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…]
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…]
We’re sitting down to dinner late again. The girls are genuinely hungry, not to mention exhausted after staying up late the night before for fireworks. Brian’s made flatbread pizzas. Thirty minutes ago, I told him I’d be done taking pictures in 10 minutes, so they’re getting cold. Our littlest, still only three, grows restless and jostles my precarious photo setup just as storm clouds rolling in from the west swallow the evening light faster than usual. In these moments, I’m not at my best. Making a living as a blogger means blending real life with work life. Right now, trying to get the shot – holding my breath as the camera shutter opens and closes, begging my three year-old not to touch anything, fretting about a cold dinner – I need my real life to pause. But life with kids (or even without, really), doesn’t work that way.
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…]
A couple days ago, a deluge churned through Virginia. Big, fat drops fell for hours, filling the day and then the night with the sounds and smells of a soaking spring rain.
Just before the storm moved in, I drove to the store to supplement the sparse offerings at the weekend farmer’s market. My white car was faintly yellow from a thin layer of fluffy pollen. The windshield was covered too, but since it’s the height of pollen season – a time when huge plumes of pollen billow into the air with each gust of wind – my wipers were out of fluid. I made do with the occasional drops already falling and was thankful to be dealing with such a dirty windshield on a cloudy day. Here in Charlottesville, I head out to the grocery nearly every day. I guess I’ve just never recovered from my morning walks back in Brooklyn and being able to pop in somewhere on the way home. So now I drive, a list tucked into my pocket, hopeful that the place I’ve selected will have pretty beets and tapioca, or whatever odds and ends I need on that particular day. [Read more…]
Generally speaking, I hold a winter without snow in very low esteem. Still, when temperatures hit the sixty degree mark this weekend, we surrendered to nature and decided to grill. Likewise, I typically frown on early chives or premature forsythia blossoms, but decided to embrace things and reserved a spindly bunch of early chives for the weekend’s cooking projects.
Brian likes to take a book outside and watch the grill while it gets going. Then at some point, I’ll set the girls up with an activity (just kidding – it’s tv) and sneak outside. If there’s bourbon, we drink some. We dodge the smoke and talk. The girls usually make their way out too. And for just a while, we all hang out before things descend into the usual pre-dinner chaos. [Read more…]
Certain winter vegetables feel like they are only for the most devoted seasonal eaters, with turnips and rutabagas at the top of the list. Ugly, with radish-y undertones, it’s not surprising these homely roots don’t make their way onto a lot of home menus. But, by this time of year, seasonal vegetables come down to a choice between bracing brassicas and sweeter vegetables like beets and sweet potatoes, or winter squash. And after all the sweets and rich foods of the holidays, the slight bitterness of brassicas make for a welcome change of pace. The humble turnip, for example, doesn’t just have to be buried in a stew. It can be a delicious base for a fresh salad. [Read more…]
I’m pretty sure that the work week after Thanksgiving is the longest of the year. And this one, especially. Christmas preparation and hard news are a strange and terrible combination.
Brian and I have been staying up late discussing the week’s news, exchanging links, and sharing social media discussions. After such a long, heavy kind of week, I’m looking for holiday escapism –– getting our tree, ice skating, making cookies, and all that. But first, my weekend links. [Read more…]