For two years now I’ve been chatting on the phone and conversing via email with our extraordinarily talented contributor, the uber-blogger and cookbook author Molly Yeh. We’ve discussed story ideas and deadlines, talked about her new book, “Molly on the Range,” and bonded over both having dads who cooked Chinese food. (Molly’s father is Chinese; my dad took lessons throughout my teens.) But since Molly resides on a farm in North Dakota and I work at a desk near the South Street Seaport in Manhattan, Molly and I had never actually met in person.
That changed last night when I attended the launch party for the cookbook at the Food52 test kitchen in Chelsea. We embraced like old friends — and indeed it felt like we were.
Still, Molly in the flesh did present me with a few surprises. In no particular order, here they are:
1) Molly is tall.
Somehow the pictures on her website and in the book make Molly look tiny. But she is statuesque. Maybe it’s the vastness of that upper Midwest landscape. Maybe Eggboy (otherwise known as Molly’s husband, Nick) and those other hearty farm folk in the pictures are all particularly long limbed.
When our picture was taken together last night, I noticed that Molly bent her knees to try to come down to my (not-insubstantial) level. Granted, she was wearing heels and I was wearing Adidas, but still, she’s tall.
2) Molly went blonde.
Country girl goes big-city glam! Now enough about her looks; let’s talk about her food.
3) Molly frosts her cakes frozen.
Why didn’t I think of this?
As part of the night’s festivities, which also included coloring with crayons and getting fake tattoos, Molly showed her guests how she constructs the delightfully colorful funfetti cake featured on the cover of her book. The layers are baked; then frozen before being frosted and stacked. No crumbs in the icing!
4) Molly is a fan of imitation vanilla.
We knew she wasn’t a food snob, but it takes a strong cookbook author in today’s authenticity-driven market to tout an ingredient that’s widely shunned. “Say what you will about artificial flavors,” Yeh says in the book, “but you didn’t flip to the cake chapter to be healthy, did you?”
Recipes from “Molly on the Range”
Liza Schoenfein is food editor of the Forward. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @LifeDeathDinner