get baked january

The long cold midwest winters can take a toll on one after awhile.  I often find myself checking expedia.com’s daily deals section to see if there is a magical $75 non-stop flight from Cleveland to destination warmth; i don’t care, vegas, orlando, L.A. or Arizona, Somewhere there is sun.  I’ve started checking websites for community supported agriculture farms here in Cleveland, dreaming of the promise of green tops of carrots popping out of the warm black soil, trees laden with ripe and juicy peaches waiting to be picked.  But that is a long way from now.

like liz lemon, "I want to go to there"

In the time being, I find myself needing to operate under the “project distraction” mode.  While some ski (I’d love to, but being preggers prohibits me), ice skate (I’d like to keep my ankles unbroken please), or take their children sledding (yes, sledding works, but not on days when it is 14 degrees outside) I’ve needed to make my own fun indoors.

While some might choose other ways to get baked this January, I’ve decided to begin a month-long “difficult bakes saturday” to keep myself entertained, occupied and hopped up on sugar until the sun begins to shine again.

Last Saturday I decided to make naan, the pillowy, buttery flatbread served at Indian restaurants to sop up spicy curries. While my first attempt with this recipe was an epic fail due to yeast that had expired, the second attempt using this recipe turned out deliciously and didn’t require yeast. As I was laying in bed napping this afternoon in an attempt to stay warm, pass the time and catch up on sleep, I remembered the sumptuous cake pictured in the latest issue of Cook’s Country that recently arrived in the mail.

Not the one pictured in Cook's Country, but darn close.

Apparently, Smith Island Cake is the official state cake of Maryland.  Perhaps I’ll pull a Sufjan and bake my way through all the state cakes in the union this winter.  Anyways, I thought this looked like a fun and delicious one to try for my next baking challenge.  If you’re in the area, you’ll have to stop over for a slice. While I may enjoy baking, I do try and avoid gluttony and hoarding baked goods to myself. 🙂 If you’d like to join me in this little bake venture, post a comment on what you’re going to cook or bake as a winter adventure/distraction.

Blog friends, what do you do to get through the long cold winters?  This question really is directed to the brave souls who have a shovel and know how to use it. Please, if you’re a snarky resident of the warmer states of The America don’t mock my pain and leave comments about “oh, I just picked an orange off the tree in my back yard!” “who needs skiing to exercise, I took a brisk jog outside since it’s a lovely 75 degrees” or “brr, it’s cold out today, I had to put on a long-sleeved shirt.” can it. We still have at least two months to go until we see sun.

I really don't hate you. I'm just cold and jealous. 🙂


  • Lisa

    For me, the issue in winter is always that I don’t have any motivation to go anywhere.

    When Emma was 1 and we lived in Michigan we had free (or almost free) activities that coordinated with the days of the weeks to get us out and about.

    Mondays – library
    Tuesdays – mall play area
    Wednesdays – swimming or playing at the indoor gym/recreation center

    We did not have to do the day’s activity, but it really helped me to feel like I was not just cooped up doing nothing.

    When we lived in Chicago, even though we were on a super tight budget, we splurged and got a year-long membership to the children’s museum in the suburbs. It was a great place for Emma to play and made us feel active in the winter. With just a few visits, it was worth the price of the membership for sure!

  • steadymovement

    I am a huge, huge fan of winter. I actually thought about it yesterday as I was meeting with my leadership team planning some things for the semester – they remarked how one year in March they had really nice weather in the 70s or so…and I thought about how it was nearing the end of January. The thought of ski season ending in just a month and a half or perhaps two months was downright sad. I love playing and running around in the snow…bundling up and going on hikes on the trails at a local park and seeing my footprints pressed into the fresh snow. Yep, I love winter! I do love baking too – my small group from the dorms came to my apartment last weekend and baked up a storm with me – s’mores cheesecake (it was phenomenal), peanut butter cookies, a rice-crispy-esque thing made with honey smacks caramel and chocolate, no bakes…delicioso!

    I’ve kept busy enough that I haven’t had time to wish the winter gone or to try to fill long days with activities…but I’ve tried to sneak in some scrapbooking, reading, letterboxing (a favorite outdoor activity) and maintaining a regular gym routine. You could make a paper mache piñata with the kiddo to break open on the first day of spring…and one time my advanced bio class in HS made a skeleton out of paper mache! Haha!


    • Jessica

      There are things I really like about winter as well- however today it just feels really cold! I grew up skiing, hiking, ice fishing and all kinds of winter wonderlandy things. I really do enjoy cross-country skiing and downhill but haven’t been able to this winter. Glad you’ve been able to frolic in the snow! I love the idea of a paper mache pinata!

  • Cha Cha Heels Shimmery Glimmery Booty =)

    Lord knows I don’t have a single tip for you, since I barely make it myself. What I love to do as-of-late is graphic design stuff on Picnic, making scrapbook albums on Shutterfly, looking for new marketing opportunities for my blog, writing blog posts, fussing around on facebook, etc. I’ve also been enjoying listening to books on Audible while doing the house tasks I’ve been avoiding like cleaning up my clothes in our basement or organzining closet areas that haven’t been cleaned in years. And of course, Dave & I love watching Smallville & The Office. Tonight, we all 4 played blasted music in the living room & danced while I video’d & tried to get a good goofy video so we could have the next YouTube hit! lol =) Baking though? I think I’d rather clean the kitty litter. I wish I was at the point were cooking wasn’t merely perfunctory…but alas, it is. I sooooooooo wish we had a hot tub outside…when I was at M’s house last week it was HEAVENLY in the midst of the freezing cold temps.

    • Jessica

      the family dance parties are great- we do that too. Often we make them “clean up” dance parties & dance while we pick up toys or fold laundry.

  • April

    Like you, I like to daydream about warmer weather. While you’re envisioning greens popping up out of the soil, well, I guess I envision the same, too. ha. Today I daydreamed about Meijer Gardens in May and the hot beach in July.

    But for me, I sew. It’s not everyone’s solution, but I realized that it beats off winter depression better than anything else in my case.

    Winter baking: ginger snaps. And any other excuse to fire up the oven and get some heat generating around here!

  • Theresa

    HI Jess! Just wanted to say hello and let you know that i’m subscribing to your blog! i just found it through one of joyce’s posts. I’ve kind of fallen off with blogging myself, but will try to start up again I usually don’t mind winter too much because i’m kind of a homebody — as long as i can find people to hang out indoors with me! Baking is definitely always a favorite activity of mine esp in the winter. Here’s a recipe that i discovered last winter which have been a total hit and so fun to make – cake balls! http://www.bakerella.com/red-velvet-cake-balls/
    this lady makes SUCH cute/pretty baked goods.

    btw, i lived in maryland last year and i kept hearing about that legendary cake but never ended up trying it. it sounds amazing…

    • Jessica

      Hey- good to see you on the blogosphere! Cake balls seem like the latest phenomenon- so delicious and addictive. We still have about 1/2 the cake left if you want to come over for a slice!

  • Paul

    I think the next thing on my baking list is a lemon meringue pie. Thanks to a friend’s suggestion I gave my father a “Pie-Owe-You” coupon for Christmas. He’s redeeming it for his favorite lemon meringue pie. Maybe he’ll share a bit with me and I can imagine it’s summer time instead of 10 degrees outside!

  • Jessica

    Paul- Lemon meringue is one of my favorite pies to make! It’s so fun to watch the chemistry of the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice turn into the delicious pie goo. Tricky, but well worth it. That’s a great gift idea as well!

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