Monthly Archives: January 2012


A friend’s new pet hedgehog.

Our finger puppet hedgehog meets the real thing.

They get on swimmingly.



Filed under animals

Olive Oil Cake

You can take your skeptical face off now. This recipe came from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain, one of my favorite baking books (see: chocolate chip cookies the size of your palm with bittersweet chocolate and whole wheat flour; ginger peach muffins). So you see, I have faith, and you should too.

I was looking for something I could bake that wouldn’t require me to leave the house to buy buttermilk or heavy cream; I could have made muffins with yogurt, but I wanted to make something new. So I checked my cabinets to see what kind of flours I had on hand, then leafed through Ms. Boyce’s book, and – given my ingredient constraints – decided upon the olive oil cake. It looked interesting; plus, it called for fresh rosemary, and my rosemary plant is the only herb still soldiering on from the summer, so I like to use it when I can.

I’m happy to report that the cake is a success. It’s kind of reminiscent of banana bread, except instead of the banana flavor, it’s olive oil and rosemary; maybe it’s just the texture (moist – sorry for those of you who hate that word beyond all reason) and the chocolate that remind me of it. In fact, if banana bread and pumpkin bread are breads instead of cakes, so is this.

Also, y’all, this cake/bread has no butter: that’s right, I baked a thing that does not have butter in it. Most probably major world upheaval is in the cards – it is 2012 now, after all. You should probably prepare by baking this cake.

Thanks to Tim for the new pie dish!

What I’m reading: The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton; The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, David Mitchell

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Filed under food


Apologies for the unplanned hiatus. The last several months of 2011 were rather busy, what with moving, getting engaged, finishing my last semester of grad school, and finding and starting a job (roughly in that order). In lieu of a month and a half’s worth of blog posts, allow me to offer a recipe for…

Peppermint Bark

12 oz. bittersweet chocolate
12 oz. white chocolate
1/2 cup of crushed candy canes or starlight mints
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract (optional)

Note: You may adjust the amounts of bittersweet and white chocolate. If you would like a thinner layer of white chocolate, for example, use less of that and more bittersweet. You can also use semisweet chocolate in place of some of the bittersweet chocolate, as I did. You may also choose to do more than two layers, or to reverse the layers; in these instructions, dark chocolate is on the bottom layer and white chocolate is on top.

1. Prepare a baking sheet with a layer of aluminum foil over it.

2. Melt bittersweet chocolate (or white chocolate if you want that to be the bottom layer) in a saucepan on medium-low heat, stirring continuously. If you are using the peppermint extract, add it once the chocolate is mostly melted, and stir/whisk swiftly at this point.

3. Remove chocolate from heat and pour onto the aluminum foil. Spread the chocolate in an even layer with a rubber spatula (or another kitchen instrument of your choice). Put the baking sheet with the chocolate in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes.

4. While the chocolate is chilling, melt the white chocolate in a clean saucepan, stirring continuously. When the dark chocolate has been in the fridge for 15 minutes, remove it and pour the white chocolate over top, smoothing with the spatula. Sprinkle the crushed candy canes or mints over the top, then put the sheet back in the fridge to chill for another 20 minutes.

Once the chocolate has set, break it into pieces.

This is a relatively low-effort recipe and with a beautiful and delicious result; great to keep around the house or give away as a gift (or some of both).

I will try to continue posting recipes and other miscellany here from time to time, but for more frequent (hopefully) library-, information-, and education-related posts, you are cordially invited to view my other site.

What I’m reading: The Lake of Dreams, Kim Edwards; Vaclav and Lena, Haley Tanner

What I’m listening to: Pay Attention, Mighty Mighty Bosstones; Tattoo You, Rolling Stones; the Muppet movie soundtrack


Filed under events, food, recipe