Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I am procrastination goddess.

I am becoming a goddess of procrastination.
I just thought you should know.

I trawl the internet and find gems like this:

I don't know why, but the above makes me genuinely happy.
Just thought you should know.
Also, I have been listening to Bob Dylan's "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" and the Rolling Stones Let It Bleed,
partly because that album is my roommates favorite, and also because the music feels so RIGHT.
I've never been a huge Dylan fan, but his songs suddenly DO IT for me. Also, no one EVER told me about the Dylan song "Hurricane." It's the shit. For real:

There's this line from a song by Alejandro Escovedo where he says "Everybody's gotta dance with the blues sometimes." And I just love that, because it's so so true. I'm not dancing with the blues, but let me tell you, that listening to the blues just feels so RIGHT. Who knows why.

What does this have to do with food?

Like I said, I'm now a goddess of procrastination.
Just thought you should know.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Chocolate Pecan Pie

From now on, when ever anyone asks me how I am doing, I am not going to say,
"I'm great."
"I'm good."
"I'm fine."
I am going to say:

"I am loving life." 

Because being alive is actually really spectacular. And it's inspirational to affirm the wonder of the world to other people, as well as yourself.
So there you go. 

Also it is Thanksgiving. And I am so grateful. My father likes to tell me that Gratitude and Forgiveness are the Most Important Thing.

And he's right.

I'm grateful for my family, what they have done for me and the love I have for them... There are not words for my gratitude it goes --beyond. I am especially grateful for my brother Michael, because he lets me call him and say everything that is in my head and he listens and we laugh, and that is good.

And I am grateful for friends, old and new, for laughter and good times and talking about everything and nothing. I am grateful for hugs and smiling and laughter. I am grateful for meals. I am grateful for books and blogs and the newspaper and long walks. I am grateful for music and lyrics and poetry. I am grateful for sitting on blankets and looking at the sky. I am grateful for clouds. I am grateful for professors and university. I am grateful for lipstick and cvs and dancing. I am grateful for yogurt and granola and bananas. I am grateful for sunlight. I am grateful for the cold. I am grateful for waking up. I am grateful for singing and pie.
And I am grateful for myself. And I'm grateful that I can forgive myself-- for being awkward and weird sometimes, and knowing that it is okay.

I am also grateful for my ability to rationalize eating tremendous quantities of pie.

Speaking of which:

Chocolate Pecan Pie. My mother wished it had bourbon in it. I agree. Add a splash of something boozy while you bake.

Endless love. I am so grateful you're here.

also, i just realized that all of my posts lately have been about how gorgeous life is. how magnificent is that?

Chocolate Pecan Pie
from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

This is really, really good. NB: Dorie specifies a partially baked crust, which frankly, I rarely have time for. Partially/blind baking crusts always exhausts me as it requires too much hovering around the oven. Anyways, I baked this in an unbaked crust and it all worked out fine. Though the crust on the bottom COULD stand to be a little crisper, who cares? Regardless, I wanted to leave that decision up to you, so I left the recipe as is.

1 9-inch single pie crust, partially baked and cooled
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup (about 7 ounces) pecan halves or pieces
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
A splash of something boozy

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 425 F. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat blah blah blah.
In a large bowl, whisk the corn syrup and brown sugar together until smooth.
Whisk in the melted butter, then add the eggs one at a time, beating until you have a smooth, foamy mixture. Add the espresso powder, vanilla, cinnamon and salt and give the batter a good mix. Rap the bowl against the counter a couple of times to pop any bubbles that might have formed, then stir in the pecans and chocolate.
Turn the filling into the crust.
Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make a foil shield for the crust by butting a 9-inch circle out of the center of an 11- or 12-inch square of aluminum foil.
Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Place the foil shield on top of the piecrust, the filling will be exposed, the crust covered by the foil. Bake the pie for another 15 to 20 minutes (total baking time should be 30 to 35 minutes), or until it has puffed (the middle and the edges should be fairly evenly puffed), is beautifully browed and no longer jiggles when tapped. Transfer the pie plate to a rack, remove the shield and cool to room temperature. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

eggs and salmon

This funny thing happens to me on Saturdays: I always feel homeless.
I work in the mornings at the dance school. And then I am free. Normally I wake up around 7:30 (early) and then I drink as much coffee as I can and ride my bike to work. And then by 10:30 I'm done, and it's really just the strangest feeling, I always feel at a loss. I always used to spend Saturdays at home. Reading the newspaper and playing piano and reading books or going to dance classes or baking. Now I just feel empty. I go to the farmer's market and buy an egg and potato breakfast taco, because I am always famished, and then I ride my bike. I am gaining an increasing appreciation for aimlessness. I ride around the lake, and go to my favorite spots. I ride over to the east side. I ride to the bakery. I ride back. I never go anywhere. I just wander.
Anyways, I went home on last Saturday, to make lunch for my family because my mum was out of town. I cooked some salmon and some vegetables.
The vegetables were decidedly mediocre, but the salmon was gorgeous. I roasted it in the oven. I have no idea how you really cook salmon. I just put it in a hot oven with a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper and waited and checked on it until it was a lighter shade of pink.

Have you ever looked at a fish? I mean, really looked? It's a deep coral color. Beautiful. Crazy.
Anyways, I was craving eggs. I crave eggs all the time. Gently scrambled eggs and salmon sounded exquisite and divine. So I made a taco with a fresh wheat tortilla and torn basil leaves and salmon and eggs and some really fine cheese whose name I can't remember. And oh my.
I was right. Exquisite and divine.

The other day I informed my father that I am saying yes to life.
He laughed.
I just thought you should know.
I am also saying yes to egg and salmon tacos. 


also, these pictures were taken with my phone. and they are really, really gross. so i apologize. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Marie-Helene's Apple Rum Cake

So I was talking to my dear friend the other day about this new life of mine and she said, "So what have you been up to?"

And after a long pause I said, "I have no idea." 

And it's true.
I spend a lot of time wandering around. 
I sleep and I eat. I haven't accomplished anything major. I write papers sometimes. I talk to strangers who might become friends. And I sit on a blanket at night and look at clouds, and pretend to work. But mostly I just sit and think and dream.

I have discovered something about myself. I'm not really afraid of people. I mean, sometimes I am of course. And everyone has those moments. But in general, I'm way more outgoing than I ever thought I was. Which is really, really great. I feel like I'm finally growing into myself. Which is glorious. 

Other things. 
This cake. 
I mean,

I think it's the rum. 

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake
from Around My French Table: More than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

This is so simple it's really a crime not to make it right this second. 

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
4 large apples
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and cooled

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper or nothing if you're lazy like me.
Whisky the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. 
Peel the apples, cut them in half, and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1-to-2-inch chunks. 
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they're foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it's coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so it's evenish. 
Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.
Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. (Open the springform slowly, and before it's fully opened, make sure there aren't any apples stuck to it.) Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper and invert it onto the rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

to happiness

Let me tell you something. Professors are classy. I mean, CLASSY. I went to my literature professors home and oh my goodness. Can you say class? Can you say pink barber's chair? Can you say fabulous art and divine and exquisite food?
For the first time since coming to school I felt sated physically. And even emotionally/mentally. You see, it feels like forever since I've been around real beauty or been in a truly beautiful space. And so being somewhere, where everything was Just So. Where everything was Just Right. Where everything was Clean and Tidy and Divine and Exquisite.
I mean.
I was in a coma of sated happiness. So lovely lovely.

I was looking through pictures from this year. And there is so much goodness that has happened this year.
And so much sadness too. And that is okay.

But right now I am just feeling so magnanimous and happy. Probably because I have been listening to Stevie Wonder. Stevie Wonder will do that to you. Also, what is going on? How is it already November? Because earlier this year I had no idea where I would be and what I would be doing at this time.
And now I know.
And it's good.
Isn't that crazy?


Barton Springs in the Evening. Glorious. 

 Lemon tart with chocolate sorbet. And basil. And blackberries.

Bike rides. And the lovely trees seen on bike rides.

With my cousin Nora. In New York. My favorite place. In a pedicab. And eating pastries. And on the way to the theatre. We. Were. So. Happy.
 I never thought I would be happy here but I am. And that is good.
Dancing. And my bag before dance class. 

 Pastries with friends. It's the best.
 The face of Morrissey on the side of the refrigerator at the coffee shop. Also coffee shops. Also the discovery of chai lattes.
 Good advice.

My brothers. Because they are so beautiful.
 And my parents. Because I am only just beginning to realize how unbelievably, amazing, astoundingly, truly gorgeous and wonderful they are.

These profiteroles which I need to tell you about. Because they were SO happy. 

These shoes. 

 Weddings. And dancing at weddings. And crying because weddings are so divine and exquisite.
Concerts. Esp. Fitz and the Tantrums. And Stevie Wonder. 

Also packages from aunts and love and finally starting to feel right and sweaters and teaching dance and singing and dance parties and going out and sleeping in and coffee and self help books and that really beautiful pink barber's chair at my professor's house and embarrassing myself all the time, but that's okay, and sitting outside late at night, even though it's too cold and nail polish and rain and that one cab ride where the driver played the greatest hits from the 70's and we danced in the cab and lunch and yogurt and champagne and meeting beautiful people all the time. 

Basically, I just want to say: