Author Archives: withthegrains

About withthegrains

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

Instagram Lately: 2000 Ways to Keep Occupied

July 2014

On weekends when all activities hinge on cooperative skies, gray mist can be a monochromatic motivation sucker. I had to choose a coffee shop for a meeting and make evening plans, and every option felt utterly exhausted. Nothing in this city felt new, and spending money on the same old felt futile. Then mentally, my mother pointed her finger at me in that tisk, tisk, tisk way, “Oh you’re bored? Would you like to fold some laundry? I didn’t think so. What do you propose you do instead?”

Wine Cheese Friends

Not laaaaaaaundry! Noooooooo!

Time to be a little creative à la wine, cheese and game night with good friends. It was the perfect solution. After tipsy laughter and competition, I returned to seeing the city as a place of possibilities. Lots of new and exciting elements are popping up, and others have existed unbeknownst to me. I tried my very first Pizza Boat pie (there will be more!). I had my first brunch at a restaurant I like and learned the transformative power of using sushi style salmon in eggs benedict (I might not be able to go back to lox. I may be screwed). I watched my dog delight in fountain fun.

Thommy of Ikea

I snapped my 2000th Instagram photo, and if I step back enough, that 2000th photo was a reminder of how a camera, even a phone camera, can help the everyday to hold more possibilities, more documentable moments, more beauty.

In conclusion, gray days come and go, but life is about laundry or living, ie, “Quelcy, get over yourself and do something.”

What do your Instagrams reveal lately?



P.S: You can follow my Instagram adventures here.

A Perfect Summer Burger

July 2014

If a foreigner were to lump me into the ultra white, New Balance sneaker class of tourist, I would be offended. If a foreigner were to fault me for putting Bush into office, again, I would take offense. If a foreigner were to assume I eat a lot of cheeseburgers, I might just have to shrug and embrace the truth in his or her assumption.

Julep and the Burger

Thus, when the 4th of July rolled around, and my dear friend with a hospitable deck suggested sushi, I humbly objected. Burgers; burgers are American. In the end, I do believe everyone thanked me for it (not to toot my own horn; just to encourage you should you be feeling bullied into sushi).

Mega Burger

What a perfect burger it was: grilled, grass-fed, organic, hand-formed patties, with cheddar, avocado, egg, greens and a toasted bun. Knowing this burger would be the star of the BBQ gathering, I prepared an equally impressive dessert. More on that to come!


Patriotically yours,

#TBT: Even A Beginner Can Make A Scrumptious Cake

July 2014

Do you like cooking but hesitate to venture into baking? Does your sweet tooth beckon, but you ignore its pleas? Fret no more! Even a beginner can make scrumptious cakes. Allow the folks of Mixer-Maid to encourage you and take kitchen efforts to new heights.


#TBT (Throw Back Thursdays) glimpse into the vintage visual feasts in my personal collection of food and entertaining books.


Happy Baking!

A Wednesday Wander: A Cosmic Park in Jaipur, India

A Wander From Jaipur, India in December 2012

As a little girl, I did my fair share of cloud staring, but what really sparked my curiosity were spaces and design. I channeled most of my musings into drawings and living room theater productions. Whether it was the religious backdrop of my childhood or my natural inclinations, science was sort of lost on me. For that reason, I am in awe of the intense, sky-staring curiosity that manifests as a park of mammoth instruments… à la Jantar Mantar in Jaipur, India!

Astrology Park and Fort

Jantar (“instrument”) Mantar (“calculation” or “formula”) is an astronomical observation site. It constitutes the most significant and best preserved set of fixed monumental instruments built in India in the first half of the 18th century; some of them are the largest ever built in their categories. Designed for the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye, the monumental masonry installations embody several architectural and instrumental innovations.

To this day, the observatory is used by astrologers, for instance to calculate the auspicious date for weddings. Students of astronomy and Vedic astrology (Jyotish) are required to take lessons at the observatory, and it can be said that the observatory is the single most representative work of Vedic thought that still survives, apart from the scriptures.

(Learn even more here)

Astrology Park_Observatory Deck

Rashivalaya Yantras (pictured above)
A group of twelve instruments, with a graduated quadrants on both the sides, used to find the direct determination of celestial latitude and longitude.

Astrology Park Jai Prakash Yantra

Jai Prakash Yantra (pictured above)
A map of the visible heavens is inscribed on the inner surface of the bowls, with additional scales (including the zodiacal divisions of the year) around the rim. A small ring is suspended from cross wires. Its shadow projects the position of the sun onto the inscribed celestial map.

Astrology Park Observatory

In the midst of meandering amongst all these scientific, cosmological structures, I found my way into an Aquarian corner. While we’re talking heavens and stars (and maybe love and life?), how about a little astrological musing for my fellow Aquarians?

Aquarius Quelcy

Your romantic side is flying high today, Aquarius! The opposite sex in general, and your own partner in particular, are going to seem especially attractive to you. You could also see in an entirely different light in someone you think of as a friend. An increasingly busy social life is in the air, so expect some invitations to parties or other social events.

Your work ethic is especially strong today so use it. You have the stamina to put your nose to the grindstone for many long hours. Work overtime if you can. The rewards will be plentiful and it will certainly earn big points with the people in charge.

Pretty good, right?


Here’s to the Heavens!

A Wednesday Wander is a way to revisit journeys past and work my way through my many photos and journals that might otherwise collect proverbial dust. Thanks for wandering with me!

Picolé de Milho Verde (Icy Cold Corn Popsicles)

 July 2014

Knee-high by the 4th of July, as the corn growing saying goes, means I am seasonally jumping the gun with these icy cold, corn popsicles. However, once I saw this recipe, the notion of corn for dessert was too tempting to wait for late summer’s bounty. I took advantage of the grocery store’s first kernels, yielding a pop so sweet and creamy, I’m dreaming of the 2.0 version to come when husks and tassels fill the farmers markets.

Mold and Popsicle

I altered the recipe below ever so slightly from Food52. The author’s adaptation referenced a popular Brazilian dessert, but being of Nebraskan roots, I like to think of this refreshing treat as a way to use more of summer’s sweetness in a day. You do know you can take the girl out of Nebraska, but you can’t take the Cornhusker out of the girl, right?

Corn Popsicles

Picolé de Milho Verde (Corn Popsicle)
adapted from Food52
makes 8 popsicles


4 ears of organic and/or local corn
2 cups organic, full-fat coconut milk
4 Tablespoons organic agave syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 400° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Slice corn kernels off ears and put on baking sheet. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until soft and starting to brown. Remove from oven and cool.

Stir agave and vanilla extract into coconut milk and microwave for about 30 seconds, to dissolve the sugar.

Use a food processor or blender to combine corn, coconut milk, agave, vanilla and salt until as smooth as possible.

Pour liquid into pop molds.

Freeze overnight, and then enjoy the sweetcorn goodness!


Go Huskers!

Instagram Lately: We Humans Are A Funny Breed

July 2014

Overheard this past week:

“Excuse me, how do we get to the goats?”

“Quiche- it’s the only vegetable that begins with a Q.” [said in all seriousness]

“I’m leaving for my trip on the next Full Moon.”
“Oh? I’m leaving on the next New Moon.”

Pie and Greens

We humans are a funny breed, both for what we say and do. We bring goats to a field of invasive plants and pretend it’s an innovative idea. We shed tears over a ball kicked by the wrong feet. We torture our pups for the perfect picture of pie. We perch on ladders precariously while texting and tagging, and we merge meals into one beautiful excuse to take everything slowly on Sundays.

Gold Gold Props

…but these are the funny, quirky moments which keep me going, keep me snapping pics and keep me blissfully feeling creative and inspired, and keep me wishing Quiche were a vegetable.

What do your Instagrams reveal lately?



P.S: You can follow my Instagram adventures here.

#TBT: Pause for Living

July 2014

Do you ever feel stuck in a week that seems to lag and lap you all at the same time? Welcome to my July 7th through present moment. In the spirit of such a sprinting stasis, this vintage Coca Cola publication delivers a wonderful reminder to…


In between attempts to fire off a few more emails, edit a few more photos, and spray paint a few more fronds, I’ll pause and appreciate the visit I had with the best friend from out of town, the unexpected burger dinner with my dad, and the massive party I’m going to work/attend on Friday (hence the fronds). If only I could pause for a little lady luncheon like this…


#TBT (Throw Back Thursdays) glimpse into the vintage visual feasts in my personal collection of food and entertaining books.


Happy Pausing!

A Wednesday Wander: Produce in Puerto Rico

A Wander from Rincon & San Juan, Puerto Rico in September 2011

When you see a rather peculiar man, on the side of a busy road, wielding a machete, do you stop to say hello?

The Coconut Stand

If that man is wielding that machete to cut into coconuts, then hellllll yes (but you still might want to adhere to the buddy system just in case the coconuts are a trap…a refreshing, tropical trap)!

Quelcy and the Coconut Stand

Bananas are another story. I’m not one to nick a ‘nana from a laden truck.

Truck o Bananas

Had it been a mango truck, this may have been a different story.


Bon Voyage!

A Wednesday Wander is a way to revisit journeys past and work my way through my many photos and journals that might otherwise collect proverbial dust. Thanks for wandering with me!

Instagram Lately: Farms, Fireworks & Freedom Ringing

July 2014

Business loving, acronym fools love to preach the merits of setting S.M.A.R.T goals:

Specific: Target a specific area for improvement.
Measurable: Quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
Assignable: Specify who will do it.
Realistic: State what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
Time-related: Specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

Farm and Food

This 4th & 5th of July, I should have received a trophy, a ribbon and my name on a plaque for the achievement of my S.M.A.R.T goals. If I had had to submit a goal proposal, it would have read something like this:

Specific: I would like to make a cherry pie. 
Measurable: I would like to make one pie and eat a hamburger and corn on the cob on a sunny deck. I would like to see at least one fireworks display.
Assignable: I will make a pie. Chris will grill organic, grass-fed, free-range, hand-formed hamburgers. Thommy will make a patriotic gathering to keep the party going. Dana will make sure my minty bourbon cup runneth over. The city will fire off smiley faces and weeping willows and saturns over the rivers and bridges.  
Realistic: I’m ambitious. I will achieve all of these goals!
Time-related: These goals shall transpire for the 4th of July, and while we’re at it, let’s just keep going on the 5th and then lazily enjoy waffles on the 6th, while basking in the glory of our goal achievement.  

4th and 5th of July

Baaaaaaam! Success! Woooooohoooooo!

[this might be why I don't work for corporate America]

Did you achieve all your Independence Day goals every so smartly?


Ever so ambitiously yours,

ps: You can follow my Instagram adventures here.

Mash Tour: The Brooklyn Brewery Comes to Pittsburgh

June 2014 

When I had a day job with a 401(k) and all that responsible “stuff,” I shared an office with a Brooklyn transplant who felt a burning desire to tell me the numerous reasons why I was living in the wrong city. Am I a diehard Pittsburgher? Not at all. Does Brooklyn make my heart melt? Sure. Do I want to live there? Of course. Do I want to pay rent there? Hell no. Do I need someone telling me daaaay in and daaaaay out why my Brooklyn clock is ticking? No thanks, I’m good.

Though I doubt he’ll read this, what I want said officemate to know is, “guess what! Brooklyn came to ME!” [shit-eating grin fills face]

Brooklyn came to PITTSBURGH!


This summer, Brooklyn Brewery hit the road on their Mash Tour, and Pittsburgh was one of the destinations- a testament to the many changes that have transpired in the city’s food & drink scene.

“What’s the Mash Tour,” you ask?


n.1: The first step in the brewing process; mixing malted barley with water, then heating to extract its sugars.

n.2: An adventurous mix of emerging culture from our neighborhood and yours; dinner parties, concerts, comedy, readings and humanity’s favorite beverage.

Blackberry Meadows and Brooklyn

Though I am a novice in beer drinking, there is something appealing about drinking a cold beer on a hot summer day, and nothing channels summer for me like a good ol’ farm dinner. Combine cold beer, talented chefs, picnic-style dining, music and mingling, and you have a Brooklyn Brewery Mash kickoff event, and you have these folks rocking the picnic look like champs…!

Picnic Style

Dinner on the Farm and Shrub

I drank beer, and I enjoyed it! This was a truly momentous day indeed! As such, if I liked Brooklyn Brewery’s Summer Ale, I imagine you beer drinkers might want to take a sip or two or three. I also snuck a sample of Wild Purveyors‘ new Shrub flavors, and I highly recommend purchasing those for summer sipping.

Cheese Plate Remains

Chef Justin Severino of Cure, Chef Mike Poiarkoff (a Pittsburgh native!) of Vinegar Hill House and Brooklyn Brewery Chef Andrew Gerson collaborated to feed us picnickers using Blackberry Meadows’ beautiful wood-burning oven.

Chefs at Work

In the spirit of eating on a farm, the dinner felt much like sitting at a table full of growing boys. Squawking or staring at the clouds, or maybe pointing a lens at the clouds like yours truly, instead of finding your way into line, resulted in a picked-over spread. However, there was still beauty in the remnants and in the act of very generous picnic sharing smoky, roasted potatoes with me.

Come and Get It

“Cooooome and get it!”

Roasted chicken

Roasted Potatoes

wild mushroom aioli and bacon

Kale Salad
white miso vinaigrette, golden raisins and shallots

Roasted Bok Choy
charred scallion buttermilk sauce, torn mint and basil topped with pickled chiles

Grilled Garlic Scapes
roasted green garlic and scape oil

Food and Music

Sometimes it just takes an outsider’s perspective to show you the cool elements of your own city. Thanks to the Mash Tour, I discovered the strummings of local band Union Rye. Both their tunes and attire were the perfect fit for a sunny Sunday on the farm, and I hope to hear them again soon!

Union Rye and Beezus Kiddo

Greenhouses Row

Olive Oil Cake and Whipped Sorrel

After learning my line lesson on the savory courses, I was quite sure to be at the front of the dessert line for the olive-oil corn cake with rhubarb jam and sorrel whipped cream. The idea of sorrel whipped cream had my brain whirling with herbal ideas.

Fence Coil and Barn

I had sun on my shoulders, music in my ear, and flavorful food on my plate. It was the perfect summer Sunday, and it happened in Pittsburgh. It was especially exciting because there was still more of this Brooklyn-Pittsburgh hybrid in store. Stay tuned!


Santé to Summer Sipping!

#TBT: A Patriotic Pie

July 2014

Once a Cornhusker, always a Cornhusker, so even though my family moved to the East Coast when I was a wee corn-loving lass, we returned every summer to visit. Summer time in the small town of Gothenburg, Nebraska meant trips to the lake and watching my brother make waterskiing look entirely too easy. When one particular trip coincided with the 4th of July, the plan was to lounge lakeside and then return to town for the big fireworks display.

There was just one glaring problem.

100 Bake Off Recipes

Our boat of an old car broke down, and we were stuck on a dusty road, near the lake. There were no cell phones to facilitate a hasty rescue. There was no grill. There was no excessive display of food, some potato chips at most. With little else to do, we sat by the lake and watched the little fizzles of amateur fireworks over the water. Even though the holiday felt like a failure at the time, sitting there by my older sister is one of the 4th of July occasions I remember the most.

IMG_0820apple pie

This year I’ll be eating burgers, making pie (this is becoming tradition) and hopefully creating some new memories. If only I had such a patriotic pie server for the occasion!

“The flaky layers in crescent dough made them a natural for short-cutting this traditional apple dessert. Mrs. Angela Wencel of LaGrange Park, Illinois, rated the ‘Bright Idea’ prize for this tasty dessert.”

What are your fondest memories of the 4th?


Happy Patriotic Pie Making!

#TBT (Throw Back Thursdays) glimpse into the vintage visual feasts in my personal collection of food and entertaining books.

A Wednesday Wander: Brazil, in the Spirit of the World Cup

 A Wander in Brazil from December 2010

In the spirit of the World Cup, I’m mentally returning to Brazil.

Tiny Jesus

I’m squinting to discern a tiny, mountaintop figure looming in the distance.

Giant Jesus

One fairly significant hike later, I am merely a tiny figure at the base of the giant Christ the Redeemer.

Coconut Vendor

I’m wiggling my toes in the soft sand, while sipping the freshness of a straw poked into a green coconut.

Coconuts for Two

I’m basking in the warmth of water at sunset and savoring the sounds of songlike Portuguese.



I stayed for a while, but there is still so much more of you I need to see!

Until we meet again,



A Wednesday Wander is a way to revisit journeys past and work my way through my many photos and journals that might otherwise collect proverbial dust. Thanks for wandering with me!

Instagram Lately: What Kind of Day Are You Having?

June 2014

“What kind of day are you having?” was a question penned on an otherwise blank page.

Instagram_Fountain Pup

So I turned my day into words on paper…

I’m having a summer day- a kind of day that includes a Crayola-blue sky, pillowy, cotton clouds and breezes in between beams of sunshine.

I’m having a day to listen to worries, then push them aside and replace them with a table for two, chilled soup and summer’s sandwich- bacon, lettuce and tomato! I’m having a day in which water tastes like sweet strawberries and herbs.

I’m having a day for fountain splashing and fur everywhere! I’m having a day to watch my puppy try to eat the water, and I remember how many smiles she has brought to my face because the world is still so new to her.

I’m having a purple-stained hands sort of day, from picking the mulberries that would otherwise squish underfoot. I’m having a day to pick the very last honeysuckle after eying it for weeks.

I’m having a night to notice a firefly for the very first time this season, and those early flickers transport me to so many other days and nights of pure summer.

Summer Drinks and Fruit

Had I been into brevity, I may have just written, “the lucky sort of day.”

What kind of day do your Instagrams reveal?



P.S: You can follow my Instagram adventures here.

Homemade Kombucha: One For The Bucket List!

June 2014

Waaaay back when, I happened to be in a Los Angeles Whole Foods admiring the bounty of beverage options in comparison to my Pittsburgh store. Wanting some new, exciting, healthy drink for my flight home (waaaay back before 4 oz/liquid restrictions), I bought my first ever Kombucha. From the West Coast all the way to my steel city, my baby bird sips were barely visible. Though it cost me $4.00 from my precious [ie: nonexistent] student savings, and though the label extolled the health benefits of its probiotics, there was no way in hell I could finish it.


Potentially the most unappealing image on my blog, this is the SCOBY- Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. This is the basis of the Kombucha making process, and yes, it is slimy and strange.

Time and memory lapsed, and I tried again. I chose a mango flavor, which promised to be more palatable than my first tangy ginger attempt. Forgetting the element of carbonation, I shook the bottle vigorously to disperse the Eraserhead looking “mother” lurking in the liquid. MISTAKE! I ended up wearing half the bottle and lamenting another $4.00 [mostly] wasted.

Tea Plus Scoby

Add the Scoby to a gallon of sweetened black tea and starter tea (from a previous batch of Kombucha), and let the tea ferment for 7-10 days.

Fast forward a year or so, and I made my peace with the mystifying fermented beverage. Beyond peace, I became an apostle of the fizzy, vinegary drink- drank the koolaid so to speak. I bought bottle after bottle, flavor after flavor, all the while thinking to myself- I should really be making this myself. Yet, the idea of a “scoby” and home fermentation prevented me from making the leap for a VERY LONG TIME. Until now! Finally, finally, finally, a friend offered me a “mother,” and I had no excuse. Kombucha is off the bucket list! 

Pitcher of Tea

After 7-10 days of fermenting, carefully remove the Scoby with clean hands, and set aside temporarily. Transfer the fermented tea to a pitcher to make pouring and bottling a lot easier.

If you’ve read this far with a puzzled look on your face, fret not. “Mother” and “Scoby” and even the word “Kombucha” all justify a puzzled look or two. They might even justify a look of disgust.

Save Two Cups

Reserve 2 cups of the fermented tea to use as a starter in the next batch.

Definitively speaking [ie: Wikipedia-ly speaking], Kombucha is a lightly effervescent fermented drink of sweetened black tea. It is produced by fermenting the tea using a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, or “SCOBY”. 

Bottle and Ferment

Pour the fermented tea into glass jars, leaving room at the top. Set the bottle tea aside for 1-3 days, in a cool, dark place, to carbonate. At this stage, you can add juice or fruit to add flavor. Once the kombucha is carbonated, it’s ready to drink and enjoy!

With one batch under my belt and another in the works, I’m high-kicking and dancin’ with delight at the possibilities in store: fruits and flavors and ice-cold, fermented beverages on hot days! Wooohoo!

Note: I’ve listed the very condensed instructions in the photo captions, but for a full guide to making your own kombucha, I recommend this guide on The Kitchn


Feliz Fermenting!

p.s: This post fits the goals of Our Growing Edge, a monthly blogging event to embrace the part of us that is still learning and experimenting. This monthly event aims to connect and inspire us to try new things. Check out other food bloggers’ experiments and endeavors via this month’s host, My Kitchen of Love.



#TBT: Patriotic Pecan Cookies

June 2014

Imagine you grew up on some remote island, and though you developed a taste for sweetness via nature’s sugars (fruits, honey, etc), you never tasted chocolate. Maybe you know about it because some Giligan’s Island style professor rigs wifi from a coconut, so you spend your time at the internet hut looking at pinterest boards of fashion, wedding place cards and recipe after recipe with chocolate drizzles, chocolate chips, chocolate ganache, etc, etc.

Then, for whatever reason, you have the opportunity to travel to “civilization.” Perhaps it’s a remote island’s equivalent of a Rumshpringa? Your mentor/companion for this transformational trip escorts you through the airport, which you vaguely understand because you’re caught up on Orange is the New Black (again…wifi hut). Once you pass security, you behold the marvels of the newsstand, and you make your first purchase- chocolate!

How intense would that be?!?

100 Bake Off Recipes

Do you remember the first time you had chocolate? I was practically reared on ice cream and homemade baked goods, so my first taste of heavenly chocolate probably came before full sentences exited my mouth. I can’t imagine the thrill of being conscious of the very first bite of chocolate. I can, however, imagine the extremely bitter disappointment of biting into 100% pure chocolate. That I remember, unfortunately.


“Mrs. Mary Jane Sobel of Houston, Texas puts a chocolate ‘frosting’ atop her cookies before they bake; easy and ready-to-eat when they come from the oven. Coconut almond frosting mix adds a special crunchiness to the cookies.”


May you taste chocolate anew!

#TBT (Throw Back Thursdays) glimpse into the vintage visual feasts in my personal collection of food and entertaining books.

A Wednesday Wander: An Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

A Wander in India from December 2012.

There was a young woman who visited a shoe.
There was so much in Mumbai for her to see and do…!

Living in a Shoe

Kamala Nehru Park, located at the top of Mumbai’s Malabar Hill, features a sculpture inspired by the nursery rhyme.

Park Food Vendor

Snacks and Denim

Poverty Juxtaposition

India is a land of extremes. The poorest of poor are confronted with a view of the richest of rich. Despite their impoverished conditions, the lower class still exudes integrity and humility, a point our tour guide emphasized when we walked through the slums. In spite of what they lack, they still find ways to saturate the world with vivid beauty.

Wall Texture

A Wednesday Wander is a way to revisit journeys past and work my way through my many photos and journals that might otherwise collect proverbial dust. Thanks for wandering with me!


Bon Voyage!

Instagram Lately: It’s Summer!

June 2014

It’s summer.

Obviously, it’s summer, but somehow I couldn’t feel it. It was rushing past me, and I was too stressed to slow down and soak it in. I could feel the heat, the humidity and the lifelessness of my pup, but I wasn’t feeling the freedom, the exuberance, the utter relaxation of tan lines and cocktails and sunsets…not fully…

Summer Feeling

…until I had homemade Mexican food with good friends, and we had enough rum and mint and lime to make us tipsy and tired and talkative. Inadvertently, we had celebrated the solstice. From there, summer just started to unfurl…

I played with paper and felt inspired again.
I tasted wild berries.
I noted the drastic growth of the plants that line my daily path.
I spent a Sunday on a farm with the Brooklyn Brewery (more on that to come!).
I took some baby bird sips of a summer ale, and I actually liked it!
I experienced the buzz and excitement of a movie being filmed in my neighborhood.
And of course, I took several walks with my best girl (and amused myself with visual puns).

Summer Feeling 02

I want to lounge at the pool. I want to swim in a lake. I want to make pie and ice cream to share with friends. I want to spend more time on farms. I want to fill a bag at the farmer’s market. I want to see fireworks from a secret spot. Who wants to join me?

I need to make a summer bucket list! What’s on your summer agenda?


Happy Summer!

ps: You can follow my Instagram adventures here.

Chocolate & Raspberry Cheesecake Swirl

June 2014

“You can’t go wrong with chocolate.”

That could be the title of my memoir. It might one day be the title of my memoir, but for the time being, it was a birthday cake request for a friend’s big 3-0. This friend also happened to deem a local bakery’s raspberry ricotta pie “the perfect dessert.” If you’re turning 30, I do believe you should have everything you want, so it was time for some chocolate and raspberry swirling action!

Cake Top View

Raspberry Swirl

Raspberry Compote

Raspberry Compote


12 oz frozen raspberries, thawed
1/2 cup Turbinado raw cane sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier
½ teaspoon organic cornstarch


Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir to combine.

Simmer for 10 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

Once the raspberries fall apart and the sauce is thickened, remove from heat.

Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Note: This will make extra, but it’s worth having extra to top ice cream or toast. Alternately, you could add a raspberry layer in between the chocolate and cream cheese batters or simply halve the recipe.


Note on the Cake Size: The recipe below will make two 9-inch springform pans, or you could make one cake with much thicker layers. 

Chocolate & Raspberry Cheesecake Swirl

Cheesecake Batter

16 ounces organic cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup Turbinado raw cane sugar

2 eggs + 2 egg whites (organic, cage-free)

2 Tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour

Brownie Batter

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup organic half & half
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 organic eggs
3 cups organic light brown sugar, packed

*raspberry compote (recipe above)


Preheat oven to 350 and oil or butter two, 9-inch springform pans.

For the Cheesecake Batter:

Use a mixer to cream together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add sugar, and mix well. Add egg and egg white and mix. Stir in the flour. Set batter aside.

For the Chocolate Batter:

Use a whisk to combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a large bowl.

In another large bowl, combine the oil, half & half, vanilla, eggs and brown sugar. Mix until smooth.

Slowly mix in flour mixture until completely combined.

Pour all but approximately one cup of brownie batter into prepared pan(s).

Spread cheesecake layer evenly on top of brownie layer.

Drop Tablespoons of reserved brownie batter and raspberry compote on top of the cheesecake layer. Use a chopstick or a knife to swirl the batter.

Bake about 25-30 minutes, until top is set.

Allow to cool completely before cutting. Store in airtight container, keep refrigerated.


Bon Appétit!

#TBT: Prize-Winning American Cake Recipes

June 2014

I read on a Kindle, but I still manage to fill shelves with books, especially cookbooks. I am drawn to the stories written between the lines of ingredients and instructions. From the sparse recipes, when most women knew all their baking by heart, to the times of embellished box-mix cakes, these food and entertaining spreads follow historical trends and chronicle the role of women in the home.

100 Bake Off Recipes

Leafing through faded, bent pages with pencil notes interspersed, I am also drawn to the images and graphic design. The effort in each page is astounding- photographers and stylists had to put their faith in what film would reveal. In comparison, our digital world allows for so many adjustments and revisions along the way. This progress leads me to wonder what still lies in store for food photography.


In keeping with the zeitgeist of the social media generation, I’ll be sharing more of these visual feasts from my library collection in a series of #TBT posts. In the spirit of Independence Day, which lurks just around the corner, I’ll begin with a dash or two of patriotism in this Pillsbury book of Prize Winning Recipes.


Happy Feasting!

#TBT (Throw Back Thursdays) glimpse into the vintage visual feasts in my personal collection of food and entertaining books.

A Wednesday Wander: Tombs, Tides & Poetry in Puerto Rico

A Wander in San Juan, Puerto Rico from September 2011

Though writing a poem [allegedly] about your juvenile cousin-wife is laden with its fair share of creepiness, there’s something about the eternal love of this poem that always struck me, especially when feeling the fresh breeze of the ocean through a cemetery…

Puerto Rico Flower Flag

Annabel Lee
By Edgar Allan Poe

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
I and my Annabel Lee—
With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven
Coveted her and me.

Tombs and Waves

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsmen came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

praying statue

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we—
Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in Heaven above
Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea—
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

Cliff Reader

A Wednesday Wander is a way to revisit journeys past and work my way through my many photos and journals that might otherwise collect proverbial dust. Thanks for wandering with me!



p.s: Can you imagine me reciting this poem in front of my 7th-grade English class because that happened.