In the almost six years since I last waddled around in the name of procreation — I know, I make it sound so glowy and glamorous — to my delight, two things in particular have changed: 1. You can now get maternity pants that have almost all of the dignity of regular ones, thanks to small elastic panels above each pocket that frankly would be as welcome the day after Thanksgiving as they are now that I’m approaching the six-month mark and people no longer believe me when I said I just had a really big lunch. (However, a New York-specific rule remains: you’re not actually “big” until someone willingly cedes his or her seat on the subway for you, by which standards, I must be svelte. Hey, I’ll take it.) 2. More pertinently to the scope of a cooking website, a whole lot of bars are making really great mocktails.
January, as far as I’m concerned, is a pretty mediocre month. The holiday party tinsel-and-bubbly frenzy of November and December is replaced with hibernation and Netflix binges. The charming first and second snowstorms pass and the ones that follow are met with more of a really? it’s snowing again? Squarely between Christmas and mid-Winter break, it’s too early in the season to be so weary of the cold, but here I am, counting down the days until the hi/bye gloves can literally come off.
New York City is a terrible place to summer. Whereas some water-bound towns have cool breezes rolling in off the ocean all day, we can better rely on the hot exhale of garbage trucks. Offices are set to roughly the same temperature as a polar ice cap, but subway platforms are so unfathomably sweltering that on my first day in NYC 14 years ago, I — adorably, like the wee baby New Yorker I was — uttered the words, “Is this even legal?” It’s a rare day that you don’t walk down the sidewalk and have a window a/c unit drip you-don’t-want-to-know run-off on your head. Flip-flops may cool your feet outside, but you may never recover from seeing the new color of your toes at the end of a day, and it always seems like everyone but me has Summer Fridays. The city tries, it really does, to make things more livable: the 14 beaches are free, there are dozens and dozens of free public pools, something like a zillion sprinkler parks, and you know all those endless photos you see of children frolicking in spraying fire hydrants? Hardly a symbol urban decay, it’s actually legal and encouraged. But the fact is that from July 4th on (and possibly earlier this year), anyone that has the means to be elsewhere is, and the rest of us plebes schvitz it out on the pavement.
[Welcome to Popsicle Week, wherein I admit that I had something of a popsicle incident this summer, wherein incident = gotta a little carried away, made too many and now can’t let summer end without sharing the queue with you. This is Popsicle 1 of 3.]
I had these popsicle molds for 14 months before using them once, yet in the weeks since I used them for the first time, I’ve made three other varieties and considered doing a 5-day week of posts here exclusively devoted to popsicle offerings. I’ve basically fallen down a popsicle rabbit hole so deep, now every time I see something that looks good, I think, I wonder how that would taste as a popsicle. (My family’s looking nervous around me, understandably.)
I have decided not to leave. Yesterday, I was eating a drippy peach we’d bought from one of those roadside stands that have baskets of homegrown stuff and instruct you to leave your money in a little container (you know, just like in Manhattan!) over the sink and two tiny deer and a bunny appeared in the woodsy area next to our house and seriously, I cannot believe that people own these places and willingly rent them to strangers. Where else could they possibly want to stay?
Seeing as I can’t get enough of those I Don’t Need A Special Occasion To Make Cake Cakes and also those Of Course You Can Stop By At The Last Minute (psst, ’cause I’d already made some cake) Cakes, I am clearly long overdue to make a classic French yogurt cake. I first learned about yogurt cakes nearly five years ago from Clotilde; they’re perfect anytime-of-day cakes (bless the French for understanding the utmost importance of this), not too sweet, fluffy and perfect just from the oven or wrapped in plastic for a day or two, as the corners soften. Most people don’t measure them — the math is based on the volume of your yogurt cups (they use two), to which you add an equal amount of sugar, a double amount of flour, a little less than one of oil, two eggs and some leavener and flavors.