July 2013 – A Look Back


It’s the last day of July and cicadas are beginning their afternoon buzz outside my window. All I can think is, where has my summer gone? It seems like just a week ago I was lamenting the cold and fickle weather that is New England Spring. Now we’ve all retreated to air conditioned interiors and fantasies of cooler days. Fall – I can taste it in the air and see it in the light; there’s a golden glow to the afternoons now – one that means school’s starting soon and cooler days are coming. It’s the lighting and sound of blueberry season – Maine Wilds are coming in and kids are trooping out to fields at 5am. Fog covered fields and the hope that you won’t rake into a bee’s nest, the scent of a squashed spice bug, and the slowing days.



It’s this time of year that I always want to head home – I want to pick blueberries and walk on the beach. I won’t go back this year – I just don’t have the time but I will sure as hell get my hands on some fresh blueberries and eat fresh berry pie. It’s my favorite, with it’s loosy-goosy set up and spicy perfect summer flavor. I don’t have a recipe for you today – if I had some of my favorite berries I’d probably grace you with a redux of my blueberry pie. It’s the best. No question.


Instead I’m going to share these pictures of a family filled Fourth of July weekend. I know, I’m lapsed in sharing them but, oh well. We grilled! We went to George’s Island! We were photo bombed (by BF’s dad, but still). And we hung out, because that’s what you do when family is around. You visit.


Also, this cake. Remember in my last post where I said I was making a crazy train cake? Here it is. Isn’t it remarkable? I worked really hard on it, and I can see the flaws but it makes me insanely happy. More satisfying was seeing the birthday boy glow when he saw it, and then proceed to tell everyone which piece of the train they were going to eat. Me? I wanted the ground the train was on – vegan chocolate cake coated in Walker’s Shortbread and Anna’s Ginger Thins. So.So.Good.


I do plan on cooking again – and I have at least two salads I need to recreate for you, I just haven’t gotten there yet. I will. I promise.


One Week in Maine: A Photo Post

Toes in the sand.

Toes in the sand.

Walkway to Herring Cove Provincial Park

Walkway to Herring Cove Provincial Park

My Mom is AWESOME.

My Mom is AWESOME.

Sea Mertensia

Sea Mertensia

My "Fake" Mom and I

My “Fake” Mom and I

Family Fisheries Lobster Roll

Family Fisheries Lobster Roll

Family FIsheries Fish Sandwich

Family FIsheries Fish Sandwich

Draining greek yogurt

Draining greek yogurt

Tide Mill Creamery

Tide Mill Creamery

Lobster Chowder and Tide Mill veggies

Lobster Chowder and Tide Mill veggies

Sandpile play.

Sandpile play.


When I look back on my childhood it falls somewhere between RObert McCloskey’s “One Morning in Maine” and “Blueberries For Sal”. I know that it isn’t quite true (I didn’t grow up on the water, but I did grow up slightly wild in a large blueberry field). So this past week when I went home to Maine to visit my family and friends I was responsible. And tried to cram in as much Downeast Maine as possible in the five days I was there. There was a whole bunch of visiting. There was a farm (where I went pretty much every day), there was a beach adventure, lobster chowder, playing in a sand pile with a seven year old, collecting chicken and turkey eggs, expanding my mustard collection, and eating decadent chocolate. There was a rogue gosling who kept escaping his pen and helping to settle in chicks (so soft, so yellow, so… cheepy). It was a great visit home to see my family and smell the ocean on the air. The tang of salt and green things that always comes with going home is a joy. So here are some of my favorite shots of the week. Some from my phone, some from my camera; all of home.

What I’m Loving


I periodically don’t cook or photograph for whatever reason – I’m lazy, the food isn’t attractive, the recipe is just not INTERESTING enough. The usual. This is good though, it makes me think outside of the box in terms of content. This lack of food to post is a great opportunity to tell you about the things I’ loving or obsessed with right now.

Millet: A couple of weeks ago I found a bag of millet my mom gave me and threw it in the rice cooker while I prepped a bunch of other stuff and threw together a quick grain salad. I adored it – the texture was wonderful. It was a really nutty, wonderful change to the brown rice BF and I have been eating recently. I have really been obsessed with my rice cooker recently – it cooks grains perfectly and it is so remarkably simple to use. As an added bonus it doesn’t heat up the house either so I don’t have to stand over a burner in warm weather. This summer expect a few rice and grain recipes to pop up here.

My Melitta Pour-Over Coffee Maker: This little piece of plastic is a dream come true. I’ve been at home in the mornings and for a long time just did tea instead of coffee, but I LOVE coffee. The taste, the texture, the caffeine, so I finally caved a couple weeks ago and grabbed a pour over coffee maker. I am so thankful I did. The brew is delicious and it’s so simple to make coffee in it that I’m back to a cup a day and relishing it.

My Porch: Is there anything as great as sitting on your back porch early in the morning and drinking coffee while you check in on your social media? I thought not. The birds are all loudly awake and kittenish goes absolutely bonkers. I’ve taken to bringing my cat to the porch with me so she gets a little outside time and I don’t have to worry about her taking off. She gets a bit fearless, jumping up onto our porch railing two stories above the ground, but she loves to chase the squirrels out there.

Polar Seltzer: Everyone is talking about Polar’s Summer flavors right now, and they’re amazing. I’ve been drinking them pretty much non-stop since I found them on sale at my local star market. The cucumber-melon made a SUBLIME mojito (with Privateer Rum, no less) and I can’t wait to try more flavors. I also love that Polar beverages are all made locally (the Polar company is over near Worcester). Not a fan of the odd summer flavors? Go for the Ruby Red Grapefruit – it’s fantastic with a bit of gin.

Homemade Iced Tea: Ever since that first warm day in mid April BF and I have had a pitcher of Iced Tea in our fridge. I’ve been using mostly Celestial Seasonings “Zinger” teas for it, they have such a nice full body and no caffeine. All of the zingers mix well too so you can swap out and exchange flavors, this week we have Raspberry-Lemon.

This Swimsuit: My sister got me this for my birthday in April. I’m SO EXCITED to go to the beach in it this summer, and in general, for beach days this summer. I want to go to the beach, play in the sand, read books, and most importantly, play a bit of skeeball.

The Boys Club: This is a great blog that my friend Brian and a few other cocktail obsessed bloggers put together – go here for all of your cocktail needs this summer. With a new post every day they cover everything from glassware to delicious drinks to breaking down what you’re drinking. WONDERFUL.

CTC International: I recently went to a great presentation by the founders of this company and learned a lot. They built s special needs school in Kenya! They donate money to rhino and elephant preservation! They are a non-profit donating to other non-profits. Also, they have butts on their bags. I love that.

Summer Beer: In the summer I pretty much only want to drink light beer or saisons. With their fun fruity flavors saisons are such lovely drinks for this season and I can drink them all day. Currently I’m plotting the takedown of Ommegang’s Hennepin Saison tonight. Saisons also pair well with my porch. Trying to stay local with summer beer is a cinch too – anything out of Jack’s Abbey is worth the time and a nicely chilled Bantam goes a long way towards cooling anyone down on those warm summer eves. For the more creative flavors head to the crew over at Night Shift – from a Habenero to a white stout they’re doing really cool things in beer. And Chris over at Notch makes low ABV beer (around 4%) that is always a light summer refreshment and keeps you upright.

Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake: A Sweet Bitter Cake for a Sweet Bitter Feeling.

Some days are just bad. You wake up feeling blue and it continues until you finally stop moping and DO SOMETHING about it. I feel that way a lot recently – looking for work is a challenging and depressing venture with a lot of grasping straws and missed opportunities, or worse just not being good enough. That’s how I feel most of the time, not good enough. I keep hoping that something will change with every job application I submit but with every rejection (and there are a lot) I just feel overwhelmed. I feel like finding full time work that I find meaningful isn’t going to happen. So I retire to my kitchen and I bake. I listen to music and empty my mind a bit. The repetition of measuring, mixing, kneading, frosting – whatever is soothing and comforting. Like cuddling up to a good book, I know that kitchen time can make me feel better. So I try to force myself into the kitchen to bake, or cook, or just… be.


This cake is one of those I need to bake cakes. It got me into the kitchen and out of my head – singing along to some good music and methodically measuring out ingredients. I was soothed by the repetition – also the leftover grapefruit syrup, which made a delicious cocktail. I was calmed by the familiarity. Recently I’ve been toying with the idea of grad school, but, honestly, I was not such a great student in college – my grades will hinder my grad school chances. How do I resolve that? I’ve been thinking going back to school for another BA, this was met by vehement and loud nos from all my grad school graduate friends. But I’m at a loss. I just feel not good enough for anything. Maybe I’ve lost perspective. Or maybe I should just eat more cake.


I should eat more of this cake. It’s not too sweet so you can eat a lot of it without falling into a sugar coma and with the grapefruit comes a subtle tang of bitterness that makes it a standout in really decadent ways. But – there’s no butter, it’s an olive oil cake and the citrus in it is only enhanced by the fruity oil. It fits exactly what I’m looking for in a cake right now – it’s unassuming and it delivers a lovely punch. It is a cake for tea time or dessert or breakfast or elevensies (the dictionary for WordPress tells me this is not a word. WordPress you are WRONG). Make it. Eat it. Indulge in it. But make extra of the grapefruit syrup and make a gin cocktail with it. I’ll come help you drink it.


I actually didn’t change a thing from Joanne’s recipe over on her blog, Eats Well With Others (she waited for her cake to cool completely before glazing, I didn’t – my time was tight). So just follow that. Then send me some of the cake. I could use a touch of sweet in my life.

Celebration Cakes


My birthday lands right at the beginning of April – it’s a time when the temperatures can jump from 75 to 45 in a single afternoon and there’s more likely than not going to be a blizzard. Every year I keep my fingers crossed for a nice warm birthday – where I can wear a sleeveless dress and flip flops. I wish for a birthday that will see me sipping a cocktail on some patio in the warm rays of an afternoon. This is all entirely unrealistic. So, instead I settle for giving myself a day of baking – the kitchen is always warm with the oven on and it is quite sunny.


Each year I see my birthday as a baking challenge – a chance to try something I haven’t tried before that I’m daunted by. My birthday is an opportunity to try those recipes that could be potential flops – that way if I mess up someone’s birthday cake it’s MY birthday cake. No harm no foul, right? This year was no different. EXCEPT instead of going out for dinner with BF and my sister I chose to conquer Momofuku Milk Bar.


I threw a dinner party. I made a ton of pasta and asiago cheese riddled focaccia. I invited BF’s and my favorite people over, we drank wine and ate good food. Dan and Mandi made a great sauce that went perfect with the I-drank-too-much-wine-last-night day that followed. Megan made a lovely spinach salad and there was liberal pouring of wine and beer. It was, truly, the best birthday I could ask for. But, in my brilliance, I decided that making two cakes that both required at least three separate pre-made ingredients and a whole bunch of love was the best way to top off this grand evening of debauchery.


I made both of these cakes pretty much exactly according to the recipes – my variation was that I used liquid cheesecake in the chocolate chip cake instead of passion fruit curd. The cheesecake was WAY more accessible. I’m not sharing these recipes today – they are too complex and my pictures are MIA as my hands were typically too much of a mess to photo-document this process. SO all we have left of this cake is a remnant and these pictures. There were twelve of us at the party. We ate most of both of these cakes. I loved them.

And I will assuredly be baking from Momofuku Milk Bar again soon.