July 31, 2010 § 10 Comments
We’ve just gotten back from Norway, and already I miss it. Our visit went far too fast. The sunlight hours stretch past 11pm at this time of the year, and we made use of all of them, filling them with family and friends, swimming, hiking, fishing, berry picking, determined tanning, and all my favorite treats and snacks. Admittedly, the weather wasn’t perfect (the front page news story every day concerned itself with whether we could expect sun for the weekend and where to go to find the best weather). And there was an invasion of burning jellyfishes that turned ocean bathing into an extreme adventure sport. But, still, it was perfect. If it weren’t so hard to find iced coffee there (people tend to drink their coffee hot and black, even when hanging out on the beach), I think my campaign to convince Joel we should move to Norway would already be successfully completed. As it is, it might take one more visit 🙂 .
I have all sorts of plans to show you the wonderful landscape around our cabin, the abundance of food you can forage and eat in the summer, and some of the wonderfully goofy Norwegian people. But, being who I am, I mostly forgot to take pictures, and I have to wait for my dad to send them to me. So, instead I’ll start with this lovely cinnamon snack cake that my aunt made for everyone.
May 26, 2010 § 9 Comments
When I was just a wee thing, I had a wonderful children’s cookbook (British, I think) with life size color photographs of the recipes – each ingredient as well as the final product. I would spend private afternoons carefully paging through this book, gazing intently at the cheese sandwiches with faces made of peppers and olives, the scrambled eggs with ham and cheese, the fish stew. But, I would linger the longest on the cake recipe, a simple yellow sponge cake, decorated with icing and candies in the photograph. This cake was special. We almost never had dessert in my family growing up, unless it was a birthday or Christmas. But, once a year when the little rhubarb plant nestled along the corner of the garden shed was ready, my mother would give the go ahead, and we would cut down a few stalks and bake them into this yellow cake. It felt like Heaven, this dessert we got to make for no special occasion in particular, except that the rhubarb was ready and I had a cake recipe.
We’re in Minnesota again, at my parents house, for one of approximately 436trillion weddings that are happening this summer. I went out to the garden yesterday morning to check…the rhubarb was ready. I wanted to bake a cake. I’ve moved slightly beyond my “Child’s First Cookbook” days, I’m slightly sorry to say, but I still wanted to keep it simple, to let the rhubarb shine through in a delicate moist cake. Then again, I’ve also been becoming progressively more obsessed with brown butter (yes, I know that was totally two years ago, but better late than never, and it still tastes amazing, rich and nutty, even when it’s not one of Food & Wine’s foods of the year), and I had an inkling that browning the butter in the cake to give it a soft caramel undertone would buoy the tartness of the rhubarb to new heights.