I recently found myself wondering about the personality of a personal blog. I’ve come across myriad voices – some so breath-taking, some so warm. Some just love food and others aren’t afraid to bare their work, whatever shape it may take. Well, I do read a lot of food blogs, in case you were wondering. All of which make me wonder about mine.
And why I still keep it….you know, the usual.
If I go way way way back back back to the beginning, I feel not an ounce of regret to say that the first food blog I fell in love with was The Pioneer Woman. I introduced her to my baking-loving sister who can make anything just by looking at Ree’s photos. “I like to see the pictures,” she says. For me, I was all about Ree’s writing. She was funny and maybe I wouldn’t eat exactly the way she does but her sense of humour made me have serious heart eyes for her. And oh my gosh her cinnamon rolls! That was a part of my life where I was trying to impress this guy that loved butter and sugar and all things we (rightfully?) assume Americans are about. This guy is now my husband and yes, our love sometimes warrants cinnamon rolls.
I run a lot.
I’m a completely different type of blog reader now. No wait. I’m exactly the same. I still go straight for the writing. I wolf it down and then think about the food that begged for this story to be told. It’s all always beautiful. When you have such a great selection in front of you, why wouldn’t it be? For the bloggers that write from the heart: I want to be you. I want to be you even more when you share your life at its most difficult points. It is equally important to be able to express every emotion and for me, the best food writers do just that. I was most inspired to pick my writing off the floor after reading Revati and then came her food – which was just as comforting as her writing. I almost feel my spirit move whenever I read Kelsey’s work. I find joy in her honesty and her wisdom is something 26-year-old me could use from time to time. Shauna is a writer from start to finish. I’ve made her gluten-free pumpkin pie once, but I go back to her space for her stories. I love her stories. Damn. A good damn.
I was lying in bed yesterday scrolling through Orangette, Molly Wizenberg’s masterpiece in her array of other awesome achievements. I would’ve never heard of her if I didn’t move to Washington, start my own blog, corresponded with a reader (Hi Shvetha…if you’re still reading) who told me she loved Shauna and then discovered Orangette, because somehow Seattle (and around) food bloggers tend to be a very tight knit group of encouraging folk. Anyway, there I was, reading her when I clicked on – of allll her hyperlinks – this (excerpt) of a talk she gave at Food Blog South on, well, blog writing.
Her words were my reason (I urge you to read it). These words precisely:
“That’s when I started to understand that maybe, what I love so much about food is stories. I love the shape food gives to my life – the stories it tells me about who I am, about the people close to me, about the city I live in, all of it. Food is a very sharp lens for looking at what matters to us, and suddenly, I wanted to find out what else it could show me. Those were the stories I wanted to tell.”
The reason why I think it is okay for me to do what I do – telling you some crazy story about how my life feels like its falling apart but HEY! I still have my tastebuds. But my life has rarely fallen apart. This is my journal. A place I can go back to anytime and be grateful that I still have a good life and a meal to be proud of. Some of it might not matter to every person who ends up here but I believe that when an experience is shared, it helps build a community. What is community if not a source of happiness? And what is a community without food? It is through food that I have drawn literal and creative strength.
I’ll admit, I do feel slightly uneasy writing about myself – the exact same feeling I had about making this space. But a personal blog is nothing without personality. I know this and I read it through all your other bloggers every day. You are geniuses (Hi Lindsey!), inspirations, laugh riots and you do a lot for me by just deciding to write stuff down.
I guess I will never have a clearer reason for writing my blog and consciously (?) letting it take shape. I get to be a part of this community. I do! Because I write. We’re the best damn things.
Chocolate cashew nut marzipan
I’m not sure if I can call this kaju barfi (an Indian sweet that is like a cashew fudge) or even pure marzipan (I used a lot less cane sugar than what was called for in this recipe). It does however, taste like an interesting blend of the two. Plus I added chocolate. Like a crazy person! And SPRINKLES! I believe the only way to say the word “sprinkles”, is by yelling it with joy. This dessert is my way of welcoming spring and new things AND and and letting you know that no matter what you’re worrying about, it’s going to be okay. Because, SPRINKLES.
- 300 gm unsalted cashew nuts
- 100 gm cane icing sugar + more to help bring the marzipan together
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- 113 gm semi-sweet baking chocolate bar
- Sprinkles, (unsweetened) coconut flakes, or other toppings that go well on chocolate
Using a food processor, chop up the cashew nuts to a find powder. Once they have a sandy texture, add the 100 gm of sugar and process them nuts some more. You’ll know when it’s done when you pinch the ingredients, they stick together like dough. The cashew nut powder will also start sticking to the sides of the processor. This happens once the cashew nuts release its oils etc.
Scrape out the cashew nuts into a bowl and add the egg white to it a little at a time. Have a bowl of about 200 gm more icing sugar close by. At this point, the mixture will become one big wet, gooey mess. I assume that you could add the egg white to cashew mixture when it’s in the food processing stage but that’s not how I’m used to seeing marzipan being made. Coming back to the gooey cashew nut mixture, you can now add about two tablespoons at a time of icing sugar to the mixture, while constantly mixing the marzipan well with a) a spatula b) your hands. You will no longer need to add sugar once the mixture comes together. You should be able to pinch off a small piece and easily roll it into a ball without it sticking to your hands. It will still have an oily texture but that’s normal. Dust it lightly with more sugar and store it in a bowl (covered) in the fridge for about an hour so it hardens a bit.
An hour later, pull out the dough and in roll it out till it’s about 1 inch thick. Do this in between two sheets of parchment paper. Use a knife or a cookie cutter (depending on the shapes you want) to cut out the marzipan, Remember that you will have to dip them into chocolate so cut pieces that are easy to hold. I cut mine into square bite-sized pieces. Still difficult to dip but oh so worth it in the end. Divide the cut pieces into two batches and place them in the freezer while you melt the chocolate.
Chop the chocolate bar into smaller pieces. To melt the chocolate down, you can either use a double boiler, or in a dry heat-resistant bowl over another pot of simmering water (not boiling, the heat needs to be consistent and not high). First put in a 1/3 of the chocolate and melt it down, whisking it constantly until it’s no longer solid. Add the remaining chocolate to it and keep stirring until it’s smooth enough to dip things in it. Take it off the heat.
Pull out one batch of the cold marzipan shapes and dip them face down into the melted chocolate. You can either coat the whole piece or just one side like I did. Do this quickly so the marzipan doesn’t soften with the (still) slightly warm melted chocolate. It becomes really hard to dip if it does. Place them back on a plate or cookie sheet and add your toppings: SPRINKLES, coconut and sea salt were my ideas. Put them in the fridge and repeat the dipping with the other batch.
Once the chocolate has sufficiently hardened in the fridge, eat ‘em all up! Store in the fridge if your self-control is a force of nature and you didn’t just eat them all in one go.