Baked with love: red wine & chocolate cake


After making a monumental life decision, however not-set-in-stone it may be, Keith and I decided to bake a cake to celebrate many things: the end of summer, my acceptance to a university to begin my post bacc, and good news with regards to a project he has been working on non-stop. Plus, to be honest, our pantry is finally getting to the point where I can spontaneously make a cake. It was a rough few months before I fully moved in during which baking a cake was a rather large ordeal that involved buying almost every single ingredient. Luckily, however, this time all that I had to stock up on was some baking soda because we had run out. I love well-stocked pantries, and it’s even nicer owning one.

The cake turned out wonderfully. I got the recipe here, but I used the icing recipe from here. Both were easy to make, and they stayed fresh for about four days after we made it. We kept the icing separate from the cake since it needed to be refrigerated, and it really was something else — extremely creamy, hence the cream cheese, but also very light because of the whipping cream. This has easily stolen the spot of my personal go-to cake from now on.

One side note, it took us 40 minutes to bake the cake, and we used an 8″ round, dark pan. Not quite sure how theirs baked in only 25 minutes because ours was still a puddle of chocolate.


Samana, Dominican Republic


It’s hard to believe that this was two months ago. Keith and I took a trip to the DR to celebrate my graduation. It was something we had planned together months before, shortly after coming home from China. Just thinking about the trip was enough motivation to push me through my thesis, one page at a time. That, however, is another story.

On either end of the trip, we had a few hours to catch up with friends in New York City. Despite the fact that I had only just moved out of my apartment in the city weeks before, I already missed it more than I ever thought I would. There’s something about New York’s promise that hangs heavy in the air, as if anything could happen. Our friends Claire and Julia were nice enough to let us stay the night at their house before we caught our flight the next day.

A few hours later, we arrived. With the very little Spanish either of us know, we were able to communicate with the cab driver. It was actually fairly easy for me to understand everything that he was saying, since the words all sound very similar to French mixed with the elementary Spanish I know from grade school. At about 4 pm, we got to our hotel room, and then immediately shimmied into our bathing suits and hit the beach.

The water was incredible; it looked and felt like silky bathwater. It was more or less clear, and if you stood still and stared down around your toes, you could see tiny silver fish dart this way and that. At first, I was reminded of a tiny little beach cove in Cannes, France, where the water sparkled with minerals.

Then there was the sand. It was like sitting on flour; it was so fine it could have been mistaken for a powder. It formed dough balls when we dug our hands to the bottom of sea. It really was a magical trip, from the fresh coconuts that cured our upset stomachs to the night sky shimmering with stars, swimming at dusk in the empty cove, and the tropical flowers that dotted every walk way.