(hope you have a great weekend!)
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After last week, I thought I'd be sick of cranberries, considering our Thanksgiving table was topped with cranberry sauce, cranberry relish, and that aforementioned cranberry cheesecake (which, by the way, I successfully did not drop), and yet... I still crave them. So I made cranberry hazelnut bread. It's tart, a little sweet, a little nutty, and soft and crumbly on the inside. If I was baking gifts this year, this is what I'd make.
Cranberry Hazelnut Bread (makes 1 loaf)
adapted from Food.com
1 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen)
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts (you can also use walnuts, or pecans, or omit the nuts altogether)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Heat oven to 350º. Grease a loaf pan. Mix together cranberries, sugar, oil, milk, lemon peel, vanilla, and eggs. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into prepared pan and bake about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Run a knife along the edges to loosen, then cool on a wire rack before slicing.
Last month I stopped by Open Books, which looks very modest from the outside but in truth is packed with thousands and thousands of books. I wanted to linger there for hours, lost in verse; I wanted to take as many home with me as I could carry. But I limited myself to two books, one of which was The Trouble with Poetry by Billy Collins:
By now, it should go without saying
that what the oven is to the baker
and the berry-stained blouse to the dry cleaner,
so the window is to the poet.
before the invention of the window,
the poets would have had to put on a jacket
and a winter hat to go outside
or remain indoors with only a wall to stare at.
One of my favorite novels last month was Amanda Coplin's The Orchardist. It's set in turn-of-the-century Washington State, and it's a thoughtful, slow, luxurious read:
There was an apricot tree in the orchard that was perfect for stepping up into. Once one of the girls did this, a curved branch invited another step up, and a branch above that dipped slightly in the middle, inviting a hand to grip it for leverage. [...] There was a type of heat and light that was direct and overhead and bleached the orchard of color. The orchard at noon on the hottest days. And then there were mornings when the air was blue and soft, and the leaves of the trees looked like velvet.
I also finished the Rabbit Angstrom books, re-reading the ones I'd already read years before and finally getting around to the ones I hadn't. Technically I started these a few months ago, but wanted to wait and recommend them as a series. I'm constantly reveling in Updike's prose. From Rabbit at Rest:
"Are we lost, Grandpa?" "We can't be," he tells her. In their sudden small plight he is newly aware of her preciousness, the jewel-cut of her eyes and eyelashes, the downy glaze in front of her ears and the gleam of each filament of her luxuriant hair, pulled taut into a thick pigtail adorned with an unreal stiff white ribbon. For the first time he sees she is also wearing symmetrical white barrettes, shaped like butterflies. Judy looks up toward his face and fights crying at the vagueness she sees there. '"This coat is too hot," she complains. "I'll carry it," he says.
We had invented time, and we could not kill it fast enough. After dinner, dancing, and baths, we read, wrote our poems and stories, brushed our teeth, and tumbled into bed, only to find the next day was exactly the same. [...] We shared our ideas like sweaters, with easy exchange and lack of ownership. We gave over excess words, a single beautiful sentence that had to be cut but perhaps the other would like to have.
How about you? Read any great books recently?
Last weekend I drove down to Tacoma to visit a dear friend of mine. We had lunch at Antique Sandwich Co., which is a vast, open room filled with old wooden furniture and soft fabric bunting strung from the ceiling and a bunch of old polaroids hanging on one wall. It feels like you've stepped into someone's living room. We got settled, and the waiter brought out our sandwiches and tabouli salads and steaming mugs of chai. The woman sitting behind us declared how cute my friend's five month old baby was – the first of many strangers to do so.
Later we meandered along the water, watched a ferry set out toward Tahlequah, and visited Point Defiance Park's rhododendron garden even though it was no longer in bloom. Well, I guess that's not entirely true. There were still two or three flowers clinging to one lonely bush, holding on for dear life, ignoring the change of seasons.
You know when you feel nostalgic about a time and place while you're still in it? That day was one of those times.
Today I'm baking for Thanksgiving. Usually my mom is the one who makes the pumpkin pies – two of them, always. But this year I'm in charge of desserts. I'm making a pumpkin pie (how could I not?) and a cranberry-topped cheesecake. The last time I remember making cheesecake when when I was in college, for my then-boyfriend-now-husband's birthday. When I took the cheesecake out of the fridge to serve it, it flipped out of my hands and landed face down on the kitchen floor. It's the kind of moment that was – still is – hopelessly funny and sad at the same time.
Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow. I hope you get to spend it with lots of people you love.
in iowa, I live with a poet
whose voice passes through our shared wall, muffled,
as she reads her work out loud
or, maybe, just has conversations with herself.
come winter she plants paperwhites
in pots filled with pebbles and tap water
and when the white flowers blossom,
the plants flop over, top-heavy, sleepy.
but she ties them back upright
with grey grosgrain ribbon
and on christmas eve when I come home blubbering
she takes care of me with the same tender hands:
putting the kettle on, then helping me remove
with soap and warm water
the tiny engagement ring that has lodged itself into my swollen skin.
in january our lease is up
and we move to other landscapes: she to the west, me to the north.
every once in a blue moon
a poem from her arrives in the mail
and I read it aloud, doing my best impression of her,
running into the adjoining room afterwards
trying to catch the words before they fade.
I've been wanting to add these teapots to my shop for at least a year and now that I have a bit more storage space I can finally stock them. They're the perfect size for tea for two people. And I'm also thrilled to now carry a few food-themed Rifle Paper Co. products, like shopping pads and fruit cards.