An easy infusion of tea in scalded milk, makes this Earl Grey Blueberry Coffee Cake incredibly delicious and a snap to make.
I have a new obsession and its name is Snapchat. Part of me wants to curl up in a ball and hide under a rock when I admit that. I want to call it “a guilty pleasure” but the reality is, I feel no guilt in using it. In fact, it’s reinvigorated my love of social media because it’s so refreshing to not have to deal with the insanity of the highly curated life and social media “pressure” of trying to get comments and likes on pretty much every other social media channel everywhere. Snapchat doesn’t allow for public “likes” or comments so anytime I share things on Snapchat, no one else knows if I get 10 views or 10,000 views! I love that. No societal pressure to perform, instead I get to just share whatever I want. And yes it’s infuriating to use because it’s basically designed for 13 year-olds. And I am 40-something-year-old that is feeling very geriatric lately (I’m totally doing that thing with the phone where I pull it back and forth from my eyes to try to get it into focus). But it’s exactly because of Snapchat that I ended up making this Earl Grey Blueberry Coffee Cake. And I have absolutely no guilt or regrets about this coffee cake.(Jump directly to the recipe.)
It started out when I admitted to my Snapchat pals that my partner AJ was out of town and all my bad habits that I usually repress to keep from annoying him come flaring back up. This includes things like letting the dishes pile up in the sink, leaving the apartment a hot mess without picking anything up, and eating like a college student. Yes, as a food blogger, this is probably the worse admission. I order ton of cheap Chinese carryout and then gorge on it. It’s not pretty but I can’t help myself.
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In times of crisis and grief, the only thing I could do was go into the kitchen and bake. This Plum and Rhubarb Cobbler is the result.
This past week has been pretty devastating. I picked up my partner AJ in L.A. on Saturday, after the AIDS Lifecycle only to wake up the next morning to a text from my friend Liz who lives in D.C. She wanted to let me know I was in her thoughts because of Orlando. I didn’t have a clue what she was talking until I clumsily typed “Orlando news” in the iPhone Safari search engine. I wasn’t expecting to read news of a gunman massacring 49 people and injuring 53 more in a gay bar. I couldn’t comprehend the horror of it all and I just laid in bed for another hour just trying to figure out how to deal with this tragedy.
We all deal with grief differently. Some people take to social media and rant and rave about the horrors of guns and violence. Others express their grief by #praying and sending #TheirThoughts and virtual #hugs into the ether we call the internet. Many of my friends took this as the time to discuss homophobia and how society was blame for creating someone who hated himself so much that he took a semi-automatic weapon to a club to kill as many people as he could. And all of those reactions are perfectly valid. I, of course, did the exact opposite and retreated away from the computer, crawling into a personal protective shell. AJ and I were in LA, on a brief break from normal life (whatever that is), and after a week of intense personal stuff and a week of AJ cycling from San Francisco to L.A. to raise money for HIV/AIDS, we were hoping for a little relaxation. It obviously wasn’t meant to be.
AJ’s Cycling group “The Gutterbunnies” on the last day of the AIDS Lifecycle.
All this, of course, didn’t mean that exactly I stayed away from social media. I just checked in less. I turned on my computer exactly once while I was down in L.A. but after browsing Facebook for 10 minutes, had to shut it down. I ended up writing a list about my thoughts on the largest mass shooting in the U.S. history on the social channel li.st via my iPhone. The stories I shared there weren’t necessarily mine to share and I can only hope that the people who I talked about forgive me for writing about them. But otherwise, I was in denial, trying to process how this could have happened. How one human being could do this. I am still struggling with it.
Once I got back to San Francisco, life seem to go on, even though at random turns I was still being reminded of what happened. I couldn’t go online at all without seeing an article or a friend arguing or ranting. Close friends of mine choose to take a stance on gun control, either for or against, which just drove me into a pit of depression. And finally I posted on Facebook my own story of being verbally attacked a few weeks before Orlando happened. I hadn’t thought much of that specific incident (which, in retrospect, probably says something in and of itself that I have become so numb to being verbally attacked for being gay), but I felt like it was a story that needed to be shared. The response and love I received from my friends were overwhelming but it’s a small bandage to cover up what has become such a terribly huge wound that is still healing.
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This post was sponsored by Frito-Lay. I’m teaming up with Frito-Lay this summer to bring you recipes using LAY’S potato chips. I was compensated for this post and for developing the recipe. However all opinions below are completely my own and not endorsed by Frito-Lay.
These easy & tasty Potato Chip Zucchini Sticks are perfect for entertaining. The trick is using LAY’S Kettle Cooked Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper Potato Chips!
It seems like all my friends are having a love affair with zucchini at the moment. I occasionally flirt with the green squash. But all of a sudden this vegetable, one that I never really gave much thought to, is all over the place. Zucchini pasta. Zucchini tots. Zucchini noodles. Zucchini casseroles, fries, and bread. This little summer vegetable really gets around and I for one decided it was time for me to give it another look at it. So when LAY’S potato chips asked me to come up with one more perfect for summer recipe, I figured I’d take another look at zucchini. Turns out zucchini sticks with marinara sauce was an easy appetizer that made me re-exam that summer squash everyone loves so much. And low and behold, I found that I too was smitten. (Jump directly to the recipe.)
I have fond memories of the first time I had a zucchini stick. I was in high school and the appetizer was breaded, deep fried and served with red marinara sauce on a cheap red and white checkerboard vinyl tablecloth at one of those chain Italian-American restaurants that we all know and love. My tablemates were surprised that I had never had this ubiquitous starter but my parent’s rarely frequented this sort of place. In fact, whenever we ate out, it was mostly at Chinese-American restaurants (my parents were never the adventurous type). So my friends were highly amused when I went to town on the deep fried vegetable, finishing the basket of them and ordering a second basket.
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A Cook N Scribble Evening with Molly O’Neill in Los Angeles
In a different life, years ago, I was a bookseller. From mall bookstores to independent shops I was a dedicated bookseller for years before I started doing graphic design, which later morphed into photography and writing. There’s a lot of romanticism in selling books, but don’t believe the hype. It’s mostly retail, shelving books and trying to keep up with whatever book was recently featured on whatever popular TV talk show is out there (during my bookselling days it was Oprah, now it’s probably Ellen). It was back in St. Louis, at the independent bookstore Left Bank Books where I discovered storyteller Molly O’Neill and her cookbook the New York Cookbook. It was a revelation to me, as one of the first cookbooks that I bought where I learned the stories and backgrounds of where the recipes came from. Previous to that discovery, cookbooks just seemed like a random collection of recipes, that came seemingly from nowhere, with no reference point to ground them. But the New York Cookbook, with the sidebars and interviews from chefs and home cooks, as well as history each recipe, gave weight to the making of food and to each person contributed a recipe. Suddenly, to me, food has history and that history was found in the kitchen.
I was lucky to meet Molly years later, first through the wonders of social media, then in person. She’s a lovely person with a warmth that makes you want to spill your secrets to her. It’s no wonder she was able to finagle close guarded recipes and stories from New Yorkers (and later from people across US in her book One Big Table) that most wouldn’t be willing to give up. So when she asked me to help lead the mobile photography part of the Cook N Scribble workshop scheduled before the big IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) conference a couple of months ago, I immediately said yes. The evening was a bright mix of writers and bloggers all gathered to watching Kian Lam Kho first do a cooking demo from his award-winning cookbook Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees, then to explore various storytelling techniques, from writing to still photography to video. I ran around and took pictures and helped other bloggers and writers style food all in a gorgeous house generously donated to us for the evening. As the sun set in the California sky and the night wrapped up, I realized there’s nothing better than being surrounded by storytellers all trying to tell their own version of what happened. That’s what life is, a series of stories, some told in public and some only told in private. No one gets that more than Molly.
All photos taken with my iPhone 6S.
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