Tag Archives: baking

Autumn Is for Ovens.

New York is gray and drizzly today: perfect weather for a cozy afternoon indoors, watching black-and-white movies, puttering in the kitchen, and maybe cuddling up with a sanity-challenged feline or two.


Sadly, work beckons instead, but if you happen to be lucky enough to have a few hours at your disposal, might I suggest a cheesy, oniony, pull-apart bread to warm things up?

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There are a few notable exceptions to the rule, but in general, I’m not one for repeating recipes — my backlog of magazine clippings, printouts, and barely opened cookbooks rarely allows for such luxuries. When I do have the urge to go back for seconds, it has to be for something good.

Even though it pains me to turn on the oven in August, I made this cobbler twice in the past week. I think it qualifies. (Sure, baking is more fun than the work I should’ve been doing, but that shouldn’t detract from the fact that this is one stellar dessert.)

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Thank You Note.

I was given a subscription to Saveur magazine last year by one CMH Gourmand, who must have felt that my culinary education should go beyond Wikipedia and Epicurious searches.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the subscription (with the exception of the issue on Thailand markets that came out right as I returned from the Asia trip, not having had a chance to visit Thailand’s markets.) The articles are beautifully written and the photographs touch the photojournalist that still dwells within me. (Turns out that there’s a reason for that; Saveur’s photo editor was the director of Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication when I was a student there.)

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Blue Ribbon Brownies.


Contrary to what I may have led you to believe in these pages, I’m really not much of a baker. I don’t follow directions well, and I don’t usually have enough of a sweet tooth to tip the scales from: “Hmmm, I could go for something sugary…meh, too much work,” to: “ME WANT COOKIE NOWNOWNOW!

Every now and then, though, the urge undeniably—and unpredictably—strikes. Because I don’t plan for these eventualities, my baking cupboard isn’t the most well-stocked; treats that can be made from pantry staples and pantry staples only are my bread and butter. Back in February, I read The Wednesday Chef‘s rave review of this recipe for cocoa brownies, made a mental note to give it a try, and, as usual, backburnered the idea until last week, when I made them twice in five days.

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Cake Worth the Wait.

Baking, for me, is an exercise in patience. I like to keep moving, and waiting two hours for a cake to cool is not something that I tend to schedule into my agenda. This past Sunday, though, waiting was at the top of my list of things to do; the air conditioning guy was going to come by when he could, and I had to be around the house all day. Why not, I thought to myself, make an already-warm house even warmer by turning on the oven? And so I did.

I pulled out that Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook that aunts and mothers and grandmothers buy for high school graduates. (The one that I failed to open for a good three years in my days at Ohio University. Why cook when the Burrito Buggy is pretty much always there?) Somehow, though, after all these years, I’ve lugged it from apartment to apartment, throughout Athens and Columbus. And sometimes, I even use it.

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Edible Goals.

Last weekend, uninspired by the idea of starting yet another day with oatmeal, cold cereal, or scrambled eggs, I decided to break out the recipe binder and do some baking. (I was in the process of heating up the apartment anyway, so it seemed like a good idea to multitask.)

The mission was breakfast, the parameters simple:

A) The recipe had to be one from my massive backlog of clippings to try.

B) It had to make use of ingredients already in my possession.

After sorting through pages of treats calling for the types of fresh, seasonal fruit sadly AWOL from my refrigerator, I stumbled upon something that was, perhaps, more suited to a crisp fall morning than the kickoff to summer, but it met my requirements: Caramel-Pecan Sticky Buns it was.

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Daydream Believer.

When I’m between jobs, I have nothing but good intentions for my down time. In my daydreams, the apartment sparkles, the giant pile of donations in the hall finally makes its way to the Salvation Army, I go to the farmers’ market at least once a week, and I exercise every day. And, naturally, I find time for the more involved cooking projects on my list.

I’m a world-class procrastinator, though. (If it were an Olympic sport, I’d be a contender for the gold.) While this is an unfortunate state of affairs, it’s also well-mined territory around these parts; you’d think I would’ve learned my lesson by now. Case in point: This recipe went up on Smitten Kitchen just over a year ago, and when I think about how long I could’ve been enjoying the beautiful bread it produced, I want to kick myself.

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Taking the Cure.

I woke up Tuesday morning with a sore throat, and by that evening, I felt like I was swallowing gravel. Minimally better the next morning, I dragged myself into the office, but by mid-afternoon, it was clear that I shouldn’t be in a building full of healthy people. I waved the white flag, begged for permission to work from home on Thursday, and have been huddled up in flannel pajamas in my freezing-cold apartment ever since. Before I left for Brooklyn, though, I stopped at the grocery store.

What? Shopping for your sick day is totally normal.


Up to that point, nothing had sounded appetizing; my diet consisted of Advil Cold & Sinus, coffee, green tea, Halls Defense vitamin C drops, and Airborne (the lemon-lime formula, natch). I wasn’t even hungry enough to spend much time on my usual food-blog rotation, and that’s saying something. You can imagine my shock, then, to click over to one of my favorite home-design sites, see a recipe for vegetarian chili and hear my body scream, “WANT THAT. NOW.” Obviously, it was trying to tell me something.

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Berry Swap.

One of the side effects of my most recent farmers market binge (yes, that one) was an extra container of fresh blueberries. I’m talking perfect end-of-summer blueberries, too, the blueberriest of blueberries, with such flavor that the year-round supermarket variety pales in comparison. I refuse to do anything with the tart-and-firm ones other than eat them straight, which leaves plenty of the soft-and-sweet for other uses.


I woke up on Sunday morning in a baking mood; I had everything necessary for this recipe but the raspberries and buttermilk. Swapping in my recently acquired blueberries was an easy fix, and after a quick search turned up a make-your-own substitute for buttermilk, I was in business.

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