Caramel Cherry Upside Down Cake

Caramel Cherry Upside Down Cake

This week, Nolan housesat for his parents while they were in Mexico. For me, I stayed home with the dogs and chickens and did the usual chores. I pulled the couchbed out in the living room and sprawled my books and writings and computer and bags of chips across the flannel sheets and sat in silence, save for the dogs snoring and the rain gutters overflowing.

There's a routine to the way we live now. The way we argue. The way we spend our Sundays. The way I do the chickens and the way I play with the dogs. It's not mechanical, but it is familiar. I like it. I myself am a frenetic ball of stress, so the calmness of monotony is good for me.

And when I am home alone, I don't eat that great. I pick like a bird. I graze on candy and yogurt and forget to eat. I'm too wrapped up in the small luxury of expansive hours of reading to care. And when I wanted to bake this weekend, I did it in the simple way--thrown together with leftovers from the fridge.

Caramel Cherry Upside Down Cake

Caramel Cherry Upside Down Cake

Ingredients:

  • 15 oz frozen cherries
  • 1/4 cup caramel sauce
  • 10 TB unsalted butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg white
  • Zest and Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup whole milk or buttermilk
  • 1/2 TB vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cup AP flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375*F
  2. Heavily grease and line the bottom of a 12-inch cast iron skillet
  3. Pour cherries and caramel sauce onto parchment and evenly distribute with a rubber spatula
  4. In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar
  5. Add eggs, zest, juice, milk, and vanilla
  6. Sift together your dry ingredients
  7. With mixer on low, slowly add in flour mixture a 1/2 cup or so at a time
  8. Mix on high for one minute
  9. Pour over top of cherries and caramel
  10. Bake for 40 minutes. Because of the moisture of the cherries, it may not be done at this time, so keep checking every five minutes until middle is tanned and set
  11. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before turning onto a plate
Caramel Cherry Upside Down Cake
Caramel Cherry Upside Down Cake
Caramel Cherry Upside Down Cake

How I Spent Superbowl Sunday: Golden Pistachio Oreos

Golden Pistachio Oreos

It's no secret that I'm still learning. It's no secret that it's been a jagged line to get to where I am today. I called my mother yesterday, I said we need to bake more. She said, "Absolutely" then changed the subject. It's no secret that there is more silence than I'd like but it's not really a secret why that is, either.

I keep thinking about memories. Not remembering things in the actual sense, the active sense, but the intangible nouns that occupy my time. How hard we try to recreate the past. And it's no secret that it's the hardest thing to do. And still we try. Like when my sister wanted to go to New York for Christmas and how we watched a movie we both liked when I was 9 and she was 13. And it all felt like pebbles to me, worn down and soft to the touch. Idly, we skipped them for a month or two and counted the times they skidded across the surface and felt happy for the moment. It wasn't until later when the pond looked expansive and deep and it wasn't worth the effort to remember the years between us from 9 and 13 to 26 and 30.

    Golden Pistachio Oreos

    And it's no secret I've grown up. Especially the last few years. Especially with Nolan. Especially in California. Especially now, in this moment, with dogs and chickens and a fiance relying on me. And this weekend we watched the Super Bowl and I read when I was bored. And we got some takeout, like we did the last time we watched the game together in 2011. And we took a nap, like the last time we watched the game together in 2011. And we laughed at the commercials and we cuddled the dogs and we did the dishes and I made cookies to keep busy. And it was then I realized that it wasn't recreating all the things that made us smile, the intangible things that felt so comfortable in the moment we created them, but memories are things to improve upon. To adjust to the new lives we have. To be grateful for the handful of pebbles still in my pocket and to look at them all with possibility. And it's no secret I've fucked up at doing this for years and years and years, but it's different now and I'm not so sad to talk about old memories anymore.

      Ingredients for the Cookies:

      • 10 TB unsalted butter, softened
      • 2 TB shortening
      • 1/4 cup white sugar
      • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
      • 2 TB honey
      • 1 egg + 1 yolk
      • 1/2 TB vanilla extract
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt
      • 2 cups AP flour
      • 2 TB ground pistachios

      Ingredients for Filling:

      • 1/8 cup shortening
      • 2 TB unsalted butter, softened
      • 1/4 TB vanilla extract
      • 1/2 TB milk powder
      • Pinch of salt
      • 1-2 TB whole milk or heavy cream

       

        Directions:

        1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter, shortening, sugars, and honey until light and fluffy
        2. Add egg and yolk with mixer on low until fully incorporated. Add vanilla
        3. With mixer on low, add dry ingredients. When just mixed, complete mixing with a rubber spatula and fold in pistachios
        4. Turn out onto a floured work surface and shape into a disc
        5. Refrigerate for at least half an hour
        6. While dough is resting, prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350*F
        7. When dough is done resting, turn back out onto your work surface and roll disc to about 1/3 inch thick
        8. Cut out 2-inch rounds and place on baking sheet
        9. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are browned
        10. Allow to cool
        11. While cookies are cooling, whip together your shortening, butter, vanilla, and milk powder
        12. With mixer on low, add your confectioner's sugar slowly
        13. Add milk and salt to desired taste and consistency
        14. Transfer to piping bag and pipe onto top of one cookie
        15. Place second cookie on top to make a sandwich
        16. Repeat with remaining cookies
        Golden Pistachio Oreos
        Golden Pistachio Oreos
        Golden Pistachio Oreos
        Golden Pistachio Oreos
        Catherine Tate
        Pistachio Golden Oreos-7.jpg
        Golden Pistachio Oreos
        Golden Pistachio Oreos
        Golden Pistachio Oreos
        Golden Pistachio Oreos
        Golden Pistachio Oreos
        Golden Pistachio Oreos
        Golden Pistachio Oreos
        Golden Pistachio Oreos

        A Little Portuguese Spongecake - Pao de Lo

        A Little Portuguese Spongecake - Pao de Lo

        The chickens are still laying and the house is still warm. It snowed one day and then it melted the next. It snowed again and it turned into rain. It's hard to keep track of weeks like this, when the only constant between the days is the egg I crack into the hot pan to feed the dogs at breakfast time.

        I owe them nothing and sometimes that is the most freeing thing I've felt in a long time. The dogs and I live in silence, but they nudge and prod my hand for food, to cuddle, to go bark at the birds that perch on the fenceposts. They sleep on the bed, they lay on our chest in the morning to wake us up. They don't stop barking long after the postman's dropped off a package and then they sleep for an hour, exhausted from their instincts.

        Nolan and I keep our patience with them. They howl when they hear his car coming down the road. We feed them small bits of our dinner and then we all lay in bed until it's time to sleep. And in the morning, it's a lot of the same. But it's in that sameness, in the pleasant static of this farm house, between the routine and the instinct, that I thrive. 

        And it's in those moments -- when it might be snowing, when the dogs might be begging for a snack, when nothing else is going on for miles and miles, when I have dozens of eggs to use up -- that I make a cake to share with them. 

         

         

        Pão de Ló 
        Portugese Sponge Cake

        A Little Portuguese Spongecake - Pao de Lo

        Ingredients:

        • 5 eggs, room temperature
        • 3/4 cup white sugar
        • 1 cup + 2 TB flour
        • 1/4 teaspoon salt
        • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
        • 1 TB lemon zest
        • Juice of 1 lemon
        • 1/2 TB vanilla extract
        • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

         

        Directions:

        1. Line an 8" cake round (I did mine pretty rustically)
        2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together eggs and sugar. Continue beating for 12 minutes or until mixture is thick and stiff peaks form
        3. While egg mixture is being beaten, preheat oven to 350*F and sift flour, salt, and baking powder
        4. Mix in lemon juice and zest and extracts
        5. Fold in dry mixture
        6. Pour into prepared cake pan
        7. Bake for 40 minutes or until edges are tanned and top is springy
        A Little Portuguese Spongecake - Pao de Lo
        A Little Portuguese Spongecake - Pao de Lo
        A Little Portuguese Spongecake - Pao de Lo
        A Little Portuguese Spongecake - Pao de Lo

        4 Looks for Winter: A Partnership with WoolOvers

        It's warmed up here the last few days. The snow is melted and I've heard that ticks are waking up from their Persephonic slumber. There is a black cat that slinks around the yard. I had a feeling he would turn up sooner or later. We greeted him like an old friend from our bedroom window this morning. It is not how I wanted to greet the in-between of Winter and Spring, but I sit at the open door and breathe in air that tastes like mud and I know it's happening whether I want it or not.

        I've adapted to living back in Pennsylvania. Unexpected ways, like waking up early to make the coffee. Unusual ways, like tending for 10 chickens. Thoughtful ways, like trying to learn how to say that I am sorry more. And practical ways, like dressing for the weather. I kept old sweaters from college when we moved to San Diego. Never wore them; threw them out. When we moved back to Pennsylvania a couple years ago, it was a process to buy new, stay warm, be comfortable. In doing so, I realized how I was adapting to my environment, the way that moss grows on the North side of trees.

        I'm fortunate to be working with WoolOvers on this post to showcase how I dress for life on the farm - from working to playing to baking to dressing up. I'm often inspired by rural English style, and I see this has evolved into the way I dress daily. So many facets of me seem lost behind the camera, so hopefully here is a peek at who I am in front of it.

        Look One: Keeping Warm in the Barn

        4 Looks for Winter: A Partnership with WoolOvers
        4 Looks for Winter: A Partnership with Woolovers
        4 Looks for Winter: A Partnership with WoolOvers
        4 Looks for Winter: A Partnership with WoolOvers

        An upcoming post will highlight a small barn renovation that I completed over the holidays. Bitterly cold, I converted an adjacent coop into a sort of recreational room for the hens. Three layers of wool, I was still frozen. Since then, I have been wearing large, chunky, wool sweaters almost daily. Paired with a some overalls and comfortable work boots, I am most comfortable in an outfit like this. The added bonus of a few minutes with one of the girls was a bonus for me, too. 

        Look Two: Walking with Milo

        4 Looks for Winter: A Partnership with WoolOvers
        4 Looks for Winter: A Partnership with WoolOvers
        4 Looks for Winter: A Partnership with WoolOvers

        As you have probably been able to ascertain from my Instagram, I am dog-obsessed. On days where it's no snowing, we try to make sure that we spend time with our three bubs - Murphy, Elsa, and Milo. The sweater is a little nod to another one of my loves, the Duchess of Devonshire, by paying a small homage to her book, in the embroidered style of her husband's custom sweaters. Paired with some Levi's and a Harrington jacket, this is my usual style if I'm wanting to get a little dirty with the pups.

        Look Three: Baking

        4 Looks for Winter: A Partnership with WoolOvers
        4 Looks for Winter: A Partnership with WoolOvers

        Since my day job allows for me to work remote, I oftentimes force myself to dress up a bit so that I don't always feel like I'm a slob. For me, baking is a performance, a ritual, something that I do for myself, so I thought it would make sense to share a moment in time with you - something so simple as cracking some eggs. Pairing the Woolover's cardigan with a vest that came with a suit I got on Amazon, it's an outfit I've worn around the house, but also to a Christmas party this year--and its simple, subtle pattern is perfect for both.

        Look Four: Packed for a Trip

        4 Looks for Winter: A Partnership with WoolOvers
        4 Looks for Winter: A Partnership with WoolOvers

        I'm happy here, in our new hometown. But that doesn't mean that the winter hasn't made me want to travel a bit to somewhere warmer. I picked up this ancient suitcase at a Goodwill maybe 10 years ago and it is my go-to overnight bag. Paired with a thin, comfortable cashmere v-neck and the rest of the suit mentioned above (I had it tailored to fit once I got it), I feel that this is the type of clothing that's meant for travel - classic, warm, and most of all comfortable.

        Guide: 
        Look one: Sweater / Overalls / Boots (not pictured)
        Look two: Sweater / Jeans / Shoes / Jacket 
        Look three: Cardigan / Vest 
        Look four: Suit / Sweater

         

        GIVEAWAY WINNER - LeCreuset's Cookbook - and Mussels!

        GIVEAWAY WINNER - LeCreuset's Cookbook - and Mussels!

        I think I'm really made for winter. I spent all of my long weekend in pajamas, with the bed pulled out of our sofa bed, a tray of drinks and books propped up, and the dogs by my side. It was heaven. The way the light scattered in to wake up. I could hear the crunch of deer on the snow and ice and photographed them from my window. I drank a lot of tea and ate a lot of junk food and it was exactly what I needed.  A good way to remember that the holidays aren't a season, but all of Winter is.

        After the long weekend of eating soups, chips, burritos, and eggs (lots of eggs--the chickens are still producing at 85%!), I wanted something light. Something filling. Aromatic but soft, no sharpness to ruin the pleasant dullness of relaxation. Lazily, gratefully, I knew what I wanted to make - mussels. I know it's not the most relaxing food in the world, but it is probably one of the least fussy and most delicious dishes I can think of. And it was heaven to pinch the meat out between a used shell and to press the warmed, iridescent shell to my lips. To have the broth of wine and garlic slide down the corners of my lips. To toss the used bivalve into the awaiting mouth of the white bowl and to soak the baguette in the small dredges left in the bowl. It was, and will always be, my favorite meal.

        Le Creuset wrote a cookbook and it's where the recipe is from below. I feel grateful to have this book, as I am always looking for the path of least resistance when it comes to French food, and this book has it all. Beautiful photographs, easy instructions, no fuss or worry. My absolute favorite way to cook. And with one pot to clean, it made my relaxing weekend all the more stress-free.

        I'm excited to also share this book with a lucky winner who participated in my Instagram giveaway. Congratulations to Brandice!

        Steamed Mussels

        GIVEAWAY WINNER - LeCreuset's Cookbook - and Mussels!

        Serves 2 or 4

        Ingredients:

        • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
        • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
        • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
        • 1 cup dry white wine
        • 1 cup heavy cream
        • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
        • 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
        • Kosher salt
        • 2 pounds fresh mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded

        Directions (as shared in Le Creuset's Cookbook):

        1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Stir in the shallots and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in wine, cream, butter, tarragon, and season with s salt.

        2. Add the mussels, cover, and cook for 2 minutes. Stir the mussels, cover and continue cooking until they open, 4 to 6 minutes. Discard any mussels that do not open. Sprinkle with parsely and serve at once with the broth and some crusty bread.

        Pictured here: Braiser / Bowls

        GIVEAWAY WINNER - LeCreuset's Cookbook - and Mussels!
        GIVEAWAY WINNER - LeCreuset's Cookbook - and Mussels!
        GIVEAWAY WINNER - LeCreuset's Cookbook - and Mussels!