In my kitchen this past week I’ve managed to burn my Thanksgiving brussels sprouts, make a bum batch of chocolate brownies, crack my favorite coffee mug and somehow spill a half bottle of red wine under…UNDER my refrigerator. Additionally, since my kitchen seems to be a vortex of ill fate, I’ve refused to do the dishes. It wasn’t a pretty sight, friends. I was just about due for an intervention.
I was just about ready to throw a stick of dynamite into my kitchen and hope for the best. Instead I opted for one last shot… mostly because sticks of dynamite like the ones they have in cartoons are hard to find… maybe I’m just looking in the wrong places… whatever the case, I preheated the oven, kept my head down, and… success! Sweet, dense, chocolate and peanut butter success.
This dark kitchen cloud seems to have passed, and I’ve managed to get all of my dishes in the dishwasher…. things are looking up and tasting pretty darn good too.
I made you Sweet Potato Cookies with leftover mashed sweet potato my Dad’s infamous pie. I mixed up the dough. I portioned out little walnut size balls. I popped them on the baking sheet and into the oven. Then I sat down and made a terrible mistake. Good things did not happen. Not as good as these awesome cards from The Beautiful Project.
See… I started browsing Etsy.
Thirty minutes later my Sweet Potato Cookies were sad little creatures. They were hard enough to pack into a canon and use as a weapon to storm some unsuspecting village… if I were in to that sort of thing.
Truth is… I didn’t really want cookies. I really wanted to shop.
Instead of cookies, I bring you Etsy. Cute. Handmade. Precious. All from happy crafters. I’m shopping all Etsy this holiday. I like knowing that people as kooky as me are making me cool things. Also, it’s impressively cheap. Also, I think my neighbor is cooking fish sticks for dinner. On Thanksgiving!? Very distracting.
Look at this photo from Meganlee. It’s so simple and gorgeous. Want. Maybe a picture like this will be just the inspiration I need to write that dang cookbook. Yes. I think this will do the trick.
Now excuse me while I try to do something about this fish stick smell.
In the event of some sort of big fat natural disaster in California, I may be up a creek without a paddle. Sure, I’ve got the canned tuna, the emergency gallons of water and a few flashlights with dying batteries. I’ve got the walking shoes, a space blanket and pepper spray… you need those things, right? It’s just that I’m not sure the internets or my cellphone are going to do me much good in the event of a meltdown. Won’t all the cell towers be jammed? How am I going to reach out to my family? I don’t think Twitter will quite do the trick. Clearly my only option is to jog to them… in a space blanket. That seems to make the most sense.
My parents? I think they’re just ahead of me in the emergency game. They’ve got cell phones from 1993 and a telephone land line. At least the land line will come in handy.
My grandfather!? He’ll fare better than all of us in an emergency. He’s got Ham Radio. Ham Radio is a sort of amateur radio system that allows people to talk to one another all over the world. Don’t be fooled by the name. Ham Radio is actually pretty badass. Sort of like… trucker radio meets old school technology meets grandfather hobby. In emergencies, Ham Radio is booming. You better believe that in an emergency, my grandfather will be all over that radio. Who he’ll be talking to? I’m not exactly sure. He’ll probably be saving the world. I’ll be jogging my way to safety. My parents will still be screening their phone calls with their answering machine. Who is the hero? Grandpa.
I tell you all of this because Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (specifically the giant ((seriously giant)) kind from Costco) are my grandfather’s favorite. He no doubt has a 48 pack of those giant muffins in his emergency kit. You think I’m kidding. I’m not.
Note: my descriptions of Ham Radio here may hinge on trite and are most certainly superficial and inadequate.
I have a relationship with this pie. That’s normal, right?
The smell of this pie takes me back to the days six year old me would run screaming through our lime green, hallway shaped kitchen in anticipation of pie and ice cream and the imminent holiday festivities such a dessert suggested.
My Dad has been making this pie, with more cinnamon, with less coriander, with two eggs, with four eggs, with all sorts of variations, for… oh, just my entire life.
Believe it or not, it’s hard to write about something you’re so close to. Two things here are strange. One… I’m so close to a pie. Two… I’m having trouble writing about dessert! Oooh Lordy.
Here’s what I want you to know about this Sweet Potato Pie. Excuse me while I stumble through this.
This pie is made with orange fleshed sweet potatoes. Maybe you call them yams. Maybe you call them sweet potatoes. The difference continues to perplex and bore me.
If you’re wondering what heaven might smell like, whip this pie up, throw it in the oven, wait 20 minutes then take a deep breath somewhere near the oven. There. Heaven. Coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon and brown sugar heaven.
This pie can be made with my Easy No-Roll Pie Crust. You win. I win. Pillsbury pre-made pie crust loses. It’s better this way. Trust me.
Sweet Potato Pie. It’s beauty. It’s love. If you think I’m exaggerating… then we’re obviously not friends.
Here’s a fun fact: my Mom is a scrapbooker. She’s a serious scrapbooker. She’s got the paper cutters, the corner choppers, the fancy albums and colorful background paper… there are stickers…. so so many stickers. She’s for real. Scrapbooking is the new rubber stamping. Remember the rubber stamp craze!? Yea, we’ve moved on. Scrapbooking.
I went to my parents’ house a few days ago to find these envelopes gracing the brick fireplace. The envelope in front had my name on it. I was hoping for an early Christmas stocking. Boy oh boy did I get it. Among other darling and embarrassing photos of myself, I found a chronological history of my school days. From preschool to high school. Every cute, awkward and downright horrifying picture.
Now. Because I don’t know any better. Because I’m certifiably batty… allow me to share with you preschool through seventh grade. The later, more awkward years will follow, and we’ll all cry.
Though she will deny it, my Mom gave me this haircut herself. I remember very well. Even at four, I knew how ridiculous I looked.
I went to the Foodbuzz Festival in San Francisco last weekend, and all I got were these silly photo booth pictures with my dear friend Tracy of Shutterbean.
Ok…. that’s entirely untrue.
I walked away from the Foodbuzz Festival with more kitchen gear than I could carry, pockets full of fellow food blogger business cards, and a belly full of incredible food.
A room full of food bloggers means a room full of cameras. So many. Rather than crowd around and take pictures of food…. I just took pictures of people taking pictures of food. Weird. I know.
This also happened…
This big old bowl of tomatoes and cream is the best thing to ever come out of my kitchen.
So good. So right. I’m thinking of retiring. I’m thinking of hanging up the apron strings and ending on a high note. You know, like Seinfeld did in the 90’s.
But it’s just tomato soup? What could be so special about it? Let me explain.
or should I just call it Brown Rice Pudding?
When I was a little one, I remember lulling myself to sleep by listing off in my brain all of the things that I might like to find in heaven should I find myself there. I started off with important things like:
I’d like to find my little sister Lauren in heaven, but I don’t want to have to share my toys with her if I don’t want to.
I’d like to find my best friend Natalie in heaven because I love to play with her hair.
I’d like to find Grandmother, Granddaddy and Aunt DeeDee in heaven because they make the best hamburgers every Friday night .
And then this list would surely devolve into something that resembles my Christmas wish list:
I want an Easy Bake Oven in heaven…
I want a Barbie Dream House in heaven.
I want mechanical pencils in heaven… I had a serious thing for mechanical pencils. Still do.
Nowadays I’m barely awake enough to get my socks off before I’m zonked out on my pillow. I’d like to put this down on record now, if you’ll indulge me.
I want Rice Pudding in heaven. Rice pudding with raisins. Rice pudding with dried cherries. White rice. Brown rice. Any kind of rice cooked with milk and sugar. Please.
A few mechanical pencils might be nice too.
Autumn is settling in. Autumn has settled in, and here I am ready to accept it. I’m also ready to accept the fact that my days in the kitchen are about to dramatically increase (if you can believe that) as my cravings for apple crisp (lovelovelovelovelovelovelove), pumpkin cookies and cranberry treats become harder to ignore. I’m less ready to embrace the way my jeans are tightening around my thighs… or maybe it’s my thighs growing inside my jeans. Either way, the tightness and the sucking in of the tummy seems to be just a part of the season.
What are you up to in the kitchen these days? Here’s some food for thought Yes… I totally just said that.
Mocha Hazelnut Marble Cake. This cake was gorgeous, classy and utterly fine… until I tried to transport it in a fancy cake stand and got this glistening chocolate glaze exactly everywhere. Everywhere. Lesson learned.
I’ve got a guilty conscience. Here’s a little peek inside:
Dear Coworker David,
Tonight when you were detailing the twenty one shots you had for your twenty first birthday, I stopped listening at about shot number four… the Raging Bull I think you said. How do you remember all twenty one shots after twenty one shots anyway!? Sheeesh! Though I was smiling and nodding tonight, I heard not a word you said. True.
Dear Downstairs Neighbor,
Is it noisy down there? Does it seems sometimes like I’m stomping around on my second floor apartment floors? Probably. I am. I can have some heavy feet from time to time. Do I do it on purpose? Sometimes. Yes. To be fair, I do this because, as you know, I left cupcakes on your doorstep for you one afternoon and I watched you discover them and take them to the dumpster to throw away. I saw you do that. Not cool. Not cool at all.
Dearest Friend (pssst!… that’s you),
Sometimes I make recipes vegan simply because I’m out of eggs and/or butter. It’s true. A severe and persisting egg shortage in my house was the inspiration for the Vegan Pumpkin Bread. If you’re vegan, you’re probably annoyed. That’s ok. I can be annoying. If you’re not vegan, you’re probably happy to know that you can still bake up some wonders without eggs and butter. Your call.
Joy the Baker
I have really great news friends!
Number One: I had chicken and waffles for dinner last night. Hot dang! Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles… you were great news for my belly.
Number Two: Remember a few days ago when I was telling you how lovely the people at Minted.com are? Turns out… I was totally spot on! I love when that happens. I was right about their intrinsic awesomeness, which leads right into my third bit of great news…
Number Three: Minted.com is offering every single one of you a 15% discount on any holiday card order you place between now and Wednesday November 11th. Coupon code is: JOYTHEBAKER Whaaaat!? Yea. Awesome. So. Super. Sweet.
Now here’s the deal. I totally think you should hop on over to Minted.com and make up some super cute holiday cards. Make sure you order enough so that you can send me on. Seriously. I want your smiling face in my mailbox. It’ll make my insides happy. Order them. Email me. I’ll send you my address. I want a card. If you think I’m kidding, think again.
Aaaaand! One last and very exciting bit of great news for one lucky reader…
Number Four (on the list of really great news): Melissa Anizor. You have some seriously lucky birthday mojo because Random.org chose shining number 657. That’s you! You win holiday cards! Also… Happy freakin’ Birthday!
Here we are, staring November right in the eye. Am I the only one giving November dirty looks? I mean seriously November… how did you sneak up on me like this? Did you just trample over September and October to rub your impending holiday spirit in my face?
I’m not sure I’m ready to dive into the season… but you know what? I’ve gone and pushed myself into that pool. Ok… not really. I had some help. Minted.com gave me a shove… a friendly shove.. but still a shove.
See, Minted.com wanted to share something with you. They also wanted to me look super organized in my holiday spiriting. Thanks for that Minted. Well played.
So! Here’s the situation. Minted.com makes awesome, cute, rad ,modern, hip, tasteful, bodacious, colorful and fun holiday cards. Remember the long photo holiday cards your Mom would send out in 1983? They were decorated with some sort of pixelated wreath and an unflattering picture of you and your sister pretending to decorate a Christmas tree? Yea… that doesn’t have to happen anymore. Thank you Minted.com. Thank you.