Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cakes and Reading and Eggnog and Uly Cookies and Adventure

Remember last year, when all my kids were away for Christmas?  Well this year they’re all home.  Being all together again makes for a house full of fun.  Fun and noise and mess and chaos and loud dinners.

It also means five adults  (or five adultish people, and I count myself as only adultish on many days) living on top of one another in one modest sized house.  With one bathroom.  I mention the bathroom purely for literary effect—it actually is rarely a problem for us, but I’ve noticed the idea of one bathroom does seem to strike terror in the hearts of many.

So blogging is on a bit of a hiatus.  Consider this a quick catch-up. 



First, about those cakes.  I’m ashamed to say I’ve only baked six of them so far, the Caramel Cake, Punschtorte, Zigomar, Rum Baba, Heirloom Banana Layer Cake with Prune Plum Filling and Seafoam Icing, and Persian Love Cake.   I will be baking Pavla’s cake after Christmas, to celebrate Pavla’s birthday (she was my husband’s grandmother).  Still, that’s only a 70%, which is barely a C.

I think I’ve earned some extra credit though.  I’ve made a bunch of birthday cakes (David Lebovitz’s banana cake with mocha frosting from his newest book, Ready for Dessert; a Blum’s Coffee Crunch, Flo Braker’s Eggnog Pound Cake, to name a few).  And I’ve made some other cakes just because.

I’ve also eaten a few cakes this year.  Or at least some pieces of cake.  So all in all, I’m going to give myself an 88% for the year in cakes, high enough to feel like I did a decent job, but clear that there’s room for improvement in 2011.

Cakes in 2010 also led to a new friendship.  Joanna has a cookie blog called Carpe Cookie, but we talk cake more often.  The first time we met we chatted in a café, finishing each other’s cake sentences.  Neither of us care for cream cheese frosting, and we both think brown sugar and butter is just about the finest combination that exists (she browns the butter as well, and I like to tuck in a little bourbon to that mix).


One other 2010 resolution that I think I’ll pull off: reading a book a week.  It seems like a lot to many people, and just a normal year’s reading to others.  I’ve just finished book number 47, so I have five to go.  At this point I’m reading novellas and other short books, which is only slightly cheating. 

Number 47 was M.F.K. Fisher’s Consider the Oyster.  I was gratified to see that she loved the Ramos Gin Fizz at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans—I did too!  In fact, I had them at the Roosevelt twice.  I was also amused to read that she had two abominable Ramos Gin Fizzes away from the Roosevelt.  I did as well (one tasted suspiciously like an Orange Julius, but not in a good way).


Now that it’s December 15th, my thoughts have long since turned to eggnog.  I started Thanksgiving morning at Coffeehouse Northwest.  They open up Thanksgiving morning and give away drinks—the tips all go to charity.  I enjoyed a fortifying ‘rum nog’—hot eggnog with a shot of rum.  Steamed to an accompanying chant of ‘rum nog rum nog rum nog’ by the baristas.  The nog, and especially the conviviality of Coffeehouse Northwest, made for a warmer day.

I’ve also already snuck out twice for my glass of crème anglaise, er, eggnog at Pearl Bakery.  Once by myself, once with a friend.  Neither time with my flask.  As the kids would say, ‘fail’!  I should have an eggnog link for you sometime in the next week.


Uly Cookies

Last year I finally made Ůly cookies, the Czech beehive cookies filled with rum buttercream that I wrote about in my first big break in Gourmet Magazine (‘Think Pink’, November 2006).  I’d planned on getting a recipe up here this year, but haven’t made them yet.  So I’ll put up a vague recipe instead…in the next couple of days.  I had tracked down a mold for the beehive at the online shop Slovak-Czech Varieties, but they seem to be out now.  I think they get them each year, so check back with them.


Finally, the blog will be only off and on for the next month.  After New Years I’m heading to Key West for the Key West Literary Symposium, The Hungry Muse: an Exploration of Food in Literature.  It’s hard to write this without getting a little dizzy from the excitement.  Here are just a few of the speakers: Calvin Trillin, Ruth Reichl, Diana Abu-Jaber, Judith Jones, Molly O’Neill, Jonathan Gold, Mark Kurlansky, Madhur Jaffrey, Roy Blount Jr.  Well, you get the picture.

And did I mention Key West?  In January?  I think it will be a fine ten days.


joanna said...

I am here to tell you that the eggnog poundcake INDEED counts on the "cakes made by Giovanna in 2010" list - assuming you're talking about the most delicious eggnog Bundt that you so lovingly made for my 40th birthday last weekend. Sans, needless to say, a trace of the dreaded cream cheese frosting.


Kathleen Bauer said...

Have a great time in Key West…I'm so excited for you!

lshere said...

That sounds like a pretty productive year to me-my list would be really short!

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