[Lemon cake, February 2009.]
This will come as a surprise to exactly no one, but I like to bake. A lot. In the past two weeks alone I’ve baked banana bread, lemon-poppy seed muffins, two batches of cookies, red velvet cake, a banana-chocolate loaf, and a lemon cake. It’s a good thing I never turn the heat on in my apartment (I prefer instead to leave the shades up during the day so my south-facing — lucky, lucky me — windows let in as much sun and light as possible to warm the place up a bit, and then of course I also pile on the sweaters) because the amount of time my oven is on is staggering.
I hardly need an excuse, but lately things have been getting a bit ridiculous. A birthday? Why, sure, I’ll whip up a little something (three layers of red velvet cake filled and topped with swirls of dreamy cream cheese frosting). A mid-morning snack? Muffins, please. Cookies for my dad on a rainy Sunday? Mais bien sûr. A 10-year anniversary cake? Oh, wait, that’s not coming up ’til next week (but since you asked, it’ll most likely be a Guinness-chocolate, as requested). So yeah, it’s mostly good I don’t turn on my heat I think.
The thing about baking all these sweets, however, means that a girl like me is left especially craving her veggies. Butter may be best and chocolate sublime, but throwing in a smattering of greens every so often is absolutely imperative.
Fortunate, then, I had a few visitors this past weekend and thus was ‘forced’ to cook a tiny dinner party. I made a simple meal of mushroom soup, salad, and my mom’s outstanding recipe for a pasta with gremolata and squash, adapted from Green’s restaurant. We ate a lot of cheese, drank a lot of red wine — and choked down not a few green vegetables.
[Clouds over San Francisco, February 2009
A few weeks ago I’d gotten a call from one of my best friends (who incidentally is married to another one of my best friends; this, in case you’re wondering, is quite fantastic). She told me she’d taken a job in London and would be moving there in a few weeks — would it be OK if they came to visit me en route? Instead of jumping up and down and yelling yes please come immediately wheeee! I replied very calmly and maturely that (eeeeeeeeee!) I’d love to see them and couldn’t wait. And so plane tickets were purchased, soup was made, and they arrived at my doorstep not-too-late last Thursday night.
Basically, it was a great weekend. We hung around on Friday while I did some work (breakfast: scrambled eggs with mushrooms; banana-chocolate bread; lots of coffee) and then I had the dinner party. Saturday we had breakfast out up the street (omelets, potatoes, biscuits ) and went to the Ferry Building for coffee and a wander, fighting our way through the crowds at the farmers’ market (we sampled jams, dried tomatoes, talked about Brussels sprouts). After, we walked along the water and up the Filbert Steps to Coit Tower and then down through North Beach, China Town, and downtown, finishing with Little Star for dinner (Happy Valentine’s to us). Sunday we dressed more warmly and trooped out to Alcatraz in the rain (with delicious sandwiches of cheese, leftover hummus, and avocado on sourdough, with biscotti dipped in instant hot chocolate from the gift shop that was somehow the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted), finally landing up home, drenched, in the late afternoon for tea and a snack (leftover pizza, cheese and bread) before piling on the futon under blankets to watch SNL clips (sushi delivery for dinner). It rained and rained but I think for the most part I was able to show them a slice of San Francisco they’d perhaps not seen before (the infamous parrots on the way up the Steps were an unexpected bonus).
Another bonus? Leftovers from dinner for my lunches this week, as well as some of that lemon cake. It’s a quiet week in general, and I’m glad to have a wee bit of veggies to tide me over.
Cheese/baguette/white bean hummus/olives
Linguine with gremolata and squash
Salad of green beans, romaine, and radish
Lemon pound cake with whipped cream and fruit