Archive for the ‘life’ Category

Let them eat mochi cake

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Goodness knows, I’m not a sweet-tooth kind of guy. On the rare occasion that I do bake on the other side of the spectrum, it’s a sure bet that it’s for a pretty darn special reason. Today was one such reason.

mocho coconut cake

The ever-fabulous Guinevere de la Mare is leaving Chronicle Books. You may know her as Zenguin on Twitter or Instagram. I’m going to miss this intelligent lady something fierce.

When discussing treats for her farewell luau (obviously, as she was born and raised in Hawaii) , Irene mentioned coconut mochi cake. I’ve never tasted one, but I do enjoy the texture of glutenous sweet rice flour. I had a gut feeling (get it?) that this wasn’t going to be your average cake, so I thought I’d give it a whirl, even if it was to cook with mochi for the first time. For those following along, I should mention, this experiment was to be my second-ever cake.

mochi cake from above

Well, lightning does strike twice, or I’ve got some crazy beginner’s luck. As you can see, it didn’t come out too shabby. The outside was golden and slightly crisp, but the insides had a slightly moist mochi jiggle. Since people are have asked, the recipe is below.

Mochi and Coconut Cake
an amalgamation inspired by and and a recipe from Irene’s friend

Makes: 1 large bundt cake

1 stick butter, melted and cooled (but still liquid)
1 16 oz. Mochiko (sweet rice flour), sold in boxes or in bulk section, approx. 3 cups
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
5 eggs, beaten
(or 4 if you prefer a more dense cake)
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk (can substitute another can of coconut milk)
1/2 cup water
1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk (unsweetened and NOT reduced fat)
2 tsp. vanilla


  1. Arrange oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease your cake pan with butter. Grease it well, if you want it to come out unblemished.
  2. Whisk together mochiko, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk together coconut milk, evaporated milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla in another bowl.
  4. Add coconut mixture to flour mixture, whisking until batter is combined. No lumps.
  5. Pour batter into a greased Bundt pan (or a 13 x 9 baking pan). If necessary, smooth top, and bake until top is golden and cake begins to pull away from sides of pan, about 1 1/2 hours. Give it a check after an hour with a cake tester, a toothpick or (for you knitters out there) a 2.0mm Signature Needlearts double-pointed needle. It’s done when it pulls out clean.
  6. Cool cake completely in pan on a rack, about 2 hours. (I did this one overnight in pan, and it came out beautifully.) /li>
  7. Once it’s cooled completely, enjoy.
mochi coconut cake

Updated July 5, 2014: Thanks to Emily for pointing this out. The original version of this recipe didn’t include the evaporated milk in step 3. It’s whisked together with the other wet ingredients. The recipe has been corrected.
Mochi keeps, covered and chilled, for three days, but this cake didn’t last twenty minutes. For certain gluten-sensitive people, this recipe contains no wheat—that’s why my sister is baking one this weekend. You can riff off this in all kinds of ways. In my research I’ve come across recommendations to add toasted coconut pieces, coconut extract or orange zest. My next one will be flavored with matcha green tea.

Tomorrow is Lady Guinevere’s last day here in the office. I’m grateful her parting resulted in this new treat in my baking quiver. But, sadly, I’ll miss you bunches. This place was lucky to have you for as long as it did, G.

Aloha and a hui hou.

Conchita Wurst

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

Congratulations to Conchita Wurst from Austria, winner of Eurovision 2014. She’s a reminder to be happy, knit more and don’t let not having a beard hold you back.

Josey Builds a Bakery

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

If you follow me elsewhere, you’ll know I’ve been baking bread. A lot of bread. But not as much as this guy, but a boy can dream, can’t he?

Enjoy this mini-doc about superfly-rye-guy Josey Baker and the opening of The Mill.

Josey Builds a Bakery! from Najeeb Tarazi.

2013 / 14 min / HD / Stereo

In 2012, Josey Baker went from biking, baking, bread deliveryman to brick and mortar neighborhood fixture. This was his journey.

Directed by Najeeb Tarazi
Cinematography by Clare Major
Original Music by William Ryan Fritch

Happy, by Maggie Estep

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Like Laurie Anderson’s Home of the Brave did for me during the 80s (as seen on HBO), Maggie’s work also opened my eyes onto a world beyond my suburban, son-of-a-preacher-man home that I knew I wanted to join one day. Urban, independent, absurd, progressive, radical (if standing up for yourself was radical). I wanted to be that brave.

She was the antithesis to piggish Andrew Dice Clay and (in my mind) a soul sister to early Janene Garofalo and an indication for what Henry Rollins was becoming. She was also a stepping stone for me into the world of progressive politics and an open invitation to reject that which was being slopped on us all in the lunch line of modern pop culture. Ironic that MTV is the source that served her up to me.

Upon hearing of her death yesterday, I realized I had forgotten how much she meant to me and how deeply her words landed in me.

Hey Baby — her piece I remember from medium rotation on cable television, spoken word over droning rockish music. Fun fact: this was also skewered on Beavis and Butthead.

I Am an Emotional Idiot — no description required.

Her work was funny. The truth and smarts held within made it even funnier and more poignant.


“Glacier” by John Grant

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

My favorite song, from my favorite album of 2013 (which happens to have been recorded in my favorite place, Iceland), by one of my favorite artists, John Grant.

I, too, wish I had heard a song like this as I grew up. A glimpse of history and a testament to how far things have progressed. While there’s a great distance still to travel, I never expected we would come so far during my lifetime.

(Video premiered today in The Guardian.)

Making, not baking

Monday, January 13th, 2014

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
—Annie Dillard, found via Brain Pickings

More than one coworker stopped me after I started using the #yearofmaking hashtag on my Instagram. This was after I had posted that weekend’s baking, like the picture above.

“You’re baking bread every day this year?” they demanded.

No. No, I’m not going to be baking on a daily basis (although imagine how much I could learn in a year!). Making for me will extend beyond the kitchen. I count knitting, writing, drawing, cooking, assembling, building, and pretty much anything that I do with my hands to create something that was not previously in existence. And, it won’t have to be final, finished objects. A single stitch, sketch or step towards something greater will suffice.

I first saw the hashtag #yearofmaking on my friend Sonya’s Instagram. I had just read about it in Kim Werker’s newsletter. The idea originated from Miriam Felton and her 2013 project of doing the same. Like her, I, too, have had multiple failures at various 365-day projects. #yearofmaking sounds like something that I could really get behind.

The goal of pursing this type of project is less about being more productive, and more about setting a daily intention to invite more creation into my life. Heck, it’s more than intention, it’s an active pursuit. And, I’m totally OK with missing days. It may happen, and that’s fine. Posting a single photo each day is about making more moments that make up me.

How are you finding ways to be more you every day in 2014?

A trio to start 2014

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Rye porridge with toasted walnuts (center and back left) and sesame wheat (right) were baked first thing on New Year’s Day morning.

They were mixed, developed and shaped on December 31st, along with the three seedy rye loaves (under the one loaf on the left). The continuity of one year coming out of the work put in during the former works for life as well as bread. But why wait for 365 days to pass to improve? My bread is only as good as my next bake—day after day, mixing, developing, shaping, resting, rising and creating.

My friend Sadie tweeted this yesterday:

Pretty good advice to carry every day, both in the kitchen and the world at large.

Happy baking, friends!

Seth Godin, Backwards

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

From May’s New York Creative Mornings talk:

(if you have twenty minutes to spare for inspiration.)

Bits that resonate with me:

  • You don’t get tomorrow over again, you don’t get next week over again—one shot.
  • Make change in a way that creates more difference.
  • “I’m no longer sure what the question is, but I do know the answer is ‘Yes.'” Leonard Bernstein


Lunch is packed

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Ottolenghi’s Lentils with Roasted Tomatoes and Gorgonzola

My weekly food uniform is comforting like a security blanket. It prevents wasting money at overpriced downtown establishments. And, it serves as proof of handwork can make the world a better place.

Let’s eat up this week.

the 4 m’s

Monday, June 17th, 2013

I often joke that my moods as an adult are dictated in the same manner they were when I was a toddler. If I’m ever discombobulated, I can check in on whether I need to eat, take a nap, go outside and play, or even poop—base-level Maslow hierarchy kind of stuff. More often than not, it’s a quick fix for what ails me.

But what about the bigger stuff?

Since I can’t nap (or excrete) all of my woes away, I’ve come up with a handy system for life improvement: the 4 m’s. It’s something I’m using as a foundation for my day-to-day happiness, living a more creative life, and simplifying my priorities. To follow them feels both core to who I am and aspirational.

Here are the 4 m’s:

  • move: self-propelled (often sweaty) body-based actions
  • make: something-out-of-nothing manifestations
  • mingle: social engagements
  • marvel: care & feeding of inspiration & gratitude

When I need to get out of my head, there’s nothing like going for a run to knock me back down into my body. Moving forces me to be present to that activity. Run, walk, ride, swim, yoga, and dance—these modalities of motion make me more mindful. Shake a leg, start breathing, and get the blood flowing.

It could be my own value judgement that the doing is more important that thinking or talking about or a long-burning desire to be an artist. Realizing ideas just takes doing. Now, I’m not exclusively referring to final product, or demanding originality. Process works just fine. Writing, drawing, designing, cooking, baking, knitting—it’s about creating a practice of creation.

Not only do friends just make life more enjoyable, social connections could save your life (or at least, influence your mortality). When my stress level rises, it’s easy for me to isolate or use a lack of energy as an excuse to avoid hanging out with people. In whatever form it takes (spontaneous run-in, coffee, dinner party, show, etc.), some time with others is better than none. Homo alone-o = no bueno.

There is so much to take in, so much out there in the whole wild world, so much to learn. Museums, nature, meditation, reading, art, music, and all that jazz can replenish the soul and stoke the fire of creativity. Opening myself up to any part of it and bearing witness to its beauty is a duty and an indulgence. Take a moment, or take a few.

Since I came up with the 4 m’s, I’ve carried them in the back of my mind for the past year. They function as a diagnostic tool for my woes, as well as a means to plan or prioritize my time. If anything feels out of whack, on (or all!) of the 4 m’s can recalibrate a fellow. A life well lived could be built around them.

Besides the original list I doodled, the only other time I’ve written about them was in a letter to a friend. (Hi, Clara). They feel a bit more real typing them here in a blog lain fallow for three months. Here’s hoping the seeds of the 4 m’s take root. Who knows, perhaps they could breathe a bit more life into this here virtual scribble pad.