Strawberry Cake + an Almost Wedding

On Saturday, the Frenchman and I are getting married. It’s happening. After so many months of scheming and dreaming, the event is now just two days away.

I’m a bit chicken-with-her-head-cut-off at the moment, but I wanted to stop into this space to say hello, I’m still here! And to share this strawberry-vanilla cake with you, which is perfect for right now. Avis sur levitra generique.

One more thing: here is our wedding reading, a passage I’ve long-appreciated for it’s honest approach to love and the life of a long term relationship.

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Whole Wheat-Kitchen Sink Tart

This is the longest absence, by a long shot, I’ve taken from this blog since its inception more than three years ago. It’s been a struggle, to put into words exactly why I needed a break. I still have no solid reason. Nothing happened. It was just a persistent feeling: the need to sit peacefully for a minute, to take time away from constant, frenetic connection.

It’s been a season of sea change. I am re-learning how to focus on what’s actually, concretely important, instead of attempting 100% all the time, running myself into the ground in the process. I’m rejiggering my expectations: drinking a cup of tea and staring out the window doesn’t have to be a lazy act; often it is restorative and necessary. I put so much pressure on myself, both in this space and in life, and it’s only served to make me bone tired. Constant activity, trying to please everyone—it’s simply not sustainable.

I’m working to figure out what I want. I’d like to come out the other side a more joyful person. Like anything worth doing, progress is slow, but for the first time in a long time, I feel like I’m no longer swimming under water.

I don’t have any Thanksgiving material this year (but oh boy, did I ever last year. Check it out here, here, and here), but here’s a small summary of things-that-make-me-happy lately:

The woman across the restaurant in the big hat, who smacks her lips unembarrassedly and pronounces her wine “delicious.” Serial. Sandy Kenyon’s movie minute. The apartment-filling smell of caramelized onions. Walking along the Manhattan bridge alone on a brisk November Sunday, listening to a book on tape. Sauce, copious sauce, in almost any variety. The port-in-a-storm quality of the international foods section in the otherwise hectic Bed, Bath, & Beyond on 6th avenue. The earth-sweet-pungent smell of Concord grapes at the market. Homemade hot chocolate. Sitting alone at the kitchen table, licking oozing goat cheese slowly off a dull knife. Pulling a slim volume of Mary Oliver poems off the shelf and carrying it to bed.

butter and flour whole wheat pie dough

mixed cherry tomatoes

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Chocolate Cake with Rhubarb-Strawberry Compote + Crème Fraîche Cream

Swan

Did you see it, drifting, all night on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air,
an armful of white blossoms,
a perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings: a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
a shrill dark music, like the rain pelting trees,
    like a waterfall
knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds–
a white cross streaming across the sky, its feet
like black leaves, its wings like the stretching light
    of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

–Mary Oliver

rhubarbchocolate cake batter

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Everything Carrot Cake + Swiss Cream Cheese-Mascarpone Frosting

Inspiration

I am tired of the tundra of the mind,
where a few shabby thoughts hunker
around a shabby fire. All day from my window
I watch girls and boys hanging out
in the dark arcades of desire.

Tonight, everything is strict with cold,
the houses closed, the ice botched by skaters.
I am tired of saying things about the world,
and yet, sometimes, these streets are so
slick and bold they remind me of the wet

zinc bar at the Café Marseilles, and suddenly the sea
is green and lust is everywhere in a red cravat, Read more »

Vegetable Bundles with Chèvre and Za’atar + Big News

It is past four o’clock in the morning and I am still awake, up to nothing in particular except listening to a plunking blanket of rain beat and tinker onto the skylight above our bed, down the mansard roof. The man I love more than yesterday, less than tomorrow, more even than vanilla-peanut butter ice cream sleeps fitfully in the bed beside me, taking up more than his fair share of sheet real estate, but no matter.

We are in Paris, in the attic room of a narrow gray hotel tucked onto an unremarkable street in the 3eme arrondissement. The room is small, comically so, but in return we have a view—a true panorama of Paris’s shabby-chic, sprawling skyline, the expanse of grays, charcoals, and creams, the embarrassment of clay chimneystacks, like so many upturned flowerpots abandoned in a garden row. The Sacre Coeur stands alone, rising ivory on a distant hill, hazy at the edges in the somber light, a neat little postage stamp of a cathedral. We have a small balcony, and I move from the bed to stand outside as the rain softens, following the white lights that lick the wet road, slick as oil after hours of rain. Read more »

Tipsy Apple-Parsnip Cake with Sultanas and Cider Glaze + A Food Rant

I oscillated hour to hour on whether or not to post this essay here–it is not the kind of writing I normally share in this space. Regular readers will know how much I care about whole foods, and that the farmers market is an essential facet of my cooking life, but I do not usually bring policy into the conversation.

Ultimately, I am posting this because I think the issues at hand are more important than my fears you won’t like what I have to say.

I recently spent a few days with a group of people who could not think more differently than me when it comes to food. After that experience, I needed a way to vent my frustrations, collect my thoughts, and clarify my views. If you already agree with what I write below, excellent. If you agree and are looking for a way to broach the subject with the people in your life who disagree or simply don’t know, I hope this essay aids that conversation. If you think I am totally full of cow manure, well, we are just going to have to agree to disagree. Either way, if you would rather simply read about a happy-go-lucky, apple-parsnip cake laced with rummy raisins and warming spices, click here to jump ahead. Read more »

Almond-Spice Plum Upside Down Cake

As you can see, The Roaming Kitchen has a bit of a new look, thanks entirely to the Frenchman’s hard work and ingenuity. We’ll be making a few more cosmetic changes around here over the next few weeks. I’m really excited about what’s to come!

I thank you in advance for your patience as we work out the kinks. (And by that I mean, “Cris, be patient. Abstain from hurling your computer out your apartment window, just because it took you a gazillionty-one more hours than usual to format this post, and now you have no brain power left for the witty and devastatingly interesting headnote you’d planned to pen.)

Ah well. I’ll be clever next week. Also, I’ll share some fetching, non-food photos. In the meantime, I’m going to put down my computer and have a piece of cake. You should, too. I hope your weekend is full of seascapes and ripe tomatoes. Happy August! Read more »

Raspberry Pie + France Photos

I took this pie to work with me, fresh out of the oven, in a cake carrier. My Uncle Mark requested it. He’s not the kind of man who eats a lot of dessert–a boxer who prefers Earl Grey tea to coffee–so when he confessed his love of raspberry pie, it was basically an invitation to write a recipe. Who am I to deny this health-conscious person a little pie, especially when it’s the season for fruit pies? This one’s made with good butter, and lemon, and vanilla bean.

He asks for raspberry pie, pure and simple, with no bells and whistles, but I can’t help giving the raspberries a small lift. It’s still early in the season, and the raspberries I find at the market are tiny, and not as sweet as they’ll be in a few weeks. So I use a whole vanilla bean, and a whole lemon, too. They marry well with the all-butter crust. Feel free to substitue (or add) other summer berries, or even stone fruits, as they come into season.

Did you know that cake carriers are not leak-proof? On the subway, with no space to maneuver, I hold the cake carrier to my chest. As the train jangles forward, I watch helplessly as raspberry juice breaks free from the confines of the pie tin, and pools into the floor of the cake carrier. Where is all this juice coming from? Can one pie really contain it all? In the interminable, underground minutes between Brooklyn and Manhattan, I watch futilely as a bright red stain appears, and grows and grows, on my dress. It’s like I’ve been shot in a school play. By the time I tumble off the train, several stops too soon and out of desperation, the cake carrier has become a ring of dripping raspberry droplets. Read more »