I know it’s spring, and I should be straying away from citrus and moving towards rhubarb, but I made this lemon poppy seed Bundt cake last week and wanted to share it. It’s a recipe inspired by a wonderful Bundt cake from Yossy’s book – but I swapped regular lemons for Meyer, and cream cheese for sour cream. I also swirled in some poppy seeds and lemon curd for good measure.

I really love this Bundt with the cream cheese, and have a few more variations planned with the base recipe (my family raved about it for days, and thought it was better each passing day, which was a win-win) so stay tuned for those.

A few things:
*I often share what music I’m listening to in my Instagram stories, and I’ve made a playlist here on Spotify of some of the songs if you want to take a listen.

*If you live in Minneapolis, come join me and Radio Cherry Bombe at The Lynhall on the future of food tour! Kerry Diamond will moderate the panel, which will be recorded for a future episode of their podcast, talking about what’s next in the food world. I’ll be speaking, along with Pakou HangJamie Malone, and Lachelle Cunningham. You can buy tickets here!

*I’m looking forward to:

Molly’s TV show! 

Seeing Jeremy Enigk perform Return of the Frog Queen

A whole summer reading PG Wodehouse (I’m addicted now – I don’t know if I love Blandings Castle or Wooster and Jeeves more. It switches with each book.)

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The river that runs in the valley
makes the valley that holds it.

This is the doorway;
the valley of the river.

What wears away the hard stone,
the high mountain?
The wind. The dust on the wind.
The rain. The rain on the wind.

What wears the hardness of hate away?
Breath, tears.

Courage, compassion, patience
holding to their way:
the path to the doorway.
-Ursula K. Le Guin, A Meditation 

I’ve been reading quite a bit of Ursula K. Le Guin lately – I’ve found her essays and poems to be much needed as of late. I highly recommend Late In The Day: Poems, and Words Are My Matter.

If you live in Minneapolis, come join me and Radio Cherry Bombe at The Lynhall on the future of food tour! Kerry Diamond will moderate the panel, which will be recorded for a future episode of their podcast, talking about what’s next in the food world. I’ll be speaking, along with Pakou HangJamie Malone, and Lachelle Cunningham. You can buy tickets here!

And, the brownies. This is my favorite brownie recipe, taken to the next level with a peanut butter and candied cacao nib swirl. Candied cacao nibs is the genius of Tara O’Brady; the recipe from her wonderful book, Seven Spoons. I was quite taken with these brownies – they are rich, and the cacao nibs give a wonderful crunch.

(Sources: knife | Material )

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I posted  a piece of this cardamom cake on Instagram a few weeks ago and had a lot of people asking for the recipe, so here it finally is! One of my biggest failures as a blogger is just getting a post up – I love the baking part, and photography also, but for some reason when I sit down to edit photos and type up recipes, I find myself constantly procrastinating and distracted. Duke Ellington once commented, “I don’t need time. What I need is a deadline.” I’m in total agreement, and apologies for my lackluster approach to posts. I am working on it.

Speaking of Duke Ellington, it would have been Ella Fitzgerald’s birthday this past week (they did record and play together a lot, which is why I’m connecting them), and in honor of her day I have made an Ella Fitzgerald playlist over on Spotify. I fell in love with Ella twenty years ago, working at a crappy coffee shop tucked away on the third floor of a ritzy mall in Edina, Minnesota. The store had an old CD player in the back that would only load three CDs at a time, and my sister, who also worked at said shop, would often run up to Sam Goody and buy a handful of new music when we starting to feel crazy after listening to the same tunes for hours on end. One day she came back with a stack of Ultra Lounge CDs, Mambo music, the Swingers Soundtrack, and Ella and Louis: Our Love is Here to Stay. Ella started singing, and I felt like a voice I had been looking for was finally found. There is both peacefulness and playfulness in her singing, and I’m always in the mood for whatever she is swinging. Twenty years later, I listen to Ella almost every day (the Swingers Soundtrack still gets some play time, occasionally), and have made her a big part of my family’s musical life. The playlist is a lot of my favorite songs, and some ‘classic’ Ella hits. You can click here to listen.

For more on Ella:

Ella Fitzgerald Wikipedia

Ella: A Biography

Ella Fitzgerald (Little People Big Dreams) – children’s book

Albums I love: Mack the Knife, Ella & Louis, Ella in Hollywood, Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook, and Ella: The Legendary Decca Recordings.

My favorite picture of Ella.

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‘Pare down to the essence, but don’t remove the poetry.’ – Leonard Koren

I met Melissa Coleman (also known as The Faux Martha) so many years ago when she came to my home one cold winter day, with her husband Kevin and daughter Halle. We had a lovely breakfast together, and went from ‘blogger friends’ to real friends. A few years after our initial meeting she ended up moving to Minneapolis (into the famous Fauxhouse), and I’ve enjoyed getting to know her and her family. We’ve talked work, food, religion, politics, and always find ourselves on the same page.

Her cookbook comes out Tuesday (April 10th – you can pre-order here!), and it is a lovely collection of recipes. Her philosophy in the kitchen is efficiency, less is more, and of course, minimalism. “I like to think of minimalism as a practice, because it needs constant refining. Rules that are too rigid will strip away joy. Rules that are too loose will create an overflowing and frustrating kitchen. The magic is in the space between, or as Koren refers to it, the magic is in the poetry. And mastering that kind of magic takes continual practice.”

I will be the first to admit that I am not a minimalist; very far from one in fact. I dream of new, shiny marble kitchen counters when the dark brown granite tops I have work perfectly fine. I’ve replaced rugs and pillows and bedspreads and pictures when my current ones are out of style. I have too many books, too many kitchen appliances, too many cake stands. My pantry is a disaster. But paging through this book didn’t make me feel like a disaster. I appreciate Melissa’s commitment to only buying and owning what she needs, and only keeping the tools she needs in her kitchen drawers. Maybe one day I’ll develop a system like she has. But the good news is that even if you aren’t a minimalist, this book is worth the purchase. As I said in my book blurb: “With a welcoming tone, The Minimalist Kitchen invites readers to choose quality over quantity and gently guides with efficiency. Melissa’s book is gorgeous and thoughtful, with a strong focus on wholesome ingredients and simplicity that is often lacking in American kitchen culture. But, most importantly, her book contains recipes that actually make me excited about cooking dinner again.”

Recipes I can’t wait to make: Lemon Ginger Scones, Dutch Oven Whole Chicken, Crispy Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Soba Bowls with Peanut Sauce, Beef Tacos with Chimichurri, Open Faced Sweet Potato Tortas, Maple Salty Dog, and Two Bowl Carrot Cupcakes.

GIVEAWAY: You can enter to win a copy of The Minimalist Kitchen, as well as one of Melissa’s favorite OXO products, a 5 quart POP jar. To enter, head to my Instagram for instructions. Winner will be picked Tuesday, April 10th.

Also, Minneapolis/St. Paul friends: Tuesday, April 10th, join myself, Melissa Coleman (The FauxMartha), Amanda Paa (Heartbeet Kitchen), and Rita Mehta (The American Edit) from 6-9pm at LynHall for The Minimalist Kitchen launch party and discussion on the book. There will be sips and small bites.

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‘Rush hour, and the short order cook lobs breakfast
sandwiches, silverfoil softballs, up and down the line.
We stand until someone says, Yes? The next person behind
breathes hungrily. The cashier’s hands never stop. He shouts:
Where’s my double double? We help. We eliminate all verbs.
The superfluous want, need, give they already know. Nothing’s
left
but stay or go, and a few things like bread. No one can stay long,
not even the stolid man in blue-hooded sweats, head down,
eating,
his work boots powdered with cement dust like snow that never
melts.’
Minnie Bruce Pratt, Breakfast

It’s National Poetry Month! If you haven’t ever been to Poets.Org, I highly recommend going over and spending some time reading -it’s a wonderful resource. You can search poems by poet and themes (I just searched ‘eating‘ and came up with some wonderful poems), and you can even create your own anthology of favorite poems (and no, this isn’t sponsored! I just love this site).

But, on to lemon bread. I posted a photo of this pull-apart bread on Instagram and had many people asking for the recipe, so here it finally is! The bread is baked in a Pullman pan which makes it so tall, and the longer bake time caramelizes the sides of the bread. Lemon icing is then poured over the top, and the result is pure deliciousness.

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“I spent the afternoon in the drawing-room of the flat. I read a little – there were some very serious American magazines, not like the ones Miss Marcy had. But most of the time, I just thought. And what I thought about most was luxury. I had never realized before that it is more than just having things; it makes the very air feel different. And I felt different, breathing that air: relaxed, lazy, still sad but with the edge taken off the sadness. Perhaps the effect wears off in time, or perhaps you don’t notice it if you are born into it, but it does seem to me that the climate of richness must always be a little dulling to the senses. Perhaps it takes the edge off joy as well as off sorrow.” – Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle

*************

I cruised through reading I Capture the Castle this week – it was charming and quirky, and I highly recommend it. The above lines from the book have been haunting me the last two days, as I ponder joy and sorrow, too much and not enough. Does convinience and comfort take away from the real pleasures and purposes of life? This has absolutely nothing to do with sparkling amethyst granitas, so I will clumsily tie together my inner musings with this delicious, slushy drink that I also made this week. It is from the pages of Pretty Simple Cooking, a new cookbook from Alex and Sonja Overhiser (or, otherwise known as A Couple Cooks). I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Sonja and Alex for awhile now – they visit Minneapolis a few times a year, and we’ve had some epic get togethers (seven hour brunches and Faux Martha pizza parties, to name a few). Their new book is lovely, filled with recipes that ‘balance beautiful, creative recipes with accessible concepts.” I highly recommend checking it out.

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I was recently on Twin Cities Live and made the chocolate bars pictured. They are based on a recipe from my cookbook: chocolate brownie base, buttercream filling, then topped off with chocolate ganache. Indulgent, but delicious. I made them for Valentine’s day with edible rose petals, which made them pretty and terribly precious, but if you’re not into that sort of thing, plain tops will work just fine. You can watch the video of me making them here.

I’ll have some chocolate hazelnut bars for you later this week, and hopefully the lemon pull-apart bread I had on Instagram that so many of you asked about. I’m still tweaking that recipe just a bit. And the rectangle cake, too! So many recipes, so little time.

I hope your weekend is full of good things. I am currently watching the snow fall down and trying not to think of my parents headed to the east coast for weeks on end while I pine for spring. I did start reading I Capture the Castle yesterday and can’t put it down; it’s delightful. xx

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***ENTER THE JK ADAMS GIVEAWAY BELOW***

It took me a long time to feel confident making pies. I never actually made one until my late twenties, as they had seemed so daunting and time consuming; so much work for something that had such a high percentage of not turning out right. My first attempt actually was incredible: I made a perfect apple pie. The crust was flaky and golden brown, the filling perfectly cooked, with apples soft but not mushy. I remember bringing it to my Grandma’s house, and she raved and raved about it (she may have mentioned it was better than the pie my mom made) and I’m pretty sure she ate the rest of it for dinner that night. Brimming with confidence, I made another pie the next day: same recipe, same apples, same kitchen equipment, and alas, it was a total disaster.

I’ve discovered I often have beginners luck with baking, only to completely mess up whatever I am making the next time I go to bake it. I think it’s the grace of the kitchen gods: they know of my love and need for baking, but also my lack of patience and follow through. I’m notorious on giving up on something if I don’t get it right away. They let me succeed once, giving me false confidence of my abilities, and then the next several times I just can’t get it right. I know I can make a pie, and make it well, but now I have to work for it. This then triggers my OCD and anxiety (both of which I’ve been diagnosed with), and now I cannot rest until I get it right again. It’s actually maddening, but after weeks and months of testing a recipe, I walk away pleased with my outcome, and confident about sharing it with others. It’s rather a daunting process (I should have just gone to pastry school?) but I’ve always learn best from my mistakes, and also repeating something over and over until I really understand it.

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‘I’m all over the place, up and down, scattered, withdrawing, trying to find some elusive sense of serenity.’
‘The world can’t give that serenity. The world can’t give us peace. We can only find it in our hearts.’
‘I hate that.’
‘I know. But the good news is that by the same token, the world can’t take it away.’
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

I come to you with a recipe for turnovers filled with jam and cream cheese filling. I love puff pastry filled with fresh fruit, but, well, it’s January.

I often turn to jam when all my summer berries are not in season. I have mixed feelings about jam in baked goods; often it’s just too sweet, and then I regret using it. Here I’ve paired it with a tangy cream cheese filling, which balances the sweetness. I also try to use jams with a bitter or tart edge; orange marmalade and blackberry jam are two favorites. The combination of the flaky, buttery pastry, tart-but-sweet jam, tangy cream cheese, and a crunchy, sugary top is a great idea on a bitter, cold winter morning.

(Also, I couldn’t quite find words this morning to how I was feeling, but then remembered I already had said them here.)

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So far, I’ve spent most of January freezing. It’s not that unusual for me to be constantly cold, but here in Minnesota we’ve had a long string of below zero days, which means I’m wearing several pairs of socks and shivering under blankets. I’ve done quite a bit of baking this month, and hope to have more recipes for you soon. In the meantime, here’s a list of things I’ve been enjoying.

Elizabeth by Sarah Bradford – I often make a quick stop at my local thrift store and browse the books; there’s usually a treasure or two tucked away in there. I picked up this book last week and have been reading it before bed (trying to stay away from Twitter after 9pm) and have been enjoying it.

Ella and Louis Again – Somehow I missed this! I am in love with their first duet album, and have spent countless hours singing along to it. I’ve been listening to this all week.

I’m working my way through Parks and Rec again, and have been laughing so much. Here’s the best of Ron Swanson.

It was just Martin Luther King Jr. day. It’s still not too late to read his leader from Birmingham Jail.

The greatest dance number ever filmed (according to Fred Astaire).

The Onion’s food videos are rather funny.

Why you should care about Bob Newhart.

How the 25 greatest stories ever told would be ruined by technology.

The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins, sung by Leonard Nimoy

Spatula City

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