Interlude: Paris & Lucerne

Oh… Hey there. So… I went on vacation and didn’t tell you. I just snuck off on a big plane and ate my weight in macarons, chocolate, and fondue. I’m sorry. I hope these photos of my trip make up for it. (By the way, I came home from Paris, France and Lucerne, Switzerland with, inexplicably, the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook. It is glorious. There might be homemade crack pie coming your way soon to make up for my absence.)

Hotel sweets

View from hotel

Evening in Paris

Someone lives here

Arc de Triomphe

Gold and grey

A hint of La Tour Eiffel

Eiffel Tower

View from the Eiffel Tower

La Defense

3 euro

Sightseeing

Pont des arts

Nike

Mona Lisa and paparazzi

Key on a frame

Photography class in the Louvre

Above: Paris

Below: Lucerne

Swiss chocolate

Lucerne, Switzerland

Lucerne, Switzerland

Lucerne, Switzerland

Lucerne, Switzerland

Lucerne, Switzerland

Lucerne, Switzerland

Kapelbrucke

Kapelbrucke

Pilatus Kulm

Lucerne from 7,000 feet

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Weekend Coffee

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I really love coffee. If you had told me when I was in high school that I would even be able to stomach coffee, I would have thought you were crazy. But then I went abroad — to Italy — and that was that. Espresso, freshly made by host mother every morning, combined with a rich latte every afternoon, simply did me in, and now I’m addicted.

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Every so often the fact that I’m technically addicted to a drug (caffeine) floats into my mind. Every so often (like this week) I drink a bit too much coffee and am off the wall all afternoon and evening. At those moments I worry about myself a little bit. But most of the time coffee is a treat to savor and enjoy while I click through my inbox in the morning… Or, on the weekends, while I push emails out of my mind and watch the clouds floating over the lake outside my window, and the changing trees, now leafless, trying fruitlessly to resist the Midwest wind.

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This month’s Tasting Tuesdays cookbook gave me the idea to brew my usual French pressed coffee with a dash of cardamom, so I thought I’d share here my favorite way to make coffee.

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It might not be your favorite way to make coffee. (I think my mom, for one, would not think that this is brewed anywhere near strong enough.) But try it and tweak it and make it your favorite.

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And may it make your weekday inbox dealings more pleasant, and your weekends all the sweeter. Continue reading

Garlic Kale Chips

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I’m cheating on sugar.

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Don’t tell. I think sugar’s feelings would be hurt. Along with flour and butter. They’d probably be pretty upset, too.

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Green things usually don’t do it for me. Sometimes I get on a salad kick–but they’ve always got to be followed up with cookies or brownies or scones or something. My sweet tooth is very demanding.

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That is, unless there’s garlic involved. Then the scales are slightly tilted in healthy stuff’s favor.

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These kale chips are super crispy, thin, a little salty, and garlicky. They’re not at all like eating potato chips, but somehow you still don’t realize you’re eating something that’s actually healthy. (It’s true. This “dark, leafy green” is in fact a superfood. Gwyneth says so.) … (Did I just seriously embarrass myself by admitting I read GOOP? Oops.)

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If you are feeling guilty about all the brown sugar and cinnamon and butter I’ve been feeding you lately, make yourself some kale chips. And feel happy. Continue reading

Pretzel Buns

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Pretzel buns.

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I baked these a week ago, and am just now getting around to writing this post…

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And right now, since I’m feeling like I’d like nothing more than to be eating one of these pretzel buns again instead of editing a blog post about them…

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I think I will just leave you with a bunch of photos and the recipe. And go:

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(You should make these, by the way, despite my lack of characteristically overenthusiastic description in this post. They are sooo easy. And sooo good.) Continue reading

Homemade Poptarts

Here’s an epic one. POPTARTS.

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All caps are definitely necessary. I am indeed internet-shouting about POPTARTS. POPTARTS!

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If I’m being honest, I actually like the artificial, goodness-only-knows-what’s-in-them poptarts you buy at the grocery store. But these guys are a whole different breed. They probably shouldn’t even be called poptarts. More like handheld pies. Or little pockets of heaven. Either way.

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First you make a pie dough–super simple, very easy, as long as you keep the butter cold. (By the way, might I suggest splurging on butter for this one? Go for the fancy European kind, like Kerrygold. It is such a joy to bake with. OK, unintentional advertising done.)

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Then you fill the pie dough with whatever you want. Like raspberry preserves, mixed with a bit of flour to thicken things up. Or cinnamon sugar, which turns gooey and delicious when baked. Or if you’re Norwegian like me, you make a little Scandinavian spice mix just for kicks and put it in a couple. You could even put nutella inside if you’re feeling really adventurous.

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Then you bake them. Let them cool (good luck not eating one hot out of the oven and burning yourself). The non-fruit-filled ones need a little something on top, so make yourself some killer browned butter glaze, which happens to be my favorite thing to put on cupcakes, cookies, on a spoon… and decorate!

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Seriously, the recipe below might be long, but it is actually super easy. And the payoff is great. (You just may want to double the batch though: a dozen is not enough.) Continue reading

Lemon Curd

Summer is coming! Here is some lemon curd!

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But first, let’s be real. It sounds gross. Curd? Like curds and whey? What is curds and whey, anyway? When I was a kid I always assumed that was the most disgusting combination of foods ever. Like oats and grass–something that goats eat. On a farm. Where there are tuffets (whatever those are).

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Well, turns out the concept of curd is indeed kind of gross. It basically means letting some sort of dairy product curdle. Yuck indeed.

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And yet, lemon curd. Oh, lemon curd. You are delicious. In the recipe I used, a reviewer called the stuff “sunshine on a spoon.”

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This is very true. Eat it plain on a spoon on a grey Wisconsin day and you will feel instantly better about the weather.

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Slather it on pound cake (preferably one that didn’t fall). Dab it onto a croissant or scone and have some French-pressed coffee. Put it on berries. Bake a tart or something. Look at all the projects I’ve given you. You’ll be busy for weeks.

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So let’s review. Curd sounds gross, but lemon curd is delicious, so don’t overthink it. Just make it. Continue reading

Polish Easter Eggs

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A couple of weekends ago some friends and I decorated Easter eggs Polish-style over at the Utrecht art store! It turns out so beautifully and is actually really easy, so naturally I wanted to brag I mean share my little creation.

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All you do is dye your eggs–our instructor dyed them with onion skins; see a recipe here–and then once they’re all dry, you scratch lightly into the dye with an exacto knife. From far away the designs seem solid but they’re delicate and sketchy up close.

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In Polish it’s called “Skrobanki.” Don’t ask me to pronounce it, though.