The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox (Clarkson Potter). [TOP IMAGE ABOVE] I was so looking forward to this book, a collection of recipes which are a bit less common than you’d normally find in American baking books– recipes like like Lamington cupcakes, pine nut tart with rosemary cream, nut and cherry nougat. As a whole, the collection of recipes is elegant- definitely a notch above average. You’d make a great statement if you served one of these recipes to your friends. And although I had a bit of difficulty with the Ultimate Chocolate Brownies (The cooking time didn’t work out for me?), my shortcoming has been like a challenge to me, which has made me want to come back and try more recipes in the book, maybe toward Christmas when I usually try to bake up five to ten different baked goods and give little boxes of mixed goodies to friends as gifts (You always want unique things people haven’t tried before in those gift boxes). For people who like to experiment with different flavors and adapt recipes for different types of desserts, you’ll appreciate the notes after each recipe which offer tips on how to do just that! In sharp contrast with Baking Unplugged, there are plenty of pictures in this book of the final recipes up close, so you can compare and see how your efforts measure up! While the recipes are generally quite easy to execute, this is definitely the type of book for the person who believes that a tiny bit more effort can produce great desserts.
Late February marks the time of year when winter’s charms begin to wear out. Sweaters and scarves, once donned excitedly, are now put on begrudgingly. Snow, which once seemed magical as it fell to the ground, is now just an unwelcome reminder that cold days still lie ahead. While one might prefer to simply hibernate until spring arrives, there are things one can do to shake up the midwinter doldrums. You can, for instance, go winter camping! Or, if going out isn’t your thing, take the excitement indoors with a dinner party! Dinner parties are excellent cold-weather diversions — they bring your favorite people together in an intimate setting full of warmth, laughter and that winter-weather essential:
Thomas Keller Bouchon Bakery Cookbook: I went through a serious sad gir phase two years ago where I would take the subway to Columbus Square and eat Bouchon baked goods at the Time Warner Center. By myself. Every week. I thought it was pretty sad at the time, but now I’m thinking that was a pretty great way to spend my weekend days. Could be worse than eating a cupcake and watching people rush by with fancy bags and coats
After a decade of co-authoring and recipe developing for some of the most successful and meaningful cookbooks on the market, Julia decided to write her very first solo cookbook. That book, Small Victories, is the sort of book you can only write once: a book that combines all 31 of her years of life experience and passion for cooking at home into one giant love letter to all that she believes in. Small Victories celebrates the way so many of us cook: one step (or “small victory”) at a time. Each recipe of her book (which contains over 100 recipes and hundreds more spin-offs) starts with a tip, trick or technique that you can use to create something delicious, and then offers how to alter or expand on that dish to make something new and different. There are recipes for everything from delicious chocolate cake with raspberry jam and morning muffins to Julia’s beloved Caesar dressing and a Korean clambake.
“The idea for the magazine Kinfolk,” Nathan Williams writes in his introduction to The Kinfolk Table, “was born in the course of trying to describe those evenings spent with friends when the hours pass effortlessly, conversation flows naturally, cooking is participatory, and the evening ends with a satisfying sense of accomplishment.” We’ve been huge fans of Kinfolk ever since its inception—not just because of its stunning imagery and down-to-earth writing, but because of this laid back, communal philosophy towards entertaining. Throughout the pages of Kinfolk magazine, it is apparent that the lifestyle being espoused is not one of lofty, exclusive soirees, but of calm, familial gatherings, one where easiness and enjoyment are key. The Kinfolk Table, the cookbook that accompanies Williams’ quarterly lifestyle journal, seems the natural extension of this entertaining philosophy. Within its pages, numerous cooks, artisans, and craftspeople share their own recipes for delicious food and beautifully simple gatherings—a warm antidote to overly-fussy and antiquated ideas of entertaining.
Above image: We fashioned a tiny Eiffel Tower out of a single piece of copper wire. Bend a length of copper wire so there are about 4 inches on one side. Twist at the bend about three-quarters of the way down. Twist the longer side of the wire upward from the bottom, curve it across to the other leg and twist back down. Cut off any excess. Red striped dinnerware set from West Elm Market.
One of my favorite aspects of Heather’s work and approach is her respect for bio-individuality and the fact she even addresses that on her website and in her books. It reminds me of the gentle notes in guided meditations where you acknowledge that it’s natural for your mind to wander, just come back to the breath when you realize you’re thinking about work. Following someone like Heather, who acknowledges that we all come to the table with different habits, beliefs, traditions, and dietary needs, makes me feel okay when I enjoy the comfort food my grandmother made. I know I can always come back to my kale salad without any guilt and with an overall commitment to a primarily plant-based diet. Today, Heather shares some of her story and self-care routines
If you’re anything like me, Halloween has a tendency of sneaking up on you like Freddie Kruegar in a nightmare. One minute, you’re installing your air conditioner in May and all of the sudden —BOOM— there are trick-or-treaters at your door. I have no idea how this keeps happening to me (early-onset dementia, perhaps?), but when October 31st rolls around, I often find myself sans-costume and sans-plans. So—if Halloween (two days away, you guys!) has snuck up on you this year, but you still want to get a little festive—don’t worry, y’all! Design*Sponge gotchu covered.
Baking Unplugged by Nicole Rees (Wiley). Baking Unplugged is the hands down winner in my spot recipe testing. The recipes are good, easy, and practical. The simple philosophy behind the book is that you can make great desserts without any electrical equipment (except an oven, of course). The preliminary chapters at the beginning review tools, ingredients, methods, and how to read a recipe. The books chapters are then divided into types of baked goods, with no dearth of explanation of technique. The book is clear and concise, easy to understand. I wish I had had this book when I started out baking. This is a book for anyone who wants to get back to basics in the kitchen, someone who has a small kitchen with only a few tools, someone who is lazy and doesn’t feel like plugging in the equipment. It’s a perfect book for beginners– I am a firm believer in the ‘learn in the manual way’ in order to excel in the automated world. I really really like this book. One last important note– there are no photos at all in the book. But please don’t let this discourage you.
I decided that I wanted to go to “a city” when I received my degree in graphic design at a university in West Virginia. My senior year, I went to Chicago for a wedding, fell in love with it, and when I returned to school, got to work contacting the most respected design firms in Chicago. Eventually, I landed a 3-day-a-week contract gig for 3 months at a small boutique firm. I sold my truck, packed up my kitties, and used 80% of what was in my bank account to rent a small apartment in Chicago. From that point forward, momentum snowballed and over the course of 16 years, I was able to work for many of the firms I’d long admired.