The best part of eating clean are the cheat days, and the best part of having children is when you can turn them into your own personal indentured servants. It’s all about the payoff, and I look forward to the day when I have kids to vacuum and clean up dead squirrels from the front porch, because I am TOO FANCY for such things.
And the best part of being a food blogger is the swag for just cooking up stuff and writing about slave labor. My friend Isabel over at Family Foodie invited me to a Desserts in Jars party she was hosting at Datz Dough, a new pastry-centric restaurant spinoff from the highly acclaimed Datz Delicatessen in Tampa, FL. They have boozy milkshakes there. Just…just let that thought marinate a minute.
The event was to celebrate Datz’s induction of various desserts in jars as inspired by Shaina Olmanson‘s newest cookbook, Desserts in Jars. Their newest menu items include Shaina’s peanut butter cup cupcake, caramel crème cheesecake, pull apart cinnamon bread, cherry almond crumble, and lemon meringue pie with thyme shortbread crust.
*Pictures from Desserts in Jars cookbook
All of these recipes and more are in the above aforementioned cookbook, and I am giving it away to one lucky winner! To qualify, use the RaffleCopter below to enter.
There are things in life that scare me. Like, for instance, when you’re sitting in a doctor’s office for a regular checkup and you’re asked to remove all of your clothes, but remember you wore your unforgivably ugly underwear because it’s laundry day, and you make a panicked mental reminder to find a new doctor because, clearly, you can’t face this one again.
But also diet things. Like, any and all diet things. I think we can thank the ’80s for most things “diet” and “lite”, as well as for acid wash denim and the surge of needlessly long guitar solos that make most songs too awkward for karaoke.
My defenses against these fears are, first, keep a healthy stock of doctor-friendly underwear, and second, combat the diet fad by making my junk food the way the food gods intended: full fat, full flavor, no shame.
Like this ridiculous wheat-, dairy-, egg-, gluten-, and sugar-free chocolate cream pie, for instance:
When I made my foray into this gluten-free adventure of mine a couple months back (albeit with a few warranted cheat days) I wasn’t sure I’d ever again know the joy of burning my lips on a scorching-hot, gooey, soft and chewy chocolate chip cookie. I’d conceded to eating cookies that would make me wish the apocalypse were real. But much like when I was five and assumed Mother Theresa was a portly black woman (and also that her name was “Mother Catreesa”) I was so very wrong!
BEHOLD. A gluten-free chocolate chip cookie that looks, feels and tastes like a REAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE. None of this crumbly, dry, flavorless nonsense. I would take this cookie to bed and call it the next morning.
I know what you’re thinking. I’ve been silent for a month and I come to you with rabbit food? Well hear me out, I promise it’ll be worth it. This side of the blogosphere has been dark for the last month, because it’s been a pretty dark time for me. See, my stomach and I are having issues. The issue being that my stomach is an asshole.
We’ve been arguing for years, and in its seething resentment toward me, I’ve found that breads and pastas weigh like a ton in my stomach and the aftermath of eating chocolate is like a dull kick to the vagina. And if my stomach were a man I WOULD FIGHT IT.
There, in a town, that just might be yours
were gruesome displays of violent gore.
Of scenes very bloody and horrors untold
where bodies-turned-dishes were eaten and sold.
Dozens went missing, the young and the old,
and none of them knew how their end would unfold:
The town’s chef would claim a victim or two
and put them in dishes that gained rave reviews.
Basil is usually treated as a two dimensional commodity, which is upsetting for our sensitive friend. It’s the shining star in pesto, the uniting factor in the group of pine nuts and Parmigiano, and trying to make caprese without basil is trying to conduct a chorus without harmony. It’s like John Daker singing “Amore.” It just doesn’t work, does it?
Still, basil is pretty under appreciated for what it really brings to the table. It’s asked to creep behind the veil of the savory, only being offered a supportive role when it was born to lead. If you look at what basil lends to the flavor of any particular dish, it becomes glaringly obvious how underused it is.
Sweets, man. Basil is sweet, and while its herbal sister, mint, has found glory in ice cream, candy and other sugary applications, basil is left wading in a murky red puddle of marinara and despair, seething. Basil gets no respect. But nobody puts basil in the corner. Nobody.
Recently I did a guest post for Stark Bros on Blueberry Basil Meyer Lemonade (Shout out to me!), but thought, why not chocolate? So I put it in this chocolate cake. That’s…actually the whole story. It’s anticlimactic, but what do you want from me?
Well, it looks like my aging body has shirked its responsibilities in maintaining my sprightly stamina to match my gloriously youthful face and boyishly ignorant delusions of how I actually look. Where each week in Spain and Italy met me with an overcrowded bus or train headed off in some direction toward a destination boasting “THE BEST” of some culinary offering or another, I’ve instead been taking it easy here in France.
Many evenings after long culinary classes I’ve found myself alone and horizontal in my tiny Parisian apartment in prostration, the preceding months of endless go-time finally catching up to me. Not to mention the uneasy impending end of my travels and added unnecessary exhaustion of repeating two words I really should remove from my repertoire: what next?
I imagine this is what heroin addicts must feel to some degree. Is this what druggies have to go through? Wading in the euphoria of my China White travel high, but looking toward the approaching sobering up period with fearful eyes and sloppy, cracked lips. If this were Trainspotting, now would be the part where I see the dead baby crawling on the ceiling. I hate that part. I hate that part so much.
A big problem I’m trying to overcome is my tendency to focus my attention on what’s ahead of me rather than what’s already at my feet. I’m in one of the most highly acclaimed culinary spots and coveted vacation sites in the world and mentally I’m already back home in Tampa. You’re shaking your head at me. I understand, I’m shaking mine too.
A few nights ago after a particularly stressful day, an ethereal figure came to me in my dreams. That figure was Beyonce. I know how this sounds, but just stick with me for a second. I don’t know why Beyonce was with me, I’m not even really a fan. I couldn’t name one album of hers if my KitchenAid’s life depended on it. But she forgave me my cardinal Beyonce sin and she looked at me in my eyes with a look of concern before saying, “boo, what do you think you’re doing worrying the way you are? Do you know where you is? ” and without responding, I thought about those words. I do know where I is. Why am I concerning myself with what’s waiting around the corner when there’s so much in my favor right now?
I laughed a little and went to respond but she stopped me in my tracks. “I actually don’t care what you have to say to me,” she bleated — because she was now a goat for absolutely no reason at all — before shooting me a smarmy wink and prancing off into the shadows, leaving behind nothing but the resounding click of her heels and some wise words to consider.