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I am alive.  Yes, it is remarkable.  I feel like I am talking like Elephant and Piggy.  Today I will fly!*  No, wait, today I will make chocolate pudding!  That’s more like it.

Clearly the heat has gone to my head, except I can’t really use that as an excuse since I’m sitting in air conditioning.  A perk of the move.  It’s been hot and muggy, and my car doesn’t have AC, and I’ve been driving around a lot, as usual, to and from internship and jobs.  One job is the opposite of air-conditioned – I spend 2 hours in a warehouse doing manual labor.  I drip.

Fortunately, I only have one week left for my internship, and then I can actually enjoy a brief period of something we like to call “summer” before school starts – I’ll have about a month where I’m just working – no school, no internship, no extra demands on my time.  I can sleep and bake and read to my heart’s content.

Speaking of baking, I tried a new recipe for the church picnic – Dream Bars from the good ol’ King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion – they’re a gooey mess of coconut and pecans on top of a cookie crust, and they’re fabulous.  I’ll find the recipe again when I bother to get off the couch.

To conclude an incredibly scattered post, some pictures of things I baked ages ago.  First is the Madeira Cake from How to be a Domestic Goddess:

This was dense and moist and satisfying.

Next is the Victoria Sponge, also from the Nigella book, with strawberry & whipped cream filling (there’s also a thin layer of strawberry jam, but you can’t really see it).  I made this for the 4th of July – see how behind I am on my pictures?

Also from the 4th, my cousins-once-removed hamming it up:

One of these days I’ll come back and talk about what I’ve been reading (or what I haven’t been reading).

*So, I wanted to link to Powell’s, because I like Powell’s, but anytime I searched for anything Mo Willems related, all the results were random and obscure and had nothing to do with the esteemed Mr. Willems.  It was like stepping into an alternate internet.  I was scared.  The titles didn’t even have any similar keywords.

Where oh where have I been?  The thing about an internship, as opposed to online classes, is that it takes me away from the house.  And the computer.  And the ability to procrastinate by blogging.

I just got two new cookbooks, and they’re making me bewail my lack of free time more than ever, because I feel baking-deprived.  I finally used my giftcard and got How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson and the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking. I’ve been flipping through both and drooling ever since they arrived in the mail.

I’d heard of Domestic Goddess before but I think I was always put off by the pictures of Nigella Lawson – she doesn’t look like someone I’d want to bake with or eat with. But then Babelbabe (or Babelbake, as I just typoed) recommended it, and I suppose it’s a lesson in not judging a book by the author photo – I adore her tone and the recipes look delicious. My first attempt – and the first recipe in the book – was the Madeira Cake. It’s a simple loaf cake with a hint of lemon and a lovely golden color.  Not too sweet, but a lovely buttery flavor.

She says, “this is baking at its simplest and most elegant. There’s no folderol or fancy footwork: you just feel humble and worthy and brimming with good things.” To which I say, amen. I love to eat baked goods – I could happily live off of them – but it’s just as satisfying, if not more so, to bake. It’s as much about the process and activity as it is about the end result – although Nigella’s right in saying that people are much more impressed by a simple, home-made dessert than a fancy dinner.

And the process is still satisfying even on my most scatterbrained day – I started to add cornstarch instead of baking powder, my lemon wouldn’t zest, there was flour all over my shirt, I almost dumped an egg into the compost instead of the bowl, and my waxed-paper lining smoked like crazy in the oven. Even if the cake had flopped, it was worth it for the sweet, lemony smell of baking filling the house.

The only whole grains I have on hand are whole wheat, cornmeal and amaranth, so I might need to make a trip to Bob’s Red Mill before I try some of the recipes from Whole Grain Baking. I want to make a whole-grain bread, and the cornmeal-blueberry pancakes, and the orange cloud pancakes, and the coconut scones, and and and…I’ve always found my King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion reliable and thorough, so I’m excited to dip into the whole-wheat version. There are a handful of duplicate recipes (like Morning Glory Muffins) but a ton of new ideas and flavor combinations.

Now I just have to pick a recipe for the 4th of July…

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