Love War Stories, Apricot Almond Muffins, and Impending Seasonal Changes

I can't help but feel like summer is on a timer here. I mean sure, I'm as ready as anyone else to leave these 95-degree, 110% humidity-filled days behind, but am I the only one who starts to panic just a little when contemplating snow?

The good news is that not only do we have some time before boots and parkas rule the wardrobe, but the time in between now and then, popularly known as fall, is the best time to be a human who eats. Need proof? Get thee to a farmers' market and take in all of the beautiful produce that you thought was done growing. And if you're anything like me, you'll start to hyperventilate about all of the amazing food you want to cook with this fresh produce and how little time you have to cook it. My advice: don't worry. Take a deep breath. Then, go talk to your farmer and order in bulk. I came home last weekend with 20 pounds of tomatoes and 10 pounds of peaches from Mick Klug farm, and I couldn't be happier. 

Apricot Almond Muffins and Love War Stories

I spent the morning canning plain tomatoes, roasted tomatoes for pizza and pasta, and making crazy salsa that I promise I will post the recipe for, and I couldn't be happier. I feel a little less terrified at the prospect of winter, especially because I just made these gorgeous apricot almond muffins, which would be just as delicious with dried apricots. Probably. And they would definitely still match with Love War Stories by Ivelisse Rodriguez, which rocked my world. 

TLDR enjoy summer while it lasts, steal a little summer for your winter, and read the books I tell you to read. Cool. Happy Sunday eve!

Feminist Press provided a copy of Love War Stories to Page & Plate for the purpose of this independent review. 

Happy Cake Day: I Was Told There'd Be Cake and Blueberry Citrus Cake

If it wasn't already clear to you, I have a cake problem. I LOVE baking cakes (sometimes, when the time is right, and when the mood strikes me), but I am not the hugest cake fan. I will stare at a cake all day. I will watch videos of a cake being iced until my eyes roll back in my head and pop out of my skull. But give me an entire cake, and I'll make it through a bite or two before asking for a bag of chips.

I consider this lack of passionate love for cake to be one of my greatest character weaknesses, and I understand if this makes you as a reader suspicious of my validity as a baker. (Well, kind of.) BUT, to you skeptics, I offer this short, cake-related rebuttal: Today's blueberry citrus cake has not only grown on me in the last 48 hours, but made a huge splash at the office potluck that I had to bring it back in after I took it home because people FREAKED OUT. You know who you are. 

Just look at that beauty. It's no wonder people called it crack cake and made me sign a blood oath to bake it at their wedding. So cake lover or not, get your butt over to that recipe and whip up the cake critics are describing as "the best cake I've ever had" and "no, seriously, did you put cocaine in it?" Answer: no. I'm not that fun.

Speaking of fun though, if you read one book this week, please have it be I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley. I think you'll snort with laughter and really enjoy it, but even if you don't, she might catch wind of the buzz and want to be my friend, which would really mean a lot to me. Thanks in advance.

I Was Told There'd Be Cake and Blueberry Citrus Cake

Walking a line: turkey burgers and Betwixt-and-Between

Here is the thing about being a vegetarian: people assume that you either hate all meat-eaters forever until the end of the world or that you hate fun or both. For me, it's both. 

KIDDING. Geez. As I think I've preached before on this blog, I'm a vegetarian because I simply prefer not eating meat, and that is that. I'm not overly picky about chicken broth in risotto or gelatin in pudding or anything. I always try at least a bite of the meat that I cook because I have a deep paranoia that one day I will accidentally give someone food poisoning and then be blamed for that person's demise as I, the vegetarian, stand over them, totally healthy and laughing.

There are a few foods that I make a definite exception for and indulge in more than just one bite: shrimp is one. Salmon also makes the list. These turkey burgers, with the delicious addition of feta cheese (hello) and spinach, are another. Thanks, Mom! (No, seriously, it's her recipe, and she ROCKS it.) They walk the line perfectly between a healthy choice for your body and the planet AND between tasting as indulgent as a half-pound burger stuffed with extra cheddar cheese. I did them on the stove, but they get EVEN HEALTHIER if you toss them on the grill. Just be sure to use a sheet of tin foil to prevent them from falling through the cracks.

Also walking a line, in my opinion, between a story collection and a book of philosophical essays, is this week’s book from Coffee House Press, Betwixt-and-Between. While it does win the title of the most beautiful book cover I’ve seen this year, I just couldn’t connect with the text and author Jenny Boully’s message. Check out the review, give it a read, and prove me wrong.

Coffee House Press provided a copy of Betwixt-and-Between for the purposes of this independent review.

Which is more addicting: this tahini tea cake or Idiophone by Amy Fusselman?

The title of this blog post is a trick question because I honestly cannot figure out the answer. HAH. Got you! Got me? AH. I don't know! Which, by the way, is a great problem to have. And it means you should really bake this tea cake and pre-order this book

 WHAT A POWER COUPLE. 

WHAT A POWER COUPLE. 

I mean, Idiophone (out in July from Coffeehouse Press!) was SO unexpected and wonderfully weird and artsy that I expected not to like it, but I actually REALLY loved it. I couldn't put it down. I finished it in about an hour. No, it's not super long, but still. An hour. On the train! While people were talking and being generally distracted. I think that really says something. 

And this bread. Cake. Whatever. Man. I took a bite and was underwhelmed. Then I took another one, and I was like "wow, this isn't nearly as bad as that first bite," and now here I am like half a loaf later, and I don't know if I like it, but I can't stop eating it and I definitely haven't brought any to work to share. I don't know, you guys! Help! Do I hate it? Do I love it? Am I just really, really selfish? Help a blogger out, make the cake, and leave a comment with your verdict.

Coffee House Press provided a copy of Idiophone to Page & Plate, LLC for the purposes of this independent review.

Pot Pie, Riverine, and Upping the Ante

 Yay for Instagram stories that I just figured out how to work even though I am a #millennial. 

Yay for Instagram stories that I just figured out how to work even though I am a #millennial. 

If I wrote here that there was beauty in the mundane, you'd be wondering what I've possibly ingested that made me so poetic on a Thursday, of all things. I would be agreeing with you, because I've only had one cup of coffee from my brand new French press thermos, which is beautiful and perfect. I'm obsessed, but the fact remains: I did not indulge in a second cup, so there is no way I'm capable of waxing poetic about beauty in every day objects.

Instead, I'll tell you about white whole wheat flour, which I purchased in my likely-to-never-end crusade to make my kitchen as healthy as it can be. I am the kind of person who likes to have extra of everything, and as such, rarely has to put a lot of thought into when I'll run out of flour. Which, through a series of events too long and boring to be described here, leads me to the other day, when I pulled the last bag of flour and discovered that it was indeed white whole wheat.

Though this flour makes pretty sad cookies, it actually makes lovely pie crust. It's earthy and rustic, and it's perfect for the pot pie (chickenish or not) that you didn't know you were craving. Grab the recipe here, and cook yourself a thing of hearty, homemade beauty for dinner (no, you're not buying a pie crust; shut up). Do yourself one more favor, and grab the book Riverine by Angela Palm. It takes the entire genre of essay, flips it on its head, ups the ante, and does all that while managing to be entirely captivating. 

pot pie and riverine .jpg

Bagels, South and West, and Not Quite Getting There

I'm passionate about bagels. Really, bread of any sort. And yes, that includes beer. I could never imagine living a gluten-free lifestyle, and I pray every day that I don't have to go down that dark path. More power to you if you're on that journey. 

bagel.jpg

There are some times when I'm moved to desperation in my craving for carbs, and last week was one of them. We had no bagels in the house, it was 30 degrees and pouring, and I was getting ready to play the how fast can I run in my rainboots game (one that never ends well). But good guy Colin saved the day and proposed that we try to make bagels of our own instead. As you can see from this picture, they were wonky, misshapen, and definitely not something I would ever tweet out to Gordon Ramsay, but hey. They were bagels, they had lots of carbs, and they were lifesavers. Rest in carbs. 

 YEP.

YEP.

Did those stop me from spending close to $30 on bagels from Steingold's Deli this weekend because my craving for an actual bagel had reared its head again? No they didn't. But I felt justified in that purchase because I am woman enough to admit that I know when I try and don't quite get there. 

And speaking of falling short, I don't know whether I did as a reader or Joan Didion did as a diarist, but man, was South and West a disappointment. Check out why in my first actually negative review since I started this blog. 

Funfetti Cake, Bad Feminist, and Other FUNdamental Stuff

 A layer cake fiend in the making. I swear my chin is smaller now.

A layer cake fiend in the making. I swear my chin is smaller now.

When I was little, I remember making a list of things I absolutely for sure needed to do before I graduated college. Before you get excited, let me just remind you of how utterly lame I am by telling you that item number one was 'understand budgeting.' And no, before you ask, I never quite got there. This list included things I considered (at the ripe age of 18) to be barring me from absolute adulthood and also featured two things I like to think I've accomplished by now: develop a "sense of good taste" in reading and bake a layer cake. Upon reflection, I had no idea what actual adulthood would demand of me, and should've probably stayed in high school forever. Alas.

 Disclaimer: this is the cake I made in college. It was not mini. I ate it anyway.

Disclaimer: this is the cake I made in college. It was not mini. I ate it anyway.

Fast forward to the spring before I graduated. I finally successfully made a three layer cake. It took me 48 hours, two mental breakdowns, and a bottle of red wine. The cake was beautiful, delicious, and practically perfect, and I swore I'd never make it again. Fast forward AGAIN to now. I'm older. Better. Stronger. Smarter. More beautiful? Correct answer: none of the above. 

I know this because last week, I set out to make a mini layer cake (mini because I know my limits as well as I do my aging metabolism), and discovered that I am just as bad at it as I remember. I don't have the patience to let the cake cool before icing it. I don't remember to preheat the oven. I eat so much of the icing that I need to make another batch of icing in order to actually ice the whole cake. I am an imperfect baker. I admit this. But I can come back the next day and try again. Which actually worked out pretty well (check it out here and give it a go yourself).

Turns out, I picked the perfect book to go with my incredibly taxing and girly cake: Bad Feminist. The whole book is about how even though we're all just made up of contradictions and messy parts, that's no excuse to suck. Life lesson = learned. Cake = devoured. And, for the record, Tums = taken.