Is it a bread? Is it a cake? The beauty of this walnut-topped blueberry loaf is its versatility, its ability to be whichever you want it to be. It’s not too sugary, so it tastes great toasted, blueberries bursting, and slathered with butter for breakfast. But its moist, dense texture and sweet topping also pair well with coffee or tea. The best way to decide? Bake it yourself and try it both ways!
This weekend more than two feet of snow settled atop New York City’s streets and resulted in a travel ban and transit shutdown on Saturday that effectively trapped me at home. Despite all that, I had a great weekend: snow shoveling led to a snowball fight and a snow angel, followed by hot chocolate laden with marshmallows and whipped cream; Todd and I finally had time to relax and catch up on season six of Royal Pains; and I baked a walnut-topped blueberry loaf.
The idea started small: buy dessert to bring to Staten Island on Sunday when we visited Todd’s parents. Soon after, I thought, why spend money on a sugar-loaded treat when I could make something myself? But when I considered each person’s tastes, it became clear that I couldn’t just bake a simple bundt cake or box brownies. I decided on a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I’d never made one before, so I searched online for a recipe; I settled on this one, mostly because it looked good in the picture.
Though I’d chosen a recipe, I didn’t feel ready to bake yet. I wanted to try something new—two somethings, in fact. The first, the mini heart-shaped layering pans I’d bought in advance of Valentine’s Day. The second, the new KitchenAid stand mixer my parents gave me and Todd for Christmas. But something still felt incomplete, so I decided to add dried papaya, dried apple, and dried pineapple to my cake, basically rendering it a morning glory cake instead of carrot. Thus, my Saturday baking project was born.
I’m a big planner: lists, colorful charts, detailed itineraries. So you can only imagine the zeal with which I’m planning what will probably be the biggest day in my life—my wedding. Luckily we started way ahead of schedule, since Todd proposed in Disney World two years from the date we planned to marry. We booked the venue, Nicotra’s Ballroom in Staten Island, as soon as possible, before the date could fill up. Then we made our way down the checklist:
I stumbled across The Lightkeepers by Abby Geni on a recommended reading list, where reviewers had described it as a locked-room mystery a la Agatha Christie. You have to understand: I loved And Then There Were None so much that a few friends and I tried making an amateur film version of the book. So I couldn’t resist ordering this new title and reading it as soon as it arrived—and I have to say that I’m so glad I did.
I love exploring cities—familiar or new, sprawling or dense, frenetic or sleepy, abroad or close to home. I especially love wandering around on foot, even more so if I’m wearing my Asics sneakers and my Garmin watch. And that’s exactly what Todd and I did last weekend after driving four hours down to Washington DC. Though we’d both visited the city before, I wanted a refresher on all of the major sites I hadn’t seen since 2008, and running felt like the best way to get in some exercise and also make good progress visiting the monuments.
Every year on January 1, I review my list of resolutions from the previous year, checking off the goals I’ve accomplished and figuring out why I failed at others. I then use that list as a starting point for the upcoming year, modifying the difficulty level of my aims up or down depending on my progress. So here are my resolutions for 2016, and we’ll see together if I manage to stick to them.