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Brownie Blackout Mousse Cake [February 16th, 2015 | 01:04 am]
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Mike lovvvvvves chocolate, but I could take it or leave it. Lately, without even realizing it, I've all but ditched chocolate from my repertoire. Instead, I've been making lemon like it's goin' out of style. Mike hates lemon.

Basically I've been kind of mean.

So for Valentine's Day, I made him ALLLLLLL THE CHOCOLATE in one dessert. And even I have to admit, this thing is amazing. I just polished off my third slice, oh man. It's super easy, too -- particularly if you split it up over a couple of days. And definitely make it in advance and let it chill overnight before eating it. It significantly enhances the flavor. Enjoy!

(P.S. Coffee lovers, please come read my coffee conundrum on the full post, linked below, and give me advice. I'm a newb.)



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To read my coffee opinions, give my coffee advice, and see more photos of this monster cake, come see the full post on Willow Bird Baking!

x-posted to food_porn, picturing_food, cooking, bakebakebake
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Almond Coconut Pastry Braid [January 11th, 2015 | 11:55 pm]
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I'm a little braid-crazy right now. I can't help it; this dough is the BEST EVER to work with. No chilling needed and it rolls out beautifully with minimal flour and minimal effort. If you're afraid of working with dough, THIS is the perfect beginner recipe for you! And look how pretty it is!

I stuffed this braid with a butter-almond-coconut concoction that is absolutely delicious. Enjoy!



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To see photos showing how to fold the braid, read about how critically embarrassed middle schoolers can be, and see more photos of the finished product, come see the full post on Willow Bird Baking!

x-posted to food_porn, picturing_food, cooking, bakebakebake
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Simple Sandwich Spreads: Pimento Cheese (and a link to Olive Cream Cheese) [January 9th, 2015 | 01:18 am]
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I LOVE pimento cheese and sometimes I get the biggest craving for a pimento-cheese-on-white-bread sandwich and a Coke. I have realized that homemade pimento cheese is VASTLY superior to the weird-orange store-bought kind (don't get me wrong, I love that crazy neon stuff too), and I've spent quite awhile perfecting the recipe!

This is simply the best pimento cheese ever: extra sharp cheddar, pimentos, perfect seasoning, and a jalapeño kick! Making this in the food processor will result in a more puréed condiment, while mixing by hand will leave things textured. I prefer the latter for presentation's sake, but the former when I'm in a hurry. Either way, this pimento cheese is ALWAYS better after being allowed to sit and meld in the fridge for a day before serving.

If you want to click over to the blog, I also include a recipe for Olive Cream Cheese in honor of a friend, Edward, who just passed away. It was his nostalgic childhood favorite.

What's your favorite simple sandwich?



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To grab the Olive Cream Cheese recipe, read about Edward, and see more photos, come see the full post on Willow Bird Baking!

x-posted to food_porn, picturing_food, cooking, cookingupastorm
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corners [January 7th, 2015 | 12:42 am]
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I've been reading through my old journal entries to find stories about the two kids I used to babysit, Emily and Eli (the eponym of this journal -- I have to look up namesake and eponym to figure out which one I mean every. single. time.). Their dad just died after a short battle with cancer and the surprise made me pensive. I wanted to revisit.

Along the way I've been reading unrelated entries as well and... well. I've finally reached the point where I'm annoyed and disgusted with my younger self. When I was about 10 or 12 or something I was sitting in the car on the way to school thinking about how people always put down their younger selves ("I was so young and stupid back then!"). I knew that I was very smart, thoughtful, and mature for my age and the thought that I might someday forget that and put myself down bothered me, so I promised myself I never would.

I still get that I was smart, thoughtful, and mature. But there's a LOT to be said for having intimate experiences with the things you have opinions about before opining. And not just learning a lot about topics on a cerebral level, but really encountering/experiencing things. I've realized now that almost anytime I'm judging someone else's path, I'm missing something critical about why they're there and how they need to proceed based on their personal context. I just... feel a lot more humble about everything. I wrote a story on the blog recently about avoiding "boom shakalaka" evangelism, as I call it. Everything's not an obvious slam dunk. You're not just walking through the world more rational than everyone else with all the answers.

I mean, duh. And I knew that even then -- but again, on a cerebral level. Your world gets flipped and you go through a dark night (I almost wrote dark knight, ha ha ha) of the soul and you just take a seat.



ETA: OH SO TOTALLY WEIRD. One of the very next archived entries I read after writing this one was this. Ha.
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Lemon Cheesecake Braid [January 5th, 2015 | 01:36 am]
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It's another pastry braid!! Because I'm obsessed.

This is actually my favorite braid so far, and that's saying a lot. I'm a huge fan of lemon, and this Lemon Cheesecake Braid is the perfect breakfast or dessert. The pastry gets crisp and and the filling is absolutely sublime. Again, these braids look totally fancy and will impress guests, but they're shockingly easy to make.



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To read about the precious family I used to babysit for and their current struggle, get braid assembly help, and see more photos, come see the full post on Willow Bird Baking!

x-posted to food_porn, picturing_food, cooking, bakebakebake
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Honey-Drizzled Cranberry Brie Pastry Braid [December 29th, 2014 | 09:35 pm]
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If you're having a New Year's Eve party (or even if you're just staying home in your jammies), this has to be on your table! This Honey-Drizzled Cranberry Brie Pastry Braid is totally gorgeous, absolutely delicious, shockingly easy! No, really, it's super simple to make.

Toast pecans for this recipe by baking them on a baking sheet for 4-6 minutes at 350 degrees F, tossing occasionally, until fragrant. If you wish, you can prepare this braid in advance: just complete all steps to assemble the braid, cover it with plastic wrap on the parchment-lined baking sheet, and refrigerate overnight. Set it out on the counter in the morning as the oven preheats, egg wash it, and then bake as usual. I included some photos on the blog that show the process of marking and assembling a Raspberry Almond Braid as an example. It’s super easy to do, but a little fiddly to explain in just words, so hopefully the photos will help.



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To read about how I was an accidental jerk in fourth grade, see braid assembly photos, and continue to bask in the glow of my blog redesign, come see the full post on Willow Bird Baking!

x-posted to food_porn, picturing_food, cooking, bakebakebake
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Over-the-Top Loaded Potato Nachos [December 29th, 2014 | 12:22 am]
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Over-the-Top Loaded Potato Nachos: roasted potatoes with tangy nacho cheese sauce. Perfect as a New Year’s Eve party appetizer! Orrr for eating all by yourself if you're stingy with your nachos.



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To read about my (lack of) social skills, hear about two other bloggers I love, and see more photos, come see the full post on Willow Bird Baking!

x-posted to food_porn, picturing_food, cooking, bakebakebake
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Hot Cranberry Orange Cake (and the new Willow Bird Baking!) [December 29th, 2014 | 12:12 am]
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My blog has just had a huge makeover! The new design includes a slideshow of featured recipes, a beautiful hand-painted logo, and an amazing new Recipe Index with photo galleries! I'm in love. Please come see if you're interested.

In the meantime, CAKE. This beautiful and simple cake is glazed right out of the oven. It’s the perfect balance of tart and sweet, and would be ideal for Christmas breakfast or dessert.



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To read about how this year of teaching compares with last year and see more cake photos, come see the full post on Willow Bird Baking!

x-posted to food_porn, picturing_food, cooking, bakebakebake
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(no subject) [December 26th, 2014 | 01:43 am]
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i know that Christmas is the time you'll feel like this more than any other if you're prone to it. so i'm taking it with a grain of salt. but i just don't get life. i don't get relationships and how people interact and families and emotions. i don't get why things don't work like i think they will or like i want them to for me in some very critical ways. i don't understand how i built this box for myself where i'll never feel like a capable, worthy human being. or what to do about it now. i'm okay. just confused and discouraged.
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(no subject) [December 23rd, 2014 | 09:53 am]
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my grandma died december 10. i've felt the weight of my family's past so heavily since then. her frantic failure to save her father. my own father's destitute no-running-water childhood despite his father's lifelong manual labor. my mother's alcoholic father. her delusional mother. my dad as her lifeline.

the teleology of this family. all of us on a path, progressing like sand dunes. generation after generation. waves and waves and waves and

then there's me, an awkward clone of my mom kicking against the goads, unable to attach and scrambling not to detach.

it's why i wrote this poem years ago, but. like i said, the weight of it is just very tangible right now.


one hundred years

“How awful the way time passes !” – Colonel Aureliano Buendía

aureliano –
the name of a golden infant, now
passed down through generations, light
pouring into your hands.
waves that overcome us,

but not of ocean.


i am the shroud of blood conceived
between generations – fruit
of my mother's messy blueprint,
her father's drunken bonfire
in the driveway,
five years of silence
on my great-grandparents’ porch:
not a sound between them
but the flutter of a grocery list,
the hum of the rusted refrigerator –

birthed into a hornet's nest,
a chaos of shadows.
no one can bear the weight of the blame,
so i scream
until my throat is a bed,
inviting a river.

waves come instead:
my inheritance.
this wrecked vessel sinking into swell.
my body’s frantic instruments, electric spiders,
holding tiny limbs against the flow,

urchins pondering my walls, a woven lace of gore,
making their homes in my gentle bow. faithful
barnacles nestling in sanguine chasms,
weeds rooting in the sediment
of my decomposing corpse –
a century of survival ends here,

a starving body
in a bathtub.
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