At long last, Spring has sprung in Minnesota. Last week I was curled up on the couch watching snow accumulate by the foot outside my window. We were in the midst of a blizzard the likes of which apparently hasn’t hit Minneapolis in a decade. Attempting to drive was like surfing giant undulating waves of snow, and the wind blew icy flakes into your eyes as you walked.
Now I’m barefoot with the windows wide open, the sound of church bells spilling into our sun-drenched living room. I feel a little shell-shocked, to be honest… I’m not used to this blue sky, these warbling birds, this sun. I still reach automatically for my giant parka, make a mental note to check my purse for gloves.
Nonetheless, I’ve already rented a bike, eaten ice cream outside, baked a rhubarb galette,* and am fully planning to plant pansies this weekend. In the meantime, here are a few little things to brighten up your Friday:
1. My ultimate kitchen inspiration: plants! Color! Warmth! Tiles! Also, this London flat belongs to food writer Skye McAlpine, author of the swoon-worthy “From My Dining Table” blog. Pink walls in the kitchen, anyone?
2. Can we discuss the fact that sweetened condensed milk is the secret to all things good in life? My mom jokes that any time you can’t quite identify why what you’re eating is so delicious, the answer is usually condensed milk. That’s certainly true of this fantastic key lime pie (make it!!) and, apparently, the clam chowder at my mom’s favorite diner in Maine. Unsurprisingly, it’s a key ingredient in Nigella Lawson’s shockingly simple no-churn ice cream.
3. Speaking of which: let’s take a moment with this ice cream and this gelato. Also, Netflix has a new Chef’s Table season and it’s all. About. Baking. My favorite so far is the episode with Corrado Assenza, the Sicilian pastry chef whose fresh blackberry gelato is enough to have you packing your bags for Italy.
4. This t shirt is basically my motto.
5. Calling all serious cookbook nerds: here’s the weekly newsletter of your dreams.
And finally, a word on why I chose to quit Instagram (and social media) entirely.
It’s hard to opt out of something you don’t even remember opting into; something so fully enmeshed in the fabric of (millennial) society, you feel crazy even calling it out. But for the past few years, Instagram has been mostly a source of stress an anxiety in my life. It went from being a platform for sharing and browsing inspiring photos to a relentless onslaught of branded imagery controlled by an algorithm that favors people who spend hours a day on the app.
What started as sharing tips and recipes for a joyful life morphed, in my experience, to a breeding ground for envy and comparison, and a soapbox from which the commodification of “wellness” was preached from all angles.
I choose to say no thank you. Because reality is better, because endless scrolling through images of idealized lives is the opposite of mindfulness, and because I refuse to let my self-worth be determined by a number of “likes.”
So, just like I was the weird kid growing up who didn’t watch TV and wasn’t allowed to drink soda, I’ll be the weird food blogger who doesn’t have Instagram (or Facebook, or Snapchat), who bakes for the love and joy of it, rather than for the likes.
You can find me in my kitchen with the windows open, the breeze on my face, and my hands in the dough.
*My mom introduced me to this fabulous recipe for galette dough, from Joanne Chang. I swapped in about 1/4 cup buckwheat flour for an earthier flavor. And instead of the blueberry filling, just toss rhubarb pieces with a few tablespoons of sugar and some lemon juice. XO