and accessing your own process through being in the kitchen.
In addition to Writing My Way Through, you can oftentimes find me in my kitchen first, huddled over too many bowls or 2 different knives set on two different cutting boards, processing my grief or happiness there first.
And then onto paper, or in this case (99% of my personal cases) directly into the Notes section of my phone, where it will be transferred to a separate document etc
You get the idea.
Hannah and I recorded an episode for Feed Me Your Stories (our first episode launches tomorrow and you can find it wherever you love to stream!), our co-hosted podcast that hangs out at the intersection of food + pleasure, this morning specifically on Baking + Cooking Your Way Through It, and shared our personal stories of how we landed there.
There, being the aforementioned vignette, tinkering in the kitchen-
Sometimes out of joy and celebration, other times over grief and heaviness, and sometimes because feeding someone is all you have when words won’t do.
I’ve become a master of Kitchening My Way Through after the last several years. While I healed from my missed miscarriage in between Scarlett and Maddox, I made approximately 987 biscuits for weeks on end. You can find that story here, my first foray with Baking Through Grief.
Then, like everyone else, I watched the merging of science + magic through sourdough starter during the pandemic. There were project-bakes like croissants, coursed meals when I needed to fill in the hours, and long simmered sauces that smoothed my edges when I felt as though I had nothing left to give.
Last week, baking for my partner’s deceased mother on what would’ve been her 67th birthday, was the intersection of several things-
I don’t know what to say, meets
I want to celebrate someone that I wish I could have met, meets
Let me love you.
Being part of The Dead Moms Club is morbid and yet holds camaraderie in only a way you’ll understand if you unfortunately have a Dead Mom.
Aside from semantics, Anaya (that’s my partner!) and I do not share a lot of intersection of our Dead Mom experience.
He was 7 and I was two days shy of 25. He remembers very little of his mom, while I remember mine very vividly in ways I love to hold close and some I wish I could forget.
Semantics aside (he is a policy wonk and LOVES semantics) there is a level of understanding and intimacy we both share, most of it only requiring a look or a hand squeeze, and nothing more.
When I asked Anaya if he remembered her favorite fruit, a question I undoubtedly knew would/could feel heavy despite my intentions, my heart skipped a beat at, “I don’t, no.”
The response I was mostly expecting but didn’t want to assume.
I asked if he would be up for asking his grandfather or dad if they knew, and a couple hours left I got a text with one word, and immediately put the pieces back together, knowing exactly what it was in reference to-
Anaya doesn’t love pie (though claims that I have converted him through my micro-bakery, Butter Moon Bake Co), doesn’t love meringue, and I had already made lemon bars for something unrelated that week.
My heart landed on a Raspberry-Lemon Ricotta Cake, a dessert that feels as though a cheesecake and pound cake had a baby.
Creamy and tender, yet sturdy and with a crumb.
Lemon desserts need lemon. I want pucker, you know? Because of the nature of this cake, this is not a L E M O N dessert, at least, not in my book. It does, however, get the job done and should you choose to make a glaze of nothing more than confectioners sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt, I bet you could land there.
I bake at high altitude.
With the exception of typically having to bake things longer, and on occasion, adding more buttermilk to my biscuits when the air is particularly dry, I do not write recipes for elevation baking.
I also do not generally write recipes for a living. They are not tested twenty times before sending them off to y’all, I am a single mom with an iPhone and limited time, and therefore my photos and their quality Get Me By, and do the trick.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Let it be known that it isn’t for a lack of interest or level of seriousness in which I take the idea that y’all monetarily support my work, but a reckoning within myself, one that has taken a very long time to land in, and that I have to make an effort to sit in everyday.
I am a perfectionist, and not a kind one (to myself) at that.
Therefore, if a “meh” photo is what I can manage before picking up one of the kids or if I don’t get to dust with powdered sugar before photographing (as seen above) I make a more concerted effort not to kick my shit in over it, okay?
I reckon I’m going to continue to get better, at my photo-taking and self-kindness as time goes on.
On that note, if a recipe flops or you have other feedback you would like to offer, my door is always open.
While I might scoff at my photography skills, I don’t scoff at the idea of community and building things together.
Tell me what you want more of! How I can support y’all through food and words! Tell me if you have idea, questions, comments, stories or concerns for Feed Me Your Stories!
I’m here because of y’all, and I know that.
If you are reading this as a paid subscriber, these are the types of emails you can expect from me every week.
And if hanging out once a month via free subscriptions is what you can manage at the moment, I will always be grateful at the idea that you’re interested enough to simply give me space.
Without further ado-
Nilda’s Raspberry Lemon Ricotta Cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
Zest and juice from 2 large lemons
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
1½ cups whole milk ricotta
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooked
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries, we’ll dusted with approximately 2 tablespoons of flour, plus another approximately 1/2 cup for topping
Preheat oven to 350°, spray a springform pan with cooking spray (I used one that contains flour), and set aside.
In a large bowl, rub the lemon zest into the sugar well. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a separate, medium sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon juice, ricotta, and vanilla.
Gently mix your wet ingredients into the bowl with your dry, just until combined.
Stir in the melted butter and then gently fold in the raspberries.
Top with remaining raspberries. I used a handful and barely pressed them down into the batter.
Pour batter into your pan, bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes before releasing the pan.
Eat this cake as we did, with coffee and with feral children part eating, part terrorizing the house in early morning hours, or for brunch, or enjoyed with a glass of bubbles for dessert.
The world is your oyster.