Lemon meringue has long been my absolute favorite pie. My Grandma Billie was a master pie maker and this was the one I always begged for when she was in charge of dessert. It is deeply nostalgic for me and is tied to fond memories of one of the greatest women I’ve ever known.
Grandma raised six children, five of those being boys, rowdy boys. They were no doubt more than a handful. I just don’t know how she managed to do it. If I hadn’t known her, I would have expected her to be a spit fire, controlling the children with a mere look. I never knew her that way. Maybe by the time we came along she had softened, but I never heard her say anything even remotely off-putting, let alone controlling. She was selfless to her core and was about as patient as her Savior. She loved Jesus like He was her most intimate friend, always concerned with His pleasure. I am completely confidant she pleased Him every moment of her sweet life.
When she passed away, there were so many stories that filled our hearts, recounting the ways she loved all of us so perfectly. In my heart, I tasted that beloved lemon meringue she made so effortlessly, remembering her loving kindness with every delicious thought. Now, I am blessed to be able to carry on her legacy with this pie. It is more than just ingredients, it is selflessness, and patience and above all, love. I want to challenge you today to share a piece of yourself with those you love, whether that is in the form of a hug, a whisper or a piece of homemade pie. Our memories are all we have of one another once this life is through, so let’s do our best to make them sweet. (more…)
When we have friends in our home, I like to have something to offer them. Usually it’s something warm and sweet, and best enjoyed with a cup of warm milk tea or a strong cup of coffee. Even if our guests are our closest companions, I find it important to make them feel at home with something familiar and comfortable. This desire to make our home inviting comes from my Dad. He is an excellent cook (I’ll make his famous Massey beans for you one of these days when the weather finally turns into fall) and he is also wonderfully generous. Whenever we had friends over, the first thing he would do, is ask if they’d like something to eat or drink. Most of the time our friends would try to be polite and say, no thank you, but he would ask them again and again until they finally relented. I’m sure this gesture made them feel comfortable and at home and as if they were just as welcome there as any of us. It’s a lovely quality that I’m happy to have inherited from him. (more…)
When I know that I should do something, every fiber in my being wants to avoid that thing as if my next breath depends upon it. It’s an immediate reaction stemming from somewhere I’m unsure of, but it really tends to get in the way for me. I wish I could get it right on the first try and act out of reason with the end goal in mind but if I’m completely honest, I lack things like reason.
I’ve been offered a great opportunity for a little side project and although I’m super excited about it, I’m also dragging my feet. It could be because the first recipe I tried to develop was a total flop, but it could just as easily be that I feel the pressure to perform and it all feels a little reminiscent of stage fright. Either way, today I finally pulled myself from behind the proverbial curtain, out onto the stage and did the very best I could. My mother always taught me that when you’re on stage, you’re going to get applause no matter what because they’ll either clap to congratulate you or they’ll clap to get you off the stage. I’m happy to report that this performance garnered applause for the former reason, and even summoned an encore, from everyone. I’d say that’s a win. (more…)
When life seems to give you lemons, what do you do? It’s just something that happens from time to time, right? We are faced with uncertainty and hardship, situations we would rather not be in. For me, I tend to run (after a long bout of whining) from anything hard. Call it a defense mechanism, or just plain cowardice, it’s what I do. So when life deals me lemons, I just throw them as far as I can and quickly run the other way. This seems to initially get the job done, but leaves the journey incomplete. Although in practice I tend to want to avoid discomfort in any way I can, my conviction is that difficulty is necessary for growth. As terrible as it is in the moment, it produces something new and beautiful in the end. Ideally, I would like my practices and my convictions to be aligned, united in the belief that the lemons we are handed are meant to season us, and brighten up our lives. I’m not quite there yet, but as the troubles come, I hope the two draw nearer to one another.
In those times of trouble, I find baking to be a helpful short term anesthetic. Now, I’m not (entirely) encouraging you to drown your sorrows in cake, but the time it takes to bake one could be a great opportunity to reflect on how your current situation can spring forth something new and beautiful inside you. While you’re at it, dwell on the many blessings you have been given and the people in your life who you are happy to enjoy those blessings with. Then call them, invite them over for cake, and give thanks.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. This weekend, there is going to be a bake sale and this is one you won’t want to miss. It’s put on by San Francisco food bloggers. If thats not enticing enough, let me step it up one more notch: all proceeds from this sale will be donated to Share Our Strength, which works to end childhood hunger. Now, come on. You can get behind that, right? So, if on Saturday you wake up with a sweet tooth, and a desire to do the world some good, come on down and say hello. You can click on the image above for more information on time and locations.
Now onto the muffins…
I have a problem, an accidental one really. It’s not like I mean for it to happen. You see, I have a compulsive behavior to buy produce solely based on it’s good looks, and outward appeal. When I’m exiting the market, I’m often carrying way more than we could possibly need for the two of us. My darling husband, always trying to reel me in usually questions, “are you sure we need all of those carrots (or cherimoya, or tomatoes, or…)? Don’t we still have 5 pounds of those at home?” My answer is always the same, “I know, but these are special, they’re so pretty!”. So we get them, with the best of intentions to gobble them up, but as they get stuffed in the crisper and the days wear on, they are invariably forgotten and they wither away into a limp oblivion until they meet their final resting place among the other scraps and lawn clippings in that old, dirty compost can out in the garage. Never meeting their full potential, I wince as they tumble into the dark, smelly abyss and hear my husbands voice in my head, “Are you sure we need all those carrots?”.
It’s interesting to me that food can be such a comforting companion. When it’s raining outside, all I want to do is snuggle up to a warm bowl of soup, under a fuzzy blanket and enjoy the soothing sound of rain drops on the skylight. There is something nearly magical that happens when we indulge our senses with a slice of one of life’s most wonderful pleasures. I’m not sure if it is merely a physical feeling that is satiated, or if it’s something deeper within us that is longing for satisfaction, but I do know that a piece of pie, a bowl of soup or a warm muffin can make one feel better than they did. It’s a small thing, and certainly not a solution, but it can lift someone’s spirit and bring a smile to another’s heart and to me that is worthwhile. Lately I have had a few very dear friends experience some extremely difficult things, and for me to see a smile on their face is like seeing the sun and feeling it’s warmth for the first time. If a batch of muffins, or a piece of chocolate cake can do that, I’ll bake a billion of them a hundred times over. It’s the simple pleasures God gives us that make us feel like we are still alive, still breathing and can move forward through the trenches of life. They’re a wonderful reminder of the goodness that is to come.
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Sometimes recipes can be a bit more involved than I have time for. When I want to make a specific dish, or work with an ingredient I am unfamiliar with, I usually scour the usual places for an appealing recipe. Most of the time I find what I’m looking for, which is usually a recipe that is well rated and manageable. Although, there are occasions when I am unable to find a set of ingredients and instructions that aren’t a mile long and take days to execute. In those moments, I decide to go it alone. This method does not always yield a fabulous product, but this time, it sure did. (more…)
Tartine is an incredible french bakery in the Mission District of San Francisco. They specialize in all things amazing, including, but not limited to, this mouth watering, coma inducing chocolate tea cake.
My sister moved here a few months back, and as part of a “get to know your city” tour, I fulfilled my sisterly duty by taking her around to all the places that would help her get through the stress and loneliness of moving to a new, strange place and since this place is on my essential “go here after a bad day” list, I decided it was a must. click here for the full post!