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Monday, January 30, 2012

Almond Cake for My 30th Birthday

Yesterday I turned 30. Thirty. I’m not one of those people to hide my age or groan over birthdays, but wow. Thirty is a new decade for me, and I’m looking forward to it.

You see, I had such an eventful decade in my twenties. I graduated high school, college, and grad school. I spent a year in Nicaragua, met my husband, and discovered my life calling to open a bakery café. I acquired four nieces and lost three grandparents. I lived in two countries, one suburb, one island, one rural area, and one city. I moved six times. I bought a house. I completed an epic hike in the Grand Canyon. I got a bike. And my favorite cat ever.

What will my thirties hold? Seeing my business come into existence? Seeing my children come into existence? Getting my home repaired? (Oh, it needs it so badly). Completing a triathlon? (That’s a big maybe). Keeping bees?

One thing is for sure: I will continue to cook. And bake. And love life.

For my birthday, I invited some friends out for sushi, had them over afterward for games, and baked myself this almond cake from Alice Medrich's "Pure Dessert." It was a home run all the way. By the time my 15 or so friends left, there was only 1 out of 24 pieces on the tray. Mind you, I may have had three pieces, but it was my birthday. One piece of cake for each decade.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Weekend Waffles

I’d always fancied myself a pancake girl, but I think that was just because I never owned a waffle maker. Until now. Thanks to my thoughtful sister-in-law, I now possess a beautiful Cuisinart Belgian waffle maker. (It was a joint gift for me and Justin, although I delight in using it, and we both delight in reaping the benefits of it). My favorite part about this waffle maker, aside from the fact that it makes great waffles, is that it can be stored upright without falling over.

Although waffle recipes are very similar to pancake recipes, waffles feel lighter in the mouth. Good waffles have a somewhat crisp crust, fluffy interior, and plenty of pockets for holding butter or maple syrup. Or, in this case, applesauce.

When it is not autumn, I do not love apples. I’ll eat them, sure, but it’s not quite the sensory delight it is when picked fresh off the tree and savored at an apple orchard. So, a nice alternative to eating apples straight is to make applesauce.

Have you ever made applesauce? It’s ridiculously easy. Core and cut an apple into chunks (no need to peel), put in a pot, add a couple tablespoons of water, and simmer until soft. When soft, mash with a potato masher and add extras, if you like. I just like to add cinnamon, but you could also add honey or brown sugar if the apples are not very sweet.

The not-too-heavy applesauce makes a great topping to whole grain waffles. Real maple syrup sweetens the deal, making every bite a combination of flavors and textures. I hope you try this next time you make waffles or pancakes, and let me know how it turns out.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Gluten Free Pie Crust

Dear friends, I have a wonderful recipe for you. Especially if you don't eat gluten. But even if you do, this pie crust recipe is the best I've tasted, regardless of it being gluten free. Read on.