Memories of Nepal and Hope for Their Future

photo1-ARecent news about the devastating earthquakes in Nepal is painful to hear. Knowing first-hand a little about the country’s infrastructure makes me shudder at how difficult rescue efforts must be. I wrote this blog to share my thoughts about the beauty of the Nepalese people. Photos posted here were taken by me in 1988. I used a “disposable” camera. It was long before hi-res smartphones and digital files.

2C  2B

Late in the 1980s, my cousin and I decided to see Mt Everest. We knew we weren’t going to summit the top or even climb part of the way up. Our plan was to hike another mountain close enough to gaze at the world’s highest mountain. Our experience was unique. I think everyone who has been to Nepal will say the same thing.
photo3
My cousin and I were young and crazy. Not young-young, but definitely not sane. I trained for a week before we left by walking to work with four books in a backpack. My cousin – nada. Of course, he did far better than me on the trek. That’s me at a desperate moment, and the other photo is the back of my cousin (on the left with the red baseball cap) doing just fine.
photo4  photo5

We flew from NYC to India and went to Siliguri, India. No big cities for us! From there, we took the “toy train” with switchback rail tracks up to Darjeeling at the foothills of the Himalayas. From my research, this train hasn’t been operational since 2010. I have tried to find out more, but I don’t know the current situation. It possibly could help get rescue supplies up the mountains, but I’m not second guessing any NGO.
photo6  photo7 photo8
I mention Darjeeling, India as we had a beautiful moment there. We were in a tea shop where locals were watching the movie Ghandi on TV.  In the middle of the movie, Lord Mountbatten asks Ghandi something like “Do you expect the British to simply walk out of India?”  Ghandi replies, “That is exactly what you should do.”  Everyone in the tea shop clapped, as did my cousin and I.

Darjeeling, home to delicious tea, is nestled in the bottom of the Indian Himalayas and is where Norgay Tenzing and Edmund Hillary supposedly started their assent to Mt. Everest in 1938. They brought money to pay Himalayan village people as they climbed. Yaks carried the coins in saddlebags. I have not been able to confirm that this was the actual starting point and if yaks really carried tons of heavy coins, but it was what the Darjeeling locals told us 50 years later in 1988.

Our Nepal trek was arranged with paper money. A few yaks brought food and tenting.
photo9
From Darjeeling, we flew to Katmandu, Nepal. Katmandu is a Hindu city with amazing artwork and architecture dating back centuries. We hooked up with a local trekking company.
photo11
We flew from Katmandu up to 9,400 feet in Lukla, known as the “gateway of Mt. Everest.”   The plane landed on a dirt runway. In 1988, it was called Lukla Airport. Now it is Tenzing-Hillary Airport with a paved runway. Current rescue efforts off Mt Everest have been coordinated here. Paved or unpaved, this airport is still considered one of the most terrifying landing strips in the world. My cousin and I didn’t bat an eyelash because we had no clue.
photo12 photo13
We were the only non-Nepalese on the plane and on the trek. Since we were foreigners, we were allowed more luggage than locals. We checked-in bags filled with wedding invitations and favors. On our trek we delivered the wedding invitations for our guide, Ang Tshering’s brother, Jo. We hiked a trail staying along the way with their family and friends.
photo14
We ate at houses on the trail, shared their food with the food we brought via yak, and pitched our tent in their yard. All food was shared with love and graciousness. Everyone had a sense of humor and most of all, resiliency.  I am certain these unique Nepalese skills are helping in these difficult times.
photo14A photo14B
My cousin and I huffed and puffed and made it up 2,200 more feet. Getting to Namche Bazaar was tough. Tiny Nepalese people carry 40 lbs. of goods without even losing a breath. A few of them had good-natured laughs at the gasping Americans. We had numerous jokes back and forth… just try navigating NYC streets, harumph!     photo17
At this bridge, I was out-of-breath. I couldn’t carry my backpack, which held only an extra shirt and a bag of lemon drops. I handed it to Ang Tshering with crocodile tears jumping off my cheeks.photo21   photo20

I remember this place at the top of a hill or mountain. Never has a cup of hot tea with steaming milk tasted so delicious. Turn right and you are less than a mile from Namche Bazaar.
photo18 photo19
Early each morning, I peeked outside our tent. I have never seen such a bright navy-blue sky and twinkling stars. It was as if one could reach out and grab one. That’s how close they appear when you are over 11,000 feet. I have no photos, so you’ll have to trust me about the sky’s Disney-esque star brilliance.

Up in the Himalayas, the religion is Buddhism. We learned to walk to the left of Buddhist stones and flags, which are plentiful on the trails. We learned to turn bells in the monasteries from left to right.photo2A  photo2

We made it up another 500 feet and saw Mt. Everest.  That’s me on the left, and on the right, my cousin and me. Mt. Everest is to the right. We did it! We saw it!
photo22  photo23

On the way down, in the village of one of Ang Tshering’s friends, our host asked us if we knew French. Since I do, he handed me a postcard that had been sent years before from Provence to thank him for the great group trek he had been on. I translated the easy French and felt like a scholar. Our host said to me, “I’ve been waiting for you for 5 years.”

My thoughts mean little in relation to the nightmare facing the Nepalese. The mountains are spectacular. The people are more spectacular, and I write about my memories as a tribute to them.

As I write, I pray. And wait for news.
With love,
The Witch </:)
photo24

Brings May Flowers

pansys
If you are in Osaka, Japan May 13-20, please go to Hankyu Department Store. The BEST food displays in the world are on the lower floor. These put Paris and London food courts to shame.  Hankyu also promotes a New York Food Fair once a year, and guess whose brownies are there? Yep, Fat Witch! ST330187
If you are in NYC the first 10 days of May, get over to the Metropolitan Art Museum and catch the Indians of the Plains exhibit. The artifacts are beautiful and displayed with love and care. Capturedrum
Last month I gave a talk at Google in NYC. Yes, it was ostensibly about my latest cookbook, Fat Witch Bake Sale, but really about running a small business. Googlers asked fantastic questions. I’ll tweet when it goes up on Youtube. googleposter
I confess to being a flower snob. I prefer to put the same kind of bloom into a container, be it a mason jar or an exquisite vase. I believe roses work in anything. Captureroses
MY READING LIST
I am a voracious reader and flattered when people ask what is on my list. I just finished Waiting by Ha Jin. Beautiful story.  I’m enjoying thumbing through Clotilde Dusmoulier’s first cookbook Chocolate & Zucchini.  Much to absorb and I love the Montmartre area where she lives in Paris. However, I put down Paul Harding’s Enon unfinished. I don’t need that many pages about a drunken stupor, no matter how well-written.
may-books
I am in the midst of making final plans for our family trip to Glacier National Park in Montana at the end of June. I just ordered Bear Bells online. Yes, you are supposed to wear these when hiking on the trails. Who knew bears were afraid of human noise?
Bear BellsRECIPE FILE
Check out my Recipe File for the best vegan brownies you’ll ever bake.  Admittedly, I was more than skeptical about this diet, until I tried a few recipes. I always thought that eggs were the ingredient that binds batter and dough. I was wrong! It’s flour. So, truth be told, vegan baking is a bit easier than gluten-free. This recipe is fabulous and can be found in my new cookbook Fat Witch Bake Sale on pages 102 and 103.
038VeganBrownieNW_108
If you want to know about your May, astrologically speaking, check out fatwitch.com/pages/witchscopes.

</:) The Witch
Fat Witch Bakery fun starts here

Japan

plum blossomsI returned from Japan in late March. Jet-lag combined with a few problems on the flight back, which I plan to let Delta know about, left me out-of-commission for two days. That being said, here are some of my Far East experiences.

In Tokyo, I re-visited Tsukiji market where they auction tuna and other fish at 5am. I love the sushi and yes, I had some that morning, but my real mission was to get Japanese pottery. For my pocketbook, Tsukiji market has the best ceramics in Tokyo, but guidebooks might make other suggestions. #yourcall
ceramics1ceramics2One of my favorite restaurants in Tokyo is Kojimachi Café, which serves fabulous organic food. I know the chefs. Every morning they pick up produce at farms in Yokohama and fresh fish from the sea. Never would I have thought turnip soup to be delicious! This Witch has changed her mind and wants the recipe. The pastry chef even made a special dessert for me with the Fat Witch logo! Yes, the photo is a little blurry, but you get the sense of how much fun it was!
kojimachiI then traveled via bullet train from Tokyo to Osaka. I was proud as a Witch can be that I bought a ticket and got on the right train ALL BY MYSELF. I did practice the Japanese word for bullet train (shinkansen) the night before. When a train comes into a major station it gets scrubbed. Pay attention, Amtrak! The bullet train is as clean on the inside as it is on the outside.
bullettrain1In Osaka, I was taken for an okonomiyaki lunch at a famous restaurant. Okonomiyaki is a kind of pancake loaded with fresh vegetables. Delicious! It is one of my favorite Japanese dishes.
okonomiyakiI took a 25-minute train ride to Kyoto with a Japanese friend who lives in Osaka.
housesFamous for its beautiful temples, Kyoto is also known for tofu and it is delicious! Pictured here are the chefs of the restaurant where we had lunch.
kyotochefsFor dinner, I was lucky to be invited to a club where a geisha-in-training (maiko) entertained us with dance and drinking games.
geisha2 geisha1After Japan, I went to Guam. My niece lives on this American territory in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The flight is only 3.5 hours from Tokyo, which is considered a hop-skip-and-a-jump in this part of the world.

Late Saturday afternoon was spent sitting in the shallows of the Pacific Ocean on a plastic chair reaching for a drink from a floating flotilla of wine. While enjoying the moment, I unthinkingly said, “You ex-pats do it right.”

OOPs. I was quickly reminded that they are American citizens living in an American territory. My error and faux-pas! Pardon my French and my mistake. I hope I will be let back into Guam in the near future.

If you’ve already filed your taxes and (hopefully) gotten a refund, that is the sweet smell of success. Try baking Lavender Bars featured this month in our Recipe File.

And, when all is said and done, check out your April witchscope.

</:) The Witch
Fat Witch Bakery: fun starts here

Toss Up March

March is a toss-up month. In terms of weather, you never know if it’s going to be a balmy spring day or if there will be an unexpected Arctic breeze (now called a polar vortex) or even a sprinkling of snow. It’s on with a sweater under the coat one day and off with the hat, scarf and gloves the next. hatglovesscarvesI told you I would go to Tokyo in mid-January, but sometimes the best laid business plans have to be changed. I am going in mid-March instead, so my April blog will tell my tales. Toss up one month for another.

On February 2, I did a book signing for Fat Witch Bake Sale at the gift show in the Jacob Javits Convention Center, which is a sprawling glass structure in the mid-section of Manhattan. It is way-west and almost sits on the edge of the Hudson River. My publisher, Rodale Books, had a booth. We brought along 500 Fat Witch Babies to entice folks to buy the book for their stores. It was a lot more fun than anticipated. People were charming and yes, I got tired of hand-drawing the logo (should I be getting a stamp?), but figured it was a good thing to do.
Books_006Some people have asked what books are on my bedside reading table and Kindle. Thanks for being interested and here is what’s there: Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan, We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo, Jonathan Spence’s The Search for Modern China and a couple of trashy mystery novels whose titles I’m too embarrassed to reveal.

Back to NYC, the month of March and the toss-up. It is the time of leprechauns as well as big things considered, as in, get ready to file your taxes.

Baking sounds like a good idea, so check out our March Recipe File. Brownies baked with a wee bit of whiskey are amazing. I cut them into small little portions.final2Going anywhere special? I want to hear about your travels! Tag us at #fatwitchtravel.

Finally, find out what’s gonna happen in your March by checking out our Witchscopes.

</:) The Witch

Fat Witch Bakery: fun starts here

Big Apple Love

New York City is a brash and sometimes unforgiving place. On the other hand, there are wonderful aspects that exist in no other city in the world.
themonthofloveHere’s my list of what I love about NYC:

  • More ethnic and distinct cultural groups per square foot call NYC home than any other place in the world. NYC life is interesting and exciting.
  • Eat any kind of food you want, prepared by folks who know best. All you have to do is hop on the subway. In Manhattan, get off on the Upper East Side (East 58th to 86th Streets) and have a French bistro lunch that would make Parisians drool. Keep going north to East Harlem and indulge in Caribbean culinary delights. And just south of Herald Square on West 32nd Street, discover Korean BBQ authentic enough to satisfy a Seoul foodie. Continue downtown to delicatessens on the Lower East Side that serve the best Jewish rye bread and pastrami in the USA. Or leave Manhattan and travel to Queens for Chinese New Year, and belly up to a Cantonese buffet that folks in Beijing would envy. Meanwhile, over in Brooklyn find authentic Italian sausage that would impress a grandmother from Sicily. What’s not to love about diversity of choice?
  • New York City re-invented the local farmer’s market. Many neighborhoods from the Bronx to Staten Island have farmer market days. The produce is expensive (I won’t lie about that), but it doesn’t get any better than just-picked food straight off the farm/orchard in Long Island, upstate New York or across the Hudson River in New Jersey. localfarmersmarket
  • You can eat lunch on the go. From street stands loaded with fresh fruit to food trucks, all you have to do is stand in a short line and grab an apple, order frozen yogurt, get a sizzling pork sandwich, indulge in a lobster roll, and of course, nibble on a hot and salty pretzel topped with mustard.
  • Speaking of on-the-go, NYC is surrounded by waterways. In fact, the Hudson River is still used for commerce. It’s not unusual to see tugboats plying the river. tugboat
  • And the ferries! They are just as important for commuting as for sightseeing; tourists have to jostle with locals to get a seat.

NYwaterwaysBeing a witch with a broom has its advantages – and I like to travel! Here’s where I’ve been in the past few years for pleasure. I just love the distinct memories of each trip.

  • Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Paris, France
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • St Thomas, USVI
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
    Hoi An

On my 2015-16 travel bucket list: Berlin, Germany; Glacier National Park, Montana; Kyoto, Japan; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I’ll let you know after I’ve crossed a border.

You know about my travel wish-list… how about yours? Tag us at #fatwitchtravel and let me know places you love!

Here’s a tip of my witch hat to folks I love from afar:

Jacques Pepin – food genius. From Jacques (I hope he forgives my familiarity), I have learned about cooking vegetables. Put them into rapidly boiling water for only a little bit (a little over one minute), then turn off the heat, cover the pot and let finish cooking 3-5 more minutes. Perfectly crunchy every time. Check out @jacques_pepin for more tips. All his cookbooks are fantastique!

Rosanne Cash – songstress supreme. Her ability to touch one’s soul must be recognized. Just listen to The River & The Thread and you’ll hear what I mean. Connect with her Twitter feed @rosannecash or visit her website rosannecash.com.

Now back to food… check out our monthly recipe file FWRF for February’s Fat Witch recipe. Red Velvet Brownies sound good?
008RedVelvet_160Finally, read what February has in store for you with our witchscopes.

</:) The Witch

A New Year

January 1 usually means the start of a diet and the ubiquitous to-do list. Find me one person who doesn’t profess to eat healthier?

Healthy foodies can be show-offs and usually way-too-serious. So, to lighten-up right from the start of 2015, I’ve created an un-serious list. Here’s my list.

Food Factoids

  • If your refrigerator is loaded with green leafy vegetables, you are healthier. Chard and beets in your vegetable bin score points even if you never eat them.
  • Nuts are good for you. Therefore, a lot of nuts are really good for you.
  • Free food samples have no calories. Walk into Fat Witch Bakery inside Chelsea Market and get a sample if we have out on a cake stand.
  • Chocolate is the answer. The question doesn’t matter.
  • Wine counts as a fruit.  leafygreenvegetables

I know I’m an odd New Yorker because I love it when it snows in the city. When it is falling, it is gorgeous. Just think of trillions of six-pointed flakes and each is different. And, for about 6 hours, all is beautiful. Then, of course, when the temperature goes up, it gets slushy, messy, downright dirty and sloppy. I say, let’s enjoy the 6 hours. snowThe cookbook, Fat Witch Bake Sale, came out on December 30. I’m nervous. I’ll tweet @fatwitch when things are happening, and look for your support!

fatwitchbakesalecover

In mid-January, I am off to Japan to get our Tokyo bakery partner rolling with freshly baked Witches (brownies) in the heart of this city. I always feel like a country bumpkin in Tokyo. Much faster pace than NYC! My favorite restaurant is Kojimachi Café. Of course, I will write about my experiences. I don’t get back until the end of January, so my thoughts and photos won’t make the February Blog. Stay tuned for March.

So many folks have asked for our recipes that instead of including on my Blog, I’ve created a link on our home page. I’ll post one each month and there will be an archive. For January, I put up the recipe of one of my favorite bars – Cherry Oatmeal (trying to stay in the healthy category!). Hope you like it and don’t forget to tag us on your #FWmoment (baking or eating or being in NYC).

The Witch </:)

Tis the Season

The last month of the year yanks our emotions up and down. It’s great to be out celebrating and seeing friends. It’s also overwhelming to be burdened with errands.

December is the month of gift-giving, but life is easier with online and phone ordering. Here’s an unabashed suggestion: go to fatwitch.com to order a gift. At Fat Witch, we look at each order and communicate with you if something seems amiss. We strive to make your order perfect, but we won’t correct spelling errors on message cards (we figure they are intentional) and cannot anticipate incorrect addresses, e.g. 4 vs 14.DEC14 PHOTO1

Our Manhattan store inside Chelsea Market is open 9am to 9pm Monday through Saturday and 9am to 8pm on Sundays. We can have your order ready for pickup, but be sure to call us first 212-807-1335 if you live in NYC or 888-419-4824 if you live outside of NYC (M-F 9am-6pm EST).

Holiday note: our store inside Chelsea Market and our phone order desk will close at 3pm EST December 24th until Friday, December 26 at 9am EST.

Here’s some practical (and admittedly un-asked–for) advice about dealing with mail-order folks during the month of December, especially at small artisanal companies. Remember, the person on the other end WANTS your order to go smoothly.

  • The more you know about what you want to order and when you want it sent, the more someone can help. If possible, check out the website first.
  • Most phone order personnel have been trained to respond patiently and courteously (smile when talking with a customer), but they cannot always be on-target with your needs unless you communicate.
  • If you have a list, some companies like Fat Witch Bakery will accept an email or fax order.
  • Never put your credit card information in the body of an email. Send in an attachment. Or you can send in a secure fax. Call the business to let them know you will be doing this.

If you are in Manhattan, don’t forget to wander by Rockefeller Plaza and see the giant tree. It is always thrilling.
DEC 14 rock ctr treeAnd if in that nabe, stop by for Brazilian food on West 46th Street (Little Brazil), just don’t remind them about the World Cup.
DEC 14 PHOTO3 And, of course, wander down the Manhattan map and come by for a taste of Fat Witch Brownies at our store inside Chelsea Market.
DEC 14 photostorebrowniesYou may not be a baking fiend like me, but you might want to put something in the oven and call it yours. Our Fat Witch Original Brownie mix is easy and delicious when you need to bring a home-made treat to a party.
DEC 14 photomixesOn the other hand, you might enjoy baking even after a long day of work. I like to make Emerald City Brownies when Tis the Season. See the recipe below.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

The Witch </:)

DEC 14 RecipeEmerald City Brownies

Ingredients
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces bitter sweet chocolate chopped into even sized pieces
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
3 large eggs
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup unbleached flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup mint chips
½ cup green sugar sprinkles

Directions
Grease a 9” x 9” baking pan with butter.  Dust the pan with flour and tap out the excess.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently.  Remove the pan from the heat and cool slightly before mixing in the peppermint extract.

Cream the eggs, sugar and vanilla together in a large bowl.  Add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix until well blended.

Measure the flour and salt and sift together directly into the batter. Mix until well combined and no trace of the dry ingredients remains.

Stir in the mint chips.  Mix well.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and top with the sprinkles.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only crumbs, not batter, on it.

Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a rack for at least 1 hour.  Cut just before serving.

Makes 12-16 brownies.

Giving Thanks

It is the month to give thanks. I must give a huge tip of the witch hat to Oprah who put a Fat Witch Baby in her VIP bag for her tour, The Life You Want. Many attendees have called to say how much they like the brownies. Everyone was charming and friendly, thank you! There are two more tours in November, one in Seattle and one in San Jose.

The fall is my favorite season. Perhaps it’s because there’s a cool breeze behind me when I’m on my broom. There is nothing more fabulous than looking down at the gorgeous colors. You might be surprised how many trees we have in NYC! Here’s some of the foliage of Central Park – who wouldathunk right in the middle of Manhattan there are trees old enough to show off leaves like these?
fallfoliageOur busy season at Fat Witch starts in the fall with folks craving a personal chocolate treat and also wanting to send a sweet gift. Then it gets wild from mid-November to just before Christmas. So if you are thinking of using Fat Witch as your corporate or personal holiday gift – get your order in soon! You can pick a future ship date.

FAQs about December might be helpful.  We bake thousands of brownies each day, but the sooner we have your order, the better.

browniesEnough about The Witch, let’s get back to you. What are you serving for Thanksgiving? Oh, I’m not talking about the traditional protein/carb bonanza, I’m asking about dessert. I’m hoping you’ll make brownies and bars part of your Thanksgiving tradition. </:)

Of course everyone does a pumpkin pie. Even if you purchase one, you‘ll want to dress it up with whipped cream. Please make the whipped cream from scratch and add some flavoring! Here’s what I do: I buy one of those small containers (a little more than one cup) of heavy whipping cream and pour in a bowl. I get out my hand-held mixer and go to it. I add a couple of drops of vanilla extract. If you want it sweeter, sift in some confectioner’s sugar (start with less than one teaspoon and add to taste). Whip until peaks form; it usually takes 5 minutes. Do this just before serving. One small container makes 12 healthy dollops to garnish slices of pie.

whippedcreamDo you know that Black Friday goes back to the Depression Era and Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency? Just like now, but without the media marketing, it was developed to encourage people to go out and shop. We’re old-fashioned and love the concept. We’ll be open for a few hours on Thanksgiving morning, but come and see us on Friday, November 29! Our store is located inside Chelsea Market in Manhattan on Ninth Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets. We often have samples for tasting up until 5pm. We’ll be open from 9am to 9pm.

storeBesides having traditional pumpkin pie with your artisanal whipped cream, you might want to bake a delicious dessert to bring to the party (even if it’s your own). Here’s our Pecan Bar recipe below.

The Witch

PecanphotoPecan Bars

Crust Ingredients
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup loosely packed light brown sugar
7 tablespoons unsalted butter almost at room temperature, cut into even-sized pieces
¼ cup chopped pecans

Filling Ingredients
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup loosely packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 ¾ cups chopped pecans

Directions

1)      Grease a 9” x 9” baking pan with butter. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2)      For the crust, measure and mix the flour, baking powder, salt and brown sugar with a fork in a large bowl. Add the butter, one piece at a time, mixing until well combined. Stir in the ¼ cup of chopped pecans.

3)      Spread the mixture evenly on the bottom of the prepared pan. Use your fingers to tap down. Bake for 15 minutes until the crust is golden and the edges pull slightly from the side of the pan. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside.

4)      For the filling, melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool. Mix the brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in the cooled butter and mix until just combined. Add the egg and mix until well blended.

5)      Pour the filling over the hot crust and sprinkle the pecans on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is brown and small cracks form on the surface.

6)      Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a rack for 2 hours. Cut just before serving (and top with whipped cream!).

Trick or Treat

Let’s give Americans credit where credit is due! While we may not have invented the concept of tripping out with the dead, we have made Halloween a fantastic holiday by giving out treats. Now it’s no longer ONLY the USA’s idea of how to have fun.

Lit-up pumpkins line the Champs-Élysées in Paris. The Italians incorporate their ‘strega’ holiday with our trick and treating. Mexicans of course have the Day of the Dead celebration, and their papier-mâché décor is simply the best. Even the Swedes wear witch-y costumes.
swedishhalloweenposterOn Halloween night, I’m at our Chelsea Market store to see charming costumed children come in for a treat. Chelsea Market is decorated to the max. Check out their website for the hours when stores will be handing outtreats. At Fat Witch we even hand out to adults, if in costume. We make not a dime on October 31, but giving away thousands of Fat Witch Baby brownies is the best fun of the year.
Fatou 11 copySo, have you thought about your costume? In my youth, moms made the costumes, but now there are amazing choices online and at local stores for a ghoulish get-up.

If you are going as a witch this Halloween, send us a selfie. We’d love to share. Simply tag #FatWitch on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Back to treats – what are you handing out? If your neighborhood won’t allow kids to beg for home- baked goodies, how about putting packaged candy in a decorative bag?
IMG_8576If you’re going to a party and want to impress by bringing baked goods, try whipping up a batch of Fat Witches. Our mix makes it easy, but you can also use this Fat Witch recipe listed below!

Happy Halloween!
The Witch

IMG_8573Fat Witch Brownie Recipe

Ingredients
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

Directions
Grease a 9” x 9” baking pan with butter. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. When melted, set aside to cool.

Cream the sugar, eggs and vanilla together. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix until well combined.

Measure the flour and salt. Sift together directly into the chocolate mixture. Mix the batter gently until no trace of the dry ingredients remains.

If desired, stir in walnuts or other extras.

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking pan and bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean or with only crumbs on it.

Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a rack for at least an hour. Cut just before serving.

Makes 12-16 brownies

Month with an “R”

Even though I misspent some of my youth in Boston, I learned the rule to eat oysters only in a month with an “R.” When September rolls in, I go straight to New York City’s Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal (it’s the beginning or end of the line, not a station). I confess that for this blog, I went at the very end of August to have some Long Island Blue Point oysters.  I not only like oysters, but also seek out Guastavino’s tile work. He did the Oyster Bar ceiling.
Oyster Bar CeilingGuastavino was an architect from Spain who developed a unique method for creating ceramic tiled vaults that can hold a great deal of weight. It was a revolutionary construction concept in the early 20th century.  I hadn’t been to the Oyster Bar since their recent renovation, and was aghast at the results.

What have they done with his tile-work? New Home Depot pieces? And why the tiny white Christmas tree lights over a magnificent architect’s work???? This Witch is not going back even though she loves the restaurant’s emphasis on local oysters…  but it’s your call to visit if you are in NYC.
IMG_8012In August, I traveled with family to Denmark. What’s not to love about Copenhagen?  Strolling along the canals and eating varieties of hot dogs are winners for this Witch.

IMG_7465And, if you’re a foodie about restaurants, you already know that NOMA in Copenhagen is considered the best in the world. We did not have the foresight or the budget to book a table ahead of our arrival.

However, we did eat amazing food wherever we dined. The Danes have a knack for unique combinations. Lobster with slices of fresh plums work for you? Vanilla gelato topped with slivered, salted trumpet mushrooms is better than it sounds. We loved both of these at Geist.

One of our family highlights was going to the Maritime Museum in Helsingor. The train ride from Copenhagen is 30-40 minutes and this museum is not to be missed, if you have time.  It is a tribute to Danish transport on the seas over the centuries. It was built into a dry dock, so if you casually walk by, you might not think to look down to find the museum entrance.
CaptureKronborg Slot is a close 10-minute-walk from the Maritime Museum. After a tour of Hamlet’s Castle, we took a ferry to Elsingborg, Sweden for drinks and dinner.

IMG_8214After dinner, we took the train to Malmo, Sweden that crossed a new-ish bridge spanning the sea to Copenhagen, Denmark. We did this part at night, so we missed the magnificent views. My recommendation is to do it the opposite way we did – start in Sweden!
IMG_8133To be or not to be: the Danes are baking brownies. Methinks Fat Witch should be thinking about a Nordic location.

September is back to school month.  We celebrate with PB & J Bars as our Witch of the Month. They are available only at our Chelsea Market store (too soft to ship, so no online orders). If you don’t live in NYC, you can make them at home and savor every gooey bite. The recipe is below.

The Witch

PB+J_002PB&J Bars

Ingredients:
1 cup unbleached flour
Big pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup quick-cooking oats (not instant)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup chunky peanut butter
10 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
1 cup strawberry jam

Directions:
Grease a 9” square baking pan with butter.  Dust with flour and shake out the excess.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Measure the flour, salt and baking soda and then sift together into a large mixing bowl.  Mix in the oats and sugars and combine well.
Add the peanut butter and mix well.  Add the butter pieces, a few at a time, and mix until well combined.

Using clean hands, spread two-thirds of the mixture evenly in the bottom of the prepared pan.  Bake for 15 minutes or until the dough starts to turn brown.  With a spatula, spread the jam gently and evenly over the hot crust.  With your hands, crumble the remaining dough on top of the jam.  Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly even or if every inch is not covered.

Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes.  The jam should be a little bubbly and the top golden.

Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a rack for 2 hours.  Cut just before serving. Makes 12-16 bars.