15 Blog Posts of 2014: My Top Picks

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It's been one hell of a year. Marriage, lots of travel to fascinating places, starting this blog, growing a business, new wonderful friends - it's been amazing. Thank you for tagging along and for your support. I can guarantee that 2015 will not disappoint. To wrap things up, I wanted to share my top 10 blog posts of 2014. Here's to 2015 - love to you and all of yours!  ~Angela

Lifestyle + Food Commentary

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The 10 Best Cookbooks From 2014

Everybody is making their Top 10 lists of music and entertainment now. Mostly music. Those make me feel very uncool, unhip. I listen to the same stuff I've been listening to for the past 10 years, with the exception of adding in Taylor Swift this year because, duh.

So here's my round-up of the best new cookbooks I've found this year. They are not all baking cookbooks - and they are not all full of recipes I want to make all the time. But I think what's important is that you find inspiration where you can. The color's in Plenty More give me inspiration for colors I can put on a cake, or a tart. You gotta look beyond the baking books to find inspiration. Find the baking books with solid technique, and move into other books that are simply beautiful and full of life and flavors.

If you haven't peeped these titles yet, be sure to check them out in the New Year!

Photo copyright:  Johnny Iuzzini

Photo copyright:  Johnny Iuzzini

1. Sugar Rush: Master Tips, Techniques, and Recipes for Sweet Baking - I don't just love this because I worked for the author and chef, Johnny Iuzzini. Overall, it's the most complete pastry book that I've seen in the past several years. I might be biased, again, because I somewhat understand where Johnny is coming from with the way he approaches baking. He gives you amazing base recipes in this book, and fabulous show-stoppers that won't break the bank, or keep you in the kitchen, scratching your head for days. It's methodical, practical, BEAUTIFUL, and amazing. If you are looking for a reliable macaron recipe, pound cake, crepe cakes, cookies, bars, etc. - THIS is your book. A huge round of applause for Johnny on this.

2. Brooks Headley's Fancy DessertsThis book is amazing for a few reasons. You really get to know Brooks Headley, the pastry chef at Del Posto in NYC. You learn that he doesn't really like the structured, normal "beautiful" desserts - he likes the stuff to taste good and I think be kind of approachable. I love the way it is divided into chapters (something that is always interesting to me) - "Fruit," "Vegetables," "Flours and Grains," "Chocolate," "Seeds and Nuts," and "Dairy". Super logical and methodical. The book is peppered with actual recipes, but what you get quite a bit of is stories on his life as a traveling musician - getting by on not much. You get some super funky drawings and pictures. It broke the mold in terms of traditional pastry cookbooks.

3. Oh She Glows Cookbook I fell in love with this instantly when it arrived. I am obsessed with Angela Liddon's blog, Oh She Glows, so having a book on hand with her best-of recipes is amazing. The smoothie section is wonderful. I feel like this book, for me, normalized eating really well in a way that respects your body and keeps you happy and healthy. The ingredients aren't strange or hard to find and you won't spend a million dollars to make one of the recipes. I love that she includes information about a well-stocked pantry, as well as an appendix of common cooking techniques. My favorite recipes from the book have to be the Green Monster Smoothie and the Glow Bars. When this came out in March, I was singing its praises from the mountaintops, trying to get every living soul to buy it!

4. The Vibrant Table: Recipes From My Always Vegetarian, Mostly Vegan, and Sometimes Raw KitchenSo, beautiful food photography can make or break it for me. I love how sensual and sexy these photos make the food look. It makes eating healthy look FABULOUS. I love the Thunderstorm Cookies. Did you ever read the book Thunder Cake as a kid? If not, I highly recommend it. And this book.

5. Baking Chez Moi: Recipes From My Paris Home To Your Home Anywhere - If you want to make beautiful desserts that look like they came straight out of a Parisian bakery, you need this book. It seems to be a little more advanced than some, but I think the author, Dorie Greenspan, tries to make it manageable. I love that she lists the measurements in both traditional American volume and European metric weights. I think that that shows she wants to appeal to a wide range of bakers. First on my list to make? Def the Hugo and Victor's Pink Grapefruit Tart. Yikes!

6. Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of The Perfect Cocktail - by Dave Arnold

7.  Ovenly: Sweet and Salty Recipes from New York's Most Creative Bakery - by Angela Patinkin and Agatha Kulaga

8. North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland - by Gunnar Karl Gislason

9. Huckleberry: Stories, Secrets, and Recipes from our Kitchen - by Zoe Nathan

10. Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London's Ottolenghi - by Yotam Ottolenghi 

 

His And Hers Sweets: Herbaceous Holiday Treats

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I've really never taken the time to get into the holiday spirit. Not because I don't like the season or because I'm a scrooge, but because I just never take the time for it. And it always seems to get very expensive, so I sort of just take it easy. I bought lights for our house the first year we were in it, then I left them up until they started falling apart (about a year later), so I mostly don't trust myself with holiday decorations at this point. But this year has been different - except I'm still not buying new lights for our house. I've been making snowflake cut-out cookies until hell won't have 'em and of course listening to Mariah Carey holiday music nonstop. 

This shoot with Candace, Lindsay, and Jenny definitely helped, too. Gotta get your house smelling good and start thinking about pretty things. I may not allow myself Christmas lights, but good smells and snowflake cookies are totally allowed. I can't even comprehend how amazing a winter wedding would be with these beautiful embellishments and treats - a full display of packaged up little sweets. Imagine being a guest at that wedding?!

About the Styling: Angela's pastries are always as delicious to look at as they are to eat, so I decided to trim a tree made of evergreen and herb sprigs with her pristine but rustic little packages of pastry goodness. My family used to deliver holiday gifts of handmade baked goods to family friends, so following that tradition, we packaged up Angela's pastries using hand-painted wrapping paper and snowflake gingerbread cookie embellishments. These sweets are perfect for cozying up with loved ones with a cup of hot cocoa or tea, so we convinced my husband to hand model for us. Happy Holidays!

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About the sweets: I always know that Candace is going to find a really unique way to style whatever they're doing, so there's no way I could stick to exact holiday classics for this. I love rugelach, but it's sometimes lost in the hustle and bustle of pies and other traditional holiday cookies. My best friend makes it every year and is a rugelach master, so she was my inspiration. I added in rosemary for this herbaceous theme - but just enough to make it fragrant. The pear upside-down cake, I think, is so sexy and lovely. I just love the shape of the pears on top and the deep color of the cake. With a hint of fresh sage, everyone knows there's something else in there, but, again, it's just enough to make it fragrant. Now, cozy up and be merry! 

They hand-painted that wrapping paper, y'all!

They hand-painted that wrapping paper, y'all!

Happy Holidays! Hope you have a lot of fun with your friends and family!

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Lately: The Past Few Weeks In Pictures

Sweet little vegan coconut-lemon hearts for the opening of Hello Holiday's new Omaha store location!

Sweet little vegan coconut-lemon hearts for the opening of Hello Holiday's new Omaha store location!

Of course this time of year gets crazy for everyone - but, honestly, I just feel like it's a whirlwind in general, with nothing really to do with the holiday season. More than anything, it's a season of change. I can't wait for the next few months. It feels like I've been in a cave for the past year and am emerging to find the whole world again. Is that weird?! It feels like a weird thing to say!

Stay tuned for more regularly scheduled posts again. I've missed you guys and this space!! Also, something super sweet and holiday-y tomorrow from Goldenrod and Lovestru.ck! And, for more of a tease, stay tuned for big things at the beginning of 2015. I can't wait to share the new look for Goldenrod Pastries, plus a ton of other exciting stuff. 

I always swore I would never be a blogger who ever did the "stay tuuuuuned!" thing, but I get it now. I have so many awesome things coming for you, but I want it to be a big KA-POW!! and I just can't wait to tell you everything! 

Cookie-obsessed lately - especially with royal icing! I always hated it and cut-out cookies until recently. So calming and happy-making.

Cookie-obsessed lately - especially with royal icing! I always hated it and cut-out cookies until recently. So calming and happy-making.

A great market up in Omaha with some great south Omaha vendors - put together by Wallflower Vintage. 

A great market up in Omaha with some great south Omaha vendors - put together by Wallflower Vintage. 

Love this illustration by one of my main babes, Tuesday. She is the best and a frickin' badass.

Love this illustration by one of my main babes, Tuesday. She is the best and a frickin' badass.

Crunchy-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside chocolate chip cookies with milky buttercream center. Gearing up for a fun January wedding with these!

Crunchy-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside chocolate chip cookies with milky buttercream center. Gearing up for a fun January wedding with these!

My sweet nephew turned one last month! These are his initials, in cookie form. He is the sweetest angel I have ever met in my whole life.

My sweet nephew turned one last month! These are his initials, in cookie form. He is the sweetest angel I have ever met in my whole life.

If I am known for nothing but tall cakes in my life, I'm cool with that. Devil's food and vanilla buttercream for a great shoot.

If I am known for nothing but tall cakes in my life, I'm cool with that. Devil's food and vanilla buttercream for a great shoot.

Little cardamom cakes with rose buttercream for the opening of the new downtown Lincoln Lotus House of Yoga location. Love this new space!

Little cardamom cakes with rose buttercream for the opening of the new downtown Lincoln Lotus House of Yoga location. Love this new space!

Sneak peek from an AMAZING shoot with Lovestru.ck and The Mullers from last weekend. 

Sneak peek from an AMAZING shoot with Lovestru.ck and The Mullers from last weekend. 



5 Tips To Update Packaging For Your Holiday Sweets

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I received a really awesome inquiry from a friend and blog-reader that I am going to try to entertain. She asked if I have any suggestions on how to package up sweet treats for gifts, that might be more interesting than just putting the spritz cookies (or whatever you made) on a paper plate, and wrapping them in foil. While I do not claim to be a Martha of any kind, I do have some tips that are pretty easy and affordable - and will make it look like you spent hours on Pinterest researching this stuff.

And just a reminder: it isn't your job to make sure these packages are an air-tight situation. Your job is to make cute things and deliver them. Your friend can put them in Tupperware, if they want.

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  1. Find some cute vessels for your snacks. From restaurant supply stores, to craft stores like Michael's - you can find little boxes that will work great for handing out special treats to your friends and family. Are you going to be doing a ton of these? Look to restaurant supply stores, online or in your city. I bought 50 little white boxes last week for $7.99. These are small, but they'll hold about 5 cookies, or ten little bonbons. Other options?
  2. Use waxed paper instead of aluminum foil. I use waxed paper to line pastry boxes for clients, and I also use it to wrap up small amounts of things, like 1-5 cookies, or an assortment of small things. You can go rustic by wrapping everything up just with the waxed paper and close it with twine or washi tape -- or, line your boxes and/or treat bags with it. It's just so much classier than foil! Even wrap it over a paper plate, secured with tape and foil.
  3. Close your packages with twine. Twine is actually really useful for a lot of things, and you get a big bang for your buck when you buy it. Butcher's twine is usually an off-white color and is tough enough to stand up to heavy use, like for wrapping up big pieces of meat; whereas baker's twine is much thinner and comes in a variety of colors, usually used for wrapping up boxes. Use it to wrap around boxes, or tie up waxed paper packages with it!
  4. Find some nice tape to seal things up! Use Japanese-style washi tape to seal boxes and waxed paper packages. This tape, in my experience, isn't super strong, so you might consider reinforcing it with some butcher's twine, or clear packaging tape. It's so cute, but not always super stick! I also like to use kraft paper-like brown packing tape. It's rustic and super awesome.
  5. Add in cute extras!
    • dd some confetti inside the packages, if you have it lying around. Don't use glitter. Your friends will hate you.
    • Decorate the boxes with anything, even just by saying "To..." and "From...". Use black or grey ink to keep it simple.
    • Tuck something cute into the wrapping, like a feather with glitter on it, or a card with an affirmation or sweet saying.
    • TIE JINGLE BELLS TO IT. I know I would never have the patience for something adorable like this, but damn! Wouldn't it be so cute?!

Photo credits: Imeon Design, Deco Crush

Thursday Sweets: 11.13.2014

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Daylight Savings Time is really getting to me this year. I had been keeping up a super insane schedule of going to the gym or baking each day by 6am, working throughout the day, then baking again through the evening, until at least 10pm. Oh, well that's just been shot! I always tell people how much I love the fall time change, because it forces me to slow down in the evenings and really take it easy. Well, but what happens when you don't have that choice?! When you actually have loads to do?! It has not been an easy transition, but I think it will get easier soon. I have a wonderful, big order to work on tonight, that will help. 

Want to know my secret for waking up early and getting out of bed for going to gym? I pretend it's the middle of winter, and I'm in Iceland. And it's actually 9am, and not 530am. So, that way, it just seems normal. Do you think maybe I've lost it? Just maybe?

In other news, we as humankind, landed something on a comet. So that blows my mind. My husband and I had a heart-to-heart last night about outer space and planets. It's not that I don't care about learning about it all, but I just feel like it can't be nearly as complicated as it is... So I just feel like I already understand enough of it. Boy. That is not the case. Poor husband was shocked at my knowledge (or lack there of)! We must accept the things we do not know and ask 'why?' when we can. But otherwise, just pretend you knew the moon's size in comparison to the sun.

In honor of this season, let's think like the Danes and latch on to hygge.

My birthday eve dinner request last week was for these banh mi tacos. Best tacos ever. 

I don't know about you, but seeing a comet up close and personal is fricking insane.

Brussels sprout slaw with za'atar crostini? I'm in.

I don't even like sugar cookies, but these are actually beautiful. And they are trashed up.

Two sources led me to find the Local Milk blog this week. This cake with lavender and early grey has me swooning hard.

Our Honeymoon In Iceland: Part I, Reykjavík

Mount Esja. 

Mount Esja. 

View of beautiful Reykjavík from Halligrimskrija.

View of beautiful Reykjavík from Halligrimskrija.

We've been waxing poetic about our honeymoon a lot lately. Imagining what it would be like to drop everything, pack up the dogs, and move to Iceland to open a little bakery. Turns out you don't need a visa for six months. Yes, we've looked that seriously. I don't think our love of that mysterious little island was because of post-wedding bliss, either. We're either happy or sad and although we had the most amazing wedding experience ever, I think we just had one hell of a vacation.

I kept a journal and a pen in my purse, and took it everywhere we went. We wrote down what we did everyday, just like my mom used to do on our family vacations. It always seemed silly, but man. It's so fun to look back at what she typed up of our trip to Europe in 1997. I was a munchkin who thought I was cooler than I really was - as in, I drank my first wine on that trip and wanted to bathe in escargot butter and thought frog legs were the coolest thing ever. I knew that Russell and I needed to do the same thing for our trip. We ended up doing most of the writing in restaurants, or curled up back at wherever we were staying, as something to do while we escaped the cold and, often, wet conditions. It was bliss. And I want to remember it forever. So, what better way than to share it in this space? Maybe you're planning an Icelandic adventure! (I know my girl Teresa of Tremendous Times is and I can't wait for her review.)

Walking on the lake in the center of Reykjavík, completely frozen over. I loved watching kids ride bikes and run with dogs on it. 

Walking on the lake in the center of Reykjavík, completely frozen over. I loved watching kids ride bikes and run with dogs on it. 

Café Loki, with our amazing spread of Icelandic food.

Café Loki, with our amazing spread of Icelandic food.

Fermented shark and Brennevin!

Fermented shark and Brennevin!

February 25: After flying from Nebraska to London, then to Keflavik, with an hour bus ride to Reykavik, we settled in at our PERFECT Air Bnb and ventured out for dinner. One of the awesome things about renting an apartment is that the host will usually leave some information about where to eat - and it's actually helpful information, as opposed to whatever your hotel wants you to know. 

  • SNAPS for dinner. I can highly recommend the bouillabaisse. It was insane. Russell had redfish with cabbage and grapes. Obviously we had chocolate cake with vanilla is

February 26: It was pretty dark when we settled in the day before, so we didn't see that, just outside our apartment, was an insane view of the water and Mount Esja. The cold air woke up our jet-lagged bodies and, god, it was so beautiful. I felt like we were in heaven, looking down at that blue water and the mountain. We walked a lot that day and grabbed little snacks along the way. A walk along the water, no matter how cold, is worth it.

  • Kryddlegin hjörtu for every lunch we had in Reykjavik. It took us a while to find this gem, but, boy, when we did!! They have two locations and we only visited the more casual of the two. It's about $15 USD for lunch, which is very cheap for Iceland. They have four homemade soups everyday, and an amazing fresh salad selection. And you can go back for more as many times as you want. The veggies they use are washed with sacred crystals! We had soups like: tomato, peanut-chicken, coconut curry, chicken curry, Icelandic lamb... it was amazing. Salads included apples with grated ginger and line; apple chunks with yoghurt, dates, and cinnamon. She made yeast-free spelt and barley bread, too. It was amazing.
  • Reykjavik Art MuseumA great respite from the cold, and so well curated. We loved this place. It's set along the harbor and used to be a repair/painting warehouse for boats, so it has some amazing architecture. 
  • Halligrimskrikja -The main church, set up on a hill. Great place to watch for the Northern Lights and sunsets.
  • Café LokiSeriously amazing, unpretentious Icelandic food at this second-floor cafe. We had meat soup, rye bread with lamb paté, herring on toast with hard-boiled egg, haddock with mashed potatoes, sheep head's jelly, roasted turnips, pea and bean salad, and smoked trout with farmer's cheese. Don't forget about the hákarl and Brennevin! Fermented shark is not as disgusting as everyone says.
  • Valdís for ice cream - Vegan blackberry for me, cookies and cream for Russell. Just go there, even though you'll walk 30 minutes at night, when it's freezing cold.
Inside the Reykjavií Art Museum, a former boat warehouse.

Inside the Reykjavií Art Museum, a former boat warehouse.

Northern Lights! Yay!

Northern Lights! Yay!

February 27: Another full day in Reykjavik. And a lot more food. We ended up at Kryddlegin Hjörtu again, of course, and tried some other faves.

  • Baejarins Beztu Pylsur - Insane hot dogs in a food cart. If you've watched a show on Iceland, this was in it. Lots of sauces and lots of crunchy onions. Russell noted in our travel journal that they were playing Rancid, which made him pretty happy.
  • 871 +/- 2, The Viking Settlement Exhibition Awesome museum with interesting technology. I wondered how interested it would be, but I'm glad we went.
  • Shopping! I did some damage at KronKron, KRAUM, and The Icelandic Handknitting Association - and recommend them all.
  • Fiskfélagid, or Fish CompanyThis restaurant was participating in the Food and Fun Festival, where chefs from around Scandinavia and Northern Europe have short residencies in restaurants around Reykjavik. It was difficult to choose just one, but we loved this. We had great food like, chicken skin with apple and vinegar powder; bread with a beet and raspberry jam; Icelandic lobster with german turnip, cucumber, salad purée, and a buttermilk mussel broth; lamb fillet with hay and vegetable ash, marrow powder, and beet gel; and spanish cheese parfait with skyr ice cream, lemon zest meringue, and sorrel sauce. Insanely beautiful and amazing. Service was great.

We saw the Northern Lights this night, the only time of the whole trip. We were walking along the harbor after dinner and just saw some green flashes across the sky, very faint. Then they moved. And then they moved again. We sat outside Harpa Concert Hall for about 30 minutes, just watching the sky move. Back at our apartment across town, we saw the Lights even stronger from our windows. It was as magical as everyone says it is. 

From here, we drove to Vík. Stay tuned!