Archive for the ‘Sweet Stuff’ Category

In die Weihnachtsbäckerei: Gingersnaps

leaning tower of gingersnaps (Eat Me. Drink Me)

I don’t know if this is a thing – whether a whole nation inflicts this on their children, or just my family – but I’m reminded of it every now and then. Like the refrain to Feliz Navidad or the Wrigley’s doublemint gum commercial, the words appear in my head on repeat, and I feel an overwhelming desire to reach for the nearest person, grab their arm with both hands, pump it vigorously so the limb (preferable a fleshy part) rumples back and forth, while chanting, “Butter stampfen, Butter stampfen!” – which roughly translates to “churning butter, churning butter!”

Growing up, you never knew when a Butter stampfen attack was about to happen. Bare arms were extremely vulnerable. Maybe it sounds awful – but I suppose it’s one of those inexplicable childhood joys that involves shrieking and faux escaping, and joy at finally being caught. Butter stampfen, like the German version of steamroller.

That long lead-in story is mostly irrelevant (as most randomly remembered childhood moments are). But I thought of Butter stampfen the other day, while Elisabeth and Sophie and I were making Christmas Plätzchen – like cookies but smaller and cuter. Maybe because baking cookies is such an ingrained childhood Christmas memory. Then again, it could just have been because there was butter involved.

My other hypothesis is that it was because we were playing the god-awful Christmas song, In die Weihnachtsbäckerei (In the Christmas Bakery) and one good Ohrwurm inevitably leads to another. (Another irrelevant, yet interesting side note: the Germans have a great word for songs that get stuck in your head – Ohrwurm – which literally translates to “ear worm.”)

Plätzchen backen during Advent is a true German tradition, much like baking cookies at Christmastime in America. It seems that the world over, people love to be fatties for the holidays. » Continue reading this post...

Summer in the City: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry tea fizz (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Oh yes, summer is here, at least unofficially. At least, I’m sweating enough to call it summer. With every snatch of breeze that thinks about coming inside, I lean closer to the open window. At least, until the mosquitoes eat my face. Oh yes, it’s summer. Time for salads and goat cheese, basil, mint, and buckets of water with ice cubes and lime. Or even better, fancy little cocktails with wild tea vodka, strawberries, mint, lemons, simple syrup, and soda water.

It feels like summer vacation every time we sit outside in the backyard. Two tiki torches light up the freshly raked dirt where someday soon there’ll be grass. There’s now a little string of Christmas lights up and always candles burning after dark. Just enough light to eat by at night. Perfect light when your dinner is strawberry-rhubarb pie and cocktails.

There’s been rhubarb at the market these last few weeks and the strawberries have finally started smelling like strawberries. I had been wanting to make a German-style rhubarb tart, but the dough is yeast-based, and being me, I had failed to read the instructions more than ten minutes before my pie friends were about to come over. And as I always come, back to my favorite crust recipe: 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, a splash of milk, a pinch of salt. So easy and foolproof. Effortless like the summer night.

We sat in the backyard, talking as the pie baked and easing out of our stoic poises as the temperature dropped to something comfortable.

Strawberry rhubarb pie recipe (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Oh, the gooey mess. Four people, one pie, and a few scoops of ice cream. Demolished.

And much the same my summer days go by. I go to work, I come home, I cook a little, sit in the sun a little, try to do yoga when I can, try to stay hydrated so I don’t die. » Continue reading this post...

This Is It: Apple Pie

Apple pie recipe (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

We finally turned the heat on yesterday. There was snow and it was a struggle, since so far we’ve been doing well with slippers and puff vests. It’s not that we’re cheap, it’s just, well, masochism is so in this season.

But warmth is nice. From me, warmth elicits all my fuzzy tendencies, like doing other people’s dishes, talking for a long time on the telephone, and baking pie.

Cutting apples (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

So I spent the day making pie (and watching Netflix and sending emails and packing for vacation). After Thanksgiving, my mother sent me back to New York with a bag of apples grown in Adams County in South Central Pennsylvania. Our traditional Thanksgiving pie is always made from these apples, which are harvested in the fall and sold at orchard stands lining the hilly back roads. My apple pie recipe is really my mother’s, and what makes it so good is based largely on those fresh, Adams County apples. And a lot of brown sugar and butter. The pie is requested at most family gatherings, and for a long time, whenever she traveled back home, she flew with an apple pie in her carryon.

Butter and brown sugar crumble (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

This pie has truly traveled the world. After my study abroad semester in Australia, two friends and I went to New Zealand to farm. Our second night in Christchurch happened to be Thanksgiving and this was the first time any of us hadn’t been with our family for the holiday. So we found a grocery store and bought a rotisserie chicken, a few potatoes, a packet of powdered gravy, a bag of salad, biscuit mix, a bottle of red, and a few apples. Back at the hostel, as Emma and Dan boiled and mashed potatoes, prepared biscuits and gravy, I made an apple pie. We sat at a small table with our improvised feast and gave thanks. » Continue reading this post...

I Prove Myself Wrong and Bake Delicious Cookies: Brutti Ma Buoni

Brutti ma buoni recipe (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I keep telling people I can’t bake. This, for the most part is true. My numerous attempts at banana bread are too dry or too soggy or too awkward. Regarding a dense and lumpy batch, a friend told me, “It tastes like vegan banana bread,” which I guess could be a compliment.  Or…

But today, while looking for recipes to use for my Thanksgiving dinner, I chanced upon this gem for brutti ma buoni. The name translates to “ugly but good” and these nubby little cookies are just that. They taste like something from my childhood, like afternoon walks in the fall and honeyed granola. And they’re easy enough to make that not even I can screw them up.

Tray of ugly cookies (Eat Me. Drink Me.) » Continue reading this post...

Good News for Your Sweet Tooth: Blueberry Crumble Pie

"Pie" (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Lately, I just can’t seem to get enough sugar. I want pudding, bread with peanut butter and honey, chocolate granola, jam and butter, cheesecake, and Nutella on anything. (Speaking of Nutella, anyone manage to catch its most recent commercial, where a doting mother/consumer is touting it as a … health product?) The problem is this: I rarely crave sweet foods, and I happen to never crave them at the grocery store, so I never have sweet foods on hand to munch on when those cravings strike.

The other day, the pain was particularly bad, and not only bad, it was specific. I wanted pie. I wanted pie bad.

Anette and I had just finished making a delightful lunch out of nothing (as usual), and I mentioned my craving. She said, “I have some frozen blueberries,” and in a flash I realized I could make pie. Or I could make something almost like pie.

I want to share this recipe with you because it was so ridiculously easy. We whipped it together in about ten minutes and then just sat back and relaxed while pie magic happened in the oven. So if you, too, find yourself pie-less, you can change the facts of your life with things you probably have somewhere. » Continue reading this post...

Buttermilk in Your Eye is Not Pleasant, but Buttermilk Cookies Are Awesome: Buttermilk Cookies

Buttermilk cookies (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Josh, you have inspired me to bake. Well, Josh, it’s a toss-up between you and the barely used carton of buttermilk in the fridge. (Remember those deep-fried eggs?…) I feel like buttermilk often has this effect on people.

This project was miraculous for two reasons. One: I don’t bake. And two: I did my dirty dishes right after cooking. As for the first reason, I simply find that my temperament is not suited to baking. Baking is too mathematical, precise, and often unforgiving. I don’t even own a set of measuring spoons. And I cook very much by trial and error. And I am extremely bad at reading recipes. As for the second, that is probably truly the miracle.

My friend Brittany (or rather, Brittany’s mom) used to make these buttermilk cookies around Christmas time (I think – it was back in high school), and they were the best cookies ever. I finally asked for the recipe when we were about to graduate, then managed to make them – never. Lucky for me and the buttermilk in the fridge, I had just been looking through my recipe collection and had just those cookies in the back of my mind.

As with the measuring spoons, I don’t own a handheld mixer. So I creamed butter, eggs, and sugar by hand. Josh, here you were again inspiring.

Creamed butter and sugar (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I discovered, after I got this far, that I didn’t have any flour. So, leaving my pre-pubescent dough on the counter, I threw on a coat and some boots over my pajamas and ran to Bravo to pick up supplies so I could finish baking.

Back to work with flour and buttermilk, at which point the dough began to take on a sour twang that cut nicely through the sugar. I slipped little teaspoons of dough onto my baking stone and let the oven work its magic. » Continue reading this post...

Childhood games, Adult spirits (a post by Josh)

Ice cream ingredients (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I’ve been feeling too old these days, so I’ve decided to play a game. It’s a lot like that childhood game “Simon Says.” Just this time, I’m getting rid of socially constructed masculine dominance, and making Lyz, Simon.

Lyz says: Read Fergus Henderson

I inter-library-loan it in my College’s library and get both of his books. I fall in love with the second one, published in 2007, Beyond Nose to Tail.

Lyz says: Make ice cream

I decide that I want to make a dessert from Henderson’s book, so why not choose ice cream.

I choose Honey Brandy Ice Cream, realize Lyz didn’t say this, but I can’t help myself. It’s five o’clock on a Friday afternoon, and I’ve been working since ten with a lunch break. I should put my books down, put on comfortable clothes, and do what every spring semester senior does: start to have a beer or two.

But wait, I don’t want to. More than anything, I’ve been caught up in Henderson’s recipes, and readings on Southern food for the past five hours, now I have to complete one. Since I chose to make this ice cream, I have to run to the store and pick up the brandy and heavy cream. Then back to the apartment and instead of dinner preparations – oh no, those can wait – I start to make my dessert. Before I can get anywhere beyond compiling all of my ingredients on the counter, I have to decode the metric system back into US measurements. Grams? How about tablespoons, Fergus? Oh, the whole world uses metric? Right, I forgot about that. » Continue reading this post...

Because the Only Conceivable Thing to Do When It’s Snowing is Eat Snow

Virgin snow (Eat me. Drink Me.)

Well, it’s snowing again. And once again the bitter, endless winter kicks our hopes of impending spring in the shins. I am tired of walking through slush, shivering in my coat, walking with my head down and shoulders bunched, shuffling over ice, trudging through drifts, and ruining all my shoes with salt. I am ready for short skirts and sandals, lazy ambling, sunshine, popsicles (that are not my numb toes), rooftop barbeques, green leaves, summer reading, and happiness.

Winter, winter, please be over soon.

Alas, until that beautiful day arrives, I’ll content myself the little joys – slippers, hot soup, mulled wine, candlelight – and eat the snow that spites me.

I’ll admit that when I woke up a few days ago and soft snow was drifting down and settling like ganache on the tree outside my window, I smiled. I thought of snow angles and snowmen and snowball fights, and my personal childhood favorite, snow ice cream. Snow ice cream is simple. Milk, sugar, and vanilla folded into powdery snow until the consistency rests between crunchy virgin snow and wet slush. It should be delicate and still light, but softened by the milk and vanilla. It is cold and sweet and good.

Snow ice cream (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

So on that morning, I pulled on a pair of boots over my pajamas, stuck a hat on my head, and trudged out into the cold to find some clean snow in my industrial-looking Brooklyn. Though not as good as rural Pennsylvania snow, New York snow is not too bad, just a little metallic. It’s still lovely to watch fall, and since playing outside no longer appeals to me quite so much, I’ll settle for bringing a little of the beauty of falling snow inside and eat it as I snuggle underneath my blankets and wait for winter to be over. » Continue reading this post...