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Midnight Cheese


There's a line from the Joni Mitchell song "My Old Man" that I love, it goes "The bed is too big, the frying pan is too wide."


Baby, that's where I'm at.
Lately, when I can't sleep, I roll out of bed and stand in cold light of the refrigerator and eat hummus and chocolate and cheese in an attempt to fill up the night and the hollow spaces inside me.
Because at night, I easily get lost in the past and overwhelmed by the future, and food is so tactile and so real that something as simple as a snack brings me back to the present, which is also intimidating, but better, because there is chocolate to be had in the present. 
And chocolate is comforting. 
The famous food writer Ruth Reichl wrote a beautiful memoir called Comfort Me With Apples, which is a mostly perfect title, but if I were to write that food memoir right now it would be called Comfort Me With Chocolate. Or, Comfort Me With Cheese


Baby, if we're being totally honest, I just can't bring myself to really cook meals these days. 
The frying pan is too wide. 
So mostly I am eating eggs, hummus, beans out of a can and apples and coffee and beer. 
Which is simple and small and just fine. 


But this is really to say, I think about you all the time and I have a lot to say, I'm just figuring out how to say it right. 
I don't know. 
I'll bake you a cake soon and we can talk about that. 
But right now my frying pan is too wide, and I really just want to eat two kinds of cheese until I'm full enough and then go laugh and drink beer with my people. 
Because right now that feels nice and sweet and good. 

So. 
Cake soon. 
Meals again soon. 
But for now. 
I love you I love you I love you. 

xoxo
mary 



Excellent Midnight Cheeses:
Tillamook Sharp Cheddar: http://www.tillamook.com/
Cabot: http://www.cabotcheese.coop/
Barber's 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar: http://www.barbers1833.co.uk/



The Best Breakfast Taco in Austin, Texas.


I ask people questions. 
It's like a bad party trick. 





I ask people questions like:

Do you believe in God?
And how do you pray?
And what does it feel like to be young?
And have you been in love?
And what does that feel like?
And how many people have you kissed?
And where do you find the best breakfast taco in Austin?

Because I have wanted to know the answers.


I wanted someone to explain God to me.

And I wanted to be shown how to pray because praying confuses me. 
And I wanted to know what people thought youth was, so that I would understand my own lack of comprehension. 
And I wanted to know love like it was a fact.
And I wanted to know how many people you kissed because it's a fun question to ask.
And I wanted to know where to find the best breakfast taco because really that's the most important question of all.



I don't feel like asking these questions so much right now. 

Because here is the thing.
I have been learning how to love the question itself.
Because these are blessed unknowns: God and prayer and youth and inexperience and love, it is all just a perpetual question mark.
There is no definite answer.
No finite conclusion to come to.
Maybe time is the only real answer.
I don't know.

That said.
There is one conclusion that I have come to.
One unalterable, finite, perfect truth: Austin, Texas is the best place in the world to eat a breakfast taco.
Without doubt.
Without question.
Below are some of my favorite tacos in this gorgeous city. 
When it comes to this, there are no question marks.
Only full stops.

All my love,

m


Tamale House
5003 Airport Blvd
Austin, TX 78751
Phone number(512) 453-9842


Tacodeli 
4200 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78756
Phone number(512) 419-1900

Bouldin Creek Coffee House & Cafe


1900 S 1st St
Austin, TX 78704
Phone number(512) 416-1601


Counter Cafe

626 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78703
Phone number(512) 708-8800

Maria's Taco Xpress
2529 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
Phone number(512) 444-0261

Papalote Taco House
2803 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
Phone number(512) 804-2474


Torchy's Tacos
1311 S 1st St
Austin, TX 78704
Phone number(512) 366-0537

Dan's Hamburgers



5602 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78751
Phone number(512) 459-3239

Caesar Salad


When I was 16 years old, I saw the movie An Education, and it changed my life. I over-identified with the heroine, played by Carey Mulligan, to the point that it almost scared me. Because the character had this longing to really LIVE in the world. And in all of my adolescent angst I completely understood. 



In the very last scene of the film, she’s riding a bicycle through the streets of Paris. And she’s happy. She’s not longing to live her life, not wishing things were otherwise, but actually present in the moment, actually living.



I have been riding my bike a lot lately. With friends and alone. 
And there have been moments, silent, except for the sound of peddling and my own breath-- when I’ve sped under orange street lights late in summer night-- and I have thought to myself-- appreciate this. Because in those rare fractions of seconds-- 
I was so present that I didn't want to be Carey Mulligan. 
I didn't want anyone's life but mine. 

I wonder if everything can be this way. That the life you dream about can be yours always. That everything, from the clothes you wear to the food you eat, if it can all be of a piece. 
That all the tiny things can add up to a beautiful life, a present so wonderful that sometimes you can only recognize how fucking glorious it is in retrospect. 

I think so. 
I hope so. 



So I am quietly building a life. Or trying to.
I’m eating caesar salads with homemade dressing and attempting to delight in bike rides, lunches, conversations, swimming pools, coffee shops and dancing in the grocery store. 
Because right now, I am so young, and so much feels so possible. 





I think so. 
I hope so. 

XOXO

m

Caesar Salad Dressing 
from foodnetwork.com

Note: The recipe asks for six cloves of garlic. Which seemed just illogical to me. So I used four. Do as you like. And of course, I am a big proponent of anchovies. They really make it that much better. Also, this recipe is unusual in that it doesn't call for a raw egg, which is typical of many dressings.  

6 cloves garlic, minced 
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 cup olive oil 
salt
pepper
lemon juice 
minced anchovy fillets (optional) 

2-3 heads Romaine lettuce
Parmesan cheese

Combine garlic, mustard, vinegar and two pinches of salt in a blender and mix thoroughly. Add mayonnaise and blend together to form a thick base. In a slow stream add olive oil through hole in lid. Scrape dressing with spatula into a bowl and season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice. If desired, add anchovy to dressing to create a deeper, saltier taste.

Wash and dry lettuce. Chop leaves if desired. Combine dressing with lettuce and toss gently. Top with parmesan. Salt and pepper again as desired. 


German Chocolate Cake



There was a pair of artists. They were called Christo and Jeanne Claude.

They were known for making tremendous art installations all over the world.
They swathed an entire island in pink fabric.
For several weeks they transformed Central Park into a series of fluttering saffron colored gates.
They wrapped the Reichstag, the German Parliment, in aluminum fabric.
This is all very impressive.
But even more interesting to me, is that the first time they kissed, the kiss was so passionate that Christo chipped a tooth.


Chipped a tooth. 

This is so hard for me to comprehend or even understand.

Tooth chipping passion.
They were hungry for each other. 


I've been thinking a lot about the idea of being a hungry person. 
Hungry for love. 
Hungry for touch. 
Hungry to be noticed. 
Hungry to dance. 

Hungry for cake. 


Because life is so short. 

It is so 

heartbreakingly 

short. 


I mean, the other day my brother told me that if every human life span is about 50 years, then basically all of recorded human history would fit into 100 lifetimes. 


I mean. 
What. 

So I want to have my cake and eat it too, and I just want to be so completely involved and PRESENT in NOW. 
My friend Connor and I talked about this. That when you realize that the present is all there is, that even the next breath you take is uncertain, then you are free to truly LIVE your life. 
Which is the best argument to eat cake instead of salad and get a tattoo and cut your own bangs that I have ever heard. 


So Christo and Jeanne Claude swathed an entire island in pink fabric.
And transformed Central Park into a series of fluttering saffron colored gates. 
And the first time they kissed, their first kiss was so passionate that Christo chipped a tooth.

They were so hungry to live in the present. 
They ate their cake. 
There is not the slightest doubt in my mind, that if they had this cake they would probably have eaten the entire thing. Because it really is that good. 

XOXO





German Chocolate Cake

This recipe is from a family cookbook someone gave to my mother many years ago. The format of the recipe is kind of unusual, (I didn't feel like rewriting it) so I recommend reading through it a couple times before starting. All the ingredients are italicized. Making the cake is pretty simple, and highly rewarding. As I suggested in the obnoxious post above. 

Preheat oven to 350 F. 
Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans. 

Microwave below in large microwavable cup or bowl for 1 1/2 minutes until chocolate begins to melt (stir half-way through.) Stop and stir when it boils up on sides of bowl or cup during the microwaving. 

1/2 cup water
1 package (4 oz. bar) Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate

Let rest five minutes, then stir until all chocolate dissolves. 

Sift together in another bowl 

2 1/4 cup sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

set aside. 

In another bowl, cream until light and fluffy:

1 cup soft butter (2 sticks)
2 cups sugar

Add ONE at a time:

4 egg yolks

Beat well after each addition. 
NOw add and mix in the chocolate mixture lightly. Along with 

1 teaspoon vanilla

Add, alternating flour and buttermilk:

Flour mixture you made 
1 cup buttermilk

Alternate with about 1/3 flour, 1/2 buttermilk, 1/3 flour, 1/2 buttermilk and finally the rest of the flour. 

In another clean bowl, beat at high speed until stiff peaks form:

4 egg whites. 

Fold the whites gently into the batter. Pour into prepared pans. 
Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes or until cake springs back when gently touched. (Toothpick test doesn't work.) Cool for 15 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely before frosting. 


Coconut-Pecan Frosting

Mix together in a large saucepan 

1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) 
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cook and stir on medium heat for about 12 minutes, or until thickened and golden brown. Remove from heat and stir in:

4 to 7 ounces ounces Angel Flake Coconut or whatever sweetened shredded coconut your heart desires
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Cool to spreading consistency. Frost cake.