Lately, my go-to afternoon beverage of choice has been a London Fog – a homemade cup of floral Earl Grey, a splash of mellowing vanilla, and a copious glug of cream. There hasn’t been a day so far this month that I haven’t enjoyed one. Those daily pick-me-ups are the inspiration for these delightfully chewy, crackly vanilla bean sugar cookies scented with Earl Grey tea leaves. They are subtle and beautiful and comforting the way lingering long over a cup of tea should be.
During breakup season, we Alaskans break up with a lot of things. We break up with slushy roads and icy conditions. Good riddance. We break up with prolonged darkness and nights so black the constellations glow and the northern lights dance. We break up with the daily ordeal of making sure our children have every single last piece of snow gear packed in their backpacks. Can somebody please tell me where all the gloves go? We break up with our snow shovels, snowblowers, snow machines and studded snow tires. We break up with auto starting our vehicles and scraping our windshields. And inevitably each spring, we break up with last year’s salmon we have sitting in our freezers.
The bread is toasted and golden now, filling the cabin with undeniable aroma of French toast. One slice goes down on the plate, promptly smeared with sweetened cream cheese and layered with fresh strawberries, then topped with another steaming hot slice. The cream cheese begins to fall over the edges, the strawberries peeking out. I dust the plate with powdered sugar like a light snowfall and take it to the table where the syrup is waiting and the light is still pouring in, reflecting back at me in pools of maple.
Four years ago, when my eldest son turned nine, he declared that he was getting too big for the cupcakes I made every year on his birthday. He wanted a big cake. Gasp. Cupcakes were safe. Cupcakes I could do. This was the day the cupcakes died. It was early on in my food writing days and I, admittedly, had very little experience decorating bigger cakes. When I asked him what kind of cake he wanted, he announced it would be a lime cake and that it would be green, his favorite color. This week, as my son reached his thirteenth birthday, I revisited that first key lime cake recipe that made me the confident cake-baking mom I am today.
When I’m at my local library or bookstore, you can most often find me in the cookbook section. Shocker, I know. When I pore over a cookbook, I’m looking for more than just recipe inspiration. I’m taking in the food photography and styling. I’m soaking up the fine design details like the fonts and colors. I’m listening to the author’s voice and seeing if it resonates with my own. I’m familiarizing myself with the weight of the paper, the texture of it, the way it smells when the book is opened.