Broccoli salad with bacon and pecans

March 5, 2013 § 13 Comments

broccoli salad dressed

It is decidedly not spring here yet.  In fact, it’s blowing ferociously and snowing several inches outside right now (just a stone’s throw further south they’re getting close to 10 inches, but we’re getting only brushed by the storm).

I remember the day in March in 2nd grade when our teacher taught us the saying, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.”  She even had a paper cut out lion and lamb thumb tacked up on the cork board to drive the point home.

We were all mystified.  No, no, no.  The saying was all wrong, we pointed out (after the metaphor had been explained).  March comes in like a lion and it goes out like a lion too.  Maybe an ever so slightly more docile lion, but a lion nonetheless.

blanched broccoligreen onions for slicing

That’s Minnesota for you.

So, no, no spring yet.  It makes me miss the other places I’ve lived, the places where crocuses and daffodils start intrepidly strutting about in March.  However, the yearning for spring isn’t desperate yet.  Not desperate, but on the other hand, I’m definitely not as into root vegetables as I was a couple months ago.

In my need for a change of pace, I found myself craving broccoli salad a few days ago, something that does not happen often at all, except for the odd day midsummer when it sounds good, or when I’m several time zones out of my element, running late for a wedding rehearsal, and my stomach is growling audibly, and I’m standing in front of a deli counter.  It happens sometimes then too. « Read the rest of this entry »

Fried scallop sandwich with salsa verde mayo

October 3, 2012 § 18 Comments

I’m convinced that if food knows you’re afraid of it, it will, most of the time, rise (or is it sink?) to meet your expectations, and give you plenty of trouble.  This is why, for example, you must be firm while rolling out a pie crust, even as you use a delicate touch, and why souffles are best made after 10 pm, with a generous glass of wine by your side.

I’ve feared a wide variety of foods in my time, but one by one, I have try-tried again, building up my nerve and feel for things, and I’ve eventually conquered most of them.  Fried foods, though, have definitely still got my number.  I feel a vague internal cowering even now as I think about searing bolts of grease splattering everywhere, and me screaming and running like a peasant in front of a hord of visigoths, trying to get away from the oily conflagration that could, in my mind, easily start out of nowhere in a split second, as soon as there’s more than about 2 Tbs. of hot oil involved.

I’ve never actually had any mishap remotely resembling that (I’m much more liable to shave off my fingertip or set a cake ablaze), but it still scares me.  Suffice it to say, I don’t do all that much serious frying.

Even less so because I’ve never had much cause to.  I love the results enough to slave away over improving my bread, even my radicchio experience I’m willing to work at, but on the whole I don’t like fried food.  I don’t like the taste, so why bother?

I know I’m kind of weird, with this.  I know that my general dislike of fried chicken, fried fish, pakoras, tempura, even French fries puts me at odds with most of humanity.  It’s not a problem with the fat content or anything, cream being pretty much my favorite food group.  I just don’t care much for the flavor. « Read the rest of this entry »

Heirloom tomato tart

September 13, 2012 § 17 Comments

Although fun and life-giving and joyful and love-filled right now, if I had to choose a single word to describe life these past two weeks (and thank goodness I don’t have to choose just one word – a world where you use only one word when you could spout off a string of five to ten would be a sad world indeed, far too Hemingway-ian for the verbose among us), it would be chaotic.

Totally chaotic.  Connecting with old friends and nabbing as much quality time with family as possible on top of working on a dissertation on top of that ultimate relaxing free time activity of, ahem, starting a business, turns out not to be a recipe for order and quiet.  We did expect this, but you never fully appreciate these things until you’re in the middle of them.

But I love it!  We love it!  We love everyone here.  So far so amazing.  We even had a chance to ride around on The Lake and under the Aerial Lift Bridge on a decommissioned coast guard cutter owned by friends of friends, all in the name of settling in.  That’s pretty darn cool. « Read the rest of this entry »

Slow cooked Greek green beans

September 10, 2012 § 10 Comments

Did you have to take timed tests in elementary school?  (To this day I’m still not entirely sure whether they were called timed tests or times tests, after all, they were used for learning the times tables.)  A couple minutes to complete as many problems as you can multiplying by 7.  A couple minutes to complete as many problems as you can dividing by nine.  Awful.  Awful awful awful.  There’s a pit in my stomach now, just remembering.

I’ve never done well with time pressure.  I freeze up when I’m in a hurry, making stupid mistakes, leaving a trail of minor disasters.  But, I also hate being late.  So, I won’t just take the extra time I sometimes need.  Basically, time, deadlines, and I all keep slightly different schedules.  And I occasionally lose my sanity  trying to force them into alignment.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Plum and bourbon swirl ice cream

September 5, 2012 § 24 Comments

Hello dear friends.  How are you?!  It feels like an age since I’ve been here.  Maybe it has been an age.  I’ve lost all track of time as we’ve been in a blur of activity and change.

I meant to come back with a roar, with all sorts of things to say and stories to tell.  Instead, I think I’ll go for something more along the lines of a purr.  Roaring takes too much energy for the moment.  Shifts and adaptations, however positive, are tiring.  So is moving and unpacking boxes.  Sheesh.

But we are, in fact, wondrously unpacked.  We still have a small stack of boxes to attend to, and the art needs to be hung.  But, most of the important things (read: kitchen and dining room – and even the living room, actually) are set up and functioning.  We had the most amazing help.  I mean really, that’s part of why we wanted to be here.  The kindness and sense of community are palpable. « Read the rest of this entry »

Sweet corn polenta with broccoli pesto

August 19, 2012 § 27 Comments

Was I the one grumping up a storm and hemming and hawing over what to do with the sheer quantity of summer produce around?  Me?  Well, I take it all back!  Every word of it! It never happened.  I never said it.

Now I’m like all those guys in all those movies, running after the train as it pulls out of the station, crying, “waaaaaiiit!!!!”  Because my true love is on that train.  Except, the train is actually summer.  And my love?  Sweet corn polenta.

In a long line of obsessions, sweet corn polenta is my latest.  It has taken over our diet in the last couple of weeks, just as sweet corn season is winding down (sad face).  Kimchi tacos are still at the tippy top of my favorite things ever list for the moment, and a most exciting delivery of delicious treats from a friend in Hawaii has skyrocketed passion fruit ginger jam up to join the tacos in first place.  (I may become totally open to genetically modified foods if someone can figure out a way to create a passion fruit plant that will generate fruit in northern Minnesota.  Anyone?)  But, sweet corn polenta is breathing down their necks. « Read the rest of this entry »

Black pepper shortbread with chevre, pine nuts, and marinated summer squash

August 15, 2012 § 9 Comments

As we get ready to leave Boston, people keep asking me if I have a Boston bucket list, the things I want to do – or do one last time – before we skip town for colder, more birch tree and lake filled climes.  I don’t for the most part.  My bucket list is really seeing people, the close friends or just the daily faces that are so familiar.

It’s entirely expected that I’ll miss our dear, wonderful friends, our neighbors, my fellow doctoral students.  I’ll miss them like the dickens.  What is less expected, but is a realization creeping up on me is how much I will probably wind up missing the UPS man, the hip barristas at the local coffee shop, the sandwich crafting artistes at the cafe, the goofy kids at the cash register at the dog bakery (yes, there’s a dog bakery in our neighborhood), the fellow dog owners I wave at every day when I’m out with Squid, the old guy in the short shorts and helmet from the early ’80s who rides his bike everywhere all year round.

These are the personalities, colors, faces, voices that make up what we have of community here.

Also on my bucket list is simply keeping my eyes open to appreciate the daily sights here.  We have a wonderful view from our apartment of lush tree tops and just the hints of skyscraper tops (Boston has all of 4 or 5 skyscrapers).  It’s Boston, so there are truly historic sites tucked in here and there and everywhere amidst daily life.  The trees and vines, flowers and bushes of the arboretum look like fairyscapes right now, so I’m trying to remember to breathe them in amidst the frenzy of everything else going on.

And, no surprise, there is a bit of a food bucket list.  We’re making quick runs to our favorite farm stands, an unhealthy number of stops at our favorite bakeries and ice cream shop, and by the end of next week, we’ll probably be floating away on a river of really excellent iced coffee.

Most exciting of all (well, maybe not of all, but it was definitely exciting), we finally went on a hot date to a rather fancy restaurant that we’ve been daydreaming about trying for a while.  For all my interest in food and reading of restaurant reviews in the Times, I have been to very few seriously fine dining establishments (approximately zero, before this).  I’ve been a grad student for a while, and all!  So, though I love the idea of it, I’m completely intimidated by fancy restaurants, and we probably would not have wound up going in the end had Joel’s aunt and uncle not brilliantly and generously given us a gift certificate as a birthday present.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Grilled chorizo and flatbread with charred vegetables

August 9, 2012 § 14 Comments

Ok, I’m going to come out and say it.  There’s a certain point every summer at which I start to get a little annoyed by the sheer bounteousness of summer produce.  I mean, I love it, I really do, but it’s just so freaking beautiful and abundant.  It’s kind of like that person you know who is really smart and talented and beautiful and then they’re nice on top of it, and and eventually you’re like, “come on!  Can’t you at least be neurotic?!”  I get a little bit that way about summer vegetables.  (Please tell me this doesn’t make me a horrible person, though, clearly, I have issues.)

We put summer produce on sun-soaked a pedestal, cooing over it and the way it needs only a little sprinkling of salt, maybe a drizzle of good olive oil.  We rhapsodize perfect garden tomatoes or fresh sweet corn like we do our first love.  And it’s all true, and completely deserved.  Fresh summer produce is miraculous.  It really would be a shame to do much more than serve it in a minimalist state, an ode to the garden.  And the essays that have been written on the subject, well, I have nothing to add to them that hasn’t been said. « Read the rest of this entry »

Goat cheese popovers with blueberry sauce

August 6, 2012 § 15 Comments

First off, foremost, and before anything else, thank you!  Seriously, thank you.  Jumping up and down clapping my hands thank you.  I’m 8 and I just got the Playmobile Victorian dollhouse set I’ve been coveting all year, thank you.  Your enthusiasm, and support, and encouragement for Joel’s and my thoughts and plans mean so very, very much to me, and you will definitely be hearing stories as we get going with our new adventures!

And now, because when I’m overwhelmed with gratitude transitions go completely out the window, without further ado let’s go ahead and talk about breakfast.  Or snack.  Or breakfast standing in as dinner.  Or however you want to serve these popovers.  (The first, followed by the second, followed by the third works quite well.  I can say from experience.)

Though in the end they became the sauce rather than the apparent centerpiece, it was actually the blueberries that started the wheels turning and rolled me down the path that led eventually to popovers.

I saw them (the blueberries, that is), majestically portly and dusty midnight blue, piled high in their cardboard pints at our tiny neighborhood farmer’s market, and I simply couldn’t resist.  The word that comes to mind is peak.  Blueberries are at their peak, and they looked it.

The blueberry acquisition was followed, in short order, by a creamy white round of chevre, and I began to form a plan.  It was only the vaguest of plans though.  It went something like:  blueberries and chevre…together.  The question of how I most wished to eat them together remained unanswered for a couple of days. « Read the rest of this entry »

Cornmeal peach scones and something of a manifesto

August 1, 2012 § 45 Comments

Ok guys, hold onto your hats because this one came out a little unbidden.  In trying to talk about our big plans for what we’re doing next (soon!), I couldn’t help but go into some of the background thinking behind these plans, and it turned into something of a manifesto.  Now, I may be a philosophizer and a wax eloquenter, but I’m not usually one to write a manifesto.  A manifesto will nearly always rub at least someone the wrong way, and I have in general lived my life bending over backwards to try never to rub anyone the wrong way, to please everyone, to be safe.  

But I’m finally, finally starting to realize that it’s not worth it.  Not if it means you sacrifice the truth.  The tag line of this blog is “fitting real food into real life,” and, well, it wouldn’t be real life if I didn’t speak about my truths.  So, it may have turned out to be a bit manifesto-y, but hey! there’s a really good scone recipe waiting for you at the end (Seriously.  Really good.  Moist and tender on the inside with those perfectly crunchy golden edges that are the best part of a scone.).  Next time I’ll be back with a more normal, chirpy blog post, but for now, deep breath, here we go…

I brought these scones to a goodbye brunch at my office a few days ago.  We were celebrating and sending off three of our colleagues who are on to new things.  All three of them did great work and will truly be missed.  Though I wasn’t included in the goodbyes, it felt like the time for me to say goodbye to everyone as well.  We’re leaving.  We’re moving!

I’m not done with my dissertation yet.  Ha.  Quite the opposite.  What was once a wade through data up to my knees has become thrashing in data up over my head.  I’m doing a little egg beater kicking, a little elementary backstroke, working on finding the best way for me to swim through it.  But, it won’t be happening here.  Joel and I have decided we’re moving to Minnesota.  In less than a month.  Yikes!

We’ve been thinking and talking about it for a while now, and finally things conspired to remind us that these are our lives, and we need to live them in a way that is honest and real for us.  Now, I don’t mean anything against Boston at all.  It’s a really great city.  A great place.  But, it’s not our place.  And, in staying here, no matter how hard we try not to, neither of us can escape our programmed slide into the speedy rails of achievement orientation. « Read the rest of this entry »

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