I did my first round of Thanksgiving shopping yesterday. Navigating the crowded market with my youngest in tow was a little overwhelming. I left my cart unattended for a moment while I grabbed carrots and celery and returned to find someone had taken it and ditched my cranberries in a bin of Brussels sprouts. My young companion went to the bathroom twice. And I forgot at least one ingredient. But I took solace in the fact that, one or two odds and ends aside, the horrors of the grocery store are over. We’ll be picking up the rest of the ingredients for our meal from small, local shops like JM Stock Provisions and MarieBette Bakery. [Read more…]
Sometimes (most of the time), when I write a to-do list, I include something I’ve already done or at least something very easy. Likewise, I include myself in any list of things I need to bring somewhere: “Keys, me, shoes, sweater, bag.” It’s a built-in guarantee of productivity or organization.
In the madness of Thanksgiving prep, this fresh cranberry relish is my to-do list guarantee. It’s the one Thanksgiving dish that can be completed and crossed off the list in minutes flat. If it didn’t have amazing flavor, I’d probably still keep it on the menu. But I’ve never needed to make that call, because it is delicious.
This recipe began on a cold, rainy morning. A scratchy old records and black coffee kind of day. As the rain fell, things inside were cozy and fragrant with the scent of roasting citrus. The rich jewel tones on the plate vibrated against gray skies and the golds and russets of the water-soaked landscape.
I’ve spent the past couple weeks wrestling recipes. My kitchen has been the scene of dry pie crusts, rubbery custards, and ho-hum chicken. However disappointing, these are the reasons we test recipes. They develop and evolve, and each iteration is an improvement. It took some work, but in each case I eventually finished with something I really love and can’t wait to share.
The unexpected twists and turns of recipe development combined with photography-unfriendly storm clouds threw my weekly posting schedule off. I needed something good, pretty much immediately. Something that didn’t need to be worked and reworked. As it often does, inspiration came from ingredients – the season’s first batch of Brussels sprouts and an unexpected basket of quince at the grocery store. [Read more…]
Last weekend’s sudden freeze was right on time, but caught me off guard anyway. I’d given up on the tomatoes, but was still holding out hope for the only watermelon to survive the groundhog and my fall plantings – most of which are just tiny seedlings peeking up from the soil. I also had big plans for the figs growing in friends’ yards. Now, I’ll just have to take comfort in the pumpkin, gourd, and squash army I’ve amassed. [Read more…]
I’ve had soup on my mind for a while. A few weeks back, I made and froze a batch of rich vegetable stock (made with the first yellow onions of the season from our CSA). Since then, I’ve been plotting. Though hot soups aren’t typical summer fare, there are plenty of great soup ingredients out there right now – young fennel bulbs, leeks, potatoes – and so I’ve abandoned tradition. To give things a more summery feel than a typical potato-leek soup, I’ve tweaked my standard recipe and riced the potatoes for a silky texture, added sliced fennel bulb and a big squeeze of lemon, and used milk instead of cream. Leek-y, light, and lemony, this soup’s good enough to make August soup lovers out of us all. [Read more…]
Watching the calendar turn over into August has been a huge relief. Summer has me feeling a little lost. Perhaps the chaos outside – tangled vines upon vines and teeming wildlife – can’t help but creep in. Last night, I found myself imagining sipping a mug of tea on a cold, gray January day in a nearly silent house. And there’s the truth of the matter – it’s not the weather or the bugs or even the summer that’s getting to me, it’s the lack of quiet. There’s no time to collect my thoughts or reflect. [Read more…]
High summer is a scattered time. We’re getting work done, but in the gaps – late nights or early mornings, with days spent at the park or pool, on the road, in a plane, or wandering just about anywhere. It’s how it should be. [Read more…]
Last night, around nine in the evening, a tiny prop plane touched down on the runway in Charlottesville. We’d taken off in Charlotte, swinging east around a big storm. As we cleared the towering thunderheads, a magnificent pink and orange sunset set up over the Blue Ridge mountains. In New York, it was the sight of the massive city rising straight out of the water that would bring me the feeling of homecoming. But, as Brian and I became disenchanted with NYC, that sight stopped bringing the same comfort. “Where is nature in all this?” I’d think as I took in all that concrete and glass from above. Now, whether flying or driving, it’s the sight of the Blue Ridge Mountains, stretching out just west of my small city, that lets me know I’m close to home. [Read more…]
In my heart, I’m a meanderer. During a quiet morning at home, if things are going well, I’m fully immersed in at least three tasks at once, wandering between each one as my interest shifts. In my art, I gravitate toward the endless possibilities of oil painting and fell hard for process-driven printmaking. I even made photography complicated, opting for handmade paper, pinhole cameras, and painted-on emulsion. [Read more…]