“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall,” said F. Scott Fitzgerald
I love this–admittedly oft used–quote. It reminds me of starting school, which, even at almost thirty, is what I think I should be doing each September. But this year it’s particularly apt. The Frenchman and I got married (for the second time) in September, by which time two things were already true: I was deep into a recipe project that’s as exciting as it is overwhelming, and and and, we’d started mortgage paperwork for an apartment. And and and, we sign the papers today. Today! By tonight, we’ll be home (er, apartment) owners. (!!!!)
Soon, we’ll move from Boerum Hill, Brooklyn–where we’ve lived for almost five years, a near eternity in this nomads life–to Jersey City. I’m both excited and heartbroken. Heartbroken and excited. All of a sudden the Frenchman and I are doing very adult things, like biking to West Elm on blustery Saturday afternoons to test out every couch in the showroom, and sending each other paint color links. (By the way, did you know that there are about 8,000 shades of white? It’s ridiculous.)
I’ll have a lot a lot a lot more to say about our new place, and what it feels like to be moving not actually that far away, but what feels like very far away from our neighborhood, the place that’s become our home. For now I’ll just say: in our new place, I will have a pantry, and for that I’m very grateful.
This is the longest absence, by a long shot, I’ve taken from this blog since its inception more than three years ago. It’s been a struggle, to put into words exactly why I needed a break. I still have no solid reason. Nothing happened. It was just a persistent feeling: the need to sit peacefully for a minute, to take time away from constant, frenetic connection.
It’s been a season of sea change. I am re-learning how to focus on what’s actually, concretely important, instead of attempting 100% all the time, running myself into the ground in the process. I’m rejiggering my expectations: drinking a cup of tea and staring out the window doesn’t have to be a lazy act; often it is restorative and necessary. I put so much pressure on myself, both in this space and in life, and it’s only served to make me bone tired. Constant activity, trying to please everyone—it’s simply not sustainable.
I’m working to figure out what I want. I’d like to come out the other side a more joyful person. Like anything worth doing, progress is slow, but for the first time in a long time, I feel like I’m no longer swimming under water.
I don’t have any Thanksgiving material this year (but oh boy, did I ever last year. Check it out here, here, and here), but here’s a small summary of things-that-make-me-happy lately:
The woman across the restaurant in the big hat, who smacks her lips unembarrassedly and pronounces her wine “delicious.” Serial. Sandy Kenyon’s movie minute. The apartment-filling smell of caramelized onions. Walking along the Manhattan bridge alone on a brisk November Sunday, listening to a book on tape. Sauce, copious sauce, in almost any variety. The port-in-a-storm quality of the international foods section in the otherwise hectic Bed, Bath, & Beyond on 6th avenue. The earth-sweet-pungent smell of Concord grapes at the market. Homemade hot chocolate. Sitting alone at the kitchen table, licking oozing goat cheese slowly off a dull knife. Pulling a slim volume of Mary Oliver poems off the shelf and carrying it to bed.
It is past four o’clock in the morning and I am still awake, up to nothing in particular except listening to a plunking blanket of rain beat and tinker onto the skylight above our bed, down the mansard roof. The man I love more than yesterday, less than tomorrow, more even than vanilla-peanut butter ice cream sleeps fitfully in the bed beside me, taking up more than his fair share of sheet real estate, but no matter.
We are in Paris, in the attic room of a narrow gray hotel tucked onto an unremarkable street in the 3eme arrondissement. The room is small, comically so, but in return we have a view—a true panorama of Paris’s shabby-chic, sprawling skyline, the expanse of grays, charcoals, and creams, the embarrassment of clay chimneystacks, like so many upturned flowerpots abandoned in a garden row. The Sacre Coeur stands alone, rising ivory on a distant hill, hazy at the edges in the somber light, a neat little postage stamp of a cathedral. We have a small balcony, and I move from the bed to stand outside as the rain softens, following the white lights that lick the wet road, slick as oil after hours of rain. Read more »
I know it’s technically fall now. I see the apples at the market. I see the squash. I’m not impervious to the presence of root vegetables. I recognize the glorification of fall in every mention of a pumpkin-based coffee drink. But here’s the thing–I’m not quite ready to give up on summer just yet. I am still enjoying sun golds, even if their flavor has dulled these past few weeks, if I can find them at all. And so this ice cream pie is my compromise, my concession. It includes basically all of the prime fall flavors: apple cider, maple syrup, nutmeg, cinnamon, toasty nuts, and deep vanilla. But, it’s ice cream. It’s a total mess in all the best possible ways, and calls to be eaten right away. Read more »
I took this pie to work with me, fresh out of the oven, in a cake carrier. My Uncle Mark requested it. He’s not the kind of man who eats a lot of dessert–a boxer who prefers Earl Grey tea to coffee–so when he confessed his love of raspberry pie, it was basically an invitation to write a recipe. Who am I to deny this health-conscious person a little pie, especially when it’s the season for fruit pies? This one’s made with good butter, and lemon, and vanilla bean.
He asks for raspberry pie, pure and simple, with no bells and whistles, but I can’t help giving the raspberries a small lift. It’s still early in the season, and the raspberries I find at the market are tiny, and not as sweet as they’ll be in a few weeks. So I use a whole vanilla bean, and a whole lemon, too. They marry well with the all-butter crust. Feel free to substitue (or add) other summer berries, or even stone fruits, as they come into season.
Did you know that cake carriers are not leak-proof? On the subway, with no space to maneuver, I hold the cake carrier to my chest. As the train jangles forward, I watch helplessly as raspberry juice breaks free from the confines of the pie tin, and pools into the floor of the cake carrier. Where is all this juice coming from? Can one pie really contain it all? In the interminable, underground minutes between Brooklyn and Manhattan, I watch futilely as a bright red stain appears, and grows and grows, on my dress. It’s like I’ve been shot in a school play. By the time I tumble off the train, several stops too soon and out of desperation, the cake carrier has become a ring of dripping raspberry droplets. Read more »
Goodness gracious, these past few weeks have beenbusy. If you’ll allow me, I’d also like to blame the farmers market (and the weather, I suppose, by extention) for my temporary absence from the airwaves: the overall lack of new and snazzy green things has left me a bit writer’s blocked.
But here we are! With a tart! It’s mighty tasty. It makes great brunch, lunch, or dinner. (Add a salad, and perhaps some roasted taters, and you’re in business.) It works for right now, with whatever vegetation you can scrounge at the market, but it will also work later, when peas and asparagus finally do make an appearance. It will continue to work once summer produce–tomatoes!–arrive.
This tart is like a quiche, but with half the guilt, half the commitment: it’s fairy thin, so you won’t feel heavy or fatigued after enjoying it. You are very welcome to take the tart base, and the dairy, and then invent your own tart from there. Vegetables, herbs, and cheese: go crazy! Get inventing. Read more »
Hold onto your hats, ladies and gentlemen: Welcome to part two of The Roaming Kitchen’s two-part series: Thanksgiving Desserts!
At the moment, I am down in sunny Florida visiting family, and feeling very glad that I baked and photographed this pie before I flew down here. (Although, to be honest, I spent all of today indoors, laboring over three pots of turkey stock–because I’m insane–much to the Frenchman’s chagrin. I vow to fully enjoy the waves tomorrow!)
Since apple pie is a standard at any Thanksgiving table, I offer you the version I’ve been baking lately, should you wish to honor tradition while deviating slightly where flavor is concerned.
The incorporation of rosemary and cheddar tack the pie ever so slightly in a savory direction, while keeping a firm foot in the flavors of fall. Once the crust is made (which you can do days, or even weeks, ahead of time), simply slice the apples, toss with sugar and spice and everything nice, and pop that puppy into the oven. It’s really quite simple. Read more »
As promised, welcome to part one of The Roaming Kitchen’s two-part series: Thanksgiving desserts. Please try to contain your excitement!
I wanted to try my hand at a poached pear dessert, so here we are. I wondered if I should pair my poached pears with chocolate, or perhaps ginger, or possibly caramel, or perchance figs. And then, because it’s the holidays and a time for a wee bit of decadence, I decided to include them all.
This tart has quite a few steps, it might be true, but none of them are difficult, and all of them are an excuse for family participation in the kitchen. If you don’t feel up to making the whole tart, however, you can simply make the poached pears alone, and match them with: ginger snaps, a drizzle of chocolate or caramel, a dollop of mascarpone whipped cream, a sprinkle of crushed, toasted hazelnuts, a spoonful of vanilla ice cream, or whatever else you wish. All would make a pretty (and delicious) picture on your Thanksgiving table. Read more »