I’m celebrating today – five years here at chinese grandma. 5! A full handful of years.
We’ve had good eats together, made discoveries, wondered and laughed. I’ve had exiting moments in this blogging adventure – the Kitchn!, Saveur! – and it’s been a joy share with you here and have you share back with me.
But in this half-decade, life also got real. You guys were with me when I turned 40; when I lost my dad and my dad-in-law; when I had a shoot-me-now health year with raging eczema followed by shingles; when I’ve had pangs of midlife angst.
Your quiet listening has helped me through. I started this blog as a restless at-home mom of four, desperate to construct a virtual room of my own. Staking out this space to create, to think and to learn has given me calm. Writing here is like a meditation – an opportunity for me to step back, analyze, digest and breathe.
I had four little people when this all started – aged 1 to 8 – and now they are 6 to 13, half-grown to grinning down at me. I no longer fantasize about my phantom life, my independent pre-parenthood existence. Instead I am incredulous that I am on the flip side, nearing again a house without the boisterous activity of kids.
I wish I could say five years of blogging has made me a smooth pro, but I can’t. Sometimes I’m bursting to share something fresh and cool with you. More often I go through a comical cycle of despair, rejected attempts and insecurity until I slowly, finally get to something I think might be worth reading.
Some posts connect with you more than others, and I can never predict which – I just launch my little word vessels, built to the best of my ability, and enjoy the brief satisfaction of completion before getting to work on the next.
Five years here and 43 years of living have taught me one thing for certain about this earthly life: it’s about getting up, trying our best, learning with honesty and humility, and getting up again. This is how the game is played. If we don’t make the effort, we atrophy. If we ignore lessons, we get stuck on repeat.
So I keep at it, for better and worse, and I love it. When something connects with you, or when you love a recipe I’ve shared, I am grateful to my toes.
I am thrilled to celebrate five years at chinese grandma with you all, and I am sending you squeezy hugs and high fives and fist bumps.
Oh, and cake! Buttery, blueberry-y blogiversary cake.
You guys have seen this cake before here – with plums then pears – but I am glad I remembered it for berry season, because it makes such a fantastic base for the fat prime blueberries out now. I figure that if the New York Times saw fit to publish Marian Burros’s recipe annually for 24 years straight, three times isn’t too much for us.
This blueberry-nutmeg take on Marian’s classic is from my friend Cheryl‘s book Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables. If you don’t have nutmeg, cinnamon or cardamom would be good with blueberries too.
This recipe is so easy even my mom, who can never remember where she put down her cell phone, has it memorized. Start with sugar and butter, which gets sticky soft quickly this time of year.
Mixing gets even easier once you add the eggs. It’s not a huge amount of batter, so an old-school fork will do just fine for mixing.
No one recommends this – it’s not for perfectionists – but between you and me, you can add the flour, topped with baking powder and nutmeg (plus salt if your butter is unsalted), and swirl just the dry ingredients briefly before you stir them into the wet ingredients. As long as you don’t have clumps of baking powder, nutmeg or salt, lightning will not strike you dead.
The finished batter is thick. Fret not.
Smooth it into the pan.
Mix the blueberries with a little more sugar and nutmeg. And yes, I am reusing my well-scraped batter bowl (not photogenic, but efficient).
An 8-inch pan is the tightest workable fit; a 9- or 10-inch pan will make a flatter cake.
Powdered sugar, if you like.
It’s hard to beat the minimalist brilliance of this cake: made with the most basic ingredients and barest equipment, pretty without additional decoration, equally great made fresh or a day ahead. The simple, soft, buttery sweetness is an ideal base for any fruit you want to feature.
Happy blogiversary! Cheers to you guys, who make this all possible.
And the giveaway! I thought it would be fun to feature cookbooks of three of my amazing Saveur-nominated blogging friends, all released in the last year and all inspiring, practical additions to any cookbook library. Winners can choose the one that calls out most to try:
Rose Water and Orange Blossoms: Fresh & Classic Recipes from my Lebanese Kitchen – Lovely Maureen with fresh, gorgeous Lebanese recipes from her Michigan kitchen (recently featured in the New York Times!).
Yogurt Culture: A Global Look at How to Make, Bake, Sip, and Chill the World’s Creamiest, Healthiest Food – I’ve raved before about Cheryl‘s deliciously dreamy book and my infatuation with her labneh party spread.
Food Truck Road Trip: More Than 100 Recipes Collected from the Best Street Food Vendors Coast to Coast – Kim and Phil are constantly traveling and eating to find the best food, and their peripatetic Instagram feed keeps me salivating with envy.
Five winners for five years! Share some thoughts in the comment box below – favorite recipes, ideas to consider, any feedback – and you’ll be entered to win. I’ll pick names at random end of day Tuesday, July 28 and contact winners by email.
I feel like everyone is blissed out on the beach this time of year, so those who enter should have a good shot to score some delicious summer reading. Best of luck!
Summer Blueberry Cake
Marian Burros’s fruit torte is one of my all-time favorite recipes, so I knew I’d love this blueberry-nutmeg variation from the wonderful Cheryl Sternman Rule. Heavy on the blueberries, it’s a picturesque, buttery delight to feature summer’s freshest.
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups (1 pint) fresh blueberries
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a springform or cake pan (8, 9 or 10 inches).
- Cream sugar and butter in a bowl. Add eggs and beat well. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and mix thoroughly. Spoon the batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.
- Mix blueberries with sugar and nutmeg. Pour over batter and gently even out the layer of blueberries.
- Bake for 40 to 50 minutes (smaller pan/thicker cake will take longer), until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool to lukewarm, and serve.
Makes 8 servings.
- If you prefer less sweet, you can cut the sugar to 2/3 cup. But it’s hard to argue with Marian’s tried and true proportions.
- Nutmeg substitutes: try cinnamon or cardamom, or nothing at all. I find vanilla extract detracts from the simple buttery sweetness of the cake.
- Marian’s original recipe called for fresh Italian prune plums; in addition to berries, this versatile cake base also works beautifully with sliced peaches, apples or pears depending on season.
Here’s the link to a printable version.