(I would submit it to McSweeney’s, but instant gratification is so much better.)
Things in my new (old) house that aren’t actually attached to anything:
- One coaxial cable that runs from room to room
- Two telephone lines (different eras)
- One wall socket (connected to electricity, but not to the wall)
- The vinyl floor in the basement
- The handle of the faucet in the main bathroom
- Two light fixtures
- One ceiling fan (connected to the ceiling, apparently not to power)
- About half of the slats on the fence
- Apparently half of my silver maple tree
- Most of the woodwork in the basement
Luckily I’m quite attached to the house.
Hello all! All of the much promised updates from our new home and the trip out *ARE* forthcoming, but for now, the first entry in a new series. I’m a member of a community email list that is endlessly entertaining. I plan to share the more entertaining emails with all of you here! Names and places redacted to protect the innocent. Enjoy!
I’m going to northern Idaho to meet my huckleberry hook-up, *****, in a few weeks. I’m buying some huckleberries for our freezer for the winter. There may be a few extra gallons. These berries have the finest provenance available. They are hand-picked in the mountains above Priest Lake, frozen in Ziploc gallon bags, and will be delivered [. . .] sometime in the next few weeks. $50/gallon.
Are huckleberries really worth $50 a pound?
… Changes, in case you were confused.
It’s been a very eventful spring around here. I was teaching approximately four times as much as I should have and all the while interviewing for permanent, real jobs. Come March, some good news rolled in and I accepted and we decided to up and move across the country. So Friday some movers are coming and driving our stuff away and come Monday morning, we’ll set off in our little blue car with the dogs, a bunch of plants I’m not willing to part with, Dan’s guitar, etc. and driving all the way to our new home in the sunny, wine-y Walla Walla Valley. That’s about 3,000 miles, but who’s counting.
(Feel free to laugh at the name. I did for the first few weeks as well.)
But of course, big new beginnings come with big sloppy goodbyes as well. This whole process feels a bit like a slow-motion breakup – after eight years in Boston (and four in this apartment), I feel ready to go, but also like it’s the end of the world. But mostly okay. But kind of devastating. You see, I’m feeling conflicted and inarticulate about all this. Packing in 90 degree heat does that to me.
This preamble is all to say STAY TUNED for exciting updates from the road and from our new house. I’ll also probably be posting about renovations as well – Dan and I plan on spending our first few days in the new (old) house pulling up carpet. Keep your fingers crossed for nice wood floors underneath.
* * * * *
But before all the new comes a bit of the old. In June I had my last hangout with two of my best girls from college. It was the tail end of a project we launched last fall where we all took photos of one another, portrait-style, to commemorate our 30th year. K did hers in Rhode Island near her home, I did mine on the beach in fall, and Liz did hers in Concord, near her home. It was a surprisingly moving process for me – I did much of the photography (not my photos, obviously) and it was nice to bookend this last year in Boston by spending some time two of my favorite faces and my camera.
And now as I pack up my life into a mountain of boxes, the dogs sniffing nervously around and wondering what fresh hell awaits (Lucy is of the opinion that SUITCASES are BAD NEWS), I find myself thinking about old friends, nerves about making new friends, how to get tipsy and play board games with them over Skype, time zones, and plane tickets. I remind myself that we can stay in touch and visit and that we’ll still be in each others’ lives. But there’s a small dark, depressing corner of me that keeps shouting “But it won’t be the SAME! Change is BAD! You’ll be all ALONE!”
And instead of facing down that fear, I pack it away as well, skipping the bubble wrap and newspaper, hoping it will break in transit. Instead I think about sunny days, bright yellow valley light, inside jokes, and easy, loud laughter.
The last day the three of us hung out was like that. The weather was perfect, we were all at ease, we went to farm stands, walked in gardens and visited the site of the first Revolutionary War battle. Now, in retrospect, it seems oddly appropriate to have visited that site that day. It was, after all, the site of a major beginning and a major end (for the nascent U.S. and British rule, respectively, obviously). It also seems appropriate that that first conflict centered on a bridge, a liminal space with one force on each side, each trying to expand their territory.
We ate salad. That’s the point of this post. It was a simple, fresh, wholesome meal and embodied a lot of what I love about The Girls. I won’t explore that thought for fear of drifting back into theory-babble territory or getting too weepy – there’s packing to be done after all. I also won’t insult your intelligence and call this a RECIPE. Instead I’ll just tell you what we did.
Weepy Delicious Farewell Girls’ Salad
- Mixed greens – we used a spring/mesclun mix with herbs thrown in.
- Pecorino romano or a similar hard, strong cheese.
- Small potatoes – we used rainbow colored ones that were about the size of eggs.
- Bright, sweet tomato – we used a yellow one.
- Green beans – those skinny, tender ones.
- Bread – if you’re in the Boston area, you have no excuse but to use Iggy’s 7-Grain
- Marinated Tomatoes
- Fruit – we used mango, apple, blueberries and mint
- Potatoes: boil them in salty water until just cooked. A fork should slide easily in and out of the potato, but the spud should NOT fall apart when you do it. Drain and set aside.
- Asparagus: break off the woody part of the stalks, toss in olive oil and generously salt. Roast in oven at 425 until the ends are crispy and the stalks fairly limp. Cut into 2ish-inch segments. Set aside.
- Green beans: break off ends and blanch until bright green and fork tender. What, about 5-7 minutes?
- Tomato: cut it up. Chunks or slices, whatever strikes your fancy. I prefer chunks. Set aside
- Greens: dress to taste. Liz’s dressing was delicious and I’ll share the recipe if she’s feeling generous. Cut whatever cheese you’re using into tiny chunks and toss with the salad.
- Put olives and marinated tomatoes (both optional, but highly recommended) into small bowls.
- Fruit: cut up whatever fruit you want. Throw in some shredded fresh mint and a splash of something sweet. We used creme de cassis, but you can use whatever is handy.
- Put it all on the table. I arranged the veggies in stripes on a big platter and we all assembled our plates to our tastes. Mine was light on leaves and heavy on marinated tomatoes.
**Pairs well with minty gin and tonics.
Hey all – back again after long long radio silence to liveblog the Golden Globes! I’m dropping the timestamp this year. Just keep refreshing! I’ll be here!
- The Red Carpet Show (on E!) started three minutes ago and Ryan Seacrest is already annoying me. That being said, I would like one of those giant heat lamps on my fictional house with its fictional patio.
- Oh, Ross. He makes me uncomfortable. Also, I *still* don’t like Kelly’s silly hair.
- So, looking ahead to the actual awards: We haven’t seen many of the movies this year, but obviously that doesn’t stop me having lots of opinions. Here’s what I want to happen:
- Best Drama: Lincoln. Because a) I haven’t seen Argo or Django Unchained and b) because Lincoln wasn’t actually that Spielberg-y.
- Best Comedy/Musical: If it weren’t for my history as theater geek, I would absolutely say Moonrise Kingdom. But then Les Miserables happened and I can’t vote for anything else because I’m so excited about it.
- Best Actor Drama: Daniel Day Lewis.
- Best Actress Drama: Helen Mirren. Because she should win all the awards.
- Taking a break from my votes: Julianne Hough (when did she become A Thing?) has kind of awesome hair. I don’t like her dress, but I want those bug earrings.
- Also, Amy Adams is adorable, but her dress is blah. Of *course* she’s wearing Marchesa. *yawn*
- Claire Danes just said “I’m hoping I don’t leak anytime soon.” about having *just* had a baby like four minutes ago. Also, Claire Danes in Versace? No Calvin Klein! And her eye makeup is too much.
- Best Actress Comedy: DAMN. How do I choose? Judi? Meryl? Maggie? Can they all win? I also deeply love Emily Blunt AND Jennifer Lawrence. Having seen none of the movies, I don’t have an opinion.
- Best Actor Comedy: Ewan McGregor. Delicious.
- Michelle Dockery (oh, Lady Mary!) in Alexander McQueen, maybe? Fabulous gold and white, anyway.
- Katherine McPhee: I realize your boobs are in danger of making a serious prison break but STAND UP STRAIGHT.
- Isla Fisher bedazzled her dress.
- Supporting Actor: Not Tommy Lee Jones. Phillip Seymour Hoffman was great.
- Supporting Actress: I *guess* I wouldn’t mind Anne Hathaway winning this one, but what about Helen Hunt? She’s so fantastic?
- Director: Kathryn Bigelow. Because those dudes win every time. I would also accept Ben Affleck.
- Zooey (the inferior Deschanel, says this Bones fan) in my prom dress. Pretty.
- File Brian Cranston under “Not Taking Giuliana’s Bullshit”
- Lena Dunham is cute. It’s a fantastic dress! Love the pleating in the skirt. Did Ryan Seacrest forget to ask who her dress is by?
- Seriously, haven’t we seen Amy Adams‘s dress about a gajillion times?
- So, gang, what’s the deal? Is Girls any good? Ought one to watch it? Also, Lena Dunham: I don’t pee in front of other girls. I think you might not be in the majority there.
- If you need more live-bloggy action: Go Fug Yourself
- AMY POEHLER AND TINA FEY OH MY GOD! Both fabulous. So effing exciting. But why is Tina Fey’s hair so light? And big?
- So, I really like Tina Fey‘s dress – the collar thing is kind of eighties-y, but I love the length. And Amy Poehler is rocking the shit out of that suit. I would have appreciated a slightly more unusual necklace with the jacket. But of course, somewhere Celine Dion is asking “but why not backward?”
- So this year’s stupid interview theme is “tell us about your crazy fans.” I’m not that interested, but it’s better than diets.
- Also, dudes. Did you notice that BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH is nominated? Cumberbatch Cumberbatch Cumberbatch Cumberbatch Cumberbatch.
- Whenever I see Bradley Cooper I just think WILL TIPPIN!
- Is that Lucy Liu behind him? In that blue and black thing? Looks good to me! Also I just asked “is that Lucy Liu? and Lucy (the dog) looked up at me like “WHAT.”
- Okay, what’s with the faux-Elizebethan corset crotch pointy thing that’s happening with some of the dresses? Julianne Hough, Lena Dunham, Zooey Deschanel… Strange.
- Jodi Foster! Love the Hair, Love the Dress, Love the Makeup. Love. Armani. Obviously.
- Also, it WAS Lucy Liu. And I love it. It also seems to be continuing the faux-Elizabethan thing.
- I want to yank Olivia Munn’s dress up about an inch. Not far, but it seems a little droopy. Also, Ryan Seacrest didn’t do his homework about OM’s newsroom background.
- Sally Field looks great! Mature, but not too “Mother of the Bride.”
- Also, does Ryan Seacrest have a girlfriend? Really?!
- Aziz Ansari! Tom Haverford! Wearing Kevin Dior. Awesome. So much swag.
- RACHEL WEISZ. LOVE. She’s Number ONE on the list of celebrities I wish I looked like. For real.
- AZIZ ANSARI: “What is that? Based on my chocolate skintone?”
- Ooh, there’s Lucy Liu! who is the dress? Oscar? RYAN IS LETTING ME DOWN. Oh! Carolina Hererra! Cool! Though I will say her hair verges on the costumey.
- Michael J. Fox is looking pretty good! That makes me happy.
- Seriously, Amy Adams makes me sad every time they cut to her. So pale. So monochromatic.
- Jessica Chastain: I don’t know what your deal is, but I love your hair.
- Jennifer Lawrence: Her dress is not that exciting except for two things: Why are her boobs so pointy? And that metal belt is really cool. I like when her hair is brown too.
- CUMBERBATCH IS COMING UP! Cumberbatch Cumberbatch Cumberbatch Cumberbatch. I’ll have a giggle with you, Benedict. Oh, yes.
- Nicole Kidman has arrived. Her dress is also alluding to Elizabethan corsetry. It’s officially a trend.
- Does it need to be said that I want Cumberbatch to win his category? I mean, really? KEVIN COSTNER? No. CUMBERBATCH.
- That Bailey’s ad was really trippy.
- Amanda Seyfried seems like she has NO confidence. Get it together. Also, it’s only a matter of time until she makes an ill-advised Madonna biopic.
- Hugh Jackman is delicious, but he needs to shave.
- On the subject of shoes. GEEZ some of those heels are TOO TALL. Jennifer Lawrence’s were at least SEVEN inches. Also, E! should just put a HANDRAIL on their platform! Dead air while these poor hobbled ladies struggle down the steep steps.
- Taylor Swift: She looks OLD. I like her earrings and I like her dress and her hair and everything, but I feel like it ages her about ten years.
- HAMM IN THE BACKGROUND! (Dan recommends a Hamm-Cam and I concur.)
- I forgot about Julianne Moore in Game Change! Surely she’ll win, right?
- Jennifer Westfeldt looks very cool in Naim Khan. I approve.
- OH NO. Rachel Weisz is demonstrating the original meaning of Scrolldown Fug. I thought itwas so cute, but then OH. NO.
- Julianne Moore looks stunning in Tom Ford. So, SO great. But is it an inch too short?
- Nicole Kidman looks great! I wish her hair were a little redder. She’s in McQueen. Obviously. I don’t love the studs.
- Jennifer Garner in something shimmery and red.
- ADELE! I love her. The dress is a little mumsy but her eyelashes are MAJOR.
- Oh Sienna Miller. Oh, NO. UGH and it’s CUSTOM? Yikes.
- Marion Cotillard is gogeous. She’s also rocking the metal belt. Dior is into that this year. The assymmetrical hem is interesting. I think I like it?
- Julianna Margulies – hello illusion netting. Wow. Skin. OH! ER LOVE!
- Clooney is pretty. As always. I really don’t care about Stacey Keibler. Armani Prive. I guess it’s good.
- Kate Hudson is auditioning for the role of her mother tonight.
- Sofia Vergara looks fabulous. I love that dress and that it’s a slightly different profile for her.
- Hey, Ben Affleck. that’s a good beard.
- Kristin Wiig has an ill-advised cutout on her dress.
- Jennifer Lopez. Very predictable. Also, shut your mouth. Too much sexyface.
- Anne Hathaway! Great hair. Also, I’m going to say that she is pregnant. There’s no other explanation for the bodice of that dress. Which is not to say I don’t like it.
- Hooray Salma Hayek! Keeping the big-ass bow alive!
- “When it comes to torture, I trust the woman who spent three years married to James Cameron.” WOW.
- “I haven’t seen someone so alone and abandoned since I saw you on stage with James Franco at the Oscars.” Zing.
- SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MOVIE: Christoph Waltz! I love a German acceptance speech. Also, Quentin T. is silly and a little sketchy.
- SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MINI-SERIES etc.: Come on Maggie…. YAY! And of course she’s not there. She’s so above it.
- Eva Longoria’s skirt is completely sheer. Do we like it?
- Mini-Series/Movie: Game Change! Hooray! Was Jonathan from Buffy in Game Change?
- Julianne Moore! As Sarah Palin! So crazy! A reminder: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOa98P_Mv68
- Catherine Zeta-Jones’s accent is really weird.
- Aida Tackla O’Reilly? Where the hell is she from? I like it when the President of the HFPA speaks.
- I would like to officially stop peplums from happening. It’s NOT GOOD.
- I want to die and come back as Salma Hayek.
- Actor TV DRAMA: Damian Lewis. So Homeland is good?
- Did the teleprompter completely crap out on them? Poor guys.
- BEST TV DRAMA: Homeland. Too bad for Downton. It’s not a good year for the family. This dude giving the most self-congratulatory speech ever.
- Christine is really freaked out by the Target cake mix ad.
- Argo: Worth all the hype it’s getting?
- Jennifer Lopez! She’s playing the blow-up doll version of herself in that dress. Ridic.
- Soundtrack: As long as it’s not John Williams, I don’t mind.
- Yay, Adele! Haha. Taylor Swift looks *pissed*.
- Kevin Costner?! OVER CUMBERBATCH?! HFPA IS DEAD TO ME. Poor Cumberbatch. Here, you can cry on my shoulder.
- BILLLLLLL! Lena Dunham’s face said it all.
- I mean, Lincoln has to win if they’re having Bill effing Clinton introduce it.
- Kristin Wiig and Will Ferrell are pretty cute.
- Emily Blunt might be one of my new favorites.
- Jennifer Lawrence! She’s so awesome. But seriously, all of them are so good in this category.
- Supporting actor TV: Ed Harris! He was excellent in Game Change.
- Supporting actress in a Movie: Anne Hathaway! She’s so cute. I hope she keeps her hair like that forever.
- We’re all agreed that both Amanda Seyfried and Robert Pattinson are odd looking.
- Screenplay! Quentin Tarantino? Surprising.
- EVERYONE should be like Jeremy Irons. What an odd, delightful class act.
- Debra Messing and Lucy Liu – That is a LOT of dress on one stage.
- Stallone and Schwarzenegger. So much macho. So many jaws.
- Claire Danes! I was hoping for Michele Dockery. Oh well. Glenn Close is sad.
- Sacha Baron Cohen – he’s always odd. But strangely sexy when not dressed as a random character.
- Animated feature? Brave! Hooray!
- Aziz Ansari and Jason Bateman! So excellent.
- Lena Dunham is super cute.
- Tina and Amy’s monologue: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmxBHtbAhoQ&feature=youtu.be
- Robert Downey, Jr. So great.
- Jodi Foster, also awesome. And I still love her dress. She’s just so great.
- So did Jodi Foster come out publicly? Is that what happened?
- Director! Ben Affleck, who is clearly as surprisd as we are!
- Ugh. Jay Leno. He can just fade away any time now.
- Best Comedy TV show: Girls! I guess we should watch it, then?
- Christian Bale is greasy, but still very attractive. I would also like to hear him doing Michael Caine.
- I’m sure Hugh Jackman is great, but I wish they would just give the award to someone in a COMEDY.
- So to come back to it, what was Jodie Foster on about? My sound cut out for the most (I think) important part of the speech (I guess she cursed? I would in that situation.). Is she quitting movies? I mean, sure she’s gay. What was that all about?
- Jeremy Renner is sketchy. And his little mustache is stupid.
- CHRIS PRATT is in Zero Dark Thiry?!
- What did COMCAST have to do with Les Miserables?! It’s Kabletown. Crazy.
- Actress Drama: Jessica Chastain! That’s exciting, I guess. It’s nice that a woman is winning for such a sausagey movie as Zero Dark Thirty looks to be.
- Actor in a Drama: Daniel Day Lewis! Hooray. Also, DDL’s language is NOT impoverished.
- Julia Roberts is there? Who knew?
- Best Drama! Here we go. Argo?! Wow.
- That’s a wrap, folks. Off to dream about Daniel Day Lewis ca. 1990. See you back here on Feb. 24 for the Oscars!
It’s been a while! How are you all?
The last few months here at Darby O’Shea HQ have been busy, but mostly really, really fun. Lately I’ve been feeling really great, happy, relatively relaxed. I’ve actually been feeling really young. Symptoms of this phenomenon include, but are not limited to:
- I’m nursing a big bad celebrity crush. Like googling-pictures-of-him-bad. And wanting-to-watch-all-his-old-movies-even-if-I-probably-won’t-like-them-bad. I am embarrassed.
- I’ve been listening to songs on repeat like I did in middle school, but with less rewinding, thanks to iTunes replacing my old collection of cassette singles. (Yes, I’m that old.) in this case I’m not listening to walking on broken glass or the Macarena or boyz to men on repeat (it was a deeply silly time of life.) but rather Mumford and Sons (specifically “Winter Winds“) and Regina Spektor (“How” is a really, really great song.)
- I’m picking back up old hobbies, even though I don’t really have time or money to support them. Knitting, sewing, all kinds of fun.
- I’m thinking a lot about clothes and all the fun things I’m going to wear on vacation in December.
- I’ve reverted to a steady diet of junk food. (Admittedly, junk food looks different these days than it used to. Indian takeout has replaced hot pockets and “homemade” from-a-box calzones and greasy Alfredo sauce and cream cheese spread thickly on saltines, those staples of middle school snacks.)
- I laugh louder and more easily. I snort while doing this.
- I may or may not occasionally twirl while walking across the apartment. (Isn’t that what sock-feet and wooden floors are for?)
It may seem silly, but I think I can put all these happy, silly little changes down to finally having recovered from grad school. It’s been six months since that long slog ended and I’m only now feeling like its actually over. I’ve got more energy and am more uniformly happy than I’ve been since … College? Can that be right?
Now that I’ve thoroughly embarrassed myself, lets talk about food.
A couple years go, I had a flash of this kind of happiness and hopefulness. It expressed itself in soda bread, admittedly not a great recipe. I’ve made a few other attempts since then with different recipes and varying degrees of success. This time I have found a good one, one that captures the taste and almost the texture of the soda bread I so enjoy munching when we are in Ireland.
It’s funny. All of the actual Irish recipes I’ve tried call for unseemly quantities (this one wanted a ridiculous TEN cups of flour). When I read one of these recipes, I imagine an appallingly stereotypical and anachronistic scene involving turf fires and glowing hearths and huge families and wide floury aprons. But I think in reality these recipes are so huge because it’s physically impossible to eat fewer than four slices of warm soda bread fresh from the oven, slathered with salty butter and topped with a slab of sour, crackly Dubliner cheese.
Great. Now I’m salivating. In public. And out of reach of any soda bread or cheese.
With no further ado, the recipe.
NOTE: I think you could easily halve the recipe, but I wouldn’t quite halve the soda, lest the bread not rise – also every recipe I’ve used calls for two teaspoons of soda, regardless of whether it requires ten cups of flour or six or four. Also, full disclosure, I haven’t tried this, so no guarantees. I also find traditional American whole wheat flour a little too heavy. Use stone ground (Bob’s Red Mill is good.) or, if you can find it, Graham flour. It comes the closest to the texture I’ve found in real soda bread.
Rich Soda Bread
slightly adapted from Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cooking School Cookbook
- 5 c Whole Wheat Flour, stone-ground or Graham where possible
- 5 c Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (I use King Arthur)
- 1 T Salt
- 2 t Baking Soda
- 3-4 c Buttermilk (I needed closer to four cups, but you should use your judgment.)
- 1/4 c Old Fashioned Oatmeal
- 1 Egg
- 2 T Butter
- Preheat the oven to 450.
- Whisk together the flours, salt, soda, and oats.
- Rub in the butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles cornmeal.
- Whisk together the egg and buttermilk.
- Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture. Pour in 3 cups of the buttermilk mixture and, using your hands, sweep the flour mixture into the buttermilk mixture until it is incorporated.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape roughly into a round, two inches tall.
- Deeply slice the top of the dough. An X is traditional. Darina Allen also instructs us to prick the corners “to let the fairies out.”
- Lightly flour a baking sheet, place the dough onto it, and bake for 15 minutes at 450. Then, turn the heat down to 400 and bake for a further 25-30 minutes. The bread should be brown and crispy and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
For my graduation party, we made a lot of goodies (polenta cookies, sesame cookies, old-school Southern canapes, and punch, but obviously a cake was in order. I thought about various towering confections with buttercream or Italian meringue, cakes oozing lemon curd filling and as light and delicate as air.
And then I realized that it was 95 degrees and that we were planning I about 20 people in our UN-air-conditioned apartment. The specter of melting buttercream, weeping meringue, and too-oozy curd brought tears to my eyes.
A sturdy cake, then.
What my mom and I settled on (did I mention that my mom helped out massively with the party prep this time?) was an old fashioned Jam Cake.
A jam cake involves, as you might have guessed, jam. In this case it’s actually baked into the batter, where it suffuses the cake with jammy flavor, but not with over-sweetness. The icing for this jam cake was a hard caramel icing (perfect for hot weather). All together, the spiciness of the cake, fruitiness of the jam, and heady sweetness of the caramel make this a delightful, all-season cake. Its spices are warming for the winter, and it’s sturdiness and fruitiness makes it summer-picnic-appropriate.
Blackberry Jam Cake with Caramel Glaze
(barely) adapted from Nancie McDermott’s Southern Cakes
for the cake
- 3 c flour
- 2 t baking soda
- 1 t cinnamon
- 1/2 t ground allspice
- 1/4 t ground cloves
- 1 c butter
- 2 c sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 c jam (I used blackberry, but use whatever flavor you like!)
- 1/4 c milk
- 1/2 t salt
- Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans (I’ll admit I used Baker’s Joy instead.)
- Combine flour, spices, and salt in a medium bowl.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar on high speed until well combined.
- Add the eggs, beating after each one until combined.
- Stir the jam and add to the batter. Mix until combined.
- Add the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Add milk and stir until just barely combined
- Spread the batter into the cake pans. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes (or more – mine took forEVER to bake, but my blackberry jam was REALLY runny) until cakes are nicely browned.
- Cool completely on wire racks before assembling.
- 1/2 c butter
- 1 c light brown sugar
- 1/2 c evaporated milk (or half and half)
- 1 pound powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 t vanilla extract
- Combine the butter and sugar in a saucepan.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves.
- Add the milk and bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
- Remove from heat, add the powdered sugar and vanilla and whisk until the icing thickens and loses some shine. (I did this with a stand mixer and recommend you do the same!)
- Place the first layer on serving plate and pour about 1/3 of the glaze onto it, spreading to edges of cake.
- Place second layer on top and pour the rest of the glaze over the top, spreading to edges and encouraging it to spill over the sides and look pretty.
This is one of those posts without a recipe attached to it, just so you’re warned. I feel it’s my duty to let you know about something magical that’s happening in Kendall square.
As you have undoubtedly heard, there’s a serious restaurant boom happening in the east end of Cambridge. It’s epicenter is Kendall square, where at least ten new restaurants have opened in the last year. (Don’t quote me… I’m weak on statistics.) One of these new restaurants is Area IV.
Now, Area IV isn’t the newest or the fanciest of these new eateries, but in my opinion, it’s just about the most pleasant and satisfying. From a cost perspective it’s totally reasonable (a 10-inch pizza runs $10-15) and the quality of the food is very, very high.
The ambiance is lovely, with an open kitchen and vaguely industrial feel. Don’t miss the huge chalkboard toward the back, where you’ll find the menu as well as some factoids about the location, how they source their ingredients, and so forth. Area IV, like seemingly everyone else these days, focuses on local, seasonal ingredients, sourcing everything from vegetables to meat to beer from the vicinity.
My particular recommendations: they make a divine mushroom pizza and,if the season is right, their spring veggie pizza is a thing of beauty. For brunch on weekends order something that’s comes with their house-made sausage. It’s meaty and sweet and fresh and not too salty. The breakfast sandwich is an element option. But hie thee hence and go immediately for their house-made soft serve ice cream. The night we had our dinner party there, my mother and I split a sundae comprised of SOUR CREAM SOFT SERVE and SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE. Now, you may have noticed that ice cream isn’t something we talk about a lot here. I like ice cream, but I’m not one of those Ice Cream People. But this ice cream was life-changing. Seriously.
To sum up, it’s an excellent, excellent choice for a casual, hearty meal and you won’t regret it. You may even see us there.