I’ve been curious to make a yeasted coffee cake for years, but every time I got close to making one, I decided against it. Would it be dry or overly-firm? Would it taste too much like bread? How would I know a good one if I’ve probably never had an authentic German kuchen — a general name for a type of sweet, yeasted cake, usually served with coffee — one? I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: I’m a master at talking myself out of things.
July, 2009 Archive
I wish I could tell you that I’m putting my time into more exciting things* but fact is, it’s nothing but boring stuff keeping me out of the kitchen this week: a new oven that needed installing, pipe work shutting off the water in our apartment today, more doctors appointments than any healthy person should ever require, long classes to teach us the proper diapering of a tiny baby butt, and the kind of steamy heat outside that would make it absurd to turn on the oven anyway (though I should, you know, confirm that it works, right?). Banal, right?
Continuing my summer fascination with any and all fruit desserts with goofy names, not two minutes after I discovered the existence of slab pie, I was fixing to make it. Why? Because it looks like a giant Pop Tart, and surely you don’t think a woman in her third trimester needs a single other reason to bake something.
I have been thinking a lot in the last couple of weeks about what it means to cook when you’re pressed for time. I’ve always had the luxury of time. Even when I juggled a full-time job and a site, the sum of my evening tasks were still only to make whatever I felt like making for dinner, and if dinner was done at 10 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m., we just shrugged it off.
Inadvertently, Martha has become my girl this week as I’ve been floundering around trying to figure out what to do with my seasonal produce that a) I haven’t done before and b) doesn’t require any great amount of fussing. Or work. Or adherence to recipes. (Okay, that last part may be more of a Deb than a Martha thing, but you won’t tell her, right?) The arugula, potato and green bean salad was good and well enough for a Wednesday night, but did little to help me turn last week’s languishing South Jersey peaches into something better. (Who forgets they have almost two pounds of farm fresh peaches in their fridge? Guilty as charged.)
I wasn’t kidding last week when I said that I have staged an intervention with myself and am trying my hardest to cook more things at home that can be even loosely construed as dinner. I mean, somehow the farmers markets are bursting with beans and greens and peppers and potatoes and peaches and… And I ate (average) pad thai for lunch. It doesn’t even compute.
Some people find out they’re going to be parents and — you know, after the whole “yay babies!” cheer has simmered down a bit — freak out because they haven’t yet a) traveled the world, b) made their first million, paid off all of their debt and saved up enough for $200 toys for their little snowflake or c) well, grown up yet. But me, I actually had a moment of panic because I hadn’t yet found the perfect yellow layer cake recipe. And apparently — and yes, probably ridiculously — central to my image of the kind of mom I want to be is not to have to turn to a box of Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Butter Recipe Golden (anyone else ever been perplexed by this wording?) cake mix to get a reliably perfect two-layer celebration cake. It’s the Smitten Kitchen, afterall: People have expectations!