And Just Like That
Hello from the other side! I realize we haven’t been back here for a few weeks, and I’m sorry for dropping into a little black hole. My cookbook deadline was Monday, so I’ve been a writing and editing machine, stepping away from the computer to occasionally clean the house like a crazy person or throw together a most random lunch or dinner. But somehow it all came together although there was something strangely anti-climactic about sending it off: In the days when you’d print out your manuscript and have to walk to the post office and seal it up carefully to send to the publisher, I imagine it would feel much more ceremonial and important –you could stroll out of the building and do a cartwheel. Or high-five a fellow customer on your way out. Instead, I was sitting in our dining room on an incredibly rainy, dark Monday afternoon unable to hit “send.” My sister Zoe told me to just close my eyes and do it. Sam gave me the thumbs up. So around 3 p.m. that’s what I did. With the click of a button, just like that: it was finished.
And then I proceeded to take the longest nap I’ve taken in six months. I don’t generally allow myself to take naps, but I made a pretty big exception and woke up feeling squarely on the other side of it all. We went out to dinner and had good wine and bowls of pasta at our favorite celebration spot. I felt teary and tired and gripped onto Sam’s arm for most of the meal, still in disbelief that I wouldn’t be waking up each morning working on book recipes. In a sense I feel like I just told you guys about the cookbook. In another sense, it feels like I’ve been working on the manuscript forever. I’m so pleased and proud of the way it has turned out, and can’t wait to share it with you.
It will be a little while though: Now that the publisher has it in their hands, it takes almost a year to make the book come to life. Right now, we’re looking at a December 2013 publish date, so this next year will be filled with lots of edits, a photo shoot, design meetings, revisions and the like. I think it’ll be a busy year but for now, I’m glad to step away into the land of eggnog, Christmas trees, strings of lights and afternoon naps.
If you’ve followed the blog for some time, you know that Sam is the web designer I hired for Marge and, after dating long-distance for a year, he is the reason I eventually moved up to Seattle from the Bay Area. Our story will be in the book as will the story of beginning and growing a small business. It looks like it will include anywhere from 60-70 whole-grain breakfast recipes, and I’ve been snapping photos of our house, neighborhood, farmers markets, and ingredients I use in the kitchen and many of those will be in the book as well. The cool thing is that the photos will actually be a collaboration in the sense that there will be many by me, but plenty of photos of the food itself will be done by an incredible local photographer (I’m not certain I’m yet allowed to say who she is, but I will as soon as I get the thumbs-up).
On Sunday we were debating what to make for breakfast and Sam asked if I’d cook something from the book. We’d both gotten used to having the recipes around all the time that he was starting to miss them as I’d been focusing much more on writing rather than recipe testing. That moment made me smile — the book’s become a part of our lives quickly, and so many of the recipes are new morning favorites. We lounged around debating which one it would be: whole-grain gingerbread, salmon crème fraîche tart, gingered grits with golden raisins, or maybe just some good leftover bread with my honeyed tangerine marmalade. So many decisions. So many recipes we’ve both come to love.
For now though, it feels good to have a little space from the book, to dip into my files of holiday recipes that I’ve been looking forward to making. This eggnog loaf actually wasn’t even on my radar until this week when my friend and fellow Kitchn writer, Emma Christensen, developed it. The second I saw her photos I knew I wanted to make it and thought I’d try doing so using whole-grain flours and natural sugar. The result? A lightly-spiced holiday loaf cake with a subtly sweet, boozy glaze that is already nominated as a must-make-again-soon this holiday season. I rarely tell you that you absolutely must make something on the blog. I figure you all decide what looks good to you, try a few recipes every now and again, and move on with your lives. But if I were to rate the recipes here from 1-10, this is a 10. It’s simple to put together with ingredients you likely already have at home (with the exception of eggnog, perhaps) and makes a wonderful afternoon snacking cake, morning sweet or after-dinner dessert with a little espresso.
The trouble I have with loaf cakes is that they often come off as heavy and dense but because this version is made with a mixture of spelt flour and whole-wheat pastry flour, it has a delightfully light, springy crumb and doesn’t feel at all overly-indulgent. If you’ve baked much from the blog, you know I have a thing for spelt flour. Remember the Rhubarb Custard Bars in the spring or the more recent Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits? I often turn to spelt flour in the kitchen because, while it’s whole-grain in composition, it behaves much like an all-purpose white flour: it has a mild flavor and produces baked goods with a tender, soft texture. Here, it helps form a loaf that’s everything a holiday cake should be: fragrant and begging to be shared.
Happy weekend to you. I’m so looking forward to lots of baking in the month ahead. Also, the lovely Melissa from The Faux Martha won the granola giveaway from the last post. Thank you all so much for commenting — I loved hearing what you were thankful for, and loved sending a box of Marge out to a blog reader. Let’s do that again soon, shall we?
Boozy Whole Grain Eggnog Loaf
- Yield: 8-10 Servings
- Prep time:15mins
- Cook time:50mins
- Total time:1hr5mins
The only natural cane sugar I had in the house was a coarse turbinado sugar, so I used that here and it turned out delicious. I will say that the butter and sugar don’t whip up quite as light and fluffy as they would with a finer-grain sugar and that’s why my version isn’t as tall and stately as Emma’s loaf. But I’m not so sure it’s a short coming, really. For the glaze, Emma suggests any dark booze you have: rum, bourbon or brandy. I opted for rum and folded a little into the batter itself. Last, full-fat eggnog is the best choice for this recipe as the lower-fat varieties won’t become nearly as frothy.
Adapted from: Emma Christensen’s recipe for The Kitchn
Heat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8×5 loaf pan with parchment so that the extra hangs over the sides. Spray the parchment and loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
In a standing mixer with a whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the eggnog at high speed until it becomes frothy and airy, about 8 minutes. Don’t expect it to actually firm up like whipped cream as it has other ingredients (namely eggs) preventing that. Keep the frothy eggnog in the refrigerator until ready to use.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the two flours, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.
Wash the bowl to your standing mixer and fit it with the paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer). Beat the butter at medium speed until it become creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the sugar until the mixture is is smooth and well-incorporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs and egg yolk one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla and the rum. Scrape down the sides as needed.
Add the flour mixture into the bowl of the stand mixer, and mix on low until the ingredients just come together into a dough. Be careful not to overmix.
Using a spatula, gently fold 1/3 of the whipped eggnog into the batter. Then fold the remaining eggnog into the batter. It will feel pretty loose at first, but don’t worry: just keep gently folding and stirring, and eventually it will form a nice, pourable batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Place in the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, then lift the loaf out by the parchment paper and transfer it to a cooling rack. Remove the parchment.
When the loaf has cooled but is still warm to the touch, whisk together the glaze and spoon over the top of the loaf. Allow the loaf to sit until the icing is set and dry. Slice and serve. Wrap leftovers in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to three days.
Healthy Comfort Food
Thai Carrot, Coconut and Cauliflower Soup
People describe raising young kids as a particular season in life. I hadn't heard this until we had a baby, but it brought me a lot of comfort when I'd start to let my mind wander, late at night between feedings, to fears that we'd never travel internationally again or have a sit-down meal in our dining room. Would I ever eat a cardamom bun in Sweden? Soak in Iceland? I loved the heck out of our tiny Oliver, but man what had we done?! Friends would swoop in and reassure us that this was just a season, a blip in the big picture of it all. They promised we'd likely not even remember walking around the house in circles singing made-up songs while eating freezer burritos at odd hours of the day (or night). And it's true.
Oliver is turning two next month, and those all-encompassing baby days feel like a different time, a different Us. In many ways, dare I say it, Toddlerhood actually feels a bit harder. Lately Oliver has become extremely opinionated about what he will and will not wear -- and he enforces these opinions with fervor. Don't get near the kid with a button-down shirt. This week at least. He's obsessed with his rain boots and if it were up to him, he'd keep them on at all times, especially during meals. He insists on ketchup with everything (I created a damn monster), has learned the word "trash" and insists on throwing found items away on his own that really, truly are not trash. I came to pick him up from daycare the other day and he was randomly wearing a bike helmet -- his teacher mentioned he'd had it on most of the day and really, really didn't want to take it off. The kid has FEELINGS. I love that about him, and wouldn't want it any other way. But, man it's also exhausting.
Cheesy Quinoa Cauliflower Bake
I just finished washing out Oliver's lunchbox and laying it out to dry for the weekend. My favorite time of day is (finally) here: the quiet of the evening when I can actually talk to Sam about our day or sit and reflect on my own thoughts after the inevitable dance party or band practice that precedes the bedtime routine lately. Before becoming pregnant for the second time, I'd have had a glass of wine with the back door propped open right about now -- these days though, I have sparkling water or occasionally take a sip from one of Sam's hard ciders. Except now the back door's closed and we even turned on the heat for the first time yesterday. The racing to water the lawn and clean the grill have been replaced by cozier dinners at home and longer baths in the evening. You blink and it's the first day of fall.
Stuffed Shells with Fennel and Radicchio
I'd heard from many friends that buying a house wasn't for the faint of heart. But I always shrugged it off, figuring I probably kept better files or was more organized and, really, how hard could it be? Well, I've started (and stopped) writing this post a good fifteen times which may indicate something. BUT! First thing's first: we bought a house! I think! I'm pretty sure! We're still waiting for some tax transcripts to come through and barring any hiccough with that, we'll be moving out of our beloved craftsman in a few weeks and down the block to a great, brick Tudor house that we wanted the second we laid eyes on it. The only problem: it seemed everyone else in Seattle had also laid eyes on it, and wanted it equally as much. I'm not really sure why the homeowner chose us in the end. Our offer actually wasn't the highest, but apparently there were some issues with a few of them. We wrote a letter introducing ourselves and describing why we'd be the best candidates and why we were so drawn to the house; we have a really wonderful broker who pulled out all the stops, and after sifting through 10 offers and spending a number of hours deliberating, they ended up going with ours. We were at a friend's book event at the time when Sam showed me the text from our broker and I kind of just collapsed into his arms. We were both in ecstatic denial (wait, is this real?! Did we just buy a house?) and celebrated by getting chicken salad and potato salad from the neighborhood grocery store and eating it, dazed, on our living room floor. Potato salad never tasted so good.
Smoky Butternut Squash and Three Bean Chili
If your house is anything like ours, last week wasn't our most inspired in terms of cooking. We're all suffering from the post-election blues -- the sole upside being Oliver's decision to sleep-in until 7 am for the first time in many, many months; I think he's trying to tell us that pulling the covers over our heads and hibernating for awhile is ok. It's half-convincing. For much of the week, instead of cooking, there'd been takeout pizza and canned soup before, at week's end, I decided it was time to pour a glass of wine and get back into the kitchen. I was craving something hearty and comforting that we could eat for a few days. Something that wouldn't remind me too much of Thanksgiving because, frankly, I can't quite gather the steam to start planning for that yet. It was time for a big bowl of chili.
To Talk Porridge
Porridge is not the sexiest of breakfasts, it's true. It doesn't have a stylish name like strata or shakshuka, and it doesn't have perfectly domed tops like your favorite fruity muffin. It doesn't crumble into delightful bits like a good scone nor does it fall into buttery shards like a well-made croissant. But when you wake up and it's 17 degrees outside (as it has been, give or take a few, for the last week), there's nothing that satisfies like a bowl of porridge or oatmeal. It's warm and hearty and can be made sweet or savory with any number of toppings. The problem? Over the years, it's gotten a bad rap as gluey or gummy or just downright boring or dutiful -- and it's because not everyone knows the secrets to making a great pot of warm morning cereal. So let's talk porridge (also: my cookbook comes out this month! So let's take a peek inside, shall we?)
Stephanie Meyer (Fresh Tart)
Hi Megan! Congratulations on completing your manuscript. I haven't left a note for too long but I'm so excited for you, and Sam, and to get that book in my hands! xoxo
Hip hip hooray! Congrats on turning in that big bad manuscript! The cake looks amazing. I can't wait to try your variation. :)
Denise | Chez Danisse
Woohoo! Congrats. Time for a little break. Enjoy it, and I hope a second nap is on the horizon for you. Take care, Denise
Congratulations on finishing the first draft of the book.
I can't wait to see all of the pictures and recipes.
Congratulations on hitting send! I've experienced that moment before (though never with a book manuscript) and it's both terrifying and exhilarating.
Also, this loaf cake sounds great; I recently started using spelt flour in everything, so this is a really timely post for my holiday baking!
That looks delicious! I am excited for the book.
Can I preorder my copy now?:) I am so proud of you. What an accomplishment. I am glad you will have some time off to enjoy the Holidays and a little down time...except for making granola of course.
Thanks, Lisa! Yes, I'm glad I have December just to lay low, too. Thanks good ness for that. Hope you guys are doing well + you're enjoying your cooking classes (sounded fun!)
Yay! I am so happy for you, and can't wait to see your gorgeous book.
Until then, eggnog loaf cake, please. That sounds delightful!
Thanks, T! Yes, you'd love this cake. We'll toast each other soon (tomorrow?) xx, mg
So freaking proud of you. For making this loaf. Oh, and also THE BOOK. Cannot wait. Congrats, friend!!!
Congratulations!! I so remember that elated feeling. Here's to the next year; may the editing process be happy and fruitful!
Thanks, Luisa! Yes, I hope that's exactly what the editing process will be (since it's my first book, I have NO clue what it'll be like, but I'm shooting for happy). Hope you've had a lovely weekend -- from Instagram, it looks like it's been a pretty cold one.
Congratulations on finishing the book! I have been a fan of your breakfast recipes for a while, I think it started around the time you posted English Muffins. I know that this is selfish, but I am also thrilled that it won't be published until next December as I am taking on a personal project this year to buy no non-consumable goods for the next year. As delicious as your cookbook may be I didn't want to have to eat it! Seriously, when I thought about the project one of the first things that came to mind was no new cookbooks and then yours specifically...
On a side note, I really wanted egg nog and all they had were the big cartons at the grocery store. I'm making this loaf tomorrow for sure!
Oh, thanks so much Nicole. Gosh, I remember those english muffins! I just met a gal that did a buy-no-new-clothes in 2012 and was talking to her all about it. Seemed very inspiring (and she saved a lot of money, as you can imagine). Thanks so much for your sweet blog comments and continual support. Hope you had a chance to make the loaf + that you liked it. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, m
Congratulations to you! What an exciting accomplishment, and just in time for holiday festivity. I wish you many naps in the days to come! (And this bread looks scrumptious -- quick breads are simply the best, and I love the inclusion of eggnog!)
Thanks so much, Stacey. Yes...I'd originally asked for an extension --which was denied--and I'm so happy that it was: get to enjoy a little holiday cheer without the book stress. Hope your weekend's been wonderful, m
I've been seeing recipes around the web like this lately and have really wanted to give one a try. Yours looks fabulous!
CONGRATS on the book! What an exciting adventure!!
Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
This looks like a total dream! Love that glaze!
You. Are. Awesome.
(So exciting, Megan!)
So exciting!! Can't wait to see the book next year!
I just came across your blog and had to comment. I, too, moved to Seattle recently after having been in a long distance relationship for some time. There may be others...perhaps we should form a group!
Hi, there! Oh, awesome. Maybe there's a thing drawing us all to the Pacific Northwest? Thanks for stopping in and taking the time to comment. Hope you're staying dry on this gray, runny Sunday, m
I can only imagine the tremendous sense of accomplishment you feel when you send off something you've spent so much time working on. I'm so glad to hear the book will not only feature recipes, but stories of your life - that is my kind of cookbook! What a great time to be done (temporarily) with the book. Enjoy the season, friend! Oh, and this cake looks like a great way to celebrate ;)
Thanks, Kasey! Yes, there's just a little space for narrative ... hopefully enough to give a little glimpse into life here in Seattle. Hope you and Matt and bambina are having a great weekend. Talk soon, m
Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe
Congratulations on completing your manuscript Megan. How lovely that you can now take some time to enjoy the holidays, perhaps with a little less stress! I certainly cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of your book next year. You are so deserving of this great success!
As an author I know well that moment of pushing the send button and I also remember bundling up manuscripts and posting them. Letting it go at the counter was a terrible wrench and you never knew when it would reach its destination. Now it is so instantaneous and that has its own scary factor. There is always a slightly empty feeling once it has gone and a reassessment of one's direction. Good luck with all the edits that are to come.
Yes, I guess both are scary in their own way, huh? Very true. You've pinned it exactly, too: that empty feeling. I think you don't realize all the time/energy (even subconsciously) you've put into a project until you send it off. It's been nice (movies, books etc) for a week, but now I'm itching already to think about the next project. Hope you're having a great weekend, m
congrats on finishing, megan! having recently completed a manuscript myself, I know the beating heart and the cold sweats and the terror/excitement that comes from staring at the "send" button...and then, finally, forcing yourself to press it. but it's a magical feeling when it's gone, isn't it?
this cake looks delicious. and how funny to see emma's name mentioned. we went to college together! small world.
Thanks, Jenny. Oh you went to school with Emma! Lucky you. She's awesome.
It sure is a magical feeling when it's over .. although then there's that kind of weird "down" that settles in, like 'what do I do with all of that time/energy now?' Hope you're having a nice weekend, m
I knew you would do it! You did it! Congratulations, Meg! So proud of you and many, many high fives being sent from over here. xo!
Thank you for all your support, Shanna. You rock. Many high fives sent your way, too, on the print edition of your book. Coolness (I was trying to comment on that post but I think you guys had disabled comments for that one in particular?). xx, mg
Congratulations! Love the cozy Heath holiday napkins! I was in the store today coveting them.
Thanks so much, Anne. Yes, alas, I miss the Heath discount.
Oh, Megan, a huge, hearty congratulations!
What a triumph, what an accomplishment. What a great excuse for a nap!!
Onward and upward and back to some semblance of (new) normal. What a remarkable few years its been.
And what a remarkable cake this looks to be. I take your command seriously. Won't be long...
What an absolute thrill. You are amazing. And I so look forward to that day we meet for a coffee or tea.
I'll be back up in Seattle first week of January?
So so congratulations!
So, so happy for you friend. You have been so busy cooking and baking up such lovely treats and I can. not. wait. to hold that beautiful book in my hands. Also, I'd love to see you!!
Yay! Many high fives to you! I'm really, really excited to add your book to my shelf; although based on the number of recipes I've made from your blog in the past month (I'm currently eating leftovers of the Asian Cabbage and Tofu Salad I made last night, which is like, the 5th time I've made it now!), it's probably more likely that your book will find a permanent home on my kitchen counter!
Please consider making Boston a stop on a book tour! I just volunteered for Eat Boutique's holiday market yesterday -- it would be great to see you at an event like that!!
yes yes! so proud of you! enjoy this bit of peace before the next stage. I am certain it's fabulous and I CANNOT wait to see it!
Sara @ The Cozy Herbivore
Congrats on finishing up the cookbook! Must feel like a huge weight off your shoulders.
This bread looks absolutely divine-- that glaze is so decadent, I wanna make it just so I can lick my stirring spoon. Eggnog is such a great ingredient in baked goods-- those spices really respond to time in the oven. I can't wait to give this baby a try, it's such a show stopper!
CONGRATS, Megan - so thrilled for you!! Can. Not. Wait.
Congrats on the manuscript being done!! I can't wait for you book to be published then I can buy it and make all your recipes : D Your my favorite Blog to read!
Cookie and Kate
Mega congrats on finishing the manuscript! This loaf looks right up my alley. Love that boozy glaze.
thanks for this! i just NOW found it and am so pleased. there's all this extra egg nog in the house and i've been looking for a good cake to make with it. happy holidays and keep up the great works
Congratulations Megan, I'd love to get a copy when it has been published. I'm looking forward to reading it just as much as I look forward to reading each new recipe that you post.