It was such a fine day on Thursday. The skies were endlessly blue and the air was so crisp. I had little work to do and decided to walk back home along Fisherman's Wharf.
I bought a crab sandwich from one of the many little crab stands on the wharf. At $6, it was generously stuffed with crazy-fresh Dungeness crab, peppers, celery, and parsley. I enjoyed it on the pier while a particular seagull enjoyed my crumbs.
And then dessert: one scoop of Mitchell's white pistachio ice cream drenched in hot fudge from Norman's ice cream shop. The ice cream was brimming with pistachios and had a wonderfully intense pistachio flavor. Pistachio ice creams are all too often so subtle. What's up with that? Give me pistachio. That's why I ordered pistachio. Mitchell's understands me.
These are my self-professed "reasonable" shoes. They're high-top platforms from BDG. I've become newly keen on the creeper shoe style – I think it could make anyone look pretty badass while hiking up the impossible San Francisco inclines. And badassery is clutch during those times.
The final stretch was through the park at Fort Mason as the sun made everything golden. I really like it here.
It's sweater weather here in San Francisco. And while incredibly fresh local produce is here year-round, the nip in the air makes me want to curl up in blankets and eat something warm. I threw together this recipe with the wind howling outside and rain clicking against my windows. It's a great dish to enjoy alongside pasta or as its own main course if you'd like something light.
Roasting is the simplest way to totally change a vegetable's flavor profile. Brussels sprouts become nutty and sweet, while tomatoes turn deep and savory. The pistachios add a nice crunch and the balsamic vinegar caramelizes the sprouts in the roasting process. I'm definitely adding this one to the rainy day recipe roster. I'm thinking for next time, tossing in some crispy pancetta will make this even better. And judging by the 5-day forecast, "next time" won't be too far away.
My colleague gifted me with this wonderfully fragrant hot pepper blend. It comes from his family's farm in northern California.
BALSAMIC ROASTED TOMATO & BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH PISTACHIO
yields 2-4 servings
1 lb brussels sprouts, washed & halved
1 lb cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup raw pistachios
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
Asiago cheese, grated to garnish
pinch of sea salt
I shared stale coffee and pancakes with a sweet boy who kept me warm in the colder months. It was four in the morning at Kellogg’s Diner on Metropolitan Avenue. He stirred cream into his mug and declared that I’m brave.
Brave is a child in dinosaur pajamas who slays the red-eyed monster in his closet. Brave is a man who dives from an airplane to feel alive. Brave is not the girl who flies to a picturesque city where a newly minted life awaits her.
But at once:
That girl methodically packed her world into seventeen medium-sized boxes. She parted from the black-haired boy she used to breathe for. Then she sunk into the space where two walls meet in an empty room that echoed her wailing until she saw colors behind her eyelids. She left her job, sold her bed, abandoned the cream-colored comforter that warmed her and what used to be another body beneath it.
Armed only with naïve volition and a vision she devised in the state between sleep and her alarm, she uprooted her life, her everything, for the simple possibility of liking something better.
Maybe this is brave. I’m not sure what is. I think it’s necessary.
* * *
It was black when I sank into my cab. The boy placed my bags into its trunk and I kissed him. His lips became my city.
The corners of his mouth were the nights I painted my eyes black, adorned five-inch heels and felt limitless; The nights I screamed with delight in a sea of neon bodies; The nights in which I beamed and bounced and was, in those moments, entirely alive.
His tongue was the comfort of lying sideways on a couch, suspended in amber, on the Upper West Side. The mornings I watched television with the person I loved since I was too young to guard myself. The Sundays I sprinted along Riverside and rejoiced in the beloved and known.
The curve between his lip and chin was Brooklyn. It was my escape into someone else’s trajectory. It was the click of my brain powering down as I bandaged my loneliness with a man who was too old and too young for me all at once.
The cab sped away and the boy went black. I squeezed my limbs into my chest and convulsed as I held them. I was sickened and terrified and elated. I burst into the wildest smile.
* * *
It’s autumn here in San Francisco. The sun touches everything and warms my fingers. The bay is to the North and my friends surround me. I awaken to billowing linen, a misted window and a lemon tree in the yard below. It smells fresh here, like things are unceasingly new. This city is the single most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
I’m happy. I had forgotten how to be happy.
And so this is my goodbye to New York. You were fast and rough and isolating and exhilarating. You raised me since I was 17. You taught me to lose myself and then forage for the pieces to glue back together. With each reassembly, my design strengthened. You are a gorgeously unrelenting machine and I will never stop loving you.
And here’s to San Francisco. Here’s to a life of one’s own; to a desire fulfilled; to a future unknown. Here’s to those moments of sublime insanity, or what could otherwise be construed as certain bravery.
Let's get cooking again.
Things have been fairly crazy here in New York. With the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, thousands of New Yorkers have been left without electricity and running water. It's surreal to see images of my daily subway stations completely flooded to the brim and the East Village largely in ruins. My heart goes out to everyone who's been affected by the storm, many of whom are my friends and colleagues.
I am lucky to say that my little apartment in Williamsburg has withstood the storm and maintained power. I, however, skipped town before the MTA shut down Sunday night and have been hiding away at my childhood home in South Jersey. Here, I've been passing the time by writing, watching bad television, and eating lots of cheese.
This recipe yields a heaping bowl of warm, comfy happiness. It's so simple to throw together and bursts with deep, woodsy flavors. It's also fairly guilt-free. Quinoa pasta is something I've grown to favor over wheat; it's slightly nuttier in texture and packed with protein, leaving you satisfied but not comatose. This dish is enjoyed best while in your softest sweatpants, under a knit throw blanket, watching terribly wonderful reality television.
QUINOA PASTA WITH SAGE, CARAMELIZED ONION & ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH
yields 4-6 servings
** Ingredients for this one are just an approximation. Adjust as desired. You really can't go wrong.
1 lb cubed butternut squash
3 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 box quinoa pasta (I use Ancient Harvest brand)
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 tbs fresh sage leaves, julienned
1 bag baby spinach leaves
3 links chicken sausage, sliced into 1-inch rounds (I found organic apple chicken sausage at my market)
1 wedge asiago cheese, shredded
freshly ground black pepper
Roasted Butternut Squash
Caramelized Onions with Sage
Drizzle olive oil in a skillet on medium heat and saute diced onions, moving them around, for about 20-25 minutes until they reach a golden brown color. At the 10 minute mark, incorporate the julienned fresh sage leaves. Remove from heat and set aside when finished.
It is so very unmistakably autumn. The leaves are crunchy and the kids of Williamsburg are wearing scarves for practical reasons. The massive watermelon bins have been swapped with even more imposing pumpkin bins. Everyone’s purchasing tiny ugly gourds to display on their desks. Dogs are exhibiting their diverse sweater collections. People are saying things like “I’m cold” and “grande salted caramel mocha no whip”. October is here and I finally have an excuse to bake pumpkin into everything.
These pumpkin cheesecake brownies are the greatest thing in the world. Game over. I began with my favorite brownie recipe – one that bakes up rich, fudgy squares that are incredibly chocolaty but not too sweet. Then I layered in a simple vanilla cheesecake batter mixed with pumpkin puree and spices. I like to keep the pumpkin flavor subtle here so it doesn’t overpower the tangy cheesecake and dark chocolate.
SPICED PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE BROWNIES
adapted from Smitten Kitchen's cheesecake marbled brownie recipe
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
Pumpkin cheesecake batter:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or make your own with 1/4 tsp each of cloves, nutmeg, ginger, & allspice)
Butter an 8x8 in. baking pan. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Pumpkin cheesecake batter
This one's easy. Thoroughly whisk all the listed ingredients together until smooth.
Pour atop brownie layer in your baking pan.
Bake 30-35 minutes until edges pull away from pan and the center is set.
Bring these to a party or keep the brownies for yourself and bring a store-bought pie to the party.
Tomorrow I’ll be twenty-three. It will be new and incredibly different.
The morning won’t greet me with the quiet touch of a familiar black-haired boy’s hand and the hushed mumble of good wishes and well-worn love. I won’t sink deeper into my shared bed until the warmed cotton gives me courage enough to sprint across the room through biting September air. I won’t peer out to West End and grin like a kid, knowing for a fact that I have everything figured out and the world is filled with idiots for not having done so themselves.
It was September and I was twenty-two. And all at once I understood that I needed to feel what it was like to have no idea what happens next. And so I breathed deeply and cried the hardest I ever have and rearranged everything.
It was horrendous medicine.
I’ll wake alone in a few hours. It’ll be in Brooklyn and by the hand of a wildly bright ray that hits my eyes at a quarter to eight. The sun will soak my walls and fill up my candy-colored glass bottles. Everything in the room will be shimmering and beautiful and mine.
I’m the oldest I’ve ever been and know infinitely less than I ever have. This is the first year that I am not certain what happens next. And that will be good for now.
Here's to gorgeously uncharted waters.
I’m not going to pretend I had a clue what I was doing. I’ve never hung on every word of a recipe before; I’ve also simply never made bread. Next to brioche, challah is one of my favorite kinds. It’s pleasantly eggy and slightly sweet. I would say to make your own definitely takes some time and love. But then again, most things that are worth it do.
Traditionally, we dip apples into honey on Rosh Hashanah to welcome in a sweet new year. Deb from one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen, devised a flawless recipe that combines everything into one loaf. The only liberties I took were mixing my apples with ½ tablespoon cinnamon and swapping out clover honey with dark, rich buckwheat honey. This added a certain lovely deep, malty taste to the bread without quite bringing it into cake territory. You can find the full recipe, complete with weaving instructions here.
My challah turned out crispy and slightly caramelized on the outside and fluffy with specks of cinnamon and apples on the inside. It was perfect to dip into honey for Rosh Hashanah dinner, but I also imagine it would make a mind-blowing French toast the next day, or great with a dollop of fresh ricotta. Enjoy.
A rustic tart recipe from another time and another kitchen. I've made about four of these since, all of which were beautiful in their imperfections. It's a simple celebration of crisp weather, autumn fruits, and lots of butter.
FRENCH APPLE TART
recipe from Ina Garten
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup ice water
4 Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, finely diced
1/2 cup apricot jelly
I usually mix this by hand, but you can use a food processor:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Roll the dough slightly larger than 10 by 14-inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. I find that if you don't rotate it, the edges will burn.
When the tart's finished, heat the apricot jelly and brush it all over the apples and pastry. This will add a nice, fruity glaze and keep the apples moist.
Slice it up with a pizza cutter and serve warm or room temperature, preferably with a nice scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.
Here are bits and pieces of my home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. To me, the most important feeling in a dwelling space is that of instant comfort. I like to blend a neutral palette, vintage details and mixed, soft textures.
It's mind-boggling to step back and recognize how quickly one can adapt. Including the FIT dormitories, I've occupied six little spaces in New York and only lived here five years. Through all the rapid change, I've come to realize that, temporary or not, home is home. And as important as it may be to look toward the future to newer, better spaces, it's paramount to feel safe and happy in a current space.
These pictures are not just of things, but the ingredients of a home.