Merry+Bright

ImageThere has been more butter/sugar/chocolate in the last 20 days, my brain can’t even deal. Self induced gluttony. But oh…what a lovely gluttony it was. Now I need kale. And a carrot juice. oh god, please someone make me a carrot juice.

Or at least a strong cup of coffee. and what the hell, one more slice of cake.

This buttermilk tea cake is not too sweet. Which is a lovely alternative to all the winter goodies we have, undoubtedly, been eating en masse. This cake is baked with apples, and honey, and jam. All good things for when you come in from the cold and your feet are frozen and all you want to do is sit and admire your lovely (yet dying) christmas tree. Go ahead, light some candles, play that weird Muppets Holiday record, make a strong cup of coffee and (what the heck) pour a little bourbon in it. 

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“We ourselves must be the light to see by when all the world grows dark”. 

Though it is belated, i wish you all a Happy Christmas, Merry Hanukkah, and a Most Pleasant New Year. 

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Big love,

M

xxoo

Apple Buttermilk Tea Cake

adapted from What Katie Ate:

 

185g (6.5oz) butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2/3 cup caster sugar

3 eggs

1.5 cups plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup milk

 

For the topping:

4 small green apples, peeled, halved and cored

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup jam, warmed (i used a lovely Peach/Blueberry) 

1 T. honey 

 

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F). Place the butter, cinnamon and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy.

2. Gradually add the eggs and beat well. Sift the flour and baking powder over the butter mixture, add the milk and stir until combined. Line the base of a 22cm (9 inch) spring-form tin with non-stick baking paper and spoon in the mixture.

3. To make the topping, cut a row of deep slits in each apple half and arrange over the top of the cake mixture. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the apples.

4. Bake for 50 minutes. Brush the cake with warm jam and honey and return to the oven for 10 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.

 

Knit to the 10th

The longest relationship i’ve ever had has been with a scarf i’ve been knitting since i was 14.

That means this creature:

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has moved with me from all the homes in all the towns i’ve ever lived; through 10 years of my angsty, triumphant life. And the poor thing saw it all from the belly of my sock drawer. (Not so glamorous.)

This winter, i’m compelled to be a dwelling hobbyist. Mostly because it is too dark and cold in the world to do anything else. (please don’t suggest “night running”. We all know that’s not a thing)

“Now is the time to give my full attention to my long neglected friend,” (i said to 6 days ago…)

And after six days, something extraordinary happened- i developed a love for knitting. a true, deep, effectual love.

Having been a lackluster knitter for the majority of my life, I always found it difficult to focus my hands. I’d get bored easily. I would rather read or cook or waste time some other juvenile way.

But this time round, I daydream of little bright ovens and yam colored cowls. I listen to the circle static of my records and sip cream tea while resting between rows. This season is turning out to be a wonder. My first New England December and all is calm and bright, helped along by a world of lit evergreen and christmas lamps.

I’ll share with you the whole thing once it’s done. I think you’ll enjoy it.  It is a terribly unflattering shade of jade-green that was shamelessly and very enthusiastically chosen by my 14 yr. old self. But that is what i love about this long woven beast. It’s not perfect…but it’s mine.

What projects are you working on this winter? also, if anyone has knitting advice for an enthused novice, do share!

I wish you a happy wintering, darlings, and no dropped stitches

xxoo

M

 

p.s. Next Week Post- FOOD! how about a recipe for pork mole? or beet tzatziki?  

24 on 24: One Lady-child’s per annum epiphanies

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I have bid adieu to my 23 year old lady-child self. Naturally, I wanted to give these past 365 days their dues. What bursts of pure delight! What surprise, joy, exhaustion, adventure, and utterly [unexpectedly] awesome…

And so to mark my turning as many years as there are hours in a day, beers in a case, and donuts in a double-dozen, I give to you (dear readers) all my love, gratitude, and mis-punctuated wisdoms. Some are big, some are small, but all are written with the hope of sharing the next 24 years with you. You are my heart.

… *cool fading flashback effect*…

My 23rd year started at a grocery store. With me in an apron. Working behind a register. People were already buying cranberry sauce. One woman was yelling at me about “my president” paying for “poor people’s food”. Christmas music was playing. It was a miserable scene.

Lord, i was feelin’ all kinds of discouraged/trapped/unimaginative. I was living at home, having left all my college friends, and my college job, and my college town, and my mentors, and blah blah blah. I had no plan. No prospects. No idea what/when/how/what i’d do. I was hitting that “life is hard” wall.

But when I came home and walked through that door and saw my mother standing with a slice of cake, a glass of wine, and several episodes of Downton Abbey, I had

 

Epiphany #1-I am blessed. I bet there are plenty of lost-frightened-discouraged 23-year-old girls (and boys) all around the world not knowing what to do with their lives. I wish them all mothers who lovingly hold their hands and stroke their hair and believe so fiercely in their goodness. How lucky we are to have mothers and all their kind, considerate, and loving-human glory!

 

Epiphany #2- Strive to be the kind of person my loved ones {so dearly} believe I am. That is, why not believe in the best parts of myself?

Epiphany #3: Fun fact, I will never be without shortfalls. Ergo, Self-Deprecation is for Dummies. “It is easy to destroy, but takes effort to create”.

Epiphany #4: Life seems to be a series of shortfalls. The trick is trying to navigate them gracefully.

Epiphany #5: Graceful Navigation is tremendously improved by lady dates involving William Powell movies and bourbon. #classy

Epiphany #5: you can be an adult and use hashtags.

Epiphany#6: You cannot be an adult and use abbrevs. Unless you follow them up with super smarty words like “equivocate” or “flotsam”. #loophole

Epiphany#7: Find Mentors who are worthy of your admiration. Whether an Internet baking blogger, a novelist, a chemist, or a teacher; invest in heroes who are doing something. And let that something be good.  And let it inspire your own goodness.

Epiphany #8: When moving your life across the country, DOWNSIZE. Seriously. You don’t need your old philosophy books or your old high school senate shirts. Let it go. Let stuff go!

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Epiphany #9: Making new friends is terrifying. But muscle through the sweaty palms and introduce yourself. You never know how a new friendship will snowball into a dear friendship.

Epiphany #10: Keep in Touch, It shows effort; it spreads love. Living in an exciting new place, it’s easy to get swept up in “how busy I am.” To my dear folks who’ve made my life wonderful, I want to tell you that I miss you terribly. I wish I could have 4-hour late night phone conversations with you all…

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Epiphany #11: Never underestimate the power of a note. Letter writing hobbyists are going to save the world.

Epiphany #12: Anything can be a national holiday if you add “-fest” at the end of it. i.e. “Beerfest”, “Beardfest”, “Honkfest”, “Porchfest”, et. al. Fact: these are all genuine fests in Somerville.

Epiphany 13: I live in the coolest town in Massachusetts. Hands. Down.  Possibly the coolest town in America, also quite possibly the World.

Epiphany 14: I’m so glad I’m not 14 anymore.

Epiphany 15: Credit Cards are scary creatures. It’s best to keep them locked in a drawer and never use them. ever.

Epiphany 16: any day spent by the sea is a good day.

Epiphany 17: When someone asks, “Where do you want to go for lunch?” the answer is “ Lobster Sandos”. Always.

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Epiphany 18: If Lobster Sandwiches are not an option, the next answer is “Dumplings at Gourmet Dumpling House”. Obviously.

 

Epiphany19: Temp agencies are a buncha hacks

Epiphany 20: You can seize opportunities you create yourself.

Epiphany 21: be nice to your bus drivers and the homeless people who talk to you on the train.

Epiphany 22: be nice to your baristas, your bartenders, and your wait staff.

Epiphany 23: Volunteer when you can. Whether for a Craft Beer Festival or an ESL tutoring class, it’s so rewarding, hilarious, inspiring, and  fun. Your community is what you make of it. And if you make it awesome, well then…

Epiphany 24: Say thank you, I love you, and more please. Ev’ry single day.

XXOO

M

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Apple+Picking

What is more relevant than Apple Picking.

…nothing. nothing is more relevant.

a few dear friends and one very dear cousin took me to Shelburne Farms in Stow, MA; a farm that smells like hot cinnamon donuts and dry hay. Pitch, friggin, perfect.

 

The day began with kombucha, continued after a severe apple overdose, and ended with smoked onion rings and daydreams of cider presses.

 

Also, where do i sign to live in that house right there? I’ll form a kickstarter. details to come.

Needless to say, i have apples for days. and days. and days. and am thinking i need to buy a jacket. soon.

How are all your Autumns thus far?

wishin’yaHotbakedlovin;

MG

xxoo

 

Homemade Ricotta+Russian Dolls

I realize the aforementioned title is a strange contrast in genre. I was going to call this post “Homemade Ricotta+ my Sopranos addiction and Red Wine Lips” but WordPress wouldn’t let me. Probably because it was too long a title, but more likely, it was just straight up un-classy. *sigh, real life sometimes is.

So here’s my opportunity to show you the beautiful Russian Doll collection i recently inherited from my godmother.

They are so intricate and lovely and inspired me to make something artisanal. So thus began my curdled journey.   I MADE CHEESE and I feel like i have been hoodwinked for years thinking it was impossible. Ladies and gents, the impossible has been made possible. and the possible is salty creamy cheese.

What do cool kids do on a Saturday night? They stay home and make cheese. It’s true. I read it on the Twitters.

The secret to cheese making is temperature…and keeping calm.  NOT panicking and second guessing oneself and being impatient and tasting lava-hot curds before they were ready. Learn from my mistakes, people.

You need milk, cream, vinegar, cheesecloth and a thermometer. That’s it.

For the milk DO NOT USE ULTRA-PASTEURIZED. Get regular pasteurized. This is important because of cultures, proteins, and other science words…

Let’s begin…

You need a thermometer that has been calibrated in ICE WATER. Make sure it reads a cool 32 degrees. Yay for accuracy.

In a stock pot, pour ONE GALLON WHOLE MILK and ONE PINT CREAM. On medium heat, bring to simmer stirring often to avoid scorching. Stirring is most important as the milk temp increases. You don’t have to be obsessive. This isn’t risotto. But don’t leave to paint your nails either. Kapeesh?

Use your thermometer to check the temp. WE WANT TO HEAT THE MILK TO 190 DEGREES!

that is a pretty serious boil. So, at 185 or so, cut the flame, the milk will still hold heat.

MEASURE 1/3 a cup of VINEGAR. pour into milk, give it a quick swirl then LEAVE IT ALONE.

Let the milk sit and curdle. You will see the milk fats separate from the whey. this is good. You guys are killin it. 

After about 20 minutes, pour the curds into a colander lined with TWO LAYERS OF CHEESECLOTH.

I did this OVER a bowl so i could keep my whey. I made bread with it afterwards. 🙂

Sprinkle salt on curds, make sure to get even distribution. Let drain wholly.

If you want a “creamier” cheese, after the curds cool you can mix in a little more cream.

You can add herbs, garlic, honey, what have you! put it in pasta, lasagna, pizza, sandwiches, omelets, on bread with good olive oil.

Ricotta cheese. Made by you. Eaten by Me. #iwish

let me know how it goes, or if you have any questions!

Go forth and CURDLE, my friends!

xxoo

M

 

 

Fluffsicles and other news

I don’t think I’ve done a good job keeping you up to date.

I don’t think i’ve given you the “what’s what”, the “breakdown”, the “Scoop” on my “goings on”.

I know you’ve seen the city, and all the food I eat, and pictures of flowers. (re: i need to diversify my photography.)

But have I told you what am I doing here, for a living? Because, I want to. I think it’s kinda cool. And it happened totally by accident.

I make Popsicles.

yup. I invent, mix, pour, freeze, package fresh fruit Popsicles for OCEAN AVE. POPS. 

And i love it. And (modesty aside) I’m pretty good at it. No big deal. I tell you this not to “toot” my own horn, but to share some fun exciting news with you.

Have you heard of this?

This is Marshmallow Fluff, Somerville’s own claim to fame. Why, you ask? Because it was invented here. And if there is one thing that can be said for Boston, it’s that they take major Pride in their own. Oh man, SOOOoooooo much pride. It’s so precious its frightening.

This celebrates this and We are making a special Popsicle with Them. Kapeesh?

I want to share with you all the frozen sweet treats I make everyday. I want you to suggest wild flavors. I want to make you Popsicle dreams come true!

If you live in or around the Boston area or know someone who does, AND that someone has a birthday, wedding, office party, or school meeting coming up AND you think they would like to have popsicles delivered by bicycle, have them give me a shout out. Lets spread the pop love.

Hope you have a lovely Equinox! i will be celebrating the birth of a wonderful friend with a Guacamole competition and Dark Rum.

Fall Comings and Goings

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Summer has said its final goodbyes.

I know this because for the first time in months, I took a shower with hot water. Blissful, unrelenting, HOT water.

I know because I turned on my oven and filled my rooms with baking cinnamon and didn’t break a sweat.

I know because now I have to sleep with two quilts.

Oh all the guilty pleasures of Autumn! I waste no time too. I am all to quick to cut the ties with hot weather, sticky hairdos, and awkward sunburns.

Give me cable knit sweaters and cider  and mandolins!Image

Neck scarves, Peacoats, and socks! Goodness, i love me a good pair of wool socks.

I want to simmer stock for hours and eat half a pan of cheese grits.

These are liberties I forget when distracted during Platinum Summer. Its a dazzling beast. Which is fine. But now, the light grows golden and sleepy, and the world sits full and ripe just in time for harvest. And soon the colors will lift out of the depths and fill our world with magic. My first full New England fall. I am holding my breath, camera poised. ImageImage

Here are some picks of Indian Summer Flowers and Cinnamon Roll Muffins.

Both equal satisfying though, if forced to choose, i’d pick the bread. Every time. No questions asked.

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Cinnamon Roll Muffins:
from Joy the Baker

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 tsp active dry or rapid rise yeast
2/3 cup warm milk (100-110F; low fat is fine)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg

Filling: 

2 tbsp butter, room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground cardamom

Icing:

1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tbsp milk or cream

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Dissolve the yeast in a measuring cup filled with the warmed milk, then stir milk mixture, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and egg into the flour mixture. Mix well, until very smooth. Pour into prepared pan and let rest for 15 minutes.
While the dough rests, mix together butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and cardamom in a small bowl using a fork until all the butter has been incorporated into the sugar and mixture is crumbly.  Divide the batter between 12 greased muffin cups. Sprinkle evenly on top of rested dough and press the mixture down into the dough with your fingertips (or swirl in with a spatula.)
Place pan into a cold oven, then set the oven temperature to 350F.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until bread is lightly browned at the edges and the center of the bread springs back when lightly pressed. Some of the sugar mixture on top may still be bubbling.
Cool for at least 30 minutes before whisking the powdered sugar and milk together to form an icing and drizzling it onto the bread.
Serve warm. Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave

Dumpling Sauce+Sucking Wind on the High Road

“Are you a Giver or a Taker?”

This is the question i asked myself today as I ran. I run slow enough where i can think about things like this.  Let’s be clear, sometimes i think,  “oh god..i’m gonna die!”, too.  I guess in the end, its a crap shoot. But today was a meditative one.

I wondered about all the kinds of people there are– in my city, in my neighborhood. I thought about these people as I passed them on the street, at the dog park, sitting in cafe windows: boys sitting on their porches strumming guitars, little girls swinging, an old man pruning his rose bush…

All these people live in their worlds that revolve and evolve around them, as i have my own. And i suppose, it is natural for us to make our selves the center of our thought.

But I think this is a danger. The danger of becoming singular in one’s own perspective. That is, taking every and all things that come one’s way because one feels entitled and believing it.

Be it friendships, books, a piece of gum. Sometimes, we forget how to be kind to others and give them our patience and love.

I hope to be a Giver. not a Taker.

 

A Giver does more than bake cookies, share hilarious YouTube videos, and send birthday cards. These are great and wonderful things to do. No doubt. But I’m talkin’ Hard Stuff: Like how a Giver listens, even when they’re tired. And helps a friend move, even though moving is the worst. A Giver is gracious, and thankful. A Giver tries to understand. A Giver values other’s time as well as their own. A Giver lets the world in all its beauty and flaw flow through them, live within them. And a Giver releases their own light, through a smile. or a sigh. or a compliment.

Givers aren’t perfect. or pious. or pretentious. or what-not. I just think that Givers give a damn. And try their best to show it.

That’s the type of person a girl can aspire to be, right?

My mother gave me choice advice a long time ago. A piece of which was this, “When in doubt, speak your truth”.

I think it all ties in somehow. Givers. Truth. Running. Dumpling Sauce.

We all feelin good? How about some dumplings? Give yourself a break and buy them frozen  from the Korean market down the street. Go ahead. Do it. We don’t have to prove anything. This sauce will do the rest.

Dumpling Sauce:

splash Rice Wine vinegar

1/4 c. Sweet chili Sauce

few drops Seasame oil

1 clove crushed garlic

pepper, to taste

dash of soy

scallion tops, for garnish

 

mix all these ingredients together and dunk some frozen dumplings all up in it. It’s a great way to class up an appetizer for a cocktail party using store bought dumplings. Or you can use over steamed broccoli, or carrots. OR dunk some edamame.

 

Love to you

xxoo

MG

p.s. CAN we please talk about Wasabi Peas????

#stop #obsessed

 

Here are somethings that Give me Joy.  I’ve spotted  Olympians, sad clowns, green-thumbed teens,  popsicle lovers,  Firemen, and my new best friend named Henry. He’s three.

Keep on Livin’ right.