The lack of a real stack of fluffy pancakes in France is the lead cause of my dépaysement, my homesickness, my deep-seated unrootedness in this country. If only I could go out to almost any restaurant and receive the four-pancake-high tower of pure calories that I crave, slathered in butter and drowned in maple syrup, then– I could be truly happy.
Five years ago, at an appointed time and place, I met a stranger to collect something I knew nothing about. In his hands he carried a beat-up milk carton. “You’ll need this too,” he said casually, slipping an index card into my hands. And then he and his sports coat left.
I took the bus home with my old milk carton. I examined the neat notes on the index card. I got a metal mesh fry screen and cut out wonky circles, then fit them onto jam jars to create a screened top. I poured the contents of the old milk carton into a jar, poured in some fresh milk, and wondered what I was doing with my life, and when exactly I had agreed to become a parent.
And deepest apologies for such a delay in posting. I’ve been settling into living in France, diving through layers and layers of bureaucracy, meeting new people, making new year resolutions, and generally setting up my little nest here. As 2019 reveals itself, I thought I’d look back at the past, back when my dissertation was devouring my life to such a point that I decided the only way to fight back was to bite back. Literally. Don’t worry, you’ll understand soon enough. Keep up.
From The Marvelous Machinations of Milena and Myles
About a month ago, my twin and I moved in together. Since we shared a room for the first 18 years of our lives, we know that any good home-creating begins with clear expectations, good communication, and some sensible house rules. We knew this because we did not do any of that for 18 years and ended up with some literal scars. Did you know that if one twin shoves the other one upwards in the womb, that other twin is capable of breaking their mother’s rib? Another interesting fact: if you kick your twin in the shin hard enough, they will limp for a week.
Our idea of house rules, of course, might not be what you were thinking of. Do we know whose turn it is to take out the overflowing trash? No. But do we have hyperbolic ingredient lists and overly intricate design sketches for the ambitious recipes we have to make this week? Hell yes. We have got our priorities right, kids. Creating a bizarre and tangled list of 100 recipe ideas, rolling a die every week, and then setting out to create said recipes together? That is an excellent house rule.
This past weekend was my birthday, and as is my usual tradition, I made my own birthday cake. Actually, I enjoy it. This year was particularly fun because I sort of designed it myself. I didn’t invent the entire recipe, but assembled it from other recipes that I found. I still haven’t named the cake yet–maybe you all could help me??
The cake is chocolate and passionfruit. It’s based on a cake from the recipe book The Cake Bible, which involved a chocolate genoise (don’t worry, I’ll explain this below) covered in strawberry whipped cream. I had made this cake several years earlier, and I remembered it when I was trying to decide which cake to make for my birthday. As some of you know, I’m in Hawai’i right now doing research for my dissertation. However, I wanted something tropical to fit the place I’m in, and which would hopefully be locally grown. I decided to replace the strawberry with passionfruit because it also goes well with chocolate.
One would think that it would be easy to find fresh passionfruits, which are also known as lilikoi, in Hawai’i. Here, there is a vast quantity of passion-orange juice, passion-orange-guava juice, passionfruit flavored desserts and on and on. But let me tell you. NO ONE SELLS IT. NO ONE. I guess it must be available at farmer’s markets, and apparently it grows wild everywhere on the Big Island. BUT NOT ON O’AHU (which is the island where I am). I went looking for them at perhaps six different grocery stores. I finally found frozen passionfruit concentrate at the last store and I have no idea where it was from, so my attempt to buy local didn’t even work out. Oh well. For this recipe, you can use either passionfruit concentrate or, if you’re lucky, fresh passionfruit juice/pulp. Continue reading Where have all the passionfruits gone??
I’m in Denmark again (yes, no one can keep track of where I am, least of all myself), visiting my family and a very cute Danish boy I happen to be going on accidental 6-hour hikes with. :3 I know full well that, although I am welcome in my brother’s household, it is best to pay rent. Copenhagen ain’t cheap, you know. And rent, in this case, involves baking as much as possible. Someone’s gotta bring home the chocolate chip cookies. They aren’t gonna bake themselves. Continue reading “Similarly Flawless” Apple Crumble
Aaaaaaand we’re back! Milena and I have been traveling, so we haven’t had time to post in a while. I was attending a friend’s wedding in the Bay Area and then a family wedding in India. But, at last, I’m back in Hawai’i and I baked something new!
I made a mimosa cake for my auntie’s birthday this weekend. Did you know that a mimosa is more than just something millennials drink by the bucketful at brunch? It’s also a flower, which was probably what the drink is named after. The cake the I baked is also named after this flower:
Mimosa cakes are an Italian dessert. According to NPR, and also Manuela Zangara (the author of the recipe that I used), mimosas are the symbol of the “Festa della donna” (International Women’s Day) in Italy. Men are supposed to give women mimosa flowers, and often people make this cake to celebrate. The festival happens on March 8, when mimosa flowers are in bloom. Their cheery yellow color also celebrates spring. It was just good timing that I made a cake that celebrates women at the same time as the Kavanaugh hearings were going on (ughughugh). It’s also a pretty complicated bugger, so I would not recommend attempting it unless you have some cake baking experience.