Thursday, September 25, 2014

Margins: The girl eating pears

Two days ago was the autumnal equinox. Yesterday was New Moon. And this morning a drought-stricken California woke to rain. I'm not saying that anyone outside of this landscape would know that fall has reached the Sacramento Valley, but we who live in this place know. After all, the leaf tips on all the trees are dried and brown, and what is still fresh is turning a different shade. There are pears. Huge strong-stemmed, cinnamon-sweet Yali. Rough brown Bosc. Juicing, palm-small Seckel. Luxurious and luscious Comice. The jujubes, too, are a ruddy and falling off the trees. And I am thrilled. Thrilled in a quiet, yawn and stretch sort of way. Fall is a good, productive time for me. Fall has a way of whooshing me back down to earth, the solid substance of ground underfoot. It is the down swing, a movement slow and warm, gentle enough to not produce a panic, but with enough strength behind it to understand, there is no fighting. There is only sitting down (or standing up!) and doing my work, whatever that is. There is only stepping out and taking risks in that quiet, plodding way - the way that means I'll have enough energy to risk again, ad infinitum, because I'm not flitting about like some caffeinated faery before a faeryland beauty pageant. This is no pageant. This is no show. And I'm not flitting or fighting anyone or anything at all. This is just autumn, and I am just me, the girl eating pears.

Seckle pear on table

It happens to also be the first day of the Jewish New Year today, too. I am not Jewish, but like sacred sites that rotate through organized and not-so-organized religions, a holy day is a holy day, no matter who claims it and what for. So, it is nice to notice. Happy New Year. Happy New Moon. Happy new season. May it bring the quiet and the good work and the rest it should.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Blackberry Mace Cake with Spelt

I made this cake a while back, before the high-strung, be-bopping business of summer really hit. Its energy - its blackberry, mace, and spelt energy - is what I want right now. It is dark and grounded and earthy. It acknowledges summer without giving in to it - I love that. I suppose it also helps that the cake is deeply spiced, darkly fruited, and simple. A cake for Ordinary Time.

Blackberry Mace Cake with Spelt

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

S'mores Layer Cake (and a five-year-old birthday)

I should admit it: I made a S'mores Layer Cake for Cedar's birthday out of guilt. I was trying to abate the feeling that I have robbed him of the cool things of childhood. The bags of candy. The television. The noodles and the juice. This is the kid who eats kale for breakfast. By choice. This is the kid I insist balance "all that fruit" with a healthy handful of cashews, "so you don't get a sugar overload." And as of a few days ago, he didn't even know what graham crackers were.

But he turned 5 on Friday. In just one month he will be walking into kindergarten. And though mostly I am just deeply thankful the earliest years are over, that we have the kid's science museum and California history and lunch boxes (!) in our immediate future, I'm also way too aware of all I failed at these five years. Too many times when I said "no." Too many times didn't let him try and make a mess. Too little focus on the process.


Friday, July 11, 2014

The Farmers Guild Potluck and The Brown Butter Mace Cake

It is Monday night: I slip a version of this Brown Butter Mace Cake onto the passenger seat of my car, and I drive east to my first Farmers Guild potluck. It is a luring evening, uncharacteristically humid and partly cloudy, with a soft, hopeful  haze.

I've been thinking of going to a Guild potluck since I heard of the gathering a few months ago. The gist: farmers need camaraderie and resources, young farmers need insight and experiential wisdom, and first generation young farmers need all the help they can get. And because I've heard some good things about The Farmers Guild, and because a few of my farmer friends were going, I baked a cake, arranged a sitter, and got in the car. This is no small feat.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Freedom Party Lemon-Sour Cream Pound Cake

I'm not usually organized enough to post a recipe that coincides with any holiday, but here I am, pound cake in hand, and it is a whole 36 hours before the fireworks are official. This cake was not on my radar at all. It was just one of eleven pound cakes I baked off in preparation for my parents' "Freedom (retirement) Party" last weekend. I was initially more excited about the brown butter cakes I (re)discovered, but everyone else kind of devoured this one. And golly-gee, as I have nibbled over the leftovers these last couple days, bite by bite, this lemon-sour cream pound cake has wriggled its lemony way in to my own home baker's heart, too.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Chocolate Cake with Basil Buttercream and Blackberries

I'm sitting here in my running pants, the vestiges of my mother's birthday party (two weeks ago) still bopping around the lower living room, and instead of cleaning them up or showering or getting on with my day, I am reliving the edible components of my own birthday: a chocolate cake, with basil buttercream, and blackberries. Nothing like a run to get your priorities straight.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Lemon-Lime Layer Cake with Raspberries

Last Friday night we had this Lemon-Lime Layer Cake, with Raspberries. I made it for my mother, whose birthday was soon, and for my Nana and Papa, whose anniversary was sooner, and for my uncle and his wife and their four beautiful daughters, my cousins, who were all out for a visit from Georgia. I wanted something fit for all of these occasions, something whimsical and fun but still mine to give, and since my mother has been wanting lemon everything these past few years, and since one birthday cake is never enough (her real birthday cake coming soon) this citrus number was the celebration cake du jour.

Lemon-Lime Layer Cake with Raspberries