4.03.2016

MangiaMore: lightened HUMMINGBIRD cake

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I generally equate coconut cake with Easter. In fact, there has been the rare occasion that I have eaten coconut cake outside of Easter or that I did not enjoy coconut cake on Easter. The two just go together in my mind—like peanut butter and jelly would, if I could eat it. Cake and holiday meld to one (but not really).
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This Easter, however, was one of those rare occasions when coconut cake was not devoured on the holiday. This year was a little different. Why? Who knows? Perhaps, spring break sprung and there was so much to do, or a newish job caused sharp ups and downs, or downtime is the new norm. Perhaps, we have all been more wary of sweets and what we eat (by all, I mean everyone in my family except for me). Have no fear; cake was still involved.
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Hummingbird cake has been a hot topic here for the last couple weeks or so—something about a yoga teacher needing the southern specialty for her mother’s birthday. The anecdote sparked interest and a Google search (or two), and eventually, led me to make a lighter version Hummingbird cake for Easter.
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At first, I was alarmed by the quantity and the diversity of the fruits that come together to compose this cake. A lighter version means less oil and more fruits (more banana and applesauce). Sure, I have had banana bread and banana cake, I have made applesauce cake, and I am mildly familiar with pineapple upside-down cake. But all three—together— sounded nuts.
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That is until I ate my first slice. Banana is the only really prevalent flavor in the layers of not-so-sweet cake. It is not intense, but round and full, reminiscent of the banana bread I am familiar with. The applesauce vanishes into pure moisture, holding the dense cake together. And the pineapple pieces are only discernible when encountered, but the studs are sweet and tangy, like the scrumptious cream cheese frosting blanketing the cake. This recipe was a breeze (once the bananas were ripe enough—we put the bananas in a brown paper bag with a super ripe avocado) and definitely an easy classic.
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3.29.2016

re.CAP: EASTER

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Timing is everything. Or nothing.
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Easter came early this year— almost like an afterthought before the actual thought. It crept up on us, shocking like the mystery that it celebrates. Acting much like the weather: temperamental, moody, unpredictable, and early. It’s been an up and down of temperature—unseasonably warm one day and typically cold the next.  Lions and lambs fighting and ending in an oddly unbalanced stalemate.  Hot and cold like the most passionate affair or weary teacher. But Easter came and went, as did March—quickly, quietly, and early (by early, I mean, time is moving forward faster than I could have imagined or even hoped in darker times). And now it’s gone.
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Easter ushers a breath of fresh air after stale Lent, dark with deprivation and reflection, and quarter three, full and dense with symbolism and five-paragraph essays. The death and darkness of Lent and winter months culminate in Resurrection and the rebirth of spring. Easter is a moment of new beginnings and celebratory feasts.
And feast we did.
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Timing is everything.

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3.13.2016

our time : Maritime Parc


It was the last date night before all hell broke loose. I exaggerate… just a little. But it was the last time we would sit down, peaceful and calm, happy and hungry, before the storm. It was the storm of parent-teacher-student conferences and a frenetic work schedule that seemed limitless.

This was our time.  

We held hands in the hushed restaurant and laughed with the backdrop of crisp contemporary and the winking sky-line.
We spent too much time examining the Maritime Parc menus that we were faintly familiar with, weighing the options as if these were our last choices. To do the prix fixe or not do the prix fixe? To do the wine pairing or not do the wine pairing? We mixed and matched. We indulged.
We oohed and awwhed at the refined array of appetizers like the intensely savory French onion soup mussels, salty with bacon and briny with the sea. Or the decadent lobster gnudi that slid on the tongue like exotic silk and cream seeped with luxury, studded with sweet squash and crisp, bitter Brussels sprout leaves.

We wanted to taste every entrĂ©e offered, struggling to imagine each flavor and dish without proof. But we couldn’t. We wouldn’t. We made up our minds and clung to old favorites, specialties that we could not escape, nor did we want to. We plunged our forks deep into lemon scented spiraled strigoli pasta with plentiful seafood gem obstacles.  We reveled in the succulent scallops, using the sides of our forks cute our prizes and shift earthy bright green peas and clear corn to create tiny voluptuous bites.
We chatted and chuckled. We observed soon-to-be-married couples, exploring tasting menus and venue perks, and sipping pretty colored cocktails that danced in the mood lighting. And we devoured dessert, despite our satiety from our lounging dinner.  We noted the sweet, the spice, the cold, the warm.
We relished. We enjoyed. We slowed down and savored all of the morsels and washed down all the delicious memories with bubbling prosecco. We lived this meal.

This was our time.
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