Category: vanilla

Another year older (and deeper in debt) …plus donuts.

Happy birthday to me! So, I am officially 34 years old! Holy balls. Time fucking flies, man. All you youngin’s out there, take heed. The years begin to move by so quickly you won’t have time to even comprehend it. Yes- another year has passed, and what a year it was! As the song says “Another year (day) older and deeper in debt…”

We faced illness and overcame it. We got married, and we bought a house. Here’s Lola (one of my favorite birthday gifts ever) at home, in her natural habitat: the kitchen.

Lola the mixer, at home.(Painting by the lovely and talented Mrs. Christine Comis-Villareal)

 

Lots of things can happen in one year, clearly. Lots of good, maybe some bad. But it all balances out in the end. I decided to skip the “Life List” this year, because honestly? After all the bullshit this year I’m just glad to be here- literally and figuratively. I’m thankful for so many things & people, thankful that I’m healthy and here to celebrate another birthday.

I’m also thankful for donuts.

Baked chocolate donuts with pink icing!

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Ready for rhubarb: baked & pickled.

Bowl of rhubarb (click through for two rhubarb recipes)

Rhubarb comes and goes very quickly. It’s fleeting, rhubarb season. You simply cannot just walk into a store here and get rhubarb any time you want during the growing season. It sells out of the markets & supermarkets almost immediately. My mother absolutely LOVES rhubarb, and the season usually coincides with Mother’s Day, so I try and get some to make her something special. When I find it, I try to grab it. But if its not the greatest quality, or if its on the pricey side, I skip it. The stalk I bought for these two recipes was pretty huge, and I paid a little over $2.00 for it. It went into these pickles and also the next recipe which you’ll see in a few days (so keep that in mind).

So yes, in this post, it’s a two-for-one. One rhubarb cake recipe, and one pickled rhubarb recipe. First, the cake!

Rhubarb cake.

Rhubarb is really, really pretty. There are two main kinds; the bright pinkish red kind (this one) and the light pink and green kind. And then there are a bunch in between, of course, but those are the two main color types you’ll find in your store/market. Both colors are fine for any purpose, so long as you be sure to cut off all the leaves, if they come with them still attached. Rhubarb leaves are poisonous! This is especially important to remember if you buy your stalks from a farmer or a farmer’s market, or get them from someone who grows it. I know the brighter pink ones are more “attractive” aesthetically, but the pinkish/green ones can be very pretty too. I like to use a mix if I can find both.

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Let’s talk about berries & bundts, bitches.

Remember I said I never make cakes? Unless its easy? Well… yeah. This is why I’m obsessed with these tiny little mini-bundts. Remember the mini-bundt pan I spoke about a few months ago?

Strawberry ricotta mini bundt cakes.

I love it. Mini-bundts are my new favorite thing. They’re SO easy to just fill up with a recipe and bam- instant fancy. They make any recipe look awesome-r. And way cuter, let’s be honest. Not that ricotta cake needs help being awesome, but look. So cute.

Strawberry ricotta mini bundts.

And strawberries are cute, too.

Strawberries for ricotta mini-bundt cakes.

When you find yourself with strawberries on sale, and you’re dying for the fresh smell of a summer berry even though it’s only late April, you just buy ’em. And make cakes.

And jam.

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Vanilla cake with a twist of lime.

Vanilla cake with a twist of lime.

So I get married, Jay goes to Europe, and I get the urge to make a cake.

I never, ever make cakes. Mainly because I’m impatient, an you have to wait for cakes to cool before you take them out of the pans, then cool enough to frost them, etc. It’s a pain in the ass. I am not a cake person. Cupcakes, yes! Those are fun. And they cool fast. But cakes? No. Especially layer cakes. OH MY GOD HOW ANNOYING ARE LAYER CAKES?!

So I cheated with this one, and made it one layer. And added lime zest. And candied limes.

Zesting limes!

I had a lot of limes.

About three/four weeks before the wedding I got sick. Really sick. Bronchitis and sore-throat-like-swallowing-knives-sick. I was sick for well over a week, and my stubborn ass wouldn’t go to the doctor. Then, four days before the wedding, Jay got sick.  FOUR DAYS. He (thankfully) went and got super antibiotics and by the day of he felt fine. Then, the day of the wedding, my dad was sick. Two days after, my mother got sick. What the what? I’m telling you- people are dropping like flies around here. Stupid early spring sickness.

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Black bottom, a new rhythm.

I love pie plates. Whenever I see one, I’m drawn to it. Big ones, small ones, ruffled ones, plain ones. I love them all. I don’t even make pie that often, but for whatever reason I just love ’em. I don’t have all that many… maybe 6 or 7. But I just adore them. And really, when one has so many cute pie plates, they ought to be making more pies, amirite?

However pies are usually not my bag. I can make them just fine, but the crust is a pain in my ass & I’m always paranoid that the filling won’t set. I’m more comfortable with cakes than pies.

Black bottom oatmeal pie from a recipe by Four and Twenty Blackbirds pie shop.

Every once in a  while, though, a pie recipe crosses my path and I think “Holy crap that sounds good.” This is one of those. Truth be told most of the pie recipes from Four & Twenty Blackbirds are those kinda pies. Like that salty honey pie.

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Birthday girl, party of one.

It'd my birthday!

Hey y’all- it’s my birthday! And holy crap... I’m 33 years old.

Last year at this time I was preparing to turn 32. I was newly engaged, looking at houses to buy, and my hair was short (& blonde). Now I’m 33, my hair is chin length & dark brown with bangs, I’m planning our wedding… and whattaya know? We’ve got a house.

Which is weird, ’cause I still paint my nails with glitter polish, wear bandaids with cartoon characters on them & feel like I’m 16. Anyway. In honor of my upcoming birthday, I thought I’d do a recap of The Life List.

So here are the original 32 things from last year’s life list, with one added for this year’s birthday. I haven’t really accomplished much on this list yet, but hey- gives me something to look forward to, right? And of course, cupcakes. (more on them later)

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Sweet cherry cream pie for the 4th of July.

There really isn’t anything prettier in the summer (in the U.S.) than seeing Old Glory flying proudly. Even better when accompanied by the sound of fireworks popping in the sky & the smell of burgers cooking on a charcoal grill. ‘Murica. F*$k yeah. Yet another thing that’s awesome about America: pie. Specifically, cherry pie on the 4th of July. Eff you, Arthur, you won’t spoil my fun!

This pie is a kind of cherry custard pie, being that custard is made from egg yolk & cream & that’s what you combine with cherries in this filling. A refreshing change from the ordinary cherry pies you see this time of year!

Sweet cherry cream pie with coconut milk vanilla bean ice cream!

My pie pan was a bit smaller so I halved the filling recipe & it worked out just fine, a bit flat on top but otherwise fine. If you’re using a pie pan larger than 9″, then you’re good to go with the whole filling amount. Out of all the pans I have, I wanted to use a teeny tiny metal one. Go figure.

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