When you rummage in your email and find your blog password.

Winter Salad

I believe in the creative space of the personal blog, I really do, Tumblr and Instagram and Twitter and all those noisy spaces notwithstanding. I’m old-fashioned like that. But you’d never know it; the password to this blog has been buried deep, and it took a radical moment of procrastination to dredge it up. Book-level procrastination.

Yes, I thought I’d take some time off after That Pudding Book but, as they say, something came up. Something like this radicchio, romaine, and fennel salad, with a sexy bit of farro peeking out. Something that requires a hustle of a deadline, weekend marathons of recipe development, and a co-author (for whom I am deeply grateful). More soon. The salad is only Exhibit A.

To distract myself from an all too-imminent deadline, here are a few things I’ve been eyeing, appreciating, and coveting lately.

Views of the Poet’s Loft, on Tomales Bay

I owe Abbey a favor (Joanna too) for introducing me to the Poet’s Loft, a rental on Tomales Bay north of San Francisco. Every window there opens onto the bay, and you can hear the waves from every corner of the house.

Here are some of my favorite views. I feel very grateful to have spent a few days here. Why is the sound of the ocean so soothing?

The most dramatic - a wall of glass facing hills and water. We saw seals and once, a manta ray.

Looking into the bedroom.

The view from bed. Gray in the morning, pink at night. Blue all day long.

From the shower!

There was a window at floor-level in the downstairs bathroom looking right out on the waves. It was a little spooky, and dark under the house!

Books everywhere, running on long shelves above big squashy chairs next to windows.

Not a view, but had to point out the All-Clad pans. Good rental!

The view from the front door as we were leaving. All sea, sky, and comfy chairs.

Why Pudding?

I’m working on a cookbook about pudding. I’m extremely excited about this fact, but to tell you the truth: I’d love forget all about it. And then, when it shows up on my porch next spring, replete with lush photos from Stacy Newgent, recipe tips from some lovely friends and cookbook authors, and beautifully sketched design by the inestimable Amy Sly and my publisher, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, it will be a total surprise. A little gift to someone who just really loves pudding.

Blood Orange Fluff

Blood orange fluff, with chocolate on top.

There aren’t many books about pudding and no-bake desserts, a fact that genuinely surprised me, as I gravitate towards those simple, old-fashioned desserts you can slurp off a spoon. Pudding was either too old-fashioned for modern tastes, or too fancified with restaurant-style panna cotta intimidating home cooks (which is ridiculous because panna cotta is about as easy as pouring a bowl of cereal and milk — no kidding).

I would love to forget that I wrote recipes for Blood Orange Fluff (take a gander at that just above), Roasted Pistachio Pudding, and Triple Chocolate Cream Icebox Cake. I’d like to pull it out this brand new book and make No-Bake Crème Brulee or Walnut, Fig & Barley Pudding, with no memory of sweating over them in development.

I think this is what every cookbook author wants — a fresh enjoyment of the recipes that she created, tested, and tasted over and over again. After all, these recipes cater to my own taste quite a bit, and I’d love to enjoy them freshly, without remembering how many times I worked over that Maple Bourbon Budino to smooth out its grainy texture. I’d rather just dip my spoon in and enjoy the sweetness.

But this actually is just what I get to do; there’s a year now, after I finish off my last bits of testing and review and editing and back and forth with Natalie my editor. Nearly a year to forget all about pudding, so I can enjoy it that much more when that lovely book lands in my lap. It’s the sweetest moment, for a cookbook author.

The Sweet Surprise of Ohio Serviceberries

The serviceberry tree is budding out already in this warm March weather, pink buds opening up slowly. This tree was a sweet Ohio surprise: tiny red berries in early June, each like a scarlet blueberry with a pointed flare on the end, clustering up and down a tree no larger than a big shrub. I never imagined we could eat the berries (who eats berries off an unknown tree? Not me, that’s for sure.). But our landlady pointed them out as edible, and diversely named — saskatoon, sarvisberry, serviceberry, juneberry, shadblow, wild sugarplum — a sweet, unexpected fruit in the front yard.

Serviceberries on the shadbush tree in June, a spoonful of jam.

Watching the buds, I remember the jam I made from these berries this time last year (read more about it here at The Kitchn). My husband slathered that slightly overcooked scarlet jam on every piece of toast he ate for a month, until it was gone. But it doesn’t feel that long ago that I washed out the jar; and serviceberries are on their way back in.

Cheesy Potato Breakfast Casserole with Cheddar & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Cheesy PotatoesEver since writing my first book, Not Your Mother’s Casseroles, I’ve been a little obsessed with breakfast casseroles. Egg bakes are just so crazy easy and convenient. I’ve been making up a big pan of eggy casserole every weekend for my husband and myself, then slicing off big squares for breakfast and lunch throughout the week. I use these casseroles to absorb the scraps and leftovers in my fridge: Bits of cheese clinging to its rind, the last scrapings of a jar of sun-dried tomatoes. I dig through my freezer and pull out bags of potatoes that are only slightly frostbitten. Together, they always meld together into something more than the sum of their parts, like this potato, cheese, and egg casserol — hearty and vegetarian.

Get the recipe at The Kitchn: Cheesy Potato Breakfast Casserole with Cheddar & Sun-Dried Tomatoes.