Guac O’Clock & Other Meals on Swan’s Island, Maine

I’ll be real with you—I’ve been doing island things instead of baking.Like wading into the fuh-reezing Atlantic Ocean with three of the most fabulous women I know.And picking blackberries with my sister.But, I mean, we still have to eat. We might as well do it in style.Meals here on Swan’s Island are meticulously planned. Four years in though, we sort of know what we’re doing.

We have a meeting before we leave NYC. There’s an organized menu. There’s an itemized grocery list. There’s one harried/hilarious trip through the Hannaford in Ellsworth, Maine. And then there’s cooking every last meal, snack, and dessert we eat on this beautiful island.If it sounds like work to vacation here, that’s because it is. Fortunately for me, it’s the sort of work I love most. I mean, what’s to complain about when there’s daily Salsa O’Clock?And don’t forget Guac O’Clock. It’s very important when you are on vacation.It’s impossible to be grouchy in the morning when VJ makes you gluten-free vegan waffles……and blueberry muffins. The bacon was my contribution.There were Migas, too……and the Blueberry Baked Oatmeal I told you about on Wednesday.And cantaloupe. (Can you tell I am in love with the white prep table?)Lunches have been less curated, but this chickpea-centric spin on my favorite Jacques Pepin soup recipe really hit the spot on Sunday afternoon.And don’t forget extra-toasty grilled cheeses.Dinner is an event though. We’ve had a Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy Onions, and some extra caramelly maple-roasted carrots.There was vegan cornbread, too. (My recipe, but with non-dairy milk + vinegar, vegan butter, aquafaba for egg, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup more cornmeal.)And Eliot made my crowd-favorite Everyday Cassoulet and some garlicky kale.Last night was taco night. Hooray for using up leftovers!Dessert has been plentiful. I mean, I’m here.I made a batch of Toasted Oat Graham Crackers,so naturally, there were s’mores.There have also been also S’moreos.And just straight-up toasted marshmallows.Also, lots and lots and lots of coffee. Arnab finally learned how to use the French press we bought him for Christmas. #adultingSo, as you can see, we have not starved. We have some produce to finish and a few things we’ll divvy up on our way back to New York, but we have, by and large, used everything we brought.I’m planning to do some last day of vacation baking today (all those blackberries!), but I may also just sit on a rock and watercolor.The day is young.

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24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate

Hello! I’m headed north for my annual trip to Swans Island, Maine, and I am SO excited 🙂 24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AteIf you follow me on Instagram though, you know this isn’t my first trip to Vacationland this summer. Heck, it isn’t even my first this month! My parents decided on a whim that they wanted to attend a car show near Rockland, ME, about three weeks ago. Two weeks ago, my little sister and I decided we’d drive up to join them. One AirBNB reservation and a rental car later, we drove up to spend 24 hours with our Mom & Dad. It was a quick visit, but between the family, the cute town, and the food, it was totally worth the haul up there!

Hill’s Seafood Co.

24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AteWe just had to start out our trip with a lobster roll! This one from Hill’s Seafood Co. absolutely hit the spot after our long drive north. Eliot and I especially liked that we could skip the fries and get a side of broccoli instead. The service and harbor view were great too. No complaints from the peanut gallery. I wish I had more to say, but I was so happy to have food that I didn’t notice much else 🙂 24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate

Rock City Coffee24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate

I’m a two large coffees-per-day sort of gal, but after our early morning drive, I needed a third jolt of caffeine. After getting things settled at our B&B, Eliot and I popped over to Rock City Coffee so I could get my fix. I got the iced coffee I needed and Eliot got a blueberry-hazelnut Italian soda with an adorable Maine-y name that I can’t remember. She said it was delicious.24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AteEven if coffee and artisanal beverages aren’t your thing, I recommend checking out Rock City Coffee for the bookstore in the back. That’s right—after you grab your coffee, walk to the end of the counter and you’ll find Hello Hello Books! It’s totally adorable and sells all sorts of new and used books and other fun things. I thoroughly enjoyed scouring the cookbooks and Maine-specific sections.24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AteAs you may be able to tell, I didn’t capture any photos of my coffee (rest assured, it looked like coffee), but I did capture this guy in all his cinnamon glory ❤

We loved the location with the bookstore as well as a smaller outpost next door to our parents’ hotel. As with Hill’s Seafood Co., Rock City Coffee had great service–super friendly. I highly recommend stopping in if you’re in Rockland!24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate

Primo

Primo was recommended to us by the owner of our B&B. From the way she described it, we were sort of amazed when we were able to get a day-of reservation!24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AtePrimo is a farm-to-table restaurant right on the border between Rockland and Owls Head, ME. The restaurant itself is in a beautiful Victorian house, but the real magic is in the farm behind it.24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AteMom, Eliot, and I zipped over right after we made our reservation and spent a good 40 minutes wandering through the farm. We loved all the colors of the vegetables, and we named every animal. All the chickens were named after characters from Frasier. You won’t be surprised to learn that none of us ate chicken or pork.24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate

The menu at Primo changes everyday. To start, we all split a red lettuce salad with castelveltrano olives.24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate

My entree was halibut and rock shrimp with a summer squash risotto, and it was spectacular. That’s saying something since I had a horrible cold at the time and could barely taste anything!24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AteWe had to get dessert too. I had this chocolate budino cake with mint gelato and local strawberries. Eliot went for this almost comically large affogato with the lightest zeppole ever. So dreamy.24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AteOn top of the amazing meal and farm, Primo had spectacular service. I’m starting to see a trend 🙂

I highly recommend going to Primo if you are in Rockland. It’s pricey, but it’s also an experience. And if you aren’t as lucky with getting a reservation, they have bar seating upstairs and will allow you to order off the bar menu and the regular dining menu. Love that.24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate

The Lobster Shack

We all did our own thing for breakfast before going to the Andrew Wyeth and Ai Weiwei exhibits at the Farnsworth Museum. Before long though, we were hungry and wandered over to The Lobster Shack. It’s basically exactly what it sounds like—a shed with a kitchen and some open air seating.24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AteAll four of us got the Shack Fave: half-lobster roll, half-crab roll. I mean, we were only in Maine for 24 hours—two lobster rolls were a necessity. Plus, Rockland is the lobster capitol of Maine. Who knew?!24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AteOur lunches came with potato chips, cole slaw, dilly beans, and a wedge of watermelon. Everything was delicious, but I’ll be honest and say that I personally prefer lobster over crab in this particular instance.

This was a perfect way to cap off our quick trip. I definitely recommend stopping for lunch at The Lobster Shack. Heads up that it’s cash only—come prepared!
24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AteAfter lunch, we went over to the Owls Head Transportation Museum to see what all the fuss was about before heading back to Boston. I don’t have any particular feelings about old cars, but my dad was having a ball. For Eliot and me, the highlight was meeting this new moose friend.24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AteAlright, that’s enough of that Maine trip—now it’s time for another 🙂 We’re spending the night in Portland tonight and headed up to the island tomorrow! Make sure to check in next week so you can see what we’re cooking (and baking!) up on Swan’s Island ❤ 24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate

Beyond Baking: Getting to Know E2

Hey y’all! We’ve been having some repairs done in our apartment for the last couple of weeks, so baking has been less frequent than I’d like. I don’t have a new recipe for you today, and while I could have gone and written a Friday Favorites post, I thought I’d get a little crazy and write about myself instead 😉

I have posted more than 250 recipes in the last two and a half years, and while a lot has changed (my photos are sooooo much better now), my About Me page has basically stayed the same since day one! For those of you that don’t know me personally, I thought I’d take the liberty of giving you a few fast facts. Or 30 of them.

Let’s start off with the basics, shall we?Beyond Baking: Getting to Know E2I’m from Fort Worth, Texas, and have an amazing family. I’m the middle child.Beyond Baking: Getting to Know E2I’ve lived in New York for 10.5 years. The honeymoon is definitely over and sometimes I hate the NYC grind, but just when I’m ready to give up on this city, I fall back in love with it.

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Hershey loves asparagus and me, in that order.
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Cocoa’s disdain for me is equivalent to my love for her.

I have always considered myself a dog person, but I am obsessed with my day job work cats, Hershey and Cocoa. #secretcatladyBeyond Baking: Getting to Know E2I am not athletic, but I love to watch baseball. I am a diehard Texas Rangers fan, even when they are terrible. Two of my biggest “bucket list” items are going to games at Wrigley Field and Dodgers Stadium. I crossed Fenway Park off the list last fall.

My favorite word is “pocket.” My least favorite word is “veggies.” They’re vegetables.

I don’t know how to ride a bike.Beyond Baking: Getting to Know E2I love musical theatre. I got to see Hamilton last year–totally lives up to the hype.

My heroes are Nora Ephron, Ruth Reichl, and Martin Scorsese.

My favorite movie is GoodFellas. When I’m having a bad day, my comfort movie is You’ve Got Mail. I will not apologize for loving 1990s Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movies.Beyond Baking: Getting to Know E2I collect cookbooks (shocker!), and love finding them at thrift stores and on stoops. My best find so far is a near-pristine copy of The Gourmet Cookbook that I found in Beacon, NY.

Beyond Baking: Getting to Know E2
With Sally McKenney Quinn of Sally’s Baking Addiction.

I first got interested in baking while reading Sally’s Baking Addiction. I got to meet Sally just a week or two after I started my own baking blog!

Beyond Baking: Getting to Know E2
With Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen.

My favorite food blog that isn’t this one is Smitten Kitchen. Deb Perelman is a queen, and just as delightful in person as she is online. Orangette is my second favorite. Molly Wizenberg doesn’t blog much these days, but her Instagram and podcast are amazing.

Speaking of podcasts, one of my favorites is WTF with Marc Maron—it’s great background noise for baking the day away. I actually saw Marc Maron on the Highline last summer and immediately burst into tears like he was a Beatle or 1997 Leonardo DiCaprio or something. Luckily he didn’t see me!Beyond Baking: Getting to Know E2If I could up and move anywhere, it would be Maine.

My greatest accomplishment is quitting drinking almost five years ago. I also quit smoking nine months ago.Beyond Baking: Getting to Know E2The best job I ever had was working at Sahadi’s. It’s still my favorite store.

My dream day job is to open a cooking school for children. I even know where it would be and what the classes would entail.

I wish I knew anything about coding. I’d love to streamline this site.

I have never worked in a restaurant and have little desire to own a bakery. One day, I’d like to be a legitimate food writer.Beyond Baking: Getting to Know E2My current favorite recipe on this site is Overnight Yeast-Raised Doughnuts. They’re as delicious as they are beautiful.img_1645The thing I am most excited to make in the coming months is a wedding cake!img_3210My goals for the next year are to be happy and do meaningful work with food.

In five years, I hope to be making at least half of my income from writing. I’d also like to find someone great and settle down. And I’d like to have a dog…or a cat.

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Poor furious Cocoa.

Now that you know more about me, tell me about you! What’s your favorite movie? Least favorite word? Favorite podcast? Inquiring bakers want to know! You can ask me something, too ❤

Have a great weekend, y’all!

Sister Weekend in Cambridge: What We Ate

Have you ever accidentally started a tradition? My little sister, Eliot, and I have—we’ve now spent three St. Patrick’s Days in a row together. Two years ago, she came to visit me. We rented a car and went to Maine last year. This past weekend, I took the bus up to Cambridge to visit her. I guess St. Patrick’s Day is just a thing we do together now (sans green beer).

Sister Weekend in Cambridge: What We Ate
At Fenway Park last fall.

When Eliot and I get together, we rarely have a concrete plan—our visits are mostly just finding ways to make each other laugh hysterically and deciding what to eat next. Since Eliot actually lives in Cambridge, we were able to make our own breakfasts and dinners (more about that here), but we went for brunch both days and even went out for pie!

Here are a few food-centric highlights from last weekend.

3 Little Figs {Somerville}

I was ravenous when I got to Eliot’s apartment early Saturday afternoon. She gave me a handful of cashews to keep me sane and then we walked over to 3 Little Figs, a little cafe and bakery in Somerville. We both got the Brunch Bowl, which involves all sorts of good vegetables (carrots, sweet potato, spinach), a poached egg, and flourishes of sesame, dried cherries, turmeric-tahini and ginger vinaigrette over a bed of quinoa. We both loved it so much that we’re going to try to recreate it at home! This meal was hearty without being too heavy—just what we needed to get through what ended up being a surprisingly busy afternoon.

Sister Weekend in Cambridge: What We AteSister Weekend in Cambridge: What We Ate

Once we finished our meals, we got Honey Matcha Lattes to-go. They were just barely sweet—perfect for a little afternoon pick-me-up on our walk back to Cambridge.

Sister Weekend in Cambridge: What We Ate

I will say that getting seating was sort of a pain, but it certainly wasn’t impossible. It’s sort of on the customer to eat in a timely fashion and move so someone else can have your table. With places like this, pay it forward is the name of the game.

Sister Weekend in Cambridge: What We Ate

Juliet {Somerville}

When deciding where to go to brunch on Sunday, we both looked at each other and said “Juliet.” It’s is one of my sister’s favorite spots and I can totally see why. The food is unfussy and delicious—I’ve never had anything there that wasn’t excellent. I tried their chilaquiles when I came up for Eliot’s birthday. This time around, I went with her suggestion: breakfast tacos. They come with an egg, potato, and cheese filling on corn tortillas. There’s a thin, but potent hot sauce too. They’re not Austin-style, but they are really good.

Sister Weekend in Cambridge: What We Ate

Eliot got scrambled eggs with greens, buttered toast, and some stupidly good dijon potato salad.

Sister Weekend in Cambridge: What We Ate

The only drawback I can think of is that Juliet, like 3 Little Figs, has limited seating. We took two seats at the bar though and thoroughly enjoyed watching the open-style kitchen at work. The main attraction was watching someone prep a batch of buttermilk pannacotta. Don’t be surprised if you see something similar on here this spring.

Sister Weekend in Cambridge: What We Ate

Petsi Pies {Cambridge & Somerville}

Eliot mentioned Petsi Pies to me a few months ago and we put it on the “must try” list. We popped into the Putnam Street location on Sunday afternoon to split a slice on the way to the Harvard library. They had pecan pie available and some sort of fruit pie (apple, maybe?), but as soon as the cashier said “Chocolate Pecan Pie,” the other two ceased to be options. The filling was fudgy and not at all gloopy, and had just the right amount of chopped pecans. Oh, and there was a chocolate drizzle. I looooove a chocolate drizzle.

Sister Weekend in Cambridge: What We Ate

I wasn’t crazy about the crust, which was sort of hard and one-note in flavor. It was flaky though and held a crimp, so maybe I am being too critical. Or perhaps I am just spoiled with my own Cream Cheese Pie Dough. Regardless, I will definitely go back to Petsi Pies on my future trips. I’m already planning to recreate the chocolate pecan pie filling!

Sister Weekend in Cambridge: What We Ate

Have a great weekend, y’all! I’ll be back with new recipes next week ❤

Sister Weekend in Cambridge: What We Ate

On Self-Care & Food Blogging

Disclaimer: I sat down to write a Friday Favorites post and this is what came out. If posts about mental health and self-care aren’t for you, don’t fret–I’ve got some new recipes coming your way next week. Oh, and you should make these this weekend.

When I started this blog nearly two years ago, I decided to post three times a week. It was a lot of work for someone who had no experience with this sort of thing, but I figured that if I was going to have a blog, I was going to take it seriously. With limited exception, I posted three times a week for the first fourteen months of this blog’s existence. 

That all changed last Christmas. I think I got burnt out from all my extra holiday work and then totally thrown off by an extended visit with my family in Texas. To put it simply, I got out of my regular routine and I’ve never quite gotten back into it.

On Self-Care & Food Blogging
Breakfast time on Swans Island.
Since returning to Brooklyn in January, I’ve had a few weeks where I’ve managed to get three posts up, but those have been few and far between. This summer, I somewhat intentionally put E2 Bakes on the back burner and only posted once a week. I had a lot going on–besides work, I quit smoking (three months off nicotine this week 🙌🏻). I also muddled through the end of a truly gnarly 18-month bout of depression. Maybe that’s too personal for a food blog, but it’s what happened. When my brain fog finally (finally) started to clear in the middle of August, I made some changes in the name of self-care.

On Self-Care & Food Blogging
View from the Red Hook Waterfront.
First, I switched grocery stores. Bet you weren’t expecting that. That may sound minor and totally out of left field, but if you’ve been around here long enough, you know that I think grocery shopping is a blast. Since I returned from Maine, I’ve made time every weekend to take the fifty minute walk down to Fairway Market in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It’s a good way for me to clear my head (especially once I get to the benches near the waterfront), and I can’t help but be inspired by the quantity and quality of goods at that market. I still buy my coffee beans at Sahadi’s and hop over to Trader Joe’s and Key Food for things here and there, but I do the vast majority of my shopping at Fairway. With so many great options in my neighborhood, my new ritual might seem ridiculous to some, but I shop so frequently for others that this simple act of shopping just for me and at my favorite grocery store qualifies as radical self-care. Oh, and for those of you wondering, I take the bus home. <–I’m asked about this all the time.

In conjunction with my new grocery shopping ritual, I’ve also started taking better physical care of myself. I’ve written before about my weight and how I try to practice something like mindful eating. I’d love to tell you that I have a perfect, balanced relationship with food, but like a lot of people, I struggled after I quit smoking. It all came to a head when I made the mistake of stepping on the scale for the first time in years on the night before I left for a beach vacation. <–tip: don’t do that.

Since then, I’ve concentrated more on my meals and nutrition. Given the amount of baking and recipe testing I do every week, strict diets aren’t for me right now. Instead, I’ve spent time planning meals that are heavy on nutrients and limiting my snacking to fruits and vegetables. I’ve also spent more time consciously exercising; this is definitely helped by the smoking cessation. I still bake and eat sugar (obviously!) and have no intention of stopping, but I try to limit my consumption to once a day. So far, so good.

As a result of all these changes, I’ve got some new meal-time recipes to share with y’all over the coming weeks and months. Please consider this photo of a recent batch of Sausages with Roasted Grapes as a teaser.

On Self-Care & Food BloggingSo, why exactly am I telling you all this? Because another part of my new-and-improved self-care regimen has been to get back to regular posting. Blogging makes me happy; if I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t do it. I have no plans to go back to three posts a week–with a day job and a social life, that is just too demanding. Two posts per week, however, has proven to be doable. You may not have noticed, but I have stepped up my posting since the beginning of September. With the exception of one Friday where most of Brooklyn lost internet access, I’ve posted twice a week since Labor Day.

My posting is not on an exact schedule right now, but I am headed in that direction again. For now, I am trying to post on Tuesday or Wednesday and Friday, all at around 1pm Eastern Time. I am planning to start posting earlier in the day soon, but as each post requires about 12-15 hours of my time, I’m deciding to concentrate on creating quality content for now and worry about timely publishing later. In addition, I’ll be debuting a more streamlined Recipe Index by the beginning of next week.

On Self-Care & Food Blogging
New favorite chocolate chip cookies. Coming at you soon.
If any of you have any recipe requests or ways that you think I could improve this little corner of the internet, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to reach out to me via email or on any of my social media accounts. Your feedback is always appreciated.

On Self-Care & Food Blogging
Out of the fog.
It feels good to be back on a blogging regimen these past few weeks. After all, this blog was originally created by me for me. I wanted a food blog for six years before I got brave and crazy enough to hit “publish.” The fact that any of you come here to read my ramblings and make my recipes is just icing on the not-so-proverbial cake. Thanks for reading.

On Self-Care & Food Blogging