Tight Buns

Brioche Hamburger Buns | Flour Arrangements

The other morning, six-year-old Tessa said,”I want to do a baking project today called ‘not those buns.’”

Frankly, I felt the same.  I’d baked brioche hamburger buns nearly every day for a week.  Ever since I’d feasted on pulled pork layered thickly into a toasted brioche bun at Dad’s Diner A Go-Go in Anacortes, WA, I’d become obsessed with creating the perfect brioche bun.

I’d gotten damn close, too.  Time and time again, the rolls emerged from the oven with a flaky, tender texture and a rich, buttery flavor.  We’d savored them with hamburgers, sloppy joes, and roast beef.  My daughters popped them in the toaster with abandon and gobbled them down with butter and honey for breakfast.  These brioche buns were perfect in every way but one: they always cracked down the middle while baking.

Brioche Hamburger Buns | Flour Arrangements

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Vacation Sweets

Double Chocolate Cookies | Flour Arrangements

My tradition of baking a sweets to bring along on vacation started two years ago when I brought sesame cookies on a weekend getaway with girlfriends to Victoria, B.C.

I didn’t recognize that baking had become an essential part of my travel routine, though, until my family headed to Disneyland this spring.   Neglecting clothes, my younger daughter instead detailed, at length, essential food items to bring with us.  As I started packing up lemon-thyme shortbread cookies for my own bag, I suddenly understood the origin of her obsession.  Looking back, it’s hard to recall a single trip for which I didn’t bake something to take with us.  In addition to cookies, a variety of cakes, brownies, and tiny tarts have accompanied us on various adventures.

Last week, as we prepared for our trip to the San Juan Islands, it felt only natural to bake a batch of double chocolate cookies before I stuffed a raincoat, Xtratuff boots, and other essentials into my suitcase.

Full of rich, dark chocolate and the sweet, resinous crunch of toasted pine nuts, these cookies kept us going throughout our long day of travel, which included a train ride, a bus trip, an airplane flight, a taxi ride, a car drive, and a ferry crossing.

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Pure Sunshine

Apricot Pie | Flour Arrangements

Apricot season feels so fleeting.  Every summer, when these ephemeral little fruits begin to appear, they feel almost exotic.  I love tearing them in half, plucking out the stones, and biting into their sweet, tart fruit.

Whenever I see them, soft and blushing rosy over their pale peach hue, I find it nearly impossible not to over-purchase. Without fail, the mound of fruit in my kitchen ripens all at once.  If we can’t keep up, it’s pie time.

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Top Secret

Macaroni and Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Ham | Flour Arrangements

When my girls were much younger, they refused to take even the smallest bite of any dish containing onions.

Because I understood the value of choosing my battles, I sometimes left onions out of recipes or resorted to sneaking them into food rather suffer through dinner-time tension.

Here’s the funny part:  whenever I used onions incognito, my kids never, ever noticed.  Usually, instead of adding diced onions as called for, I’d caramelize onions and puree them before adding them to a dish.  I was never super subtle about this, either.   I’d prep onions while my daughters hung out in the the kitchen.  Sometimes, they’d even complain that the onions hurt their eyes.  But by the time they’d tucked into generous bowls of, say, macaroni and cheese, no one ever asked what happened to the onions.

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