Please remain on the line…

I’ve been wanting to get back to posting on here again. You know, before another year goes by and I haven’t written anything. So hey, I think there’s still a few weeks left until it has been an actual year since my last post! Win!

Ahem. Sorry.

While the blogging bug has been nipping at my fingertips again, my lovely gadgets have been no help.

I am currently in the middle of a system restart on my computer. It may be out of commission for a while. Time will tell.

Needless to say, while I want to share things with you lovely lot, until my computer is feeling better I’ll more than likely be silent.

Until then, check out a “review” of mine which was posted on the wonderful Food52!

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Happy Anniversary?

Apparently today is my 3rd blogiversary…who knew? I certainly didn’t…

Although it is a tad funny, to me at least, that I’m here writing about a blogiversary when my last post was about my parents tree they planted for their anniversary…back in September. Whoops.

What? I never said I was good at this.

Anyway, I have been in the kitchen rather constantly, but once again sans camera. However, now that the spring is finally starting to show up here in AK and the light is coming back into our lives perhaps I’ll get some more going again.

Oh! Here’s something for you as a little treat, although no recipe as of yet. Some Pi Pie for Pi Day! It’s blueberry!

Pi on Pi-e

I’d like to be able to post more. Until then, if you follow along on twitter you’ll at least be able to hear about all the things coming from the kitchen these days!

“Oh, well. Guess the marriage is over!”

It’s been an odd week. This past Wednesday a big wind storm hit our fair city of Anchorage. Gusts built up to Hurricane speeds, and some people are even admitting to winds hitting 130 miles per hour. But, as the city has been joking since, it wasn’t really a hurricane. It was just Wednesday.

There was a lot of awesome damage around town. No, like really awesome. Totally cool. Visit the Anchorage Daily News site for some cool photos. I haven’t heard too much about lots of serious damage or injuries, though, which is a good thing. The biggest issue people have had since the storm is power. Lots of people are either still without or are just getting their power back at their houses.

Our damage here at our house was minimal as well, and luckily nothing happened that will take money out of our pockets. We lost a few shingles (which is fine because we’re signed up to replace the roof anyway) and we were smart enough to protect all our outdoor plants and such beforehand. There is only one, sad, difference to our house before and after storm.

This was how the front yard looked last winter, here’s what it looks like now…

Something’s missing…

Now, this tree wasn’t just any tree. It was a Blue Spruce. But beyond that, it was special.

When we first moved in, the tree wasn’t there. It was planted years later, by my parents.

Not being much for tradition, or even celebration, they decided on their 10th wedding anniversary to actually do something – they planted that tree.

My parents are celebrating their 27th wedding anniversary this September, and that tree has stood in front of our house for 17 years: enduring the cold, bracing against the wind, sparkling with Christmas lights until it grew too tall to cover, providing homes and resting places to birds. The yard looks empty without it.

Yet, when it first happened (at about 10:30 at night, just after beginning to head up to bed), Smidget joked [hence the post title] and we all laughed, but with a heavy heart and tired eyes.

It think this photo sums the whole storm up rather well…

Slowly but surely, we’re picking up the pieces. The city is coming back together again. Wood lots around town are filling up, and fence and roof repair companies are getting plenty of business. The wind, although still around, has died down. And, don’t worry, Smidget and Dad are still all lovey-dovey. It’s disgustingly wonderful.

A View of the Spectacular…

More on this later, until then: What did you do this weekend?

Make A Wish…

It’s birthday time again!

This past weekend the family celebrated Smidget’s birthday. For the special occasion, I wanted to make something tasty and different for dessert. We had some apricots that needed to be eaten up, and since they are Smidget’s favorite, I figured it would be great to have a cake that used the fresh flavor of the apricots. Remember that time I made the plum cake that was a Dorie Greenspan recipe? Well, that’s just what I did again, but this time with apricots!

Dorie does say in her cookbook that other stone fruits can be used instead and even gives some directions on her favorite combinations of fruits and spices. Since the plum cake was such a success, I decided to barely mess with the perfection of Dorie’s recipe. One of my favorite parts about the cake was the subtle hint of spice that came from the cardamom. Dorie recommends using cinnamon with the apricots, but I knew it was all about the cardamom.

Needless to say, it was delicious. The cake was moist and sweet, with that hint of spice thrown in. The apricots that delicately dimpled the top were sweet, juicy, and just a tad tart in the best possible way that apricots are. Instead of just leaving the cake un-topped like I had previously, I took some of the mascarpone cheese we had (anybody else tempted by the cheese’s recent appearance on the shelves at warehouse stores?) and whipped it together with a hint of honey for sweetness, creating a delectable and not-too-sweet frosting.

The birthday went well, Smidget seemed to really enjoy the day and her present load. I’m actually listening to one of her presents right now…SMASH soundtrack, anyone? But it was the cake that really ended the whole day on a high note. Plus, with the fresh fruit and cheese and honey topping, it was actually a rather healthy cake! At least that’s what I’ll keep telling myself.

Dimply Apricot Cake with Mascarpone ‘Frosting’

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower
Grated zest of one orange
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 fresh, ripe apricots, halved and pitted

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, dust the pan with flour, tap out the excess, and put the pan on a baking sheet.
2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom together.
3. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer in a large bowl), beat the butter at medium speed until soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. On medium speed, beat in the oil, orange zest, and vanilla. The batter will look very light and smooth, almost satiny. Reduce the mixer to low-speed and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.
4. Run a spatula around the bowl and under the batter, just to make sure there are no dry spots, then scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Arrange the apricots cut side up in the batter, jiggling the apricots a tad just so they settle comfortably into the batter.
5. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is honey brown and puffed around the apricots and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 15 minutes – during which time the apricots’ juice will return to the fruit – then run the knife around the sides of the pan and un-mold the cake. Invert and cool right side up.

Recipe adapted from: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours

 

Mascarpone ‘Frosting’

6 oz. Mascarpone cheese
1 Tbsp. honey
Splash (about 1 tsp.) of whipping cream

1. Whisk together the Mascarpone cheese and honey, adding a splash of whipping cream to smooth and loosen the cheese. Whisk until thoroughly combined and reached desired consistency and flavor.

A Rather Inspiring Thing

OK, while I have been in the kitchen a lot this past week/weekend, my laziness has caught up with me. I totally have things to post on, yes things as in plural, but procrastination is an awful beast and I am not prepared to show you pretty, delicious foods…yet. Until such a time  as a new post occurs (hopefully before Saturday, depending on the whole photo-lighting situation), watch and enjoy this most spectacular and inspiring speech given at the Commencement of the University of Arts by none other than the great writer Neil Gaiman.

Also, just to be safe, disclaimer that I do not own the video and am not affiliated in any way with anything about said video, except that I too hope to Make Good Art.

A Quick Look at Washington D.C.

Just got back in from my small trip this early  morning, like midnight time frame. It was a pleasant little trip, but boy is my family tired. One of my cousins got married in Virginia on Saturday and someone needed to be able to bring my 93-year-old grandfather down from his house in Massachusetts. So we did! It was quite a travel/driving/flying filled week back east, including visiting Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C., and Virginia. Oy.

The wedding itself was a beautiful, outdoor, evening wedding at the bride’s father’s place on base at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Since we were right outside of D.C., Smidget, Dad, my brother, and I all popped in to see some sights the morning/afternoon of the wedding. Here’s a quick peek for you of what we saw:

After our little sight-seeing trip we went back to the hotel and got ready for the wedding. We drove back to Massachusetts the next morning, so this is all we got to see of D.C., but it was worth the whole journey just to be there for my cousin and his new wife!

Congrats Rob and Sarah!