Here is a pocket missive: I’m sitting at the scrubbed wooden table in my parents-in-laws’ garden, among a riot of chirpy birds, colorful flowers in stoneware pots, patches of herbs, an artichoke plant, a cherry tree, some browning grape vines, and a figtree that seems to ripen on the hour.
The day was bright and hot–we jumped into the icy blue water in the craggy villageport at high tide–but it’s September and this close to the ocean, late afternoon cools considerably. The almond-colored stones under my bare feet are noticeably cold.
We’re getting married for the second time on Saturday. Friends from the States, some of whom live far away from New York and I barely get to see, arrive tomorrow. I’m thrilled. It will be a strange, happy colliding of normally disparate worlds.
I hope, wherever you are, you’re enjoying these last scraps of summer.
I have a uniform when I fly: a black shift dress with sheer, three quarter length sleeves. The dress is roomy and comfortable, but has enough structure that my uber driver asked if I was traveling for business. (Even when I conceded vacation, he pushed for what I did for a living. I answered somewhat vaguely–real estate development–and didn’t elaborate, but he clapped his hand against the steering wheel, exultant. “See! You are a business woman!”) I wish I’d purchased ten of these dresses.
I keep a pair of leggings in my bag. I wear a big necklace, both to dress up the simple black dress, and to give me something to finger during turbulence, like a modern rosary. A French woman once told me, always look nice when you fly. I also carry a satiny, magenta scarf a friend gifted me in college. It doubles as a blanket.
I fly often, both for love of travel, and because my in-laws live 3,500 miles from our Brooklyn apartment. Still, always, I’m a very nervous flyer. Exposure therapy is lost on me. I rely on various, western remedies to get me through long flights, but also: Harry Potter books on tape, the ones narrated by Jim Dale.
I always carry snacks. Currently, slow dried apples and teriyaki beef jerky.
Last night, my sister and I arrived in Vancouver at 3am local time, 6am New York time. I woke up to water and mountains. By the time I climbed groggily out of bed in search of coffee, the Frenchman was at his desk, already working. This is the first trip in a long time I’ve taken without him, and I’ll be gone nearly two weeks.
I drank almost an entire pot of milky coffee before venturing out of our room. I wish I’d had some of this blueberry cake to eat alongside it.
I’ve been scooping up berries with every visit to the market. (See here and here. Every morning they stain my white ceramic bowl shades of watercolor purple.) Normally I eat them barely adulterated–chilled cherries by the handful. But it’s nearly the end of July, and I haven’t sampled nearly enough ice cream this summer, and my machine was collecting dust. (I was relying on lazywoman’s ice cream.)
I tested two methods of raspberry ice cream-making. In the end, I decided to post both, because I couldn’t decide which I liked better. They’re just different. I offer my tasting notes below, but honestly, I found them both delicious. I hope you will too!
If you don’t have fruit brandy, you can substitute vodka. The idea is that the ice cream won’t freeze so solidly.
This past week has been full of travel. I was in Los Angeles for a bachelorette party, where I visited Disney Land for the first time. Now I’m on Cape Cod with my cousin who is just twenty-eight hours older than me. (She was a bridesmaid at the wedding.) To see some recent travel images, take a look at Instagram.
For now, here are a few themed haikus and limericks constructed with my cousin this morning:
There is much debate
about which lobster roll reigns;
I like Sir Cricket.
Here I am on beautiful Cape Cod
Where there is an abundance of scrod
I like the catch of the day
But oysters would make me sway
I think I have lost my hot bod
On the Cape there is much entertainment
To play minigolf I am hell-bent
Let’s hop in the car
I’m hoping for par
Will I beat the Frenchman, probablement
This cake is soft and tender and studded with strawberries. I could eat it on its own, sans frosting, any time of the day.
The recipe is adapted from The Flourishing Foodie‘s Coconut Cake. I’ve made Heather’s Coconut Cake several times; it’s delicious, and especially impressive for birthdays. I sometimes fill the layers with jam or citrus curd instead of the frosting, and I’ve poured cajeta over the top of the cake, or covered it with fruit. Makes 12 cupcakes.
There’s a reason this space has been quiet for nearly two months. At the end of May, the Frenchman and I are getting married. It’s going to be an awesome party, but because I’m a nutso micromanager, I’ve taken on the brunt of the planning myself. In an effort to personalize the occasion, I also ended up creating extra work for us: together, the Frenchman and I self-designed every bit of stationary. (Who knew that weddings require so.much.stationary?) We built a website. Eleven months ago, I bottled vanilla beans into two cases of vodka, the results of which will soon become wedding favors in the form of extract, vanilla sugar, and vanilla bath salts.
This is all to say that, although I’ve loved the process of planning this wedding, it’s also been majorly time consuming. It’s been a pleasure, but sometimes it feels as if planning this wedding has become my second full time job. This is all to say that, while I have boatloads of ideas swirling around my mind grapes, half-recipes or ingredient lists I’ve jotted down and vow to return to, the fruition of these ideas may have to wait until May 31st.
I’m still cooking, but lately this has taken on a quieter form–simple, healthful dinners to fortify the Frenchman and me against the cold. Often, the seeds of one night’s dinner sprout from whatever I have left in the fridge from the last night’s dinner. On and on it goes.
I love and value this space, but I also think it’s time for a change. In the past, I’ve been very strict with myself about the structure of a post, and adamant about only posting original recipes. However, I don’t think this model is sustainable for me in the long run. Even after the wedding, the Frenchman and I both work full time, and we still have plenty of adventures on the horizon. Plus, there are so many stellar recipes I’ve grown to love which aren’t mine. I want the option to share smaller, not limiting myself to a big project every time I hit publish. I hope this is ok with you.
In the meantime, there’s a winter trevisano salad with toasted hazelnuts, parsley, cara cara oranges, hot honey, and pecorino cheese that’s burning a hole in my pocket. I send you all warm, knee sock, hot chocolate kind of wishes.
Until a couple months ago, I was living in the gymnastics dark, unaware I could participate in this–frankly, awesome–sport as an adult. (Thanks, Amelia!) And now that I know, I’m eager to make up for lost time.
I was competitive as a child, although my average skills never quite matched my intense love for the sport. I went to gymnastics camp and met Dominique Moceanu, though, and favored a burgundy crush velvet leotard and matching hair scrunchie–legitimizing qualifications if ever you heard them. And then I went away to school, and transitioned into flinging myself off of 1 and 3-meter diving boards instead. Later, in college, after a beverage or two, I liked to throw messy back walkovers on whatever surface was available to me: grass, or sometimes, hotel hallways. I am still a frequent handstand-and-cartwheeler in the sand, because life is short.
That brings us to the present. I have attended four classes now, and joy is the simplest way to describe it. Just walking into the gym–the primary colored mats and barrels, the expanse of trampolines, the foam pit–seems to dissipate stress.
My body is remembering front extension rolls (a series of which left me feeling terribly motion sick after my first class), back bends, kick overs, headstands, and almost back handsprings. Week to week, tangible improvements. I’m sore the next day (who knew the body contained so many distinct muscles?), but still I want to practice handstands against our apartment door: “You need to be looong,” instructs Rodrigo, pulling out the word to match his arms stretched high above his head. “Practice being looong.” So I do.
I’m not a naturally gifted athlete, and I would rather shop for tomatoes than go on a hike, but for some reason this gymnastics business has become a highlight of my week. It quiets all the overwhelmed, busy thoughts in my head.
Last week, we front flipped. With each turn, I stared down the alley of floor in front of me and in that suspended moment, nothing mattered except the anticipation alive in my fingertips. With each turn, I slid into a long-strided run, just before the mat pike-punching hard to launch my body upward with everything I had. It’s an act of faith, really. A hard tuck, willing mind and body to follow in a neat circle through the air, hoping that–this time–I’ll land on my feet.
Did you see it, drifting, all night on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air,
an armful of white blossoms,
a perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings: a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
a shrill dark music, like the rain pelting trees,
like a waterfall
knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds–
a white cross streaming across the sky, its feet
like black leaves, its wings like the stretching light
of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?