honey and vanilla-glazed lemon bread

It’s funny how you can have so many plans, expectations, ideals about something only to realize that they’re pointless. Like how people expect buses to arrive on time, or for all fluffy animals to be friendly. Months ago – when I was a wee youngin’ of 20 – I thought that my 21st birthday would be some huge celebration in my apartment (decked out in strands and strands of Christmas lights) with lots of good friends and champagne and fruit tarts (my favorite food and namesake of my blog). But as last week approached, after pulling an all-nighter and successive four and five hour nights, I quickly defenestrated that idea.

I was fighting a headache in class Friday when I got caught up in a text exchange with one of my roommates, Tabitha.

“When do you get out of class?”
“What? When do you usually get out?”
“6. Why? What are we doing?”
“Connie and I are taking you somewhere but we’re not telling you where!”

Needless to say, all symptoms of sleep deprivation quickly disappeared. I was blindfolded with Tabitha’s pink scarf and taken to a beautiful restaurant overlooking the river and skyline (Jacky’s, if you’re ever in the downtown Providence area) for a lovely evening in the company of two of the most delightful people I have ever known. Interestingly enough, Tabitha and Connie commented that I seemed like I was in distress when I opened my birthday present, but really it was just me struggling to express the depths of my gratitude. And it wasn’t even my birthday yet! I won’t bother you with the details of the rest of my weekend, other than that I don’t have any regrets about not having that party I previously envisioned. I certainly couldn’t have anticipated how restful and necessary my weekend actually was.

So anyway, this small loaf of lemon bread is just a minuscule manifestation of my affection, both for my roommates and for everyone else in my life. I’ve been meaning to make this for a long time for Connie since she loves everything lemon, but while I was baking/eating it I thought of everyone else who would enjoy it because it is ridiculously delicious – if I could, I would bake a loaf for everyone I know. I adapted it from an allrecipes recipe by lowering the sugar and upping the lemon like crazy, and then making up a glaze to drizzle on top just because this is a food blog and I feel self conscious about putting unphotogenic foods on here. My loaf happens to have flecks of crushed flax seed because we ran out of eggs, but I’m sure yours will be a perfectly pale yellow.

Honey and Vanilla-Glazed Lemon Bread
makes 1 loaf (8 x 4 x 2″) or 2 mini loaves

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar (or up to 1 cup if you like it sweet)
2 eggs
juice of two lemons
zest of one lemon
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup or so of milk
splash of lemon extract

~2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup or so of confectioners’ sugar
splash of vanilla extract

1. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, lemon juice, and zest.

lots and lots of zest!

 2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; stir into creamed mixture alternately with milk until batter-consistency.

3. Pour into a greased 8-in. x 4-in. x 2-in. loaf pan, or two small loaf pans, or a cupcake pan, or whatever else tickles your fancy.

4. Bake at 350 degrees 30-45 minutes (depending on your pan of choice) or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

5. Combine glaze ingredients, messing around until you love it.

a drizzle of honey

6. Pour the glaze over your bread, and serve to people you love (who will probably then proceed to hug you).


perfect birthday cake

I’m always skeptical of recipes deemed ‘perfect,’ be it the New York Times’ perfect chocolate chip cookie (though I’m sure, as many food bloggers will attest, they may in fact be the best chocolate chip cookie in existence) or, in this instance, Dorie Greenspan’s perfect party cake. Upon first glance, the recipe (from the truly lovely blog A Tender Crumb) does sound delicious: moist lemon cake, raspberry jam, a light buttercream, and a shredded coconut exterior. However, I was inspired to try a cheesecake-influenced take on this cake. I replaced the buttercream with a light cheesecake filling and chose to use strawberry jam instead of raspberry (though I’m sure raspberry’d be just as delicious) and a light cream cheese frosting.

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lemon garlic oven-roasted salmon with asparagus

As I grow older, I realize that one of the greatest indicators of the amount of independence I have is the amount of cooking I do. I’m no chef by any means but having the opportunity to cook (or making time to cook) means that I no longer rely on outside providers, be it my mother or my college dining hall, and must learn to fend off hunger with my own abilities (of which I don’t have many… but that’s ok). As much as I miss the security of having delicious food available to me at all hours of the day, I’m also excited about the process of learning to do it myself.

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