Today is super Tuesday. It is also Fat Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras, aka Shrove Tuesday (though admittedly, I am more about the fat and mardi than I am about being shriven, but that is because I am not such a good person).

It is Super Fat Tuesday, or Super Size Tuesday.

I am gorging myself on treats and political coverage. We can report that sweets, cheese, milk, pepperoni and liquor are up, but we expect their polls to go down over the next 40 days. Hillary and Obama are each winning stuff. McCain is winning a lot of stuff. Huckabee is winning stuff in the South and the NPR people are attributing it to everything but the fact that he is *southern* and southerners like to support their own. I think their reporters must all be from other parts of the land.


How to win a neighborhood bake-off in 8 easy steps:

1. Ask awesome friends for recipes. Keep in mind that chocolate always wins.

2. Stay late at work with the farm bill. Dash home. Run out of time to make planned recipes. Turn to the easy, delicious Black Russian Cake.

3. Take cake mix, add vodka and chocolate. Put it in a cathedral-shaped bundt pan and wait for the magic to happen.

4. While cake is cooling, walk across the street to neighborhood party for a little egg nog.

5. Return home. Sprinkle beautifully-shaped cake with powdered sugar and douse with kahlua. Remember that plate-ing works wonders in fancy restaurants. Put cake on a nice platter and a cake stand. Bring the silver “happy holidays” pie server you bought at a junk shop.

6. Return to the party, as people “ooo” and “aaah” at your cake, which is towering above all the other desserts on its cake stand.

7. Eat yummy treats. Note that people really like a little booze on their cake.
8. Win the prize for “prettiest” dessert and tie for first-place for “overall best: queen of desserts.” Call it good. H-block rocks the house.

Friends, I need your help. Our three-block neighborhood posse is having a little holiday get-together on Monday. They want people to bring baked goods. But they upped the ante: it’s not just a time to share baked goods, but compare them …. and not just compare but compete. Yes, a neighborhood holiday bake-off. And I won’t lie: I want to win. So help me out, what is the best homemade baked good ever, and how do I make it? It needs to be something that is share-able among about ten or twenty people too … so a somewhat large delicious baked treat. It should probably also have some holiday element, but I think deliciousness will beat out style.


Two more reasons to love CakeLove, my favorite U Street bakery: 1) an old, yet-newly-discovered-to-me, blog entry from Warren Brown about trans fats. You’ve got to respect a man who loves his milk and butter that much. 2) the scratch bar.

I purchased my first scratch bar Friday night and just ate a bite of it. It is sort of like a really delicious, homebaked version of a Cliff bar. But better. It tastes kind of like a holiday treat of almondy goodness and puts me in mind of my beloved flapjacks in England (though it is not so much like the flapjacks, since they are oozing with butter and this is not).

This is how Warren describes the scratch bar on his aforementioned blog:

“Well…Scratch bars are one of my favorite snacks at CakeLove. They’re guilt free. They’re small and easy to carry. They’re wrapped and clean. They’re not sticky. They’re cute. They have wild flavors and weird spices going on. They’re different for CakeLove. They’re good.Scratch bars are almonds, dried bananas, vege protein, soy milk, agave syrup, and a lot more other things ground up, smushed together, baked in one flat sheet, and cut to size. There are chia seeds in them, too. Chia seeds, as in Cha-Cha-Cha-Chia pet. For me, the chia seeds and everything else in a Scratch bar give me a great balance of carbs-proteins-fats for slow, sustained energy release. I eat them and don’t find myself craving anything. It’s like I dropped my hunger, or that it dropped me. Either way, I can focus and do whatever…”

I have only had one bite of a “cranberry, lemon” scratch bar. But you can see that its deliciousness has already inspired me. And look how focused and energetic I am in this blog entry! Yes, this is a good treat.

Other CakeLove news: they are now shipping some of their baked goods. I noticed this on the website Friday, and Ned and I spent a great deal of time last night trying to figure out how you could ship a frosted cake. We later returned to the website to discover that they are only shipping the non-cake treats: brownies, cookies, scones, pound cake, scratch bars. Aha, mystery solved.

cake love wedding cake

Many people freeze the top layer of their wedding cake and eat it one year later for their anniversary. Because we bought our cake from a baker rather than a caterer, we thought it would be easier, tastier and more economical to serve all of our wedding cake at the festivities and buy a small new cake the next year. (As it turned out, I don’t think we could have saved any cake even if we tried. The kids were going crazy for the cakey delicious-ness — one of my fond memories from the reception is the image of my little sister, standing on top of a chair, holding a plate of cake and looking thoroughly satisfied.)

What we did freeze from the wedding reception: a portion o’ shrimp and grits. Last night we got it out of the freezer and ate it … and, shoo-eee, was it ever tasty. Shrimp and grits is my favorite food (aside from cake), and the fine heirloom corn and milling methods from Anson Mills in Columbia, SC, just cannot be beat. Their “slow food” grits have a much more complex flavor and texture than anything you find in the store — it’s like they are homemade oatmeal bread and the stuff in stores is Sunbeam.

Tonight is the night for cake. Yes, my friends, I am getting me some cake love, and I cannot wait. Their strawberries and cream cake is perfection.

(And yes, our anniversary was technically two weeks ago, but I am extending it into a small season of its own — a bit like the 12 days of Christmas.)




Ok, no matter where some elite DC hosts are shopping for their ingredients and pre-fab items for holiday parties, we can still rely on the White House chefs to get crazy in the kitchen with specially-made-from-scratch treats for all those holiday parties, to which we are not invited. Below is the White House’s just-released party menu. delish. I just want to know whose grits they are using. Could it be Wade’s Mill in Virginia? Or my favorite, Anson Mills in South Carolina?


Holiday Buffet Reception

An Assortment of Artisanal and Local Cheeses served with a Bountiful Display of Crackers, Winter Fruits and Spiced Nuts
Chilled Gulf Shrimp Cocktail served with Cocktail Sauce and Remoulade
Bourbon-Glazed Virginia Ham served with Cheesy Stone-Ground Grits
Crispy Chicken-Fried Steak Fingers with Creamed Pan Drippings
Roasted Lamb Chops with Rosemary Sea Salt with Mission Fig Chutney and Mint Jelly
Fruitwood Smoked Copper River Salmon served with Fresh Potato Pancakes and Traditional Garnitures
Maryland Crab Cakes with Lemon Caper Sauce
Orzo Salad with Roasted Artichokes, Tomatoes and Olives with Feta Cheese Vinaigrette
Homemade Tamales with Roasted Poblanos and Vidalia Onions with Black Beans and Tomatillo Sauce
White and Green Asparagus and French Green Bean Tier with Garlic Aioli

Holiday Reception Desserts

Barney and Miss Beazley Cookies (Chocolate-Dipped with Gold Collars)
Decorated Animal Cookies (Grizzly Bear, Elk, Fox, Wolf, Eagle, Mountain Lion, Moose, Road Runner, Buffalo, Coyote, Deer)
Park Trees and Leaves Cookies (Gold Magnolia Leaf, Pine Cone, Acorn, Oak Leaf, Aspen Leaf, Elm Leaf)
Maple Cookies
Park Service Indian Head Cookies
Long-Stemmed Fresh Strawberries
Orange-Spiced Infusion with Mixed Tropical Fruits and Berries
Chocolate Truffles with Forest Flavors (Honey, Maple, Huckleberry)
Chocolate Mice
Log Cabin Cake (Chocolate Dolly Sin Cake, Chocolate Buttercream Frosting)
Lemon Meringue Sequoia Cake Tree
Coconut Cake with Seven-Minute Frosting
Yule Log – Bûche de Noël
Brioche Bread Pudding
Walnut Pound Dundee Cake
Gingerbread Crown Cake
Mackintosh Apple and Sun-Dried Cherry Cobbler

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) is the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and therefore in charge this year of writing the five-year $283 billion farm bill. Perhaps you do not care about the farm bill, but I am here to tell you that you should. It oversees billions of dollars in crop subsidies that affect the way we use land and grow crops. The biggest chunk of money is for food and nutrition programs — like food stamps, which may get a new name in this year’s farm bill (but more on that later). It pays landowners to improve water, conserve land or create wildlife habitat. The farm bill enrolls more land in conservation programs than the entire National Wildlife Refuge System. (If you love ducks, you should love the farm bill.) Rural development, broadband access, ethanol biorefineries, international food aid and research are also in the farm bill too. So listen up, yo! The farm bill is your bill!

Anyway, that is not what I meant to tell you in this post. I am here to tell you that Sen. Harkin, among other things, LOVES the farm bill’s fruit and vegetable snack program for schools. He could talk about it all day. It gives kids little packages of carrots or spinach or apples or something in the midmorning or the afternoon … when they’ve got the growlies. That is what he always says: “you know, when kids have the growlies, they can have a nutritious snack.”

(I will note that it turns out getting fresh vegetables in schools is MUCH harder than you would think. See this excellent NYTimes piece.)
I have never heard the term “growlies” before, but I like it. If you have the growlies today, I hope you can eat a nice apple from the farmer’s market. Or if you are lucky like me, your growlies can be satisfied at a fabulous tea party with a beautiful bride and wonderful friends.