Who doesn’t love sweet winter oranges, especially when said oranges are zested and the tequila-sunrise-colored juice is hand-squeezed into a glass measuring cup – a few splashes of orange oil ripple towards the edge like ink dots. Fresh-from-the-farm eggs whipped with sugar become light and airy; flour is added in alternating batches with the juice and batter is ribboned into a loaf pan and baked.
We’re in the throws of winter here in the Midwest – although we managed to dodge big blizzard, ‘Jonas’, of 2016 and for that I am grateful (I mean seriously, 40-inches of snow in 24 hours?!!). However, there is something to be said about being snowbound while the white stuff tumbles furiously from the sky – it can be magical. But when you live in the country like we do, there is always the fear and trepidation of loss of power that usually accompanies said blizzard.
It was nearly 20 years ago when I packed up my house in the Pacific Northwest and moved to the Midwest; I didn’t know anyone here other than a few young adults from my church who were attending the same college I was going to attend. August was also the first time I’d ever heard a cicada – and while I was driving through Iowa I thought to myself, ‘Those are some crazy loud power lines!’ I was such a rookie.
It all started with meatballs and a piece written by an extroverted freelance writer with a desire to gather friends, family and strangers around her table and to share food and build community. ‘Friday Night Meatballs‘ became a movement of sorts and Facebook exploded with people who wanted to create their own Friday Night experiences. We really liked the concept too and while we cannot commit to an ‘every Friday night’ format, but we knew having people over for a meal on a somewhat regular basis was something we wanted to do.
I have dreamed, thought, considered, planned – whatever verb you choose – to bake a Buche de Noel for many, many years; always deciding that baking one would be far too much work, far too complicated and far out of my reach in terms of decorating something that fancy. In other words, fear of failure kept me from attempting something I’d really wanted to do for a very long time. So why in the world would I attempt to make a gluten-free Buche de Noel now? Chalk it up to . . . age.
Can you believe it’s September???? Does this surprise you as much as it does me???? And why am I using multiple question marks???? I have no idea. Other than I’m truly gobsmacked September is here and I’m not ready to let go of summer – can I just get an ‘amen?!’ It’s still hot and humid and because the Winter of 2013-14 was so. very. long., I’ve got a death-grip on summer and will not release her until Mother Nature pries summer from my slightly wrinkled, tightly-clenched fist, one finger at a time. Even then, I predict I’ll drag myself into fall kicking and screaming.
I swear my intentions are good . . . I swear when we made these delicious little blueberry coffee cakes that I had an entire post rolling about in my head; I swear I intended to make enough time to get those thoughts down somewhere so I could write something poetic and wonderful and enlightening and inspiring. But as I sit here today, I got nothin’.
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Musical pairing – “Imagine” by John Lennon
NOTE: I meant to post this last week but in the midst of attending Big Traveling Potluck in Los Angeles, I completely forgot; the cake is still fabulous – I really hope you’ll bake one!
Sometimes one just needs cake or rather one needs to be in the kitchen baking anything – cookies, pie, tarts or in this case, a cake. I know that I’m with the rest of the world when I say last week was an incredibly stressful one.
‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year!’ croons Johnny Mathis on a classic holiday tune now blaring from my speakers. I’ve thought about that line quite a bit these past couple of holiday seasons wondering exactly who is having a good time? No, this isn’t going to be Negative Nellie post but seriously, I know I’m in good company when I say that by the time the calendar says November, it’s a dead run until the end of the year.
For more years than I care to admit, I’ve carried yellowing, smudged, brittle and torn recipe pages up and down the West coast, then to the Midwest – always tucked inside a bulging 3-ring recipe binder that is home to hundreds of other recipes I’ve collected over the years. Like old, worn, favorite toys scattered about in a child’s room, these recipes have been ripped from newspapers and magazines, scribbled on scraps and bits of paper, napkins, the backs of envelopes and, during those times I was organized, real recipe cards. Whenever I’m feeling nostalgic, I plop that 3-ring binder on the dining room table and pour over these old recipes until I find one that fits my mood as well as the occasion.
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Musical pairing – Here We Go Again by Ray Charles with Norah Jones
Guys, I’m going to out myself here and say that I am bone-tired. My brain is fried, my body’s ‘get-up-and-go, got-up-and-went;’ I’m staring at a calendar that says next week is Thanksgiving, four weeks later it’s Christmas, then New Year’s . . . and hello 2013. Hold me, I’m having a Linda Blair moment . . .