february adventures

luckily my effed up valentine’s day cake experience didn’t dictate the tone for the other parts of february because i squeezed in so many fun adventures for such a bite sized month! i got to hug old friends, eat schnitzel with cool new ones, play loud music, and jump a whole delta airline status!!!! i like you, february. come back again soon. 

let’s make a list:

photos 1 & 2: i spent a whole entire weekend at the grand forks ice arena watching the synchronized ice skating sectionals competition and i only left to get jimmy johns across the parking lot. i got to cheer on my old team!! it was sooo fun! it was sad when they didn’t win but the team that beat them was from north dakota so i still got to kvell. eggboy joined me for a few of the divisions but he got a lil bored so he left and did taxes.

photos 3-14 &16: i went to canada! which is a thing that you can do quite successfully in february if you live in the north pole already. my first stop was toronto where i stayed at the *coziest* bed and breakfast, ate at fat pasha, gave a couple of tahini covered #mollyontherange demos with hillel students and at their palatial jcc, and made ras al hanout hotdish on the marilyn denis show. i tried to make a ketchup joke because i thought that canada was the land ketchup, but either i’m incorrect about that or my delivery sucked? come on, ketchup chips, ketchup on mac and cheese, right??

in montreal i stayed with my bb and lead monkey bread inspiration, talia, in an apartment filled with hudson’s bay stripes and st. viateur bagels. we ate poutine and smoked meat and wore patagonia quarter zips for a majority of the time. my friends from the wandering chew put on the most magical #mollyontherange dessert party at the museum of jewish montreal. so many wonderful humans came out and we all ate so much sugar so naturally we needed to disco it off after. also in my two days there we managed to have one of those late-night perfectly boozy meals at maison publique, followed by some thick babka and schnitzel the next morning at hof kelsten

photos 15 & 17: kittsona, the town boutique, put on a cookie decorating #mollyontherange signing. i substituted the almond flour for hazelnut flour in these cookies and they were so tasty.

photos 18-22: conrad is a beast of a pianist and the last time we performed together, he was seven and soloing with our youth orchestra and i was 13 and putting on lip gloss and waiting for my triangle note. so it took a while, but we managed to perform together again in aspen this month with the aspen music festival! i decorated dobos torte and made cheesy spätzle while he played beethoven and jason eckardt music. from now on i only want to listen to beethoven while being covered in chocolate frosting. 

photos 23-28: proud of myself for not exploding from happiness during my 36 hours in new york, but somehow the stars aligned and i found myself in selfie distance from my all-time favorite podcast hosts, my all-time favorite ice dancers, three of my all-time favorite college homies, and i made my all-time favorite food on the today show. i also acquired a pair of comfy cool shoes called blog. i also got to eat hummus with rob and brian and they didn’t even fart when i was in the room. such mensches they are.

photos 29-36: then i went to florida! my friends george and sam have a new music group that was playing a david t little quartet (and u know how i love the loud music of david t little), so i dusted off my vibraphone mallets and brute forced some notes out. it was such great fun. i also got to see my tampa family and my old roomie and eat some fresh tomatoes which are in season down there, which felt so weird but so awesome! 

not pictured: eggboy and i went to see the town choir perform in a warehouse, it was so hip, it was like we were in brooklyn! i made suuuuuuuch a good chicken and dumplings (here is the recipe, next time i’m going to start with 2 tsp salt in the stock and work my way up and maybe not use the whole 4 tsp that it calls for). i acquired a love of matcha lattes and neck scarves. ooh and i watched this lucius, over and over and over.

tomorrow i leave for kentucky for the iacp conference! i'll be leading a cake workshop, talking on a panel, signing #mollyontherange, and seeking out the best kentucky dance clubs!! see you there??

-yeh!

 

winter farm scenes

but what happens on the farm in the winter?? is a question i get a lot, and a question i still kind of have when eggboy spends the whole morning at our kitchen table looking at a lot of numbers and symbols and government-y looking forms, drinking all of the coffee and eating the whole batch of caramel rolls that farmer chad and anna delivered.

i talked a bit about this during my modern farmer takeover this weekend, but i'm gonna expand on everything now!

1. we can fly places! like hawaii. and next month, berlin. the winter is a farmer's summer, so around now is when we're able to plan in advance and get away for more than a couple of days. in the summer, there are quieter times when eggboy is able to leave for a few days at a time, but it's impossible to tell more than a week or two in advance, so all of our little adventures in the summer are to places like fargo or bemidji, that we can plan last minute and then get to in our buick boat.

2. taxes. ok i'm not sure if this is eggboy just getting *really* excited about paperwork and numbers like the weirdo that he is, or if this is a normal farmer thing, (or maybe a general business owner thing?), but he spends tons of time on paperwork and hanging out with his accountant. paperwork literally takes up about half of his work hours.

3. equipment maintenance. over the farming season, if a tractor breaks down, there may not be time for a full on repair, so eggboy or eggpop will fix it just enough so that it will work through the season, and then over the winter they can give it the full attention it needs. all of the tractors need oil changes, bubble baths, and software updates so that they can be good as new for spring planting.

4. school! there are a lot of farmer workshops in the winter, about technology, soils, marketing, and so much more. you can tell you're at a farming workshop when the parking lot is full of pickup trucks that are twice as tall as you. (and then there's eggboy in his buick boat that he refuses to get rid of.)

5. grain gets hauled to the mill and then turned into flour. unlike sugar beets, which need to go to the processing plant as soon as they're picked, grain gets stored on our farm and brought to the town mill at various times throughout the winter, depending on the markets.

6. eggboy plays trombone. every day! and comes to the gym with me almost every day too. we're getting ripped! 

7. eggboy sleeps in. just kidding, he wakes up at 6:30 every morning no matter what. tofu the rooster does too. 

8. macaroni slow down their egg laying. there were a few months this winter when we were only getting one or two eggs every other day :( luckily now since there is a teensy bit more sunlight, we're now up to three or four a day and i can have my new favorite breakfast, a ketchup and macaroni egg taco. 😁 

9. sven cat and ole cat continue to be sven cat and ole cat. they cuddle, roam, hang out on the tractors, receive belly rubs, do general cat things as if it were any other time of the year. 

-yeh! 


last photo by chantell quernemoen

hibiscus almond marshmallows + coconut hot chocolate

it was negative 28 degrees this weekend!!!!!! do you know what this means?! it is likely going to be physically impossible for the snow to melt before chrismukkah, so we are going to have the white chrismukkah that dreams are made of. yas

i've become accustomed to wearing a layer of long underwear at all times and giving myself an extra 10 or so minutes before leaving the house to *get in costume* with all of my additional fluffy warm layers. my hats, scarves, and mittens all live in a large metal bucket next to the door, the kind of metal bucket you'd go bobbing for apples in if bobbing for apples was your thing. even a trip to the grocery store requires a few inches of padding between my skin and the air, just like a big green baymax. that doesn't apply to everyone though: you can tell a native around here if you see them running into the store in just a hoodie and sweatpants, leaving behind their pickup truck that's still got the engine on. 

the weather has naturally led to more hibernation time at home, which i live for. there are just two main challenges: getting my bum to the gym and dressing up for the holidays. i am trying to fix the gym part by downloading workout apps that i can do in my living room. and for the holiday dress-up thing, i partnered with old navy again this month and found an answer that doesn't require tights, a dress, and freezing off both of my legs (and bonus: it also helps me maintain my naptime-chic aesthetic): velvet pants + faux fur. i am really excited about this. usually around the holidays i brute force my fanciness with black jeans and a nondescript sweater but that tends to not feel fancy enough, so these velvet pants are my new nice uniform, and i'm pairing them with velvet flats that fit snuggly into a bag to be slipped on once i remove my snow boots inside. the faux fur is, yes, like a wearable blanket, and what completes this ensemble is some color by way of jewelry, colorful outerwear, and... marshmallows. is that a stretch? that's probably a stretch. i just feel like if you're going to be showing up at a party with a tray of treats, why *not* try and have them be as festive as your outfit??

or maybe i'm just really into the color combo of my new yellow hat and these naturally dyed hibiscus marshmallows. i'm so into all of it that we took my new warm festive look for a spin by climbing to the top of our grain leg for a little hot chocolate date! don't worry, it wasn't -28º on this day, just a balmy 6º or so. here is the view from our grain leg:

here is us being merry and bright:

and now let's talk marshmallows and cocoa! hibiscus is my new favorite natural food coloring. it's such a great shade of pink and it imparts a nice citrusy berry flavor that helps balance out the sweetness of a marshmallow. the first time i had hibiscus i knew its brightness would go well with nutty almond, so i went with two-tone bbs that help make the prettiest cup of hot chocolate you've ever done seen. and my new go-to hot chocolate is dead simple: good chocolate + a can of coconut milk. so easy. but you're going to want something easy after you spend an afternoon making these marshmallows, they are a bit labor intensive but look at them! i think they're worth it :)


hibiscus almond marshmallows

yields 20 massive marshmallows

ingredients

1/4 c powdered sugar

1/4 c cornstarch

1/2 c dried hibiscus leaves

1 3/4 c water

3/4 tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

4 envelopes unflavored gelatin

1 1/2 c sugar

1 c light corn syrup

1/4 tsp kosher salt

 

clues

in a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch. coat an 11" x 7" baking dish with cooking spray and dust the bottom and sides with half of the powdered sugar mixture. pour any excess mixture back into the bowl.

steep the hibiscus leaves in 1 cup boiling water, covered, for 20 minutes. strain out the hibiscus leaves and measure out the water. (It should be around 3/4 cup. add a little tap water or pour some out to make 3/4 cup.) Stick it in the fridge to allow to cool completely while you make the almond marshmallow layer. 

to make the almond marshmallow layer: in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine 1/2 cup of water (not the hibiscus water, just plain water), the almond extract, and vanilla. sprinkle 2 envelopes of gelatin over the liquid.

in a small saucepan, stir together 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup, 1/8 tsp salt, and 1/4 cup more water (again, not the hibiscus water, just plain water). clip on a candy thermometer. heat the mixture over medium-high heat until it reaches 240ºf, then immediately remove it from the heat and bring it over to the mixer.

turn the mixer on low and drizzle the corn syrup mixture in a slow and steady stream down the side of the bowl. once the entire mixture is in, gradually increase the speed to high and let it mix for 7 to 10 minutes total, until lukewarm and fluffy. while the mixer is running, grease a rubber spatula and have that standing by the mixer, as well as the prepared pan.

using your greased spatula, immediately scrape the mixture into your pan and spread it out evenly as best you can with the spatula. set this aside while you make the hibiscus marshmallow layer.

clean and dry your mixer bowl, whisk attachment, spatula, and small saucepan.

now, make the hibiscus marshmallow layer: repeat the process but use the hibiscus water this time! in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add 1/2 cup of the hibiscus water and then sprinkle the remaining 2 envelopes of gelatin over the liquid. 

in a small saucepan, stir together 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup, 1/8 tsp salt, and the remaining 1/4 cup hibiscus water. clip on a candy thermometer. heat the mixture over medium-high heat until it reaches 240ºf, then immediately remove it from the heat and bring it over to the mixer. 

turn the mixer on low and drizzle the corn syrup mixture in a slow and steady stream down the side of the bowl. once the entire mixture is in, gradually increase the speed to high and let it mix for 7 to 10 minutes total, until lukewarm and fluffy. while the mixer is running, grease a rubber spatula and have that standing by the mixer, as well as the pan with the almond layer.

using your greased spatula, immediately scrape the mixture into your pan and spread it out evenly as best you can with the spatula. dust the top with about half of the remaining powdered sugar mixture.

let set for at least 1 hour. cut into squares and dust the edges of the squares with the remaining powdered sugar mixture. 


coconut hot chocolate

makes 2 to 4 servings

ingredients

1/2 c good semi sweet chocolate

1 can coconut milk (full fat or light)

clues

combine chocolate and coconut milk in a small saucepan. heat over medium heat until chocolate melts.

divide among mugs, top with marshmallows and enjoy!


-yeh!


pictured: sweater // pants // coat // shoes // gloves // hat // vest

thank you, old navy (@oldnavy), for sponsoring this post! post your own style tips with the #oldnavystyle hashtag! disclaimer: per my sponsor agreement, the product links in this post are affiliate links. 


mezze in bed!

I plan to ring in 2016 from my bed, fast asleep under the gigantic pile of Middle Eastern cookbooks that eggmom and eggpop gave me for Christmukkah. Maybe I’ll have a bagel dog for dindin! Or something else unhealthy, before we all start our diets. What about you? Do you have plans? Maybe it’s already the new year where you are? (Hi, Australia!)

Eggboy and I spent our last bit of 2015 all over the midwest: hurrying to Fargo for Star Wars on the big screen, driving to Chicago to eat bagels and vareniki with my family, and then stopping in the twin cities on the way home where we watched Garrison Keillor wish us a happy anniversary on air (!!!) and then had one of those long perfect brunches with alex, sonja, yossy, melissa, and sarah… the kind where time gets gobbled up almost as fast as sarah’s danishes. 

Now we’re back for a good molecule of time while I forcibly extract some words to go in my book. If macaroni keep laying at the rate that they are, maybe I’ll never have to leave! I’ll just stay burritoed up in a blanket with the clack clack clack of my typewriter. 

To begin the New Year on a fun note, here is one thing that I have always had extreme excitement for, and will always have extreme excitement for: A cute meal, cutely arranged with cute individual compartments and delivered on a cute tray.

And in bed. Hollllllller breakfast in bed. (My one complaint about Eggboy’s 12am-12pm sugar beet harvest shift this year was that I couldn’t make him breakfast in bed every morning like I did last year when he had a 12pm-12am shift. But that’s ok, now we’ve got all winter, when Eggboy’s existence is devoted to paperwork and fixing tractors on a laid back timeline that doesn’t demand odd hours, so I’m resolving to make more breakfast in bed!)

Or rather, mezze in bed, because this one’s got a middle eastern vibration since it’s the new year and… health! Whenever anyone asks me why I won’t shut up about Israeli and middle eastern food, I tell them it’s because it’s good and it makes eating healthy extremely easy. So here on this tray, I’ve compiled some of my favorite little middle eastern-inspired breakfast bites that are healthy and flavorful and perfect for a New Year’s morning breakfast in bed.


Labneh // drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with za’atar

Whole wheat pita // make it!

Muhamarra // a toasted walnut and red pepper spread of MAGIC

Kale // sautéed with olive oil and garlic and sprinkled with ararat

Coffee // jazzed up with hawaij

An itsy bitsy bite of tahini blondie 

And a six-minute egg!


-yeh!

This post was created in partnership with west elm! All of the goodies you see here are from West Elm, including the reason I’ve been getting better than normal sleep at night, bedding from West Elm’s new Coyuchi line! It is beautiful and comfy and makes me want to stay in bed all day. Enter to win a bed set here!