The Art of a Small Wardrobe

When I get ready for work in the morning, I seem to spend a solid 5 minutes standing in the closet staring at my clothes. This can partially be attributed to the fact that I’m not, and never will be, a morning person. Plus I’m in partial darkness, trying not to wake up B. But I am also sifting through so much clothing that’s out of season, that I don’t know what to pair with, or that I just don’t love.

So now I’m attempting to take on my wardrobe and make it smaller, more efficient, and more loved. I want to be able to easily put together an outfit at 7am with minimal thought.

Continue reading “The Art of a Small Wardrobe”

On Blogging

When I go to a blog and see several posts in a row apologizing for the writer’s long absence, I tend to close the tab. I like the bloggers that I follow to upload content regularly. I know, what a hypocrite, right? It’s easy for me to say that I don’t need to be consistent when my only readers are family members (hey Lindy!). They tend to be pretty forgiving. But if I’m going to come back to this blog in a real way, I want to do it right. And that means making a few changes around here.

So here are some ideas/thoughts I have for my little corner of the internet. I might as well post them here instead of on a personal Google Doc, in the interest of holding myself accountable:

  1. I need to hold myself to a regular (but achievable) posting schedule.
  2. I want to have a broader scope, so even when I’m not baking every weekend, I can still blog.
  3. I never really figured out how blogging would fit into my life after undergrad. Deciding to have a broader scope helps, but I need to do some real exploration to figure out what my point of view is going to be.
  4. I’m toying with the idea of incorporating some video content. I’ve recently become obsessed inspired by several YouTube beauty/lifestyle vloggers, and I’ve gone back and forth on the idea of creating some videos of my own.
  5. I might need to accept a bit more vulnerability. Being on the internet, especially if I’m talking about more than just baking, means putting myself out there. It means trusting myself and being comfortable with family, friends, and strangers learning things about me, making their own assumptions, and passing judgement. It means being secure in who I am and what I decide to make public about my life.

I guess that’s all for now. Let me know what you think (that means you, Lindy 😉). I’ll let you know what I come up with as I try to figure out what the future of Recipes On My Nightstand looks like.

With love,

Adi

Winter Musings

It’s a pretty amazing thing when a hard time makes you realize how many people will emerge from the sidelines to hold your hand. I’m feeling grateful these days, just in time for Thanksgiving I suppose. It can get lonely living here, among the cornfields of the heartland. It takes a lot more effort to feel connected, so feelin’ the love from family and friends becomes extra meaningful. In Madison I could practically walk out my front door and feel connected to a vibrant community of people. Even walking through a neighborhood or listening to the buzz of voices in a coffee shop gives you the feeling of being a part of something. It’s one of the things I miss most.

But without further ado, it’s time for soup. It’s starting to really feel like winter here in the Midwest. Part of me does miss summer (and, you know, being able to go outside without the extra 10 minutes of bundling), but I also love the flow of the seasons. Even if it means brown landscapes and bitter cold seeping through my gloves…. Because it also means cozy sweaters, cute scarves, and an excuse to buy new boots. Aside from cozy cold-weather fashion, winter also means big pots of soup on the stove, hot apple cider, and gingerbread lattes.

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This chicken soup was on regular rotation for B and me last winter.

Continue reading “Winter Musings”

Letting go

[Disclaimer: I wrote this a couple months ago. I don’t know if it’s still relevant to me, but maybe it will be relevant to someone. I apologize for posting a summer recipe in the first days of fall. But this recipe is a keeper – if you find yourself with some juicy berries or ripe stone fruits, give it a whirl.]

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I noticed that when I’m knitting, I make a lot of unnecessary movements with my hands – holding the yarn in place, trying to ensure that it doesn’t slip off the needle. I’m trying to be aware when I can let a little something go. It’s amazing what a difference these tiny adjustments can make.

I’m thinking a lot about letting go these days. Lots of changes in my life means working hard to remember that change doesn’t have to mean losing something. Every experience remains a part of your story. I don’t need to clench my fists tight around the past in order to keep it with me.

Sometimes in a yoga class, Continue reading “Letting go”

Plum Dessert for One

You can learn so much about a person just by seeing what he/she eats. It can tell you about someone’s heritage or their stress level; it can tell you what makes them feel comforted or what inspires them; it can tell you about who they’ve known or where they’ve been. It’s the way people take care of themselves. It fascinates me.

The way people feed themselves when they are alone can be particularly interesting. If you’re similarly nosy curious, I highly recommend the book Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant. It’s a book of short personal stories by all these wonderful writers about the weird, random, embarrassing, and/or comforting ways that they feed themselves when they’re not feeding or impressing anyone else.

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So here’s a glimpse into what I made myself one quiet night at home. I had the baking itch, but no one to share treats with. I also had some plums sitting around from a slightly disappointing batch I had bought earlier in the week, so I was inspired to turn them into a mini fruit crumble. Continue reading “Plum Dessert for One”

I’m Back – with Cupcakes!

Hello out there! It has been way too long. The last few months have been kind of a whirlwind. Since we’ve last spoken, I’ve survived a surprisingly grueling data entry job in the spring, and floated through a lovely summer in Madison. Although this blog has called to me for all these months, I was busy selling pizza at the Children’s Museum cafe, making picnics, spending hours with friends doing absolutely nothing, and falling in love.

Life happens sometimes. Priorities change. Trust me, it’s a good thing. But I’m back, if anyone is here to read my words (or not, I suppose). And guess what? I made cookies! (Are you shocked?)

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The perfect simplicity of chocolate chip cookies is all I need to soothe my soul (and fill Sunday night’s big empty house with wonderful smells).

BUT, I already told you about these cookies. (They were basically these.) So I thought I’d share a recipe that I made earlier this summer – some adorable cheesecake cupcakes. I topped half with melted chocolate and half with sliced fresh strawberries (which were as sweet as sugar in the height of their season).

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These are a such a rich and creamy summer treat. Is it already fall? Well, any time of year, make these little treats for someone you care about. Top them with whatever you like!

Continue reading “I’m Back – with Cupcakes!”

Lacy Coconut Brownies

The other day at my new job (that’s right, I’m a working lady now!) my boss asked me if I’m planning on sticking around Madison for a while. What followed was an anxious, jumbled mess of words as I tried to figure out what my current go-to line was about my thoughts for the future. (I’ve been rotating between various phrases, all of which I like to end with a smiling “we’ll see what happens” and a quick segue into another topic of conversation.)

This was always my favorite part of making brownies – pouring the white sugar into a bowl of deep, dark chocolate.

But currently I have no line, no plans, and a little spike of panic whenever someone mentions next fall, because next fall is a giant question mark for me. But I do have a job, and those moments of panic are quite manageable compared to the constant nagging stress that has been the past month.

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So anyway, I wrapped up my confused answer with, “I guess I don’t really know what I’m doing,” took a deep breath, ignored the puzzled look on her face, and tried to accept that.

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I feel so fortunate and grateful to have a job right now, and I am focusing on that. I made these beautiful brownies in the moments after hearing about the job, feeling anxious and excited and needing to do something with my restless energy and my final day of freedom.

IMG_5080  They are sublime. Not fudgy or cakey, but in a category all their own – they are soft and velvety, rich and chocolatey, and topped with chewy coconut macaroon. They disappeared in record timing, so be prepared.

Lacy Coconut Brownies

recipe adapted from Alice Medrich’s Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies

–I highly recommend this cookbook. Alice Medrich writes reliable, creative recipes, along with excellent instructions and thoughtful touches, such as ways to substitute for different types of chocolate and how to best line a square baking pan.

makes 25 brownies

For the topping:

1 large egg white

Scant 1 1/4 cups unsweetened dried flaked coconut (aka coconut chips) or 1 cup sweetened dried shredded coconut.

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Large pinch of salt

For the brownies:

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, cold

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Line a 9-inch square pan with foil. First prepare the macaroon topping – Combine the egg white, coconut, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a heatproof mixing bowl. Set the bowl in a skillet/pot of barely simmering water. Stir with a silicone spatula, scraping the bottom to prevent burning, for 3-5 minutes, until the mixture is very hot to the touch and the egg whites have thickened slightly. The mixture will turn from translucent to opaque.

Set the mixture aside for 30 minutes to let the coconut absorb more of the goop while you make the brownies.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Place the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set it in the skillet/pot of barely simmering water. Stir frequently until melted and smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly.

Remove the bowl from the water and stir in sugar, vanilla, and salt with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs and stir well. Stir in the flour and beat vigorously with the wooden spoon until the batter is smooth and glossy and begins to come away from the sides of the bowl.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

Use your fingers to drop the macaroon mixture in a lacy layer over the brownie batter. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the brownies puff at the edges and the shreds of coconut become deep golden brown and crusty.

Let cool completely in the pan on a rack. Transfer the brownies to a cutting board and cut into small squares. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.