farmette4A
Last week Stephanie Meyer had a little get-together to celebrate Imen McDonnell being in town. Imen’s cookbook, Farmette, came out recently, and it is beautiful, filled with recipes and stories from her life on an Irish farm. Imen was just as lovely and kind in person as I imagined. I made the Wild Hazelnut and Vanilla Slice from her book – a perfect rectangle consisting of puff pastry, thick vanilla custard, and hazelnuts.

You can check out Imen’s blog here, and her book here. I highly recommend both.
farmette cookbook

hazelnut and vanilla slice

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

farmette cookbook

hazelnut and vanilla slice

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wayne theibaud
I first discovered Wayne Thiebaud’s painting Cakes at Zoe’s house. She has a small print hanging in her kitchen, and I find myself drawn to it each time I go visit her. It’s simple but beautiful, and I’m often questioning the cakes as I study them. Are you all just chocolate and vanilla, or is there a carrot cake in there, too? Maybe even pumpkin? Is that lemon curd on top down front, or did someone get crazy with the food coloring? What kind are you, little cake peeking out from the side? Why is only one cake cut into way in the back row? Zoe and I have chatted about the piece over the years, and finally came up with a project that has been starring us in the face: baking through Thiebaud’s Cakes. We’ll be starting the series later this summer, so stay tuned.
wayne thiebaud

honey cake with caramel buttercream

honey cake with caramel buttercream

honey cake with caramel buttercream

wayne thiebaud

crafted honey
I finally purchased a print of Cakes for myself (details below), and it is now hanging proudly in my kitchen. I still find myself questioning each and every cake on a weekly basis, and it’s spurred on some delicious conversation between friends and family alike.

But! I have a non-Thiebaud dessert for you today, however: Honey Cake with Caramel Buttercream. Crafted Honey, a small batch, family-run company sent me some samples a few weeks ago, and I thought adding it to a layer cake would be a good idea. Turns out it was. The honey flavor really shines through, and kept the cake moist a little longer than a butter cake normally does. I used the Wildflower Honey in the cake, but also highly recommend the Sourwood Honey, which I want to pour on everything and I daily eat directly off my spoon.
honey cake with caramel buttercream

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peach struesel bars
And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair —
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin —
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind?   Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
-From The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot
peach struesel bars
peach struesel bars

peach struesel bars
These streusel bars are also another baking recipe I’ve created as a Pulses Ambassador this year. The United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of the Pulse, and I’ve taken the Pulse Pledge, committing to eat pulses once a week for the next year. Pulses are beans, chickpeas, lentils and dry peas; leguminous crops that are good for your health and good for the environment. I’ll be posting recipes involving them periodically this year, incorporating pulses not only in my savory cooking, but baking recipes as well. I’d love for you to join me! If the Pulse Pledge sounds interesting to you, you can read more about it here. It’s a 10 week commitment, and it doesn’t require elaborate baking: a serving of hummus and a bowl of soup are good ways to take them in, too. Also check out my Vanilla Lavender Cupcakes.

This post was sponsored by USA Pulses & Pulse Canada. All opinions are my own.

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abby dodge and zoe francois

zoe francois

zoe francois

abby dodge

trustone cold press

ice box cake

zoe francois

sparkling coffee cake

everyday baker by Abby Dodge
Baker extraordinaire Abby Dodge is in town this weekend, and Zoe Francois had a little get together at her house to welcome her and celebrate her latest book, The Everyday Baker, which just won both a James Beard Award and an IACP award. We hung out on Zoe’s fabulous porch all afternoon, and spent lots of time laughing and eating treats made from Abby’s book.

I also snapped this photo of Abby taking a peek at my book (I have a black and white preview copy), but I can’t quite show you the cover yet, which is why the smiley face is over it. I’ll show you soon!
zoe francois and abby dodge

The recipe for the Salted Caramel-Toffee Ice Box Cake pictured is over on Bakepedia.

The cold press pictured is from True Stone Coffee Roasters, a local roaster that we used when I worked at Bordertown Coffee. It was so dang good.

 

peach-apple-cherry pie
‘Have you been online yet?’ my husband asks from the couch. It’s 8:45 am, and I am searching the kitchen for breakfast. Most mornings, upon waking, I reach for my phone next to me on my nightstand, and check all the icons chirping at me like hungry baby birds. Email, facebook, instagram, twitter, usually in that order. I despise the impulse, but I’m too tired to stop my arm from reaching, and its become a daily habit. Summer vacation is upon us, however, and I’ve set new goals for myself. Wear a small gray arm band to record my daily steps. Read books at night before bed instead of falling asleep to the internet. Eat a healthy breakfast, then go ahead and see what the world brings.

So I hadn’t heard the news. ‘No,’ I replied. ‘Something bad?’  He handed me his phone with a stony face, and I knew instantly. Another shooting. I felt the pit in my stomach, the one that has been there since Columbine, that grew into something fierce after Sandy Hook. The one that triggered my anxiety the last day of school, just two days ago, the one that made me whisper as my kids left for the day: ‘Please, please, one more day. Let them come home to me.’
pie

pie

peach-apple-cherry pie

peach-apple-cherry pie

peach-apple-cherry pie

peach-apple-cherry pie

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Blackberry Basil Buttercream
‘Tolkien once remarked to me that the feeling about home must have been quite different in the days when a family had fed on the produce of the same few miles of country for six generations, and that perhaps this was why they saw nymphs in the fountains and dryads in the wood – they were not mistaken for there was in a sense a real (not metaphorical) connection between them and the countryside. What had been earth and air & later corn, and later still bread, really was in them. We of course who live on a standardized international diet (you may have had Canadian flour, English meat, Scotch oatmeal, African oranges, & Australian wine today) are really artificial beings and have no connection (save in sentiment) with any place on earth. We are synthetic men, uprooted. The strength of the hills is not ours.’ -CS Lewis The Collected Letters of CS Lewis, Vol. 1
Blackberry Basil Buttercream
I’ve slowly been working my way through CS Lewis’ letters (Vol. 1 and 2 are currently in my possession, while Vol. 3 seems to be out of print and unattainable, alas, as I can’t quite justify spending over $400 for it). The above paragraph stuck out to me a few nights ago while reading; first, Lewis casually mentions having conversations with Tolkien like it’s a totally normal event (which it was), and second, the concept of ‘Home’ has been on my mind frequently, as I’m working out what it means to be part of a family.

Home, to me, is this small unit of four I reside with daily, although, it is also the dwelling we sleep and eat and nest in. The dwelling can and does change, and while I care about the walls that keep out the rain and snow, that part isn’t the most important.

Well, usually. Sometimes hard wood floors and paint color and kitchen back splashes and throw pillows and bed spreads and shower curtains and coveting marble counter tops and redoing the patio seem more like home then things like eating dinner together and snuggling during a movie and talking through our day and learning to compromise and laughing and family hikes and working things out and holding hands and reading books in bed.

I wonder sometimes if I am so concerned with the appearance of our dwelling and the materials that make up our home because I don’t have such rich history? I hardly know those that came before. I haven’t walked the winding paths my ancestors did; the small lot my house sits upon was owned by strangers. Most my history is lost, scattered in attics and basements I never knew. My great-grandchildren may never set foot here. Sometimes I forget to look ahead to them, focused on leaving this place, this earth better than I found it. The focus shifts to things, and not people, because the connection between generations has slowly been chewed away.

We have been uprooted, we are wanderers.
Chocolate Cupcakes with Blackberry Basil Buttercream

I worked with a man years ago at a small cafe who offered up this quote to me: ‘People aren’t a means to an end; people are the end.’ It has always stuck with me, and when I find myself getting wrapped up in things, forgetting that relationships are the heart of this whole experiment called life, those words find me every time. I’m still learning.

‘There are some things which cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things and because it takes a man’s life to know them the little new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave.’ – Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon

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sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a family session; I photographed this family a few years ago, and it was great to have another shoot with them.

A few links to spend your Sunday on:

A literary quiz to keep you on your toes.

I’ve been enjoying Hello Poetry. Both classic and contemporary poems, and you can search by words to find just the right poem.

This video on how to boil water correctly was pretty amusing.

Still sad about ATK, but I’ve always been a fan of Bridget and Julia.

I’m looking forward to this album. And this one.

This litfest in Ireland looked pretty epic. Maybe next year?

Emily Dickinson: gardener.

Canvas Home

Canvas Home

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer
A few weeks ago I got a wonderful package in the mail: dishes and other table accessories from Canvas Home. They kindly sent me some pieces for a Mother’s Day Brunch I was having at my house, and I honestly swooned upon opening the package. I picked dishes from the Abbesses collection (with the gold trim), and am happy to report they are not only beautiful, but so well made.

They made the table lovely, and our small gathering (my mom, sister, sister-in-law to be, and daughter) had a great time together. I made a few dishes from two cookbooks I’ve received recently: Love & Lemons Cookbook and SaraBeth’s Good Morning Cookbook. Both are new favorites, and I’m enjoying everything I’ve made from them so far.

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olive oil cake
This little cake was tucked way back in the archives. I decided to give it a new photo and bring it front and center once again, as it is one of my forgotten favorites. It’s from Kim Boyce’s wonderful cookbook Good To The Grain. Throughout the book, Ms. Boyce focuses on incorporating a variety of underused flours in her recipes, not so much for added health (although that’s a nice benefit), but for flavor. Her recipes are spot on – they have been tested and fine tuned, and she has created some unique goodness.
olive oil cake
olive oil cake
A few things: My blog had a nice feature on Food 52 recently, if you want to check it out.

I’m trying to keep up with the kids and started snapchat. I think I like it. If you want to follow along there, you can find me at: sarahkieffer

I recently made Sheet Pan Pizza over at Bread in 5 – my family won’t stop requesting it. It’s adapted from Ken Forkish’s new book The Elements of Pizza (which I highly recommend).

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cake4Asquare
“PHOSPHORESCENCE. Now there’s a word to lift your hat to… to find that phosphorescence, that light within, that’s the genius behind poetry.” – Emily Dickinson

(I apologize for the short post. I’m currently working on my first pass for my book, and don’t have time to talk today. But! I do have this hazelnut cake recipe that I hope makes up for my lack of words. Have a lovely weekend, dear friends.)
hazelnut cake with crème mousseline

hazelnut cake with crème mousseline

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