in May, I reached the optimum summer-time happiness ratio: jam-making, fresh apple cider donuts, cold-brewed iced coffee, and a beautiful summer day.

Summer Happiness in a Jar

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!)

Continue reading

Sour Jerks and the Women Who Love Them.

24 May

Dear Bec & Nina,

I’m writing this from my stuffy Chicago apartment just a day away from departing for your love ratification festival of joy (aka wedding). This meal is a lil’ mixture of your old Caribbean hood in Brooklyn and the Eastern European vinegariness of Chicago. Hope you all enjoy it. I’ll do a repeat of whatever you would like to sample when I see you on Friday! 

Love you, Margie

The slow arrival of summer in Chicago is always a relief. Not because of the end of the bitter winds, drifting snow, and constant gray sludge attached to the bottom of my jeans, but because I can finally accept that my neighbors were not eaten my zombies. Snowmagedden, what we fondly call the blizzard of 2011, made my back deck a wasteland of snowdrifts and rotting lawn furniture. After a few months of teasingly warm temps and nights in the 40s, we’ve reached a plateau and I’m finally beginning to see life in the neighborhood again. Back doors have slammed open and my neighbors have appeared again, alive, and ready to grill.

Cooks should ensure that there’s room in the fridge for a couple of loiterers as these babies will need 24 hours chillin for maximum flavor.  

People of all genders can love the Jerk.

Jerk chicken is one of the easiest, most flavorful dishes to grill. Some folks turn to spice rubs and bottles o’ jerk but the results are just not the same!  Continue reading

Fish Heads, Fish Heads!

18 May

Dear Zoe, 

While you’re off in the seat of government perfecting strawberry cake, I’ve been at an only sort-of-grown-up version of summer camp, but with beer–finishing my big epic poem about drag queens, oceans and paradise, and being only occasionally helpful to Beck in planning this wedding. Wish you were here bigtime, and soon you will be. When you gals arrive there’s going to be some kind of explosion of birdsong and endorphins raining from the sky. Looking forward to it.


So the poets and wedding planners alike have been quitting work around eight pm and making dinner together, and being that we’re in cape cod, that the pond right outside is stocked with bass and trout, and that both Chris and I have this sort of weird kill and eat drive that makes me look askance at the little grey squirrels, fish is on the menu as often as possible. Chris, who is a poet/fiction writer/ computer whisperer/ google-obsessed info-gatherer, has memorized the best spots in the pond for depth and therefore larger fish, has perfected his night-crawler gathering and identified the ideal size of worm, has been manfully heaving the boat into the pond every evening and rowing out, and has therefore caught several fish, four of them edibly sized and all of them delicious, golden scaled bass (and a few little pumpkin seed). I, being flakey and sometimes lucky, caught a monster two-foot trout from the shore on day one and haven’t caught anything since, because I can’t be bothered to change my lure or my line length (sometimes this is a problem in poetry too — how many tens of pages of four-foot rhyming stanzas of flashy compound adjectives can the average reader really take?).

So! This is a post about self-caught fish. Continue reading

Eggs-treme Cooking Part II: Homemade Ravioli

13 May

Dear Girls,

Now that you’ve finally recovered from the cliff-hanger at the end of my last post, I give you the conclusion of the egg saga.  Don’t worry, there’s a happy ending!


See...happy ending!

Ah, the dark side.  Just like in Star Wars, everything that is good in the world has an opposing evil force.  In this case, the incestuous tale of murder and revenge is told by the egg.  Egg whites are pure and good, while the yolk holds dark secrets and lurks in alleyways.  While I’ve always suspected this (the force is strong in me), I never knew the extent of the yolk’s evil until recently, when I found myself with a surplus of 12 yolks after making an angel food cake (See Part I).  In search of something creative to do with my seemingly innocent yolks, I went to google.  What I found was shocking; the discussion board conversations on uses for egg yolks went something like this:

“Oh, I just love eating plain scrambled egg whites in the morning!  But what to do with the yolks?  I like to make desserts that are high in cholesterol, then give them away to people who’s health I care about less than my own.  Any new ideas to add novelty to my egg-separation routine?”

Responses invariably include recipes for custards, brulees, and hollandaise sauce.  But in between is something far more insidious.  Something along the lines of:  “Why don’t you just eat them, you snobby ignorant flavorphile!”  Continue reading