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Monday, August 29, 2011

Sweet Potato Cake

I'm feeling a little sheepish that I haven't posted for two weeks. When I was on my road trip, I was so excited to come back and try out new recipes and share them with you all. When I came back, though, I got distracted. As you may remember, my goal is to open a bakery cafe and hire homeless people. Although the final form of that dream is years away, I left my job a couple of months ago to try and figure out the first steps of doing that. Start selling at farmer's markets, get an apprenticeship, get food safety certified, open a business account, create a logo...there is just so much to do. I waffle between feeling really good about it, to feeling really overwhelmed, to wondering "am I really doing anything?"

So with that, my inspiration for new posts has been on the back burner. I've still been cooking, though. If you can call making ice cream cooking. I made raw sugar ice cream and cocoa nib ice cream from my cookbook of the moment: Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich. I also made lemon basil sherbert, which was good, but I would add more basil next time. (This all came about when I bought herbs earlier in the summer, and the vendor gave me a bonus of a tiny little lemon basil start. "Lemon basil sherbert," he said emphatically. I'd had it on my mind ever since.)

I've also had recipes sitting in my bookmarked tabs for months that I finally made: Bucatoni with Eggplant and  Tagliatelle with Fresh Corn Pesto. Both were very nice and quite summery. Speaking of summery, I love end-of-summer warm evenings. Not humid, but warm and dry and content. I had all the windows down in my car last night and the air felt so fresh. It was probably thanks to the big storm (hurricane in some areas, tropical storm here) that just hit. Justin is raking up the debris in the back yard as I type.

Thanks for letting me ramble. Now it's time for the goods. Sweet Potato Cake. What do potatoes do to baked goods? Moisture. They make a nice tight crumb that doesn't dry out, even after days in the fridge (or on the counter, in cooler climates).

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Road Trip: Sonoma Valley

After San Francisco, we headed just a bit north to Sonoma Valley. It was beautiful driving through rolling hills of grapevines, with signs promising wine tastings at nearly every turn. A quick hike got us ready for a tasting that afternoon at the oldest winery in that area: Buena Vista. The place was beautiful. We chose a bottle of chardonnay to go with our dinner later that evening. On our way back from the winery, we discovered a little roadside cart with fresh figs, the kind with a box where you can leave your payment. Love it! The figs were amazing -- so honey sweet and deep-flavored. They were good enough to bring us back the next day for more.

The bed and breakfast we stayed at was Beltane Ranch. The gardens (plural -- they were everywhere) were so full of life and color that I must have taken a hundred photos. The sun was low in the sky and falling on the flowers in an lovely way that made them glow.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Road Trip: San Francisco

This city, in my mind, was the jewel of the trip. When we set off from Baltimore almost a month ago, this is what I was most looking forward to, even though there were many things to see first. And let me tell you, San Francisco did not disappoint! After a day and a half of exploring, walking, biking, and eating, I was dazzled.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

San Diego and Seared Ahi

After roughing it in the backcountry of Zion and Grand Canyon, Justin and I were ready for some luxury. We arrived in California and drove through the most interesting mountains in the southeastern part of the state. They looked like huge piles of rocks with no vegetation. It was strange to see such rocky, bare mountains.

As we neared San Diego, my excitement increased. We stayed with a cousin of mine that I hadn't seen in years, and had never met her three kids before. Keri welcomed us with open arms, and we had fun hanging out with her family, eating dinner, and making s'mores at the fire pit.