Our daughter-in-law is a natural cook. She enjoys the chemistry of cooking, the way ingredients interact, how spices impact flavor, how the method of cooking impacts the outcome. Even more, she enjoys baking. I have stated several times that if ever she wanted to open a small bakery or, even nicer to my mind, a dessert cafe, I would happily help fund her. Okay, maybe that's just a gustatory dream of mine. ;-)
The first dessert made by her that I ever had was a phenomenal Chocolate Almond Raspberry Torte from Miyoko Nishimoto Schinner's The New Now and Zen Epicure. This was made for my son's birthday in 2011, when they were living in Brussels. I was visiting and had the delight of assisting (in a very small manner!) with the preparation and the delight of eating (in a not quite as small manner!) Alas, I could not locate the picture I took of the finished torte. However, it was more radiant than the one below, which comes from the cookbook.
Fast forward a few years to our granddaughter's first birthday. Having moved from Brussels to Ecuador, they were visiting us for two weeks in the summer. Nobody expected much to be eaten by a not-quite-one-year old, but the occasion did provide opportunity to experiment with making a cake out of favored vegetables… tomato and avocado. This cake was the result not of a recipe but of an interest in trying out an idea, from a baker who was, and continues to be, inspired by curiosity and a willingness to try come what may.
Eventually the family moved from Ecuador to New York, and then to Maryland. Along the way, either at our home or theirs, birthdays and holidays were celebrated together. Keeping in mind that all desserts have tended to be vegan (our son is vegan) or at least have vegan components, and that the most recent dessert was also gluten free to accommodate a relative who cannot eat gluten, and you will likely understand that to our baker daughter-in-law these just provided room for further inspiration. Plus she always takes birthday-cake requests from her children.
Cake for our son's 32nd birthday.
It's not just about the food, it's also about the presentation, especially when children are the recipients! These are the requested cupcakes for our grandson's first birthday. Some were vegan and some were not.
For my 62nd birthday, knowing that I am a chocolate lover, and with November and December holidays just around the corner…
Then came the family Christmas that included my daughter-in-law's parents as well as her sister and her sister's children. A full house, 11 people, 4 of whom were children. So of course, that meant hot cocoa, but not just any hot cocoa. This came from a recipe which was altered to include vegan chocolate and marshmallows, plus a cookie bottom. Just imagine it with the hot almond milk added, chocolate starting to melt, the chocolate cookie underneath starting to get appropriately soaked…
More recently, in April of this year our grandson turned 2. You might notice a theme here – he likes cupcakes.
And finally, this past September, when our granddaughter turned 5. She is a big fan of ice cream. The cake and ice cream are home made and are vegan gluten-free. And none of it came from a recipe or style book.
I didn't want to forget any of these desserts; to me they are akin to an artist's paintings. And they were delicious. Okay, perhaps the avocado and tomato cake wasn't exactly delicious, but it represents a willingness to experiment, to try something new and see what happens. And I admire that entrepreneurial spirit in the kitchen. I had a similar delight when watching our other son and his girlfriend make pizza in our kitchen this past summer. Hmm, maybe I simply like homemade food and spending time with family. :-)