Posts filed under 'Uncategorized'
First, thank you so much for the comments and emails and kind words about our exciting news! It was such fun to share the news here, and to hear from so many of you. It makes me miss this site even more, which is unfortunate timing, since things are a little crazy around here lately. Aside from the whole baby thing (the proof of which is growing by the day!), work is a whirlwind and is about to take me out of town for a few weeks. I’m thinking the solution is this: I’m going to shake things up a bit here, and do a couple of photo-focused posts. Today, it’s eggs two ways.
Last weekend, Kevin flew west (for a weekend with his friends in Yosemite) and I flew north (to Minnesota, to see my family). The camera went with Kevin (filed under “The Things I Do For Love”). But my iPhone came with me and I kept it busy documenting a rainy, chilly, but still-perfect weekend with my parents and sister. There was beer (Fulton and Summit and Surly, but not Grain Belt, alas):
And fat spears of asparagus shaved thin and tossed in lots of lemon, olive oil, parmesan and coarse salt:
So, the thing is, I’m too busy to be writing this post. Not to mention too exhausted. But this recipe, for bourbon butterscotch sauce, is haunting me. Since I made it on Saturday, I can’t get it out of my head. I’m pretty sure the only way to exorcise this demon is by foisting the demon on you all.
You’re welcome! But, don’t worry, I’ll make this quick.
I love the days that lead up to a holiday. There is the last minute shopping, the many cocktail parties, the cookie-baking bonanzas, and the hall-decking that precedes Christmas. And then you have the menu planning, the pie crust stashing, the gourd shopping that portend Thanksgiving. And don’t forget the dress-shopping, ham procuring and jelly-bean-popping that mark the days before Easter. But, given the date, it’s the build up to the Fourth of July that I’ve got on the brain at the moment.
Can you feel it?
Cherries and I having a bit of a moment. They showed up at the markets, suddenly, unexpectedly. I remember them coming much later last year, but such memories are a tricky thing—they’re hard to trust. In any event, the cherries have been here in abundance for the past couple weeks and I just can’t seem to get enough. I’ve been happily eating them out of hand. Firm, glossy and garnet, I’ll pluck one, stem pinched between my fingers, from the bowl, pop it into my mouth, revel in the tart, summery, juicy flesh and then, lips pursed and with a phwoottt! I’ll spit the pit into a cupped palm. Discard the pit and stem; repeat as necessary. I’ve spent several recent evenings repeating until my heart, and belly, were content.
But why stop there? The cherries have me dreaming up baked goods. They conjured a simple yogurt cake in my mind, a recipe born in a split second, in a dreamy thought. I tinkered with the idea two Sundays in a row until I had a recipe, right there on paper, and a perfect cake, right there in the pan.
Happy summer all! To ring in the first day of summer, I posted a new Summer Recipe Index, which you can access by a link over on the lefthand column. It’s got recipes for BBQ’s and picnics, recipes featuring corn (quite possibly my favorite type of summer produce), and recipes for fruit desserts and (obviously) ice cream. Check it out here!
I have the most intensely wonderful memories of summer evenings at my parents’ house. The sun sank, the porch lights flicked on, the smell of hot charcoals scented the air, the crickets built to a slow crescendo. Hours earlier, the action was in the front yards that lined the winding street, where kids pranced through sprinklers, pedaled down the sidewalk and played game after game, while their parents mowed the grass and weeded the flower beds. When night fell, though, the action shifted to the backyards, where families had retreated for dinner on their patios and decks. Burgers, grilled chicken, kabobs, corn on the cob, salt-and-peppered slices of tomatoes, steamed green beans: simple food, most of it cooked fast on the hot grill.
There are a number of criteria for selecting a perfect party food, don’t you think? For starters, it should require only one hand to eat it and, relatedly, should not require a plate. In most cases, this rule applies because your other hand is occupied by a beverage. I could also see one employing her second hand to wield a camera, hold a kid, shake a stranger’s hand, high five a friend’s hand, flash a thumbs up across the room (I do this; I say goodness and whoopsie and you don’t say, too—now you know), hold a hand of cards, gesture wildly. You get the picture — party food, at its best, is one-handed (and plate-less).
Second, and almost as important as the uni-hand feature, a perfect party food should be pretty. Beautiful, breathtaking, stunning, even. This is not the time for your favorite slap-dash dinner (which, incidentally, very likely requires two hands and a plate, or a bowl at the very least). This is not the time for a monotone palette of brown and beige (ahem, I should really follow my own rules). This is the time for color and flair.
As expected, Napa was enchanting. But perhaps I should start with San Francisco, which wasn’t half bad either, lavishing us with a gorgeous sunset that cast a pinky-golden light across the Ferry Building and Bay Bridge; it made for a some lovely cocktail hour gaping. Post-cocktail hour, we finally made it to Zuni Cafe where we had the fantastic roast chicken (of course!), among other things. In the morning, we were up early for a jog along the Embarcadero and a stroll through the Ferry Building farmers’ market. A cup of Blue Bottle coffee and a lovely jar of yogurt later, we were Napa bound.
And, Napa. Sigh. Between the rolling rows of vines, the wrap-around porches and lush grounds at wineries, the just-blooming rose bushes, the smell and taste and blur of wine, and meal after wonderful meal, it was all enough to make a girl not want to leave. Honestly, I would’ve been quite content to move right into the little cottage we stayed in for the weekend.
Recipes that are regional specialties seem to require a hidden ingredient—one that cannot be picked up at the grocery store or procured by mail order. In my mind, they require, implicitly, that you’re a native. And the catch, of course, is that you can’t choose where you were born, where you grew up, the food on which you were raised. For this reason, as a midwesterner and a northerner, I tend to shy away from recipes like North Carolina barbecue, New England clam chowder and Texas chili.
Shrimp and grits, too, is a dish that fits squarely on this list. It gives the distinct impression that northerners need not apply.