Yellow Cake with Caramel Icing (& Zack)

I have been very fortunate in my short time on this earth. I married the love of my life, I’m working for myself, my dog is heavily medicated and, thusly, well behaved.

Yellow Cake with Caramel Icing | Midwest Nice

Blessedly, I have never known great loss.

My husband has.

Thankfully, I don’t know what it’s like to have to say goodbye to someone you’ve known your whole life.

My husband does.

Unfortunately, I don’t have memories of Zack.

My husband does.

Yellow Cake with Caramel Icing | Midwest Nice

He has told me about Zack. Relayed stories and shared secrets. There have been tales of snow-covered hay bales, piano practice, and football games. Recollections of tiny hands pushing even tinier tractors around the living room rug. Mentions of cross-country family trips and harrowing encounters with the neighbors’ dog. An anecdote of how he held the steering wheel. A guarantee that we would have butted heads.

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Peach Pavlovas (& a video)

Did you see it?

The trailer I made for The 505 West! It’s an absolutely astounding AirBnb located in Princeton, just 30 minutes from where we live.

See, this whole thing started when I found out Matt had created this gorgeous space above his restaurant, Horseradish. I was already obsessed with the restaurant and became equally as enamored with the rental.

It is really and truly one of my favorite places to eat and spend time in the area. It reminds me of any number of trendy places in Chicago or Greenville, without the “trying so hard” feeling I often got in those cities. There’s just a comfort to be found sitting on a stool in the restaurant, looking into the open kitchen or perusing the shelves near the front door. I spend a decent amount of time there (though not enough, IMO). Seth and I go on dates there, I had my bridal shower there, it’s a lovely place for a quick lunch. Originally, we’d tossed around the idea of doing food photography work, as I’ve been making headway in that department (see here and here). But, truly, Matt doesn’t need me. He takes lovely photos on his own. And on his phone! Much to my frustration.

So, it morphed into this. A night in the suite and a day in the kitchen. All documented and (somewhat) perfected and presented. (Although if I’m being honest about it being perfected – this is the second time I’ve uploaded the video. The first time was missing the audio transition and I was so mortified I took it down!)

Matt was so kind to open his doors to us. He introduced us to his friends, Elsah and Roger, owners of a local catering company. They have experience and advice and stories I gobbled up faster than the food they made. We laughed, drank Jack Rabbits, and made marshmallows. I took video of it all, that you’ll see at a later date.

I also took a ton of pictures. Just like I did of these pavlovas!

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Chocolate Cake for One (Or Two) (& tastes)

There was a period of time in college where I wanted nothing to do with chocolate.

Didn’t care for it. Not the sight of it, the smell of it, and especially not the taste of it.

This continued for about a year. Not wanting anything chocolate flavored or related or even tangentially connected to it. And this was way back when I worked at a candy magazine and was constantly surround by chocolates of all varieties. It was a dark time.

Thank god that’s over.

The distaste was merely a blip, a nonevent in my tastebuds’ lives. Now, blessedly, I love chocolate once more. Can’t get enough of it, actually.

My favorite way to eat it? In cake.

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Tiramisu Cream Puffs (& support)

“If you don’t mind – I’d really like you to be in the picture with us.”

We were sitting around the table, finishing up the catered breakfast. We’d been up since 4am to make it to breakfast at 7:30. Farmers and their early mornings. All around us other farmers were eating and drinking, discussing crop yields and “this weather we’re having.” We swam in a sea of plaid shirts and dirty baseball caps, a chorus of “You betcha!” and “Where ya from?” rang out.

Seth and his father were being honored for their farmhouse in Shawano – it had been in the family for over 100 years, a true milestone. Even I, a non-farmer raised on a non-farm, knew that. Seth had asked me to be there, at the State Fair, when his family was awarded. To share in the moment, hear when his name was called.

I cheered and whooped when the announcer said his county, his last name. Correctly, I might add, which wasn’t the case with all the other farmers. (I don’t know if you know this, but Wisconsin is home to some doozy counties and even doozier family names.)

More names were called, more weathered hands were raised – acknowledging the achievement and then quickly returning to seats. Most of these folks weren’t used to being in the spotlight, they were just doing what they’d always done, what their parents (and their parents’ parents) had always done. The tent was filled with a quiet and certain pride, the recognition may not have been desired, but it was well deserved. The list was longer than I expected, the calling and clapping continued through two cups of coffee – hot, strong, fuel to get through a morning at the Fair and a day in the fields.

Then came the photos with the plaque, the flowers, the smiling shoulder to shoulder. I was honored to be involved. Honored Seth had wanted me there by his side, with his family. The photo would be framed and hung at the farm. Maybe for the next hundred years.

Seth thanked me for being there – as if I would want to be anywhere else. In reality, I should have been thanking him. And I try to every day. Because, he doesn’t wait for an awards ceremony to support me, to celebrate me. He’s here, every day, reading my words, listening to my worries, and eating my wares. Constant and consistent care for my dreams, ideas, hopes, and feelings.

He believes in me.

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Angel Food Cake (& the elderly)

I’ve always considered angel food cake to be kind of an “elderly” dessert. Something grandparents crave or that is served at the VFW Bingo Night. Never something I wanted or even considered as a legitimate dessert option. They were always lauded for their airy-ness, low-sugar content, and lack of fat. (Especially the ones at the grocery store in those clear plastic containers.) Umm…hello? This is dessert. I want rich. I want sugary. I want fatty. Thankyouverymuch.

My lack of desire for what I deemed to be a senior sweet is surprising considering my taste in every other area of my life. My house looks like that of anyone’s great aunt (I do love me a good floral pattern and light pink color scheme), I prefer vintage items to new, and I drive a Buick the size of a small yacht. I love old people tropes, relish in them.

It wasn’t until I dusted off my own two-piece tube pan (given to me by my grandmother years and years ago, getting carried from house to house on the off chance I’d suddenly be struck with the urge to make a dessert I had no interest in), that I realized what I’d been missing out on for nearly two decades of my life. Yes, it was light. Yes, it was delicately sweet. Yes, it was delicious! Especially when paired with fresh whipped cream and macerated berries (or even some jam!)

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