Apple Almond Tart | The Vanilla Bean Blog
You might have noticed I’ve had a slew of cookbook giveaways here lately. This summer my inbox was filled with announcements for new cookbooks, and offers to send me a copy or two. I could hardly say no; they were all books I had on my wishlist. Also, getting books in the mail might just be the best thing ever.

It also happened to work out well for my personal life – we were in the middle of a move when the emails rolled in, and here was a string of books with beautiful recipes I could pick from and post about. After our move we settled in to our home only to have major troubles: I was allergic to the musty air in a basement crawl space, and having asthma-like attacks because of it. The last two months have been terribly stressful; so many visits to the doctor, dozens of people in and out of our house trying to give us advice and sell us something that may or may not work, side effects and allergic reactions to medication, and burning anxiety that has kept me up at night, many nights. I’ve spent most my life not thinking about breathing, and after having the feeling of not catching a breath for days, it was all I could think about. That, and of course, what happens if that next breath just isn’t there? Analyzing your thoughts on the afterlife at 2 in the morning night after night only triggers panic, I’ve come to discover.

Ah the breath of life is simple. It’s in and out and in again.* There were kind arms to turn over into, someone to catch me those late nights when I thought I might just roll out of my bed and off of this earth.  So we’re here, trying to remember how to breathe. Luckily this week has brought some calm, some real help. A doctor’s visit with answers, and ten whole days with no medication. Some words to hold tight to. In the midst of it all is the simple fact that things don’t always work out just the way you think they should. Those days may be frustrating as hell, but I’m thankful I’m here to spend those minutes just the same.
Apple Almond Tart | The Vanilla Bean Blog
“This business of being a human being is infinitely more fraught than I was led to believe. When my son Sam figured out at 7 years old that he and I were not going to die at the exact same moment, he said, ‘If I had known that, I wouldn’t have agreed to be born.’ That says it for me. It’s hard here, and weird. The greatness of love and laughter, the pain of loss, the bearing of one another’s burdens, are all mixed up, like the crazy catch-all drawer in the kitchen.” – Anne Lamott

(To enter the giveaway for the At Home in the Whole Foods Kitchen Cookbook: leave a comment on this post with your name and email. I’ll pick a winner next week!)

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Autumn Harvest Breakfast Bread | The Vanilla Bean Blog
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
-Robert Frost, “Nothing Gold Can Stay”
Autumn Harvest Breakfast Bread | The Vanilla Bean Blog
Autumn Harvest Breakfast Bread | The Vanilla Bean Blog
Autumn Harvest Breakfast Bread | The Vanilla Bean Blog
Autumn Harvest Breakfast Bread | The Vanilla Bean Blog
Autumn Harvest Breakfast Bread | The Vanilla Bean Blog
This Autumn Breakfast Bread is from Amanda Paa’s new book Smitten With Squash. It’s a lovely little book, celebrating that underappreciated vegetable, with knowledgeable tips and creative recipes. I’m giving away one copy of her book – leave your name and email in the comment section to enter.

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Izy's Swedish Chocolate Cake | The Vanilla Bean Blog
Every time I get a new cookbook in the mail, my daughter and I curl up on the couch and page through it together. We start at the very beginning, and I tell her about the author(s), and all the ingredients and tools that are recommended, and then we page through each chapter. We go through the titles of each recipe, and she responds with either little hands clapping and squeals of ‘let’s make that for my birthday, please?!’ or a wrinkled nose and a head shaking no. ‘I don’t think I’d want to eat that Mom.”
Izy's Swedish Chocolate Cake | The Vanilla Bean Blog
Izy's Swedish Chocolate Cake | The Vanilla Bean Blog
Izy' Swedish Chocolate Cake | The Vanilla Bean Blog
Izy’s book came in the mail a few weeks ago, and we sat down to look at it together. I spent a little extra time bragging about Izy (She was in high school when she wrote this book! She’s only 18! I met her and she is as lovely as you’d think she is! Aren’t her photographs beautiful?!) to my daughter, and then we decided what to make first. [W] was excited about almost every recipe and picture, but we settled on this dangerous, one-pot wonder chocolate cake. We weren’t disappointed.

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sunday suppers gathering
This past weekend I hosted a City Picnic in celebration of the Sunday Suppers, Recipes + Gatherings Cookbook by Karen Mordechai. I stumbled upon Sunday Suppers a few years ago on Instagram; a gorgeous feed filled with pictures from Karen’s Brooklyn studio. There I saw many of my favorite food bloggers and photographers hosting and participating in gatherings and sessions. I tried not to be envious, wishing plane tickets weren’t quite so expensive. But they are, so I looked on from a distance, happy to watch others partake.

When Karen asked me if I’d like to host a small gathering for her cookbook launch, I replied ‘yes!’ with no hesitation. A few months later I found myself on the lawn just outside the Gutherie Theater in Downtown Minneapolis, sharing a lovely city picnic with a few good friends and all our little ones. The sun was blazing but we were tucked under trees, basking in shade and a perfect menu, straight from the pages of the book. My children asked me all week long if we could ‘go back to the picnic again’, which I took as a sign of a really good day, tucked away in their memories. It will be in mine.
sunday suppers gathering
sunday suppers gathering
sunday suppers gathering
sunday suppers gathering
sunday suppers gathering
sunday suppers gathering
sunday suppers gathering
sunday suppers gathering
sunday suppers gathering
sunday suppers gathering
City Picnic Menu:
Nigella Chicken Pies with Baby Carrots
Rice, Zucchini, and Feta Frittata with Fennel Pollen Yogurt
Burrata Salad with Spicy Cauliflower Relish and Crostini
Fennel Slaw with Pickled Red Onions, Raisins, Hazelnuts, and Mint
Tomato and Cantaloupe Salad
sunday suppers cookbook

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hemingway's daiquiri | the vanilla bean blog
The Sun Also Rises was the first Hemingway novel I read. His short stories made a brief appearance in my high school career but were instantly shelved; the subject matter was a too dark for a 16-year old ray of sunshine who secretly still read Nancy Drew mysteries. The Sun Also Rises is rather bleak as well, but there was no choice about reading as a five page paper was required to go along with it. I read the book in an entire day (that pesky paper was due the following morning), and found myself equally loving and hating Hemingway. He is genius about throwing in the most brilliant sentence or two just when you least see it coming. He sneaks it in so well, weaving it into conversation or description so quickly and quietly in his unpretentious prose. It will derail you in a put-the-book-down-for-just-a-minute-I’m-having-an-ah!-moment kind of way, and then you’re back, half caring about characters and storyline, mildly depressed and needing a drink.
hemingway's daiquiri | the vanilla bean blog
hemingway's daiquiri | the vanilla bean blog
hemingway's daiquiri | the vanilla bean blog
hemingway's daiquiri | the vanilla bean blog
hemingway's daiquiri | the vanilla bean blog
hemingway's daiquiri | the vanilla bean blog
My brother-in-law Dave came over recently and made Hemingway’s daiquiri. There’s nothing sweet or slushy about his version, but I think that’s appropriate. Grapefruit juice, lime juice, rum, and maraschino liqueur are all shaken together and poured into ice cold cups. It’s a drink that grows on you. I found myself cringing at the first taste, enjoying it as it went down, and interested enough in the aftertaste to take another sip. It was really just like reading Hemingway.

“Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?”
“Yes, every once in a while.”
“Do you know that in about thirty-five more years we’ll be dead?”
“What the hell, Robert,” I said. “What the hell.”
“I’m serious.”
“It’s one thing I don’t worry about,” I said.
“You ought to.”
“I’ve had plenty to worry about one time or other. I’m through worrying.”
“Well, I want to go to South America.”
“Listen, Robert, going to another country doesn’t make any difference. I’ve tried all that. You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another. There’s nothing to that.”
“But you’ve never been to South America.”
“South America hell! If you went there the way you feel now it would be exactly the same. This is a good town. Why don’t you start living your life in Paris?”
-Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

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maple mousse with coffee syrup | the vanilla bean blog
The world
is a table
engulfed in honey and smoke,
smothered by apples and blood.
The table is already set,
and we know the truth
as soon as we are called:
whether we’re called to war or to dinner
we will have to choose sides,
have to know
how we’ll dress
to sit
at the long table,
whether we’ll wear the pants of hate
or the shirt of love, freshly laundered.
Its time to decide,
they’re calling:
boys and girls,
let’s eat!
-Pablo Neruda, ‘Ode to the Table’
maple mousse with coffee syrup | the vanilla bean blog

(I recently purchased Neruda’s All the Odes, and I’m smitten.)

Thank you so much for all your kind thoughts on the last post regarding my house allergies! Things are much better, and we seem to have pinpointed the problem. This week has actually been great regarding my health, and I’ve found myself constantly in the kitchen baking and making, reveling in the beginning of fall. Right before we moved I was sent a copy of flourless. by Nicole Spiridakis, and now have finally had a chance to make a few things from it. This maple mousse is such a treat. While it stands rich and creamy all by itself, I couldn’t help but add this coffee syrup, making it quite an indulgence. Topped with sea salt and a sprinkle of maple flakes, it became downright fancy. This is another gluten-free cookbook that works well in my kitchen- Nicole shies away from hard-to-find ingredients and focuses on ground nuts, egg whites, fresh fruit, and chocolate. It’s a beautiful book.

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strawberry oat milk smoothie | the vanilla bean blog
A few months ago I got a copy of Anya Kassoff’s book, The Vibrant Table (if you aren’t familiar with Anya’s work, she runs the beautiful site Golubka Kitchen). I immediately went out to my back porch with a cup of coffee and read it cover to cover. The book is focused on Anya’s always vegetarian, mostly vegan, and sometimes raw kitchen. The photographs are gorgeous, and I’ve been challenged by trying new ingredients and ways of approaching food. “Raw food holds a special place in my heart. It helped me heal after I had unexpected health issues after the birth of my second daughter. My older daughter encouraged me to start a food blog for documenting my raw escapades. Golubka, the blog, quickly developed into a passion…”

This Strawberry Oat Milk Smoothie was first on my list to make. Strawberries are blended with cacao nibs, vanilla bean seeds, and honey, then swirled into homemade oat milk. What a way to start the morning.
strawberry oat milk smoothie | the vanilla bean blog
Somehow the months slipped by, and in between a move, catching up on work, and discovering I am allergic to my new house (asthma attacks I haven’t had in 20 years!), I am finally now getting to a post and a giveaway. So if you would like a chance to win this beautiful book, leave a comment below with your name and email. I’ll be picking a winner next week.

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roasted peaches with crème fraîche caramel sauce | the vanilla bean blog
“Fish tacos with pomegranate salsa tucked into warm corn tortillas, happily made from scratch by the kiddos. Homemade crème fraîche. Rainbow slaw packed with purple cabbage, green apple, radish, and orange. A pot of smoky Midnight black beans. Watermelon punch with fresh lime and crushed mint. This is supper at our home. Friends chat, kids play, and we eat simple goodness…”

This is how Erin Scott’s Yummy Supper Cookbook begins. It’s a gluten-free book, but one of those special books that work for many types of eaters. The recipes are mostly simple; easy to put together but packed with flavor. As someone who can (and does) eat gluten regularly, I found this book a great addition to my kitchen.

“I see our kitchen as a place of possibility, a place of play, experimentation, and delight. I write this book hoping to bring a little extra joy to all of our kitchens, to inspire us to cook for ourselves and our families, and to remember that cooking need not be laborious, overly complicated, or full of wheat to be delicious.” – Erin Scott
roasted peaches with crème fraîche caramel sauce | the vanilla bean blog
roasted peaches with crème fraîche caramel sauce | the vanilla bean blog
One lucky reader can win a copy of Erin’s new book! Just leave a comment below in the comment section with your email, and I’ll announce a winner sometime next week. Good luck!

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