There’s a great lesson about patience that I’ve been holding onto since I took this photo many moons ago. It began with happenstance – or rather, luck – a happy family of meyer lemons from a friend. So naturally, I abused my supply of Meyer lemons in a quest for something unsuccessful.
A better cook would have done better, but I cut into my pie before it was ready and all I got was a sour mess of a soup. The soupy lemon custard was a mess so I threw it all out for compost. I had a good laugh about it later when my boyfriend told me he gave the homeless man outside a try of the pie – he evidently liked it. Anyways, I hope you are having a delicious pie day.
I like the idea of sending away Christmas Cookies and Summer Jams in the fall… I find it’s generally well received and I select new recipients every year based on some random equation I have in my head. It is that time of the year after all – but I’m not talking about Christmas per se… but the magical cusp of Thanskgiving and Christmas that makes sparkles appear in the air, nearly everyone is kind and loving and happy to one another. It makes the winter and general cold weather maladies a bit more bearable.
Sending a package across the country is akin to sending off a little piece of oneself. For me, this little act takes a lot of time, mostly in meditation about the various alchemy of materials, the perfect proportions of jars to one another on a bed of shredded Aspen, or their intended recipient and the way they might react when in holding that particular jar.
I’m highly affected by these imaginary thoughts and the shipping task consume me a bit more than necessary because I insist on making the gifts I ship. On few occasions I will buy some small items – like local honey or a bag of walnuts. For this particular package, I chose two Bay Area honey varieties for a good friend of mine in hopes of moving her here in the near future. Honey is a good thing for bribing. I also make my own labels using a cute stamp set of an evergreen, a tiny owl, and letter sets. They appear all over my jars and gifts, though my new found treasure in gift packing is the use of real nuts and aspen shavings. They give it a special warm touch… rather than synthetic packing peanuts or plastic wrapping bubbles. They cost a little more, but the nuts are edible, and you can compost/recycle the aspen. They also look great.
I’ve been hiding behind the business of living, but not without some attempts at documentation. I take photos, but they too have been resting in the comforts of slack. I feel little guilt because I think hours are needed between the thinking, making, and sharing that comprise this blog. But… I am back, and I’ve got so many stories and images to share, it’s going to take weeks just to sort through the details…
I wanted to share these lovely photos because we are in the middle of Cheese Month, and I have been visiting Mission Cheese in celebration. It’s a tiny corner of our city, but a precious corner made of small tables and nice people. My lovely friend Nathan ordered a Vermont Flight and we indulged in a small sampling of cheese from that Eastern state. Going to Mission Cheese is always an Event, and there are few places like that in this city – or even country, where you can have exquisite artisanal cheeses from various terroirs.
What’s special about Cheese Month is that you can buy a passport for only $10 and get 25% off of the daily cheese at Mission Cheese. Awesome right? I should be at Mission Cheese right now! (They also have lovely sandwiches and drinks… )
I don’t know of any other retailers in SF that is participating so let me know if there are …
Come back on Wednesday for a nice little rosewater tart filled with cute kiwi berries!
Today is Parking Day, meaning I will be biking around San Francisco in search of temporary parklets. I’ll be taking photos, but you can check out my point and shoot at the same event two years ago on my Flickr account. I’ve been a more active participant in the past but I’ve been too busy cooking and eating to notice that September was creeping on so quickly. What a sneaky month!
Here is this week’s list of delicious links full of tomatoes’ last hurrah, fun food finds, and San Francisco events:
+ The photo above is a gentle reminder to roast/dry your tomatoes before it’s too late. I got 5lbs of cherry tomatoes to add to my small collection. I’m also making tomato sauce this weekend (I use oregano instead of thyme… also none of that carrot stuff).
+ I like it when engineers and robots get together to make eating more fun. Take this automated popcorn machine for example. When you say ‘pop’, it shoots popcorn into your mouth by locating where the word came from in the room. Fun!!!
So… it’s already September. I don’t recall having any particular predilection towards the month of September, but this coming season, Autumn beckons all sort of scents and sentiments: apple pies, cider, Appalachia, burning fires, caramel. Apple pies, for all of their patriotic and nostalgic qualities, do live up to every bit of nostalgia when made right. I’d sooner have blueberry pies but apple pie are “pleasant”. When baking, their scent warms the house and makes me think of all sorts of cozy things like fuzzy blankets, hot tea, and heavy books, which provides a stark contrast to the insanity of 6th street outside my window. Subsequently, my list of delicious links for the week has a wee bit of apples, a teapot, and a few books, of course.
+ I get a lot of requests for apple pies so I dutifully make them with a happy heart, and I almost always use this recipe. It’s nearly flawless. I add a glaze of 1 pt egg yolk and 1 pt heavy cream and top it off with some raw sugar.
In a parallel universe, this blueberry crumble would have been perfectly topped with fresh juicy berries, but alas, I misread the directions and dumped the entirety of the blueberries into the batter and baked it all to a golden hue. I ate that crumble, but each bite taunted me with defectiveness – the tops were excessively sweet. The crumbles yearned for their berry counterparts only to melt into the batter’s sweet oblivion.
I ate more of the crumble, examining the bottom of my failed cake lined with defunct berries: They must have drowned in the heat of the batter like lifeless corpses, unable to float.
I dispensed my shameful cake to others and spoke endlessly about the defeat of executing recipes in haste though no one else shared my disappointment; free confections are always accepted with graciousness. I began to regard my kitchen blunder more graciously, with warmth. I thought, There’s a special place in dessert heaven for failed cakes.
The photo, too, was a failure, but I love it. It seem to speak about the parallel universe of failed ambitions. I’d rather have a flawless blueberry crumble, but this instance of corresponding images will suffice.
I wish I could write a recipe for failed blueberry crumbles, but most will do – just dump all of the berries into the batter and bake away. Failure tastes better when shared.
Proust has made his way into my kitchen. Not only is he in there but he has decidedly roosted in the confectioner’s corner, deliberately enticing my memories with those little cliché cookies. It was a reading of Swann’s Way this summer that prompted a subsequent cookie pan splurge:
She (Marcel’s mother) sent for one of those squat plump little cakes called “petites madeleines,” which look as though they had been molded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell … I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure invaded my senses …
And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray … when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Leonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane …. and the whole of Combray and its surroundings, taking shape and solidity, sprang into being, town and garden alike, from my cup of tea.
Petite Madeleines did not figure into my personal record until my mid twenties with my inaugural “un cafe”, when I delightfully nibbled on the miniature treat while sipping that bitter Parisian espresso. If only my recollections were as nectarous as Marcel’s.
And the tisane? I’ve chosen a delicate floral infusion with mostly rosemary, latin for dew (ros) of the sea (marinus). The herbal evergreen grows wild on the Italian coasts where it receives moisture from the Mediterranean sea. Most importantly, Rosemary is said to aid memory, so it’s quite Proustian. Rosemary infusions tend to mature around 5 minutes or less depending on your preference. Just bring your water to a boil and pour it over the herbs and flowers until the desired strength is achieved. I save the buds of my abundant summer herb purchases for infusions. Sara Perry (The Book of Herbal Teas) recommends these combinations:
This recipe uses real vanilla beans, which gives the cookie an amazing flavor though most uses extract. They are best when fresh, though I savor them for days after baking.
6 TB sugar
1 TB brown sugar
pinch of salt
2/3 c. pastry flour
1 ts baking powder
1 vanilla bean
1 lemon, zested
3/4 stick of melted butter (unsalted)
+ The night before baking your Madeleines, make the batter and let it proof overnight. Nicole Kaplan suggests doing this in order to get a better rise of the little cookies. You should also butter and flour the madeleine pan and store it in the freezer overnight. This recipe makes 24 mini madeleines. I used this pan to capacity and filled some large ones into this one (The beaufriend and I have different preferences when it comes to their sizing).
+ Batter: Using a hand mixer, combine sugars, salt, flour, baking powder, vanilla seeds and lemon zest in a bowl. Mix in eggs, one at a time, and then the melted butter. Cover your bowl in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge overnight.
+ Bake: Preheat oven to 325 °F . Using a piping bag, pipe batter into madeleine molds (2/3 full). Bake for 10 minutes (mini madeleines). Remove from molds immediately and allow to cool on racks – I ate them as they came out.
In the course of one’s lifetime it becomes highly evident that some acts are committed more often than others. My personal course of action originated from a physical need to eat (and subsequently to cook, photograph, compare, and discuss). I cannot conceive to commit every morsel to memory, but will likely highlight those bits that are a little more palatable, colorful, or just humorously unsuccessful.
An Edible History of Humanity has been on my lap for a few days as I attempt to sort my own anecdotal approach to a subject and medium broached by so many others. The book will probably bring little or no surprises to informed eaters, but I still find its superficiality refreshing. I vaguely recall seeing Antoine-Augustin Parmentier’s statue in the Paris Metro, and now An Edible History has shed some light onto his promotion of the formerly “poisonous” tuber, potatoes. While my culinary history ranks nowhere near the grandiose tales of empires, conquistadores, and emperors, luckily, I am simply trying to wrangle out of my own feeble existence a prosaic approach to crafting an edible narrative, rather than lavish tales of war and glory.
While this blog is not a literary endeavor by any means, I hope it will aid in breaking down the massive walls I’ve built of writer’s block. I’ll most often offer an assortment of recipes and photos in lieu of literary poise, as I find it easier to improve images rather than words.
About me: I’m in my fifth year of vegetarianism, three of them spent in the lovely city of San Francisco. Before I moved to San Fran, I thought everyone here was vegetarian. This is not true. Lucky for San Francisco, I did not move here to live with a city full of vegetarians.
Where Am I?
You are currently browsing the Ramblings category at