sweet potato–cashew cookies

After three solid weeks of long-awaited bliss, I’m back from Australia. I promise I’ll give you all of the details of our adventures later (with pictures!), but for now just believe me when I say that Australia is a glorious haven of food and sunshine.

Before I get into anything Australia-related, I feel the need to write a little post about something that’s been tugging at me lately. A few days ago, during one of my endless scrolling sessions, one of those short-and-sweet baking tutorial videos popped up in my Facebook feed. You know, the kind that’s shot from overhead and set to a catchy tune, with perfectly manicured hands adding each ingredient to the mixing bowl and producing a beautiful baked good in 15 seconds flat?

I’ll admit, I’m usually a sucker for those videos. Often I find them entertaining and sometimes I’m even able to draw inspiration from their recipes. But this video—well, it IRKED me, and I haven’t been able to get it off my mind.

The video showed a recipe for “healthy” brownies—with “healthy” featured prominently in the title and throughout the video. You can imagine my surprise, then, when I watched it and found that the brownies contained nearly a full cup of sugar and a cup of chocolate chips. Like, wut? It seemed that replacing the butter with oil in the batter and sprinkling some fruit and nuts on top was enough to make these brownies “healthy.” I wanted to reach into that video and (gently, lovingly) smack some sense into the people who made it.

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challah french toast with caramelized bananas

French toast is, for me, the ultimate weekend breakfast. There are two reasons for this:

  1. The intense nostalgia that French toast makes me feel, since my mom would only make it on weekends, and
  2. The intense food coma that I experience after eating it (usually some recovery time is involved).

Both of these facts make it certain that French toast is a dish that is not meant for weekday consumption. It’s supposed to be eaten on a lazy Sunday morning, with the promise of a mid-morning nap on the horizon.

When I was little, French toast was my all-time favorite breakfast food, and my mom (whom I affectionately refer to as Betsy) was the ONLY person who knew how to make it right. With coffee brewing and Meet the Press on in the background, Betsy would whip up an eggy batter, soak some bread in it, and fry away. This part sounds standard—it’s what comes next that always blew my mind.

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almond cake with lime glaze and candied almonds

This cake gets a whack of flavor from almonds, lime zest, and lime juice. Topped with candied almonds for some extra crunch!

I arrived back in London from Ohio about a week ago and have since been attempting to get into a work groove after all the intense pie-eating and relaxation that was the week of Thanksgiving. The short, dark days and my post-travel exhaustion definitely exacerbate my tendency to want to take a three-hour nap every afternoon, but I’m powering through. Mostly, I’ve got my mind on Australia.

Australia! The continent that Leo and I are traveling to for our honeymoon! To visit our Australian friends and bask in the summer sun and eat avocado toast and acai bowls! I’m so pumped to escape the bitter London winter and sweat my ass off on the beach in Sydney (and Melbourne! And Byron Bay!).

This cake gets a whack of flavor from almonds, lime zest, and lime juice. Topped with candied almonds for some extra crunch! This cake gets a whack of flavor from almonds, lime zest, and lime juice. Topped with candied almonds for some extra crunch! This cake gets a whack of flavor from almonds, lime zest, and lime juice. Topped with candied almonds for some extra crunch! Read more

potato, leek, and cauliflower galette

I’m going to Ohio next week! I’m going to Ohio next week!

I never thought I would say this, but I love Ohio.

Growing up in a small town in the Midwest, suburbia felt claustrophobic to me. As an introvert, I wasn’t too thrilled that I would see someone I knew everywhere I went (mostly because I was/ sometimes still am the most awkward child on the face of the earth). I disliked that if I wanted to go somewhere, I had to drive or hitch a ride with my parents (fun fact about me: I hate driving, partly because I sort of fall asleep every time I get on the open road. I call it car-colepsy). I dreamed of living in a big city, one in which I could walk through the grocery store in peace and take public transport everywhere.

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hail mary (spiced iced coffee cocktail)

All week, I was set on making the ultimate bubble tea recipe. I bought the boba and those fat, colorful bubble tea straws. I researched how to cook tapioca pearls to chewy perfection. I tried cooking the boba for different lengths of time, with different amounts of water, over different temperatures. I tested ratios of tea to milk. I even made a gingery, spicy sugar syrup that would take the bubble tea into cozy autumnal territory.

Guess what?

It was a disaster.

Despite all my attempts, the boba never turned out right. Ooozing on the outside, starchy, hard, and unpleasant in the middle, I just couldn’t turn those tapioca pearls into the bouncy boba I saw in restaurants and cafés. I was disappointed and had to toss each batch I worked on.

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But all was not lost: It occurred to me that there was one very successful part of this failed recipe—the spiced simple syrup. I realized it would taste damn good in another drink. I went back to the drawing board. I decided to veer away from tea and make the drink with strong iced coffee instead, for an extra-caffeinated buzz.

Oh, and rum. Because if there wasn’t going to be any boba in my beverage, there might as well be alcohol in it.

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