Autumn Indulgence: Pumpkin Babka

Fall in Northern California… is not quite fall. In San Francisco, there are no leaves crunching under foot and the temperature is more or less the same on October 15th as it is on July 15th. In the Midwest it’s an all-sensory experience that makes death pretty appealing: you can see the leaves transforming from…

Keep It Simple: (Almost) Butterless Biscuits

Three months and three days ago I blew up my life: sold most of my belongings, packed up the rest and dragged my cat with me to San Francisco to be closer to family. There’s nothing like a 2,000 mile move to make you appreciate the value of simplicity. And simple I must be. After…

The Tart Keith Richards Won’t Touch

“It wasn’t my idea of a dessert, and they tried to force me to eat it, threatening me with punishment or a fine. It was very Dickensian. I had to write out ‘I will not refuse food’ three hundred times in my infantile hand.” That was Keith Richards’ reaction to the Gypsy tart they served…

Lila Clementine Cookies

I am a notoriously bad gift giver. There’s no excuse for it; I am just not gifted at giving gifts. My dad is probably the biggest victim of my bad gifts. One year for his birthday I picked up a book for him at KMart simply titled “Running.” Basically, it was a guide filled with…

WTF Is Yorkshire Pudding?

If ever I were to go back to culinary graduate school and had to write a thesis, it would be about PUDDING. To the passing (American) Internet user, this seems a boring subject because what comes to mind is the gelatinous goo you can find in plastic cups in the refrigerator aisle of your local…

Black & White Cookies: An Exercise in Self Defeat

If you’ve never had a black and white cookie, they’re not really cookies at all, nor are they black and white. They are not crunchy and crumbly the way you expect cookies to be, rather they are soft and supple cakes hidden beneath a thin layer of half vanilla and half chocolate fondant (hardened icing)….

So Long Sourdough: A Love Letter

This week I said goodbye to someone who means a lot to me. He’s moving from Chicago to San Francisco to achieve all the goals he’s been working toward for the last twenty years. He isn’t a big part of my life but the spot he occupies in it is a space I protect no…

The Imperfect Pretzel: A Beastly Bavarian Treat

I don’t like pretzels in general, but I do love a good Bavarian soft pretzel. I’ve never made them and they’ve been on my list for a while. But last week, after a trip to Milwaukee where they’re already celebrating Oktoberfest (German roots are anchored deep in Wisconsin), pretzels climbed to the top of my…

Surviving the Polar Vortex: Bread on the Fly (sort of)

The winds in the Polar Vortex are allegedly slowing down and temperatures in Chiberia are jumping from -14F to a balmy 14F. One can only hope. I fed the last bit of bread in my apartment to the birds who apparently didn’t seek warmer temperatures at a lower latitude.  Since my courage has only allowed…

Don’t Take My Word: Sable Cookies

Oh dear, Shia Labeouf, thank you for giving me something to think about. The Transformers actor and complete goofus spent the holidays doing damage control for a series of plagiarism accusations: once for an apology he lifted from an Esquire feature, another for completely ripping off a graphic novel to make a film short, and…