My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres,
Without sharp North, without declining West?
Whatever dies was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or thou and I
Love so alike that none do slacken, none can die.
-John Donne, The Good-Morrow

This past week I found volumes A-F of the Norton Anthology of English Literature at my local thrift store, and I gleefully tucked them into my cart and took them home to read. I had a gigantic hardcover anthology that I carried around all through college, but since graduating the books have been updated tremendously (YAY), and I’m happy to find better translations, women authors, and helpful commentary. I’m a sucker for sixteenth century literature; I fell in love with Shakespeare in high school and enjoy reading the poetry from that time period (as you can see in the above poem). However, I’m starting at the Middle Ages and working my way through. It’s always a good sign when you pick up a book before an iphone; I haven’t enjoyed reading this much in quite awhile.

I also received a new cookbook recently – Hello, My Name is Ice Cream, by Dana Cree. This worked out perfectly, because Williams-Sonoma was very kind and sent me a Breville Ice Cream Compressor in August, and I have been making waaaaay too much ice cream with it. (Side note: I LOVE the ice cream compressor. It’s dreamy and quiet and so fun to use.) I decided to make my chocolate chip cookies into ice cream, and the results were, as you can imagine, delicious.

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One must know
how to be quiet in all
the languages
and everywhere,
always
allowing
the leaves to fall,
fall,
allowing them to fall,
fall. *

The house is quiet again. The constant laughter, pitter-patter of feet, splashing of pool water, and occasional bickering has been replaced with the sound of measuring cups scooping out flour, rolling pins on cold stone, and the mixer paddle clunking against stainless steel. For most of my life autumn was a loud month – filled with nervous thoughts and new classrooms, espresso machines hissing and cash registers ringing. Now it is still and silent, like red and yellow leaves slowly making their way onto city streets. I appreciate the time to collect my thoughts and work uninterrupted, but I miss the noise and chaos with my whole aching heart.

But the commotion returns, at 4 pm each afternoon. Two little people burst through the door and throw their backpacks and lunch boxes here and there, telling me stories of what happened in class and what so-and-so said on the bus, and I hardly remember I was ever feeling lonely. It’s a slow adjustment, from autumn to winter, winter to spring, and then on to summer again, but somehow each year we cycle through.

It’s difficult
to
be autumn,
easy to be spring.
To ignite everything
that is born
to be ignited.
But to turn the world off,
sliding it
as if it were a hoop
of yellow things,
until colors are melted
– *from Ode to Autumn, Pablo Neruda

***If you are able to give to help Houston, Wit & Delight has a post highlighting several charities and organizations.***

The copper measuring cups pictured here are from the Martha Stewart Collection, and were sent to me to use. You can find them exclusively at Macy’s.

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We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half heard, in the stillness
Between the two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always–
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of things shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

Little Gidding V,
Four Quartets.
— T.S. Eliot (1943)

Somehow I am turning 40 this week. I’ve gotten over the freaking-out part of things (that happened at 39) and I’ve moved into some ‘next phase of life’ business. I’ve found I like myself better the older I get (although I will give a nod to my therapist here – her help is part of why aging has been going so well!), and almost-forty has given me confidence I didn’t know I possessed. Often when I am afraid to do something, or stand up for myself, a simple reminder that ‘you’re forty years old. You can totally do this,’ has been very helpful. I guess I’m officially an adult or something now.

My husband turns forty right around this time as well, and we also celebrate our 15-year wedding anniversary, so it’s sort of an epic end of summer for us. I try not to remember the signs hanging up at my parents’ ‘over-the-hill’ parties: halfway to heaven isn’t something I want to focus on quite yet. Although I’ll admit there are moments each month, as the year quickly passes yet again, that the unknown, whatever is after all of this, is a more present, lurking thought. Sometimes it’s joyful, and hopeful, other times I quickly shove it away, not ready to deal with my fear. Either way, it’s a reminder to not waste time, to speak up for what is right, and to enjoy all the days I have this side of the hill. Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new. -Ursula K. Le Guin

I made a small birthday cake for myself this year. The chocolate cake is a scaled down version of the chocolate cake from my cookbook, with sour cream instead of buttermilk, and butter added in place of some of the canola oil. I really liked how it turned out. I’ve teamed up with Land O’Lakes for a few posts over the rest of the year. I’ve been a big fan of their butter for years; I love how my baked goods turn out with it, and as they are a Minnesota-based company, it seemed like a natural fit. I use their unsalted butter in my baking, and find the flavor to be heads and shoulders above other grocery store brands.

The seven minute frosting is a nod to my Grandma Ethel, who used to make a version of  this quite frequently (though she never toasted the top of hers), and as a child I thought it was the worst thing ever – I didn’t understand how anyone could ruin a perfectly good cake with it. My opinion has changed drastically over the years (another positive of aging, I guess), and I thought it would be a good accompaniment to the chocolate cake. I did share some with my family, and they liked it, too.

This post is sponsored by Land O Lakes. As always, all opinions are my own.

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‘Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.’ – Mary Oliver

Each summer, my family took a four day get-away to Wisconsin Dells, (Water Park Capital of the World!) the vacation destination for most middle-class Midwesterners. My siblings and I thought it was the best place on earth, and were terribly disappointed the summer my mom vetoed The Dells and insisted we head North, spending our days instead on and around the North Shore. It’s possible we complained bitterly the whole way there and during our entire trip, driving my parents to the edge of patience and then right off the cliffs of insanity. It’s possible my mom completely lost her temper while we were exploring Gooseberry State Park, after we had  mentioned yet again how water slides were much more exciting than water falls. It’s possible that even though I realized how awful I was being and finally determined to turn my attitude around the last half of our trip, I had never been back since.

My husband is from Wisconsin, but did not spend his summers in The Dells. In fact, his experience was quite the opposite – his family despised going there, instead packing up their car with camping equipment, and spending their time outdoors canoeing, hiking, cooking over campfires, and the like. This summer, after he once again mentioned how we should finally visit Duluth (and me inwardly groaning with only memories of my last trip to go by), the two of us hit the road and headed toward Lake Superior.

After a long drive (and lots of time spent listening to this album and this album and always this album) I rediscovered the North, with it’s rocky shores, pale blue skies, and the ice queen of lakes as a constant backdrop. We spent our days driving, hiking, talking and not talking, breathing deep; delighted at the beautiful landscape we had neglected to enjoy for most our life. I sat near the shore and felt for the first time in a long time that I belonged somewhere, realizing (again) that sometimes parents do know best, and sent my mom a little text. ‘You were always right about this place. Thanks for taking me.’

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. .. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!” – The Last Battle, CS Lewis

***********************************************************
EXPLORING THE NORTH SHORE
(Places we stayed/ate at/explored/loved)

Duluth

Thirsty Pagan Brewing – technically in Superior, but worth the drive. Both the pizza and beer were fantastic. Make sure to order the weekly changing pizza specials. We had some sweet potato pizza business that was insanely good.

Northern Waters Smokehaus – I had the Cedar’s Secret Sandwich. It was probably the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten. I highly recommend this little place.

Pier B Resort – Clean rooms, great view, nightly s’mores, and a hot tub over looking Lake Superior.

Little Neechers – Our friends own the only cloth diaper store in Duluth!

Headed North from Duluth to Grand Marais

New Scenic Cafe – Amazing food, and a lovely atmosphere. They also were playing Miles Davis the whole time I was eating, which was A+.

Gooseberry Falls – Hike the Narnia woods to the beautiful waterfalls.

Black Beach – A gorgeous little beach tucked away on Highway 61. I wish we would have brought a picnic lunch.

Tettegouche State Park – Another beautiful place to hike. Make sure to stop at Crystal Bay.

Artist Point – located in Grand Marais. An easy to moderate place to hike, and a gorgeous view of Lake Superior.

Places we didn’t get to but wish we had (next time!)

World’s Best Donuts – the line was 30 people deep so we didn’t wait, but I got yelled at by multiple family members for not stopping.

Betty’s Pies

The Crooked Spoon Cafe – highly recommended by friends.

Fika Coffee

Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts – several friends recommend staying here.

Cove Point Lodge – my parents stay here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.’ – Henry James

I have to agree with Mr. James here; summer is magic. With my littles at home and days filled with swimming, reading, long walks, trips to the library, canoeing, hammocking, lego building, and not homeworking, I am entering August on tiptoes, knowing there are only four weeks of leisure left. ‘Twenty-nine days!’ my seven year old son lamented today as he counted on the calendar. ‘Only twenty-nine days left of summer! I’m doomed!’ I tried to reassure him it was plenty of time, but August does have a reputation for flying by too fast. Or, as my friend Kate put it, ‘August is the Sunday of summer. June is Friday night, July is Saturday, and each day of August quietly whispers, Monday is just around the corner.’

So we made ice cream cake. Because the weather is warm, and we still have days left to celebrate our freedom. Raspberry crème fraîche no-churn ice cream with chocolate cookie crumb and toasted meringue topping, to be exact. It was decadent, and delicious; it cooled us to our toes and made us momentarily ignore that yes, we are doomed.

‘All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.’ – LM Montomery

This post is sponsored by Driscoll’s and the Minnesota #BerryTogether Sweepstakes. Did you know Minnesota is the number one consumer of raspberries? To celebrate, Driscoll’s is giving away a Minnesota exclusive getaway Madden’s Resort & Spa in Brainerd, MN for 4 from now until August 31st. Click here to enter.

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Hello! And apologies for the silence in this space. The quiet is a good thing – my summer has been lovely and busy; my family and I enjoying quality time together. So baking and blogging has been on the back burner for the better (that sentence had too many ‘b’ words and a terrible attempt at a kitchen pun, which means I’ve had way too much coffee today).

I’ll be back again later this week with another recipe and some trip photos from the North Shore, but for now, I am going to leave you with some links.

*There has been so much good music released this spring/summer! I’ve been listening to Feist, Lee Bozeman, Greycoats, and Sufjan’s Planetarium on repeat for weeks.

*I still love Jeremy Enigk.

*I am spending the summer reading Thomas Cahill’s Hinges of History series.

*Zoebakes’s Instagram stories are the best- I always learn something new.

*I actually bought a fanny pack (or belt bag, for the trendy) and have gotten mixed reviews on it. I will say it was amazing while hiking, and I did have an older gentleman compliment me on it (we almost had matching bags), which made my day.

*I have mint chocolate ice cream cake and mixed berry cream cheese ice cream on Handmade Charlotte.

*I have grilled breakfast pizza on Artisan Bread in Five.

*Can’t wait to start baking from Pizza Camp. I also have a gigantic stack of cookbooks I need to bake from and share with you, that I hopefully will get to soon.

That’s all for now! I hope you had a lovely weekend. Don’t forget to #bakeamericacakeagain.

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My children are curious ones, often on tip-toe or climbing up onto kitchen stools, trying to figure out what I’m always doing in the kitchen. Sometimes they jump in and help: throwing on their little aprons and grabbing spatulas and whisks, and other times they are content with just peeking into bowls and moving on. I find their interest in that space constantly ebbs and flows, and the days I’m in a hurry and don’t need help are the days they seem to want to offer it, and the occasions I’m dying to bake with them and teach them new things, well, those are the days they’d rather be doing anything else. Every once in awhile we land on the same page. My daughter is more eager than my son; he wants to sneak cookie dough, she wants to shape and bake cookies. I’ve watched her come a long way in the kitchen, and enjoy the moments when we make something together.

I’ve discovered that while she’s come a long way, I, however, still  have some needed areas of growth. Basically, I can be a control freak. I find myself hovering and managing. I want to pre-measure the ingredients, and find the right bowl. I don’t fully trust her to dip and sweep or mix things fully. She is well aware of my tight grip while sweetly encouraging me to step back and let her try. She is sure of her abilities, and isn’t worried when she’s lacking. This is the hardest part of parenting for me: watching your child get to a place you’ve been training them for, and then having to let go, trusting they can do whatever it is you’ve been preparing them to do. I’ve spent so much time nurturing and caring and equipping, that when my child is finally ready, I want to keep tagging along to micromanage any mishaps, not fully confident in her abilities.

I’m slowly making progress.

We did have a lot of fun together, making this cake. My kids could have gobbled up the crème fraîche layers plain (I could have as well), but the berries and white chocolate buttercream take this to the next level.

Le Creuset kindly sent us this 5 piece utensil set (with crock) from their Craft Series to use on our cake experiements (or #cakexperiments, as I like to call them on Instagram), and so far I’m impressed. The spatulas are ‘made for scraping the bowl clean’, and they do an incredible job. Their smooth surface is great for scraping batter from the surface in just two strokes, and the ergonomic handle keeps hand secure when scraping or spreading. And yes, this spatula can also spread, which is a dream come true. And guess what! One lucky reader can win this utensil set! All you need to do to enter is leave a comment below (along with an email). This contest is open to US residents only. Winner will be announced June 20th, 2017. (For an extra entry,  follow Le Creuset on Instagram.)

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I took a much needed trip to Winona last weekend – my husband surprised me for Mother’s Day and sent me to a bed and breakfast, along with my old college roommate (and still dear friend), Kate. Kate and I lived together for several years in Winona, so we spent most our time walking around the Winona State University campus feeling nostalgic and dreamy, and catching up on everything. So much has changed since our time there, yet so much is still the same. We ate and drank plenty at the Blue Heron Coffeehouse as well, and guzzled down this rhubarb lemonade after a long stroll. After arriving home I immediately emailed Colleen for the recipe, and she graciously shared it with me.

A trip to Winona always involves a date with Larry and Colleen, and they kindly invited both Kate and I over for dinner. It was an incredibly warm evening for May, so we all sat outside, along with their son Erik,  sipping vodka lemonades and nibbling on all the goodness Colleen had waiting for us. The Wolner’s house is rather magical, and if you’ll allow me to pull out some nerdery, I’d say it rather has a Bombadil air about it: entering into their realm is a warm, welcoming respite during the adventures of life. There is always plenty to eat and drink, a warm fire, good conversation, and tasty treats. All the things this Hobbit heart needs.

 

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Mother’s Day is just around the corner. I often forget about it; not about celebrating my own mother, of course, but about that fact that it is now a day for others to celebrate my contribution to their life. I am a Mom every day – I get two littles up for school each morning; guide them through dressing and eating and brushing teeth while cramming folders and lunch boxes into back packs. I wait at bus stops. I take breaks from working and baking to fold laundry, change pillow cases, pick up toys. I make dinner, I help with homework. I am a story teller, a song singer. I close my book at night when little feet quietly make their way into my room, needing hugs or more songs, or reassurance in the dark. I am always listening, checking, double-checking, holding, awake while sleeping, hoping, helping. But still, somehow, I forget I’m the Mom. Because there is still 10-year old me inside, singing along to Amy Grant all afternoon and lost in Nancy Drew stories. Fifteen year old me is there, dreaming about boys and crying over journal entries. Twenty year old me is over-spiritualizing her life and trying not to bounce every check she writes. Twenty-five year old me is married and can actually sleep through the night without being afraid. Thirty year old me is pregnant for the first time and finally seeing a therapist. And now there is almost 40 year old me, the woman trying to make sense of aging while still so aware of all the other, younger Sarahs lingering inside. Not Mom, then Mom, then both together, for the remaining miles of the journey.

It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own

-Mary Oliver, from The Journey

I think I will celebrate the big Day this year with a fabulous cake, for both myself and my own Mother. I’m excited to share the one pictured above with you: an almond cake with chocolate and Amaretto buttercream. Andre Prost sent me several boxes of their imported Odense Almond Paste (from Odense, Denmark) to experiment with.  It is made in a factory where only almonds are used so there is no risk of other nut allergies in this cake. If you have never used almond paste, it is found in the baking section of the supermarket. I love almond paste in so many applications (paired with puff pastry, especially, and also in a Danish braid), but I had never used it in a straight up yellow cake. I love the way it turned out; the cake is rich and full of almond flavor, without the need for extra almond extract. Amaretto is an under-used liqueur in my cabinet, and it pairs nicely with the cake and thin layer of chocolate (side note: on the rare occasion I order a drink when I’m out on the town, I do always get an amaretto sour. I’ve also been informed that this is an old lady drink, but dang, it’s so good!). The flowers on this cake are inspired by the lovely Molly Yeh and her own fabulous cake. She has a lot of good links posted for making flowers, and I have a few more at the bottom of the post, too.

Giveaway: Enter for a chance to win 6 boxes of Odense Almond Paste! Leave a comment below with your email for a chance to win. No special comment is required, but if you want to let me know what cookbooks you are currently baking/cooking out of, I would love that. Winners will be picked one week from today, May 9th.

This post is sponsored by Odense Almond Paste. As always, all opinions are my own. You can find more recipes using almond paste on their website.

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‘I believe food should capture your spirit. Your food, I believe, is a compilation of your journey in life – it collects bits and pieces as you go. From youth and culture, from travel, and from day-to-day experiences. It is also very much an evolution…

Food’s ability to bring people together is unparalleled. It is at the foundation of our cultures; it is the goodness we can bring to ourselves and others. When we celebrate food and retain its inherent quality, we nourish ourselves and our lives. We take the time to source good ingredients and produce. We support our local farmers and artisans, and we help sustain a beautiful cycle of goodness that extends to the people around us.’ -Karen Mordechai, Simple Fare

I received Karen’s new book this past week, and instantly was drawn to this dark chocolate cake. It did not disappoint. You may know Karen’s site Sunday Suppers, and her book is filled with the same beautiful photography and thoughtful recipes found there. I recommend checking it out.

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