May 9, 2013 § 1 Comment
So I’m sitting trying to write one of my final papers, facing the window, watching white cherry blossom leaves blow in the wind outside. Yesterday, it poured and it poured. Anyway, I thought I’d go back and share some of the photos from a spring break trip to Paris. We ate well, we ate everything. You’ll mostly just see the desserts here (and breakfast!), but my boyfriend who actually likes to…like….eat normal things…like sugar-less things…actually had us sit down to meals twice a day. The escargot chocolat pistache is from Du Pain et Des Idées, the tarte tatin from a venture into La Goutte d’Or for a lunch of huge plates of paella on our final afternoon. Tartines of mozzarella and sweet chili sauce and coffees at the Tuck Shop, butternut squash soup and quiche (and a slice of lemon citrus bread to go for the walk up to Sacré-Cœur) at the Rose Bakery, a wonderful first meal at the cosy Verjus bar à vins, where the butternut squash angliotti, with roasted garlic, brown butter, sage, and parmigiano reggiano is over-the-moon twice good.
May 8, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I’m sitting in the backyard of my house in San Francisco, trying unsuccessfully to find a patch of sunlight streaming through the branches of the fir tree overhead, in which to dry my lemon-juice soaked hair. I’m commencing my summer rituals — which yes, include naturally lightening my hair — a bit early this year, and they could not be more welcome. If you’ve noticed the blog becoming a bit of a recluse compared to what it once was, it’s not that I haven’t been doing things, it’s just that every time I sit down to write about them, my mind is predictably elsewhere in the pits of fragile worries. But right now, there’s a loaf of coconut bread, studded with unsweetened coconut curls, a healthy swig of vanilla, stirred with browned butter, in the oven, the sun is out, and I’m wrapping up a weekend spent at home with barbequed scallops, pumpkin tofu curry over brown rice, and a walk on the beach in the late afternoon. But the best part of the weekend has been sleeping in my own bed, sitting at my desk by the window eating leftovers and planning summer travels — Portugal! Morocco! — with my parents’ seventies music drifting up from the basement and my little brother studying for the SAT subject tests at the dining room table.
Not surprisingly, as the end comes to what my mother calls my R&R weekend, I’m finally being able to sit down and write about something that isn’t required. To say it’s been a difficult month would be an understatement; I initially thought the stress would begin to fade when I finally handed my thesis over to the printers, but it just kept coming. Some days, it felt as if I was drowning in my own head, then my body took over and with it came a week of sickness and infections. But somehow, it all seemed to melt away this weekend — it’s a pretty magical feeling when peace finally comes, when you can just sit down, look out the window, with a couple of slices of warm bread — er, cake — and finally feel a bit more complete again.
And write. Even though I don’t know what to talk about really. Only that it felt good to be back in the kitchen, felt good to open the oven and feel successful, and that I’ll be very sorry to leave tonight. But while just sitting in peace is pretty great, that peace can follow you anywhere, it just sometimes doesn’t come as easily.
Word is I’m in the market for a place in Boston with a window-full kitchen.
March 9, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Today I took a “me” day. I slept in, didn’t set an alarm for once. I bought a pair of red jeans off the sale rack, which I spectacularly managed to squeeze into seeing as they were two sizes smaller than I generally buy. I also bought a lovable tribal print sweater — it pays to be “hipster” in Princeton because no one else is, so everything that would be flying off racks in San Francisco is $20 off here. I had a cranberry orange scone (my favorite) and latte at Small World Coffee and people-watched instead of hiding behind my laptop, writing my thesis. I walked down to the Whole Earth Center and stocked up on local Fuji apples, kale salad with almonds, tofu, and sesame seeds, and organic peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. I wore sweatpants and no makeup, and realized people don’t really look at you any differently. Simply walking around a bit was uplifting — after the snowfall two nights ago, spring appears to have finally arrived; the sun was out, the snow melting, and I could have done without the jacket.
When I got home, I started looking up the top organic and biochemistry grad schools (not for me obviously!) and started mapping out a summer road trip down the West Coast. I tried to tack on the Grand Canyon to the end of the trip (figuring I should give it another shot after my adolescent disinterest consisting of about a five minute look into the canyon before I’d had enough) which added an extra eight hours of driving. For some reason, I find thinking about travel incredibly calming; it’s like a realization that walls were made for falling down. Even more, thinking about driving along the ocean brings me to my happy place, where things are hippie, spontaneous, wandering, and bohemian without effort, because you know, even being boho these days seems to require quite a bit of planning. The images here are ones I took in Big Sur, California on a family trip. I can’t wait to go back. These brown butter rhubarb bars are from The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook, and are chewy like a macaroon without the coconut, crackly on the top with a brownie without the chocolate, and stuffed with stringy, sweetened rhubarb, which is finally back in season. Never having been a huge rhubarb fan myself, I always did enjoy eating the raw stalks, dipped luxuriously in white sugar, from my grandparents’ backyard. I handwrote the recipe for these bars on little cards for a couple of people, but alas the actual book is in my room in San Francisco so no recipe today.
That all said, there are parts of the very concrete future to be very excited about. I’ll be calling Boston home next year, and am incredibly delighted to share my new adventures surrounding food justice in the coming months.
January 13, 2013 § 1 Comment
It seems like just yesterday that I was standing in the kitchen, drinking red wine, with my camera in the other hand, documenting my little brother making fresh linguine using the pasta machine. I was called into the kitchen initially to knead the dough, but I ended up just photographing. And then eating, a bowl of pillowy curls of pasta, glossy from a coating of homemade pesto. We used the mortar and pestle I gave him for his birthday for the first time, ending up with a somewhat rustic pesto and a smattering of overflow garlic and oil on the countertop. The final plating was impressive, even more so because my brother is only sixteen and is more at home making pasta than, I’d venture, almost any adult.
Coming back to school, I miss the food and the kitchen more than anything. I know I complain about this a lot, and my pickiness likely doesn’t gain a lot of sympathy — especially when I run off on a rant that the reason I don’t eat vegetables at school is because they’re just not California vegetables — but there it is. We’re in the midst of reading week and finals, the cafés and libraries are packed, and I’m craving some good downtime standing by the kitchen counter.
I’m going to go ahead and say, I don’t have much knowledge about making pasta (perhaps I should solicit a guest post from my brother) but it seems to me that a lot of it is about touch and feel. So start with a basic pasta dough, and there are a variety of pasta cutters and pasta machines out there to urge on your creativity. Our household now has quite a few interesting contraptions (a ravioli-cutting rolling pin, a hand-held spaghetti cutter) for shaping pasta.
January 7, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I was going to talk about whole-wheat everything bagels, and croissants the size of my head from the local bakery, and glasses of red wine every night, but somewhere along the way I got lost in all of the snow and didn’t want to come back out. There’s just so much of it, and it’s everywhere, clouding all my pictures in a foggy white haze, and I sort of want to jump in a huge pile of it, like the kid we passed one night on the street who dove into a snow bank, first time he had ever seen snow.
On Christmas Day, my family took off for a week in the Rockies, to the sleepy little town of Fernie, British Columbia. The food wasn’t much to write home about —though I quite enjoyed those everything bagels — but the snow, oh the snow. The tops of the peaks were so white you could barely see the bumps and riffs underneath you, leaving you to put all your trust in the skis and your legs. Perfect six-point flakes came down almost daily, catching on my scarf and gloves while I rode the chairlift up, minuscule icy beauties. But the real treat was the last day, when we put away our skis in favor of snowshoeing and took off alongside the cross-country trails. We stumbled upon icy ponds; fallen, burnt out trees; layers on layers of snow mounds, which seemed to mimic ocean waves; narrow, winding creeks, which skiers had attempted to cross. We had to stop every five feet or so to take a picture, for my brother to carve another happy face in the snow, or hit a snow-covered branch with his makeshift walking stick, only to have fluffy snow descend on the person unfortunate enough to be walking directly behind him.
On the cross-country trails, locals were out getting an afternoon exercise, most being chased by a dog or two. Some people stopped to chat, but the real beauty was in the silence of the woods. No thrills, no adrenaline rush, just cold fingers and untouched snow.
December 17, 2012 § Leave a Comment
So I should probably start by saying that the last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of festivities and new things that should have happened a long time ago. Recovering, I’m sitting on a sheet-less bed eating leftover candy from our holiday party and drinking hot chocolate, trying to get my life and laundry in order, so that I can fly home tomorrow in peace. As I’m packing to leave for winter break, it’s funny to think that this is the last time I’ll be doing that. That this year is in fact a year of last times. And also, funnily enough, a year of so many firsts, so many things that seemed to come out of nowhere and now feel so right, so many moments of absolute uncertainty, that it seems strange to be closing out the year because it’s like it finally just begun.
So maybe a couple of days passed since I wrote that paragraph, not really knowing where to go from there. I’m now sitting in the dining room in the house I grew up in, with light pouring in from the skylights overhead. It’s a gray, misty day, but walking around the neighborhood this morning never felt so comforting. A man in red plaid walked past, blasting “All I Want for Christmas” from a pair of speakers tied around his neck. A girl sat on the street corner, peddling “vintage findings,” which, as far as I could tell, looked like a pile of stones. A man in running gear did a handstand leaning up against the wall of a home on Church Street. Inside the neighborhood cookbook store, a young woman asked the shopkeeper for a book on Swedish cooking to give her grandfather to remind the meals of his youth. On Market, the Delancey Street Christmas tree parking-lot shop is framed by a row of palm trees.
I feel a little silly posting about frozen yogurt in the middle of winter, though my original defense is that I’m in California where it is
always sunny hot beach weather all the time rainy. I also have to confess that although I love the Sprouted Kitchen (from whose book this recipe is from, though you can also find it here), I much prefer my mint chocolate chip separate from my Greek yogurt. But maybe that’s just me, because this frozen yogurt has lots of fans. And if nothing else, take away from it a refreshing take on mint in this winter season.
November 26, 2012 § 1 Comment
I was running along Ocean Beach in the late afternoon on Sunday. The sun was starting to set, disappearing under the water line, casting a foggy pink haze over the waves. The air smelled like weed, salt, and kelp, and along the shoreline, trails of smoke drifted up from the bonfires. Couples held hands walking up to the cliff house, volleyball nets were set up in the sand, and every ten feet, a child ran across the path or a group of early-twenties started lighting up. It struck me then how quintessentially home I was.
We managed to pack a lot into a short week: a visit to one of the first bakeries I ever truly loved, and one epic meal after another — an evening at Cotogna with warm ricotta on toasts, pizza of fior di latte, brussel sprouts, and prosciutto; Thanksgiving of course, which for me consisted of a plate of scalloped potatoes, a yam, half a tray of lemon bars, and a slice of gingerbread cake (with browned butter frosting!); a take-out menu of spice, pumpkin curry, crab pad thai, and red curry with bamboo shoots and prawns; a carb fest at Dosa of South Indian crepe-like pancakes stuffed with lentils, potatoes and broccoli rabe, served with dipping sauces. My brother’s 16th birthday, a visit to Japantown with my grandparents.
And finally, a day of wine tasting in Napa Valley with my oldest best-friend. A couple of wrong turns, turning into random vineyard driveways, a couple of tasting sessions, and about 10 wines later, we successfully pulled off probably our most spontaneous day to date. We may have managed to pay bridge tolls going both into and out of the city (that’s what happens when you leave by the Bay Bridge and return by the Golden Gate), but we made it back in one piece, though exhausted. Not to mention, it never occurred to me that in California, where few trees have leaves that change color, grape leaves become brilliant shades of red and orange.
November 8, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I’m sitting at a table, looking out a panel of old-fashioned windows at the mauve and pink clouds descending over white ground. The couple of inches that have survived the day, turning black and muddy at the edges of the path, still form a gentle layer on top of the bushes just outside the window. The first snowfall of the year always seems magical. By the beginning of January, I’ve had it with the cold and the snow, but right now, the light dusting is enchanting, inspiring a childlike joy and innocence with each step on untrodden powder. In just a few minutes, the pink clouds will disappear entirely. The view from inside noir.
I spent last night curled up in my saucer chair with an oversize fleece blanket and The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook — I didn’t even make it halfway through, past the main dishes, because the photography on every page requires careful and awed contemplation. Reading the married duo’s blog, the harmony with which they work together is both comforting and inspiring. It was the perfect reading material while the blizzard was having its moment outside. This evening, I may be nursing whiskey and apple cider instead of cookbooks, but you know, that’s the life of a college student. All so that we can steal dining trays from the campus center at 2 a.m. and go sledding.