Friday, April 17, 2020

channeling ina ~ baking and the comforts of home

Hello friends, how's everyone doing out there? No doubt, we're living in a stressful time. Being quarantined for an indefinite amount of time is wearing thin. We're bored, we're lonely, we're anxious, we miss our family and friends, we miss our social activities, we're tired of being cooped up in the house with our partners, we're tired of homeschooling and e-learning and Zoom meetings. These are generalizations across the board...everyone has different circumstances and different things they miss. But, if there's one thing that brings us together - connects us - it's food. 

I happen to idolize Ina Garten, AKA The Barefoot Contessa. Most of her recipes are classic and simple enough for anyone to make. She's authentic and graceful. She knows how to bring people together and can throw a wicked dinner party. And who can't resist when she roasts a chicken for the love of her life, Jeffrey? After 50+ years of marriage, they are still so cute together.

I recently came across an article in The Atlantic about Ina and her Instagram account. "Historically, her Instagram has been exactly what the photo-sharing platform was designed for, a modern update of the song "My Favorite Things": log fires, peonies, whiskey sours, beach days, heart-shaped cookies for Valentine's Day. Treats. Happiness. Most of all, love....Garten has always had an uncanny empathy for how people are doing, and how the emotional resonance of food might be able to help."

So, in the spirit of Ina and connection, I'm sharing a couple of baking recipes with you that I've recently made. If you're a regular follower of my blog, you know that I love to cook and bake. I'm doing moreso now that I'm at home all the time. 

Actual footage of me and my friends after quarantine:

(From the FB page, Christmas 366)

This delicious apple cake is courtesy of my former next-door neighbor, Thanam who moved back to her native country, Malaysia about 14 years ago. I miss her and think about her when I make this cake. It's not a bakery-type cake with frosting. It's the type that goes perfectly with a cup of coffee or tea as a snack. Heck, you could even eat it for breakfast. After all, it does have apples and raisins in it.

2 large Granny Smith apples, finely chopped
1 c. raisins (regular or golden; or can sub chopped dates)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. boiling water
1 stick (8 T.) unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg
1-1/2 c. unbleached flour

Combine apples, raisins and baking soda in a small bowl. Cover with the boiling water and set aside. Beat butter, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl until light and creamy. Add egg; beat to combine. Pour off most of the water from the apple-raisin mixture. Stir in the flour alternately with the apple-raisin mixture. Pour batter into a greased 8x8" pan. Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Dust with confectioner's sugar.

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This next recipe is healthier ~ and gluten-free, too.

From Real Simple magazine
2 c. almond flour
1-1/2 c. grated carrot
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. each baking soda, salt & ground nutmeg
3 T. melted butter
1/2 c. honey
2 large eggs

Stir the almond flour - ground nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter, honey and eggs just until incorporated. Fill greased muffin pan with batter. Bake at 350 degrees F. until set, 18 minutes. Let cool in pan for five minutes. Remove from pan; let cool on wire rack.

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Have fun baking and sharing your goodies with those whom you're stuck in the house with  quarantined with. If you're quarantining solo, package some goodies up and leave them on your neighbor's doorsteps with a cheery note.

As Ina said in The Atlantic, "the luckiest of us right now have all the comforts of being home."


  1. Ha ha ha... that picture of you and your friends is priceless. I have always loved watching Ina on TV. I haven't seen her IG account. Sounds like I had better check it out. Your recipes both look interesting. I'll have to see if I have the ingredients for either of them.

  2. My sister is a huge Ina fan! She got the really good baking genes in our family. She's been sick and baking up a storm. We're all bummed out that she's not been well, because she lives around the block and ordinarily she'd bring some treats by. Have a nice weekend!

  3. I love Ina. My mom used to watch her religiously and when I lived back at home as a single mom, I started to love watching her too. She is just happy place for me. :)

    That apple cake is very similar to an apple cake recipe I have made for years. I call it Unemployment Cake. Long story. I blogged about it years ago and actually have the recipe card sitting on my counter, ready to make. I feel like apple cake is perfect for this time of our lives.

    Happy cooking my friend. Love you. :)

  4. Melanie, your home must smell heavenly with all the baking going on. Thank you for sending Penny my way, she is a blessing. Someone that truely understands.

  5. Well I have to admire your friends' style and they do look happy! I used to watch Ina regularly too then somehow got out of the habit of watching Food Channel. I don't have a single one of her cookbooks but I have many of her recipes I printed out from years ago. We still love her beef stew recipe. Your apple cake looks wonderful!

  6. I love Ina. She is so real and fun. I have been baking a lot too but eating too much of what I am baking. I am going to look like those girls getting out of the car here soon! My grandmother use to make an Apple Cake very similar to this one. It was so yummy. Happy Weekend.

  7. So happy you are finding great things to do and make while this ugh time never seems to end. I think we are all getting tired of the isolation, stay well and safe my friend.

  8. Baking a little bit here. Once a week we video-chat with my sister's family and my brother's kids in Sioux City, and sometimes we make a recipe together. We all make the same recipe at the same time, the kids all cook "together", and we have a fun time checking in on each other.
    We've had drawing class as well, where we did a "draw along with me" activity.
    The past couple of weeks my aunt who lives alone in Florida joined us as well.
    If nothing else, this social isolation has us keeping in closer contact.

  9. Thankfully I have so many things to keep me busy. And I do love being at home. I've been trying out so many new things, like baking bread, which is easier than I thought. :)

  10. I love Ina too, who doesn't! I enjoy seeing her and Jeffrey together.

    Love the picture of your friends, ha ha. There may be many weight issues down the road.



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