Glimpses into my room…
Crucial Frank Ocean / Gary Numan shrine.
Even more crucial Scott Walker shrine, he guards my room.
My mom made this beautiful pink quilt for me years and years ago. (My favorite color). It’s even brighter in real life. I love how it looks with my (much more muted) APC quilt.
A small slice of my tape collection.
A beautiful painting from my friend Andrew Paine (they’re so striking in real life), and my favorite Kate Bush photo ever, torn from a magazine, I don’t know where.
Bright colors, unwieldy shapes, patterns upon patterns, inevitable clutter… my home environment is a pretty good reflection of my wardrobe aesthetic too. Consistency!
My time spent home in San Diego was short and sweet.
Now I’m off for a weekend of maid-of-honor duties at the big bridal weekend! Hello, New York Fingerlakes…
I wish I had taken better photos when I was in Ithaca last week, but four days crashed by, and no more than a handful of blurry, haphazard photos to show for it. But from Sasha’s chickpea stew and marinated carrots to 2am quesadillas with Kathryn, I got exactly the relief I needed from a week of restaurants in Portland.
A roast chicken, spotted with sage, stuffed with garlic and quartered lemons, and served over scarlet carrots, was an impromptu dinner party no-brainer; but marginally more delicious were the supremely fragrant wild leeks that I folded into a purple potato and fennel gratin. If you haven’t cooked with wild leeks — also known as ramps — take advantage of their brief spring season to experiment with them in your meals. They’re expensive (Around $25/lb at Wegman’s), but the slim, tender shoots yield the most extravagantly spring-like bouquet of flavor.
What’s more, they happen to be illegal to purchase in Quebec — apparently, ramps are overforaged to the point of extinction in this province, so people tend to drive to Ontario to stock up — so I was beyond stoked to cook with them in New York. (Side note: while ramps are illegal to buy in Quebec, it is not against the law to forage for them yourself. Future field trip!)
For this rich gratin, thinly slice purple fingerling potatoes (I love their mildly sweet, nutty flavor) and one fennel bulb. Alternate layers of each in a buttered baking dish, fanning out the shapes into green and purple spirals, pausing to add a glug of heavy cream and chicken stock, which splashes and soaks into the vegetables in the most decadent of ways. (Other variations: I love veal stock in a potato gratin; it would also be nice to add minced garlic, a splash of white wine, or some chopped herbs like thyme or sage in with the mix of vegetables).
Mince the ramps as you would a bundle of scallions, and scatter on top. The garlicky smell should be bracing, and intoxicating. Finish with half of cup of grated Parmesan and a few pats of butter, and pop into oven for 45 minutes, or until tender, golden, bubbling, and irresistible. I know my photo doesn’t look like much, but trust that it is the most spectacular explosion of flavors, thanks to the wild leeks.
A recent post from For Me, For You almost made me lose it. When do you know if a place is your home? How do you know? In the last two years alone, I’ve lived in Ithaca, Portland, San Diego, and Montreal. The first three places all felt like home to me. Montreal, I don’t know. I don’t know if it feels like home to me yet. But will it soon? And how will I know? What makes a place “home”, anyway?
I just returned from four blissful days in Ithaca. It is the town where I became an adult, it is the town where I started my life as a writer, my life that I wanted to have, that I chose to have. It is the town where I fell in love for the first time, where I discovered cooking, where I adopted Joni. It was the town where I got my first real job, where I learned how to ride a bike, where I learned how to live alone. Even though it felt so deeply good to be back in Ithaca this past weekend, it’s not my home anymore.
What is home? For me, home is where I feel at peace. Where I feel complete and whole. Where my heart feels content and happy, even though my life — like anyone else’s — is often pierced with confusion and uncertainty. But after only half a year in Portland — and plenty of murky ambiguity — I knew unequivocally that it was my home. After (almost!) the same amount of time here, I feel less sure. Part of it is a new city, in a new country, with a foreign language; part of it is lack of family, lack of hearts that sing straight into mine. I know these things take time; I wonder how long I should wait.
That’s enough overshare for now. But tell me: What is home? When will we feel at rest? I’ve posted this before, but it bears repeating, as a mantra, or a reminder, or a prayer:
Truly, truly you couldn’t speak of discovery of the unknown unless you were unknowing. You have to make a room inside your own ego for what you don’t yet understand, and hold open the possibility that this is what you’re actually looking for. And that then becomes a very personal matter rather than a universal one, because you can’t account for what other people don’t know. But you can acknowledge inside yourself those things which you did not perceive until the encounter forced you into a recognition. You cannot keep score of that for anyone else, but you can acknowledge transformation of your own perception by experience. When you find something about yourself, you don’t throw it away, it’s a treasure. It’s symbolically very important because it acknowledges a transformation in yourself.
Scenes from San Diego. It’s so nice to escape home. I usually go gangbusters at the prepared foods section at Whole Foods and am always disappointed. Is it just me, or does all of that food sort of taste the same, bland and yet kind of funky? Got a huge platter of vegetables + grains for lunch and was surprised at total lack of flavor. A humble plate of La Jolla Farmer’s Market sliced figs and strawberries has about 100x more explosive flavor than WF’s overpriced salad bar items, yet I stupidly can’t resist as soon as I set foot in that store.
Also, that is how my cat sleeps for hours at a time.
[Toasted baguette / goat cheese / spicy mustard / shaved parmesan / marinated beets / parsley and artichokes / prosciutto / salami / clementines]
[Red leaf lettuce / grated carrot / manchego / toasted naan]
[Curried kidney beans / garam masala / cumin / tumeric / red pepper flakes / cilantro / minced ginger / garlic / diced tomatoes / Spanish onions / orange zest / butter]
[Leftover chicken cacciatore / handful whole wheat penne / tomato sauce / grated Pecorino / red peppers / capers somewhere in there!]
[Braised new potatoes / veal stock / bacon fat / butter / olive oil ]
[Broiled asparagus / lemon / black pepper / olive oil. Chana masala: chickpeas / garam masala / spicy curry powder / shallots / chicken stock / butter. Toasted naan / black coffee / bad Portland water]
Amidst the flurry of dinner parties, BBQs, picnics and other occasions to cook fancy food, I also eat plenty of meals that are serviceable but aren’t that special or particularly nice to look at. And then I forget to write about them, because serviceable is just not cutting it, you know? These are those lunches. I’m totally okay admitting this because lately I have been on a cooking ROLL — as in, making dishes that I normally wouldn’t (this includes baking! so much baking) and feeling really amazing and proud about the results. More soon…
In case you were wondering what my typical breakfast is like. Lots of fresh fruit (already ate half the apple before I took the photo!), toasted naan with butter and crushed cumin seeds, salt and pepper, and strong black coffee. But credit where credit is deserved: Sasha has presented the best argument for brunch that I’ve ever heard! And basically has me convinced. It is her broadness of the definitional nature of ‘brunch’ that allows for a relaxed, restrained and unpretentious approach, which I deeply appreciate and don’t always see around me.
I had a strong craving for fried rice the other afternoon but all of my leftovers weren’t really conducive to a truly proper rendition of the dish. Whatever, I made it anyway — coriander-scented day-old rice fried with leftover lentils, asparagus, ginger, cilantro and scallions, finished with a bit of sesame oi. Surprising how delicious it was considering it was all so simple, so plain Jane. All it needed was a fried egg to push it over the edge.
Lately I have been obsessed with sandwiches for lunch. So weird… I’m like that with food. Emphasis on repetition and patterns. Beans for a week, sandwiches for a week, chocolate cake after every meal for 4 days, glasses of orange juice compulsively for 20 minutes and then avoid it studiously for 2 years. Etc.
Anyway I think right now my favorite sandwich is deeply toasted whole wheat bread with sharp cheddar, avocado, tons of salt and pepper, sprouts and cucumber, thinly sliced on the mandoline. Essential crunch. The perfect sandwich is a delicate balance of oppositionals: Sweet/salty, crunchy/creamy, burnt/tender, fresh/rich. And so on and so forth. So most variations on avocado/cheese/greens/mustard formula is pretty much amazing but I distilled it into perfection this morning when I had an open faced sandwich with only two ingredients: smoked turkey and avocado. Not technically a sandwich, perhaps, but tasty alternating bites.
Yesterday, even little Joni couldn’t resist the humble sandwich…
Thank you so much to Jennifer at Ermie for the sweet post she did about Popcorn Plays! Not to get all circle-jerky, but I’m such a huge fan of her site and feel honored to be included!
Because it’s Sunday and my thoughts are scattered, a random assortment of photos including an image of the San Diego bay as seen from the back of my friend’s 40-foot long sailboat. Sadly, the neon green Converse are not mine. I wish. Sailing in February! Still getting used to the idea…
Been drawing more… here, a five-minute sketch.
Joni is slowly turning into a teddy bear / rabbit hybrid. She loses more of her cat-ness every day, it seems. Joni, come back!
Full House’s Rebecca does Michael Kors/Vena Cava fur glam. She looks unsurprisingly incredible. Who else looks this chic delivering heart-to-heart life lessons?
[Images of Michael Kors Fall 2010 FTW via Style.com]
Danny Tanner does… something else entirely. Something that scares me.
Pilfered my mother’s jewelry box for some pieces to incorporate into my closet. In my defense she doesn’t ever wear them and they don’t even see the sunlight, so really I am doing everyone a favor.
Happy Sunday! XO