Category Archives: let’s eat

breakfast shortcake

It was SO cold and gross on Sunday. We woke up in the morning, and all I wanted to do was stay inside and bake. M went to the grocery store to pick up a few things, and I spent the next hour making a couple of batches of blueberry scones. Later that afternoon I headed out to an afternoon meeting / work session, and after that was through, I picked up groceries for the week. Again, I felt like baking. But mostly I felt myself longing for spring / early summer. Consistent warmth. More sunshine.

I remembered seeing a reference to strawberry shortcake on Design*Sponge on Friday. I looked up the article and decided that sounded perfect. I had almost everything I needed, I just picked up a lemon and some heavy cream and berries of course – no farmer’s market beauties yet, but I was okay with making do with grocery berries.

The recipe is simple and delicious. Not overly sweet – the most sugar is on the berries, and once local berries are in season, you could probably cut that in half or more. M’s mom is here, so we ate five of the nine cakes, and I decided this morning that I wasn’t going to let them go bad on the counter. So I had one for breakfast. The sun came out. It’s supposed to pass sixty today. Maybe my plan is working…

dinner, in a roundabout way

We have four dozen hard boiled naturally dyed eggs in our refrigerator.

After cleaning out the refrigerator before we left town, we were down to just a smattering of condiments and pickled things in the door, some hard cheeses in the drawer, three unopened bottles of club soda that I overbought for a reception punch, and a jelly or two. The pantry wasn’t much better.

Instead of sitting down on Saturday and making a list of foods we needed for eating, I looked up natural egg dyes and made a really bizarre grocery list instead:

6 red onions
Small head of cabbage
6 yellow onions
1 fennel bulb
1 bunch of carrots
6 yellow apples
6 oranges

I had paprika, tumeric, dill seed, green tea, and frozen blueberries at home. I also got a gallon of milk, good tomato soup, and a loaf of sandwich bread.

Those were what I used for the dyes. Except the milk and bread and soup. Those were for lunch.

I got up and went to yoga, and then it was nice to spend the day in the kitchen after being in restaurants all week. I made the dyes, and boiled the eggs, and set everything up slowly on the table. I left for an afternoon run, and when I returned, the girls were home and already at work. They didn’t seem to mind the weird colors – I think it sort of intrigued them. The results were pretty, and the dishtowels are now stained pink and yellow and purple, but that’s okay.

On Sunday afternoon, I sat down to map out meals for the start of the week. They have a common theme. You’ll never guess.

I’ve also pickled onions, but I have no idea what to do with the rest of them. We’ve eaten the carrots and the fennel and I made a salad with the peeled oranges and apples that we’re still munching on. The rest of the cabbage is about to make a slaw. It’s kind of fun to take a different jumping off point for food. We’ll see how novel the eggs are in a few more days. The toasts tonight were divine, and just how I wanted Monday to end.

baking notes

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Do you watch The Great British Baking Show on PBS? Several people recommended it to us during the last season, and we watched a few of those episodes. Quite by accident, we realized that Season 3 was up and running here in the US, and now we are recording the episodes to watch as a family. We typically have one show that we record and watch together – it’s usually This Old House episodes, or Amazing Race (with E, not F). GBBS is a really fun one to watch together. The girls are really into the technical aspects of the baking challenges, and we also appreciate that the tone of the show is really humorous and kind. There’s no backstabbing or vengeful plots. The tension comes from the very real stress that baking under pressure can produce on anyone, even a seasoned pro. It’s funny how invested we can get into a pie or cake even though its success is not a matter of life and death.

We’ve watched the first episode together, and after the final baking challenge (rifts on a Black Forest Cake), I made a Sweet Cherry Streusel Pie from the Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book. This was my second pie-try from this cookbook that I purchased in NYC this past March. The first pie was a rhubarb custard pie that did not set correctly the first day I made it, but after spending the night in the refrigerator, was delicious (though not so attractive). I actually decided to make two cherry pies, and would have made more if they didn’t take so much time!

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My first complaint about the book is the lack of weights for ingredients – particularly with fruit that isn’t sold by the cup but by the pound. I ended up overbuying cherries to the tune of three times as many as I needed. It’s hard for me to eyeball ten cups of cherries. So I bought thirty. I’m eating some now as I write this.

My second complaint is that I’m finding that the cooking times / temps tend to be a little on the high side. I’ve yet to master the perfect crust, not too dark or overbaked. But this was partly my problem too, because I tried to bake two pies at once, which did alter the overall baking time. I know better than this, but forged ahead anyway.

On the GBBS, one of the contestants added cardamom to the cherries in the Black Forest Cake, and one of the judges leaned over the counter to say “Be careful with the quantity – too much can make the finished product taste medicinal.” The girls walked into a kitchen filled with amazing cherry pie smells a few hours later, sniffing the air and complementing the process. I announced that there was cardamom in the pie, and the little one told me to “watch my quantities” and reiterated the medicinal threat, thereby securing her future access to all GBBS episodes whenever she wants to watch them. Even past her bedtime.

If you like the show, then you simply must read these recaps by Allison Robicelli on Food 52. They are hysterical. Don’t read them over lunch at work in your super quiet office.

I’m also completely in love with the drawings that illustrate the contestants’ baking plans for each challenge.

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Here’s an article on the artist for these drawings. I would like to know how to go about getting this job on future seasons. I’m not joking.

One more baking note for the day – I’m taking full advantage of grownup camp to hit up some local bakeries that I don’t make it to on a typical morning. Pint Size Bakery’s new location is delightful, and you simply must get there this week to pick up a Strawberry Rhubarb Brown Butter Crumb Cake. It makes an excellent accompaniment to this week’s GBBS episode – because trust me – you are going to get hungry!

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