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It’s pretty crazy how dedicated I am to the publishing industry, if you think about it. I mean, I’ve dedicated my entire life to books: English major, Borders employee, two internships (so far!) at publishing houses. And while I’m working my ass off and loving every minute of it, the industry I’m trying to break into is going through upheavels of quite epic proportions.

I mean, first of all, there’s the whole Borders liquidation thing. Even if you’re not into books in general, I’m sure you’ve heard something about it. There’s still one potential buyer that could prevent complete liquidation, but no one even knows what that buyer’s plans are when/if it gains control of Borders.

Then, in publishing itself, there’s the threat of Amazon, which not only is choking out indie bookstores and threatening the chains, it has branched out and has created its own imprints and is now publishing its own books.

And then, of course, there are ebooks and the internet and social media and all that. Which is putting pressure on traditional book formats, granted. But ultimately, I do think books will prevail. It will change, clearly, something must. But I really don’t see a future where they’ve become extinct altogether.

I ran across a really interesting article that was published in the WSJ, about how publishers are vital to the book-making process. It’s very interesting, and I definitely reccomend taking a quick look if you’ve got the time (or the interest).

First of all – happy fourth of July weekend everyone!! I can’t wait for just laying by the pool, fireworks, and of course, eating. The most important part.

Every year at home I’ve always made a homemade apple pie (legit homemade; crust and everything), and I figured, why should I change that just because I’m in NYC? So I ran out and got a ridiculously large bag of apples and sat down for a couple hours to make one. 

The Food: Apple Pie

Ingredients:
Bottom Crust
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 tablespoons cold water, or more as needed

Pie Filling
5 pounds Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground ginger
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs

 Topping
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup superfine sugar

The Process:

  1. Bottom crust: stir the flour and white sugar together in a bowl until well-blended. Rub the unsalted butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs; sprinkle with cold water, a couple of tablespoons at a time, mixing the dough together lightly with a fork until it barely holds together.
  2. Form the dough into a ball and roll it into a circle about 1/8″ thick. Gently ease the dough into an 8″ pie dish. Set crust aside.
  3. To make the pie filling: stir the apples, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and lemon juice together in a large bowl; set aside.
  4. To make the topping: mix 1/2 cup of flour, 1/2 cup softened butter, and the suprefine sugar together in a bowl until you have a sticky, moist dough.
  5. To assemble the pie, cover the bottom of the pie crust with a light, even layer of graham cracker crumbs. Fill th epie with the apple mixture, piling it up in a mound shape. Pinch off pieces of the topping mixture, flatten them a little with your fingers, and dot them at random all over the top of the filling, covering as much of the filling as possible.
  6. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool; serve warm. Store leftovers in fridge.

Baking Notes: Anyone who has baked a pie at some point in their lives knows that it’s definitely not easy. There are often so many steps and so many little nuances that can trip you up: and yet, I still wanted to make one. There’s just something so comfortable about making pie. Not sure exactly how to explain that, but if you make one you’ll get it (unless you hate baking or have no patience. In which case you probably think I’m crazy, and if that’s true, then why have you even read this far in the first place? Who’s crazy now?)

Right. Back on track. So this pie was a little tricky, and a bit different. Especially with the top crust, which is just supposed to be placed on in pinches at random to cover as much of the filling as possible. Nothing was really that hard though, just time-consuming. I also didn’t have any lemon juice or graham crackers (I was originally going to use a different recipe so I forgot to buy some of these ingredients), but it didn’t seem like it would have that much of an effect on the outcome.

The End Result: You’re just gonna have to wait for that. I know, the suspense must really be killing you. Really. I don’t know how you’ll stand it.

I’m going to a party in Connecticut tomorrow for the 4th, so the pie will serve its purpose then. Yes, I know it’s supposed to be served warm. But most of the people eating it are 21 year old boys, so I really don’t think they’ll mind. So – verdict later on this weekend! Happy 4th everyone! What are your plans?

The Finished Product!

Okay, I admit – I’ve really slacked off on this whole blogging thing. But, in the crazyness that has been my life for the past couple weeks I hope you’ll be able to forgive me…and to help with that, I’ll give you a brief glimpse into the aforementioned crazy:

1. Moving from the Bronx to PA
Also known as frantically throwing the contents of my life into assorted tupperware bins, backpacks, bags, purses, and any other available containers. Which also includes a floor lamp, a fridge, and a TV. Oh, and did I mention the kitchen supplies?

2. Moving from PA to NYC
Dumping contents of said haphazardly-packed containers onto the floor of my bedroom (which, before, seemed a reasonable size to do this on) and sorting through the ruckus to repack all of the “necessities.”

And what the hell is a neccesity anyway? There’s no standard list of them – trust me, my conception of them and my Mom’s are quite different. Which makes for an interesting packing experience for sure.

3. Unpacking/attempting to organize my life at Lincoln Center
Which, by the way, is amazing. I always thought I lived in New York City (okay, technically I do), but it’s so different

Photo cred to my talented roommate

seeing it from my window in the Bronx versus being in the middle of it. And I only get to stay 2 months? Unfair.

4. Starting my internship at Penguin Group

So, yeah. Crazy. But it all boils down to the main issue: I don’t have any baking ingredients. Like, nada. So while I wait for flour/sugar/butter/food in general to go on ridiculous sale at the grocery store, please pardon this poor college student’s lame excuse. I promise I’ll be back as soon as I can scrounge up enough to bake something.

Or. I could go to a different room each time asking for one ingredient…but I’m thinking I’d rather not be that girl. I’m enough stereotypes as it is without adding that on there.

The Novel: Water for Elephants
The Author: Sara Gruen
The Book Blurb: As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie.

It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

Why This Book? Water for Elephants is another one of my all-time favorite books. I’ve read it at least 5 times and still love it each time. And I saw the movie a couple of weeks ago…which is always pretty risky. I mean, when have you seen the movie adaptation of a favorite book and really enjoyed it? Probably not very often. The movie had great potential, except for Robert Pattinson. But that’s a rant for another day.

This book is pretty magical. It takes you away, and in my opinion, that’s the mark of a truly great book. Gruen’s writing style is descriptive in all the right places, without being too heavy or overbearing. The subject itself is fascinating: I’d never read fiction focusing on a circus before. After reading this I actually looked around trying to find something similar, since Gruen hasn’t written much yet (although I have just started reading Ape House, which so far is just as enthralling as Water for Elephants). I found a few, but none really compared.

Recipe: Lemonade Cake
Name the top things that come into your head when you hear the word “circus.” Now narrow it a bit to “circus food.” I’m guessing that at the top of the list was popcorn, peanuts,  cotton candy, and…lemonade! So lemonade cake (which I’d never heard of before) fits pretty nicely with the theme. Also, the elephant, Rosie, is obsessed with lemonade. Well, that and moonshine. But I figured lemonade is the safer bet to go with here.

At one point in the book/movie, Rosie drinks all of the lemonade for the day’s events, and the owner, Auggie, is left in quite a mess. He comes up with a gross imitation of fresh lemonade, which the rubes (visitors – gotta throw some of the language in here) buy up none the wiser.

Baking Notes: This recipe was so easy to follow! Part of that (well, a big part of it, to be honest) comes from the use of a cake mix. Instead of just depending on that, though, the batter is enhanced with additional ingredients that really make it rich and flavorful. The cake is topped with a homemade icing made of sugar and frozen lemonade concentrate, which seeps into the cake as it is cooling in the pan. Yum.

Also, being at home for a week and a half is pretty handy; it’s so nice having a kitchen that’s fully stocked. And, there’s even an angel food cake pan, which I was able to use for this cake. It’s going to be hard to adjust to the college kitchen again after this.

The End Result: Finally a Novel Baking experiment gone right! This cake is delicious: moist, rich, and extremely flavorful. I’m currently at home, waiting until this weekend to move up to Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus for the summer, so my only test subjects were my parents. Which, as we all know, can be pretty risky: I had awful, asymetrical blunt bangs for most of my childhood, as well as a pixie cut, wedge cut (horrifying), and traditional boy cut in rotation for most of my childhood, and my parents always thought I looked beautiful.

But – my dad did eat two slices in quick succession, which is a pretty clear vote of confidence. It was tasty: very lemony, though, so if that’s not really your thing then I would suggest you bypass this recipe completely.

The Finished Product!

The Wishlist

I love shopping online, especially for home decor and kitchen supplies – unlike clothing, the fit is never an issue. I’m pretty obsessed with the wishlist; that wonderful little feature that any self-respecting site has, where you can shop to your heart’s content and never have to actually purchase anything.

I’ve actually gotten into the habit of watching my favorites until they go on sale, which can definitely be frustrating when it’s something I really love. But being in college and living in the city means I don’t have quite as much of a disposable income as I’d like (re: none).

I was shopping around on some sites the other day, and came across a few things that I just had to share here. So maybe by the time I graduate in a year and get my own apartment (just a bit of daydreaming here), these things will all be ridiculously on sale and my most likely dingy shoebox-sized basement apartment will be just a little bit brighter and more cheerful.

Even though I grew up without salt-and-pepper shakers on the table, I just couldn’t resist adding these to my wishlist:

I couldn’t decide which one I like better – the hanging ones are so original, but I love elephants (I even have a necklace of one from Modcloth). How adorable are they?

While looking around for a bundt cake pan with which to make my newest recipe with (post coming soon!), I came across this Honeycomb Cake Pan from Williams-Sonoma. It’s so pretty, and also such a convenient way to serve to a group of people.

What’s on your virtual wishlist?

Commemoration

Before you say anything, no, this post has nothing to do with baking. Or books, really. But it just seems appropriate, so I’m going to go with that and write it anyway. Basically, I just want to reflect a bit on the last three-or-so months and look back over my time interning at Dorchester Publishing.

It’s just…insane, really, how my last day was on Wednesday. At my other internships, I didn’t mind the last day. I never really got invested in it, never tried to befriend the people who worked there and enjoy the work I did. But at Dorchester, I feel like I did all of that and more. The people are just completely incredible: never once did I feel like an intern. They welcomed me completely, and treated me like another coworker. I was assigned projects and I did them independently; no one looking over my shoulder and constantly checking in. I got to work on things that actually mattered, and I was given such a variety of responsibilities that I feel like I got to know the industry as a whole. I did editorial, production (which I didn’t even know about before interning there), and publicity/marketing. I wrote cover copy and front matter, updated the website, wrote for the Dorchester blog (why yes, that is my e-reader series!), created and managed the entire blog tour for Anna DeStefano’s newest release Secret Legacy (amazing), read slush, wrote rejection letters, corresponded with authors…I mean really, it can’t get much better than that.

And interning there made me realize that yes, this is exactly where I want to be. I went in assuming I’d be an editor…and left knowing I want to be in publicity/marketing. I had never read any genre fiction, and now I enjoy romance and thrillers. I assumed that, being an intern, you had to be constantly professional and not show much personality, and now I’m leaving with actual friends.

I can say with certainty that it is mostly because of the experience I got at Dorchester that I was able to secure a paid summer position with Penguin Group. And now I have contacts that I’m actually planning to stay in contact with – in the sense that we will meet up over the summer and actually spend time together. It’s just…I don’t even know how to really say thank you enough to everyone over there. I’ve never been so sad to leave an internship, and to me, that’s the best way to sum everything up: the fact that I didn’t want to leave.

So go out there and do what you want, because you want to. Pick a dream and push yourself to achieve it. Step outside of your comfort zone and embrace change. I promise it will pay off. So get off your ass and just go. It doesn’t matter in what direction, because eventually you’ll find what you’re looking for. Don’t get discouraged: push through and keep going. Do your best and if it doesn’t work then just say fuck it and move on. What’s meant to be will happen, so do your best, put yourself out there, and you’ll get it.

“Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” —Mark Twain

Now, before I get started here, let’s just all admit that Nutella is pretty damn good. I’m pretty confident that at least 95% of you would agree, and the other 5% are most likely dead inside (just kidding…).

After making Nutella Cake last week, my friend sent along this recipe for Nutella pinwheel cookies, so of course I had to make them. And the timing worked out perfectly: today being my last day interning at Dorchester Publishing, I had to go out with a bang.

The Food: Nutella Pinwheel Cookies

Ingredients:
125g / 1 stick butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 heaped cup sifted flour
¼ cup Nutella to spread, a little more won’t hurt, but be careful not to overdo lest it ooze!
2-3 tablespoon, toasted, chopped hazelnuts

The Process:
1. Preheat oven to 175C/350F.
2. Mix the butter and sugar together till creamy.
3. Mix in the egg yolk and the vanilla essence. The mixture should be light and well combined.
4. Stir in the flour and refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes so that it can firm up and facilitate easy rolling.
5. Next, roll out the dough into a rectangle of ¼ inch thickness.
6. Spread the Nutella making sure to leave one finger space on all four sides. Again, we don’t want the Nutella to ooze out!
7. Sprinkle over the chopped hazelnuts and roll up the dough.
8. Refrigerate for another ten minutes before cutting the slices.
9. Lay the slices on a lined baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes till slightly golden at the edges. Baking time will vary depending on how thick you’ve cut them. Colour is a good indication.

Baking Notes: I give lots of credit to this recipe – it was so easy to follow, and almost everything worked perfectly. The timing was pretty off though: it has you start preheating the oven at the first step, but it takes about 20 minutes to get everything together…so that’s a long time for an oven to be preheating. I just did it while the dough was chilling instead.

Also, my cookies turned out a bit thicker than I think they’re supposed to be, mainly because the dough was still soft and difficult to slice. Next time I make this (yay! repeat recipe!) I’ll probably freeze the dough for 10-15 minutes, or at least refrigerate it for a lot longer. I doubled the batch and ended up with about 40 cookies, which sounds like a lot but isn’t. Not where Nutella is concerned. Also, the single-dose recipe should have made around 30, so that all goes back to the refrigeration issue.

The End Result: Nom nom nom. Really no other way to describe it. These cookies are fantastic, and even a lot better than the Nutella cake. They actually taste like spritz cookies (cue the Christmas-cookie-baking-frenzy memories) but with Nutella. Yum.

The Finished Product!