Sunday Night Apple Cake with Brown Butter and Bourbon

Easy Apple Cake

 

We went apple picking this weekend, which means I have about 20 pounds of apples in my kitchen, which means this easy apple cake recipe is going to be made again soon.

Apple picking is one of those things I used to miss most about living in the northeast.  From the first autumn Ken and I were dating (16 years ago now!)  we used to climb into a car (first a tiny blue Ford Festiva, later a zipcar), drive out into the country, and see some beautiful color and pick apples.  When we moved to Southern California, we thought our New England apple-picking days were done.  But, as I described three years ago, we were mistaken.

It took us three years to go back (a delay I attribute squarely to a curly-headed imp we call Typhoon Bootsy) but we’re glad we did.  As we were driving through the Inland Empire (such a glamorous name for a less than glamorous place), listening to the incessant chatter and music of our delightful children (Bootsy is perfecting his Ozzy Osborne version of Kumbaya), we realized that the apple orchards are just as close to us in Los Angeles as they once were in New York.  We pulled up to Stone Pantry Orchards (trees laden with apples!  Close enough to the ground that even the littlest one could pick!)  and proceeded to fill a bag.

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Dolce Far Niente – Aperol Spritzicles

Aperol Spritz Recipe

Eliot was wrong.

The cruelest month of the year is not April – it’s September.  As soon as Labor Day passes, most of the U.S. puts away the flip flops and pulls out the boots, tweeting things like “It’s sweater weather!” and posting taunting pictures of hearty bowls of soup on their instagrams.  Meanwhile, we have been suffering through triple digit temps and, to pile insult upon injury, humidity.

Maybe Eliot didn’t live in L.A.

Intellectually, I KNOW that September is the hottest month of the year here – that fall doesn’t even officially start until September 22, and doesn’t really start in Southern California until November.  But that doesn’t stop me from being surprised, every year, by the sheer horror that is September in Los Angeles.  105 at my house, folks.  99 degrees at 9 pm.  95 at my office, and the air conditioning broke.  I know that when I see my power bill this month I am going to cry.   There was really nothing to do but hide in the house, shades drawn, A/C on full blast (which only cooled it to 80, sob), and do absolutely nothing that required any sort of exertion, whatsoever, except eating and drinking very cold things and reading the J. Peterman Catalog.  (It goes without saying that I am being just a tad hyperbolic, and September in L.A. compares favorably to being in say, Mosul right now).

So this is it, rest of the world:  you are used to Angelenos crowing about the weather, sitting smugly in 75 degrees when the rest of the country freezes their tootsies off in a polar vortex.  But not now.   This is the week when you can gloat.

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Cold Zucchini Soup with Buttermilk – Too Much Zucchini, part III

 

Chilled Zucchini Soup

We have a zucchini plant in our garden this year.  Just one, as we have learned from years past that zucchini quickly becomes overwhelming.  Fried zucchini blossoms are one of our favorite summer treats, and one of the most cost-effective ways to get our hands on them is to plant our own zucchini plant.

Apparently, though, there is something mysterious in our soil because that one zucchini plant has grown to monstrous proportions.  It’s the tomacco of zucchini plants – each leaf is the size of a cocktail table.
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We are diligent about seeking out the zucchini and picking them when they’re either still flowers or at a reasonable size, and we’ve been eating a lot of zucchini fritters and zucchini bread this summer.   However, occasionally one will escape our notice, hiding under a massive leaf, until one day we discover this Godzilla-zucchini, and have to figure out what to do with it.  They’re more watery and less flavorful than the little ones, and the seeds are enormous, too.

Giant Zucchini

 

Staring at these enormous zucchini this weekend, I was struck with inspiration.  What do you do with any excess vegetables?  Make soup.  But since it is July, and it is going to be 101 degrees at my house tomorrow, chilled soup is the game.

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Protein Pancakes, or the Importance of Listening to Your Mother.

Grain Free Paleo Pancakes

When it comes to mothers, mine is (almost) always right.  But when it comes to these paleo pancakes, I can pull out a little mom wisdom myself.

When I was a little girl, I, being a child of the 80’s, wanted nothing more than crap for breakfast.  I watched the beguiling commercials – Super Golden Crisp!  Pop Tarts! Leggo my Eggo!  – and I asked, nay, begged my mother to give me this super-sugary stuff of my dreams for breakfast.  My mother, having come of age in the crunchy late 60’s and 70’s in California, wisely turned me down.  I had to eat healthy breakfasts, which always included protein.  Cream cheese, peanut butter, whole grain breads – on test days I always had eggs.  Protein in the morning was her mantra.  I, sulking, vowed that when I had children, I would buy Cocoa Krispies for breakfast!

Of course, my mother was right.  One day she gave in to my pleading  and let me have pancakes for breakfast (though it’s possible my father had a hand in this disaster).  2 hours later the school nurse called her – I felt awful – headache, stomachache, you name it.   My mother crisply told the nurse to feed me some cheese and lo and behold!  I felt better!  Low blood sugar.  (I wish I could say that from this day forward, I happily ate my eggs and turned my nose up at Lucky Charms, but, sadly, it took many years of collegiate hangovers and maturity before I submitted to her wisdom.)

Now I am a mother, and Karma is an ahole, because I have the same battles with my kids.  Every morning (or every weekend mornings, because weekdays I have learned enough not to ask), the girl says “Please!  Can we have pancakes?  You never make pancakes!” and the boy, who worships his sister, pipes in with his little voice, shouting “Pancake!  I wan’ Pancake!” and then adds, hopefully, “Frosting?” (Because cakes have frosting.  I am clearly more relaxed about sugar than my mother was.  Pancakes do not, however.  I’m not THAT relaxed.) And I repeat back to them my mother’s mantra, and try to wangle some sausages into them and the whole thing, is frankly, exhausting.

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