The Year In Food » Fine Seasonal Eating

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Where does one begin? What it feels like is that everything in my life has led me to this exact moment, and this exact moment is right where I want to be. Two years ago, nearly to the day (October 7th), I left my job as a massage therapist because I was badly injured from too many years of demanding physical labor. My shoulder was busted. I was totally beat. Exhausted, uninspired and in a lot of pain. I remember, on the day that I stopped working, thinking that I’d have about three weeks off to recuperate, and I naively believed that I could lock down a new career and a revamped blog in that short time. It took a lot longer than three weeks.

Polenta Cake with Honey-roasted Figs

It is kind of like the perfect storm, if I can borrow that oft-used term and make it into a damn fine thing. In art school I was hopelessly preoccupied with color and light, but opted not to major in photography because I smugly thought that I knew all that I needed to know about that medium. So I pursued furniture design, which was a terrible fit. (But a wonderful group of folks to work with.) And that brought me back to food, because I wanted to invest my energy in something that felt meaningful and important, and joining my friends and family at the table around food was (and still is) a thing that makes my heart swell. So I started a blog and a project: 52 Dinners, with the aim of documenting one meal per week for a year with friends and family. It was more of an art project, originally. I didn’t think about color and light for a while. I was obsessed with storytelling but didn’t understand how to bring that back to my young blog, because I thought that to write about food, one had to master the nuances of flavor and talk about that in a very literal way. It’s taken a long time to realize that what makes food interesting is not being great at describing flavor but being great at finding the story in it. And it’s taken me a long time to realize that that old preoccupation with color and light can be found just as marvelously in examining the colors of fruits and vegetables in the soft light of an upstairs window. When I began the Color Studies early this year, it finally all came together.

Polenta Cake with Honey-roasted Figs

So here we are. I have the great luck (and daunting responsibility) to spend the next year obsessing over my favorite things in life: gorgeous seasonal produce, color, light, photography, narrative. It will undoubtedly be one of the hardest thing that I’ve ever done. But I just feel so damn lucky that I get to do this.

VIBRANT: A Celebration of Color and Food, will bring together my passion for the season’s best produce and my deep love of color through a collection of dynamic, inspired recipes. It’s slated for a Spring 2014 release. A huge thank you to Sally Ekus of Lisa Ekus Group and Lisa Westmoreland and the entire team at Ten Speed for supporting this project from the beginning.

Polenta Cake with Honey-roasted Figs

Yield: 4 servings
Polenta cake inspired by Nigel Slater’s Ripe, Figs inspired by Saffron Lane

For the cakes:

1 cup polenta
3/4 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon rose water
4 eight-ounce ramekins

For the figs:

8 fresh black mission figs
1/4 cup honey
fresh sprigs of thyme or rosemary (optional)

2 tablespoons chopped pistachios

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the polenta, almond meal, baking powder, cardamom and sea salt. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat together the eggs, turbinado sugar and olive oil until light and frothy. Add the Greek yogurt and rose water and mix thoroughly.

Slowly fold the dry ingredients into the wet.

Grease 4 eight-ounce ramekins and lightly dust with cornmeal.

Divide the batter evenly among the ramekins.

Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Set oven to broil.

Slice the figs in quarters lengthwise and drizzle the honey over them. Tuck fresh sprigs of thyme or rosemary among the fig slices if desired.

Broil until figs just begin to soften, about 4 minutes.

To serve, divide the cakes among four plates. Drizzle the thyme-infused honey over the cakes. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios, and finish with the figs.

  • tami - congrats! such wonderful news. xoxox :)ReplyCancel

  • Ashlae - What exciting news, Kimberley! So happy for you – congratulations!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - A book with Ten Speed! about colors and freshness! Ah, you are *so* living the dream. You go, girl! :DReplyCancel

  • Gilda - This is so inspiring and exciting, Kimberly! Congratulations to you! I am excited to see Vibrant come to fruition.ReplyCancel

  • Megan Gordon - YAHOO!!! I kept stalking your blog waiting for this announcement :) As you know, so happy for you and so excited for this AMAZING sounding (and unique) book. I hope you did (or are doing) something to celebrate. I suggest champagne! xxReplyCancel

  • alison - Wow! That is so exciting! You are truly leaving the dream…and it is beautiful. Wishing you all the best in this new adventure. Oh…and that first image…amazing.ReplyCancel

  • James Meetze - Oh Kimmy, I’m so thrilled to hear this! You deserve it all and, having made many of your recipes, I know it will be both visually stunning and culinarily delicious beyond compare.


  • sarah - Hip Hip!!! So so happy for you. Yeah!ReplyCancel

  • Annie - Congratulations! You so deserve this!ReplyCancel

  • Kasey - Yay! Congratulations to you. Wonderful news and excited to finally see it be public! Those cakes are gorgeous, btw…ReplyCancel

  • Elenore Bendel Zahn - Woooooha – Life is such a crazy adventure! It’s amazing to think about what happens when we throw ourselves deep in the the sea of our passion. Our deep desire. That´s where the good stuff will open up to us and I am so happy to see that happening to you!

    Happy bliss and crazy foodies – Big hug from Elenore at EarthsproutReplyCancel

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food - This is marvelous news! Congratulations Kimberley! I wish you the best as you leap into this next projectReplyCancel

  • Jacqui - Yay, this is so exciting! Congrats to you! I’ve loved your color series from day one, so I can only imagine a whole book filled with color and flavor!ReplyCancel

  • SG - SO AWESOME! oh man! You are so talented and amazing – I can’t wait to pick up my very own copy (signed I hope!).


  • Laura - Woohoo! So excited for you Kimberley! Can’t wait to see/read/experience your beautiful creation. Big congratulations and high fives :)ReplyCancel

  • Nader Khouri - That’s amazing!! Congrats!!ReplyCancel

  • Beth | {local milk} - Congratulations! I relate so much to the draw towards narrative, color, and light… and in sort of blindly setting out on this project and hoping it leads to something without even necessarily knowing what that “something” is at the very beginning. Just feeling as if life has conspired to put you on this path. And it did lead to a very real something for you! Very inspiring, as is your work! Again, congrats!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - So incredibly happy for you. I can relate to your story quite a bit, and it seems that for me as well things are finally falling into place. A huge congrats to you!! I can’t wait to have this masterpiece on my bookshelf.ReplyCancel

  • Christine - Such wonderful news. And so well-deserved! Congratulations, Kimberley.ReplyCancel

  • Kate - Congratulations! The book sounds fantastic.

    As for the recipe, you have impeccable timing. I have a gluten-free friend coming to dinner tomorrow and figs in the fridge from my sister’s tree. Perfect!ReplyCancel

  • Annaliese - This is so unbelievably exciting! It’s sort of amazing what great things come out of some unfortunate events.

    I am so happy that you’ve found your way to this project and look forward to reading about the process. And, 10 Speed Press? Amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Diana - Congratulations!!!! I really enjoy all of your posts and can’t wait to see the new project!ReplyCancel

  • Marisa - Kimberley, I continue to be so thrilled for you! Also, here’s a funny thing. That plate you’re using up above? The off-white one with the scalloped edges? Those are my dishes. I have a whole set of them (as does my mom and my sister) and they have a fun story. They were originally giveaways in boxes of dishwasher detergent in the 1950s. Next time I see you, I’ll tell you the wacky story of how my mother has been picking them up at thrift stores since 1988.ReplyCancel

  • Beth - Congratulations! What wonderful news. So many beautiful books have been coming out of Ten Speed Press lately. Thank you also for the recipe. I have black mission figs at home that desperately needed a purpose, and this looks just perfect.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - I love it!! So very excited for you! You DID it!! Savor this moment and then hurry up and get started because I NEED your book in my hands.ReplyCancel

  • Kathryne - Thrilling news indeed, Kimberley! I am so happy for you. I know your future book will become a fixture on my coffee table and a source of much inspiration. Yay for you!ReplyCancel

  • Stacy - Congratulations!!! I am SO pleased for you, Kimberley! The title and the plan sound like a perfect fit — you really do have a niche to fill with your unique and lovely work. Best wishes for these early days of the process. Oh, and those cakes? They look absolutely delicious.ReplyCancel

  • Sue Young - and a great fit. thanks, sue in So CAReplyCancel

  • la domestique - Your book is going to be crazy awesome and I cannot wait to have it on my shelf! Congrats, Kimberley!ReplyCancel

  • jamie smith - i am thrilled for you! congrats!ReplyCancel

  • Kristen - Congrats!! Can’t wait to see the end result.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - I am so proud of you and SO delighted that you’re going to make this book. A huge, heartfelt congratulations to you Kimberley. This is amazing, awesome news!ReplyCancel

  • ashley englisha - oh, YAY!!! that is so, so wonderful to hear, and very well deserved. kudos to you!!!ReplyCancel

  • kate - i am SO excited for you, K!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - I knew it was a matter of time before this FABULOUS news was announced. Congrats, sweet Kimberley. Truly, an honor so well-deserved (and right up your alley!). I, for one, know I cannot wait to buy one of the first copies. You are an inspiration, time and time again.

    p.s. thanks for the shout out! :)ReplyCancel

  • Heidi @foodiecrush - Congratulations on your fab news! Can’t wait to see the finished product.ReplyCancel

  • Courtney - Congrats on very wonderful news! I’ll anxiously await the release of your colorful book :)ReplyCancel

  • Katherine Sacks - Kimberley so excited for you! I can’t wait for your wonderful book to be out! And I’m exciting to see the process. As always, a lovely post!ReplyCancel

  • Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom - Congrats to you! I just came across your blog today. . it is beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Emma @ Poires au Chocolat - How exciting! Congratulations!ReplyCancel

  • Brianne - Wow! What a wonderful opportunity for you. Congratulations, Kimberley!ReplyCancel

  • sara - yessssss!!!!! Oh I just love it all so much, Kimberly. Can’t wait! You’ve got a team rooting for you!ReplyCancel

  • Ken - Amazing and well-deserved, Kimberly! Have fun and obsess away, it makes for great results! :) Thanks also for pairing this great news with two of my favorite things: polenta cake and figs. Peace, KReplyCancel

  • Nicole - So happy for you! It will be so gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • kickpleat - So well deserved and I love the idea behind the book!!! It’s a perfect project for you. I’m thrilled and can’t wait to see it in print. Yipeee!ReplyCancel

  • ileana - Can’t wait to see it. Congratulations!! And this cake with figs looks absolutely delicious.ReplyCancel

  • Dana - Well deserved! Yes, it will be the hardest and best job of your life…like having a kid! If I can help in any way, don’t hesitate to ask. Best wishes!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - Thrilled for you!! Can’t wait!ReplyCancel

  • Kiran @ - Congrats for all the success on your way, Kimberly :)ReplyCancel

  • Norma & Peter - FANTASTIC!! So thrilled for you!ReplyCancel

  • thelittleloaf - Congratulations!! The book sounds like it’s going to be absolutely wonderful. I love how life can creep up on you with a series of fortuitous events :-)ReplyCancel

  • Louisa - Amazing news! Congratulations – I’m sure it will be just ace, like your blog!ReplyCancel

  • What I’m Digging | Small Measure - […] works! *Met Gustav in Brooklyn; great guy, gorgeous jewelry. *Corks as fire starters-who knew? *A new book, and a special cake (fig & polenta, oh […]ReplyCancel

  • Bob - WUNDERBAR! You go Girl!ReplyCancel

  • tigress - that is awesome! go you! looking forward to its release! :-)ReplyCancel

  • Hannah - Kimberley – I can’t wait to read VIBRANT! Inspired and inspiring. Congratulations. And gorgeous, gorgeous figs to boot.ReplyCancel

  • Amelia Morris - yayyyyyy, Kimberley!!! Cannot waaaaaaait to see it!! xoReplyCancel

  • Charlotte au chocolat - Yay!!!! Congrats, Kimberley! What wonderful, exciting news!!! Hope you find much joy and pleasure in the process, and I can’t wait to see the finished product! Oh, and I absolutely love the title! xoReplyCancel

  • tinq - Congrats! Another example of follow your passion and good things happen!!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn - I just love the idea of this book; it’s everything that makes you & this blog so special. Congratulations Kimberly; Spring 2014 can’t come soon enough.ReplyCancel

  • Cara - Congratulations! This is going to be such a fabulous work of art. I can’t wait!ReplyCancel

  • Anne Zimmerman - This is such great news! Sean and I just walked up to the Pot Hill bench where we saw you months ago, deeply in the sludge of finishing your book proposal. And now you are writing a book! It’s going to be a wild, awesome ride.ReplyCancel

  • Carly - Wow, that is exciting news! Congratulations! It’s a good reminder that experimenting with different interests can clarify which things are real passions. I can’t wait to see Vibrant come to life. Best wishes from Amsterdam.ReplyCancel

  • risa - Really, really beautiful. I’m so glad you’re preoccupied light and color . . . what a treat for the rest of us. So looking forward to the book.ReplyCancel

  • Magda - Congratulations! That’s wonderful news and it goes to show that our first loves are the ones that follow us throughout our lives and sometimes come back to bring us more joy than we’d ever imagined. Your love of photography is so evident here in your blog and I can’t wait for your book.ReplyCancel

  • Denise - Congrats! I’m really excited for you and it’s totally deserved!ReplyCancel

  • Lynda - I only just saw this! Congratulations – this will be a fabulous and beautiful book indeed!ReplyCancel

  • kristin a. - Congrats Kimberley! I can’t wait to see the book, and watch your outtakes along the way.ReplyCancel

  • erin @ yummy supper - HUGE congratulations to you, Kimberley! Food and color… brilliant. And Vibrant, what a great title. I can’t wait to see and buy your book.

    It was nice to hear from you on YS. I’d love to talk books sometime – maybe even get together for coffee? So far I’m loving the process, but I hear it can get pretty tough.

    All the best to you,

  • Michael - Congrats, Kimberley! “If you will it, it is no dream”…ReplyCancel

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  • ROASTED BANANAS WITH CACAO NIBS + PISTACHIOS » The Year In Food - […] ever before – they’re an antidote to the mental focus required in the making of this cookbook. But let me make clear: I am really and truly and deeply loving the work of the cookbook. […]ReplyCancel

  • Ali - nice postReplyCancel

  • Summer - Great initshg! That’s the answer we’ve been looking for.ReplyCancel

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