Keeping

It’s been observed that these posts read like love letters, and I suppose they are.

I don’t write as often as I used to. There’s a mood to achieve–quiet, still, sad–and these days are unforgiving of moods, unforgiving of all but hard work and frantic play. But these can so weary the soul and I hope I’m forgiven for fleeing from them from time to time, for holing up in my tiny home and laying in bed and looking out at branches, out at nothing at all, and feeling for that quiet again. I have been at it for a day and it’s nearly here. This is who I am. I’m beginning to remember.

Continue reading

Grand Marnier Truffles, Orangettes

Today, truffles. This wasn’t the plan.

The plan was to take a drive, to visit my grandmother’s grave. But it’s been raining in Los Angeles, and last night at my aunt’s house we put our plans on hold. You see Grandma’s spot is on a hill, and my mother and her sister had some concerns, something to do with tumbling down a muddy slope.

“We could always sled down, whee,” I said, and my aunt laughed before she stopped abruptly, like she remembered something, because she had: her poodle had just eaten eight pretty sizable chocolate truffles, and that is serious business, doggy-death business, and she was feeling sad, sad as a peeled orange, and that meant she wasn’t allowed to laugh.

Continue reading

Eat a Peach

Someone needs to explain something to me about baking.

Because if this tart is any indication, I just don’t get it. Baking, I mean. I don’t get baking. The tart looks beautiful, doesn’t it? Don’t be deceived. It tasted… well, it tasted good but I definitely didn’t need to run back to the kitchen for another slice. This tart failed to make me giddy, so I’m pretty sure this tart was a failure.

Here’s what happens: you hunker down over a recipe, obsess over measurements, only half your mind on the food– which is, of course, the whole point of this fussy venture–and in the end, you get something to ooh and ahh at, you get something that looks impressive, but no part of you is growling for more. No part of you wants to swim in a sea of tart.  

Continue reading

Something Sweet

I love food. And I can really put it away because I’m always hungry, always feeling underfed.

It’s been more painfully acute these past weeks because I’ve been trying to cut back. The weather is warming up and girls are walking around in tiny little things. Lots of pale skin touching sun for the first time in months. I wonder if it’s too much to ask of them, of us, to put on something so small after so much time under cover. You’re going to wear that?, I ask myself in the mirror, making a catalogue of real and imagined flaws. Short shorts, skirts, sundresses: creases, dimples in my skin. Yes. Yes I am going to wear that. So I start to watch what I eat.

Then the hunger sets in. For the past two weeks I have felt transcendently hungry. I’m not complaining: after a while the hunger starts cycling back to something that feels like fullness again. But then. Then I start to crave things that baffle, things that better-fed versions of myself would never, ever want.   Continue reading

Muffuletta Sandwich, New Orleans “Noir” Truffles

italian-american sandwich

I’ll jump on any excuse to make up a recipe.

So when one of my professors at Northwestern required a “handout” for a presentation I was doing about New Orleans, my mind jumped to the finest of all handouts: free food. I don’t think anyone will disagree with me on this one.

So I did a little research on the culinary traditions of the Big Easy, what I think must be the most singular foodstyle in the country. Gumbo, jambalaya, beignets, etoufee, pralines. Even the names sound foreign. Well, I guess they are. The food of New Orleans is a hectic blend of Spanish, French, Italian, Caribbean and even African influences. But it’s touched just as much by the American South and the history and ingredients the region offers. Continue reading

Trio of Citrus Cupcakes

2

Until I started college, I used to spend every Easter in Florida.

Consequently, I associate the holiday with sunshine, palm trees, and Lily Pulitzer clothing. But in Chicago the late-March-early-April weather is variable—we even had some snow the other day. The trees are still barren. And even if I were to wear a pink and green dress with huge flowers all over it (not likely), I would have to shroud it in some sort of drab overcoat.

So how do I bring the Florida Easters of my youth to Chicago? Citrus.   Continue reading

This Pancake Won’t Fall Flat

ebelskiver3

I remember vividly the first time I saw a filled-pancake pan.

It was featured prominently in a Williams-Sonoma catalogue, with a recipe for lemon curd and marscapone filled pancakes. As soon as I saw it, something clicked. Pancakes. Filled with deliciouness. It was a no-brainer, but the possibilities were breathtaking. After doing some research I found out that the concept of a spherical pancake was Danish, and that these pancakes were known as ebelskiver.

Continue reading