Coffee Coffee Cake

When I saw his name, I thought to myself, What if he’s my next person.

My next thought was, Don’t be silly. Then, Don’t not be silly. Setting his order down before his arrival, I recognized he could be any number of unfitting things, really. It was my first day at my new store since I’d moved back to Minneapolis. My soft heart was hurting, and all of it was pretty irrelevant, really.

He came in to pick up his mobile order after about ten minutes, or so. I know now that he likes his coffee lukewarm, anyway.

At first, I noticed how stylishly he dressed. I liked his shoes. It occurred to me that he seemed like he didn’t want to talk to anyone, and I respected that.

For a year and a half, we never spoke. Every day, he placed that same order, and I would be making drinks by the handoff plane when he would arrive to pick up his coffee and walk away.

I had a dream once that he was my boyfriend, and we all laughed very heartily at my retelling of it, during which, he arrived, grabbed his drink, and left. When I got promoted to open my own location, I left without ever having talked to him. And to be clear, I didn’t really think about it.

But then, he walked into my new store. My store. And I hadn’t seen his name print out for pickup. In fact, no orders had printed out. For a very long time. Four letters crossed through my mind as I saw him walk past the handoff area to get in line: Fuck, I thought. My mobile order is broken.

The longer he waited, the more I panicked. I told everyone I was stepping off the floor, and I went around the counter and said, “Were you not able to place your order ahead this morning?”

I introduced myself, and he recognized me, and he informed me that my mobile order system was fine; he had simply decided to start switching things up.

We became friendly after that. He would come in every morning and order at the register and we would talk. When he remembered a concert I had told him about, I turned to one of my employees and asked, “Does he like me?”

I just want to point out that I genuinely did not mean to ask him out. Like, at all. When the time came, months later, the words flew out of my mouth sooner than I could even think about them. And I still have the piece of paper he used to write down his phone number. When, later that evening, he sent me an essay on the poetic genius of 80s movies, I thought to myself, What if he’s perfect.

Newsflash: he isn’t. Nobody is. But I’m happy. And I have been afraid to be honest about all of this, because my heart has been fucking crushed before.

We have played over 800 games of Yahtzee. On the weekend, he buys a loaf of brioche and he toasts thick slices of it for me with jam. He makes me belly laugh. We have Mission Impossible marathons. He loves me even more for being grumpy. I once caught him bragging about how smart he thinks I am. I wake up once a week happier than all the other days because I know we are having taco night. Even the way he grabs paper towels is hilarious to me. And best of all, we go get our cups of coffee together now. Except, I drink mine right away.

I really hope my flavor choice for this tender, aromatic coffee cake, ripe with espresso-cardamom crumbs, is making sense to you now. Sending love (and the courage to share it) to all of you soft hearts out there.

Happy Valentine’s.

❤ kc


Hummingbird Sheet Cake with Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting

There are a lot of reasons WHY that I can give you here.

First: after my grandmother developed dementia, I would go get slices of her favorite cake, this kind, whenever I wished I could reach her. I grew to like it quite a lot in that time.

Second: it is attributed to the American South, but. *shocker*

It actually hails from Jamaica, where it once was served without any frosting at all.

Mashed bananas, crushed pineapple, chopped pecans, and cinnamon, all mixed together in a butter-less batter.

Supposedly, the cake draws us in like nectar does to hummingbirds.

Sweet, tangy, warm, and soothing – and on to the next thing.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

*tw for discussion of depression, suicide

I have not really talked about this before, but a number of years ago, I took a road trip. I drove to the house where my father died and I stood outside of it for a long time.

I had inherited that house when I was a kid, and it was promptly sold. Standing before it, I saw that, in the years that followed, it had become the darkest on the street.

That day, I closed my eyes and I envisioned light raining down on the place, picking up the pieces he couldn’t mend, and returning the parts of him he left behind, healed.

I stood there so long that the clouds parted and the sun came out. Afterward, I wandered through the orange grove across the street.

Today is the anniversary of the day that he chose to end his life. Fifteen years ago today, he died.

It took me a very long time to realize that that was never personal. In fact, most things aren’t.

(though this does not mean it does not need attention at times)

and at some point, it becomes a matter of [holding opposing constructs] at the same time, gracefully

offering light or cake

a beautiful entanglement of sugar/butter/cocoa swirled and smattered every which way,

knowing all of it is just waiting to be loved off, like velvet.

Leftover Peppermint Bark Brownies

If you know it is good, then let yourself have it.

Sign up for the yoga class that costs more money, if it’s the one you want to take.

Sleep 12 hours. Have coffee in the afternoon-even if you maybe know yourself better-and enjoy it with nice company.

Then, wonder why you’re awake at 4am the next morning when you don’t have to be, just yet. Meditate and write in the space that was created, understanding sleep will arrive next time.

Light all of the candles. Take your vitamins.

Entertain the idea of life without medication, and maybe start to believe you are the exception to the rule (but know that it is okay if this is not the case, too).

Break out your ukulele and laugh off the rust and listen for the moment your voice returns.

Know that you will never again accept something into your life that tells you your own pleasure is for another time.

Roast spaghetti squash and make it into warm salad and ask your best friend to stop by for dinner, if she wants to. [She does.]

Then, release the brownies you broke peppermint bark on top of before baking and don’t let anyone tell you that you need to be doing anything else but that, right there.

Berry Chocolate Chip Rugelach

I suppose I didn’t want to end on the note, “Smurf vaginas.”

And also, I’d never made rugelach before.

Admittedly, I wasn’t quite sure how this was going to go. The reviews of this particular recipe were a dichotomy of raves and frustrated failures.

I think the only thing I could suggest when you encounter a recipe like that is to read it carefully, and to be willing to end up with a disappointment.

I added chocolate chips, and extra jam, to the filling. I rolled the dough into a rectangle instead of what the recipe prescribed.

I set my alarm for every ten minutes to monitor the baking time. I sifted the berry sugar.

I don’t know, I really liked what happened.

Sometimes you just have to trust yourself to do it the right way.

Norwegian Butter Cookies {Serinakaker}

Truthfully, there is a bit of a layered story behind this.

Now, I admit I am not an expert when it comes to Norwegian Christmas recipes, but I am told that Serinakaker are one such item in that category.

It sounds like, typically, they are topped with pearl sugar or chopped almonds.

I don’t eat a lot of nuts, so

I decided to drive and get pearl sugar one night. Except, I was sleepy and I did not want to walk through the cold after parking my car, so

I decided to use the the blue sanding sugar I bought a while ago, [because I like anything that sparkles in my favorite color] and I kept on driving past the pearl sugar store. Instead, I headed to the dollar-a-minute acupressure massage place I like, and I passed out afterward and slept for twelve hours.

Thus, these cookies are a tale of self-compassion. And also, they look like Smurf vaginas.

Even Better.

Sending you sparkles and compassion, if you need it.

The Winter Playlist 2018

& – I love you and

I know now that I will miss you.

Days will pass and I will think
of you, and I will be many things

for a time, but it will clear
as things do, and I will remember

the moment I last saw you
before all of it will arrive (and stay a while)
before passing, and I will think

how I wish I could be there
again to tell you back then

I love you
and I know now
that is the most important thing.

❤ kc