The only window in my tiny kitchen faces the north. It offers a cold, almost industrial, light. I'm in love with this foreign, brooding visitor. And when I allow myself to succumb to Yo-Yo Ma's cello, which often plays in the background this time of year, it's easy to imagine having this view from that aloof, existential northern window.
It took a few years, but I've finally trained my camera to appreciate this icy ambiance too.
Of course chocolate chip cookies could be photographed on an old tire and still look irresistible. (I am slightly jealous.)
Antique Caramel Cake
Last year's birthday cake was a coconut ingénue, drifting on a fluffy white cloud. The cake before that was a high-heeled chocolate minx in fishnet stockings: Sheer unadulterated decadence.
I wanted something in between. Something sweet enough to wear sprinkles, yet still corrupted and damaged, and unafraid to indulge in a shower of sticky, salted caramel sauce.
Saturday has been, so far, brisk and breezy and rain-soaked. The sky is a gorgeous churning mix of cadet blue and sad-sea grey.
I am so content right now. There is something peaceful about the autumn rain and it's haunting wind. They carry a wistful sadness...one which I feel I can relate to in some inexplicable way.
Currently I'm listening to a rather broodingly-gorgeous mix of Keren Ann and Carla Bruni songs, making my way through a second pot of Sumatran coffee, and simply enjoying the first beautiful, pensive weekend of fall.
Leave it to the brilliant minds (and palates) behind Baked to make me realize that I really need to hang out with snickerdoodles more often.
A few weeks ago, as an early birthday present, I received a Barnes and Noble gift certificate. Of course, without question, I had to buy the latest Baked cookbook, Baked Elements. I am head-over-heels in love with this book!! It's basically divided into 10 chapters, each one devoted to a specific ingredient; Peanut butter, caramel, chocolate, cinnamon, pumpkin, malted milk powder, cheese, bananas, booze (yay!), and...wait for it...wait for it...lemon and lime!!!
Has your mind been blown?!
Mine was. Again.
Cherry Berry Pie
I'm relatively reserved when it comes to talking about accomplishments and triumphs. But sometimes it's just plain silly to be a humble wallflower.
Seriously, look at that lattice crust! Isn't she rustic and gorgeous in all her buttery flakiness!?
I was always afraid to try making lattice crusts. The process looked too intricate, too complicated, too left-brained for my neurotic, over-thinking right brained...brain. Then I found these beautifully, well-written directions on Simply Recipes. Oh, how I love instructions that include step-by-step pictures. Thank you, Elise!
Cinnamon-Pear Jam and Cherry Bars
I collect jams the way squirrels collect acorns. Frenzied, breathless, and at random. Sometimes I actually spread them on toast.
The lucky jams get to be reincarnated into something sweet and scrumptious! (I need to find an alternate to the word 'scrumptious.') One day, a pear-cinnamon jam stood out among all the other jars and asked if it could be made into something buttery...something lightly spiced...something perfect for cozying up with as we watch the tippity tops of the trees start to change colour.
So I made these bars.
They're simple, basic, jam bars.
I don't think I'll ever get sick of simple, basic, jam bars.
The cherries were more of an afterthought. They add a splash of much-needed colour, along with a sweet reminiscent burst of summer. Please feel free to switch things up a bit by using different jams! If you go with something red, you may not even need to accessorize with cherries. ;)
So here we are. Or at least, here I am. Already with a blanket on my lap and a cat atop the blanket. (Niles weighs 19 lbs. My legs cannot fathom having a child.)
Has the switch been thrown so soon? Everything; the wind, the sky's cool hue, my icy fingertips, the wistful way the sun casts it's light as it sets too soon...the world's ambiance has changed. It's a subtle shift, the trees still cling to their green leaves and there will still be warm nights peppered onto the following weeks, but I can sense that a page has been turned. Every year I wonder when and how that occurs. I listen for it, I peek into hidden corridors, but it just happens. Fall slides softy and quietly into our lives the way cream swirls gently into an unstirred cup of coffee.
Inevitably, and sometimes against my will, I start to crave apples, and pumpkin lattes, and cinnamon, and maple.
It's September. My birthday month. The month we're all snapped back into routine and reality (sometimes too harshly). We need the softness of chocolate chip cookies to help cushion the blow.