Monday, March 26, 2012

CLASSIC CHOCOLATE CHIP PECAN BLONDIES

ANOTHER TRIP


Summer journeys to Niag'ra
and to other places aggra-
vate all our cares.
We'll save our fares!
I've a cozy little flat in
what is known as old Manhattan
we'll settle down
right here in town!

And tell me what street
compares with Mott Street
in July?
Sweet pushcarts gently gli-ding by.

The great big city's a wonderous toy
just made for a girl and boy.
We'll turn Manhattan
into an isle of joy!
- Lorenz Hart & Richard Rodgers

I am packing for a trip to New York City. How exciting and special is this trip – the International Association of Culinary Professionals annual conference and I am attending! I’ll be hugging friends once again that I have had the great luck to have already met, meeting and spending time with others. This is a learning and working trip: meetings, appointments, introductions, and sessions. I feel like I’ve finally grown up and can join the real professionals, and that is extremely gratifying, thrilling and motivating. Yet, this will be my first trip back to New York since that visit with my brother Michael during his illness, since his death. My first time not staying with him. Daunting, to say the least. And truly bittersweet, like a thick, bitter-tinged salted butter caramel wrapped around the big juicy sweet apple.

Friday, March 23, 2012

WRITING A BOOK

THE DARK SIDE


How does one begin to paint a picture in black when one has been using a palette of green to blue to red and every hue in between? Shades of grey edged in somber coal, murky and thick with emotion. I sit at my keyboard where optimism normally nudges my fingers across the letters like one of those old Ouija Boards, mysterious forces that always seem to know the secrets hidden deep inside. I spend my life cheering others up; I write in order to find the positive of any situation, no matter how dark, a kind of therapy or catharsis, always able to stand up and walk away from the computer feeling just a bit better. But as I sit at my desk, chin nestled heavily in the palm of my upturned hand, or my body curved into the corner of the sofa pondering over the words, the sentences, the paragraphs that spill out of my brain and my heart and onto the pristine white document in front of me, I wonder what I should write about, how deeply to delve.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

RASPBERRY COCONUT MACARONS FOR WORLD MACARON DAY!

WORLD MACARON DAY!


AND OLD FASHIONED BREAD PUDDING


I am anti-trend. Yes, I have worked in the arts. And fashion. Now food. How much trendier, how much under the influence can one get than art, fashion and food? Yet I recoil from trends, fads and crazes with a knee-jerk reaction, like being faced with the plague. Never one to easily fit in, I found that no matter how I tried to wear the latest styles or act like the others I looked little more than a misfit, a goon (yes), so why bother? While others were oohing and ahhing over the hot new artiste du jour, the David Salle or Julian Schnabel or whoever was being promoted as hot, I was too much of a naturally born skeptic to follow the crowd blindly, analyzing, over-analyzing and doubting the sincerity of this one or that. Too much is made over a film, a book or an exciting new gadget? I steer clear. I may purchase something – a cool pair of shoes, a lovely skirt, all the rage – but then I will safely tuck it away in the back of the closet only to pull it out 5 or 10 years later when the fad has passed and happily slip it on, pairing it with the most unlikely things. I may deign to discover a book or a film several years down the line, but first impressions and doubts tend to stick and I have been known to regret the money spent, close the book with disgust and give it away without having read further than the first chapter. Cell phone? Had to have one forced on me when I began working outside of the house. Iphone? Just got my first and my men still roll their eyes in dismay that I only use it…to phone.

Friday, March 16, 2012

HEAVENLY CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH MOCHA BUTTERCREAM

CHAOS AND COMFORT


Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change - this is the rhythm of living.
Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope.
And out of hope, progress.
- Bruce Barton


We have hesitated long enough. We have reasoned, argued, defined, dissected as much as is humanly possible, yet each time we have faltered. At each precipice we have paused and looked back at what lay behind us: solid, predictable, safe ground. We knew that we had no desire to stay on terra firma, not here, not now. But peering over the edge into the unknown or, worse, choosing a direction and plunging head first, only realizing much too late that we had made a mistake, seemed much to dangerous a chance to take. Or jumping into a decision with both feet only to figure out mid-flight that we should have waited just a tad longer, that we missed the real opportunity by giving in too quickly… sigh … But we have run out of words, no longer feel the pull of the argument. The time has finally come to make a determined compromise; time is now truly of the essence as precipitous, as terrifying as it feels. Realtors are being called, numbers totted up, lists made, apartments measured, plans analyzed. And bids mailed in.

Monday, March 12, 2012

TENDER COOKED BEEF AND CARROT CANNELLONI

FROID, BRULÉ, PAS CUIT… *


Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.
- Harriet Van Horne

With all the baking that goes on in my house, with all of the baked goods that appear on my blog, one would think that we never eat a meal here. Cake for breakfast, cake for lunch, panna cotta and fruit tarts for dinner and so on and so forth.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

CHOCOLATE CINNAMON PANNA COTTA & CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT FINANCIERS

BOYS WILL BE BOYS


I don't mind living in a man's world as long as I can be a woman in it.
- Marilyn Monroe


My dear friend Lael keeps teasing me about living in a household full of men.Woman vs Man. Me vs Godzilla. Fay Wray vs King King. Coming from her own house of one man, Giuliano, swimming against a tide of women, Lael must see my own world as one ongoing, raging battle of wits and wills, an everlasting struggle to please the hard-to-please. Or a great comedy act. One solitary, isolated girl baking and cooking for, humoring 3 men. Sugar & spice and everything nice simply going about my life and trying to understand the snakes and snails and puppy dog tails, to no avail.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

MOM’S CHOCOLATE CHIP NUT BREAD MY WAY

INSPIRATION SWEET AND NOSTALGIC


Do not go where the path may lead,
go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson


We were a family with a serious sweet tooth. Breakfast, snacks, desserts or after dinners in front of the television, there were no limits on when, what or how much we could eat. We were sensible kids and good eaters, so we had no problem eating a balanced meal, fruits, vegetables and all, and when left on our own – which we often were – invariably fixed ourselves a fairly good lunch. We were active kids, too, and living in small town Florida meant playing outside, ball, biking, running, basketball, every day all year round. Burning more than our fair share of energy. So our parents worried little about our in-between-meal eating habits and let us make all of the decisions. Either that or this was just their “live and let live” parenting style.

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