Wednesday, July 27, 2011

HONEY VANILLA MINI MADELEINES

ONE (SUNNY) JULY DAY


Twenty-four years ago we experienced a month of July so similar to this one. It rained and it rained and it rained. Every single day. I was desperate and disheartened for I was planning my wedding. I had visions of disaster, rushing through a downpour to get to City Hall and arriving there drenched. No lovely bride in a flowing white dress, hair perfectly coiffed, gorgeous bouquet of roses and lavender would stroll into the Grande Salle to be joined to her dashing Frenchman. No, I saw ruined shoes, the beautiful violet suede matted and smeared. I could almost feel the silky material of my coat soaked through and bunched up in an unattractive mess, the uncomfortable dampness clinging to my skin. I was horrified at the thought of my masses of thick, curly hair frizzing up into a great black billowing puff around my head, the size of a mushroom cloud, framing a face flushed and splotchy.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

FRENCH APRICOT TARTLETS

My lovely friends and Feast sisters, Chris Ann and Kristin asked me to participate in the launching of their newly redesigned blog and shop LoveFeast Table and I gladly said yes. I have known these two generous, talented, passionate, unpretentious women for quite some time and have already written guest posts for their blog, so it was a matter of course to join their festivites. But what to write when they suggest the theme Feast. Looking at their new space and I knew a celebration was in order. And, of course, what naturally popped into my head was...

LIFE’S A FEAST



An abundance of sweet summer fruit spilling out of crisp brown paper bags across my kitchen table; the heady fragrance weaving through the air reminding me of the summers of my childhood. I stand in wonder at the reds fading from garnet to ruby to rose, the purples royal, the oranges tinged with the evening sun and I understand the magic of the summer bounty of stone fruits.

Friday, July 22, 2011

GREENGAGE PLUM (REINE CLAUDE) GALETTE

A RAINY DAY


Let the rain pitter patter
But it really doesn't matter
If the skies are gray.
Long as I can be with you, it's a lovely day.
- Irving Berlin

Ooooh middle of July and I feel as if I am in a dream – a bad dream. The rain once again spatters against the windowpanes and the chill wind whips our hair around our faces as we push our way down the street. Our brief affair with summer has quickly turned sour and we are back to the drawing board. It feels like autumn and a lousy one at that. We pull on a jacket over our sweater, socks and boots, grab the umbrella and head out to run errands: the bookstore and the Mac store, Bat Pile for batteries and a swing through the market for provisions. Our salad diet has gone bust as it certainly works best in hot weather. We have sunk back into bad habits, cooking meals best adapted to cooler weather: tagines, stews, veal chops in creamy sauces, couscous, Asian soups, all those wonderful rich dishes that fill and warm from the inside out. And the waistline threatens to expand back to winter proportions, as we are tempted to return to that comforting seasonal hibernation. Where has summer gone to?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

ROASTED TOMATO, FETA AND ROCKET QUICHE

STARTING OVER – STEP 3 (the marriage)


How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being.
- Oscar Wilde


July. Approaching yet another wedding anniversary and my mind wanders back over 24 years of bliss and, well, truth be told, not so bliss. I am often astonished at the comments some friends make to me about my relationship with my husband, confounded that they somehow hold up my marriage as an object of desire, a model of the ever-elusive "perfect marriage". Nothing in this world is perfect and I am bound to concede my profound belief that everything is as one makes it. I try and hover around the truth in these pages, in the stories that I weave for my readers. Maybe my truth is kissed by the fairytale and filtered through a diaphanous veil of romance, but it is undoubtedly the world in which we live. 24 years is a long time to work on anything, whether sculpture, architectural creation or novel, a long time in which to hammer and chip away, write, erase and rewrite, mold and tweak and reshape. Throw into the formula two uncontrollable sons, several odd dogs, a Bohemian lifestyle, a passion for adventure and the unusual, 3 languages, 2 religions and an innumerable number of nationalities and cultures and you have quite a job cut out for you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

CHOCOLATE RUM BUNDT CAKE

CHOCOLATE RUM BUNDT CAKE


In the mood to bake again, I rummage through my cupboard searching for the bottle of rum. Chocolate was luring me once again, and she was in the mood for a tipple. Grand Marnier and a luxurious hint of orange? Amaretto, surely a favorite, and the nutty, earthy depth that perfectly complements the bittersweetness of the chocolate? Limoncello would certainly be an intriguing companion, boosting my favorite flavor with an intoxicating zing of citrus. Yet someone had mentioned rum and although it is far from my favorite quaff, rarely indulging in anything stronger than a glass of wine, I had come to love the warmth it breathes into a cake, the sexy bite it offers. Rum imparts a sensuality, enlivens the mundane, turns the bland into something funky and intriguing.

Friday, July 8, 2011

NECTARINE JALOUSIE TART with Homemade Puff Pastry

…AND THE LIVING IS EASY


Summertime. It’s the little bundle of memories we carry with us from our childhood, year after year that makes summertime what it is. Whether stifling hot days and balmy evenings or chilly, gray dampness seeping through the cracks of tightly closed windowpanes and drawn curtains, June, July and August are infused with something intangible, special that will always remind us of the best of summer. Hand-crank ice cream machines and family barbecues in the backyard, clam bakes on the beach or splashing in the lake surrounded by tall firs and palms gently dancing in the warm breeze. Dashing barefoot across the scorching pavement, spitting watermelon seeds across the lawn as the cool, sticky sweet juices run down chins and drip off of elbows. Days of utter and complete freedom from all schoolyard constraints, free to do as we please, run and play and laugh. Family trips to grandma’s, away from Florida’s searing heat, the unexpectedly mellow temperatures echoing the lazy, mellow days.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

CINNAMON APPLE PECAN BLONDIES

THE SIMPLE LIFE!


Sometimes simplicity is called for. Nothing fancy, gaudy or complicated; just unadorned goodness with home and cozy, warm kitchen written all over it. We had our great adventure, just the two of us alone in the wild. A week of outdoors and fresh air, sky as far as the eye can see. Swooping herons, steel gray and regal, whipping past, barely skimming the water’s surface; graceful swans floating lazily by, protecting their young; the buu-ruuup of invisible frogs carried off on the wind; the rustle of leaves alongside our wheels signaling the scurry of animal or lizard or snake each bringing to life this strange and fascinating world that wrapped itself around us during this one brief interlude. The simplest of holidays, one man, one woman, two bicycles and a goal: pedal from Nantes to Brest along the Canal. Our provisions were meager, our belongings few, our childlike excitement palpable, our energy pushing us forward. No frou-frou or fancy embellishments, no luxury hotels or first class train cabins, no extra pair of strappy, high-heeled sandals or stunning little black dress for evenings out. Just a plain, simple and uncomplicated holiday, the two of us and nature. Back to the basics.

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