July 17, 2012 § 38 Comments
“They say it’s your birthday, dadadadada, and you’re gonna have a good time da-da daaadada…”
Yup, it’s my birthday. Which means I get to eat and drink and do and say whatever I please, right? As long as it is lunch with a friend, lots of iced coffee, going to meetings, and hopefully nice things, I guess.
Birthdays somehow don’t have the same extreme importance or conjure the same desperate hope that they once did. I remember when I was young being quite unable to sleep the night before my birthday. My little body simply couldn’t contain the intensity of the excitement for the coming big day. Of course, my birthdays no longer include pouncing on my parents at 6am to get my presents, crazy themed parties (ranging from “makeovers” to “5,000 things to do with stamps” to “the Wild West”) with friends, or secret hopes of having a Barbie Cake even though I knew we would be be having Norwegian birthday cake, no other option (and I was secretly glad for that as well).
After childhood ebullience, I also went through a phase of bemoaning my birthday. Not in the “woe is me, I’m getting older” sense, but rather moaning produced by a teenage angst-filled haze of mopiness. “I’m not special, nobody’s special. Everybody has a birthday, it happens every year. Thousands of other people have their birthday on this day too. This is stupid, leave me alone…But can I have some cake?” That sort of thing.
Now I’d say I neither eagerly anticipate nor dread my birthday. I enjoy it. It’s my birthday. But, I’m inclined toward keeping it simple. Low key cookouts with friends, baking my own cake, and no presents please. Well, unless you really want to. 🙂 But, on the whole I selfishly prefer giving presents to receiving them. It’s selfish, because I am always so thrilled and grateful to receive a gift I never quite know how to respond, and then I get embarrassed, and I don’t like being embarrassed (who does, really?). « Read the rest of this entry »
May 29, 2012 § 18 Comments
The last of our guests left this morning, and I’m left with that funny feeling of slight relief and slight let-down after a big event and lots of social time. The apartment feels remarkably quiet and empty, and I have a lot of work to catch up on.
If you mapped out the trajectory of the contents of our house from Thursday through now, you would see how it arced parabolically, from the two of us (well, three, if you count Squid) to five, to fourteen(!), to nine, to four, and down to just two again. And now one, actually, as I sit at my desk at home with my reflections and the puppy for company.
The weekend was nothing short of epic. The belated Syttende Mai party topped the charts (I’ll tell you more about it later when I have both my photos and thoughts in order), but we did a great deal more excellent eating and exploring on top of that. Also, can I just say that Minnesotans (former Minnesotans included) make the best house guests! Sure it’s still work, but every time you turn around, someone has done the dishes for you or even gone ahead and scrubbed your stove top.
Anyhow, the odds and ends of a dozen delicious meals are sitting in the fridge, and I’m partaking in the joy of leftovers. Today, I’m particularly loving this pea puree. Its sweet pea flavor and sateen texture are so fresh, so spring, and oh so very, very green. Preppy green. The green of chinos that one might pair with a rather pink polo shirt and a cardigan draped over the shoulders.
September 12, 2011 § 13 Comments
Along with a whole other set of mild, borderline addictions (like kombucha, smoked fish, and eating pate for breakfast…hey now, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!) I have a pastry dough problem. It’s not so much a problem with eating it – though there are very few things in this world that taste worse when delicately cradled in flaky dough. My addiction is to making it (and then I push it on others because one can really only eat so much pastry dough before one begins to take on the look of a stuffed turnover oneself. Not that I don’t also eat plenty myself in the process. And love it.).
Many people see a recipe that calls for making a pie crust, or a tart crust, or any other pastry dough and they quickly turn the page, banishing thoughts of how tasty it sounded from their minds because they are unwilling to confront the process. Or they turn to Pillsbury for help. I was one of those people up until a few years ago. But, one intrepid day I decided I would try it. The crust didn’t turn out all that fabulous, but it was good, and painless enough that I was willing to try again. Then I tried again, and again, and soon I found myself envisioning everything in my refrigerator wrapped up in a tart, just so I could get one more hit of the dough making process.
July 20, 2011 § 16 Comments
This is the story of some muffins. It’s a story I almost wasn’t going to tell you because these muffins disappeared almost as soon as they happened, leaving nary a crumb and certainly no trace of photographic evidence (that’s what morning and house guests will do to muffins, you see). And it’s very rare I cook something twice, so if it’s gone, it’s gone.
Gone-ish. Sometimes I jot down notes from the recipe. Sometimes I share it. And sometimes then, the dish reappears. That’s what these muffins did. They resurfaced, emblazoned with a badge of honor: “simply the best raspberry muffins.”
June 20, 2010 § 5 Comments
Hurrah! We finally went strawberry picking (after being thwarted last weekend)! And it was, of course, everything I was hoping for. If there is anything in this world that tastes more marvelous – or looks more beautiful – than a rotund, juicy, crimson strawberry, warm from the sun, plucked and eaten right there in the field, well then I’m feeling hard pressed to figure out what it might be. The darling little flavor-packed, mixed variety of strawberries available at peak season on farms and in farmer’s markets should make us feel ashamed that we even call those ginormous, watery things that are shipped around the country most of the year, “strawberries”. They’re just not the same thing at all (though, in the spirit of full disclosure I’ll admit they can be kind of good on occasion, and if someone gives me one dipped in chocolate, I’m afraid I’m not saying “no”).
For me, scrambling around on hands and knees in the dirt, searching for the jewel red berries, as if collecting treasure, sends my gatherer instinct into hyperactive mode. And eating the berries themselves. Well, now that is the really good part. A ripe strawberry needs nothing else. It defies my standard food writing vocabulary, even the most flowery stuff I can muster, and sends me searching for some deep extended metaphor, or something, to convey my feelings. Maybe a spiritual metaphor, or a relationship metaphor. I picture myself telling them “Strawberries, you are absolutely perfect just exactly as you are.” And isn’t that all any of us really want to hear in a relationship, and believe about ourselves? « Read the rest of this entry »
June 10, 2010 § 16 Comments
Okay, before my perpetually wandering mind meanders off into some story or digression, let me make sure I get my main point across right away. And that is: do not rest until you make this sandwich!! It is unbelievable. I may henceforth reserve the word luscious to be used only in describing this sandwich. It came to me in a passing flash of inspiration, and I’m so glad I trusted the inspiration enough to follow it. Lemon, thyme, and garlic are one of the all time great flavor combinations – woodsy, tangy, nutty bright – and the textures combine crispy, crunchy, and creamy while the fabulously goopy egg pulls everything together in one delightful, messy sandwich perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
I took one bite, held it up to my face and asked it, “where have you been all my life?” (Yes, I have that kind of relationship with sandwiches) I polished it off, and just sat there kind of hugging myself in (slightly smug) sensory glee. The thyme pesto and the lemon cream are steps that take some more effort than one might generally expect to have to put into sandwich making. But, be not deterred! They’re still quite easy (each only takes a few minutes to pull together), and then you’ll have extra spreads that will last a couple of weeks in the fridge so you can keep making more and more and more sandwiches! (Or add them to pasta, or grilled meats or fish.)