In Remembrance of Desserts Past

julia licking

What is it people say about pleasure?

That it is “found first in anticipation, later in memory”?

Although many sites on the Internet (that waggish rapscallion!) attribute the line to Flaubert, the author may actually be Julian Barnes, who gave this line as a thought to his version of the verbose flâneur in Flaubert’s Parrot.

This detail is neither here nor there.

(Though pleasure may reside in both.)

But let me get to the point: crowdsourcing!

My friend M organizes the greatest dinner invites. Once a month, she has me over for a meal, to which I bring the dessert. At the end of the night, we negotiate the following month’s menu: I pick something interesting and/or challenging for her to make, and she decides on some parameters for my part.

We felt a bit lazy last night and didn’t get beyond the food theme of “Mexican(ish).” So now I’m looking for recommendations from any culinary types — of either the cooking or the eating variety — out there: favorite Mexican (or Tex-Mex) desserts? Preferably something with a bit of a wow-factor, be it taste, presentation, or culinary skill required.

[This is how anticipation gets going. As for the memory side of pleasure…] Continue reading “In Remembrance of Desserts Past”

A Horse’s Pastry Chef

Today, on Coffee and a Blank Page:

The part of The Writer will be played by “Alice Channeling a Food Blogger.” Regularly scheduled programming will resume shortly. We thank you for your understanding. 

Management would also like to acknowledge that The Writer has been particularly remiss of late in reading and commenting on other blogs, due to what she is terming a “dense period” lasting several weeks. We anticipate this will remedy itself shortly.

♦ ♦ ♦

This is Annie:

Annie is a horse.
Just to be clear, Annie is a horse.

This is A, Annie’s human companion and best friend:

[Hint: A is the one wearing the blue jeans.]
Hint: A is the one wearing the blue jeans.
‎‎And this is a slice of the cake I baked for this year’s massive BYOF (Bring-Your-Own-Friend) party, which A throws every April in honor of Annie’s birthday:

[Annie, I'm sorry to report, never gets to eat her own birthday cake. But I am assured the oat pail she gets at the barn is extra special on this day.]
Annie, I’m sorry to report, never gets to eat her own birthday cake. But I am assured the oat pail she gets at the barn is extra special on this day!
The rest of this post is going to be partly about that cake — and partly about the path I traveled to become the official pâtissière to a horse. In true food blogging fashion, the recipe and directions — as well as other baking whatnot — will appear at the end, so please feel free to skip to the bottom if you’re here just for the espresso pastry cream!

Continue reading “A Horse’s Pastry Chef”

Did everybody know this but me?


I remember helping my mother in the kitchen as a kid. She baked a fair amount, which — in the 1970s — meant that there was always a large can of vegetable shortening in the pantry. Seeing a can of Crisco always makes me think of my mom, and pie crusts, and sometimes biscuits.

That is, until today.

Because today, in a blogpost critiquing recent obituaries for singer-songwriter and poet Rod McKuen, I came across this:  Continue reading “Did everybody know this but me?”

Rethinking Pie

Happy Day-After-the-Feast! I hope yesterday brought (most of) you the perfect (for you) balance of good company, good food, and good memories.

pie_coffee and a blank page and a pumpkin pie
Perfect morning: coffee and a blank page–and a slice of pie

I spent yesterday afternoon Thanksgiving’ing with my friends K & E, who were (I believe) making their first foray into hosting this particular holiday. K learned that 6 people is the exact right number for her new table; E learned which is the best seat at that table for watching the game without looking like you’ve abandoned the party; and the rest of us all learned something new about kale, winter squash, and/or how many children narrowly escape terrible fates because their parents are tempted to name them after obscure puns and geeky in-jokes. All in all, I’d declare it a major success all around.

Me? I brought the pie. I always bring the pie.

At Thanksgiving, that pie is always pumpkin.

Continue reading “Rethinking Pie”