It’s not often that both husband and I sleep through the night. Usually one or the other of us wakes in the wee hours of the morning, tossing and turning until the dawn seeps through the shutters and we can finally drag our tired bones out of bed and start the coffee. Too cold or too hot, hunger or stress. Or maybe just old age setting in. But last week we had one of those perfect nights of deep, satisfying sleep. Yet our wondrous night came to a crashing halt when we both snapped awake at the same time as the bedroom door crashed open with a resounding boom! We both sat straight up in bed and called out to whoever was there, thinking that it was our son come to ask us something, as strange as that would be. We had no other explanation as to who would have or could have flung our bedroom door open so violently.
And then it struck me. It is exactly one year since my brother passed away, one year since we buried him near our father, the morning of the first evening of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana. Superstition? Maybe. Is it possible that he is here, sending me a message that he is watching over me, that everything is all right? It comforts me to think so.
The Jewish New Year is this week, the start of the High Holy Days when we celebrate a new beginning, pray for sweetness in the new year to come and begin a ten-day period of reflection on the year past and atonement for our sins so we can start afresh. I stand here on the brink between the old and the new and think about where I am, where I want to go and all that has happened and can happen.
This has truly been an amazing year for me, a year to remember. This past April I began writing for the prestigious Huffington Post for their then newly-created Food page. I am proud and thrilled! This has been a huge leap for me as a writer and I am enjoying the challenge and all the opportunities it has opened up before me. I know that it is the fruit of my labor but I feel very lucky indeed.
I recently learned that I will be published in Foodista’s Best of the Food Blogs Cookbook! My blog post The Man in the Moon, a loving tribute to my dad, and my recipes for Vanilla Sponge Cake and Chocolate Mocha Pudding were selected to be included in this wonderful cookbook. And what makes it even more gratifying is being published alongside friends like Simone and Heather!
favorite blog posts, recipes, and photos to compete for a
spot in a published cookbook. After receiving over 1,500 submissions,
which were then voted on by the Foodista community,
the selection process shifted into a more traditional editorial
effort to choose and edit the final 100 entries. Andrews McMeel
will publish the winning blog posts and recipes in a beautiful,
full-color, internationally distributed cookbook,
set for release on October 19, 2010.
Born out of the "Blog to Book" panel at the first
International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) in 2009,
the cookbook celebrates the best food bloggers worldwide.
I am so proud to be among such a fantastic group of bloggers and excited to be published in such a cookbook! Many thanks to the good folks at Foodista and Andrews McMeel Publishing for this exciting and great opportunity!
On a more personal note, this has been a great year for me as a mom! Both of my little lost puppies have finally, it seems, found their paths. Simon is in New Orleans volunteering with lowernine.org, a wonderful organization that is rebuilding homes in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward destroyed by hurricane Katrina. He is happy and proud, as are we! He’s a good soul, born to help others and we hope maybe this will turn out to be his calling in life. Clem will soon be starting his second year at the National School of Architecture here in Nantes and I have never seen him work so hard or so happily or so well. He and a few friends are also working on the side, creating 3-D projects for local architects and developers. He is talented, creative and will be a roaring success! Husband and I wipe the sweat and worry from our brows, breath a sigh of relief and smile in satisfaction.
And last but not least, I must end the old year and step into the new with a shout out and a hug to a fabulous group of women, food bloggers all, who have become my closest friends and allies, who support, advise and encourage me in all I do, who make me think, who inspire me to work. And make me laugh. A lot. Out loud. Deeba, Meeta, Jeanne, Ilva, Hilda, Kerrin and Nanette. We do great things together.
And of course, Rosh Hashana is a time for atonement and I know, believe you me, that I am far from sin-free. Gossiping, mocking, teasing, worry, doubt, complaining, I’ve done it all and in bucketloads. But I try and keep most of it to myself and I try and apologize as I go along, so I hope that I haven’t been too naughty, too evil.
I sit here on the eve of a New Year and reflect and wonder how all of this happened, how I got where I am today. I thank heavens for my husband, my sons, my family and friends. I mourn the loss of my father and brother and wish they were beside me to share in my joy, watch my sons grow. Do I believe in ghosts? Religion, superstition, destiny and fate, doesn’t it all go together? I believe that my brother is out there somewhere watching, waiting. He haunts my every thought, I think of him every day. I think that fate brought JP and I together and destiny pushed the stars around so she could be sure that I would meet these handful of women who have changed my life (and Minna, Bobbi, Clare, Vera). The happy and the sad, the thrilling and the tragic, this is what life is made of. Husband and I often sit and talk about everything that life has handed us, the good, the bad and the downright ugly. As I stand on the threshold of another New Year, I look both backwards and forwards and feel proud of what I have achieved, proud of my sons and excited about the prospects and opportunities that lie ahead for both myself and my husband. It will be an exciting year indeed.
Happy New Year! Shana Tova!
Or something like it.
I often make this little treat, my version of a Pissaladière, as JP calls it. I had some leftover pizza dough (about half of this recipe) so I simply rolled it out as thinly as I could, stretched it out onto a large, lightly oiled cookie sheet and pinch up the edges to create a border all around.
I spread about 7 ounces (200 g) dark black olive tapenade evenly around the dough. Just for added flavor, I spread a few tablespoons of sun-dried tomato tapenade over the olive.
I then sliced several ripe, juicy, sweet tomatoes and lined them up across the dough on top of the tapenade. If I had had a few extra tomatoes I would have overlapped them a bit.
I cubed 5 – 7 ounces (150 – 200 g) fresh goat cheese (a rather messy job but I licked my fingers clean!) and spread the cubes evenly over the tomatoes. Tossed on a few fresh basil leaves and several pitted tangy black olives for show, brushed the edges of the dough with olive oil and popped the whole thing into a preheated 425°F (220°C) oven for about 20 minutes or until baked and the edges are a deep golden brown.
I sprinkled the baked Pissaladière with more fresh basil leaves and served it piping hot with a cool salad tossed with a tangy vinaigrette. And a chilled bottle of Muscadet.
I am sending this over to Susan at Wild Yeast for her weekly yeast-baking event Yeastspotting. I love Yeastspotting. If you love yeast baking, her weekly round up is a fabulous selection of amazing yeast recipes, both savory and sweet. As is her own.