French toast inspired by the flavors in a sidecar cocktail
Kathleen Edwards’s album Voyageur has held up as one of my favorites this year — I was introduced to and fell in love with her music last fall, and this particular collection of songs came at just the right time. She wrote it while going through a divorce with a former bandmate and then falling in love again not long after (with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, who co-produced the record with her). I first heard Voyageur near the end of one relationship, and the songs continued to sink in as I got over that one and found myself in a new one that took off faster than I could have ever anticipated (there’s nothing wrong with that, but it definitely took me by surprise).
The song “Sidecar” is about the excitement of starting a journey with a new partner — going on adventures, learning about their favorite places, and taking on new challenges. Apologies for being a total mush, but now it’s more than half a year into this journey and I am filled with more love than I ever knew was possible. There’s a line in the song that goes, “Sit up, sit up, sit up, I went and made you/ Breakfast in bed, coffee and juice” — so I made breakfast for my “sidecar” on his birthday last Friday, inspired by the flavors in a sidecar cocktail. (I would have made him a cake, but 1) we were traveling and it would’ve been tough to transport and 2) how would I have been able to compete with this?)
The drink uses brandy (traditionally cognac), orange liquer and lemon juice, so there’s lemon in the French toast filling, orange in the batter, and brandy and more orange in the topping. (It wasn’t actually served in bed.)
P.S. Listen to Kathleen Edwards. Her first album Failer is a good place to start.
Earlier this year, my friend Daphne Carr launched a Kickstarter project to publish the Best Music Writing book series independently, through her new music-focused press Feedback Press. (BMW is an anthology of the year’s best conversation about music, in the form of features, essays, reviews, blog posts, etc.) One of the pledge options toward the project’s $15,000 goal was for me to bake treats inspired by the artist or song of the backer’s choice, and this was the first of the two purchased, inspired by James Taylor’s “Carolina In My Mind.”
Sweet potato whoopie pies with maple cream cheese frosting and candied pecans
James Taylor grew up in North Carolina and he wrote his hit song “Carolina In My Mind” when he was homesick overseas. I chose sweet potatoes because North Carolina is the No. 1 producer of them in the U.S., so they might help with a little bit of homesickness. And while I was brainstorming for this, my aunt unknowingly (via Facebook — thanks, Aunt Linda!) tipped me off to videos of James Taylor baking pecan pies and maple sugaring, so I made the sweet potato whoopie pies, then rolled them in pecans that I candied with maple syrup and brown sugar.
Chocolate cream cheese fudge with everything but the kitchen sink mixed in (recipe here)
By now you’ve probably heard Gotye, and if you haven’t, I promise you will soon — not just in this blog post, but everywhere. A few months ago, my editor sent me the Australian/Belgian singer’s song “Somebody That I Used to Know,” and we both agreed that it was pleasant and, for better or worse, he was going to be huge. His album Making Mirrors is out in the U.S. soon (or already?), and it seems like every other day I’m seeing a different friend post a video on Facebook, mention him, etc. While Making Mirrors has some undeniably catchy pop songs that I don’t hate (“Easy Way Out,” “Eyes Wide Open”), overall I think it’s sort of a mess, and I think he’s confused about what he wants to sound like. Aside from the aforementioned decent songs, there are a couple fake-Motown/soul tracks out of nowhere (“I Feel Better,” “In Your Light”), and a bunch of terrible lyrics (in “I Feel Better”: “There was a time I was down, down/ I didn’t know what to do/ I was just stumblin’ around/ Thinking things could not improve/ I couldn’t look on the bright side of anything at all/ That’s when you gave me a call”).
This fudge is inspired by Gotye because I made it with whatever random things I could find on my baking shelf (dried cranberries, graham cracker crumbs, ground coffee and crushed candy canes?), just like he put together a bunch of totally disconnected songs and called it an album. And the fudge is very rich, which means it can only be handled in small doses. Or at least I can only handle it in small doses, though some of my friends didn’t seem to have a problem with it — just like how I can only handle a few of Gotye’s songs, but the rest of the world is just eating it up. EESH. (I liked this fudge more than I like Gotye.)