Getting my hands on fresh figs during any time of year, is like hitting the jackpot. On Sunday evening, my sister, dad, and I were walking past an Arab grocery store, when something caught my eye- figs. I stopped in the middle of the busy street, turned around, and shuffled back. Large sized punnets of fresh figs were on sale for $1.29, “I need to get a few baskets of these!” I felt like I was committing a crime for buying figs for so cheap.
I pulled each transparent-sea green package haphazardly filled with fresh figs out of the chalk-toned wooden crate, and inspected each package. Nearly every container of the figs were squidged from being thrown into the baskets; some had already gone moldy from the heat, but there they were- two baskets of perfectly ripe, dark teardrop-shaped figs, free of any imperfections. I carefully handed the baskets- treating them as if they were rare objects- to the mustachioed clerk behind the counter; he smiled as he bagged the fruit, and said, “I see you found good one’s. The baskets have been out there all day, I’m surprised any survived from the heat.” I was too.
I had two plans for these deep blackish-purple beauties- to eat them as is, and to bake the rest into-the first thought that came to my mind- fig tarts.
In all honesty, much baking hasn’t been done in the past few weeks. There was a lemon drizzle cake, some cookies, and a few other things, but that’s about it. Days have become busier, and fall is slowly beginning to settle in.
At the very moment that I write this, I sit with a cup of tea, and a notepad filled with notes for this post. Outside, rain collects in small puddles on the cobblestone walkway, clusters of friends gather under umbrellas and walk briskly to class. Some are running to class, and some are walking slowly- balancing an umbrella in one hand, and in the other, a large Starbucks cup.
It was like this last month. For an entire week, it rained. That week, if I remember correctly, was followed by a warm week- it wasn’t severe, but it did require the air conditioner to be turned on. After that, Hurricane Irene followed.
During the hurricane, all I could think about was the moment I made a this soup for myself, which I had made during the first week of much needed rain. I was home alone, we had a somewhat significant amount of tomatoes waiting to be used up, and the depressing grey clouds that covered the sky made me long for a bit of color in my day. CONTINUE READING: Roasted Tomato and Thyme Soup »
I know baked potatoes aren’t something that most people would normally rave over, but I can’t find it in myself not to rave over these twice baked cheese & chive potatoes. I mean, really, who doesn’t like a baked potato? These aren’t your normal baked potato filled with cheese, salt, pepper, and (dare I say?) a liberal amount of ketchup.
When I last made these potatoes, they were all part of a simple meal that went with this roasted chicken. We called the chicken, a simple salad, fresh bread, and these gloriously sophisticated potatoes, dinner.
Although I did mention that they are a bit revved-up from your normal twice baked potatoes, I am not stressing that these are entirely sophisticated because in all actuality, my version tastes almost like those ruffled potato chips with cheddar and sour cream that you are secretly obsessed with (okay, maybe it’s just me).
I spent the last month baking, cleaning, spending time with family, and brooding. I did a lot more of the latter. It’s one of the main reasons I picked up and went missing for a while. I needed time to collect myself and finish tasks that were long over-due, before I sat down to make anymore photos and posts to share.
During that time, I baked pies and brownies for those dearest to me. I washed dishes more times than I can possibly remember. I gave my attention to the laundry that patiently sat, piled behind the wooden divider in the corner of my bedroom since (gulp) late May. I ate at a Michelin Star restaurant. And I retreated, languished, and took some time for myself to accept that I needed to be useless for once. I needed to reset myself.
A few hours each day were spent lying lazily on our sofa with a book in my face. The roaring of the air condition in our living room was silenced, followed by a zoop of the windows being slid open. The afternoons were warm cups of tea on a rainy day- as hushed as a sleeping baby, and heavy with languor.
My last reading session ended with me dawdling into the kitchen, thinking about what would happen in the next chapter of the book, “Maybe Scarlett was kidnapped. No, it can’t be… She probably wandered off into a pastry shop nearby.” I set the oven, and opened the baking cupboard beside it and separated the roasting tray from the other baking pans. I put the roasting tray on the counter near the sink, and yanked open the refrigerator door, pulling out a carefully wrapped whole chicken from the bottom shelf. My mind immediately jumps to a sentence from the beginning of the book: COULD YOU KILL AN ANIMAL?.
I think it’s safe to say that most of us seek congruity in our lives- harmony and peace– whether it’s through watching re-runs of our favorite television shows, by standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a small kitchen sharing laughs with our loved ones, by writing in complete and utter silence, or by opening the curtains on a summer morning, only to discover a picturesque day waiting outside the window.
For me, peace is the feeling that you get when you wake up early on a Saturday morning, ready to take on the day. It’s the sound of people snoring, and the hubbub of the over-sized air conditioner in the living room struggling to cool the entire house. It is the feeling of standing barefoot in a small kitchen–covered in grey and blue Jackson Pollocke-d linoleum tiles–wearing basketball shorts that barely fit and an azzurro blue pinstriped dress shirt that could easily accommodate two.
When I awoke early Saturday morning, I felt in peace for the first time in a long time. I haven’t been home much, which explains a lot (even my lack of posting). The night before, I planned to push all of my work aside, I turned off my cell phone, and shut down my laptop. I was relieving myself of anything that didn’t involve creating in the kitchen.
I had several punnets of strawberries from the farmers’ market waiting to be used up. I grabbed a legal pad from my backpack, my favorite pen, and began jotting down what I’d make with the berries. First on the menu– Strawberry-Vanilla Swirled Ice Cream. Three words: To. Die. For.