Monday, 4 February 2013 | 31 comments

White grapefruit tart with sweet rye crust

For those of you in California, in Florida, or even in the Mediterranean; for those of you in places where the temperature doesn’t dip so low that, in your car, your toes freeze because the heat only works on “defrost” instead of blowing on your face or feet (this is, sadly, the least of our current car troubles); for those of you wearing flip-flops year round—it’s difficult for me to explain. Winter citrus is so utterly improbable for those of us in colder climes. The bright colors, jeweled insides, and shamelessly pervasive aromas of these fruits seem altogether suited for another season, or really, in the interminable winter months, another world. When there’s snow on the ground outside, slicing open a grapefruit, with that little spritz of essential oil from the peel as I cut in, is enough to reduce me to a mess of stuttering half sentences and syllables of appreciation. » Click to read more

Sunday, 2 December 2012 | 29 comments

Sparkling brown butter spice cake (with kabocha squash)

We have reached the time of year when it’s dark as I leave in the morning and dark when I return home, which, while not depressing in a seasonal affective disorder way, certainly affects my mood. I make my way out to the car in the pre-dawn chill, huddled close and indrawn. The windshield flares with crazy, sparkly frost patterns when Ben switches on the headlights. Sort of chiaroscuro for the soul. (Guaranteed, I won’t feel this romantically about dark mornings come February, so let’s enjoy it while we can.) » Click to read more

Friday, 14 September 2012 | 29 comments

A simple pear pie + more pear recipes

“Welcome to my office,” Ben says as we climb out of the car. Neat rows of pear trees stretch their limbs out of the morning mist. It’s kind of obnoxious, actually—does he have to brag?—when you consider that my “office” is a cube with padded, circa-1981 salmon pink walls. Ben, by contrast, makes his living here:We grab a ladder and start picking. The crew has been through here once already and most of the harvest is in—they’ll use it to make pear wine, which they then send to a local distillery to make pear brandy—but there are some stragglers. These get sold in the tasting room. We get to take home the “ugly” pears, the ones with spots or lumps or hard patches where they were damaged by insects. For the next couple weeks, bins of the fruit take up residence in our house, and I start thinking of pear pie and pear bread and pear butter. » Click to read more

Monday, 6 February 2012 | 73 comments

A grapefruit olive oil cake for a cold winter day

I take pleasure in the spareness of this season: the quiet, the grey light, the bare branches. It’s been such a mild winter so far that whenever we get a rare dusting of snow, I find myself walking around in the woods for hours.All the silence and sparseness are a bit misleading, though. I think about the secrets under the quiet white veil; the life that is there, dormant, waiting to wake up; the soil that’s teeming, always, with all kinds of micro-critters. Nature is like this, I think. She enjoys vibrance hidden beneath humble exteriors. Like seeds.And jewel-bright grapefruit. » Click to read more

Thursday, 6 October 2011 | 10 comments

Poires au poivre (Peppered pears)

As I get older, I find I’m trading the bold for the subtle, in terms of taste. When I first realized this, I felt boring. I picked up a patterned skirt in a store the other day, admired it; loved it, even; and considered buying it. In the end, it was a little sad, but I put that splashy skirt back on the rack, knowing I’d get more mileage out of something solid-black. This shift translates into food and drink, too. Where I used to love hop-bomb beers, I now seek out well-balanced, layered brews. In food, it’s no longer enough for a dessert to be sweet—I want it to be a sweet that’s worth my time. Something to think on.I’m starting to learn, though, that my growing emphasis on subtlety can be an asset. Everyone notices those sunrises where the sky is awash with fuschia or electric orange, but when I head out the door in the morning, I find myself meditating on the rich, individual colors that, a few years ago, just seemed like everyday, muted morning hues: dove grey, cashmere pink, and pale, Wedgwood blue. Aesthetically, I seek beauty that causes pause. In the kitchen, I crave food that engages the senses. In conversation, I want slow, spreading smiles. It’s the opposite of boring: it’s trading in the immediately stimulating for the steady burn. » Click to read more

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