Bitter cold air has finally moved into our area after an uncharacteristically balmy December. The frigid temperature is tempered by the fact that the holiday rush is behind us. Santa has left the building. A breath of fresh air. A reason to sit and stay a while. Take stock of what is left in the cupboards and prepare something comforting and simple. Last night’s supper of sloooow roasted pork shoulder served with lettuce wraps and julienned veggies proves that so little effort can produce something so complex and delicious. My contribution to a family meal this past weekend is another example of such irony. This show stopper was one of the easiest desserts I have ever prepared in addition to being delicious: slightly overripe strawberries and pear on a bed of sweetened cream cheese all snuggled inside a crispy, sweet-glazed puff pastry. This got me thinking about possibilities. Chicken, broccolini and white cheese sauce; salmon, capers and a sour cream dill sauce… I am looking forward to thinking of new, simple ways to nourish my family and friends in 2016.
I have come to really love the Fourth of July — a holiday that does not ask much of you: enjoy the warm air, possibly with the sounds of thunder rumbling in the sky above, simple elegant food, the company of loved ones, and the incredible display of fireworks. My birthday is in July, in one day to be exact. As a child, I always associated this time of year as a lonely one, friends being away (not able to come to my birthday party), and long hot days. But now as an adult, July is such a happy time — a true celebration of summertime, and birthdays (lots of Cancerians in our family), all ushered in by the crack and explosion of fireworks. I celebrated my Fourth of July with a big chocolate cake last night — among other delicacies — before venturing out to witness July’s most exciting, explosive spectacle. Here’s to Summer!
A week away from summer vacation. Having already started our visits to the pool, seven days ahead seem like many. This is especially true with the bounty of kind invitations, presentations, end-of-the-year celebrations, and other sorts of occasions on the calendar. I just sent this image to a friend who kindly offered to bring my daughter home from a birthday party. This offer came after my plea for help followed by a rather embarrassing email revealing my “actual” complete lack of organization. I will not reveal the specifics but let’s just say, “Thank you, Vivian!”
With continued hopes of spring weather emerging, I was energized last night plating my family’s dinner. Crispy-skinned, fresh-as-can-be red snapper with a most delicious Spanish pimentón-inspired sauce. The colors were such a surprise and so vibrant. The red-flecked crispy skin melted in our mouths but not before a little crackle between our teeth. The bright orange brought us joy as we consumed our dinner mostly in silence…with a few “mmmms.”
Happy Persian New Year — and happy spring! The Persian New Year, Nowruz, coincides each year with the vernal equinox; and, that is today. It is snowing in Washington, D.C. this morning. I am pretending this in not happening.
As we East-coasters make the home stretch towards spring, I am fixated on all of the colors I have been missing since last fall — reds, oranges, pinks, blues, greens, and golds. We are almost back to a saturated world! In the meantime, last night’s beet salad was brain stimulating before even eating it! The color was amazing. Fresh roasted beets tossed with a tiny bit of my homemade creamy garlic dressing while still hot resulted in the most beautiful hot pink. Thank you, mother nature; I needed that!
Christmas draws so near and dreams of sumptuous meals, flickering candles, shiny wrapped packages bundled in gorgeous ribbon, and of the treasures we will all receive fill my mind with a welcome, slightly intoxicated eagerness. Then I read the Christmas list given to me (for the third time) by my seven year old daughter. These are the things of Christmas that fill her sweet, little mind:
clip-on earings, doctor’s kit, kids’ high heels, kids’ car, footies size medium, tiny cups and bowls, elf costume, and a Mrs. Claus costume.
Here’s to wishes coming true!
As night falls over Maryland, and a chilly rain soaks the ground, I anticipate my tropical vacation just a day away. My pasta dinner with a sauté of every last vegetable in my refrigerator is ready and awaiting my family’s arrival. We will all sit together and anticipate what the next two weeks will bring. Warm air, brightly colored flora, and the smiles of so many old friends. Overeating, reading until our eyes hurt, soaking up the sunshine, savoring every last moment of the day with my children and husband — these are the things I anticipate. Almost there.
I can’t help but gravitate to the tastes and textures of autumnal cooking as soon as the leaves begin to turn. It has a been a beautiful Fall in Maryland and the season has inspired me and my cooking, as well. Slow-braised meats, stews, ragus, roasted vegetables paired with dried tart fruits — I can’t get enough.
Young Jimmy, the Exxon mechanic, told me this morning as he fixed my deflating tire, “If this is the worst thing to happen to you today, then you are lucky.” So true. Perspective.