There's something so comforting about the desserts we make when it's cold out. Seasonal fruits can be turned into cakes, pies, and drinks that are comforting finishes to any dinner or holiday meal.
This Vanilla Extract is a good homemade gift idea you can make with your kids, and can also be made a week from now without ever leaving your home! That's right -- the supplies can be ordered online, and then you will only need to wait a few days for them to arrive. The vanilla will, ideally, steep for a month -- it gets stronger the longer it sits -- but don't be put off at all by the timing: you could simply tie a little tag on each bottle with a date of first use, about a month from the bottling date.
This is a dense, buttery cake dotted with sweet-tart plums that have gone silky in the oven. My mother sent me the recipe clipping from The New York Times approximately one million years ago, and she and I between us have baked it at least that many times. It takes just a few minutes to get it into the oven, and comfortably knife-wielding kids might like to help by halving the plums and tugging out their pits. The original recipe calls for neither vanilla nor almond extract, but it asks you to sprinkle a teaspoon of cinnamon over the cake before baking, which I did for years, until I discovered that I wasn't that crazy about the cinnamon. I have, however, sprinkled a teaspoon of cardamom over it, and that is delicious.
Another delicious dinner! This is an absolute favorite summer meal. The chicken is so, so succulently excellent: tangy, herby, and mouth-watering. The pre-cooking marinade makes it delightfully tender and seasoned, but then the post-cooking marinade introduces all the fantastic and fragile flavor component -- the herbs and citrus zest and garlic -- that would have burned off on the grill. Also, since you slice up the grilled chicken, you maximize the flavor-absorbing surface area. You will be a hero to your family and dinner guests. Seriously.
Maybe you know this as a Dutch Baby or a German Pancake or as Yorkshire pudding. In our house we call it Baked Pancake, and we make it all the time. The yummiest way to eat this is to sprinkle it with lemon juice and sieved powdered sugar, but we usually eat it in big hand-held wedges, utterly plain or spread with jam.