things i like {winter 2012}

First of all, thanks for the kind words and encouragement for the week ahead. I'm still undecided about the whole birthday cake thing, and know I just need to see how I feel once the day approaches. Maybe I'll be in a cake-making mood, maybe I won't. What I will do is follow my instincts at the moment, and go with the flow.

Before you all begin thinking life is filled with nothing but gloom around here, though, rest assured I have many moments throughout the day that bring a smile to my face. I try to hold those moments close, and wish I could capture them in a bottle to save for a rainy day. In fact, sometimes I really can preserve the moments—thanks for the inspiration Heidi. So, I thought I'd share some of my favorite things of late with you all. Putting this little list together was a welcome distraction for me, and it's always nice to share a good find with a friend.

  • Citrus Salts from 101 Cookbooks. It's no secret that I love everything Heidi cooks. Sometimes I even imagine what it would be like to be her neighbor, and have the chance to hang in the kitchen together. Take a peek at her recipe for preserving citrus zest to see why. I gave them a go this weekend, and took it a step further by adding some fresh chopped herbs to mine (the photo above is oregano citrus salt).
  • I can't say enough how much I love my new bread boards from Our Vintage Home Love. Diane introduced me to them a few weks ago, and I immediately ordered a set. The kids adore having their own individual boards at night. They've also become spoiled with their own ramekins of seasoned olive oil for dipping. Dorm life is going to be a rude awakening.
  • It's funny how it's been months since Olga and I have seen each other, insane actually, because we only live 10 blocks from each other! Alas, life gets in the way of face-to-face time, but our minds were both on the same thing a few weeks ago: parsnips. You'll have to wait until the second book comes out for my recipe (sorry), but go give her parsnip leek soup a try until then. Her recipes never disappoint.
  • I have a handbag obsession, and once you see this one I've fallen for from Pietro Alessandro, you'll understand why. The leather is so soft and subtle, and they're made right here in NYC. I bought mine at a local shop here in Cobble Hill, but they also sell them online—I have this brownish-grey one which pretty much goes with anything.
  • Breville gets my vote for the best hand mixer ever. While testing for the cookbook I wanted to use a hand mixer, since I know not everyone has a zippy 800-watt stand mixer. This little 200-watt powerhouse beat the socks off two other top brands. I love that the beaters are sturdy, not flimsy wire whisks like most other hand mixers nowadays. Making a batch of chocolate chip cookies took less than 10 minutes. For the record, this wasn't a freebie—I paid for this baby out of pocket, and it's well-worth the $80.

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  • Tracey

    Morning Jennie!
    I want you to make a cake!How bout something like a twelve layer cake? I made one for my cousins, they had a birthday on the same day, 3 years apart.My cousin is 55, not a kid and kidded me terribly on it, saying it was over the top. Unfortunately, I thought it was only impressive. He may be a computer geek, but I am a cooking geek. Thinking of you and liking your blog.
    Only sunshine and smiles sent,

  • lori

    I have to admit, I’ve been lucky enough to hang with Heidi in a kitchen and she is an amazing cook. I love everything I’ve ever had the luck of trying that she’s cooked. And more than that she’s an amazing person.
    It’s clear by your strength and ability to write so beautifully through this experience that there is something about food and cooking that allows amazing people to shine.

  • Sonya

    I’ll have to try the preserved citrus zest! Mine will be made with lemon zest! I have the Breville juicer and it’s a great machine. I used to have a hand mixer (Cuisinart) but the silly thing only had to speeds, low and high! That went off to Goodwill. I’ll have to check on the Breville one. I have a kitchen-aid stand mixer and it’s cumbersome to haul out each time. Thank you for your list.

  • Foryourpiesonly

    I love seeing what other cooks & bakers love to use! And as a person who does not own a super awesome stand mixer, I THANK YOU for trying out your recipes with a hand mixer 🙂 It always makes me a little sad inside when recipes tell you to just “whip this up in the stand mixer”.

  • Brandy

    I know that everyone is different and I have not experienced what you have. I do remember that my great nana used to make a cake for my great grandpa every year on his birthday. I never met him, he was gone before my mom was born. She used to say that it was hard but she couldn’t imagine spending that day doing anything other than celebrating the life she got to be a part of. So, for the 40ish years after his passing, she made him a lemon cake and some years she cried and some she didn’t. Do what feels right and I commend you for sharing your grief, it helps me to keep life in perspective and gives me hope that I can always be strong for my daughter, even when I don’t want to be.

  • Ann S.

    JENNY… Hi from Connecticut. I know I am returning to the birthday cake topic, but, here is a silly idea: Magnolia Bakery or Crumbs… get a cupcake, and light one candle… that way the event is just “yours”. Mourning has no timeline and no rules… If you ever want to scoop your kids and take them for a break from the city … there is a great dog beach that is open to the pups until March 31… take them for a walk on a Saturday or a Sunday… the light and the expanse of the Sound is amazing. You are in my constant prayers and thoughts. Bear Hugs and Labrador nuzzles…. ( I know I posted on the topic before…) Remember you are amazing!!! 🙂

  • Sonya M Frymoyer

    I am so thrilled about your cookbook. I have placed it on my birthday list. I love my bloggers & then thrilled when they release a book. I love the bag you mentioned from Pietro Alessandro, could you pass the name of the store on. I will be in NYC this spring & would love to purchase while there.

    Thanks, and so deeply happy to hear & read how you are slowing moving forward. Happiness is what you create.