chestnut orange crisps

Opinions have been formed, and much is already being said about everyone's Blogher Food experience. Perhaps Debra, said it best today on her blog Smith Bites. It's about the need to build your community. More importantly, I think, is not to get lost in the community.

And really, that's up to you. Each individual must harness their own power, and wake every day with a budding sense of confidence in all they are as a professional, person, mother, sister, and so on. Project that, and trust me, good people will come your way.

Happiness is infectious. Wear it proud, and don't worry what others think.

The biggest question of late, both at the conference and in my everyday life, is how do I create a new recipe. Some people even ask what recipes fare best for better traffic. My answer is simple.

Write from your heart. Unless you're a crowd-sourcing site, people come for the words, so be genuine.

Personally, my time in San Francisco is one I will cherish for months to come. Frankly, friends like Shauna and Gina don't come around every day. Thank heavens Kim is on my coast, and in the same city. If she ever talks of moving, I better be consulted first.

The most poignant moment came when Molly talked about why she didn't write a book about her father. An uncontrollable stream of tears trickled down my cheeks. It's as though she secretly knew my unreconciled feelings regarding my own dad.

After almost 20 years of marriage, my parents divorced when I was 15. Trust me, it was for the better. What I couldn't handle was his having another daughter that became the center of his life. I've struggled with the "why wasn't I enough" feelings for 19 years now. In a split-second, Molly said what I guess I've always felt.

My sister only knew the good parts. I saw glimmers of them, but mainly experienced the bad ones. The drunken ones. The violent ones, directed towards my mother, not myself.

And through all that, I still loved him. I accepted him for the tortured soul he was, yet he wasn't adult enough to cherish me until literally on his death bed.

Thank you Molly for unknowingly help me work through it all. With a few words, you lightened the load on my heart a bit.

French chestnut spread

chestnut orange crisps

makes 32 pieces

A few months back, Molly printed a recipe for her grandmother's cinnamon toasts. I findly referred to them as culinary crack after making a batch. I decided to put my own twist on them. After spying chestnuts in the grocery store, I remembered a friend had given me chesnut spread from France. Turns out they sell it local gourmet stores here in NYC, and you can even buy it on Amazon.

8 tablespoons butter, melted

3 tablespoons (85 grams) chestnut spread

freshly grated zest of 1 navel orange

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

8 slices country or brick oven bread

Preheat oven to 325ºF.

Add the butter, chestnut spread, orange zest and cinnamon to a medium bowl. Stir well with a fork. Using a pastry brush, drench each side of bread with the mixture. Place on a rimmed sheet pan, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, turning halfway through.

Let cool on tray for 10 minutes, then cut into triangles. Store in a covered tin for up to one week.


  • Gina von

    I loved what you brought to this post. Your personal take-aways and insights that have led you to a greater understanding of those people around you. What Molly and Shauna had to say that day has also had an impact on me; together, we learn to heal. Kudos on a beautifully written post and lovely recipe.

  • Molly

    This is beautiful, Jennie. It was hard to talk about my dad up there, and it makes me incredibly happy to know that what I said resonated with you. Thank *you.*

  • Traca

    This is beautiful. Following on the food blogging influence, I wonder…does every food post have to have a recipe? Your soul-revealing words here are great. Followed by a recipe? Why? Is that necessary?

  • Jennie

    Traca, personally, I don’t post a recipe for the sake of posting it. Rather, I wait until I have a story that goes with, one that connects to my life in some way. This recipe has been in the cue, waiting for the right words. Since it was inspired by Molly’s grandmother’s recipe, it was totally natural for me to include it.
    That’s the beauty of personal blogs. We are our own editors-in-chief, leaving us free to do as we see fit with them.

  • Kathy - Panini Happy

    I really enjoyed reading this, Jennifer – it’s so wonderful that Molly’s story resonated with your personally, thank you for sharing it here. I’m so glad I had the brief chance to catch up with you at the conference!

  • Joy @ The Herbed Kitchen

    Ooo, what a great brunch treat! I’ve been making orange toast for years now (zest, butter and icing sugar and baked the same way) but I really haven’t varied my recipe. The chestnut butter (and you know, completely different recipe) and the warmth it brings is great for autumn.