Beignets! It’s been awhile since a capital-P Project has landed on this blog. Since the advent of our little guy, I’ve been more tempted to fill my Saturday mornings with alphabet books and trips to the playground and the occasional quick and easy food experiment than making extended messes in the kitchen. But then a few weeks ago, while daydreaming about the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival and all the mooncakes that it heralds, the idea of these salted yolk and lotus paste beignets popped fully-formed into my head. My very favorite flavor of mooncake, silky, fragrant lotus paste and punchy orange yolk, but dispersed throughout an airy, tender beignet instead of in a dense mooncake? They were, at that moment, as good as made.
Believe it or not, these pretty little buttercream roses were piped by yours truly. For someone who is all thumbs and, at best, has a passing knowledge of how to decorate a cake, this is a feat indeed–and it’s all thanks to a dynamo of a friend and her marvelous book, Coco Cake Land, which is coming out today! I truly cannot be more excited.
We are now solidly into the magical stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas, that no-holds-barred span of weeks that I typically use to indulge all of my wildest cookie and hot cocoa and cinnamon roll whims, and yet, much to my dismay, I’ve spent most of it so far thinking about, not chocolate or candy canes or marshmallows, but vegetables. In particular, these leafy greens. I am as surprised as you are.
I’ve been meaning to make some form of sticky toffee pudding for at least a few years, ever since a friend of mine first waxed lyrical about one she’d had at a pub near our offices called the Shakespeare. At that point, I’d never had sticky toffee pudding or, possibly, even heard of it, but her description alone had me sold–of a sticky, soft, eat-it-with-a-spoon cake, gooey with dates and draped in an abundance of caramel sauce, served warm and ideally with ice cream on top (which, in and of itself, is enough to get me on board with anything).
If you’d told me a few years ago that I’d enjoy anything about fall other than, say, eating pumpkin-y things and, nominally, wearing fluffy slippers, there’s not a chance I would have believed you. (This is how deep my fear of the cold runs.) But then we moved to a quixotic land where my Michelin Man puffer jackets are happily useless, so I no longer had the cold to dread; and shortly thereafter a very important fall birthday was added to our calendars that B2 and I are way more excited about celebrating than we’ve ever been about our own. A year later, here I am: recovering SAD-sufferer and cautious fall enthusiast.
My commute here in LA is almost the same as it was in New York, 40 minutes give or take. The only difference is that I sit my butt in a little Corolla instead of the blue-benched 4/5, and so I can no longer do either of the two things I used to do on my commutes in New York — sleep, or read, but mostly sleep — because I would die. For exactly 3 days I filled this void in my travels to-and-fro with music from my own playlists, before I got tired of my apparently very limited musical taste, and then for a few more weeks it was music on the radio, before I got tired of their slightly less limited ones. So now I’m at a happy medium of NPR (I have officially become my dad) and the wonderful world of podcasts.
Last weekend we had a couple of exceptionally wonderful friends come all the way from snowy Cambridge to visit us and meet Luke for the first time. Their visit was especially well-timed, not least because B3 was at his chattiest and chubbiest, now that he has 4 1/2 months under his belt (although he was also at his sleep-training saddest come nighttime — sorry, guys), but also because we had a beautiful, sunny weekend here in California, with the kind of weather that I hear is in short supply in Cambridge right about now.
Even with the advent of a waffle-maker to capture my interest (and my kitchen real estate), I can never go too long without coming back to pancakes. They’re happy food — from my dad and boxed pancake mix on the weekends, flicking the skillet to flip them in mid-air, to a beach retreat in college where a classmate showed me that, forget blueberries, you could sprinkle Reese’s Pieces across the pancakes before flipping them and be a breakfast hero, to rainy weekends in the working world where pancakes meant a lazy morning with time to spare for messy counters and sticky plates. Now that B3’s around, I can’t stop telling B2 like a broken record how excited I am to make piles of pancakes on Saturday mornings for an army of bubs clamoring for them. (I recognize that this may not match up with reality, when all I really will want to do then is sleep.)
Happy 2017! This is the year that my brother graduates from college (!) and when he first started as a freshman I kept telling everyone that 2017 didn’t seem like a real year that would actually happen. But somehow, it’s here. (Despite 2016’s best efforts.) Our waning weeks of the year were spent eating (of course), avidly watching B2 make a dent in his Christmas present, staying up late with B3 — who is now somehow 2 months old but also evidently has the sleep schedule of a teenager — and seeing how often we could make our chubawub break out into his newfound, mouth-open-wide grin. As much flack as 2016 rightfully got, I’m still a bit wistful to see it go, and our little holiday season, if not quite as quiet as usual, epitomized why I loved it so much — making our new house a new home with our first Christmas, learning our way around a life as a family of three.
Our Christmas tree is up! It’s the first real, live, non-plastic tree to make an appearance in our household. We chose it in about five seconds flat last Saturday with babe in tow, in the signature haste of panicky new parents who are still not very good at this “taking the baby out into the world” thing. (Luke, meanwhile, was just passed out the whole time and didn’t wake up until thirty minutes after we got home. But he could have.) So it’s a fat little four-foot munchkin of a tree that is cheerfully lopsided and very strategically placed in the corner of our living room to display the side with the least lop. But I think that’s what you call “character.”