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It is quite cold here these days. The kind of cold that manages to find its way into your bones so deep inside that the only cure is a long, scalding shower. It is gray too making everything outside a somber, monochromatic tone.


I do enjoy this time of the year with all the excitement of the holidays and the need to bundle up when exiting our warm haven. The hours that are spent indoors baking sugary sweets and coming in from the cold to have the brisk chill be washed away with a steaming cup of hot chocolate.

Even still there are times when I long for the t-shirt wearing days of Summer. I anticipate the coming warm months (in my case, being from the Seattle area, it is probably more accurate to say weeks) filled with long walks, digging in the dirt and eating fresh picked raspberries by the bucket loads.


The most anticipated event of the Summer for me is the Saturday mornings spent perusing the produce loaded Farmer’s Market. Wondering what lovely items will be destined for dinner this week, filling the empty crevices of the stroller with local, cheese and butter and picking out a warm baguette with the best intentions to save it for dinner which inevitably is eaten before we are back home. And of course for us no trip to the market would be complete without treating ourselves to a heaping bag of fresh-made kettle corn.

I am a sucker for all things sweet and salty. Really. Could there be anything better? The sugar ever so slightly adhears to the perfectly popped kernal of corn. A thin blanket of sweetness covering what’s underneath from the gentle sprinkling of salt. We savor our snack as we soak up the sun, select our produce and walk home satisfied until next Saturday.


Recently, while feeling the bone inhabiting chill, I longed for this sweet taste of Summer and to my surprise it suddenly dawned on me that I can recreate it quite easily in my very own kitchen. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of making it myself before. I guess the guy wearing something similar to a gas mask standing over a huge kettle stirring the kernels with what appears to be an ore didn’t seem translatable in my own kitchen. But let me tell you it can be done and I am going to even go so far as to say that it can be done better!

The ingredients are extremely simple but it can be a bit tricky as once the popping begins it goes rather quickly and the line between delicious and burnt is very fine. But please don’t let that disclaimer scare you off, I have made this several times since my happy discovery and although there was some smoke and the need to scrub the pan with a bit more than elbow grease, the results were always worth the small amount of trouble and danger.


Kettle Corn

adapted from Hillbilly Housewife

  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • Salt to taste (I recommend Fleur de Sel)

Over a medium-high flame, heat the canola oil in the bottom of a heavy 3-quart saucepan. Sprinkle in 2 or 3 popcorn kernels. When the kernels pop add the sugar, and then the remaining popcorn. Cover with a good lid. Shake the pan over the heat while the popcorn pops. When the popping stops, remove the pan from the heat. Immediately pour the hot popcorn into a bowl.  The popcorn will be hot and sticky so be very careful not to burn yourself. The popcorn should be lightly coated with a beautiful amber caramel. Salt the kettle corn to taste and serve. Makes a large bowlful that doesn’t stick around long.


Kettle corn is even more enjoyable when you wash it down with a Cuba Libre.

The other day I wanted something sweet. But this wasn’t my usual daily sweet craving….typically I long for treats that just hint at being sweet, where the complexity of taste is covered with layers of flavors… tart, slightly salty, and gentle whisper of sugary sweetness. But this day I wanted something super sweet… I mean milk chocolate, brown sugar, hurt your teeth sweet. That wasn’t my only criteria for my craving. I also wanted it to be something reminiscent of a cookie, chewy and classic. So as I entered these criteria through the dessert database in my head the search brought up blondies. 

A blondie is simply a variation of a brownie but contains no chocolate…. so it really is something quite different than a brownie. The similarity comes through in the method and also all the ingredients, excluding chocolate of course, are similar but the blondies primary flavor comes from brown sugar. As with brownies a multitude of mix-ins can be added and slight variations to the ratio of ingredients can be manipulated to alter the end product. You can cajole your blondies to be more cakey, chewy, crispy… or whatever you desire.

Usually I am a purist when it comes to blondies and brownies. Added ingredients are merely a distraction from the pure flavor and texture that I crave… but again this particular craving urged me to include milk chocolate chips. If you know me at all you know that milk chocolate is not typically in my vocabulary. Most often chocolate isn’t chocolate unless it’s bittersweet. I don’t know what came over me that day but it was super sweet blondies laden with milk chocolate chips that I desired and who am I to say no to my cravings?

One other note…. I made these two days in a row (don’t worry – I shared them with a multitude of people) The second time I made them I was short an egg…. since I am using my own chicken eggs they are quite a bit smaller than conventional eggs (they are also a beautiful blue/green color – I really must show you soon). So the first batch I used four of my eggs and the second time I only used three but I also increased the amount of butter. The second batch was my favorite. They were super chewy!

So if super sweet is what you crave… please try these.

Another add-in suggestion, which is what we would do at Spago. Once blondies are baked and cooled poke multiple holes in bars then fill the holes with caramel sauce. Warning – this version is ridiculously sweet!!! but so delicious.

Blondies with Milk Chocolate Chips

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter 

1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

2 large eggs (or four eggs from a bantam chicken)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup milk chocolate

For chewier version decrease eggs – I used three small instead of four so I don’t know exactly how much the recipe would change if you eliminated an entire egg… if you try this please let me know how it goes. I also increased the butter by two tablespoons bringing the total up to 12 tbl.


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 12-inch square baking pan. Mix flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in medium bowl. Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat. Remove saucepan from heat. Add sugar and whisk to blend. Whisk in eggs and vanilla extract. Gradually stir in flour mixture (batter will be thick). Spread batter in prepared pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips  Bake blondies until tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Cool blondies in pan on rack. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.) Cut into squares and serve.

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