Wonderland Kitchen » food, drink, and life get curiouser

DIY Coke: (Even Better Than?) the Real Thing

Cola Syrup

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I drink a lot of seltzer—so much that building my own carbonation system was actually incredibly cost effective (not to mention shopping-labor saving!). So when a friend asked what other kinds of fun carbonated drinks I was DIY-ing at home, I was kind of embarrassed that I came up empty. I mean, sure, there have been a few outings with tonic water for parties and maybe a squeeze of lemon and lime in the bottle from time to time, but here I was with my own fizzy drink maker and I was just choosing door #1 day after day after day. Determined to break out of this sad state of affairs, I… Continue reading »

Baby Love: Sweet Treats and Cozy Knits

Pistachio, Orange, and Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls

While handmade gifts for adults can be tricky to navigate, knitting for a new baby always feels right to me. They are much less likely to notice my mistakes! But seriously, to my mind knitting provides a great venue for reflecting on a new life and infusing some good thoughts into whatever soft and fuzzy creation you’d care to take on. Last month friends welcomed a sweet little boy into their family. Considering the intense cold that we’re still battling here in the Mid-Atlantic, a simple little cap seemed like a useful item. Admittedly, I was also encouraged by the fact that I was almost guaranteed to complete the project before the new baby was filling out his college applications…. Continue reading »

Pamphlet Cooking: “Armenian” Soup

“Armenian” Soup

Last week’s Tomato Soup Cake recipe reminded me that, in addition to my stacks of proper cookbooks, I have also amassed quite an impressive pile of pamphlets, brochures, and small spiral-bound recipe collections. Most of these I acquired thanks to The Book Thing, an awesome organization here in Baltimore that redistributes books to the community free of charge. A few times a year I donate all the books I don’t need anymore and browse the cookbook shelf to see what new treats might catch my eye. And it’s these slim paper volumes—often old advertising gimmicks for baking soda or similar—that are my favorite scores. My stash includes quite a few tempting offerings such as “The Little Book of Excellent Recipes”… Continue reading »

The Returned: How to Cook a Wolf

Tomato Soup Cake from How to Cook a Wolf

If I’m making amends for the sins of abandonment committed against my cookbooks here, it seems extra appropriate to do right by a book that isn’t even actually mine but rather one I borrowed from a neighbor and then proceeded to bury under an ever-growing pile of unread Lucky Peach issues. (Okay, I have a problem. We’ve clearly established that at this point.) If you’re unfamiliar, How to Cook a Wolf (published originally in 1942) is a quick read, part rallying cry and part cookbook designed to aid and inspire home cooks in a time of stress and limitation. When I started the book, I was immediately struck by how much the ideas M.F.K. Fisher had about economics, nutrition, and… Continue reading »

The Countdown: The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook

Malted Milk Chocolate Cake

In Wonderland Kitchen, recipe research almost always equals Google searches and Evernote-taking. I rarely crack an actual, physical cookbook when looking for knowledge and inspiration, and yet I cannot seem to stop buying them! And those that don’t arrive on my doorstep via UPS show up skillfully wrapped in the hands of generous friends or as orphan cast-offs schlepped home from some musty church basement book sale. Now, here they all sit in precarious stacks around my office, their beseeching gaze rivaled only by the CDs I have yet to split the cellophane on and review for work. And so, as a 2014 self-improvement project that does not require public exercise, I’m on a mission to review each book in… Continue reading »

13 Days, Countless Miles: West Coast Show and Tell

San Juan: Alex's house

Well, folks, it was champagne and Amtrak sleeper cars, warm sun and glorious landscapes, and more talking than I did in all of 2013. I have returned from two weeks of travel a complete convert to the West Coast’s casual chic and moderate temperatures. Aside from getting fogged in and being forced to spend an extra day and night on beautiful San Juan Island (exactly!) the travel gods had my back and friends had my hand, allowing me plenty of room to just sit back and enjoy the ride. The sum up: First, the obvious: Technology may provide the opportunity to share ideas with more cool people than ever before, but hanging out with those same souls in real life… Continue reading »