Heart Kneads

Writing, Reading, Baking: Things my heart need.

German chocolate cupcakes with berry buttercream frosting

Summer Cupcakes (Chocolate and Berries!)

Left over olallieberries, whats a girl to do?

I went berry picking with my mom and Grandma on Tuesday morning, and came home with a giant box of berries. I made a pie the night of, but it seems to have disappeared already. And after snacking on the rest of the berries and sprinkling them in my morning granola I found myself with far too few to make olallieberrie bread pudding (à la this great recipe, from Eat,Live,Run ) So I decided to make German chocolate cupcakes with olallieberry frosting. 

I used a german chocolate cake recipe from Gayle’s Bakery cookbook, it was a pretty involved recipe involving first a chocolate custard in a double boiler and ending with folding in some egg whites. Its really light for such chocolaty cupcakes, and I really like it. But the frosting is what I was really excited about! 

To make the Berrylicious Buttercream Frosting:

You will need:

1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)

3 (ish) cups powdered sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

and a handful of fresh olallieberries

1. Cream the butter in mixer until it sticks to the sides.

2. Gradually add the powdered sugar, fully incorporating after each addition. 

3. Add vanilla and berries (mash up first if desired)

4. Add more sugar if desired for flavor/consistency. 

If desired a little lemon zest changes the flavor a bit, but tastes better with yellow or white cake.

Mint madness

My house is full of mint! What is a girl to do?

Clearly two things: Mint Juleps and Mint Tea (to be consumed in that order)

After visiting my parents’ house on Saturday they sent me and my lovely housemate home with an arm full of irises and a bag full of mint. Their yard is in full spring time bloom and I feel spoiled rotten to come home with a farmer’s market worthy bunch of goodies all for free! On top of that it has been about 80 degrees lately with blue blue skies and a full full moon. 

So since Sunday afternoon was so sunny (and since Sunday morning was spent inside at work) I called some friends over and made mint juleps. About an hour before my friends came over I boiled 1 part water, 1 part sugar and 1/4 part chopped mint in a small sauce pan. After the sugar had dissolved I took it off the heat and let it cool until my friends came. When we were ready for our sweet sunshine (big kid) treat, I stuffed four high ball glasses with ice, put in 2 ounces of whiskey, a few mint sprigs, and filled the rest with the simple syrup. (I would advise draining the syrup after it cools to avoid little floating mint leaf bits.) This recipie is pretty sweet, you can always add more whiskey or less syrup to taste. This one was just for a mid afternoon cocktail between studying, so we went light.

Me and Hallie drinking mint juleps on the stoop

Anyways, later when reading for class (or pleasure!) under the giant moon I made mint tea for my housemate and myself. This is simple to do! Just grab a bunch of fresh mint and pour boiling water over it, then let it steep. Adding green tea is a good way to get some caffeine in. Or to sweeten it up you can always add a little sugar. 

I first came across this when studying in Holland last year, its on menus as “verse muntthee.” It usually served in gorgeous clear mugs, and its as pretty to look at as it is relaxing to drink.

Anyways since I also seem to have an over abundant lemon tree at the moment I think some minty lemonade is in order for the near future!

Tree House

I am 25

—encased in the warm blanket of memories offered by this place. It’s October and the last rays of sun are fading away below the tree line. I drop my suit jacket over the futon and start to yank off the tie. It’s choking me. I have to get it off.  I can’t decide which bothers me more, these restricting clothes or the mob of people around the house. It’s just me and my six-pack up here, alone. I crack open a beer on the old Coca-Cola bottle opener nailed to the wall and watch the herd of people milling in my yard below. A small girl with red hair is running around at the bottom of the tree and suddenly—

I am 7.

 Lofty in my tree house, hammer in hand. Red print on a camouflage sign cautions “No Girls Allowed.” Fearful of splinters from the unknown wood nothing but the balls of my feet meet the floor, I’m not entirely sure this works but it feels right. A little smaller than my bedroom with two windows, one looks towards the street and the other to my neighbor’s yard. My only companion is formed of cardboard, an alter to my idol: Luke Skywalker. The neighbor is the one the sign is for, Sally. There’s not much time until she’ll realize the tree house is up and running, I’ve seen her watching my dad build it from over her fence. Her frizzy tornado of red hair floating above the fence line and her asphalt eyes framed with a spattering of freckles peering over. I came prepared. My Woody the Woodpecker lunch pail is filled with as many water balloons as it can hold. I’m ready for anything. Not five minutes after I finished securing my sign cootie infested hands are groping for the ladder. Clearly Sally and her two comrades have chosen to ignore my sign. SPLASH. Direct hit, realizing their danger the other two scamper off to the safety of the sprinklers. By the end Sally is a wet cat, hair dripping all around her. Left over balloons become blue and green hair clips, desperately clinging to the furious locks. My forehead feels like a bulls-eye while her eyes are arrows.

Before I have completely put the memory out of my mind a once familiar haze of auburn appears from the ladder below.

“I thought I might find you up here. My condolences, I had no idea she was sick.”

“Yeah well, I’m no good at these kind of gatherings, and the smell of food in there is suffocating. And my dad, I mean, did you see him? He’s just standing there looking at the piles of food. The endless line of casseroles, but not seeing anything.” I start tearing open boxes to distract my eyes from their eminent flooding.  “So what brings you back to town?”

“I still live here. Well not there…” she says waving her left hand back towards her old room, as she does I notice a spark. The last efforts of the sun are all being sent towards her left hand, actually towards the diamond resting on her left hand. She realizes my eyes have strayed from her the boxes and are fixed to her hand.

“How long?”

“5 years.”

I whistle my surprise. “That was quick.”

She takes a deep breath, and it’s obvious she is trying to be nice. She is reminding herself of why I am even in town, and why she should ignore that last comment. “What’s in the boxes?”

“I dunno stuff I left here when I went to college. It’s all from the summer after—

“—senior year” she finishes.

“Here catch.” The nerf ball barely gets a chance to whistle being thrown across such a small space.

Putting the nerf ball aside she grabs a box. “Can I?”

“Go ahead, most of this stuff is probably as much yours as mine.” Right as the words leave my mouth I unearth a black sweatshirt from the box of stuff that was clearly just thrown in there. “Actually I think this is yours.”

“I looked for this for so long after you left.” She pulls it on over her dark green dress. And then—

I am 18.

Sitting, waiting for her. I look around and my gaze falls to Luke, a little worse for wear but still standing.  I think back to my first day in the tree house when I brought him up there. It looks different now, my sign is long gone. There are posters of Jessica Alba, Fight Club, and the Shins covering the walls.   On the ceiling hangs a giant California flag, obscuring the light and creating a relaxed atmosphere. I now have a futon up here and in the summers I basically live in here blanketed by the Southern California heat. Now I sit here and wait for Sally, I just saw her leave her room and now she reappears in the yard.  What was red now auburn, asphalt now fog, and what were once just freckles are now endearing.  She crawls in already engulfed in a haze of smoke, Lucky Strikes I would guess from the smell.  Ready for battle in denim shorts barely visible below an oversized black sweatshirt.  She is all entwined in herself on the futon, arms and legs encasing her core. She’s on her second cigarette before I break the silence.

 “I’m sorry.” The exhausted words hit the floor like pennies. She takes it, the summer is ending and we’re both tired of this fight. Not any specific one, they all blend together into a tornado of mixed messages, empty threats, and tears. We’ve been watching our days are get shorter—reminding us that this won’t last forever.

“Lets just forget it okay?” The beginnings of a smile reach her eyes and I take it as an invitation. I slide on to the futon next to her. Arms are uncrossed and re-crossed into mine. Legs untwine and snake together. Clothes find new homes on the floor. And we find a new kind of chaos within each other.

The whistle of the nerf ball heading straight for my face snaps me out of my reverie. “Woah, a little warning?”

“You needed it, the way you were looking at me.”

“Once upon a time that look would’ve—“

 “Mommy, mommy, mommmmeeeeeeee”  It’s the little red haired girl I noticed earlier.

“Be right there pumpkin.”

“She’s cute.”

“It’s really good to see you Jeremy, when do you leave town?”

“Probably next week.”

“We should get coffee, finish catching up. Your dad’s got my number”

“Yeah well, good seeing ya Sally.”

I have fallen onto the kale bandwagon. Usually I can avoid the hot food of the moment, I passed through the sea of kombucha sophomore year with my body fermented mushroom juice free, thank you very much. But I could not resist the siren call of kale. 
No part of me can claim I knew kale before it was famous, or that my grandma spoon fed me kale baby food while telling me how fairy tales really end. I got to kale when it was already a top 40 song, but it still tastes so good.
Anyways my first solo foray into kale cuisine was the very simple and tasty dish of kale chips. (These are surprisingly addicting, and I accidently ate a whole baking sheet of them by myself. Leaving me with kale flavored burps) They are ridiculously easy to make. Take 1 bunch of kale, 1 Tbsp of olive oil, and salt and seasoning to taste. First preheat your oven to 350°F/177°C and prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Then wash and dry your kale. Once it is dry, shred the leaves into bite sized pieces—separating from the stem. Place on baking sheet and drizzle the oil and seasonings on top. Bake for 8-10 minutes until they are crispy!
The night I made this dinner I essentially did retail therapy in the grocery store and decided I deserved a delicious gourmet dinner. So to go with my kale chips I made a pizza with mozzarella, goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and arugula. Unlike me and kale, me and goat cheese have had a long relationship. I would call it my cheese of choice, but unlike kale goat cheese is not particularly fashionable. 

I have fallen onto the kale bandwagon. Usually I can avoid the hot food of the moment, I passed through the sea of kombucha sophomore year with my body fermented mushroom juice free, thank you very much. But I could not resist the siren call of kale. 

No part of me can claim I knew kale before it was famous, or that my grandma spoon fed me kale baby food while telling me how fairy tales really end. I got to kale when it was already a top 40 song, but it still tastes so good.

Anyways my first solo foray into kale cuisine was the very simple and tasty dish of kale chips. (These are surprisingly addicting, and I accidently ate a whole baking sheet of them by myself. Leaving me with kale flavored burps) They are ridiculously easy to make. Take 1 bunch of kale, 1 Tbsp of olive oil, and salt and seasoning to taste. First preheat your oven to 350°F/177°C and prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Then wash and dry your kale. Once it is dry, shred the leaves into bite sized pieces—separating from the stem. Place on baking sheet and drizzle the oil and seasonings on top. Bake for 8-10 minutes until they are crispy!

The night I made this dinner I essentially did retail therapy in the grocery store and decided I deserved a delicious gourmet dinner. So to go with my kale chips I made a pizza with mozzarella, goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and arugula. Unlike me and kale, me and goat cheese have had a long relationship. I would call it my cheese of choice, but unlike kale goat cheese is not particularly fashionable. 

Purpose

This blog is here as an outlet for my great loves in life. As opposed to my other tumblr, which is mainly a way for me to procrastinate, entertain myself, and express passing thoughts. I plan to use it to showcase my cooking, my writing, and possibly just reblog about things I like reading.

Writing the purpose is mostly there to remind myself of what I started, anyways here goes!