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All so pretty

Hello, hello.

I can’t stay for long, but I just had to pop in. I had to thank you for all your words of wedding wisdom last week. You’ll be happy, I think, to know that things are much better - much calmer - around here. It’s not that there’s any less going on, really. Our wedding is 12 days away, so there are plenty of things to do. It’s just that this week’s things are much better than last week’s. Then, it was phone calls and seating charts and numbers and floor plans. Now it’s cake and pickles and party favors. I’m up to my ears in brine and batter, but I’ve got to say, it’s pretty awesome. Really. You should try it sometime. It may be a little tiring, but I can think of few better spots for a mid-summer swim than a sea of vinegar and chocolate.

So if I’m absent around here these days, you know why. I’m in the kitchen. I’ve got my hair pinned up, the windows pushed open, and the oven on. I didn’t expect to say this, smack-dab in the center of all this hubbub, but I feel like a million bucks. I’m as happy as a pig in slop. When Brandon and I decided to make pickles and cakes for our wedding, I had no idea that it would make me so happy. People thought we were crazy to want to do this, to take on yet another project in the midst of The Project to End All Projects. I’m so glad that we didn’t listen. For all the heart and emotion wrapped up in a wedding, planning it is essentially a cerebral exercise - a bunch of enormous, unwieldy ideas jostling one another, racing to be made real. Baking and brining, on the other hand, are wholly, heavenly tangible. They’re slow. They’re messy. They’re slippery and sticky. They make a girl feel like an honest-to-goodness human being - which feels a lot better, in my opinion, than being a bride.

For the past few days, Brandon and I have been at home with the music cranked up loud, making a mess of the kitchen, cleaning it up, and making a mess again. Today, instead of trotting out a recipe as I usually do, I wanted to show you a few snaps of what we’ve been up to. I hope you won’t mind. I’ve just been finding it all so pretty.

Our wedding cake is one that’s familiar to a lot of you. It’s a riff on this cake, the fudgiest, tastiest, most worthy one I know. Its formal name is gâteau au chocolat fondant, meaning a soft, rich, melty-centered cake, but my friend Kate prefers to call it the “winning hearts and minds” cake. She’s got the right idea. It’s powerful, persuasive stuff. It’s not something you’d want to serve to someone you feel so-so about. It’s what you serve when you want someone to stick around. Like, you know, your husband.

I’m making twenty of them. It’s not nearly as bad as it seems, I promise. It’s actually a breeze. I just stir, bake, wrap, and freeze; stir, bake, wrap, and freeze. Their texture and flavor actually improves with a week or two in the freezer, which makes them the easiest, most unfussy wedding cake I can imagine. The work-to-pleasure ratio is about 1:10, I’d say. They’re not beauty queens, of course, but I don’t care a wink. I never liked white frosting much, anyway.

We’re also giving the recipe to our guests as part of their party favors. I think that’s kind of fun.

And the pickles! Oh, the pickles! We had to have pickles. It would have been wrong not to. We’re making a few different types, and we’ll eat them at the rehearsal dinner, a picnic in a park near an old red barn. We’re having pulled chicken sandwiches on salted rosemary rolls, piles of roasted vegetables, and a potato salad tossed with haricots verts and a grainy mustard vinaigrette. We’re hoping our guests will play frisbee and bocce, drink lots of beer, and eat jar upon jar of pickles. It all sounds awfully good to me.

We bought the carrots from our favorite local farm, Willie Green’s. If you were at the Phinney farmers’ market last week and wanted some of their carrots, I’m so sorry. We nearly bought up the whole basket. They were spindly and sweet, as small and delicate as a lady’s thumb.

And they’re just the right height to stand up, shoulder to shoulder, in a quart-size Mason jar.

We could have had our caterers make them, of course, but it would have been silly, since we’re regular picklers around here. Brandon made a brine with apple cider vinegar, garlic, mustard seed, and thyme. Because carrots are dense, they’ll take about ten days to come to their full glory. Which means that they’ll be ready right on time. Whew.

I’ll be back next week - one more time before I sneak away to become a Mrs. - and between now and then, I’ve got 13 cakes to bake. I can’t wait.

See you soon.


Blogger e.b. said...

Very best wishes and luck to you. It all looks wonderfully fabulous and terribly creative (wow!). I can sense the happiness. Best of luck.

12:44 PM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger dc365 said...

12 days?! And here I am blathering on about watermelon and feta. I apologize, I thought the wedding was further off.

I wish you all the best. I know that everything will be just as it should be.

12:52 PM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger nicole said...

I've never made pickles before, but those carrots are so cute, I almost want to! Your cake / pickles / recipe cards sound just perfect, and I'm sure they will be. How great to make your own wedding cake! Enjoy :)

1:16 PM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger Aileen said...

I may be a generalist, but in my personal school of thought recipes don't have to just be food. Your recipes for glee, for fun...indeed!, for fine hospitality - are fabulous! So glad to hear that the seating charts are behind you and the 12 days leading to your wedding are freed-up for kitchen-blessed frolics! I too find it all so pretty!

1:27 PM, July 17, 2007  
Anonymous Leah said...

Oh Molly. You are a wonder. One day I'll tell you how nice this post was for me to read at this particular time, but for now I just want you to have the chocolatiest, pickliest, happiest wedding ever. Cheers and hearts.

1:37 PM, July 17, 2007  
Anonymous RA said...

It's so exciting! Your cakes and pickles and cards are lovely. Is it strange to squeal because of a cross-country wedding of someone you've never met? Oh, well!



1:44 PM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger shayna said...

i'm glad you didn't listen to the naysayers too. the most wonderful part of this whole experience is that the two of you get a project together...isn't it the best?

1:49 PM, July 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are marvellous - I wish you all the best, really, miles and miles of good wishes!

1:50 PM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger Figs Olives Wine said...

The organic, utterly domestic rhythm of baking and pickling must be the best lead-up to a wedding celebration ever, Molly!

1:58 PM, July 17, 2007  
Anonymous radish said...

this all looks and sounds so lovely and I am in total agreement with making your own cakes - what a grand idea! the pickles too!! how fun and festive! this whole even looks beautiful and and fun! many good wishes to you on this joyous event!

2:00 PM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger Katie said...

Enjoy the wedding and congratulations in advance! My sweetie and I decided to do all the printing ourselves (invitations, placecards, anything else we could think of) with a gocco and we were SO glad for the chance to be creative and have fun in the midst of all the other juggling. Your kitchen time sounds awesome.

2:04 PM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger christianne said...

I'm going to 7 weddings this summer (already knocked out 2 of 'em) so I consider myself an expert on wedding receptions/party favors and the like. This looks absolutely divine. Congratulations and good luck!

2:23 PM, July 17, 2007  
Anonymous Meryl said...

I LOVE the idea of giving recipes as a gift to guests - I wish you got married before me so I could steal the idea! Can't wait to read next week's installment :-)

2:31 PM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger Mercedes said...

Your enthusiasm jumps off the page. I'm not one to be emotional at weddings, but somehow I was nearly teary-eyed by the end of reading this. And it wasn't the cake, or the pickles, but the joy you find in making them. I think I understand, sometimes the fun comes in the buildup, like prepping for a party, the anticipation, can be just as good as the party itself. Except, in your case it's a wedding, which just makes it a thousand times more joyous. I hope it continues on this way, just keep stirring, baking, wrapping, freezing...

2:38 PM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger Hilda said...

Molly, that sounds fantastic and so unfussy, which is really what weddings should be about. I've never made pickles but oh my I do love them. And you're totally right about the white frosting, at the end of a fabulous meal, it can get to be a bit much. I wish you all the best and a fabulous wedding weekend.

3:21 PM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger hannah said...

oh molly! i am so glad you have pushed through to the fun stuff. it sounds absolutely perfect and fun and lovely and YOU! and brandon of course!! oh lady, i am sorely tempted to hop on a jetplane...

ps. are all these photos going to be on flickr so i can fave them?? i feel twitchy.

3:45 PM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger ACB said...

Oh, this is all so exciting!! Thank you so much for sharing your joy and exuberance with us! You are an inspiration in many ways, and it has been such a joy to follow your story.

Blessings and happy baking!

4:09 PM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Good on ya, Molly and Brandon, for making your wedding so _personal!_ Family and friends made all the preparations and food at our wedding - one brother cooked the tenderloin to a turn, my beloved's mother snapped the ends off a mountain of haricots verts, etc. and everyone says the food was the best of any wedding they've ever been to. I did chicken out with the cake, however,and turned it over to a pro, but it turned out wonderfully despite the white icing! :-)

4:31 PM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger foodette said...

Your guests will be very lucky to get pickled carrots and homemade chocolate cake in one weekend!

I hope you take time in all of your business to enjoy this time - it's all about the two of you.

4:37 PM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Hurrah! Sounds absolutely yummy in every respect.

6:53 PM, July 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You make weddings sound so fun to plan! Though I'm just a lurker, I wish you the best of luck. :)

8:10 PM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger Platefull said...

I've lurked so long but this post has pulled me out of the dark. Please accept my best wishes for a joyous wedding and marriage. It's so lovely to peek in on two people fully ensconced in their happiness.

9:06 PM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger Audrey said...

I am sure you have more than enough wedding advice, but I couldn't help passing this one on, the best wedding advice I got:

Leave the dress on. You know, after you're back at the hotel. For the... uh... post-wedding things... you do in a hotel. You're only gonna wear that sucker once, and it's pretty fun to get your money's worth out of it, if you know what I mean...

Have a great time!

9:37 PM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger Michelle said...

Hey Molly,
You are a welcome respite of normality in an insane reality-show-driven world. Making your own wedding cake and pickles! A venture only a true foodie would endeavor. It does my heart good to know there are people out there like you. And I, actually, will sleep much better tonight knowing that someone else appreciates a good pickle as much as I do. :-) I wish you and your husband the very best. A warm congratulations from a fellow Oklahoman.

10:32 PM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger Lia said...

While Daniel and I didn't do any of the cooking or baking for our wedding, we did make our invitations, party favors, flower arrangements and just about everything else. I couldn't agree more about how much fun it is to make your wedding your own. Not only did we love the unique touches, but our guests did too.

Best of luck with all your last-minute chores! As much as I loved my wedding, I found the actual day to be such a whirlwind and it's really the week and days before that were so so fun.

5:11 AM, July 18, 2007  
Anonymous Maegan W. said...

"They make a girl feel like an honest-to-goodness human being - which feels a lot better, in my opinion, than being a bride." That is beautiful, Molly! I hope the preparation and excitement are just as fun as the day itself... "The Twelve Days of Wedding"!

5:59 AM, July 18, 2007  
Blogger shari said...

molly, hi!

you two sound so happy! this is such a lovely lovely post. i'm emailing it over to t who has been really wanting to try his hand at pickles. we just pulled up all of our spindly garden carrots so this is perfect timing. oh your wedding plans sound just perfect. wishing you happy days in the kitchen. xoxo

6:36 AM, July 18, 2007  
Blogger wheresmymind said...

Pickles on a wedding day...interesting! I'm just glad you didn't say drinking and lawn darts!

7:43 AM, July 18, 2007  
Blogger Gemma said...

Thus all looks so fabulous. You and Shauna sum up exactly what I want from a wedding one day (if it isn't a spur of the moment thing). No pretensions just the people we love and the things we love to eat. Congratulations and good luck with the next 12 days. Gemma x

9:24 AM, July 18, 2007  
Blogger Melisa said...

I so enjoyed this post, and I smiled all the way through. You sound so very happy, as it should be. After 17 years, one of my favorite things is sharing the kitchen with my husband. I hope the Big Day goes smoothly!

9:28 AM, July 18, 2007  
Blogger Kim said...

oh, so very, very happy for you. I hope everything about the day (and every other day after) is perfect, except for the stuff that is a minor enough a mishap to be a funny story to tell for the rest of your lives.

11:20 AM, July 18, 2007  
Anonymous Reyna said...

My husband made rhubarb mead (which of course you know is the traditional wedding beverage made from fermented honey) for our wedding, which we served instead of champagne. It was wonderful. So excellent to have your wedding be as personal as possible. The pickles and cakes sound amazing!
You guys rock.

12:39 PM, July 18, 2007  
Blogger Hillary said...

Molly! Just like all the others, I love love LOVE hearing about all of the wedding plans, especially the food :)

It is a rather strange feeling to get excited about the wedding of two people I've never met but you've personified it so much for me through Orangette. Not to mention, the story of how you two met is one of the most beautiful stories I've heard.

Treasure all the moments!

2:26 PM, July 18, 2007  
Blogger iamchanelle said...

oh, happy days!
you have made me all giddy for you guys. how much do i love that you are serving pickles! at a picnic! for your rehearsal dinner! such cool cats.
all the best, and thanks so very much for letting us have a looksie into all the preparations. i am truly happy for you. good luck with all the cakes. and pickles. :)

3:19 PM, July 18, 2007  
Blogger Caro said...

I'm a long-time lurker and lover of your recipes (you wouldn't believe how popular I am thanks to your chocolate brownies). I just wanted to wish you all the best with the wedding, and a very long and happy life together. Your enthusiasm is really infective.

2:54 AM, July 19, 2007  
Blogger Flo said...

Tous mes voeux de bonheur

6:18 AM, July 19, 2007  
Blogger Brian Gardunia said...

It sounds like the very best of times. I wish you both the best. It certainly sounds like your wedding will be the place to be this summer.

Do you have the wedding cake recipe here or is that going in the book?

5:48 AM, July 20, 2007  
Anonymous Karen said...

Your excitement about your upcoming wedding is so beautiful and touching. May the two of you be perfect partners and have a wonderful life! Your guests are undoubtedly going to have a fabulous time at your wedding!!!

6:00 AM, July 20, 2007  
Anonymous tracey said...

long time luker, first time commenter ;)

love your pickling and baking and i am totally stealing your recipe-cards-as-favor idea for my wedding in September. thanks!

enjoy what i can only imagine will be an amazingly lovely and delicious wedding. :)

1:37 PM, July 20, 2007  
Blogger BipolarLawyerCook said...

Wishing you and Brandon all the joy in the world. May your cakes always rise and your pickles always pucker.

4:29 PM, July 20, 2007  
Blogger maepress said...

wow! you're beautiful writing and high spirits are such an inspiration! Not just on how to throw what sounds like is going to be one fabulous party, but just on how to enjoy life in general! I wish you all the best.

8:14 AM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger peanut and planet said...

Reading this entry, I was inspired to make your chocolate cake this morning. It is indeed lovely and tender.

Congratulations on your coming marriage. I've never gotten married but I was involved in one wedding and I have nothing but admiration for you and how you're getting ready.

4:12 PM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger Lynn said...

Just wanted to wish you many blessing on your upcoming wedding!! I have never been married but have helped at quite a few...love the idea of pickling. Just curious....when you get a chance any way to get a copy of the recipe for the cake/pickling? I love that you are making your own cake!!
Good luck!!

5:32 AM, July 23, 2007  
Blogger Poonam Phatak-Mutha said...

Hi Molly, Its my first time here...Fantabulous site...Loads of good wishes and best of luck with the wedding..

9:17 AM, July 23, 2007  
Blogger Julie said...

Huge congratulations! I loved planning my wedding, and it's good to see that you had a wonderful experience too. It's all so much fun, but the really good stuff comes after:)

10:04 AM, July 23, 2007  
Blogger holly_44109 said...

I think those are such great favors. Very personal and people will really appreciate them. I made jars of strawberry jam for our wedding favors and it meant a lot to me.


4:30 PM, July 26, 2007  
Blogger Faythe, Petite Kitchen Author said...

Finally. Your life together has been christened by, I'm sure, a truly lovely event. I hope it was all that you hoped for. Now, relax. Unwind. Breathe. Take it all in. Enjoy this new beginning. On the day of your wedding, there was only one moment in the universe that was yours alone--with the two of you, surrounded by those you love, speaking words of love and commitment. For so many other people, it was an ordinary day, the world continued turning. But for you, this was a moment in time, where time stood still--pausing, as if to take note. A lovely thing has occurred, two lives have become one. It is a marvelous thing. Congradulations.

2:34 PM, July 29, 2007  
Blogger Dorothy said...

Hi, I've been lurking around for awhile... but I recently tried that recipe for the chocolate fondant cake and it. was. glorious. So I thought I should thank you for sharing the wealth.

And of course, congratulations on your wedding!

2:26 PM, August 05, 2007  
Blogger Stephanie said...


Congrats on your wedding. Just wanted you to know that this cake has won me the adoration of many. I can't think of a better wedding cake.

12:10 PM, August 20, 2007  
Anonymous traderjanki said...

Hello, I'm new. Did you get a chance to hear/read the NPR piece about making pickles? Your post reminded me of it.
Oh- wait- I just googled the piece and I guess it was about you!
Anyway, I really like your site. It's beautiful.

4:01 AM, August 22, 2007  
Blogger abc said...

hi molly! i wonder how i strayed into your blog spot. but it is such a wonderful discovery and i immensely enjoyed reading them, considering am not much of a blog reader.

congratulations and best wishes! you planned well for your wedding and it turned out beautifully. i pray that your marriage be as beautiful (or more) as well.

as for the recipes, i can taste in my buds as you describe the flavors of the food. i hope i can find the time to try some of them soon.

keep writing, and consider me a fan from asia! mabuhay!

btw, your presentation has the feel of a glossy magazine, sophisticated but intimate, intelligent, and humorous, too.

3:29 AM, September 17, 2007  
Anonymous Wendi said...

Molly, hope you check your older posts for comments since I couldn't find a newer reference on the site for the pickled carrots.

I'm wondering what you do with the brine once the carrots are all gone. Do you think it is safe to reuse for another batch?

11:53 AM, April 20, 2009  
Blogger Molly said...

Wendi, I just asked Brandon about this, since he's the main pickler in the house, and he says that you can reuse the brine. Absolutely. You can either:

a) use it cold. Prepare your carrots, put them in jars, and cover with cold brine. They will take longer to absorb the brine and taste right than they would if the brine was hot, but it should work just fine.

b) warm it slightly. Put your prepared carrots in a microwaveable bowl. Add the brine. Microwave briefly, just until the brine and the carrots are warm. This will encourage the carrots to start to absorb the brine faster.

Basically, you just don't want to reheat it on the stove, because boiling it again would change its flavor balance.

3:26 PM, April 21, 2009  
OpenID theteacupchronicles said...

Hello Molly,

I received your lovely book as a present recently from someone who knows just how much I love your blog :) I just finished making the pickled carrot recipe, and I was quite alarmed when the garlic turned a bright as the summer sky blue. I read something about why this happens (the sulfates in the garlic reacting with copper in the water/vinegar/pan/etc), but I'm not sure what can be done to prevent this!

Do you have any wise words of wisdom for me?

Love your blog, and so happy for all the happiness that has found you!

XOXO Danielle

4:55 PM, December 17, 2010  

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