Posts Tagged ‘desserts’

Bless Your Good Corn Bread (a post by Josh): Aunt Sarah’s Fudge

It’s funny how, despite my multiple heritages, I claim certain aspects more. For example – I claim my Polish heritage more than anything else. But when asked where I’m from in the States, I say the South nine times out of ten.

It is true, I am from the South. I was born in Virginia and now live in North Carolina. But for my more formative years (ages 4 – 18) I lived in New York. I guess my nomadic lifestyle has allowed me to claim the best of either of the worlds.

Easter is the perfect example of my picking and choosing of my heritages. When it comes to Easter, I think of two things: chocolate and ham. Those years I was a vegetarian, I would think: chocolate and yam. Almost ham, but not quite. It’s a joke, roll with it.

As far as the foods though, I claim Southern pride when it comes to chocolate. My grandma’s fudge is pride-worthy. And with ham, or yams for that matter, I go with my Northern grandma and her honied ham and candied yams.

During my last visit to Gretna, Virginia – the home of my dad’s grandparents – I found my grandma’s secret for her devilish fudge: A cookbook from 1939 entitled: The Southern Cook Book of Fine Old Dixie Recipes (a cook book she’s had since they were married.)

This cookbook is a rare find: wooden panels serve as the cover, red yarn as the bindings and pages that don’t adhere to consecutive numbering (page 46 is followed by the index, the title page preceded by page 8).

In addition to the lyrics from antebellum South that border on racist (“Carry dat load on your head, De Lord will bless your good corn bread,” “I’s got a girl in Afriky, She’s az purty az can be”) and recipes that make 1200 gallons of Burgoo, I found my grandma’s recipe for fudge on page 46 (found at the front of the book). » Continue reading this post...

Brenda’s Carrot Cake (a post by Josh): Carrot Cake

Friends often know each other by many names. Sometimes relevant, sometimes obscure. Just yesterday I got a letter from an elementary school friend, who currently lives in the 7th in Paris, addressed to me as “carrot cake.”

I think I first made this tempting dessert when I was 16 – after an eight hour day of bussing tables. During that shift, my boss had revealed the dessert of the week – carrot cake. It was good, but a typical semi-dry, walnut laden, not so sweet cake trying to border “good for you” and decadence. At that point in my career, I had established a semi-serious competition with the dessert chef. With this new revealing, I had another opportunity to top the chef.

At home that night, I searched through online and hard cover cook books to find a recipe. Epicurious again prevailed – a carrot cake with Maple cream cheese frosting. Giddy and ambitious at midnight, I started prepping the ingredients as if I was going to be able to finish that night. Carrots shredded in a bowl topped with brown sugar, cream cheese sitting out to acclimate to room temperature, flour sitting in a fluffy pile, I was well on my way when my post-work high faded. I left everything out that night, which turned out to be my best use of procrastination.

The next morning, I found the carrots had juiced themselves, leaving me with two cups of carrots, shredded, and ½ cup of sweetened carrot juice. I proceeded through the recipe, adding ginger, cardamom and nutmeg to my liking and prematurely iced the warm cake – allowing the cream cheese icing to sink into the crust.

Obviously I didn’t want to send my “rough draft” straight into the main event, so I packed up my cake and headed off to my elementary school friend’s house to have a proper taste testing. » Continue reading this post...

Provincial Mornings (a post by Josh): Overnight French Toast

I found my new recipe for french toast. I found it after a long night, some mindless egg beating and an emotional conversation, but I think this time, the ends justify my means. Around 11 at night, I got a phone call:

“Hey. Um, when are you – going home?”

“When do you need me there?”

“Don’t rush. No. I’m fine.”

Around 11:10pm, I was home.

Around 1:30am, I was in bed.

What transpired from pm to am included a few venting tears, a bunch of hugs, and my resolution to do what I could to be there for her. What I leaned on was food, obviously. I mean, whenever I get down, I need there to be quick food so I don’t have to think about my next meal. That’s not exactly true, I’m quite the opposite, but I imagine others feel like that. At least, that’s how my friend felt.

She went to bed around 12:20am, and I found myself searching hard copy cook books and Epicurious for breakfasts that soothe my soul with hearty warmth. Pancakes stuffed with honeyed ricotta, waffles loaded with cherries and cardamom, omelets from the southwest – these were all recipes I tried to adapt for my friend.

But let’s be honest, it was the new morning slash late night and I had work the next day. That’s not to say that the culinary effort for my friend wasn’t worth it, but more than five hours of sleep seemed a worthy reason for taking the gourmet factor down a notch. So I fell back on my provincial friend – french toast. I remembered two things first – stale bread works best and dipping eggs are best with milk.

“French Toast” turns up about two hundred and one times on Epicurious, but I seemed to find my perfect recipe on the first page. » Continue reading this post...