Author Archives: withthegrains

About withthegrains

Blogging about whole grains, film grains, wood grains, words and wanderings.

Instagram Lately: Whole Wheat Carrot Pancakes & Counting Beautiful Things

April 2014

Much like the crotchety, old Muppet men, my friends and I sat on the balcony of Carnegie Music Hall, leaning into the low rails grandfathered by time. Below us, a man emerged, as if from a mountain hideaway, with a well worn sweater, a cap, an unruly, graying beard and a guitar. He began to strum and sing purposefully, as if rushed to share the song’s message before the funeral dirge surrounded him. Cymbals, brass instruments, a selection of saws, a glowing plastic lamb, an oriental rug… it was Neutral Milk Hotel, and from my balcony seat, I tried to preserve the performance, the words, my friends, all the tiny pieces of my life that overlapped with the music filling that theater….all of it!

Instagram_Antiques and Easter

As I embraced the rarity of hearing the live performance, these lyrics in particular struck a chord…

What a beautiful face
I have found in this place
That is circling all round the sun
What a beautiful dream
That could flash on the screen
In a blink of an eye and be gone from me
Soft and sweet
Let me hold it close and keep it here with me

And one day we will die
And our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea
But for now we are young
Let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see
Love to be
In the arms of all I’m keeping here with me

Instagram Lately_Easter

In the wintry months, I spoke about seeking and embracing the merits of beauty, but the gravity of Mangums’ voice and the weight of his lyrics were a wonderful reminder to slow down, lay in the sun and count every beautiful thing like curiosities in colorful hues, the slow process of preserving memories, art in a mug, the beauty of food enjoyed with friends, bowls made by hand, edible logos and blossoming baked goods.

Easter Pancakes

His were the words to remind me on some Sundays, the only goal should be to soak up the sunshine and eat pancakes. If that Sunday happens to be Easter, why not soak up the sun and eat carrot pancakes?

Note: If you’re an avid juicer, save some of the carrot pulp from your weekly juicing to make this scrumptious stack and feel better about wasting not, wanting not. If Jack LaLanne means nothing to you, go ahead and shred some whole carrots for this Easter inspired, syrupy goodness!

Whole Wheat Carrot Pancakes
makes approximately 10-12 thin pancakes

Ingredients

butter or olive oil, for griddle

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
A dash of ground cinnamon
A dash of Chinese 5 spice

1 organic egg
3 Tablespoons olive oil or melted butter
2 Tablespoons pure cane sugar
3/4 cup organic coconut milk
1 cup organic whole milk

2 cups carrot pulp from juicing (or about 6 big carrots, finely grated)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit so you can keep the pancakes warm before serving.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and five spice.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, cane sugar, coconut milk, and whole milk.

Stir in the carrot pulp, then add the wet mixture into the dry mixture all at once. Stir just until incorporated.

Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes and preheat your griddle/skillet. Add more whole milk if the mixture is too thick.

Over medium heat, melt a thick slice of butter or a Tablespoon or two of olive oil in a cast-iron skillet or griddle. Pour a scant ¼ cup batter into the hot pan, using the measuring cup to pat the batter down and out a bit. Cook, flipping once, until the pancakes are golden on both sides.

Place pancakes on an ovenproof plate and keep in the oven while you cook the remaining pancakes, adding more butter to the pan as needed.

Serve with cardamom brown butter, chopped walnuts and a healthy pour of pure maple syrup!

Single-Grain

May you count all the beautiful things you can see (and eat) & maybe Instagram them too!
-Quelcy

p.s: Easter Sundays are just made for wanderings.
p.p.s: You can find the rest of my Instagram adventures here.

Midweek Romance: Whole Wheat Rosewater Cookies

April 2014

The attentive barista placed two cold-brew coffees in front of the customer, whose mix of jet black and bright pink hair contrasted sharply with the minimalist aesthetic of the space.

“These are actually both for me,” she said, demanding shock. “This night job is killllling me.”

“Oh wow!” the barista complied. “What’s your night job?”

“Stripping.”

There was nothing but a solid, conclusive period on the end of that statement. No joke. Without hesitation or judgment, the very attentive barista replied, “that is a really tough job!”

“It is! The other night I fell off the pole!”

Rosweater Cookies and Florals

Flowers by Thommy Conroy.

Maybe you fell off a stripper pole earlier this week. Maybe you didn’t. Maybe you’re looking for a picker upper after a tough night on the job. Maybe you’re seeking just a little note of romance, how about a simple, delicate cookie to get you past the hump day?

Rosewater Hearts

These buttery hearts have a hint of refreshing rose in each bite. Eat them simply, or pair them with a smearing of jam, a drizzle of honey, a dunking’s worth of melted chocolate, a dollop of rosewater whipped cream (recipe below), a dusting of powdered sugar or with two cold-brew coffees. The possibilities, much like a pole routine [I imagine?], are pretty endless.

Whole Wheat Rosewater Cookies

Ingredients

1-3/4 cups plus 2 Tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour
2 Tablespoons organic cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) organic unsalted butter softened
1/3 cup organic confectioners’ sugar

3 Tablespoons rose water

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat butter and confectioner’s sugar with an electric mixer on medium high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add rose water, and mix until combined scraping down side of bowl.

Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture; mix until just combined.

Divide dough in half, and shape into disks. Wrap each in plastic, and chill 1 hours.

On parchment, roll 1 disk of dough to 1/8-inch thickness; chill 15 minutes.

Cut 1-1/2 inch rounds (or hearts) from dough, and place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining disk.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until barely golden, about 14 minutes.

Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Single-Grain

Rosewater Whipped Cream

Ingredients

1 cup organic whipping cream
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons rosewater

Directions

Chill the cream in a mixing bowl in the freezer until the cream just starts to freeze. Remove from the freezer. Add the vanilla and honey.

Use a mixer, on medium speed, to beat until peaks begin to form.

Add the rosewater, and continue to mix until combined. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Single-Grain

May Your Week Be Filled With Romance!
-Quelcy

Whole-Wheat, Red Wine Chocolate Cake w/ Honey Whipped Mascarpone

April 2014

You know that voice. Even if it’s via text, you know it.

Like a mother recognizing her baby’s cry, you know your best friend’s tipsy tone. You know it, and you love it because you love her and all the memories that slight slur conjures.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

In the case of my wine-sipping friend, those memories span to a time when we didn’t even drink, to celebratory glasses on a 21st birthday (while taking in a spectacular view), to too many cachaças poolside in Argentina, to fancy southern sipping while on a Bonnaroo-bound roadtrip, to wedding toasts!

Cherry Topped Chocolate Cake

As my wine-sipping Sandra put it, our best friend trio is “ride-or-die.” One by one, each of us is hitting the big 3-0, and we’re spending each of those birthdays together, with wine in hand. I couldn’t let Sandra’s 30th pass us without a little something rich and fancy [cake, I am talking cake], and I thought, “why not have our wine and eat it too?”  Here’s to the brilliant woman who is always by our side to listen, to laugh and to love!

Blogpost_Red Wine Chocolate Cake
Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Honey Whipped Mascarpone
Yield: two 9-inch cake layers

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) organic butter, softened
1 cup organic light brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup organic evaporated cane sugar

2 large organic eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups red wine
1/2 cup organic greek yogurt

2 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup organic cornstarch
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch springform pans (or bake, cool, rinse & repeat if you only have one).

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars.

Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until smooth.

Beat in the wine and yogurt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Add to wine mixture slowly, mixing until just incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared baking pan(s) and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake bounces back slightly.

Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Single-Grain

Honey Whipped Mascarpone

1/2 cup (4 ounces) mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons honey

Directions

In a medium mixing bowl, whip mascarpone, heavy whipping cream, and honey until soft peaks form. Keep chilled until ready to use.

Single-Grain

Assembly

Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Add a large spoonful of the mascarpone filling to the surface of the cake. Use an offset spatula and a lazy suzan cake stand [ideally] to spread and smooth the topping, adding more as needed. Top with the other cake layer. Add a dollop of mascarpone topping to the surface. Garnish as desired (I used morello cherries).

Single-Grain

May our lives be filled with many more tipsy phone calls, tear-inducing fits of laughter, and CAKE!
-Quelcy

Whole-Wheat Chocolate & Caramel Ombre Cake

April 2014

Sometimes my sweet tooth demands something fast but flavorful. Sometimes I push up my sleeves, don my apron, carve out an afternoon and set my sights on something rich and fancy [I'm not talking gold digging here...baking, people, baking!] …

Ombre Cake on Stand

If you’re in the mood to serve a slice of cake with a wow-factor, this is the type of delicious time commitment for you!

Ombre Cake Florals

Baking Note: This recipe, adapted from Foods of Our Lives, uses an 8″ cake pan to make a 6-layer ombre cake. I was aiming for real height prowess, so I used a smaller cake pan (6″). My caramel and chocolate allocations did not achieve the color distinction for which I had hoped. Nor did I want my mile-high cake to topple, so I decide to make two ombre cakes, which worked out well for a dessert social. Follow the instructions below for the six layers or divide your batter amongst smaller pans to have two impressive color fade cakes.

Ombre Cake Slice

Chocolate & Caramel Ombre Cake
Recipe adapted from Foods of Our Lives

Caramel Sauce Ingredients

2 cups pure cane sugar
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tablespoons) organic, unsalted butter
1 cup organic heavy cream, room temperature

Note:

Make the caramel sauce first as it needs to be fairly cool before you can use it and it takes a long time to cool, several hours ideally. If you can make it the day before that is best. You can also speed up the cooling process in the refrigerator.

For the Caramel

Put the sugar in a large heavy saucepan over low heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar melts, this will take a few minutes.

Once the sugar has all melted start adding the butter one piece at a time. Whisk until the butter is all melted between additions.

Wait about 3 seconds and then slowly add the cream. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Remove from heat.

Let cool in the pan for a bit and then pour, carefully, into a jar to store. Store in the refrigerator to cool.

Vanilla Cake Ingredients

2 sticks (16 Tablespoons) organic, unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups organic evaporated cane sugar

3 large organic eggs

2 1/4cups whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 Tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cups organic half and half (1 cup for high altitude)
3 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon pure cocoa powder

For the Vanilla Cake

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. (For high altitude I bake at 300˚)

Butter your 8″ springform cake pans, you will need 3 of them [or bake, cool, rinse, repeat...you see how this can quickly become a time commitment?].

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5 to 6 minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until creamy, occasionally scraping down sides of the bowl using a spatula.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a small bowl, mix together half & half and vanilla.

With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture, alternating with cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour; beat until just combined.

Divide batter into three even portions, using a kitchen scale is the best way to do this accurately. The first layer is baked as is so go ahead and pour into the pan.

The second layer you want a caramel color so add about ⅓ cup caramel to the batter, then turn into the pan.

The third layer also add 1/3 cup caramel too plus one Tablespoon of cocoa powder, then turn into its pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack before removing from pan.

Chocolate Cake Ingredients

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup pure cocoa

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

4 large organic eggs
1 1/2 cup organic evaporated cane sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fine salt

1 cup organic sour cream

For the Chocolate Cake

Preheat your oven to 350˚. (300˚ for high altitude. Butter your cake pans again and set aside.

Combine the butter, bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder using a double boiler method. Stir until chocolate and butter are melted and smooth.

Remove the pan of melted chocolate, and set aside, allowing to cool a bit while you combine the other ingredients.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and baking powder.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt until fluffy.

Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture, then the sour cream and then the rest of the flour mixture.

Divide the batter into three even portions again, and add about 2 Tablespoons of the chocolate mixture to one portion. Gauge the color. If you want it darker, add a touch more. Then pour the batter into its pan.

For the next layer, add a little more of the chocolate (about 1/4 cup). Again, gauge the color, and adjust as needed. Pour the batter into its pan.

Add the rest of the chocolate to the last layer. If it is not dark enough add a little more cocoa powder, and pour batter into its pan.

Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool in the pans about 20 minutes, and then remove to a wire rack.

Allow to cool completely before layering.

Chocolate Ganache Ingredients

24 oz organic semisweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups organic heavy cream

For the Chocolate Ganache

Place both the milk and the bittersweet chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler and heat and stir until completely melted and smooth. Place the heavy cream in a large bowl and pour the melted chocolate into it.

Whisk until smooth and homogenous.

Allow to cool slightly.

To Assemble The Cake

Place the chocolate cake layer on a cake board or serving plate. Smooth a layer of caramel over the top. Add the caramel color cake, followed by the caramel. Add the vanilla layer. Pour the warm ganache over the cake, allowing it to drip over the sides. Use a lazy susan cake stand and an offset spatula to smooth the ganache on the sides.

Optional: top with an orange peel rosette for a little something extra.

Single-Grain

Enjoy the chocolatey fruits of your long labors!
-Quelcy

Whole-Wheat Pancakes w/ Homemade Nutella & Homemade Whipped Cream

April 2014

What do you prioritize in a significant other?

Physical attraction? Intelligence? A sense of humor?

Brunch for Two

Those qualities are important, but I ask, what about brunch?

Beautiful Pancakes and Nutella

When brunching at a restaurant, will this Sig Fig candidate order strategically so as to maximize menu potential? Will we share and strike my desired balance of sweet and savory? When staying home, will brunch be a main item on our agenda? When it comes time for pancakes, will he take command of a skillet and flip that flapjack confidently? When it comes time for maple syrup, so help me god, if there is a plastic bottle shaped like a woman with racist undertones…NEXT!

Nutella Pancake Stack

However, when you find that guy who goes to bed thinking about bacon from the local butcher, shares wholeheartedly, and flips pancakes like a pro, well, even the brunch plate smiles in approval…

Happy Pancake Face

This brunch combination gives lots of reasons to smile! Whole-wheat pancakes are a more wholesome way to enjoy a lazy breakfast, and when you make the Nutella yourself, you eliminate some of those longer, questionable words from the ingredient list. You’ll feel free to lick the spoon, fork, knife, plate, container…all of it…with less guilt and more contentment.

Isn’t contentment what brunch is all about?

Homemade Nutella
Yield: 2 cups

Ingredients

1 cup hazelnuts
12 ounces dark, semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 Tablespoons hazelnut oil
1-2 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt, more or less depending upon your preference

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for about 12 minutes, until fragrant and the skins are blistered a little.

Wrap the hazelnuts in a kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove as much loose skin as possible, some will remain. Let cool completely.

Melt the chocolate using a Maria bath. Stir until smooth. Let cool slightly.

In a food processor (or in a Vitamix!), grind the hazelnuts until they form a paste. Add the oil, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt and continue processing until the mixture is as smooth as possible-or as smooth as you like. Add the melted chocolate, blend well, and then strain the mixture to remove any chunks of hazelnut that remain. The resulting homemade Nutella will be thin and somewhat runny and maybe even a little warm but it will thicken as it cools.

Store in an airtight container, and let it cool to room temperature.

Note: If your city insists on clinging to winter, and your apartment insists on letting all heat escape, your Nutella might solidify. You can put the glass container in a saucepan of gently simmering water (water level should not surpass the container height) or if you’re one of those microwave owning folks, you can nuke it for a bit, but be sure to watch it. Burnt Nutella would be really sad.

Nutella Spoon

Whole-Wheat Pancakes
Yield: ~ 10-12 thin pancakes

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 Tablespoons raw cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
1 Tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2-2 cups organic whole milk
1 large organic egg
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for skillet
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions

Whisk flours, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and the salt in a medium bowl, set aside.

Warm the milk until lukewarm, not hot (you should be able to keep your finger submerged for 10 seconds).

Whisk milk, butter, egg and the vanilla together until blended.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour milk mixture into the well and stir with a fork until mixed and only small clumps of flour remain. Do not over mix batter.

Heat a large skillet (or use griddle) over medium heat, and lightly brush skillet with melted butter.

Spoon a 1/4-cup of the batter onto the skillet and gently spread into a 4-inch circle.

When edges look dry and bubbles start to appear and pop on the top surfaces of the pancakes, turn over, about 2 minutes. Once flipped, cook 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked in the middle.

Nutella Pancake and Banana

Rum Whipped Cream

Ingredients

1 cup organic whipping cream
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 Tablespoons spiced rum

Directions

Chill the cream in a mixing bowl in the freezer until the cream just starts to freeze. Remove from the freezer. Add the vanilla and maple syrup.

Use a mixer, on medium speed, to beat until peaks begin to form.

Add the rum, and continue to mix until combined. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Single-Grain

May your brunches be filled with smiles!
-Quelcy

Revival in the From of Brunch (e2)

April 2014

What do you do to get your adrenaline pumping?

e2 chalkboard menu

For some, it’s leaping off cliffs or diving from moving airplanes. Not this girl. I prefer the adrenal rush of creative output in the face of a looming deadline. Event design is all about a looming deadline, which is part of why it’s a perfect fit for my passions.

Hot Sauce Beignets

Sriracha zeppoli with blue cheese dressing…the “wings of donuts” if you will

How quickly can I convert a space to make it feel completely different? How many ideas can I execute in the final minutes before guests arrive?

Blood Orange Beignets

Blood orange beignets.

When it came time to turn 30, my birthday party was everything I wanted it to be! I celebrated in the tone of red and commemorated my tradition of 30 little cakes for 30 years. Squeezing in every single detail (none of which would have been possible without my talented partner in crazed event design, Thommy Conroy) was just the type of looming deadline I referenced. Though I enjoyed every bit of planning and execution, the next morning, I was feeling the weight of every single detail.

I was exhausted!

Brussels Sprouts Mash

Bacon & Brussels Hash

I was exhausted, and thoroughly exhausted I would remain until the wonderfully reviving qualities of brunch at e2 began to take hold.

Polenta

Polenta

Mugs upon mugs of coffee, conversation and plates shared with my best friends did wonders for my exhausted self. Years ago, these friends and I had met in architecture school, pumping up this jam and slaving to meet the nearly impossible deadlines. We had met in this black and gold city, but it had been so long since we had shared it all together. How lucky we were to sit to brunch together, at one of my favorite places no less!

Pistachio French Toast Perfection

French toast with homemade nutella and pistachios.

Celebrating the milestone of 30 years had left me exhausted, but brunch revived me! While eating forkfuls from the same plates, our conversations covered several topics we never would have imagined as the 20-something versions of ourselves who first connected. Yet there we were, happy, full, natural and still just as magically young and radiant as those sleepless nights when we slaved over looming deadlines.

Single-Grain

May Your Brunches Be Reviving!
-Quelcy

A Brunch at Franktuary with Brunchburgh!

March 2014

Brunch, how do I love thee? The perfect mix of sweet and savory, the balance of mugs of uppers and bubbly downers doused in orange juice, the slow pace, the revelry, and the reviving effects of food on laziness… Brunch, I love you, and I could count the ways!

Franktuary Bar

Though I spend a lot of time thinking, writing, serving, and blogging about brunch, my passion for this portmanteau meal meets its rival in Brunchburgh, a weekly podcast which asks, “what is it like to have brunch with ______?”

Reflections and Recordings

Each week, founder Mary E. Stewart eats and records brunch with a different Pittsburgh mover and shaker [hence the "burgh" in Brunchburgh]. Listening to the show is a lot like sitting at the table with the interviewee, so don’t listen while hungry. ;)

Franktuary Pews

I was honored when Mary asked me to be a guest on the show (as if I need any extra excuse to eat brunch on a Sunday morning). The choice of “recording studio” was up to me, so I chose Frankutary, a restaurant I love but had yet to experience by morning.

Irish Whiskey Breakfast

Our Brunchburgh session happened to fall on St. Patrick Day Eve (though Pittsburghers seem to drink the entire week prior to the holiday as if every day were the “eve”). In honor of the Irish (or perhaps in honor of those hungover in honor of the Irish?), the chef at Franktuary had crafted a themed menu [fastest way to my heart is through a theme!]. Though many options were appealing, one clearly stood out amongst the rest- the Irish Whiskey Breakfast. It appealed so much, Mary broke gluten rules, and I broke my own rule of not ordering the same thing as a table mate [it's all the better for sampling when everyone has something different].

The Irish Whiskey Breakfast Plate

If you’re curious about the above meal, how I received my name, or what it’s like to have brunch with me in general, give a listen to this episode of Brunchburgh with yours truly.

Single-Grain

Happy Listening!
-Quelcy

Juice of the Week: Spice Up Your Life with Red Pepper & Citrus

March 2014

Remember this one…?

When you’re feelin’ sad and low
We will take you where you gotta go
Smiling dancing everything is free
All you need is positivity

Colors of the world
Spice up your life
Every boy and every girl
Spice up your life
People of the world
Spice up your life, aahh

Red Pepper Juice

Even you music snobs are probably picturing the Union Jack molded onto chunky platform heels. Despite the pervasive nature of those lyrics [#sorryimnotsorry as they say], I recently lost myself to a bout of nostalgia in the form of 90s pop music [can you name a Jock Jams song off the top of your head?] and recalling those songs put a smile on my face! Oh how time has shed so much light on young Quelcy’s naiveté. Little did my friends and I know what those ladies meant by “slam your body down and wind it all around” while we choreographed our backyard dance routine.

Red Pepper Juice and Florals

Heed the words of those spicy ladies and spice up your life with this red pepper, citrus and ginger juice! You’ll thank me for this combination more than you’ll thank me for the lyrics now swimming in your head.

Red Pepper & Citrus

Ingredients

7 organic navel oranges, peeled
4 lemons, peeled
4 oz fresh ginger, peeled
3 lbs organic carrots
2 organic red peppers

Directions

Combine according to your juicer’s instructions.

Juice of the Week documents my goal to drink fresh juice daily (made in batches weekly).

Single-Grain

Santé!
-Quelcy

Homemade Spelt Cheez-Its

March 2014

Behind the varieties of vitamins, shelves of whole grains, organic condiments and the very purposeful lack of corn syrup, there was a dirty little, salty, orange secret: a Cheez-It vice!

Cheddar and PreBake

“I didn’t want to tell you this,” he said, “but I eat a few handulls of Cheez-Its a day.” I tried to receive this confession without returning a look of judgment, but that, my friends, is when I decided to experiment with a counter offer: a whole-grain, homemade version of that snack so many apparently still love.

Baked Cheezits

Staring into the eye of the Cheez-It ingredient monster is pretty daunting. The list is fairly long and questionable. Making crackers in your own kitchen is surprisingly simple and wholesome, and though the first bite tastes a little unfamiliar, the flavor finishes like a Cheez-It. I’d still like to experiment with making these classics (rolled thinner, different grain, etc), but in the meantime, these little squares passed the test, so give this rendition a go! The salty snacker in your life will be glad you did!

One cheezit

Homemade Cheez-Its
makes about 7-8 dozen crackers

Ingredients

6 ounces (1 1/2 cups coarsely grated) good-quality sharp cheddar, orange-colored if you want the authentic Cheez-It color
4 Tablespoons (2 ounces) cold, organic unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3/4 cup spelt flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (optional: additional salt for sprinkling on top)

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a food processor, running the machine until the dough forms a ball, about two minutes.

Shape the dough into two separate disks, wrap in plastic wrap, + chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

While the dough is chilling, preheat oven to 350°F.

When dough is cool, place between two pieces of wax paper, parchment paper, or silicone mats, + using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a rectangle about 1/8-inch thick.

Using a pastry wheel (to get the fancy edges seen above) or a pizza wheel, cut the dough into a grid of 1-inch squares. use a toothpick or skewer to punch a hole into the center of each square. (note: as a salty snack lover, i sprinkled a bit of additional salt on top at this point.)

Return the cut dough (still on the parchment/waxed paper/silicone mat) to the refrigerator for 10 minutes – this allows the dough to firm back up, which makes it super easy to transfer the individual crackers to a baking sheet prior to baking.

Transfer individual crackers to a parchment or silicone mat-lined cookie sheet, leaving about 1/2-inch between crackers. bake at 350°F for 11-14 minutes, until crackers are puffed up + just starting to turn golden at the edges.

If you pull them out too soon + the crackers don’t have the desired crispiness you want, simply return them to the oven for 1-2 more minutes. remove from the oven and set the cookie sheet on a wire rack to cool.

Single-Grain

Happy Snacking!
-Quelcy

Juice of the Week: Citrus, Carrot, Ginger & Celery

March 2014

Though deceivingly portable, eating an orange is complicated. The thick flesh’s release of those fragrant oils forms an unpredictable splash zone, and each bite is a gamble. Will there be a seed? Will the bite result in a spray of juice dribbling down the chin and hand? Despite the labors of peeling and the mess of dribbling, the orange’s ability to refresh and hydrate redeems its splash zone demerits. 

Orange Lemon Juice 01

Cut a slice from your morning routine to supreme some citrus for this Juice of the Week concoction. Though the juices will surely pool on your cutting board, one messy session will result in several glasses of gingery citrus sipping, and that is a very refreshing notion indeed! Plus, this recipe sneaks in some celery for extra greens in your day, and you won’t even notice.

Orange Lemon Juice 02

Citrus Carrot Ginger
makes ~2 quarts

Ingredients

3 lbs organic carrots
~4 oz fresh ginger, peeled (I like a prominent, spicy ginger flavor. Reduce quantity if you like a milder accent)
1 organic heart of celery
7 organic navel oranges, peeled
6 organic lemons, peeled

Directions

Combine according to your juicer’s instructions.

Juice of the Week documents my goal to drink fresh juice daily (made in batches weekly).

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Santé!
-Quelcy

A Giveaway: The Farm to Table Conference Tasting Event

March 2014

The way the birds are chirping adds so much spring to the air despite the lingering chill. I can’t help but long for tables stretching over grassy pastures, tomatoes bursting with the sweetness of a dessert, the aroma of basil and mint carried by warm breezes, and bronze shoulders exposed by slipping sundress straps. As the anticipation grows for spring’s rebirth, we can take comfort in the local goodness our region has to offer, and one lucky winner will enjoy that local goodness even more at the annual Farm to Table Conference.

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The Annual Farm to Table Conference
Friday & Saturday, March 21st & 22nd

from 10am-5pm each day
at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center

This year’s theme is Food Sources, which supports the Farm to Table Conference’s mission to connect the community to local farms and food producers. Attendees will have the chance to sample local foods from more than 70 vendors, as well as hear speakers, including the Keynote Speaker, Judy Wicks, the founder of White Dog Café and author of Good Morning, Beautiful Business: the Unexpected Journey of an Activist Entrepreneur and Local Economy Pioneer.

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Giveaway: Two Tickets to the Friday Night Local Food Tasting

Day one of the conference concludes with a Local Food Tasting from 5-8pm, on Friday, March 21, 2014. I’m giving away a pair of tickets to one lucky reader to enjoy this relaxed gathering of farm exhibitors and like-minded locavores.

To Enter
The Local Food Tasting will feature several of the region’s best food, wine and beer purveyors. To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below telling me which vendor you’re most excited to try [and tell me why if you're feeling extra communicative]. On Thursday, March 20th, I’ll announce a random winner.  

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Winner, winner, Local Foods Dinner…
The Winner is Kezia. Hope you enjoy something from 5 Generation Bakers!

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Good Luck!
-Quelcy

ps: You can also purchase tickets to the conference here.

A Pizza Pie for Pi(e) Day

March 14, 2014

Depending on your level of cynicism (here’s looking at yours, Will C.), today is either a day for nerds to enjoy being punny or a day for pun lovers to pretend to be math nerds. Why?

Salad and Pizza

March 14 = 3/14
Pi= 3.14
Pi sounds like Pie and voila! National Pi Day is born [an excuse to eat pie, make pi references and test your ability to recall the endless digits beyond the 4].

Fennel Craisin Salad

Since I like to eat a salad with my pizza, might I suggest:
Spinach, Fennel, Feta, Cranberry & Chia Seeds with Homemade Dijon Vinaigrette

I fall somewhere between nerd and pun lover, but I’m definitely a theme enthusiast, which might explain my exuberant devotion to Pi(e) Day.

Salmon Pesto Pizza

In honor of today, I bring you a super simple method for an individual pizza using one of my favorite flavor combinations. I love sharing a more official version of this pizza with friends and watching their faces savor what’s in their mouths. Then we all ask ourselves, “why isn’t this on pizza menus everywhere?!?”

One Slice

My Favorite Pizza

Whole-wheat pita or a pizza crust
Pesto
Goat Cheese
Smoked Salmon
Black Olives
Capers
Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese, grated
Fresh basil when it’s in season

Arrange the ingredients to your liking. If you’re making the quick pita style, heat it in the toaster oven for an easy, delicious lunch. If you’re making a pizza crust, prepare the crust according to instructions and then bake in the oven at 425 degrees until the goat cheese is melted and softened and crust is warm, about 10-15 minutes.

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Happy Pi(e) Day!
-Quelcy

Happy Pi(e) Day!

March 14, 2014

It’s March 14th (3/14), which means it’s time for math nerds and pun enthusiasts to unite around the idea of pi(e).

Pi Pie

In honor of my nerdy, punny self, here’s a roundup of some of my own pie recipes:

Chocolate Pecan Pie
Star Spangled Blueberry & Cherry Pie
Maple & Apple Handpies
Lemon Honey Tart With Salted Cardamom Shortbread Crust
Maple Mousse Pie
White Cheddar & Cinnamon Apple Pie
Strawberry Lemon Basil Meringue Pie

and more!

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Happy Pi(e) Day!
-Quelcy

Garnets & Ganache: Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Espresso Ganache

February 2014

Long ago, I made my sister a cheesy, craft-fair style plaque boasting “I’d give up chocolate, but I’m no quitter.”

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Photo by Joey Kennedy.

As country craft as that little plaque may have been, truer words about our family were never spoken. Persistance and chocolate were probably secretly woven into our Kogel crest, so my birthday would not have been complete without an element of chocolate, especially when the theme for my 30th was Garnets & Ganache.

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Photo by Joey Kennedy.

As part of my birthday cake tradition of making one, miniature, beautiful cake for each year of life, I used a large cupcake pan and inverted the cupcakes to create these decadent cakelettes. Follow suit if you’re feeling fancy, or follow the instructions for a layered 8-inch cake (which is fancy in its own right).

Whole-Wheat Chocolate Cake with Espresso Ganache

Ingredients

Butter, for greasing the pans

1 3/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour, plus more for pans
2 cups organic evaporated cane sugar
3/4 cups pure cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup organic greek yogurt
1/4 cup organic milk
1/2 cup olive oil
2 extra-large, organic eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee or espresso

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans or cupcake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

In the bowl of a mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder.

In a separate bowl, combine the yogurt, milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.

With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Pour warm ganache over the cakes and form a layer cake, or spread evenly over the cupcakes.

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Espresso Ganache

8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
1 heaping teaspoon instant coffee granules

3/4 cup heavy cream

Directions

Bring the cream and coffee granules to a boil, in a saucepan over medium heat.

Remove from heat and add the chocolate, whisking to combine. Allow to cool slightly before pouring over cake.

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Bon Appétit!
-Quelcy

Juice of the Week: Greens for Spring

March 2014

The sun is shining. The birds are chirping. The gray chunks of disgusting curbside ice are dissipating ever so steadily, and rather than layering in 18 articles of clothing, I’m down to maybe 9 or 10. I’ve learned letting my bitterly cold, wintry guard down in Pittsburgh often results in a blizzard in my un-scarfed face, but I’m starting to embrace the potential for spring ever so cautiously.

Green Juice

As the newly revealed muck transforms to bright greens, here’s a sipper to match the preliminary signs of spring popping up around us [unless of course, you're one of the fortunate/smart ones to live in a consistently sunny, springy locale].

Green Juice and Book

Spring Greens Juice

Ingredients

2 organic hearts of romaine
2 organic zucchinis, peeled
1 organic heart of celery
~4 oz ginger, peeled
2 heads of organic broccoli
6 organic d’anjou pears

Directions

Combine according to your juicer’s instructions.

Juice of the Week documents my goal to drink fresh juice daily (made in batches weekly).

Single-Grain

Santé!
-Quelcy

Garnets & Ganache: Cranberry Almond Cake with White Chocolate Ganache

February 2014

Collaboration is at the heart of so many of my endeavors. Having another brain at work not only keeps me sane, but partnerships have that way of pushing and prodding an idea toward a better solution. When I told my Harvest & Gather partner about my Birthday Cake Tradition, he proved once again how a fresh set of eyes can challenge the norm.

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Photo by Joey Kennedy.

Since I was 26 or so, I have been celebrating my birthday with a fancy mini cake for each year of life. This is my tradition and any “rules” involved are of my own making. When I explained this, Thommy very simply asked, “Can the cakes be different varieties?” It was such a simple question, and yet, I had never really though to add variety to my ever growing number of sweets. Sharing, however, was always a must. Thus, I came to add a few more recipes to the collection, and hence the steady flow of garnet reds and ganache on this little corner of the interwebs.

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Photo by Joey Kennedy.

Almond Cranberry Cake with White Chocolate Ganache

Note: The recipe calls for a bundt pan. I used a smaller springform pan and cupcake pans for the remaining batter in an effort to have many, smaller cakes. If you also decide to use a different pan, adjust the baking time accordingly.

Ingredients

3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups organic evaporated cane sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup organic almond milk
2 organic eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 cup organic greek yogurt

3 cups homemade cranberry sauce

Garnish

White Chocolate Ganache (recipe below)
Slivered almonds
Raspberries

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; sift together.

In a separate bowl combine milk, eggs, oil, almond extract and yogurt; whisk together.

Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and stir together (this batter will be very thick).

When liquid and dry ingredients are completely incorporated together, stir in cranberry sauce.

Pour cake batter into a well-greased Bundt pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes; until toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes in Bundt pan, remove cake from pan and place on serving plate.

Allow cake to cool completely on serving plate.

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White Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients

8 ounces good quality white chocolate (such as Callebaut)
3/4 cup organic heavy cream

Directions

Using a sharp, heavy serrated knife or a chocolate chopper, finely chop the chocolate. It’s important to chop it finely so that it melts quickly. Transfer to a medium bowl.

Bring heavy cream just to a boil, and pour over chopped chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.

Stir the mixture vigorously until it reaches the desired thickness or consistency.

*Note: I drizzled the ganache over the cakes when it was still quite warm and liquid, making it more like a glaze. Allowing it to cool more will result in a more solid spread. 

Single-Grain

Bon Appétit!
-Quelcy

Pancakes, Plaids & Plums

February/March 2014

Snow be damned.
Schedules be damned.
Saturdays and Sundays are made for pancakes… and plaids and plums and perfectly alliterative, relaxing mornings. When the plaid bearer is a flapjack-flipping professional, the result is a most lovely stack of buckwheat wholesomeness. Though I do love maple syrup more than most people, sometimes a stack of pancakes calls for a dollop or two of something fancy.

Pancakes and Plaid

In my world, these weekend ‘cakes paired perfectly with a bright red, roasted plum sauce leftover from a Valentine’s Day festivity and a hearty spoonful of rum-whipped cream, but I bring these recipes to you just in time for National Pancake Day.

Pancakes and Plums

Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes w/ Orange-Cranberry Roasted Plums & Rum Whipped Cream

Orange-Cranberry Sugar
(to be used on the roasted plums)

Ingredients

2 organic oranges, zested
2 cups organic evaporated cane juice sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 cup chopped fresh cranberries, chopped

Directions

Combine all ingredients together in a jar, and stir to combine.

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Roasted Plums

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter
*2/3 cup orange-cranberry sugar (recipe below)
2/3 cup orange juice
8 large purple or red plums, (about 1 1/2 pounds), halved and pitted

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place butter in a 3-quart shallow baking dish; melt in preheating oven, about 3 minutes.

Add honey and orange juice to dish; stir until combined.

Arrange plums, cut side down, in baking dish.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove pan, and flip plums. Spoon juices over plums, and then sprinkle with orange-cranberry sugar.

Return to oven for 10 minutes more, or until tender and juicy. If needed, add 1 to 2 Tablespoons of water to dish to prevent scorching.

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Rum Whipped Cream

Ingredients

1 cup organic whipping cream
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 Tablespoons spiced rum

Directions

Chill the cream in a mixing bowl in the freezer until the cream just starts to freeze. Remove from the freezer. Add the vanilla and maple syrup.

Use a mixer, on medium speed, to beat until peaks begin to form.

Add the rum, and continue to mix until combined. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Single-Grain

Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes
Makes 14 to 15 4-inch pancakes, serves 2-3

Ingredients

Olive oil for coating the pan

1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

3 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter, melted

1 organic egg
2 cups organic buttermilk

Directions

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Pour the melted butter over the dry ingredients and start stirring.

Beat the egg with a fork and stir it into half of the buttermilk.

Add the buttermilk/egg mixture to the dry ingredients, then slowly add in the rest of the buttermilk as needed to get to the right consistency for your batter (you may not need all of the buttermilk, depending on what type of buttermilk you are using and the brand of flour).

Stir only until everything is combined. Do not overmix. A few lumps are fine.

Heat a well-seasoned griddle, cast iron skillet, or stick-free pan on medium heat. Put a small amount (a half teaspoon) of olive oil on the pan or griddle and swirl it around to coat the pan.

Ladle the batter onto the hot surface to the desired size, about 4-5 inches wide.

Reduce the heat to medium-low.

Allow the pancake to cook for 2-3 minutes on this first side. Watch for bubbles on the surface of the pancake. When air bubbles start to rise to the surface at the center of the pancake, flip the pancake. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Keep your pancakes warm on a rack in the oven set on “warm,” or stack them on a plate and cover with a towel as you make more. Spread more oil on the pan as needed between batches of pancakes.

Serve with roasted plums and whipped cream.

Single-Grain

Happy Feasting (if that’s your Tuesday night thing)!
-Quelcy

Garnets & Ganache: Lemon Ginger Cake w/ Lemon Syrup & Chocolate Ganache

February 2014

On January 21st, I hit the big 3-0, and on February 1st, I shared 30 cakes with friends. This is my tradition- one mini cake for each year of life. I hope to some day make 100 mini cakes and share them with equally crazy, vibrant people as this year, but I am perfectly content to enjoy 30 while it lasts.

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Photo by Joey Kennedy.

This year, there were a few varieties counted amongst the total, one of which was a musical lemon-ginger. Since the party theme was Garnets & Ganache, the finishing touch was chocolate ganache of course.

Cakes and Tunes

Photos by Joey Kennedy.

Lemon Ginger Cake with Lemon Syrup & Chocolate Ganache

This recipe calls for a bundt pan. I used a large sheet pan in order to cut mini layers from the whole. If you use a sheet pan, adjust the baking time accordingly. Mine took about 25 minutes.

Ingredients

3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup minced crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) organic unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
2 1/2 cups turbinado pure cane sugar

6 large organic eggs
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)

1 cup organic Greek yogurt

Lemon syrup (recipe below)
Chocolate Ganache (recipe below)
Powdered Sugar & Candied Ginger for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a standard 12-cup bundt pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, lemon zest, ginger, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and granulated sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; mix in lemon juice.

With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture in three parts and Greek yogurt in two, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until incorporated (do not overmix). Spoon batter into prepared pan, and smooth top with a rubber spatula. Firmly tap pan on a work surface to level batter.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes (if cake browns too quickly, tent loosely with aluminum foil).

Brush the cake with lemon syrup, to taste.

Let cake cool in pan 30 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Single-Grain

Candied Lemon Slices & Syrup

*I made candied lemons for a different cake and used the reserve of syrup for this lemon-ginger cake. Since you’ll be starting from scratch, go ahead and add the candied lemons to this cake. I’m sure it will be delicious!

Ingredients

3/4 cups pure cane sugar
1/3 cup water
2 lemons, thinly sliced

Directions

Place the sugar and water in a large saucepan over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar.

Add the lemon slices and bring to the boil.

Cook for 12-15 minutes or until the syrup has thickened and lemon slices are translucent.

Pour some of the syrup* over the cake and top with the lemon slices. Allow to cool and serve.

*You can use any leftover syrup as a simple syrup in cocktails or add to homemade whipped cream and then dollop into your morning coffee.

Single-Grain

Dark Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients

8 ounces organic, semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup organic heavy cream

Directions

Bring the cream to a boil, in a saucepan over medium heat.

Remove from heat and add the chocolate, whisking to combine.

Allow to cool slightly, and then pour over cake and use an offset spatula to spread evenly.

Single-Grain

Bon Appétit!
-Quelcy

Garnets & Ganache because I’m Thirty.

Assuming everyone I meet is somehow magically my age, I began to bemoan the utter confusion so many of my friends and I have experienced to a new acquaintance, “Uuuuugh, the early and mid-twenties can really suck. Promised so much success if you do x and y, you’re weighted with all the accolades you were supposed to achieve, and then suddenly the bottom just drops out beneath you.”

Continuing along until I had sufficiently beaten the twenties into oblivion, I turned to this new acquaintance and finally asked, “How old are you?”

“22.”

Shit.

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[Fails to backtrack, inserts foot in mouth, pats girl's back metaphorically...pat, pat, pat] “What I meant was…haaaang tight kiddo, it’s going to get so much better [smiles with feigned enthusiasm].”

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Mistake me not. I enjoyed my twenties. Much to the confusion of many around me, I meandered instead of a taking a direct path. Though that path often left me questioning just about everything, I wouldn’t be where I am today without all those tiny, quirky, questionable steps along the way.

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So here I am.

THIRTY years old. While that is mind-blowing and unbelievable, it’s also completely inspiring and surprisingly comfortable. The decades leading to this big number change were about discovery and finding out what makes me leap from bed. Now, thirty is about diving in headfirst. If my twenties were the maps, thirty is the plane ticket and passport in hand, and that, my friends, calls for a celebration(s)!

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A celebration in the tone of red to be exact…

Garnets and Ganache Invite

Inspired by my birthstone, my love of chocolate and my affinity for alliteration, Garnets & Ganache transpired thanks to the efforts of my Harvest & Gather partner, Thommy Conroy.

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One of my birthday traditions is to bake a mini, layered cake for each year of life I am celebrating. Contrary to popular doubt [haters gonna hate; cake bakers gonna bake], I continued this tradition in my third decade [yes, 30 is a LOT of cake, but tradition is tradition].

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I even wore heels for the occasion. Those who know me, know this is rare, so rare they barely recognized me.

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Being surrounded by good friends, my favorite color and lots of chocolate filled me with smiles and gratitude and solidified my start to a new decade.

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This love and I have a deep bond commemorated by Black Velvet, and she managed to find me a chocolate bear bearing Black Velvet, the Canadian whiskey. Winner winner!

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Do you see the resemblance to a certain #JulepOfTheDay? Thanks Sylvan for this amazing find!

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Never fret. If your cake doesn’t have candles, just grab a candlestick and enjoy the song!

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What happens when Taboo meets Charades? Our entertainment for the night was the game “Celebrity,” and it left me with mental images I’ll never forget, specifically when it comes to this guy  “twerking.”

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How much do I LOVE this glasses-clad girl! She drove all the way from DC to celebrate me! Our love is the forever kind.

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Where would I be without these creative ladies (left and right) constantly brightening my days and proving shorthaired girls have more fun?

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Bring it 30. I’m ready for you! I’m ready for your youthful wisdom and purposeful drive!

Single-Grain

XoXo,
-The Birthday Girl

P.S: Stay tuned to Harvest & Gather for more memorable events and check out the Garnets & Ganache recipes:

Lemon Ginger Cake w/ Lemon Syrup & Chocolate Ganache
Cranberry Almond Cake with White Chocolate Ganache

P.P.S: Thanks to Joey Kennedy for documenting my memorable evening with such beautiful photos!

P.P.P. S: This is a great article about coming into your 30s. 

A Birthday By Day & By Night

January 21, 2014

Recently, the Pittsburgh Urbanist Guide interviewed me as part of the 3 Meals & A Bar series. The premise for the questionnaire is if you only had 24 hours to show a friend the best that urban Pittsburgh has to offer, where would you take them? As it turns out, my answers were very similar to how I chose to show myself around on my own special day…my THIRTIETH special day no less!

La Gourmandine

Every January 21st begins with a ritual- I acknowledge 8:36am, the precise moment when I entered this world. I know this time because as the baby of the family, there were several people to take note of important details like birth times. I acknowledge this time faithfully because I am quirky and crazy I suppose. With my precise birthday moment properly recognized, it was time for breakfast, and a breakfast of birthday champions should begin at La Gourmandine, so that it did!

Birthday Pastries

My lovely friend Dana accompanied me on my snowy morning to the warm, bright place where pastry dreams come true [in the form of almond croissants for this dreamer]. Dana generously gifted me a bite of her clafouti too [that sounds dirty. It was not. It was pure, innocent and delicious].

La Gourmandine Almond Croissant

Full and content from a perfectly almond-laced croissant and caffeinated from one of my favorite cappuccinos, I spent the afternoon with my favorite four-legged friend, hiking in the snowy woods and cityscapes of our neighborhood until she was plum tuckered and ready to snuggle. Those tired eyes were singing “happy birthday to you.”

Hike and Cuddle

Snow treks, snuggles and one perfectly relaxing massage later, I was ready to indulge in one of my favorite menus with two of my favorite people…

Meat and Potatoes Bar

You guessed it… Meat & Potatoes!

Meat and Potatoes Place Setting

Girls and Cocktails

Favorite faces and the cocktail that could make an alcoholic out of me- the Sgt. Pepper’s Old Fashioned

Poutine is basically a birthday cake waiting for a candle, and there were plenty, plenty more birthday treats where that came from.

Meat and Potatoes Poutine

Not quite a full 3 Meals & A Bar lineup, but my 30th birthday was a day comprised of a few of my favorite Pittsburgh offerings, with a few of the people who matter most to me. That was merely the beginning. After all, I mentioned how much I like to milk my birthday month for festivities, so obviously, there was still more in store, and that “more” included LOTS of cake!

How do you celebrate your day of birth?

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Happy Birthday To Me!
-Quelcy