I don’t remember what made me buy the first one. Despite my mother’s German origins, it wasn’t as if fruit cake was part of my holiday traditions. As a matter of fact, I had distinct and negative memories of an episode involving fruitcakes baked in November, and left to soak in rum until Christmas, and a curious and subsequently drunk puppy that had left my mother pretty damn pissed. Nope, fruitcake didn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy. At all.
But, somehow I found myself leaving Rocco’s with a hefty 2lb loaf of something called panettone that seemed to be the perfect addition to my mornings during the holiday season. I happily carried my panettone to Albany. The next morning when I released the bread from its airtight wrapping I was provided with an intense aromatic assault – citrus, anise, unimagined spices…heaven. Since that first time, Christmas feels incomplete without this baked treat and I make it a point to get to the city in December to score one, or four as the case may be.
I’ve learned that there are two traditional varieties – Milanese and Genovese. The first is a taller version, more like a crown, light and studded with dried fruit. The Genovese is lower, wider and has the addition of anise and pignoli making for a more earthy, denser taste. I like them equally, toasted and slathered with unsalted butter.
My Rome connection (grazie, Alex!) has gifted me with an imported loaf for the last two years. I haven’t yet opened this year’s special panettone, but I’m eager to see how it compares to my beloved Rocco’s version. I noted that by appearance, it looks to be a Milanese version which should be the perfect way to come full circle in my panettone season. Six pounds of panettone later, that is.
Have you had panettone? This article in the NYT gives some excellent information about this special bread, yet doesn’t provide a recipe for baking your own. It seems to be quite complicated, by I’m putting panettone baking on my bucket list. Until I have time to devote to learning how to make it myself, I’m content to travel to NYC for a fix because at this point, Christmas wouldn’t be complete without it. How about you? What baked goods define this season for you?
I’ve decided to abstain from weighing myself from the remainder of the month. That’s right, I’m going to deny myself the chance to feel badly beginning first thing in the morning when I step on the scale. Because that’s what inevitably happens if the number reads higher than I had hoped.
Not checking in daily on my weight makes me uncomfortable. I guess I can be a bit of a control freak and the daily weight check helps me to determine what level of indulgence I “deserve.” I suspect that it will eventually prompt me to eat less, instead of more, since I’m already concerned about what I’ll see when I finally revert to my daily weigh in on January 1st.
On any given day I could probably list every single item I consumed. Confession – sometimes I fall asleep at night counting calories instead of sheep. I try to be a conscious consumer and don’t eat mindlessly. Respecting the connection between what one eats and how much exercise will be needed to balance one’s consumption, requires attention and I try to stay tuned in. I truly consider every day how I’m doing in terms of fruits, vegetables, carbs and protein striving to achieve a reasonable representation from all food groups.
Are you exhausted yet? Or, maybe you approach food in a similarly controlled fashion?
At the holidays when my kitchen is filled with delicious baked goods, I find myself challenged. “Life is short, Silvia, eat the damn cookies,” I say to myself. But, the calories, the sugar, the butter…but the panettone! The chocolates! The linzer cookies! What’s a girl with a tight leash on her appetite to do?
My solution for the rest of 2017 is to put the digital scale on vacation and resort to a more intuitive way of eating. I suspect it will involve lots of baked goods offset by fruits and vegetables in copious amounts, along with as many miles as I can muster. Wish me luck – or better yet, help me eat some cookies.
In the early 90s I visited Washington for the first time. It was easy to see why it was such a magnet for creative, artistic people. There were mountains, rivers, desert, islands, and even a rain forest, to inspire and awe, and as a tourist, I fell in love. I’m no camper, but I’d go back to the San Juan Islands in a heartbeat and sleep in a tent happily.
We spent some time in Seattle, a city I found to be smartly set-up with highways that flexibly changed their direction according to traffic demand and rush hour. Clever. Of course, we went to Pike’s Market and did a little shopping. I don’t remember buying anything from the market other than edibles, but nearby at sidewalk booth, I found some pottery that I immediately loved. The pieces on display were gorgeous – rich colors, weighty and beautifully formed. At the time they seemed expensive, but as a recent college graduate living in NYC, many things were beyond my financial reach.
The replacement piece
It turned out that there was an outlet nearby where Bruning sold their pottery seconds. You know, stuff that might not have turned out as perfectly as planned, yet still was lovely and useful. I came back east with a couple of pieces and an undying love for their work. Over the years the collection has grown (we eventually had dinner service for 6 or 8), divided (divorce) and diminished (breakage), but there was one steadfast piece that I retained and used regularly for making quiche and pies and serving, a deep blue dish that I absolutely loved.
The bonus piece
I noticed a couple of months ago that a crack had formed in this dish and was paralyzed by the thought of no longer having it in my cabinet. I went online, searched Bruning Pottery and got a contact email address. After a series of emails, I selected 2 dishes to replace my old steady, one a very similar color, the other completely unlike any that I’ve owned before. They’re a little fancier with their fluted edges, but when they arrived in the mail I felt like I was welcoming an old friend home again. I just may bake a pie this weekend.
Yeah, you. My reader. It’s been more than 7 years, 2 domains and a divorce since DelSo was born. Over the years I’ve shared a lot of my life and self here, in print. You, as a reader, have come to know me on some level from my words. What makes you return here (assuming you’re not new around these parts) and read what I write? Let me remind you of some of what I’ve related to you in the hope that you might feel inclined to share with me – who you are, reader? Why are you here?
There have been so many miles – more plane rides than I could have ever imagined, along with runs and races and road trips. I’ve explored cities with my boys and my girlfriends and solo. My feet have run in a half dozen different countries and probably about the same number of states.
My home has evolved from a house with two full-time parents to one of three part-time children. There have been physical improvements, rooms repurposed and painted, new rugs and furniture rearranged. It feels different. After a refinance or two, I know it’s mine.
I’ve written about books I’ve read and movies and concerts I’ve seen. Increasingly, politics and my dismay with our current leadership have been topics I’ve felt compelled to write about.
My children and the challenges of being a parent frequently provide fodder for posts. While the joys outweigh the frustrations, parenthood remains a roller coaster ride that keeps me on the edge of my seat with a scream threatening to escape. It’s a heart racing ride.
Sometimes I cook or bake and post recipes and photos of the fruits of my labors. Food and wine are a big part of my life and I’ve happily shared my experiences with you. Oh – and there’s that wine bar that I own.
There have been times when I wrote with sadness or anger, but I think I mostly write from a place of understanding and acceptance. Balance and moderation are woven throughout much of what I write.
Health and wellness have been covered and the miracle of menopause has been mentioned. The heartbreak of addiction and the threat of cancer have been present. I’ve learned to ski and have found bliss in pigeon pose in a room heated to 100+ degrees.
It’s all here – my life. Not perfect, not necessarily what I ever imagined it to be, but a life that I feel grateful for in a city that I have come to love.
Will you tell me why you visit my life?
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If I had to pick my favorite type of baked good, I’d go with cookies. I mean, the varieties in flavor, texture and size mean it would almost be possible to have a different kind of cookie every single day! That being said, black & whites, chocolate chip (with walnuts, please) and molasses cookies will always be my favorites. Not that I would want to neglect linzer, oatmeal raisin or sugar cookies…
For the last couple of years I’ve been pretty diligent about producing dozens and dozens of cookies to share with friends and neighbors. My best tip for managing this is to start making cookie dough, in double batches, in November and create a stockpile of ready to go dough in my freezer. It isn’t too difficult to bake off a few dozen in the morning while getting ready for work and I love the idea of my children waking up to the smell of freshly baked cookies. Bad mom, pshaw.
Recently a package of cookies baked by my Aunt arrived from Germany and I excitedly shared a photo of it on my various feeds. I regret now not having taken a picture of what was inside the box since it may have provided me with an inkling of how delicious all of those cookies might have tasted. You see, Jeter, using his uncanny (canine?) sense of smell, detected that within the cardboard box and sealed plastic bag there were an array of tasty treats with his name on them…and he ate them all. Every single one.
Despite being exiled to the hallway as punishment, Jeter followed this display of bad manners a few short days later by housing an entire baking sheet of M&M cookies as they cooled on a rack on my counter. He went back to the hall again after that episode and we’ve been stashing the cookies on top of the refrigerator ever since. And, once I committed to participating in that cookie swap, there were a lot of cookies.
Have you ever done one of these cookie swap things? Prior to this year I’ve successfully ducked the demand of baking an extra 7 or 8 dozen cookies, but, Will caught me at a moment when I felt up to adding an additional holiday task to my list. I’ll be better prepared for that next year.
Since this was my first (and only) cookie swap I don’t really have a sense if my experience was typical, but I imagine it was. Nice people, a lovely dinner and a shitload of cookies. When I finally got home with my
much more festive than mine boxes and tins, Quinn and I settled in with glasses of milk and started sampling. Not only do I now have a ridiculous number of cookies in my house, but I might even have a new favorite or two.
One, okay two, of the best things I put in my mouth while on vacation this year was pie from the Scottish Bakehouse in Tisbury. I think I’ve mentioned this place before and am happy to report that, like some favorite books from years gone by, this special bakery continues to satisfy.
When I rolled in to their parking lot in the late afternoon midweek, I was worried about what the remaining selection might be. Come to find out that the limited choices available for me were perfect – key lime and blueberry. Naturally, I took both, along with 2 peanut butter cookies, 2 chocolate chip cookies and a hunk of cardamom cinnamon coffee cake. Total: $54.00. We’ll talk more about that in a moment.
While my order was being put together, my attention was attracted by a woman wearing kitchen clothes. Turns out she is the chef (owner?) of the Art Cliff Diner at the Bakehouse to pick up their order of baked goods. See how it works? Good places source from good places, a truism always nice to see.
How were the pies? The blueberry pie with an intriguing hint of cinnamon was a simple pleasure. The fruit was tender and sweet and I thoroughly enjoyed the single slice to which I laid claim. I focused on the key lime, one of my all-time favorite flavors and one which they do a great job. It’s tart and tasty, sitting up tall on a graham cracker crumb crust. I’ve singlehandedly eaten almost the entire thing. I’m not sorry.
Now, let’s talk about the prices. When I first was presented with the total, I was a little taken aback. I don’t really buy a lot of baked goods, but it seemed a little pricey. I’ve been thinking about, though, and have decided that I’m really okay with the expense of my splurge. The quality of the items certainly justified the price and when you consider the brevity of the season, it seems fair. I highly doubt that anyone at the Scottish Bakehouse is getting rich off pie, you know what I mean?
I’ve got one slice of that key lime pie left. I’m calling it breakfast.
Last year, I was blessed to spend Easter in the Black Forest. There was a dusting of new snow that morning and I attended mass alone in a beautiful church where the only word I truly understood was “Amen.” It was perfect. In the little town of Neustadt, thousands of miles from “home,” I had a deep sense of belonging to something larger than the daily world I have made for myself and my children. I loved that holiday.
7lbs of bone-in prime rib
This year, the boys and I enjoyed a special dinner on Holy Saturday. I jumped off the meatless Lent train a day early and we feasted on prime rib and grilled asparagus. I opened a fine bottle of Bordeaux which, after our meal was consumed and cleaned up, I brought to the neighbors’ to share. There were more bottles of wine uncorked and I enjoyed a relaxed spring evening. It was lovely.
This morning, I mastered the lamb cake mold my family had mailed from Germany a few weeks back. It took three attempts to nail it. The first try was a disaster – the pan fell over in the (newly cleaned) oven making an impressive mess as the batter flowed into the most impossible to clean crevices. Take two involved an unfortunate premature slide of the cake from the perfectly buttered and floured mold as the poor lamb lost its head. Literally. Toothpicks put things back in place, but I decided to give it one final shot this morning and I found success.
These different experiences from last year to now, offer a wonderful perspective, for me, about life and living. Home is where we feel loved. Friends are family. Sometimes we need to keep trying to get something right. And, finally, we all need to rise up and live the life we have been given. Happy Easter.