aspiration

I Like This Bitch’s Life: Molly Yeh

Lifestyle blogs are all about aspiration, which is code for making people envy you and shop accordingly. In our series I Like This Bitch’s Life, the Cut bitterly admits that it’s working.

I used to think the whole farm-fantasy lifestyle was the height of yuppie bullshit. Neurotic city-dwellers who read Modern Farmer and Instagram their CSAs mostly want to work less, I think. They don’t actually want to trade lives with farmers, who work much harder, with their hands, before dawn, for less money and no fame. Searching for upstate barns on Trulia is just a way to cope with the bleak prospect of checking your email every waking hour until you die.

Then somebody told me about Molly Yeh. Yeh is a blogger who lives with her boyfriend fiancé husband on his family’s sugar-beet farm on the North Dakota–Minnesota border. Here’s what the farm looks like, rendered in gingerbread:

Yeh is able to re-create her surroundings in cookies because before moving to the farm a little over a year ago, she was a Brooklyn food blogger and Juilliard-trained percussionist. Which is to say, the kind of high-achieving yet whimsical perfectionist who decorates mousse cake with marzipan moose and then writes a self-deprecating story about it, ignoring the rules of capitalization. The kind who masters food photography, acquires a cult following, and never gets fat. Now, I would have thought that the whole photogenic-food-blogger thing wouldn’t interest me that much, because it glorifies a domestic ideal that I alternate between finding inspiring and oppressive … blah blah blah feminism. But once you throw in the farm, I have to admit: I like this bitch’s life.

Like you, fellow neurotic city-dweller, I cherish and thoroughly document my annual apple-picking trip. I waited over an hour for fresh cider doughnuts. For comparison, Yeh looked up places to go apple-picking near her home in Grand Forks, then her boyfriend fiancé husband came in from the fields, laughed, and directed her to the two apple trees in their backyard. She threw an apple-picking picnic for her best bitches on her own property.

Crucially, in terms of wanting this bitch’s life, Yeh doesn’t actually have to work the farm, except for doing fun stuff. She packs farm lunches in miniature Tupperware and she got to name the chickens. (Yeh — swoon — chose the male pen names of female authors: “Currer Bell, George Eliot, Robert Galbraith.”) For her, living on a farm mostly seems to mean more space (in photogenic reclaimed wood) and time (in natural, big-sky light) to pursue her own work, which is being an adorable cake genius.

When this bitch makes you Funfetti — the rainbow-sprinkle-flecked vanilla cake that tastes like innocence — she does not use Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines. She uses “John the baker from the town bakery.” After some rigorous DIY Funfetti experiments, John the baker from the town bakery taught Yeh that a high-protein flour and whipped egg whites would keep her cakes white and her rainbow sprinkles suspended. Her magazine-quality photographs are proof.

Part of what’s so attractive about Yeh’s domestic skills is that she’s not even baking for DH (as bloggers I envy less call their partners), who has a slew of dietary restrictions that exclude cake and the very sugar beets he farms. She does it for herself, for the Instagram, for her readers, and for the glory. (She was a finalist for Saveur’s 2014 Best Food Blog Awards.) But being on the farm does mean being with DH, whom she wed earlier this month (it looked perfect) and whom she refers to as “eggboy.” He’s a fifth-generation farmer who has the perfect eyeglasses and, during the sugar-beet harvests, works 16-hour days. I believe the long hours make Molly Yeh sad because I believe their love is as pure as snow and their relationship runs as reliably as a tractor. But to me, some alone time in the farmhouse with my tiny marzipan menagerie sounds pretty goddamn nice.

And yes, obviously this bitch looks good in overalls.

I Like This Bitch’s Life: Molly Yeh