winter

Sweet Potato Fries



Right now. 


Right now, I am relearning how how to spend days alone with myself. 
And I’m trying to figure out if a Friday night ever made me truly happy and if I should part my hair to the left again and if I can drink coffee on an empty stomach (I can’t) and that I like waking up in the morning and walking alone and also that I like howling along to the same three CDs I keep in the car. 
These are tiny, quiet things. 
Sometimes, life is very quiet. 
I’ve been trying to not write too much. 
And not think too much. 
Because I am trying to be light. 
Just do the best for the day, and let that be enough. 
And not get bogged down in futures or pasts. 
Because otherwise it is all so difficult. 


So the leaves are rosy again and November looks and smells and tastes exactly the same. 
I’ve been eating a lot of apples lately and not doing anything in the kitchen because the mental forethought that that takes is kind of beyond me. 
I’ve got three sweet potatoes languishing in my cupboard that I wanted to make sweet potato fries with, but I keep forgetting which spices to buy. 
However, you should make them, because you will be popular and famous if you do. 
That is a promise. 
And darling love, Thanksgiving is just a few days away. 
And I am so thankful for you, so thankful for the more than two people who have returned to read about recipes here. 
It means a lot. 


Be safe. 
I wish you only the good things. 

xoxo

Roasted Spiced Sweet Potato
from The Gourmet Cookbook

1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 pounds medium sweet potatos, scrubbed
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Put rack in middle of oven adn preheat to 425 F.

Coarsely grind (or finely chop) coriander, fennel, oregano and red pepper flakes in coffe/spice grinder, a mortar with pestle, or chop them together very finely. Stir together spices and salt.
Cut potatos lenghtwise into one inch thick wedges. Toss with oil and spices in a roasting pan and spread out in one layer. Roast for 20 minutes.
Turn wedges over with a spatula and roast until tender and slightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes more.


LUCKY 13


We are HERE. 
We're HERE and it's 13 and I'm worried. 
I'm really worried. 
I'm worried because I don't know what's coming next and if 12 taught me anything it was that predicting things is impossible impossible impossible. 


 I'm scared about the future, because it is big. 

But it's okay. 

It's okay, because I've got a lot of hopes: 

I hope you're doing OK. 
I hope you've got dreams up your sleeves and plans drawn in blue pencil, and datebooks that are full of important events, and I hope there are people you want to meet and talk to and laugh with and kiss and sleep with, and I hope there are clean socks, and nice showers. I hope the soap smells mighty fine, and that your siblings win at life. 
I hope you get the girl, love the boy, live the dream. 
I hope you learn how to pray, wear the false eyelashes, and don your party hats of newspaper and flowers.
 I hope you go out, and I hope you get drunk.
 I hope you get wasted. 
I hope you write something nice, and I hope you make the right/wrong decision. And I hope you preserve your sense of self in this mad world, where everyone 
pushes you and pulls you and pushes you and pulls you. 
I hope you sleep well. 
Read more. 
Dance more. 
I hope you stay up until 3 am, talking under twinkle lights. 
I hope you wear a pair of killer shoes, and help someone unexpected, and I hope you tell everyone how much you love them. 
Because life is too short. 
I hope you eat more breakfast tacos, and drink the right amount of coffee so that you're not anxious, just jazzed. 
I hope you don't hurt too much. 
I hope you're not lonely. 
I hope you sing a lot. 
I hope you figure it out. 
I hope you are under the right disco ball in the right room in the right bar in the right city at the right time.


I hope 13 is lucky. 
Oh Beloveds. 
I hope it's a year to remember. 

XOXO 


Chocolate Idiot Cake

Beloveds,
This is my last post to you for the year. 
What a year it has been. 
I've learned so much. 
I like it when things tie up into tidy morals and easy stories. 
But this year didn't have one. 
There's too much for me to recount and remember. 
I want to tell you all of it and I want to tell you none of it. 
But mostly I want to say thank you for this year. 


I want to say thank you to the beautiful girls who share victories and defeats with me, and thanks to those same beautiful girls for letter writing and eating doughnuts and laughing and making me dream bigger. Thank you for the Happiness List. Thank you to the family, for being unconditional. Thank you to the friends, who laugh and listen and talk and eat and delight with me. Thanks to sender of that letter, I'm a better writer because of it. Thanks to the glorious boys who kissed and held me. Thanks to the music. Thanks to the restaurant. Thanks to the brilliant professors. Thanks to everyone who told me their histories of love. Thanks to the stars, driving late at night and the radio. Thanks to whoever reads this. 
Whoever you are. 


I have had this fear lately, that if I don't tell you, then you'll never know. And then where would we be? 

I want to say thank you. 
Thank you and I love you. 
I love you. 
I love you.
I love you. 



Don't forget. 



Chocolate Idiot Cake
One 9-inch (23 cm) cake
From DavidLebovitz.com, who adapted from Ready for Dessert 
This cake is ridiculous. It melts in your mouth. Literally. Note that it requires a water bath, which is no big deal, just make sure you wrap your spring form pan tightly with aluminum foil, some water leaked into mine, which ended up not being a big deal, but just so you know. Also, this cake is really so easy it's for idiots. That's why it's called Chocolate Idiot Cake. 
10 ounces (290 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
7 ounces (200 g) butter, salted or unsalted, cut into pieces
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (200 g) sugar
Preheat the oven to 350F (175C).
1. Butter a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan* and dust it with cocoa powder, tapping out any excess. If you suspect your springform pan isn’t 100% water-tight, wrap the outside with aluminum foil, making sure it goes all the way up to the outer rim.
2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler (or microwave), stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar, then whisk in the melted chocolate mixture until smooth.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and cover the top of the pan snugly with a sheet of foil. Put the springform pan into a larger baking pan, such as a roasting pan, and add enough hot water to the baking pan to come about halfway up to the outside of the cake pan.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
You’ll know the cake is done when it feels just set, like quivering chocolate pudding. If you gently touch the center, your finger should come away clean.
5. Lift the cake pan from the water bath and remove the foil. Let cake cool completely on a cooling rack.
Serve thin wedges of this very rich cake at room temperature, with creme anglaise, ice cream, or whipped cream.
Storage: This Chocolate Idiot Cake can be wrapped and chilled in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

Blueberry Boy Bait


Now is the time for staring out of windows at gray skies, or lying on your bed and looking at the ceiling. 
Is it wrong that sometimes, when terrible things happen in the world, I can't quite summon the energy to feel rage or even sadness? 
I just feel numb. 
It is winter now, and I am methodically eating my way through a box of clementines and wishing that someone would cuddle me, while we both drank wine and got silly. 
This is not happening. 
To comfort myself, I baked a cake for the first time in months and months and months. 

I forgot about the calming power of baking: You measure everything, neatly arrange your ingredients on the countertop. The mixer hums, and the measuring spoons clink, and for a while, your mind can just rest from thinking about everyone and everything. The world dissolves in favor of blueberries and brown sugar. This is what I like about making things. This is why I like kitchens and washing dishes. It's real. Tactile. You can feel it. Hear it. Smell it. Taste it. 



There is a line from the T.S. Eliot poem "The Wasteland" that I will never forget, it goes:

“What shall I do now? What shall I do?
I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street
With my hair down, so. What shall we do to-morrow?
What shall we ever do?”


What shall we ever do when babies cry or your parents cry or people get sick or death happens or people forget your name or the grocery store is unbearable? As my dear friend Zoe said, "And I want to save everyone and I don't know where to even begin to fix so very many broken things." How do you fix the broken things? 

I don't know. 


I don't know if walking the streets with your hair down is the answer. 



I think you should bake this cake. Not only because it's called Blueberry Boy Bait, (the idea being that it's so delicious you'll have to beat your suitors away with a stick)  and the alliterative possibilities are endless. 
You should bake this cake because it is simple. You should bake this, because in a world where nothing is certain, to know that you can measure things and combine them in such a way, that when you are finished there will be cake to eat, that's special. That's something. 



Now is the time for staring out of windows at gray skies, or lying on your bed and looking at the ceiling. 
But is also the time to hold the ones you love close, despite all our imperfections and collective weirdness. 

All I feel is love. 


xoxo

Blueberry Boy Bait
via SmittenKitchen.com who adapted from 
Cook’s Country, which adapted it from the original

Serves 12, generously
2 cups plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk (though buttermilk, which was all I had on hand, worked just great)
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not defrost first as it tends to muddle in the batter)

Topping
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
Whisk two cups flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. With electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping down bowl. Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture. Toss blueberries with remaining one teaspoon flour. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries. Spread batter into prepared pan.
For the topping:
Scatter blueberries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl and sprinkle over batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter (topping side up). Serve warm or at room temperature. (Cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.)