This past weekend was full of firsts. My first real vacay away from the babe. My first show at Red Rocks. My first exposure to Dr. Pimple Popper. (I can get into a lot of bizarre shit, but I just can’t do it, you guys.)
The four days I spent in Denver were so very indulgent. Leisurely breakfasts in with old friends. Leisurely breakfasts out with new friends. Pedicures. Sour beers. Reclining movie theater seats. Wait — backtrack. MOVIES IN A MOVIE THEATER?? BE STILL MY HEART. ♥
Is this real life? I kept asking myself. Nay, this how the childless live, a little voice answered.
Oh. Huh. I had completely forgotten.
These pie shakes — PIE SHAKES!!! — are a continuation of this weekend’s indulgence. They won’t win any clean eating awards, but in the name of living a little, I’m gonna ask you to just roll with it.
Nutty brown sugar.
Real ice cream.
A one-two punch of almond butter and shortbread cookies that, together, simulate the richness of pie crust.
I’m not going to try much harder than that to sell you on these things, because when it comes down to it, you’re either a pie shake person or you’re not. Put another way: you’re either my friend, or you’re not.
Just kidding: I have no fraaaannds.
Many hugs to Chris and Momma Stoffel for showing our babe such a good time while I was off galavanting at high altitude these past few days. That little bug’s complete apathy at my return is nothing if not a testament to your superior caregiving skills. Or my stale airplane hair. What I’m tryna say is: I’d pay cash money for that sweet bugaboo to squeeze me.
You hear that, baby girl? HUG YER MOMMA.
There’s a pie shake in it for you.
p.s. Tremendous thanks to Sherrie (With Food + Love) for hosting today’s #DrinkTheSummer virtual shindig, which (in addition to my own gluttony) was the catalyst for these summery sippables. Be sure to scroll down to check out the other 50+ bloggers cheersing the season with their best drinkalinks, below. Yay!
p.p.s. That time I made pumpkin pie shakes, too!
Note: Before you lose interest amidst all my BS, let me get straight to the punchline: share a fruit or veggie selfie using the #DrinkGoodDoGood hashtag on social media, and Naked Juice will donate 10 lbs of produce to communities in need. It’s so easy, you guys. And you love selfies. YOU LOVE THEM. K, back at it…
Clean undies. Bubbly water. Freedom.
Oh hi there. Today we’re listing things I take for granted.
How about: fresh produce? Seriously.
While I’ve been known to snobbishly scoff at Trader Joe’s overpackaged stone fruit or dimpled avocados, the truth is, for most folks living the lifestyle that many assume of Silicon Valley residents, fresh, seasonal and — more often than not — locally grown and organic fruits and veggies are pretty easy to come by. Within just a mile or so of my house, there’s a weekend farmer’s market, a Trader Joe’s, an upscale specialty market with a highly Instagrammable produce section and a Whole Foods. Tack on another mile and there are two more farmer’s markets, a handful of year-round produce stands and even more gourmet food stores than I can count.
If you want to be that girl with a baguette and a bouquet tucked into the basket of your Vespa, this is so the place to do it.
And I so do.
Just on the other side of the highway, however, that narrative is completely reversed. I mean, do the gals over there want to scoot around draped in produce and bread? Of course. That is most definitely every girl’s dream, and if it’s not yours, you’re dead or lying. But it’s not a dream as quickly realized.
Because just on the other side of that highway, in the zipcodes that struggle for air/resources/acknowledgement amongst the Hooverous suck of the Valley’s tech giants and “signature” seven-figure fixer-uppers? Is a bonafide Food Desert. Capital Eff. Capital Dee. As in, within that same mile radius, fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables are next to nil.
Remember that bubble I mentioned that one time? Yeah, apparently I’m still hiding out inside. Taking things for granted. Earning Gold Medals in privilege. *bling*
In reality, nearly 30 million Americans live in these food deserts, and yet 60% of folks don’t believe food deserts exists in their community.
On the one hand: OMG do you think any of my bubble-mates want to braid my hair!?
On the other hand: wommmpppp.
But you guys youu guyz yew gaiis yehhhw gahhhhs.
Naked Juice is partnering with Wholesome Wave to, errrr, quench (?) these food deserts via their Drink Good Do Good campaign, beginning with a 250,000 lb contribution to communities in need. And for every fruit or veggie selfie you share using the #DrinkGoodDoGood hashtag on social media, Naked Juice will donate another 10 lbs of produce to Food Deserts — up to half a million dollars worth of fresh, high-quality fruits and veggies.
A selfie, you guys.
Like that ridiculous tomato-cupping goon up there.
The 80’s called, they want their part back. And I’m going through brow rehab, so… And WHO WEARS HORIZONTAL STRIPES ON THE INTERNET?
Moms do. Didn’t you know? Stripes. Moms. It’s a thing. Ugh.
Anyway. DO IT. So we can talk about this dang gazpacho alreadyyyyy…
Ok, see? Now we’re probably still in the bubble together, but at least we know we’re up in here. Feels good, right?
ABOUT THIS GAZPACHO.
When I first read about this Andalusian-style gazpacho on the Saveur archives a few weeks ago, it piqued my interest super hard. Unlike the kinda 90’s-y-blended-slightly-barfy-looking stuff that makes up most of my gazpacho experiences to-date, this gazpacho is silky and creamy and refreshing and loaded with lots of olive oil-soaked bread. BREAD!
And with all that blitzed up olive oil in there, it’s almost a little…aioli-y?…in its richness. AIOLI!
After doing a little googling on the topic, it kinda seems like I’m probably the last person to know about bready, olive-oily gazpacho, so maybe this is just another boring, blended 2000’s-y soup for you, but I’m many exciteds. Especially since all it requires is literally throwing a buncha leftover veggies in the blender with a tip of vinegar (um. and the bread. and the oil.), which is the ultimate win for lazy. LAZY!
Snap a selfie. Make this soup.
Take less life stuff for granted.
p.s. Be sure to tag me (@thepigandquill) in your #DoGoodShareGood selfies so I can see your fruity faces!
This post is sponsored by Naked Juice and the #DrinkGoodDoGood campaign. As always, I only support partners whose products and practices complement those employed in The Pig & Quill kitchen. Thanks for supporting the brands that help keep this piggy cooking!
Gazpacho Andaluz with Smoked Paprika-Glazed Almonds
2-3 slices day-old, slender baguette or hearth bread (about 3 oz), cut into about 1” pieces
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 lb. very ripe tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 english cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped, plus extra for serving
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
2 T apple cider vinegar
½-1 tsp salt
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
smoked paprika almonds (see recipe, below)
Combine bread cubes and olive oil in a small bowl, using a spoon to submerge cubes. Allow to soak 2 hours or up to overnight (covered, unrefrigerated).
Add tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, vinegar, ½ tsp sea salt, soaked bread with oil, and almond milk in a high-powered blender. Blend until very smooth, about 30-60 secs. Add more salt to taste, if needed. If a thinner consistency is desired, add a splash more almond milk.
Refrigerate soup until well-chilled, at least 2 hours. Serve topped smoked paprika almonds, reserved chopped cucumbers, scallions, a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt. Enjoy!
Prep time doesn't account for soaking the bread. But if your blender is fab and your bread still on the soft(ish) side, you can probbbbbbably get away with skipping this step. 😉
It’s National S’mores Day. Can you even freaking believe it? There’s a day for FUGGING EVERYYYTHANG. It’s also National Watch All the Gymnastics Day, National Your Kid Only Napped 40 Minutes Day and National Company is Coming Time to Swiffer the Hair in the Bathroom Day.
Ok, I made that last one up. But I’m still celebrating, because I’m one classy-ass hostess. You’re welcome, playdates.
But back to National S’mores Day. Let’s do it up proper, k?
I kinda wanted to say “prah-puhh” all British-like, but I didn’t know if you would get it. Do Brits like s’mores? They’d be right prah-puhh with a spot o’ tea, so probably yeah. Yeh. Yehhhhh. I’m still doing the accent. You knew that.
Ok. I promise this time.
A few weeks ago, I saw Christina making homemade graham crackers on snapchat, and my mind did a mini-splode. If you know me at all, you know I don’t bake for shit, but when I checked out the recipe, they seemed really, surprisingly simple — and I loved that she made them naturally sweetened so they’d be a (somewhat) guiltless treat for a teething babe. So later that week, I whipped up a batch, and they’ve been on repeat ever since. Because Lana loves them, yes — the first week we introduced them, I had to hide the container because she was getting all Chucky-baby about it — but mostly because I can’t stop stuffing them with roasted marshmallows, peanut butter cups and spoonfuls of blackberry jam. And more peanut butter. And sea salt. And then stuffing THAT.
In my faaaaaaace.
You know how I feel about pb & j things.
I know. I have no idea, either.
National I Digress Day.
p.s. in case you missed it, I was featured on Food52 this week – squeeeee! 🙂
p.p.s. last week’s chili-lime coconut mango pops!
p.p.p.s. pretty sure it goes without saying, but you could absolutely make these with store-bought graham crackers, too, and they won’t suck at all. But it’s worth it to try your hand at the homemade version. Plus you get to use cookie cutters and poke little holes in things with a fork, which is always kinda therapeutic. I should probably not be a parent.
Double PB&J S'mores (w/ Homemade Graham Crackers!)
Cut jumbo marshmallows in half crosswise and roast to desired doneness. (If doing this inside, I like to skewer the mallows with wood chopsticks that have been soaked in water for an hour or so and roast them over a low gas flame.)
Assemble! It's pretty obvious you can do this any way you like, but I prefer to top one graham cracker with half a roasted mallow; a pile of PB cup quarters; the second roasted mallow half, blackberry jam; peanut butter; plenty of sea salt and the second graham cracker. Enjoy!
Regarding the Homemade Graham Crackers: 1) I follow Christina's recipe exactly except I reduce the molasses by 1 tablespoon and increase the honey by 1 tablespoon. 2) Using a 2" square cutter (I actually have this exact set) and re-rolling the scraps, I can get about 30 cookies from each recipe. 3) And for some reason -- maybe because I just don't roll these quite thin enough -- these always take 22-25 mins in my oven. 4) Finally, of course you can use store-bought grahammies, too! I'll still be your frannnd.
Regarding the marshmallows: I love cutting these gigantic jumbo marshmallows in half -- for some reason I think they just toast up more evenly on my stove -- and sandwiching the chocolate in between the two layers, but you could absolutely do two standard mallows per s'more. 🙂
Little known fact: I am only capable of starting posts with hey guyssss. They are literally the first two words that pop out every time I open a new draft. And then, like, 64% of the time I come back to the top and force a new opener. Or just add a bunch of sssssssss’s. Or swap in a super original spelling of hey. I’m kinda digging haaaaaaiii but sometimes heyyo slips out, too. Hihihi! Hehwoooooooh. Heyeyeyeye. Hajjjjaieyeewwww.
I’m drinking $4 wine. Hey guysssssss.
Anyway, these popsicles are so super simple that they leave me with almost nothing to drone on about — it’s hot. they’re cold. but also hot. because spicy. but not too spicy, because you add it after. or you don’t have to add it at all. i’m drinking $4 wine — so I’m just going to talk about a few thangalangs and you can chime in.
Stranger Things. STRANGER THINGS! That score, that 80’s typography. That little Dustin guy! Are you watching?
I’m going to Denver! We’ve got three days and very few plans so gimme all the places to eat and drink beers and stand up on a paddleboard and buy hipster things and otherwise spend time and money sans behbehhhh kthx.
Instagram Stories I don’t even knowwwww. I’m so conflicted, you guys! I love Instagram, and I’ve just started loving snapchat (@thepigandquill) and now they have a love-child thing but it’s owned by Facebook and doesn’t have filters and everyone is already using it and there’s so much pressure. Are you about it? Should I be about it?
I just signed up for a half-marathon in October (squee!) and am in desperate need of cross-training. What are you loving? Programs with kiddo care or that I can tackle during naptime would be mosht exshullent!
Speaking of naptime, SEND ME ALL YOUR TIPS ON NAP TRANSITIONS 2→1 SORRY TO SCREAM.
I think we all know how I feel about The Bachelorette, but have we talked about this dress??? Swoondiggydiggy.
York Peppermint Patties or Reeses?
I’m drinking fourrrr dollahhhhh wiiiiiiine.
Spicy cool popsicles, dudes. Get ’em in your face.
Combine all ingredients in blender, beginning with 2 T honey, and blend until completely smooth. Taste for sweetness and adjust honey as needed. Pour mixture into molds (I use these). Freeze 30 mins. Insert sticks. Freeze until solid, at least 6 hours or overnight.
To release pops, dip mold into warm water. (Store released pops wrapped in wax paper in a plastic zip-top bag in the freezer.)
Immediately before serving, squeeze over more lime and top with a generous sprinkle tajin, if desired. Enjoy!
Update: when I originally published this recipe, I completely omitted the fact that I've made these several times with both honey and maple syrup, and the difference is nearly undetectable. So if you're looking to make these vegan (as advertised), the maple syrup route is for you. (I blame the $4 wine!) Cheers!
When I was 12 years old, I had a fever-induced dream that I was walking through a canyon of lasagne, towers of noodles and jarred red sauce closing in on me from all sides while I scrambled to pick up brittle twigs of dry angel hair pasta before they crumbled between my fingers. I knew that, somehow, collecting up the angel hair was my way out, but it was an impossible task, multiplying before my eyes. I awoke in a cold sweat, crying, and tugged on my (then) step-sister’s arm.
“Tiffany, I had a bad dream. About lasagne.”
She took it about as seriously as you can imagine.
It should come as no surprise, then, that lasagne wasn’t really my thing growing up. Somewhere between the feverish dream, pasty pans of frozen Stouffer’s and many a prime time commercial convincing me that the dreaded lasagne pan was the only thing standing between me and domestic supremacy, it just didn’t hold much appeal.
But I’ve grown up a bit. So when method challenged me to cook up the dish of my dreams (heh) as part of their #fearnomess campaign, I figured I’d show that nineties kid in me there’s nothing to be scared of. Lasagne, I now know, is as simple as it is delicious. And with method in hand, that ‘dreaded’ pan? It ain’t no thang at all.
This lasagne is a little different from your standard fare in a couple of ways. One — the flaaaaaaayvah! Based on my favorite-ever tomato soup, the sauce is straightforward but super savory: intensely sweet San Marzano tomatoes, licoricey Thai basil and — for the salt component — nutty, umami-rich miso. Plus Italian sausage and summer’s bounty of Swiss chard, it’s a meal to behold.
And two: it’s overnight lasagne! As in, you assemble it one day, let it sit in the fridge, and bake it the next — no boiling required. Which makes it entirely possible to have a pan of bubbly, piping hot lasagne for breakfast, if you so choose. It also means you can prep it tonight and bake it off lickety-split for dinner guests tomorrow.
Which just happens to be…National Lasagne Day.
No, I’m serious. How’s that for timing?
I know you guys will absolutely dig this dish as much as I do (hello, remember that time I teased it on Instagram and it was double-tapped, like, a whole bunch?). And if you know me, you know that, partnership stuff aside, we seriously dig method’s whole line-up in this house. Because they embrace everything that’s important to us as we raise dat little bug of ours, yes (everything is biodegradable, recyclable and never tested on animals – yay!) — but also because they get the job done.
Oh yeah, and they make my counters look kyOOt-AF.
Happy Thursday, pals! Here’s to making all your non-freaky lasagne dreams come true!
This post is sponsored by method. As always, I only support partners whose products and practices complement those employed in The Pig & Quill kitchen. Thanks for supporting the brands that help keep this piggy cooking!
The miso in this recipe is subtle, but it adds an element of nutty savoriness to an otherwise absurdly simple tomato sauce. Married with the sweet, licoricey Thai basil, it's the perfect complement to fennel-rich Italian sausage and earthy chard.
By: Emily Stoffel
Makes: 12 small or 6 large servings
1 lb sweet Italian chicken sausage
1 shallot, diced
1 large bunch swiss chard, leaves and stems separated
1 small bunch fresh Thai basil leaves (about ½ cup)
heaping ¼ cup mellow white miso
¾ lb low-moisture mozzarella, shredded
⅓ lb asiago, shredded
15 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
freshly grated nutmeg
9 no-boil lasagne noodles
light cooking oil for sautéing, such as avocado oil
Remove sausage from casing. In a large pot or dutch oven, brown sausage and shallots in a little avocado oil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sausage is deeply caramelized, about 15 mins.
Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, miso and basil in a food processor and pulse until miso is fully incorporated and basil is finely chopped.
Shred mozzarella and asiago cheeses. Chop chard leaves into pieces and finely chop card stems.
When sausage is browned, add chard stems and leaves. Reduce heat to medium, stir to combine, and sauté until leaves are wilted, 5 mins. Add tomato mixture and stir to combine. Bring to a bubble, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 mins.
To assemble lasagna, spread a little of the tomato sauce mixture in the bottom of an 8x11 pan and layer as follows: - 3 noodles - ⅓ of the ricotta cheese - freshly grated nutmeg (conservative freshly grated sprinkle) - ⅓ each of the shredded cheeses - ½ the meat sauce - 3 noodles - ½ of the remaining ricotta cheese - nutmeg - ½ of the remaining shredded cheeses - remaining meat sauce - 3 noodles - remaining ricotta cheese - nutmeg - remaining shredded cheeses
Allow to cool slightly, then cover tightly with foil and refrigerate at least six hours or overnight.
When ready to bake: preheat oven to 350F. Bake casserole, covered, for 60 mins, or until filling is hot and cheese is bubbly. Remove foil and bake another 15-20 mins to brown cheese. (For an extra browned top, you can also broil the lasagne for a minute or two, keeping a very careful eye on it.) Allow to rest 15 mins before cutting into 12 pieces and serving. Enjoy!
I love the extra sweet, licoricey note that Thai basil lends to this dish, but Italian basil will absolutely do if that's what's convenient. And since the sauce is so simple, San Marzano tomatoes -- which have a sweet, almost concentrated tomato flavor -- are highly recommended. If you use a traditional canned tomato, you may want to add a couple pinches of sugar and/or a few tablespoons of tomato paste. Lastly: our kiddo has a mild egg allergy, so I've left the traditional egg out of the ricotta portion of the recipe. Most lasagne noodles, however, DO contain eggs. If you're looking to make this completely egg-free, be sure to choose an egg-free pasta, like these guys.
I’ve been debating getting into this for a few weeks now, and the last thing I want to do is detract from such a pretty post with an undeniably ugly topic, but you guys.
WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING.
I won’t give any radical spoilers because I totally get that in a Hulu World not everyone has seen it, but why she’s not just going full Kaitlyn rogue and humping Luke in a barn somewhere is beyond me. And do we really need to get into it over Robby’s hair? I know it’s completely unfair to just personally attack these people, that they’re real people with real feelings, but I’m a real person with real opinions and I’ma tell you that boy needs some mussin’ up. As in, someone stole a tub of Garnier pomade from my gym locker in 1998 (I HAD UNRULY BANGS) and I am now 419% certain it was Swimmer Bod.
But really. Get those bowed legs wrapped around ya and call it a season, girl. If for no other reason than Christina and I can have late-night snapchat (username: @thepigandquill) conversations about something else, like the weather. Or how it would make my life if she moved back to California. Or — here’s an idea — our babies.
I don’t even want to talk about Jordan.
So instead: toast.
This whipped ricotta situation, you guys. It’s so ridiculously simple, I’m embarrassed that I’m even formatting the damn thing as a recipe, but, you know, search engines. So.
Until we get to the actual “recipe” (um, put beautiful, seasonal things on toast; insert into mouth; make sex noises), let’s just talk about what’s really going on here, and that is: a celebration of the season.
Ricotta toast is one of those things I seem to always forget about, and when I remember I get wildly excited and eat nothing else for three weeks straight, only to forget about it again once I’ve run a few tubs dry. The great thing is, once it’s come front of mind again, the seasons have usually changed, and with it, the bounty I set atop each sumptuously slathered slab.
For this summer version, I chose the teensiest cherry tomatoes, grown ever so lovingly by Chris and our bug, a verdant basil oil that’s just a little brighter and cleaner than your basic pesto (yet just as versatile); and sea salt. The kind that crunches as you shatter each crystalline flake, if you’ve got it.
And on the sweet end of the spectrum: stone fruit, of course. I’ve chosen these little plum-cherry hybrids that beckoned to me from the market, which are decidedly more plummy in flavor but do possess a smooth tartness that grooves really well with the woodsy, almost piney sweetness of blueberries, floral local honey and plenty of cracked pepper. But if such a specific variety is unavailable in your area, no worries. Any good stone fruit will do, and at this time of year, peaches and nectarines are pure candy on the tongue.
Calling this a recipe is nearly fraud - just take the tastiest farmer's market finds you can get your hands on, mound 'em up over a thick slab of crisped toast towering with whipped ricotta and finish everything with a drizzle of something sweet, salty or herbacious. It's tough to get wrong. 🙂
By: Emily Stoffel
Makes: about 6 servings
For the Toast
6-8 slices rustic whole grain bread (or as much as you desire!)
15 oz whole milk ricotta
For the Savory Toppings
couple handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved
basil oil (recipe follows)
flaked sea salt
For the Sweet Toppings
sliced stone fruit, such as plums or nectarines
honey (raw/local, if possible!)
freshly cracked black pepper
Drizzle sliced bread liberally with olive oil and broil until golden brown.
Meanwhile, turn ricotta out into a large bowl and beat with a hand mixer until slightly more voluminous and very creamy, about 2 mins.
Spread toast with whipped ricotta and adorn with toppings of choice. Enjoy!
First off, a moment of gratitude for your unwavering acceptance of my unconventional post yesterday. In a world that keeps insisting it’s reached its quota of hope, you make me happy to be human. Ok, on with the show.
I’m just going to start this off by saying how disappointed I am that the eggplant emoji has taken the dirtiest of turns. Seriously, all I wanted to do the whole time I was teasing this post on social media was string together about a billion heart and hearty-eye emojis with the eggplant emoji, backwards and forwards and backwards again. But I can’t do that, now can I? Not without the whole world thinking I’m in love with getting diddled every which way. So thanks, wang lovers, for mucking that up for me. What a bag of dix.
Let’s talk about this bánh mì.
It’s simple. It’s summery. Salty and sweet. Crunchy and creamy. Warm and cool. A veritable juxtaposition of all the typical food adjectives that are, uh, juxtaposable. And the eggplant. The Eggplant. I know there are some of you out there who have completely written off eggplant as a bland, or maybe even itchy (more on that here), nightshade of questionable character. And I won’t promise I can persuade you differently with but one not-even-that-original recipe. But try these two words on for size:
Oh shit. Feels nice, right?
Sticky-sweet, saucy and smokin’ hot?
Maybe it’s time for that eggplant emoji after all. 😉
You can find the recipe for these most-summery sammies (and even more eggplant musings!) in my contribution to Hither & Thither’s In Season column today.
Happy Tuesday, kiddos.
ps – Oh snap, I’m finally snapping! Behind the scenes stuffs, naptime confessions, sneak peeks of rad GIFs like thatta one down thurrrr ↓, yay! Check me out: @thepigandquill.
Oh, um, you’re still here. Hi. I know this is where the recipe usually goes, but today’s it’s over on Hither + Thither. See ya there!
This post is going to seem out of left field, but it’s one of those things, like plucking a mole hair, that just needs to happen. And it’s about as glamorous. Meaning, no photos of food today. No babes. Just this. Words. And I’ll keep them few.
I applaud transparency in blogging. In fact, it’s what keeps me coming back to my favorite spaces over and over again. If you’re feeling vulnerable, I want to know about it. Shit is getting heavy? Let me virtually shoulder that burden. Shedding salty tears over your fifth batch of gluten-free doorstops? I’ve been there. And I am no stranger to being real on the internet. I fully embrace the overshare, and I truly consider the self that I put forth online to be the same self you would encounter if I was standing in line behind you at Target. That girl eyeing your Cheez-Its with a look of both horror and envy? That’s me. But when it comes to topical content, I blog in a big, glossy bubble.
So today, I’m just going to take a minute to put forth some hard truths that have been pinging around in my head lately.
Truths like: The state of our nation is appalling, and I’m doing very little to change it.
Truths like: Just because I speak in hashtags and end a disproportionate number of words with z’s doesn’t mean I don’t recognize the language of hate. Or intolerance. Or even blind ignorance.
Truths like: White privilege doesn’t even begin to describe the only life I’ve ever known.
I blogged last week about vacations and celebrations while great injustices were bearing down on others with all the grace of a freight train derailed, and I did it with intention. In part, to protect you guys, my readers, who perhaps come to this space for a nosh and a laugh in the face of dark times. But for me, too. To preserve that lustrous bubble. To keep things light. And I question whether that was the right choice. I wouldn’t be writing this otherwise.
I won’t make any grand statements or gestures about what this means for the blog’s content moving forward. I realize that even politicizing, however vaguely, a post that the lot of you are expecting to be about food or motherhood will turn at least a few readers away. I hope that’s not the case, but I won’t lie and say I don’t understand. I do. And it makes me feel shitty. But it’s not For Real Shitty, of course, because — and here’s another truth: I’ve never known For Real Shitty.
I won’t end this with an action or an empowering message. To do so while sitting here, incredulously letting the days headlines wash over me in tide of secondhand oppression, would be beyond hypocritical. Even typing those words makes me flush with shame.
I will just say, if you’re here.
If you’re still reading.
Whether you relate to these sentiments or admonish me for sharing them.
I’m taking a minute. Mostly because I don’t know what else to do.
Hi guys! Hope all you ‘Mericans out there had a crackin’ holiday weekend. We took Miss Bug up to the lake for the first time and it was one of the most joyful weekends I can recount. Just a small group of good friends (we even flew the Ohio bestie out!), big dinners at home, plenty of time taking in Tahoe’s sweet sugar-pine air — running, hiking, biking, beaching — and even a few tan lines to show for it. Somehow, I’m always caught off guard by the Hot As Shit sand and the Cold As Shit water in Tahoe, but when you layer the two together, it makes for a pretty comfy little scene. We nerded out and popped up one of these guys and it was such a luxury — if only because it helped define a good chunk of real estate given the particularly sardine-y situation that is pretty much Any Beach USA on the Fourth of July.
This was a bit of a defining trip for us because it was the first time Chris and I were in South Lake Tahoe together since our pre-wedding weekend (some would call it a joint bachelor/bachelorette party, but how douchey does that sound?) six years ago. Again, it was July 4th weekend. Again, it was a small group of good friends. And, again, I found myself dancing uncomfortably on the hot sand/in the cold lake — but nearly every other detail of the two trips differ completely. Then it was all taxis and dancing and day drinking and trespassing on private beaches to watch the fireworks light up the Stateline sky. This trip was bike trailers and kidz bop’ing and baby wearing and exploding kittens. Oh, and bear sightings. Bear sightings! But it was every ounce as enjoyable.
Turns out, being a grown-up doesn’t totally suck. And you get a lot more sleep.
Anyway, given that last weekend marked the six-year anniversary of our last unmarried hurrah, this coming weekend marks the sixth anniversary of our actual I Do’s — so I thought it only appropriate to post something worth sinking a spoon into in celebration. Enter: crème brûlée.
I initially developed this recipe back when I was avoiding milk and thought it was bonkers tasty — and then tested it again recently to make sure that wasn’t just my dairy-deprived taste buds talking, and I maintain that it’s pretty damn delightful. Even with the combo of soymilk and silken tofu, it doesn’t taste like soy. It does, however, taste warm and cinnamony and unapologetically chocolatey, and there’s even an elegant airyness from the slight puffing that occurs when the custard bakes that makes it almost more akin to a soufflé than a crème. In fact, I almost called this a soufflé brûlée, but then I wanted to punch myself in the face, so I figured you would too.
Happy Friday, ya animals. And Happy Anniversary to my babydaddylovebug. Love you!
¼ cup demerara or white sugar for topping (see note)
berries or other fresh fruit for serving
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray ramekins with coconut oil or nonstick cooking spray.
Combine tofu through salt in a high-powered blender and blend until completely smooth and frothy, about a minute or so. Mixture will be quite liquidy.
Pour custard into prepared ramekins. Arrange ramekins in a deep-sided roasting pan and pour in enough hot tap water to come about halfway up the sides of the dishes. (Tip: place the roasting pan ON the baking rack before adding the water to minimize the risk of water sloshing into your crème during transfer.)
Bake for 40 mins or until crème begins to pull away from ramekin edges and a knife inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly, then chill completely in the refrigerator, at least an hour or up to overnight. (If chilling for more than an hour, cover tightly with plastic wrap.)
Immediately before serving, sprinkle ¼ cup sugar (total) over ramekins, tilting and tapping each dish slightly to encourage even distribution. Using a kitchen torch or very hot oven broiler, brûlée the sugar until it's completely melted and visibly browned in places. Top with berries or other fresh fruit. Enjoy!
I know it seems contradictory to use coconut sugar in the custard and conventional sugar on top, but I couldn't for the life of me get the coconut sugar to produce a truly crackable topping worthy of the brûlée name. (If you can manage, have at it!) I used a combo of demerara and white sugar here, mostly because I find the white sugar brûlées quickly and helps the demerara along while the demerara provides the color and crunch I most enjoy, but use what you've got! And while I know a torch is one of those single-use items that seems silly to have, it's my method of choice (and a small but worthy splurge if you intent to brulee things at least once or twice a year).
A reader once suggested that the journey to motherhood is akin to walking a labyrinth: a challenging 9-month route to the center, over the course of which that sweet babe grows in your belly, and an equally (if not more) challenging 9 month navigation back to the edge, or maybe more aptly the surface, where you can once again gulp the sweet air of independence and re-assimilate into the society you slowly retreated from, now a full 18 months later.
But the thing is, at 18 months (or rather, 9 months out), I still wasn’t quite there. The air still seemed a little thin. Most mornings were clouded yet by a film of anxiety over what the day might bring. That distinct meness I craved with such fervor was still only just out of reach, tickling my fingertips — ghostly wisps of my former self waiting to be reabsorbed back into my modified being. And I let it linger there, in the ether, taking immense comfort in its proximity and romanticising the day when we’d be one again.
Lana turned 14 months yesterday, and I can tell you: I think I’m finally there. Whole and happy and me. And not just me as in the new me, the mom me that I’ve talked about being before, but me as in the old me, too. The cynical, snarky, energetic, hungry me that Chris could probably sometimes do without. She’s come round again. And you know what did it? A birthday.
Earlier this month, Chris put a whopping 33 candles on my cake. It took him a full five minutes and 11 matches to set that thing afire, but he did it without singeing a single eyebrow and then triumphantly set it before me while Lana clapped along in a fiery trance. (It was a literal hot mess.) That morning, Chris had surprised me with several decadent hours at the spa, followed by a little family walk to get sandwiches downtown. For dinner, we ordered-in more sushi than we could possibly eat (which I impossibly ate), and as I sat there, bathed in the violent flicker of my diminishing youth, I realized: I feel pretty friggin’ great.
Somewhere in the past month or so, that underlying utterance of How’s this gonna go… kinda just turned into Here we go! and, lo and behold, the house hasn’t burned down. (Melted, maybe, because we’re sans A/C and it’s been all kinds of hotttttt around here, but no literal fires. I mean, aside from the birthday torch. And if that wasn’t gonna do it…) We drove down to Santa Barbara for a wedding last weekend, and despite Lana’s still undeveloped affinity for long-distance car travel, it was fine. More than fine. Almost pleasant. We kept her up past bedtime so she could eat mini kobe beef sliders and feed the giraffes (it was at the Santa Barbara Zoo — how freaking cool is that?) and she was no worse for the wear. To the contrary, she took it upon herself to start taking steps all by herself this weekend, as if to say, I, too can throw caution to the wind.
We’re doing ok, guys.
Oh, and then there’s the whole It’s Officially Summer thing, which it better damn well be, because — as I mentioned above — it’s hot as shit around here. For those of us still nursing a (now rather large) baby, that equals all the boob sweat, plus all the crook-of-the-arm sweat where you support their (also) sweaty little head. It’s neither pretty nor fun and all but requires immediate application of something cool and icy to the face upon completion. Like a popsicle, mehbes.
This year marks Billy’s Fourth Annual #PopsicleWeek bruhaha, and partygoers are bringing some serious game. I’m already feeling kinda sad about the fact that I didn’t go the way of a rainbow pop like Joyce or Jessica, both of whom are clearly cooler than me. Instead, in true millennial-on-the-old-side-of-millennials fashion, I took a trending hashtag and turned it into a popsicle. Does that make me despy? Maybe a little. Do you hate the word despy? Probs.
But bottom line: these pops are tops.
If you’re not familiar with the #pinkdrink moment that’s happening, it’s this thing where you order a Strawberry Acai Refresher from SBeezy’s with coconut milk instead of water, and it tastes like a liquefied Skittle. These pops, I promise you, do not taste like liquefied Skittles — or even like liquefied and frozen Skittles, because I know that’s what you were thinking. They do taste, however, like faintly sweetened (with maple syrup!) strawberries and coconut and they’re infused with just enough green tea to keep things light and lightly caffeinated and they’re generously drizzled with white chocolate and topped with more strawberries and more coconut because duh.
I mean, life is pretty good with one of these in your mouth.
But like I said, we’re doing aiight here, popsicles or not. 😉
To make pops: Combine coconut milk, green tea, maple syrup and halved strawberries in a blender and process until smooth. Scatter diced strawberries evenly among ice pop moulds (I use this one). Pour coconut milk mixture over top and freeze 30 mins; insert sticks. Continue to freeze until set, at least 6 hours or overnight.
To top with white chocolate drizzle: Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove popsicles from moulds and arrange on sheet. Return to freezer while you prepare chocolate.
Combine white chocolate and coconut oil over a double boiler and heat until completely melted and smooth, stirring frequently. Using a fork, drizzle melted chocolate over popsicles and immediately scatter with crushed freeze-dried berries and coconut. Return to freezer to set drizzle, about 10 mins. Enjoy!