Sunday, December 14

One Fell Swoop - {Roasted Grapefruit and Grapefruit Candied Pistachio Cake}


The way he looked at me was so intense that the only thing I could do was look away and pretend he hadn’t done it.

It seemed so loaded and deliberate, but he was so out of my league that I was positive I’d read him incorrectly. I didn’t think I was imagining it, as there was nothing remotely inspired or romantic about our surroundings, but surely: I must have been out of my mind. How could that weight have been for me? Was it possible?

As time passed, despite the fact that we barely spoke, we grew close. Our relationship, in its innocent entirety, was nothing more than fleeting conversations of the eyes and partings exchanged only in nervous giggles.

It meant a lot.

I was eager and optimistic. He was brilliant, creative, and hilarious. He loved his mom. He loved his dog. He loved his job.

This could be it, I thought. This could be different.


But even through that optimistic lens, I knew that there were plenty of things to keep me from him, and him from me. History had taught me to be suspicions of intention and honesty, callousing my heart to a dangerously uncaring state. I liked men. I knew they could be good. I just hadn’t met many that could prove it to me, and I was a hair past beginning to doubt there were any good ones left.

In short: he couldn’t trust me because I wouldn’t trust him.

The first time we really spoke was when we collided, quite unexpectedly, on a hot day in early fall. He was all I saw, standing confidently casual in the sun; freshly shaven with a lit cigarette parting his smirking lips.

That day, I knew, was the day that my flicker of optimism would either explode or fizzle out.


It was the latter, of course, but that wasn’t so terrible. As you might guess, I was getting comfortable with the fact that dating was just a thing people did, so it was expected. In all honesty, to date seemed a simple pastime, like reading a book or watching a movie. It was something easy to pour passion into, briefly and occasionally, before shelving it and moving onto the next new – often blonde - edition.

All in good fun, I guess. Once I figured out that feelings were off the table, I felt invincible.

Truly, two could play at that game.

I allowed myself to be cautiously fascinated by him and his passions, taking care to apply the rules I had learned to my advantage. I used his attention as he used mine: sparingly and when it suited me.

We were together, or something, in this way for a while. It was effortless, passive, and easy. He’d throw parties with his friends and leave me uninvited so as to avoid questions. I’d stay home when he ran his adventure races, and deny myself the urge to send a congratulatory text when he posted his time.

When we spent afternoons together, he’d invariably find some reason to quickly leave. He’d lace his shoes or grab his coat, promising a quick return, then leave me hanging - often for days on end.

I dealt with it, but eventually began to feel uncomfortable for being so disaffected with… well, everything. I grew upset with myself for my complacency with such a shitty form of “affection,” and even more so for being convinced that this was all I deserved. I hated myself for getting into a situation so unhealthy and so messed up - only for the validation of feeling wanted. All I had managed, at this point, was to give up on love.

And so, in a flurry of anger and tears shed alone in my apartment, it ended. I raged over how wasteful it is to be with anyone who could manage to make being so thoughtless and uncaring seem normal or acceptable. I wanted kindness. I wanted closeness. I wanted wanting.

I wanted to explain to him what we were doing and how stupid it was. I wanted to hop on my soapbox and affect him; change him. I had sweeping day-dreamy visions of changing the world; of making people realize how important it is to care. This talk would mean something. This end would be a beginning.

This wasn’t it, I knew, and I intended to tell him so the next time we spoke.


But the opportunity never came.

And the fact that the lack of closure had no effect on me was the final straw.

Things had to change.

I couldn’t live like this anymore.

Roasted Grapefruit and Pistachio Cake

I've been dreaming of making this cake for some time! It's a really nice combination that I hope you'll enjoy. You might find these links helpful:
How to Assemble a Layer Cake
How to Frost a Layer Cake


Butter Cake

I fought the urge to use a light-textured cake for this. I think it was a wise decision. Recipe via Land o' Lakes

3 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 c sugar
1 c butter, softened
4 eggs, room temp
2 tsp vanilla
1 c milk, room temp

Set the oven to 350F. Oil and line two tall 6" cake pans.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Let the mixer run on medium high speed for 10 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl before each addition. Add the vanilla.

Add 1/3 of the dry mixture, and stir gently to combine. Add half of the milk, and stir. Continue, alternating, ending with dry. Be careful not to overmix.

Divide the batter between the pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 35-45 minutes.

Allow to cool in pans on a rack for 10 minutes. Loosen cake with a butter knife and turn out onto plastic wrap. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until cool before cutting and frosting.

Roasted Grapefruit

Roasted grapefruit just sounds romantic, doesn't it? This method of cooking helps to intensify the sugars and gives the grapefruit a chance to shine.

2 grapefruit
~3 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp salt

Set the oven to 350 F.

Zest half of one of the grapefruits and set aside for use in the candied pistachio recipe below.

Segment/supreme the grapefruit and place the segments in a shallow baking dish. Squeeze the juice from the membranes over. Drizzle on the honey and sprinkle on the salt. Bake in preheated oven for 30-45 minutes, until the liquid is slightly reduced and the grapefruit looks dry. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate.

Roasted Grapefruit Swiss Meringue

I couldn't stop eating this stuff! It's very pretty with occasional strings of red.

7 egg whites
1 1/2 c sugar
1 1/4 lb butter (5 sticks OR 2 1/2 cups OR 40 Tbsp), room temperature
Juice from Roasted Grapefruit

Follow the directions here, using the ingredients above. Add the juice from the roasted grapefruit when you would add the vanilla. It's ok to get a little bit of the fruit in there, but try not to drop any of the segments in.

Grapefruit Candied Pistachios

These are a really satisfying snack! The intention with these was to have them around to serve with the cake, but I made extra on purpose. These are going to nice to have for holiday parties. Inspired by All Recipes

1 egg white
1 Tbsp water
1 lb pistachios, shelled
zest from 1/2 grapefruit, reserved from above
1 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 250F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg white and water until frothy. Pour in the pistachios and grapefruit zest, then stir to combine. Add the sugar and salt, and mix thoroughly. Tip the gooey mixture onto the lined baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Bake approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every fifteen minutes. The nuts are done when they are dry and crispy. Cool on a rack before using and place in an airtight container. Store at room temp.

Assembly

Mash the roasted grapefruit into a chunky mush. Set aside.

Divide each cake into two even layers.

Spread 1 Tbsp of smashed roasted grapefruit onto a layer of cake. Top with buttercream, and spread evenly. Continue layering in this fashion, until you get to the last layer. Do not spread with grapefruit; just crumb coat. Click for more information on assembling and frosting a cake.

Saturday, December 6

YOLO - {Pecan Pumpkin Spice Macarons}

Hunting through Whole Foods’ odds and ends cheese basket, I was listening and searching for something that spoke to me from inside its saran wrap sheath. Aunt S and I were heading back from a short rubber-necking drive through Aspen, and had stopped in Basalt, CO only to search for an obscure type of vinegar. Of course, it didn’t take long for us to make our way back to the cheese section, and it took even less time for us to decide that that the miscellaneous scraps we took home would serve as the evening’s meal.

Pecan Pumpkin Spice Macaron

Traveling with Aunt S is always a spontaneous and fun experience. Nothing scares her, she’s been everywhere, and – though married to a great guy – she’s one of the most independent and strong people I know. Spend an hour with her and you’ll know: she’s the definition of living life to its fullest.

Being one of many relatives who’ve spent part of their adolescence far from home, S and I frequently discussed the way things were in Colorado 30 years prior. While juggling a small collection of cheese scraps for her consideration, I imagined Basalt 30 years younger and as she’d explained: barren land beneath my mud-caked sneakers and a tall, perfumed sage brush bush before me.

Her stories were colorful and diverse; anecdotes about old roommates mingled naturally with tales of evenings and weekends past. It sounded wild and fun, but – as a surprise to me – relatable too.

Pecan Pumpkin Spice Macaron

You see, when I was growing up, I felt like I HAD to move away from home – at least for a while - in order to be happy. When thinking about my adult life, I barely considered Michigan part of it because it just felt like taking the easy route. I planned to move to New York, and, honestly, I didn’t intend to return.

Michigan was boring.

Staying in Michigan would be an embarrassment.

I had to get out for fear of looking back on my younger years and having nothing to say and no stories to tell.

But, here I am.

In Michigan.

Pecan Pumpkin Spice Macaron

Only an hour from my hometown.

I was already comfortable with the reality before my trip to Colorado with S, but it took our conversations to make me realize why:

Life wouldn’t be better if I moved to New York City, it would only be different. And, truthfully, I wouldn’t trade my life in Michigan for anything.

Not to knock it, of course, but I realize now that the only reason a life away sounded more glamorous than anything I could ever have here is because these years – the ones between late teens and real responsibility – are probably the most magic, exhilarating, and free of anyone’s life. Of course people look back upon them so fondly. How could they not?

Listening to her stories made me realize that my life has been everything I’ve wanted – and some things I haven’t, for good measure – and that I haven’t really missed out on anything for growing, living, and staying here.

In Michigan.

While I admit that the general application of YOLO often makes one sound moronic, I’m not afraid to use it. I’m glad there’s recognition for the fact that you do only go around once.

Pecan Pumpkin Spice Macaron

So, YOLO, friends. Make the best of your life, wherever you are.

Because, really, there’s no reason to be anywhere else.

Pecan Pumpkin Spice Macarons

Spiced Pecan Macarons 

Recipe and method adapted from BraveTart
I encourage you to click through to Stella's recipe for the method for these. She explains it much better than I ever could. Grind the spices with the nuts and powdered sugar for even distribution.

115 g pecans
230 g powdered sugar
2 cloves
1 allspice berry
1/4 tsp dried ginger (just the normal stuff you buy in the spice aisle)
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp nutmeg
144 g egg white
72 g sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Click through to BraveTart for a foolproof macaron method.

Crustless Pumpkin Pie

Recipe via Smitten Kitchen.

I love this pumpkin pie recipe! Like the recipe below, this will make more than you need for this recipe, but this leftovers are certainly delicious on their own. I really like the method Deb recommends, which involves cooking the pumpkin first. It makes the custard extra smooth!

1 15 oz (425) can pumpkin puree
2/3 c (130 g) sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp ground colves
Pinch nutmeg
1 1/3 c (315 ml) heavy cream, cold
3 eggs

Lightly grease a 9" pie tin. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a medium saucepan, combine the pumpkin, sugar, salt. and spices. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant and a little drier looking. Remove from heat and pour in the heavy cream, stirring to combine. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, and pour into prepared pie tin.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until just barely jiggling in the center. Set aside to cool.

Pumpkin Pie Cream Cheese Frosting

I want to put this on everything. I would have made a batch of cupcakes to top them with if I hadn't run out of time before my trip. This recipe will make more than you need, but that's not really a bad thing... Is it? 

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, room temp
4 Tbsp butter, room temperature
1/2 c powdered sugar
1/2 - 1 c prepared COOLED Crustless Pumpkin Pie (see above)

Combine the cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. Whip on medium speed until lightened, being sure to scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the powdered sugar and beat to incorporate. Add 1/2 c Crustless Pumpkin Pie and beat to combine, to start; add more to taste.

Sunday, November 30

Split - {Blueberry Oatmeal Ice Cream}

I used to say I was thankful that my parents got a divorce.


As a kid, two Christmases, two birthdays, and two neighborhoods worth of friends to hang out with was pretty sweet. I was lucky, I thought, to have the opportunity to take advantage of so much... Stuff.

Of course, it was hard at first, knowing my parents were unhappy. They were strong enough to keep it between the two of them, but I know I wouldn't have understood anyway, even if they had faltered. I mean, really, how could I? It's a selfish life, being a kid. With no experiences of my own, what in the world could I have offered either of them in terms of solace? And, even now, having gone through heartbreak myself, there's never really anything you can offer in such a situation, is there? Nothing but ears to listen and a shoulder to cry on. As a child, I had neither. I had no idea what my parents were going through, so I couldn't help.

Despite that, my inexperienced perspective eventually painted the whole thing as "not all bad." I had all the things mentioned previously, in addition to two great parents who treated me just the same as before. I was comfortable and happy no matter where I was, fortunate - whether I realized it then or not - to have two parents who loved me and cared for me then, and who always would.


Having divorced parents just became the way things were, you know? It was just life, so it was hard not to think about it as simply as I did.

Of course, I realize now that I was entirely mistaken in my outlook, and embarrassed that I ever thought of it the way I did.

I'm not thankful that my parents got a divorce, but I am, perhaps, thankful for parts of it.

I think that's fair to say.

So, I'm thankful, instead, that I have two wonderful parents who have shown me how to live in the face of adversity, challenge, and hardships. Parents who have shown me, together and apart, that there is always something to smile about, look forward to, and find joy in.

I'm thankful that they taught me perspective, and I'm thankful that they taught me to be open with my feelings and myself.

I'm thankful to have them, these two wonderful people, to call my parents.

Sugar Plumped Blueberries

Unlike fresh fruits, sugar-plumped berries have a pleasant squishiness when frozen. This is thanks to a high concentration of sugar; a trait which can only be achieved by re-hydrating dried berries in warm simple syrup. Use half of this batch to mix into your ice cream - syrup and all - and the remaining half to serve on top with a sprinkling of granola. Recipe via Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

1 c dried blueberries
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c water

Place the blueberries in a heat proof bowl. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Heat gently, swirling the pan, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is boiling.

Carefully, pour the hot sugar syrup over the blueberries. Stir, then place in the refrigerator, uncovered, to cool. Cover when they berries are no longer hot.

Blueberry Oatmeal Ice Cream

The oats make this ice cream incredibly dense and creamy, which I really like. If you don't have cinnamon sticks handy (I have a ton that my grandma bought me), add 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon to the cream after straining the oats out. Do not be tempted to leave it out - the cinnamon adds a really nice spiciness. Recipe based on Alton Brown's Vanilla Ice Cream.

2 1/4 c heavy cream
2 c milk, at least 2%, but whole milk is better
1 c rolled oats
1 cinnamon stick
8 egg yolks
9 oz sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 batch sugar soaked blueberries, divided (recipe above)
Granola, to serve

In a saucepan, combine the cream, milk, rolled oats and cinnamon stick. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. When the liquid begins to bubble, remove from the heat and put a lid on the pot. Let set one hour.

Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and pour the cooled mixture through. Using a rubber spatula, gently smash the oats to remove some liquid. Fish out the cinnamon stick and place in a heat proof bowl that is large enough to hold the finished custard. Scoop about 1/4 c of the cooked oats into the drained liquid, and discard (or consume) what remains.

Place the egg yolks in a medium heat proof bowl and set aside. If you aren't already using one, get out a whisk and have it at the ready.

Pour the cream and 1/4 c oats back into the pot, then add the sugar and salt. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. When the liquid is hot, use a ladle to scoop about 1/2 c of the hot liquid into the yolks, whisking while pouring so the yolks don't curdle. Scoop in another 1/2 c, whisking to combine, then pour the eggy mix back into the saucepan on the stove.

Whisking constantly, continue cooking over medium heat until thickened. Pour into a large bowl, and press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard. Refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 hours.

After the custard is completely chilled, remove the plastic wrap and cinnamon stick. Pour into a blender and blend until perfectly smooth and a little aerated. Stir in the vanilla. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions, adding the blueberries in the last five minutes. Pour into a separate container and press a sheet of plastic wrap on the surface of the ice cream. Freeze until solid.

Serve with granola and remaining sugar plumped blueberries.