Sunday, September 22, 2013

Soupe aux pois jaunes (Yellow Pea Soup)

Welcome to autumn: the time of year we rest comfortably between the stifling heat of the summer and the oppressive cold of the winter. I'm kidding; I love summer and winter. But I can't contain my excitement when the seasons begin to shift.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mini Strawberry Basil Pastries

Sometimes things have a way of coming together, don't they? The stars align and everything falls into place. Call it fate, kismet, providence, but I found myself with a jar of homemade strawberry basil jam and a pie crust dough in the refrigerator and a brand new ravioli stamp in my hand: The universe wanted me to make mini pastries. 

Okay, I'll be honest. I went out and bought the ravioli stamp and then came home and made the jam and pie crust dough so I could make these. Hey, sometimes we have to create our own destiny.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Homemade Strawberry Basil Jam

Somedays I have an arrogant, been-there-done-that attitude toward life. Oh, I'm sure there's still plenty out there to see, but believe you me, I've amassed a fair number of experiences in my day. I sit around blissfully ignorant in my self confidence and think myself cultivated. 

Then an event occurs that shakes me to my core. A meteor blazes through my atmosphere and I realize I've been living in darkness. For just an instant I catch a glimpse of what lies beyond my world and I am humbled . . . Is it possible that I am not as sophisticated as I think I am?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Spiced Carrot Muffins with Brown Butter Icing

I made spiced carrot muffins for breakfast the other morning. Here's the thing though: I broke two hard-and-fast rules of baking when I made them.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Rosemary Apricot Chicken Salad

Lunch is a tricky meal, don't you think? It's easy to grab something fast (i.e. junky) and eat on the run or skip it all together. And sandwiches in a brown sack don't sing to me.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sweet Sorrow (An Exercise in Bricolage)

A candy wrapper, a once proud and dignified square of cellophane, now sat crumpled and discarded in an ashtray. “Where did my life go so wrong?” it sobbed. “They all wanted me. People used to stare at me, drool over me. And now look at me!”

“You fool!” spat a thin and riddled disk of candy from the other side of the ashtray. “You damn fool! They didn’t want you. They wanted me! And now that they’ve had their fill they’ve left me here like some common piece of trash!” The lump of candy shot the wrapper a disdainful glare before dissolving into peppermint tears.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Orange-Juice Yogurt Popsicles and Frozen Grapes

Everyone is back in school here. Actually the kids started a couple of weeks ago. In fact, they've been back long enough that our house no longer carries the sharp, rubbery smell of pink erasers. (Why is it that pink erasers smell so good?)

I hope they enjoyed their summer. I wonder what their memories of summer break will include. I get caught up in the idea that we have to do something big--go on a huge trip or sign them up for some amazing camp--to make summer memorable. But when I look back at my own childhood, it was the simple everyday things that have stuck with me over the years.

I think back to days spent with my grandparents in Los Alamos, NM when I was 8. My grandfather would take my brother, my cousin, and me stream fishing for rainbow trout. Our little legs slid down steep slopes, scurried under fallen logs, and tramped along narrow trails lined with poison ivy trying to keep pace with him. By the end of the day though, we would arrive back home with a sack of fish, a bunch of wild spearmint, and quelites (awful, bitter greens he said were wild spinach but tasted more like noxious weeds).

The trout were stuffed with the mint and sauteed in a skillet. We each got a plate with a fish, a heaping pile of wilted queiltes, and a wedge of lemon. And as much as I wanted to love the food we'd spent all afternoon hunting and foraging for, I would lose my nerve to try it when I peered down at my plate and saw the fish's crisped, silvery scales and dead, milky eye staring back up at me.

I remember back at home hanging out with my best friend and feeling so grown up for a ten-year-old: I had cash (10¢ scrounged from the couch cushions) and a sweet ride (a rusty, blue and white, one-speed bike with high-rise handlebars and a banana seat) to take down to the Sno-Cone shack at the edge of our neighborhood. We'd fly through the streets as the sun set, the heat of the day still rolling off the asphalt, sucking sweet, syrupy, shaved ice out of paper cones (her favorite flavor was Tiger Blood and mine was Bubble Gum).

And how could I forget countless afternoons my brother and I spent at the pool up the street? The air always smelled of fresh-cut grass, chlorine, and that coconut sun-tan lotion that was so popular in the 80's. Our bodies twisted and slipped through the cool water until we were so hungry and tired our legs could barely support us.

Back at home, mom pepped us up with wholesome, homemade treats: sweet, snappy frozen grapes and cold and creamy, sweet and tangy orange-juice yogurt popsicles.

I guess these are the types of memories I hope the kids have.

Orange-Juice Yogurt Popsicles
makes approximately 12 3-ounce popsicles

1 quart whole-milk yogurt
3/4 cup orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 tablespoons honey (optional)

Whisk the ingredients together in a large bowl until well combined. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for 6 hours, or until completely frozen.

Frozen Grapes

1 bunch of seedless grapes, green or red

Wash and de-stem the grapes. Place on a jelly roll pan or baking sheet with a lip. Freeze for 4 hours or until completely frozen. Serve frozen, do not allow them to thaw. They should last for 3 or 4 days when stored in the freezer in a sealed container.