#1: I Solved the Coffee Cake Mystery
So there was this legendary bakery in Chicago, the Swedish Bakery. I always assumed it was run by the Swedish Chef. Apparently, though, it was run by non-muppets, and a few years ago, after 88 years, it closed, for mysterious, non-muppet-related reasons.
Different recipes went with different bakers to different new places, but this was the one thing I was never able to track down:
The Seven Sisters Cake was perhaps not actually Swedish (?) but it was amazing, and it had become our Christmas morning tradition until Poof! it was gone. And while there were several recipes online by this name, they had very little to do with the coffee cake above, which had seven kinds of filling and no nuts.
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This year, we combined like fifteen different recipes and actually made the dang thing. Two of them, actually, each glazed/streuseled by one of my kids, which is why they look quite different.
It doesn’t look quite the same, but honestly (am I allowed to say this?) I think ours is a little better if only because it’s less dense and easier to pull apart the sections. Total keeper.
I’m pasting the recipe below the paid subscriber jump as an inadequate thank-you to everyone who’s supported this newsletter endeavor. But if you’re broke and love jam, please just DM me on socials and I’ll send it to you anyway.
#2: This Word
I just really need to share with you that the Hungarian word for makeup is smink, pronounced shmeenk.
(I keep trying to add to my Hungarian vocabulary, and I guess this was a word that was not said around me a lot in my childhood. There are words I know, and words—or at least component parts—that ring a bell, and then there are words that come out of absolutely nowhere. Smink is in that last category.)
I teach in the loveliest low-residency MFA program in creative writing (students come for a week in January and a week in August), and I’m on deck this January.
Here’s the question: I have never skied in my life, which means January in Tahoe is COMPLETELY wasted on me. But the novel I’m writing has some skiing in it. Do I, at age 44, try to learn to ski? Would I be utterly doomed? Please advise.
There will be updates.
#4: A Book Rec:
Trailed: One Woman’s Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders, by Kathryn Miles. This is one of my top nonfiction books of 2022. It’s smart, literary true crime that honors the victims and actually (it really seems!) solves the case in the end.
A side story: I hung out with the author one week at the Tahoe program I just mentioned, where she was visiting faculty, and we got lost together on the way to Donner Pass. Granted, it was in a heated car and the GPS just told us to turn around in this cul-de-sac, but still. I survived getting lost at Donner Pass in the snow, and it’s going on my CV.
#5: This Amazing Artifact:
If you know this, just take a moment to watch it again. If you don’t know it, it’s my year-end gift to you. The best part is Madeline Kahn.
Okay, the recipe, if you want it:
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