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3191 Miles Apart | 2011 | August

19 August 11 • MAV

Sometimes things just don’t go as planned.

On Thursday evening three of us set off in the car on our way to a birthday beach BBQ about an hour away. We were trying to hit the road by 4:15 p.m. but didn’t get in the car till 5 p.m. No worries though. We were feeling excited to celebrate our friend and put our toes in the sand even if we’d only have a few hours before the park closed at sunset. We were suppose to bring food for the grill but figured it was more important to just get there so we packed up what we had: a bottle of rosé and a few beach linens. Beach or bust!!!!

Well, the Portland traffic didn’t think so. What in the world?!

It took us 42 minutes just to try to make our way from our flat to the highway, then through town (trying for a short cut) and back toward the highway, and then back again. I think it was me who said, “when are we going to call it?” at about 5:55 p.m. We knew we were not going to make it seamlessly up to the beach to meet our friends as we had once hoped. We were not going to be able to celebrate the birthday girl. We were bummed.

Thank goodness for Lynsey who suggested, “let’s take this bottle of rosé to the Eastern Prom and calm our nerves.”

Yes!

So we stopped quickly for plastic cups and a few snacks and a small picnic was had.

Shoes off.

Snacking and laughing.

Watching sailboats and letting the day go.

Happy birthday, Chiara. We were thinking of you from our little patch of grass.

19 August 11 • SCB

During the summer break I am with my kids full time which means they accompany me everywhere. You may have seen them slumping and scowling in the line at the post office, dancing and high-kicking in the wide aisles of Home Depot, knocking down frame displays at the film lab or, most certainly, begging for salt & vinegar potato chips at the market.

While I like to engage my kids in all aspects of the sourcing and preparation of our food (and I highly recommend doing so if you have reluctant eaters), their shopping enthusiasm can have an incredibly distracting effect on both my grocery list and our food budget. This week we brought home two different kinds of pickles, flavored rice cakes, dried exotic fruits, smoked salmon, packaged sushi, and seeded rolls. We, however, did not buy the bread, milk and butter for which we had made the trip.

Another of our impulse purchases was red currants. I’m not sure how they ended up in our basket, maybe we were lured by their ruby-red jewel-like appearance. I don’t know. Days later, they were still lovely, but uneaten ( we discovered that they were both tart and full of seeds). They were at risk of going to waste, but we didn’t have enough to warrant jam. A friend recommended baking scones with them, but we had not bought milk and had only a pat of butter. Then I remembered Molly’s Lemon Yogurt Cake which I had paired with another sweet-tart flavor, rhubarb, with great success in the past.

One of the very first Orangette recipes I ever tried, I have adapted this cake just slightly over time by adding some whole wheat flour and a touch of salt (I have also made it with all whole wheat pastry flour). It is always moist and simple (it’s a great cake for kids to bake on their own) and a perfect accompaniment to fruit, fresh or baked within.

Lemon Yogurt Cake with Red Currants
Adapted from Gâteau au Citron by Molly Wizenberg

1 cup red currants
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Generously butter a 9 inch cake pan. Wash currants and take them off the stems (if you have someone with little fingers to do this—great!). Spread currants across bottom of pan.

In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly blend yogurt with sugar and eggs. Add flours, baking powder, salt and zest, stirring to combine. Finally, add oil and incorporate into mixture.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until cake is lightly browned and springy to the touch (test with toothpick). Allow to cool for 20 minutes and then gently turn out onto a plate.