blueberry, almond, and plum crumble | the vanilla bean blog
This Is Just To Say
I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold
-William Carlos Willams
blueberry, almond, and plum crumble | the vanilla bean blog

blueberry, almond, and plum crumble | the vanilla bean blog

blueberry, almond, and plum crumble | the vanilla bean blog
I couldn’t resist posting that Williams poem to go along with a recipe involving plums. I’ll never forget reading it for the first time in my 9th grade English class, and becoming immediately enamored with playful poems that didn’t rhyme or seem to follow any rules. I went home and tried to mimic his style in pages of my journal, writing the worst poems known to man. But the attempts were sincere, and somewhere in my box of memories there is a stack of poems about peaches, plums, and dreamy boys who never noticed me.

Plums do make a good breakfast, however, and if you happen to have some of this crumble left over the next day, heating it up and topping it off with a little yogurt (or ice cream) is definitely a good idea. This summer crumble comes from Kate Doran‘s new book, Homemade Memories. Highlighting favorite childhood treats: ice creams, cookies, doughnuts, pudding pots, cakes, and every sugar-dusted possibility in between, it’s a collection of recipes perfect for any nostalgic baker. (Side note: I may have to give in and add this dish towel to my collection at some point.)
blueberry, almond, and plum crumble | the vanilla bean blog

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Are cookbooks still useful? Here’s some food for thought this week in the Guardian.

Food writer Prue Leith insists that “when we come to cook … the cookbook stays on the coffee table. Now the look of the book dictates the sale. In my day you could still buy a good cookbook in paperback with no pictures at all. I doubt if that would sell today. But those books were much used: they lived in the kitchen and got splattered with custard and gravy. Today, if we cook, we Google it. New cookbooks lie on the coffee table and we drool over Tuscan landscapes and rustic bread ovens. Before ordering in a pizza.”

Yotam Ottolenghi and Tim Hayward take up the argument and conclude that cookbooks are still relevant. “I believe many people do still cook from their cookbooks. They may not cook from all of them – many, no doubt, complete their job after an initial speedy flick-through, which is also fine by me – but there are certain books, illustrated and beautiful that we will always go back to, no matter how many more shiny spines are there alongside them on the bookshelves.” -Ottolenghi

“it seems bonkers to take a moral stance on how they should be enjoyed. For me, making a modern, illustrated food book means making an object that balances utility with entertainment in a way that appeals to a new and different kind of audience.” -Tim Hayward

In the comment section of The Guardian, some one brought up Daniel Pennack’s 10 Inalienable Rights of the Reader, suggesting that #6 could apply quite easily to recipes and food writing. I have to admit I agree.

1. The right not to read
2. The right to skip
3. The right not to finish a book
4. The right to re-read
5. The right to read anything
6. The right to “Bovary-ism,” a textually transmitted disease*
7. The right to read anywhere
8. The right dip in*
9. The right to read out loud
10. The right to be silent

*#6 – Bovary-ism: the right to mistake a book for real life
#8 – I’ve also seen this translated as ‘the right to sample and steal (“grappiller”)

“For me, a successful cookbook is one that is pored over at bedtime as much as it’s used in the kitchen. I don’t think one necessarily negates the other.” -Anna Valentine

Your thoughts? And what cookbooks are you cooking and baking from?

Raise awareness and end demand of human trafficking. My Sister T-shirts #shelivesfree
I know this is not food related, but I’d like to take a moment to shine a light on a serious topic: human trafficking.

A few months back, my friend Jonathan Sipola helped start My Sister, a benefit corporation dedicated to help end human trafficking (Not familiar with benefit corporations? You can read more about B Corps here). Did you know that there is an estimated 27 million adults and 13 million children around the globe who are victims of trafficking? Researchers estimate that more than 80% of trafficking victims are female, and over 50% of human trafficking victims are children. The FBI estimates that over 100,000 children and young women are trafficked in America TODAY. They range in age from nine to 19, with the average being age 11.*

These statistics make my stomach turn. And honestly, reading about it makes me feel incredibly hopeless. How can we change any of this? While this problem seems absolutely overwhelming, there are some small things we can do.

First, we can choose to not look away and ignore the problem. Educating ourselves will help make us aware of what is happening in our country, and even our own neighborhoods. Malls, bus stops, schools, libraries, and parks are often where victims are targeted. Second, we can volunteer. There are many opportunities out there to help victims (you can look into that here). Third, we can support people/non profits/benefit corporations who are working at making a difference. My Sister is dedicated to raising awareness, prevention, intervention, after-care, education, and ending the demand. When you buy one of their T-shirts, a percentage goes to making all of that possible (you can read more about that here). So if you were wanting to help somehow, this is an easy way to do so.
Raise awareness and end demand of human trafficking. My Sister T-shirts #shelivesfree

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no-churn mint ice cream | the vanilla bean blog

no-churn mint ice cream | the vanilla bean blog
“The weeks stood still in summer.
The trees’ blood rose. Now you feel
it wants to sink back
into the source of everything. You thought
you could trust that power
when you plucked the fruit;
now it becomes a riddle again,
and you again a stranger.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
no-churn mint ice cream | the vanilla bean blog

In between squirt-gun fights and the jingle of bells on kid-sized bikes there is the faintest whisper, a warning. I wake up each morning knowing the sun will set a few moments sooner. The murmur, the rumor of change I choose to ignore, clinging instead to fire pits, swimming pools, canoe rides, and the blistering humidity that has reigned here all week. Let’s keep all this going, just a little bit longer. Please?

Our patch of mint has taken over the space made for it, plus the spot set aside for the basil. The tall stems are sprawling into our driveway, their muted purple flowers tickling our feet under the picnic table each time we take a meal outside. I’ve had good intentions of using those green leaves in plenty of dinners, but mostly it has just grown unruly, alive for the sole purpose of filling our house with the smell of toothpaste every time it rains. This weekend I finally took my scissors to the madness and put the plant to good use. An end-of-summer ice cream it has become; my favorite no-churn recipe that makes the whole sweet process quick and easy. You’ll now find us outside, enjoying all the melty drips while we still can.
no-churn mint ice cream | the vanilla bean blog

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“It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it…and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied…and it is all one.” – MFK Fisher

Some links:

Pretty clever junk food masterpieces

Love this version of Radiohead’s Creep

Food 52’s weekend reading lists are great

Such beautiful desserts!

Fascinated and freaked out by The Really Big One

I want to visit Japan

I’m totally enamored with Renee Kemps’ photographs

sour cherry shortcake with olive oil biscuits | the vanilla bean blog
In the cherry pluckt at night,
With the dew of summer swelling,
There’s a juice of pure delight,
Cool, dark, sweet, divinely smelling.
Merry, merry,
Take a cherry;
Mine are sounder,
Mine are rounder,
Mine are sweeter
For the eater
In the moonlight.
And you’ll be fairies quite.

When I sound the fairy call,
Gather here in silent meeting,
Chin to knee on the orchard wall,
Cooled with dew and cherries eating.
Merry, merry,
Take a cherry;
Mine are sounder,
Mine are rounder,
Mine are sweeter.
For the eater
When the dews fall.
And you’ll be fairies all.
-Emily Dickinson, Cherry-Time
cherry tree | the vanilla bean blog

sour cherry shortcakes with olive oil biscuits | the vanilla bean blog

sour cherry shortcakes with olive oil biscuits | the vanilla bean blog
A sour cherry tree stumbled into our lives this week, and after greedily picking as many cherries as I could, I am now spending afternoons pitting and freezing my dragon hoard of candied rubies. I want to make anything and everything with them, but I also am loath to use even one. It’s quite the dilemma.

I had been eying a recipe for olive oil biscuits with honey glaze in Maria Speck‘s beautiful new book, and decided to turn my little red gems into sour cherry shortcakes. I am pleased to report my treasure was not wasted. Crisp, honey-glazed biscuits, sour cherries coated in a bit of sugar, and a pile of whipped cream make the perfect end to a hot, summer day. Merry, merry, take a cherry | mine are sweeter, for the eater.
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lemon almond bread | the vanilla bean blog

Happy Monday, dear readers. I woke up this morning to thunder, lightning, and two littles climbing in my bed, sort of scared but mostly using the storm as an excuse to play games on my ipad. Yesterday was 85 and sunny – our first perfect summer day, filled with a family BBQ, swimming, and so much laughing I’m still smiling. Autumn may be my favorite season, but summer is just the best.

This lemon almond bread was also a nice way to start the day, with a light lemon flavor and the perfect fluffy-but-not-too-fluffy texture that made each bite a good reason to be out of bed, even on a Monday. Next time I might stir some blackberries or raspberries in to celebrate July’s sort-lived seasonal fruits.
lemon almond bread | the vanilla bean blog

lemon almond bread | the vanilla bean blog

yogurt culture

This delicious bread comes from Cheryl Sterman Rule‘s new book, Yogurt Culture. I’m really loving this cookbook – so many great recipes involving all types of yogurt, from slightly complex (making your own yogurt) to very easy (coffee yogurt and simple compotes) to everything in-between: cardamom pancakes, artichoke-almond soup, labneh-stuffed peppers, creamy pasta marinara, and salted caramel panna cotta, just to name a few. I’m glad to have this book on my shelf. (Also, check out her Team Yogurt page!)

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coffee pudding | the vanilla bean blog

coconut coffee pudding  | the vanilla bean blog
I haven’t baked a lot with coconut milk, but find myself looking to it more and more for various reasons. I have many friends with food allergies or dietary restrictions and most of them are able to consume coconut milk, so I find it’s a good substitute for milk and/or cream in recipes. Also, sometimes I just need a break from all the dairy in my diet, and have found soy and almond milk to not be very compatible with my body. So coconut milk it is.

Andre Prost reached out to me a few weeks ago and sent me a box of coconut milk to bake with. I was eager to give it a try, and found it to be a great addition to my kitchen. It is rich, creamy, and flavorful, and is a great substitution (or addition) to any recipe. I also appreciate that it is found in the baking section of the grocery store, as I tend to spend most of my time in that aisle anyway.

You can make quite a few things with a whole box of coconut milk. I wanted to make sure I loved it before I wrote about it, and I’m happy to report I found it to be a great product.
coconut cream pie | the vanilla bean blog
My first recipe with the coconut milk was a coconut cream pie, straight from Andre Prost’s website (where Pam has come up with some really great recipes!). I swapped bananas for some chocolate pastry cream I had in my fridge from cookbook testing. It was creamy and dreamy and very indulgent.
coconut coffee cream | the vanilla bean blog
Next I made Nicole’s Vanilla Bean Coconut Creamer, which was delicious, and went along perfectly with my afternoon coffee and Jessica’s new book.
Coffee Pudding | the vanilla bean blog
Laura’s Coconut Coffee Pudding was also on the list (topped with Tara’s magic candied cacao nibs), which was voted a family favorite. My daughter was enamored with it, although I had to cut her off because of all the coffee.
coconut chocolate muffins | the vanilla bean blog
Coconut muffins were also a hit, and I snuck in some chocolate again.
coconut milk | the vanilla bean blog
On the to-do list: coconut sweetened condensed milk sounds fabulous. I think it might also work in my no-churn ice cream recipes, which I’m excited to experiment with. Pancakes are also going to be made soon, as well as coconut brioche.

So, if you have been thinking about baking with coconut milk, don’t be afraid to try! There are so many things you can make with it. (Have a favorite recipe? Leave it below! I’d love to see it.)
coconut pie | the vanilla bean blog
This post is sponsored by Andre Prost. All opinions are my own.