Is anyone else getting excited for the upcoming week? I know I am. I spent the morning at the market stocking up on vegetables, rice, fruit, and juice for the week. My refrigerator is completely stuffed. I’ve assembled recipes, steamed up a batch of rice, organized the pantry….and cooked myself an appropriate final brunch.
After my dinner party the other night, I had a few blood oranges and almonds left over from my dessert platter and wanted to put them in a cake. I haven’t baked a cake in ages, mostly because I would have to eat the entire thing myself, and, while that does sound exciting, I actually know I’d just get sick of it after about two slices and end up throwing it away. But I changed my tune when I thought of a citrus kissed, nutty, gluten-free cake that I could eat for breakfast or dessert–and also I guess I just decided I didn’t mind the idea of eating an entire cake alone. I also had a potluck to attend, at which I knew a few guests would need some gluten-free treats. Perfect excuse.
I’ve been traveling a lot lately, back to Michigan last month and NYC last weekend. This means a lot of eating out, and a lot less eating sweet. Well, a lot less writing eating sweet. But I have spent a lot of time walking, and enjoying the sunshine and little buds just starting to bloom. I discovered a little park not far from my apartment and I’ve been walking there almost every day, snapping pictures and catching up on NPR podcasts. (Am I a full-blown yuppie or what?)
My boyfriend doesn’t eat vegetables. I say this in all seriousness. He’s a relatively healthy guy, mind you, though his diet isn’t what you would call diversified. His ideal meal: chicken, mashed potatoes or pasta or white rice, some kind of sauce that is orange or tan, and bread. Soft white. Creamy yellow. Simple, straightforward textures. I, on the other hand am all about the crunchy greens, the crackly browns, and the color. As much color as possible. I do most of the cooking (ok, all of the cooking) around these parts, and he is normally a very good sport about the ways I try to sneak vegetables into every meal. The truth is, though, that left to his own devices he would be more satisfied with a nice big plate of Trader Joe’s frozen Channa Masala than tasting my experimental warm bacon spinach salad (I mean it had bacon on it, and he still was wary!).
So you can imagine my joy when he pronounced this ratatouille (which, just so we’re clear, is all vegetables) the “best meal” I have “ever made.”
Good morning, dear readership (I love using that word!). I’m up early working on a gougère recipe to bring to an Oscar party tonight (torn between beer & gruyere and paprika & parmesan, so I’m making them both!). These are the decisions that plague my life these days. Believe me, I know how lucky I am. I watch Ryan study for hours every day and think, that’s gonna be me in a few months. I found out I was accepted to grad school (a totally unbelievable thing) and I’ll start in the fall. So, my life will change again. I’m very excited, and also, you know, scared.
I’ll say it—I avoided this post because frankly, while I enjoy the tradition of eating chili on Superbowl Sunday every year, there were just too many recipes floating around out there for little old me to throw my hat into the ring. Also, I didn’t make it until the day of the ‘Bowl, so it wouldn’t have gotten posted until the day after…and if you are anything like me, you were pretty chili’d out by then.
This recipe, though, is worth resurrecting now, as we near the end of a pretty weird February. As I write this, it is 50 degrees and raining out. Where I come from, we call that June. My seasonal eating habits do not know what to make of this. But whatever the weather, this dish will make you feel like you are somewhere warm and cozy. It is the kind of meal to make on a Sunday, when you want a big meal to eat early, and leftovers to last you throughout the week.
It’s a simple thing, sometimes, to be reminded of your hometown. We’re all susceptible to those waves of nostalgia: your favorite local band comes up on your iPod, the light angles in through the windows just so, and suddenly you’re closing your eyes and being transported, imagining the smell of fresh cherries on a summer day by the side of the Blue Star Highway. For me, food almost always does this, which is probably why I love making and eating it so much. There are so many senses to be engaged, and so much opportunity for reflection and joy.