Last month I traveled to Providence RI for work and although it wasn’t as adventurous as Africa, it was an exciting and unexpected find for me. I was there working on a weekend and had a few hours to kill so my co-worker and travel buddy, Suzy (also my photographer for this post), signed us up for a Food Tour called Savoring Federal Hill!
We took a three hour tour of an Italian neighborhood near downtown called Federal Hill. When we signed up for it we didn’t realize it was an Italian neighborhood, we just knew there would be eating involved. When I discovered it was all things Italian I was in heaven.
A defining feature of Streusel’s personality is her commitment to pretty much everything. When she makes a plan, she follows through — be responsible for her own yard? Yup, she’ll mow the hell out of the world’s largest lawn (seriously, she had this massive backyard at her old house). Use all the apricots from her enormous tree? Absolutely – let’s create some delicious recipes. Encourage and support her daughter to become a black belt at 8 years old (and go through much of the training herself)? Of course. And, create and maintain a blog with her sometimes flaky, though well-intended, friend? Well, why not?!
The five years of Strudel & Streusel is solely because of Tiff; the blog was her idea, and during the times my dedication waned, hers remained steadfast, and with a good attitude to boot. When I’ve gone lazy, she’s held up both our ends of the blog and done so with an cheerful and supportive attitude. I’m so grateful to have such a great friend, and that she’s an amazing baker is an extra gift.
My original plan for this post was to do what Tiff did in her last post – find an old recipe of her and remake it into my own. But enter a problem: our garbage disposal broke this week, and the sink is now backed up. We are the proud owners of a new, 3/4 horsepower disposal (an aside: want to feel like an adult? Shop for a garbage disposal) that Brandon is in process of installing. But like all home projects, issues have come up and it’s not as easy as it’s supposed to be – so this is all to say that I can’t really use my kitchen right now.
But – in prepping for this project, I’ve had the opportunity to stroll down Blog Memory Lane and pick out a few of Struesel’s projects. Following are some of my favorites.
I’m sorry I teased you! I bet you thought I made Strudel. That is one fine pastry I haven’t tackled yet. Since this month marks the 5th anniversary of Strudel and Streusel blogging together I’m gonna talk about my best bloggin’ pal – Strudel (that’s her on the right). We thought we’d do something fun this month and make one of each other’s recipes.
Before I tell you what post I chose to remake I’d like to tell you why Strudel (she has a real name, it’s Morgan) is one of my favorite people!
I suppose the photo above could be considered a spoiler – that by showing us at the top of Kilimanjaro at the very beginning of this blog entry takes away the excitement of reading a different post; a post that was written to build suspense by starting off with a photo of giant Kili and talking about how difficult the climb was (because it was really hard), how we all got sick, and how cold it was; causing folks to think to themselves “That sounds really hard! I wonder if they actually made it to the top of that massive mountain?!” If I’d done that, I could’ve ended this post with this triumphant (i.e. slightly hypoxic) photo of us at the top.
BUT – I have to admit that climbing to the top of Kili feels like such an enormous accomplishment that I don’t want write suspenseful posts – really, I just want to talk about how I stood on the top of Africa’s highest peak, overwhelmed with awe of what I had just accomplished and the amazing people I got to accomplish it with.
I apologize for the cliche, but our trip to Tanzania was truly the adventure of a lifetime; hiking Kilimanjaro was incredibly difficult and incredibly humbling. It also provided me clear focus on a simple task – to keep walking up the mountain – in a way that my regular life and daily responsibilities don’t provide. That I got to go on this adventure with with my partner, my friends (some old and some new), and an amazing guides, made it all the more remarkable. Following the climb, we went on a short safari and then spent a few days in Zanzibar. So like I said – an adventure I’ll only have once!
Following are a few (i.e. so, so many) of my photos…
I love seeing the colorful skulls or calaveras when visiting Mexico. I found this pan in the clearance bin at Michael’s (oh how I love that store) last month and thought it would be fun to make a cake and decorate it to look just like the skulls I’ve seen. I knew little about why there were these colorful skulls in Mexican culture until I did a little research.
Dia de los Muertos is celebrated in central and southern Mexico on November 1 and 2nd. It is believed that at midnight on October 31st the spirits of angelitos are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2nd is when the spirits of adults come forth to celebrate as well. In many villages, ofrendas are set up in the home where offerings are made to the spirits. These offerings include fruit and nuts and, my favorite, brightly decorated sugar skulls. Sugar art was brought to the New World by Italian missionaries in the 17th century and the art was learned by locals. A sugar skull represents a departed soul and often times the name is written on the forehead.
Not only are these cupcakes scary good because they are loaded with butter and sugar and all things good…they are scary looking!
How can you not love a cupcake that has a knife and blood on it? Come on! Get in the Halloween Spirit.
Wanna see something else really scary? Only proceed if you really want to be frightened!
So this post is really about a giant (1 pound) baked apple but as I sat devouring it, I thought, this is Fall in a Bowl. Forget making pie crust and slicing up apples. Forget even making apple crisp. Just bake some (or one) apples stuffed with some streusel and you have a warm, buttery, sweet, dessert that makes your whole house smell like Fall!
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I went to the grocery store this week and saw giant Honey Crisp Apples. When I weighed one it was a pound! It just doesn’t seem right to grow an apple that big and it didn’t seem right to just slice it up and eat it. I felt like it needed to be stuffed with that streusel I love so much and baked. So that’s what I did.
Remember that left over streusel from last week? Let’s make these easy bars in under an hour with it. I had friends over for dinner tonight and had these ready to serve for dessert. Nobody could eat just one.
I got the caramel and chocolate from King Arthur Flour and I have to say it was worth it. This caramel has the perfect texture and flavor. It’s really easy to work with. Dare I say I ate almost half of this dark chocolate one piece at a time before I finally made something with it. It’s incredibly smooth and rich. Prefer milk chocolate? King Arthur sells that too!
I am super excited to be posting this first post in October from my new kitchen. As you may remember I moved into a townhouse, a 2 year old townhouse. For the last 14 years I baked in a 54 year old, avocado green kitchen. It was mine and I loved it but I always longed for a newer, fancier kitchen. This kitchen fits the bill. It has backsplash, it has cool light fixtures, it has tons of cabinets and counter top that goes for miles! Yippee.
This whole month will be fun Fall and Halloween recipes from me. I thought I’d ease us into Fall with a hearty muffin.
The official last day of summer is September 23rd, something that I don’t really want to talk about. It’s been a great summer, and as much as I like the fall, I’m sad to see the season end. Some of my very favorite things about Seattle happen from June through September: long sunny days, great hiking, and extraordinary fruit.
Rather than mourn summer’s passing, I figure we should celebrate the end of the season with with a final pie!
Also – you may have noticed some scheduling changes around S&S over the past few months. And then there’s been a whole lot of of Strudel this month, and not a word from Streusel… more info what we’re up to on the next page.