Monday, June 20, 2011

Out in America

Thai Pavilion at Olbrich Gardens

Just popping in from my summer exploits (which include working, interning and taking the GRE)* to comment on a show I recently watched on PBS, Out in America. My mind has been on long term relationships and how they stand the test of time. These are a few notable quotes from the show.

"I'm kind of the culinary Jew in the house, and if she is willing to clean up the oil that I use that ends up all over the stove and not complain about it, then I don't know what love is. I also like to quilt, and when I hear a cry of pain from the other room because she's stepped on a needle that I dropped, and she doesn't say anything, then I don't know what love is."

"We've been together for the better part of 40 years, and to say that we still like each other is a significant accomplishment."

*gah. The GRE. At least I don't have to think about it until next Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My old/new love.

Irrelevant photo #1. Alex and Evelyn checking out the magnolias at the Arboretum.

You don't look like much, but I love you just the same.

Bad photo with flash. Look! She's showing her sweet vanilla custard layer!
I have a "thing" for rhubarb. Every year I scour the farmers market stalls for the tender, sour stalks, like an eagle surveying the fields for it's prey. I was lucky enough to find some on Saturday and promptly bought 8 pounds.
I realized how much I had really bought when I got home and half of it was enough to fill 7 quart jars with sauce. I chopped and covered the rest with sugar and forgot about it for two days on the bottom shelf in the fridge. When I pulled it out last night, the rhubarb had given off a ton of water, though the little slices still looked crisp. I drained the rhubarb and figured a fruit crisp would be a great way to get rid of the rest of it. Except that I don't like fruit crisps. If I wanted a bowl of fruit for dessert, an apple is much more appealing to me.
My grandmother makes this amazing dessert called "rhubarb dream dessert", which is little slices of rhubarb bathed in eggy vanilla custard perched on top of a powdered sugar crust and topped with clouds of meringue. Not being a big fan of meringue (sorry Hannah), and the crust seemed like too much of a bother, so I whipped up the custard, threw in the rhubarb and decided that the crumb topping of a crisp would be just the thing for the lid. Let me tell you, I have eaten half the pan by myself. It's heaven on a spoon. And great mixed with plain yogurt...

Rhubarb Custard Crisp

Custard layer:
6 egg yolks
2 c. sugar (yes, really)
2T. flour
1/2 c. milk
a vanilla bean, split and scraped (you could sub 1t. vanilla extract)
a pinch of salt
4 c. of rhubarb

1/2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. flour (your choice here, whole wheat pastry flour might be a nice, nutty alternative)
1/3 c. dark brown sugar, packed
1/8 t. baking soda
1/4. t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. cold butter, split

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, milk, flour, salt and vanilla bean, whisk in the rhubarb. Pour into a 9x13 pan. Mix together oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt for the topping. Cut in half the butter (like pie crust). Sprinkle topping over custard. Melt the other half-stick of butter and sprinkle that over the topping. Bake at 350 anywhere between 30 and 50 minutes. My oven is slow, so it took 50 minutes. Check if the center is set by jiggling the pan. If the center still jiggles around a lot, slide it back in for another 10 minutes, or so.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Up to the highest height!

 Let's go fly a kite!

This is now a daily request. Kite flying and sidewalk scribbling. Has spring finally arrived?

I am thrilled to be done with school for the semester, but having a difficult time figuring out what to do with myself this summer. This is the first summer I have had off in years. How do you while away the summer hours?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Love and Love.

Love love love love this band! I have been addicted to them and their fluid and poetic songwriting. The Civil Wars, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Butterhorns with Papa

Image courtesy of here
My grandparents house is one of smells and memories. The kitchen is a small galley off of the dining room. My grandmother has covered every square inch of the space with cookery items, antique utensils, showy tableware, dried flowers, baskets and garlic hanging in bunches. Stained glass tablets hang from the windows, transforming the light and space into an ethereal place. Small crystal bowls line the windowsill above the sink as a place to rest her rings while washing dishes. She is the homemaker of this house and this is her space. Every inch of it surrounds her, describes her, and is part of her. My grandfather, like many men of his generation, has dominion over the charcoal grill in the backyard. He is always willing to help my grandmother in the kitchen, peeling potatoes or removing a particularly cumbersome roast from the oven, but his form looks displaced in the cramped space. He fills it completely and is surrounded by the femininity of her kitchen. I know he can cook. I know he is capable of much more than grilling, and on rare occasions he shows me. Grammie was out for the morning, and Papa was in charge of me. Usually we would run down the street to the park to play, but on this morning he asks me if I wanted to make butter horns with him. I peer into the glass bowl as he adds a small amount of warm water. He hands me a spoon to sprinkle sugar into the water. Digging through the cupboard, he returns with a little packet of yeast. I sprinkle the tiny grains over the sugar-water and watch them bloom. The earthy smell envelops me as I stir the mixture with a wooden spoon. He covers the bowl with plastic wrap and removes a large bowl from the stand mixer on the counter. He has me scoop flour from the earthenware canister on the counter into a metal flour sifter over the bowl, spinning the handle to remove all of the lumps. The yeast is foaming and requires our attention. He has me add more sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and melted butter to the yeast mixture and stir it around until everything is combined and smooth. He takes the wooden spoon, warm from my hand, and slowly adds the flour in small amounts, beating hard with the spoon until it stiffens into a stringy dough. He has me sprinkle flour onto the counter and turns out the dough to be kneaded. I watch as he moves methodically, turning, pushing and folding the dough until it seems to elasticize beneath his hands. I oil a large plastic bowl and watch as he gathers the dough, places it in the bowl and turns it to oil the top. He snaps the lid shut on the Tupperware bowl and we wash our hands. He distracts me for an hour, however you can distract a 10 year old, and when we return the dough has taken on a life of it’s own and has pushed up the lid of the container, peeking out from the crack like a swamp monster. He asks me to punch it down, and I look at him as I raise my fist and sink it into the soft dough. I sprinkle flour on the counter as he pulls the mass of dough out of the bowl and plops it on the counter. He divides it into four pieces and returns three of them to the bowl. The first piece gets rolled out into a circle, and I am entrusted with the blue glass butter dish and a pastry brush. I brush a thick coating of butter on the circle and he sprinkles a mixture of cinnamon and sugar over the disk. He takes a pizza cutter and divides the circle up into 8 pieces. He shows me how to roll each piece up, starting at the wide end and tucking the tiny tail under the roll. We grease a cookie sheet and place each roll on the sheet, curling the ends in slightly. We repeat this performance with each remaining balls of dough. He turns the oven on to warm up, and sets the trays of butter horns on the counter, covered with cotton kitchen towels for a second 30-minute rise. When the oven is preheated we slide our rolls in. He leaves the oven light on for me, and I watch as the rolls bloom and brown. While they are baking he whisks together a simple glaze of powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. When the rolls come out we let them cool a bit, then we drizzle on the glaze, watching it drip down onto the cookie sheet beneath. When they are completely cool and the glaze has dried, we remove them from the cookie sheet with spatulas. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen with Papa as we sink our teeth into our freshly baked creations. I smile at him and know that he is capable of so much more.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Only in Wisconsin...

After snowing about a bajillion inches with high winds and ice, this guy thinks it's a good time to go shovel his roof.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Rogue Chocolatier

Chocolate porn, just for you Hannah. As in all porn hastily taken pictures, the photo quality is low. Sorry about that. I couldn't wait to dig in. I heard about Rogue's Piura bar via David and couldn't resist putting in my order at 8:07 on a Saturday morning. What can I say? My brain was still addled with sleep and I had no problem spending $7 on a bar of chocolate, nay, 3 bars. Shh... Don't tell Alex...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Vivian Maier

All photography in this post courtesy of
I am completely in love and inspired by this woman's work right now. She has the talent of capturing intimate details as well as sweeping emotions in a single photograph. I can't wait for the exhibition.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Back at Bloom

I couldn't leave this lovely little shop for long. I'm happy to be back and baking in the mornings and doing something I love.