Jane Hornby's Malted Chocolate Birthday Cake
Alice Medrich's Buckwheat Squash Loaf with Cranberries

Thoughts and Gifts and Music, Too.

I will be real honest with you: I am glad to see the end of 2014. It's actually been a pretty good year personally - there's been lots of fun and challenging work, we finally (after four years of hunting!) bought our first apartment and our little kook of a child is thriving and happy - but I can't shake this awful, dark feeling of dread that has crept in. Mostly because of the state of the world? Feel free to roll your eyes at me. I probably deserve it. And yet I can't quite shake it off. It's been such a bad year for humanity and a lot of the badness is stuff that zips right past my almost nonexistant filter and lodges itself in a spot where it harasses me almost daily. Add that to the whole life-is-fleeting epiphany that happens when you have a kid and you get a sense of how loony I've been feeling. Gah.

Work is doing a pretty good job of distracting me, for which I am grateful, and when things get too bad, I try to focus on beautiful things, like this song that we sang with hundreds of our neighbors on St. Martin's Day at the beginning of November, gathered together on Charlottenburg's palace square with flickering torches lighting our faces in the darkness.

Or the 100-year-old tiles in the kitchen of our new apartment. Aren't they neat? The rest of the kitchen is empty and dingy and we don't have much money left, but I hope we manage to make something nice out of it. As soon as we have keys, I will take lots more pictures and share here. And if any of you are IKEA kitchen experts or have strong opinions about kitchen renovations, feel free to comment away!


I filmed a whole bunch of cooking videos for the German recipe website Chefkoch over the past six weeks. The first ones are up today and I find them difficult to watch (sort of how you hate hearing the sound of your voice?) - I look so serious! - but there will be more to come in the next few months in which I loosen up considerably. And Hugo is in them! He totally steals the show, my darling blue-eyed boy. Here's a snapshot of the sweet makeup artist doing her magic the other day. (She used to work for the ex-girlfriend of a famous movie star whose name rhymes with Forge Rooney, eee!)


And now, some thoughts on gifts:


Diana Henry's A Change of Appetite was one of my favorite cookbooks of the year. I haven't had a chance to write about it yet, but I keep it by my bedside and leaf through it all the time. It's so handsome visually, but also beautiful in tone and spirit, as all Diana's books are. Plus, most importantly, the recipes are just exactly what I (and I suspect you?) want to cook and eat right now.


I read a lot of good books this year, but Kate Atkinson's excellent Life After Life stood out (so did Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being, which stretched my brain indescribably). I'll be giving it to at least three dear women in my life this Christmas. If you haven't yet read it, DO.


Are you as allergic to appliances as I am? I love the old-fashioned feel of this stovetop Belgian waffle maker.


Hedwig Bollhagen is a household name here, a Bauhaus-inspired ceramicist who founded her workshop in 1934 and created everyday objects with indelible style, but she's less well-known in the US. From starkly graphic vases to homey blue-and-white tea sets, Bollhagen pieces are endlessly covetable (and relatively affordable).

Elsewhere, Catherine's gift guide is perfection (I want every single thing on it) and Lottie + Doof's is as great as it is every year.

And finally, if any of you are local, the wonderful kitchenware store Kochtail on Invalidenstra├če is selling signed copies of my book (both the US and German editions). If you want a personalized copy, stop in the store before Christmas to order it. (Kochtail is owned by my friend Joe, also a former Bostonian-New Yorker, who has excellent taste in kitchenware. If I could, I would do all my Christmas shopping in his shop alone.)