hall of fame

Carrot Cake

Dear One, 

I haven’t been sleeping very well for the past few days. 
I’m anxious about what’s going to happen. 
Whatever it is that's coming next. 
The unexpectedness of life is overwhelming. 
Helen Mirren told Esquire Magazine that “The hardest period in life is one’s twenties. It’s a shame because you’re your most gorgeous, and you’re physically in peak condition. But it’s actually when you’re most insecure and full of self-doubt. When you don’t know what’s going to happen, it’s frightening.”

So I don’t know what’s going to happen. 
And it’s got me a little frightened. 
But it’s ok. 

It’s really ok. 

I keep thinking about the past couple of years. 
And all these strangers who have become friends. 
And then I think about all the strangers I don’t know yet, who will someday be beloved. 
And all the things that have happened I could never have predicted. 
It’s overwhelming. 

But it’s been ok. 
Magical, even. 

For instance. 

This blog is five years old.
Five. Years. Old. 
And I only just realized. 
I never dreamed that it would last this long.
So I baked to carrot cake to celebrate. 

And on another note-- how the fuck did carrot cake happen? 
I mean, who decided to put carrots in a cake?
What a perfect example of something so surprisingly and unexpectedly dreamy. 

So for all the unanticipated collisions of wonder and pain and delight I have yet to have, for all the future stranger/friends I have yet to meet, for all the cakes I’ve yet to bake. 

I can’t wait. 
I really can’t wait. 


Carrot Cake
from Stir-Ups
This is actually an heirloom recipe from an Oklahoman cookbook called Stir-Ups. From the 60's maybe? I don't know. It's really, truly grand and very, very simple.  And very, very worth your time. 

For Cake:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup canola oil
3 cups shredded carrot
1 teaspoon vanilla

For Icing:
1 stick butter
8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 box powdered sugar*
best quality maple syrup, to taste

Combine flour, sugar, soda, cinnamon, salt and oil. Beat in carrots and vanilla. Beat in eggs. Pour into two greatsed 9" cake pans, or a 9x13 inch loaf pan. Bake 9" ones at 350F for 30 minutes. Bake 1 hour when using loaf pan. Cool completely.
Icing: Cream butter with cream cheese. Add sugar, vanilla and several tablespoons maple syrup to taste. Beat until well blended. Slather cake. Eat. Immediately.

Chocolate Chip Cookies & Valentines Day

February, man. 

It's a rough month. 

School is hard. The weather is fickle. Life is tricky. And there's Valentines Day. 

Lately, I've been asking the cosmos to just throw me a bone. 
This past week I fell over twice because my backpack was so heavy, which simultaneously made me want to laugh and cry. 
I chose to laugh, but really wished that someone would just give me a hug instead. 

Also, Valentines Day is this week. 

There are about 2 things in the world that I hate. 
I hate papayas.
And I hate Valentines Day, even though it means lots of marked down chocolate on february 15th. 
Which is definitely a win for the stress-eating singles of the world. 


Tonight, I made these cookies. 
This is the third time I've published this recipe here, and ironically, the last time I posted it was exactly around this time last year. These cookies somehow answer all my comfort food cravings and February sweetness needs. 

I hope you have a lovely week, and I hope your backpacks are a little lighter, and I really hope you make these cookies, because February man, it's a rough month. 


Perfection In Your Mouth Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips or 2 cups store-bought chips or chunks
1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Whisk together flour, salt and baking soda.
Working with a stand mixer w/paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for about 1 minute until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until well blended. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Reduce mixer speed to low and add dry ingredients in 3 portions, mixing only until each addition is incorporated. On low speed mix in chocolate and nuts.
Spoon on tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between spoonfuls.
Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, for 10 to 12 minutes. Until light brown on edges and golden in center.
Allow cookies to rest for one minute. Then using spatula transfer to cooling rack.

Cherry Slab Pie

Meeting new people is hard. 

What do you talk about?

I usually start off with fashion related preliminaries: "I love your scarf." Or "sweet shoes." 
Then I don't know what to say. Sometimes we talk weather: "Gosh it's hot." 
Sometimes we figure out who our mutual friends are: "Wow we know the same people." 

And then I panic. What to say? What to say?

Depending on how poorly things are going, I inevitably ask: "Soooooo, what's your spirit animal?" 

This is may be the only thing I learned freshman year of college. 

For the clueless, your spirit or power animal is, according to Wikipedia representative of: "a person's connection to all life, their qualities of character and their power." It's tied up in Shamanism and totems and spirituality and all kinds of other stuff. The animal represents you and can be a symbol of your personal strength or guidance. 

Or something like that. 

People were into it. I've met cats, rabbits, lambs, mountain goats, wolves, butterflies, rabbits, birds of all kinds, dolphins, deer, pandas, monkeys... you get it. 

For a while I was a hummingbird: 
I think now I'm just a wren: 

But the thing is, only about 4% of the population REALLY likes talking about their spirit animal.

I think I'm going to start asking people about their spirit dessert. Because darling, I've found mine: 

I can envision this conversation at future parties: 
Me: (At a loss for what to say next) So. Umm. What's your spirit dessert?"
Other Person: (Begins backing away slowly) What?
Me: Oh, y'know! That dessert you have this really deep connection with, one that sort of describes your personality, that's a source of power and strength for you! Mine is Cherry Slab Pie! It's like a regular pie, except that it's flat and has like, DOUBLE THE CRUST, and there's this sweet/tart cherry filling and a drizzle of icing on top! And it's just, like, HEAVEN!
I'm telling you, I AM HEAVENLY! 

I'm going to make so many new friends. 

But really beauties, this pie. It is something else. Please make it. Enjoy it. Think of me. Because when I say it's my spirit dessert, I am so not kidding. 


Cherry Slab Pie
via SmittenKitchen.com who adapted it from Martha Stewart

1 recipe Best Pie Crust (recipe below) 

6 cups cherries, pitted (I used regular cherries, however, if using sour cherries, adjust sugar accordingly)
3/4 sugar*
1/4 cup cornstarch
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch or two of salt
2 tablespoons heavy cream or one egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk or water 
or 1 tablespoon water plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice (I did this to make the glaze more interesting)

Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, combine cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt. Stir to combine; set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger piece of dough into an 18-by-12-inch rectangle. Do your best to work quickly, keeping the dough as cold as possible (and tossing it in the freezer for a couple minutes if it softens too quickly; it is summer afterall) and using enough flour that it doesn’t stick to the counter. 
Transfer to a 15-by-10-by-1-inch rimmed baking sheet, (pastry will hang over sides of pan).  Pour cherry mixture into lined baking sheet; set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out remaining piece of dough into a 16-by-11-inch rectangle. Drape over filling. Bring bottom pastry up and over top pastry. Pinch edges to seal. Using a fork, prick top crust all over. Brush with heavy cream or egg wash.
Bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 40 to 55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack until just warm to the touch, about 45 minutes.
In a medium bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk, water or lemon juice (or combination thereof) until desired glaze consistency is achieved. Use a spoon to drizzle over top. Serve warm or room temperature. Or cold. It's really good cold. 

Best Pie Crust 
from BAKED by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito 

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
3 cups flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
In a food processor whirl together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut the VERY COLD BUTTER into small pieces and blend until the mixture forms into pea-sized chunks. Dribble in water and whirl until dough just comes together.
Take dough out of processor and knead until dough comes together. Divide into two, wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer for one hour before using.


Beans and Rice

In the end, I always return to beans and rice. 
There is no food in the fridge. 
Except beans and rice. 
I don’t know what to eat. 
Eat Beans and rice. 
I am too tired to think. 
Beans and rice. 

I have eaten lots of beans and rice lately. I eat them in tacos, I eat them with omelets, I eat them in fat bowls filled with lettuce and homemade salsa and rich avocado and a grind of pepper. Beans and rice bring me home. Beans and rice are home. 
I keep trying to bring myself home. Home to myself. I tell me the stories I’ve accumulated over the past year, the stories of  where I’ve been and what I’ve done and how I felt. And people have told me so many stories.  I’ve told these stories to myself, and to so many others. I have told these stories too many times, until now, I almost feel like the meaning that they originally had for me has perhaps begun to fade. 

This summer has been so strange. 
I have had the blues. Too much feeling. Too much thinking. 

I am lucky in my friends, lucky in my family, but there are some times and some days where growing up feels so impossibly difficult. 
Right now it is raining, a dreary, humid summer rain, and I can hear the dripping though my window, over the hum of the air conditioner. 
I eat beans and rice. 

I’ve spent this summer writing endless letters I don’t send, to myself and to the people I love. My friend once told me that the “only letters she had ever sent were love letters” and I think that is just excruciatingly beautiful. 
Because it is true. 
Every letter I have ever written has been a love letter. 
So this is a love letter to beans and rice. 
This is a love letter to growing up.
This is a love letter to summer, no matter how strange, no matter how blue. 
This is a love letter to myself, a fierce reminder that I will always be worthy of love letters, even if I have to send them to myself. 
This is a love letter to my mother, who listens, who made the beans and rice. 
This is a love letter to the people I work with at the restaurant, from whom I am learning so much. 
This is a love letter to the beautiful friends I have, to the friends I have yet to make, to the friends who have disappointed me, whom I will love anyways. 
This is a love letter to the kind strangers. 
This is a love letter to all the stories I've been told. 
This is a love letter to real talk. 
To air conditioning. 
To the internet.  
To walking. 
To Joni Mitchell. 
To shopping. 
To the future. 
To coffee. 
To sleeping. 
To hope. 
To writing. 
To the radio. 
To summer rain. 

But mostly, it’s a love letter to beans and rice.