Monday, June 24, 2013

it happened last night + zucchini olive oil cake

it was late. i was still up, sitting, doing what i usually do. feeling bored and sick of myself.
suddenly. large pounding sounds came from the back.

was that an earthquake? no.
was it rosie o'donnell coming after me with a cheeseburger? no.

holy fuck. i'm not kidding. it's a dinosaur.
it's going to make it's way out here.
i saw it's face. it looks big and wrinkly and like it could bite my face off in one swift chomp.
it's there. what the fuck do i do? do i play dead like you're supposed to with sharks?

it moved toward me. shit. balls. could i train it to be my dinosaur pet? crap. it's going to eat me. it smells bad.

i laid still. i thought about how i was going to die. jeff goldblum flashed through my mind.
i thought of my parents.

my mom is upstairs watching the bachelor. i wonder if it will go upstairs.
what if the dinosaur killed based on a person's television selections? shit...he'll definitely get her.

this is it.
calm down.
whatever will be will be.
i'll definitely be on the national news.

it's tail bashed over the flowers in the ugly vase and it stopped.
it looked at me. and holy hell, opened it's mouth.

"you need to knock it off. really."

"...what?" (ohmygodohmygod what is happening.)

"i'm sure it must get  a little complicated with your things like wearing shoes and text etiquette, but you fucking're being dumb. it's your turn right now and you're doing it all wrong. leave it to your futuristic brains to overcomplicate a simple thing, the simplest thing. Everyone ever, we're all essentially waiting to die. you need to pluck yourself off that comfy couch and stop thinking about everything so hard. what is the point of feeling stuck? what is the point of feeling unbearably nervous? fine, i know you can't help it at times, i hate public speaking too. but really, enjoy stuff. don't just act like you enjoy stuff while you suppress the other stresses in your brain, only to return to them later. stop it. seriously. feel good. appreciate things that make you feel good. appreciate your thumbs. go see machu picchu, because that shit is reeeediculous. be impulsive, dammit. because why the shit not? you're gonna die in a little, remember?
and don't come at me with those afterlife and reincarnation theories. shut up. you don't really know. Now is the time.

alright. that's it. so, julia. what are you going to make it?"

i realized i was holding my breath.
it stretched up tall. it's nostrils flared as it caught a scent that made it's dino knees buckle. it pivoted and b-lined it to the kitchen.
it put the whole zucchini bundt i had just made into its mouth, then grabbed the tv off the wall and slung it under it's arm thing.
"hm, good. was that lemon? i'm taking this, you don't need it. Bye."

and it let himself out the side door.

Zucchini Olive Oil Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze
adapted from Gina DePalma's Dolce Italiano via Lottie and Doof

notes on this cake: it's goood. i've had this stashed on my to-make list for what feels like forever.
 it's a lovely balance of summer freshness and spicy comfort. 
the crumb is perfectly moist and the top part coated with the tart glaze is the best part, naturally. 

1 cup pecan pieces
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 small-medium zucchini)

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup confectioners' sugar

preheat the oven to 350 degreesF. grease a 10 inch bundt pan or 2 loaf pans and dust them with flour. 
place pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them until they are aromatic, 8-12 minutes. cool completely and then finely chop. 
sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices into a medium bowl and set aside. in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and olive oil together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. then beat in the vanilla extract. scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. beat in the dry ingredients all at once on low speed until they are thoroughly combined. then switch to medium speed and mix for 30 seconds. mix in the zucchini and pecans on low speed until incorporated. 
pour the batter into prepared pans, smoothing the top with a spatula. bake the cake(s) for 40-50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean and the cake has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan. 
while the cake is finishing baking, prepare the glaze. in a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and sugar, then whisk in the confectioners' sugar until the glaze is smooth. 

allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. then carefully invert onto a wire rack. using a pastry brush, immediately brush the glaze over the entire surface of the warm cake, using all of the glaze; it will adhere to the cake and set as the cake cools. allow the cake to cool completely and the glaze to dry. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

mules in the sunset

i haven't seen many sunsets as of late.
so this one felt extra good.

for the last year, when monday came around and bars were empty, when everyone was moping and complaining with monday blues, i was the happy one.

and now the time has come, it feels uncomfortable and exciting..things are about to change. this was one of my last monday 'saturday nights'. i think i will miss them in the most nostalgiac way.

there were three wee pears left in the fridge. too mushy to eat, too sad to let die.
let us juice them! for boozy juice. what a smart brain
boozy juice for this sunset.

i've hopped on the moscow mule train. just don't ask me where i got the cups.
ginger beer + vodka + pear juice + mint leaves. equals getting fancy in your face.

food. we need food.
pretty red salmon, rubbed down with some brown sugar and chili powder. and a miso sugar snap pea salad that might knock your head off.

this salad is for now. sweet snap peas, radishes sliced thin, napa cabbage, and a miso sesame gingery dressing that is. just. awesome.

switch to wine, go back for seconds, forget about taking pictures of everything, and appreciate monday. it might as well be saturday.

Sugar Snap Salad with Miso Dressing

1/2 lb sugar snap peas
1/2 lb napa cabbage, in thin ribbons (about 3 cups)
4 ounces radishes (4 medium-large), julienned or thinly sliced
3 large scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on bias
3 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

sesame miso dressing:
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp milk yellow or white miso, plus up to 1 more tbsp to taste
2 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp toasted sesame seed oil
2 tbsp olive oil

blanch sugar snap peas. bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and prepare a small ice-water bath. boil the sugar snaps for about 2 minutes until just barely cooked but still crisp. scoop them out with a large slotted spoon, and drop them in the ice water bath. once they're cool, drain and pat dry. trim ends and cut sugar snaps on bias into thin slices. toss in large bowl with cabbage, radishes, scallions, and 1 tbsp sesame seeds. 
make the dressing: whirl all ingredients, using the smaller amount of miso to start out, in a blender until smooth. taste and adjust ingredients - use the extra tbsp miso if desired. 
toss the salad with half the dressing, and taste. use more dressing if you like (you do). sprinkle with remaining sesame seeds. feast. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

little cherry cakes

it's by time i got summery up in hither.
how into cherries are you right now?
i keep eating them and not stopping until i've put my stomach in a funk.

cherries are cuties. i wanted to bake something that would show off their cuteness.

try to buy the prettiest glossy cherries you can find. look for ones with green stems, those are the ones that were picked the most recently.
and! keep the pits in there. the pits of stone fruits have little almond flavored kernels inside. when baked, the almond aroma and flavor releases into the fruit.

HENCE why almond goes so well with cherries and plums and peaches. nature is so smart.

 Little Cherry Cakes
adapted from bon appetit june 2013

notes: this is a super quick and straightforward recipe. the original recipe was written as little apricot cakes, feel free to plunge whatever summer fruits you have into the batter. it'll be delicious and dainty no matter what. 

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest (or orange or lime! get funky)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
a couple dozen cherries
raw sugar

preheat oven to 350. coat mini muffin tins with nonstick spray. 
whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. 
using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. add the egg, zest, and extracts and beat until combined. with the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions alternating with the milk in 2 additions, ending with the dry. divide batter in muffin tins, i used a tablespoon scoop and filled them with scant tbsps. then dropped a cherry in each one and sprinkled with raw sugar. bake until cakes are golden, about 15 minutes. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

magical tree weekend. wedding. love. cake.

sometimes all you need is an escape, preferably in the trees. a weekend to drop off the map completely.

weddings are the best. it's a known fact.
but weddings with your second family, deep in the redwoods, with no sign of internet or cell service...the best best.

our little cabin studio was the cutest, complete with baby loft and 3 skylights. anyone would be happy waking up here.
i think fairies live here, non?

the mornings were early and lazy. teacups of coffee, 20 refills.
Sitah made beautiful breakfasts each morning. every one was memorable.

on the first morning, it was fried eggs over grits with roasted green chiles and bacon. we passed warm cinnamon bread and she squeezed us orange juice.

on the wedding morning, we woke to pancakes with lemon, ginger, and cognac, dotted with blueberries. and little sausages. we passed pitchers of maple syrup and melted butter.

a pitcher of melted butter.
i think sitah might be my soulmate. i'd be down for adoption. so i can live here.

rehearsal dinner night. complete with mexican food truck. and embarrassing myself playing corn hole. and wine. and churros.

and then it was saturday. time to throw a wedding together. time to take a deep breath and stack some cakes in a mini fridge. to suck in the forest air, and smack the bugs away.
get away from me mosquitos! you will not ruin this for me, for everyone.
time to marry some loverbirds.

jill and zach. you guys.
you are so very special to me.
and genuine joy can be a hard thing to come by. but you have most definitely found it in each other, and it's super awesome to witness. thank you for giving everyone such a special weekend.
i'm sorry i drunkenly vandalized your guestbook.