Blueberry Picnic Cake

Dear Beloveds, 

I believe in going out to lunch: it’s more casual than dinner, not too long, not too short, and it’s nice
Lunch is always nice
Over lunch is the best way to talk to people. 
And I love talking to people. 
So the locations are always changing, the people are always changing. 
But the interesting thing is that the talk rarely does: It’s always love or god or family or school or work or the future or the past or what-should-I-order. The characters and situations might change, but the bewilderment never really does. 
And I don’t know if this changes with adulthood/time-- but so many people my age talk about loneliness. 
They are lonely on the insides. 
Lonely on the outsides. 
And there are people in your phone but frequently it feels like all the communication done and information garnered via facebook doesn’t translate into the real world.

All so lonely. 

So I don’t know who you are. 

Maybe I don’t even know you. 

But please know this. 

I get lonely. 

Maybe you do too. 

So call someone. 
Or sit in the sun till the ache inside gets a little better. 
Or bake this cake. Just because it is good. 

And know, that somehow, someone, somewhere, is maybe thinking about you. 
And wishing you only the sweet things. 

I’m only wishing you sweet things. 


p.s. I will be traveling for a while with poor internet access and no kitchen. So we'll probably speak again late August. Love love love. 
p.p.s. This is yet another blueberry cake recipe. I'm not sorry. 

Blueberry Picnic Cake

My cousin Claire told me to make this from our family cookbook. She was not kidding when she said it was worth my time. Claire is pretty rad. So is this cake. And with a smudge of ice cream: heaven.  xo

4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups flour 
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup milk 

2 pints fresh blueberries, washed, dried and dusted with 1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar

Grease 13x9x3 inch baking pan. 
In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Gradually add 1/2 cup of the sugar and beat until well-blended. 
In a large bowl, cream butter until fluffy. Add salt and vanilla. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups sugar and beat until blended. 
Add egg yolks and beat until light and creamy. Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour, baking powder and milk. Mix throughly. Fold in the reserved beaten egg whites. 
Gently fold the blueberries into the batter. Spread evenly in prepared ban. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. 
Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan and wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. 

Blueberry Crisp

I read somewhere once, that people only use a tiny fraction of their brains, and that there’s an incredible amount of mental energy that is rarely used, if ever. I found this incredibly depressing. Those strange frontal lobes and upper cortexes of my brain: Unused! Unloved!

I frequently worry that I spend all my time thinking about relatively trivial things: laundry that I never actually do, driving, my obsession with John Aielli who is the DJ for Eklectikos my favorite radio show EVER, clothes, thrifting, college, doughnuts, clothes, stupid things people post on facebook, clothes, liquid eyeliner which I'm afraid to apply because I know I'll make a mess and I hate taking makeup off, clothes and a plethora of of other embarrassingly small thoughts.

But what I am about to tell you is not trivial. In fact, you can think about this all day, every day and even those neglected lower cortexes and upper lobes of your mind will feel loved. Ready for it?

This is a powerful thought:

Blueberry Crisp & Vanilla Ice Cream.

Need I say more?

Despite my love of cake and pie and doughnuts and cookies, there is something completely different about crisps. They are rustic, unpretentious and elegant. Strunk and White would approve.

Crisps fall within the style rules those two grammar fiends set forth: Crisps are not "overstatements" (rule #7.) And they do not "affect a breezy manner" (rule #9), "explain too much" (rule #11) or require "fancy words " (rule #14.)

It's time to stop thinking about trivial things. Feed your mind.


Blueberry Crisp
adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

For Crisp Topping:

6 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats or chopped nuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

6 cups blueberries, tossed with an optional 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and maybe some lemon zest if you're feeling fancy

Preheat oven to 375 F.
Using your fingers or the paddle attachment of a mizer, work the butter with the rest of the ingredients (except blueberries) so that each piece is coated and you have a coarse crumbly mixture. Butter a 2-2 1/2-quart baking dish. Pour in blueberries. Gently cover with the topping. Bake for about 45 minutes. Or until topping is lightly browned and blueberries are luscious and bubbly looking.

Great Grains Muffins

I'm not much of a coffee drinker. The idea of drinking a cup of joe is really only appealing if said cup of joe is injected with a shot of mocha and sprinkled over a cup of whipped cream and caramel sauce. That said, I sometimes wish I had a coffee addiction, it seems so comforting: waking up, bleary eyed, to a steamy hot cup of coffee, like a friend who never changes and is always there for you.

Lately I've turned to tea. Tea is spartan. Tea only withstands a bit of sweetening (sugar) or souring (lemon) or richness (cream) and then you can't add anything else, because then tea wouldn't be tea.

Tea is also far more romantic than coffee. Sure, Voltaire slurped down endless cups of coffee, (He reportedly drank 50 cups a day. Which is what probably made him so anal. Anyone would get tired from having to rush to the restroom every five minutes.) Tea however, conjures images of stuffy victorian ladies swathed in clouds of lace and diamonds, with pinkies out. Tea is the drink of kings.

And you know what goes with tea in the morning?

Petite, wholesome, and oaty blueberry muffins. And an orange. Yes yes.

Great Grains Muffins
from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Makes 12 muffins

Note: These are wholesome muffins. They are not the cakey monstosities that most of us have had to get used to. That said, they are lovely and almost crispy around the edges, very dainty.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 large eggs
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3/4 blueberries, or nuts or dried fruit i.e. plump prunes or whatever else you may fancy

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400 F.
Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin plan on a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, cornmeal, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, maple syrup, eggs and melted butter. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don't worry about being thorough-- if the batter is a bit lumpy, that's fine. Stir in the fruit or nuts, if using them. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thing knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then carefully lift each muffin out of its mold and onto the rack to cool.

Baked Butter-Pecan French Toast with Blueberry Syrup

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who love breakfast.
And those who don't.

I was anti-breakfast for most of my childhood.

Unless it involved doughnuts.

You see, I was an egg-hater for a very, very long time. I just couldn't abide eggs. The way they smelled. Or the way they looked or the way they tasted or that weird silky smooth gross texture. For years, I would not, could not eat eggs.
And then one day, not too long ago I overcame my ovaphobia.
Everyday, for the past week, I have eaten an egg for lunch. (Protein!) So miracles really do happen.
Anyway, my egg loathing often made breakfast a contentious issue.

Once I was reduced to eating spaghetti at a brunch.

Not that my ten year old self minded.
But breakfast is an intensely personal meal.
It has to be just so.

That's why I resisted for so long. When going out for breakfast I was always dissatisfied, the pancakes were never as good as they were at home, the doughnuts never as delicious, the syrup fake, the orange juice from concentrate... I'll stop before you go jump off a very tall building. This is just getting worse and worse:
The troubles of living in a wealthy first-world country! When will the suffering end?
Anyway, the real point of the rambling is that I have Come Around To Breakfast If It Is Done Right.
As part of my, "It's for the blog," experimination tactic, I made my favorite cousin drive me to the grocery store at 10 p.m. the night before just so I could make it.

There are two kinds of people in the world: people who like bread pudding and people who don't.

My family split squarly down the middle when it came to a rating for this Baked Butter-Pecan French Toast and Blueberry Syrup dish . Sure, they all ATE it, but that doesn't neccesaily mean they approved.

My little brother Michael, heartily approved. Michael loves bread pudding. He liked this a lot. He had a second helping. He gives it a **** 1/2 asterick approval rating.

My mom liked it, but ate only one portion, because it was very "filling". I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. She thought it was good, but found the blueberry syrup overwhelming, and preferred it simply with fresh blueberries and syrup. ****

My littler brother, Jacob, after completely finishing his portion, and practically licking his plate, decided that he didn't like it. I honestly don't even pretend to understand the way his mind works sometime **1/2?

My dad ate it, and, like Jacob, told me, after finishing, that he didn't particularily care for it. He told me he didn't like the texture very much. He doesn't like "breakfasty casserole things." He also doesn't like bread pudding. **


I had mixed feelings.

I liked it. And I didn't mind eating it. I really liked the pieces around the edge of the pan, which were crisper and more crackly, it was a party in my mouth. I found the blueberry syrup delicious, but thought that it overwhelmed the delicate flavor of the actual french toast. Like my dad, I thought that it was on the unappealing mushy side. And here's the killer. I didn't think the toast without syrup was very attractive. I like food to be pretty. And it just wasn't. *** 1/2

This is not a ringing endorsement of a recipe. But I'm being honest. It was good, but simply one of those things that you either love or despise, or are like me, simply lukewarm about. Give it a go, comment, reflect, tell me about your morning eating experiences, share, kiss, commend, recommend. I'd love to hear your adventures with French Toast.

Baked Butter-Pecan French Toast with Blueberry Syrup
from Gourmet Today

1 (24-inch-long) baguette
6 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/4 salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup pecans lightly toasted at 350 F for about 5 minutes or until deliciously fragrant

For Syrup
1 cup blueberries
1/2 pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Make the French Toast: Generously butter a 13x9 inch baking dish. Cut twenty 1-inch-thick slices from baguette and arrange in one layer in baking dish.
Whisk toether eggs, milk, 3/4 cup brown sugar, nutmeg and vanilla in a large bowl until well combined and pour evenly over bread. Let bread soak for 10 minutes. Turn slices and cover surface with a large sheet of plastic wrap, leaving a 3-inch overhang on each end of baking dish. If necessary place a smaller dish on top to keep bread submerged. Refrigerate mixture until all liquid is absorbed, at least 8 hours.
Put rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 F.

Combine butter, remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, salt, and cream in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Stir in pecans.
Spoon pecan mixture evenly over bread. Bake until bread is puffed, edges are lightly browned and liquid is absorbed, 40 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile make syrup: Combine blueberries and maple syrup in a small saucepan and cook over moderate heat until berries burst, about 3 minutes. Stir in lemon juice.
Serve toast with syrup.

Consume. Form lengthy, wordy opinion. Post on internet. Realize that you really spend more time than is healthy thinking about breakfast issues. See therapist.