Though this winter has been relatively mild, give or take a blizzard here or there, I still find myself at the annual point of being totally over it. Over the cold, over feeling like it’s dark all of the time, over hats and gloves and puffy coats. I’m hungry for lightness and brightness, and for that sunny optimistic springtime feeling. I know it’s right around the corner (please be kind, March), and in the meantime there are things we can do to make life feel a little brighter. If you’re looking to fight back against the end of winter blues, too, may I recommend this banana rum cake with brown butter frosting. And that you save at least a little of the rum to shake yourself up a banana daiquiri to wash it down.
When Ed and I decided to take a road trip to Nashville, Tennessee, I wasn’t planning on blogging about it. I’d hoped the food would be good, but it would be my first visit, we’d only be there for a couple of days, and I didn’t think I’d have enough to say. What I didn’t expect was to love every single spot we tried. The food was at times comforting, at times exciting, and all around let’s-do-it-again tasty. Even though I’m far from a Nashville expert, I’m still so high on fried chicken and biscuits that I absolutely must share with you my Music City dining highlights.
Before I tried this recipe, I’d never had much luck with anything caramel-y. Not terrible burnt sugar disaster luck, just results that were solidly meh. So much so that the first time I planned to make this toffee, for a dear friend’s birthday, I bought a box of Rice Krispies for just in case back up treats. I fully expect to end up with a trashcan full of melted butter and sugar, and my favorite no fail salted brown butter crispy treats in a care package on their way to Virginia. I’m happy to report that this chocolate covered toffee with pumpkin seeds and sea salt, from The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook, came together more easily than I could have imagined, and I didn’t need the back up Krispies at all.
I read a piece of advice for people trying to make friends in a new place: say yes to every invitation. My immediate response to that was: no, thanks. It’s hard enough for an introvert to say yes to any invitation, but accepting all invitations? Impossible. Still, I recognized that the author had a point—in a new environment, the more you can get out and experience different things and meet different people, the more likely you are to find a way to feel connected. With that in mind, I try really hard to say yes to stuff. When a friend invited Ed and me to attend a painting night to learn more about the Springfield Art Association, my first thoughts were, strangers? painting (I’m terrible)? No. Can’t. Won’t. The friend also said—unprompted, which I appreciated—that I shouldn’t worry about not being a good painter and we’d know at least a couple other people there. That was just enough to tip the scales. I said yes.