Remember Christmas? Tree, presents, reindeer, cookies, Santa, excess… all the pagan accessories in our modern version of happy birthday, Jesus. 

This past Christmas, I’d had enough. 

Did I forgo presents? No.
Did I starve my family? No.
Did I decorate a tree? Yes. 
Did I do the obligatory cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer for the young Santa-believing children? Create fake boot prints in the snow on the back deck? Write, in opposite hand script, a letter from Santa in reply thanking the adorable and beautiful daughters for the snacks? Chomp half eaten carrots, leave cookie crumbs and smear dirt + pine needle residue on said letter? 


Since it’s March in Minnesota and there’s still snow – lots of it – I’m feeling a bit stuck in Christmas hell. 

Christmas hell. That’s an oxymoron, right?

Somewhere between presents, runs to the airport, laundry, candy making, basking in the warm glow of gas fireplaces with on-switches* and pouring through Julia Child’s two volume set Mastering the Art of French Cooking, it hit me. 

I should blog about stuff. 

My friends asked if I was going to blog about my new cooking adventure. I’d decided on this only after my husband had weight loss surgery that effectively reduces his portion sizes to that of a walnut  for the rest of his life. Or, perhaps, after I’d given the thought of mastering something about as much thought as buying a gallon of milk. 

So, in honor of the 100th post in nearly as many days, and in celebration of over 6400 page views, I’m bringing you bonus food posts today!

(Yeah, I know. It’s lame. The food posts have nothing to do with the 100th post or the page view count. It’s just an excuse to sound like a QVC host. But wait! If you keep reading you’ll get a bonus food post about a vegetable never mentioned in one single recipe in Julia’s cookbook for FREEEEEEEEE!)

Context needed prior to explanation. I’m cooking for no one. I’m alone in this house until Wednesday. No one but myself will be eating this food, except maybe Grammy, and I’m totally fine with it. Really, I may as well be cooking for no one most of the time with the spousal stomach walnut reference above. 

Orange and Almond Spongecake 
Normally when you combine the words that describe a sweet confection and a cleaning tool, well, it sounds gross. 
Sponge cake
Pine Sol pudding
Pledge parfait > sounds french, oui?
Simple Green sundae

The entire reason I chose this recipe was because I had rapidly ripening oranges on the counter. Around this time each year I crave citrus, so this is not an unusual occurrence in March. I tell my daughters I do it to prevent scurvy, which I frequently confuse with syphilis, which is bad. bad. bad. either way you go. 

Needless to say, and thank God I don’t have to explain because after 100 posts y’all are used to my brand of humor, the finished product did not taste anything like Clorox cake or Ajax apple pie. The cake was dense and moist, even without frosting, which I think can overwhelm the delicate fruit flavor with intense sweetness. I did a simple dusting of powdered sugar because, frankly, I’m lazy. 

And no, once again, the cake did not release from the pan in one piece. In fact, regardless of how well I grease and flower the cake pan, I’ve never once had any of Julia’s cakes hit the cake stand with a resoundingly singular thunk

Mushroom Quiche
Mushroom and Endive Quiche
We-had-a-bunch-of-turkey-lunch-meat quiche

Technically the only new recipe in this bunch is the variation of quiche with endive. I had to include something in addition to it because, as I found out with the leek version, it’s just not strong enough to carry the whole quiche to deliciousness. 

I will tell you, I can rock a quiche. We’re not talking store bought crust either. I made dough for six crusts, three of which were baked today. I will freeze two and eat one this week for breakfast every day because that’s how I roll now, Julia

The quiches are cooling, so I’ll have to post an update this week on the endive variation. 

Bonus: Kale chips & Banana Bread

Wow, that looks gross. Let’s edit. 

Bonus: Kale chips
Bonus: Banana bread

Perhaps I’ve been craving things that are healthier for me other than Julia’s staples of butter, cream and eggs. Then again – quiche – so, maybe not. I saw kale in the grocery store and picked it up because (1) I’ve no one to complain about eating kale this week and (2) well… that’s it. I can make whatever I want until Wednesday.  

So, kale is like everywhere now. I did kale chips in the fall and was surprised with their flavorful demeanor. I decided to do big kale chips, but have since learned that I need to trim the kale leaves off of the bitter center spine. However, they are as good as I remember and I’m munching on them right now. 

And, anything you douse in olive oil and salt, well… can’t screw that up. 

I made banana bread with the three black bananas on the counter. They were next to the rapidly dying oranges from the earlier entry. 

I didn’t snap a photo. 
I remember when banana bread was a really big deal for me.

*In our previous home, we had an oil burning furnace that was original to the 1952-era home. Because it cost us upwards of $850 each time we filled the tank, we imposed several alternative heat sources including blankets, socks, those portable electric infrared heaters, which tripped circuits in conjunction with the toaster oven or microwave, and our wood burning fireplace. Can I just tell you that I love the roar of a crackling fireplace as much as the next gal, but after several winters of purchasing pre-cut wood, stacking wood, carting wood, building fires (which, let’s face it, I never did because I live with pyros), stoking fires, feeding fires and cleaning up after fires, I WAS OVER IT. Bring on the gas flip switch and thank you Jesus.