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.
I have to admit, I am the clingy type when it comes to recipes. When I have an utterly extraordinary recipe for something, it usually takes a lot for me to try a new one. Brownies are no exception to this rule, even if I have shared a small handful (this, this, and this) of brownie recipes with you in the past. Up until mid-April, it was nearly impossible for someone to convince me not to make these cocoa brownies to pop in the freezer for oh-so-convenient snacking. So, what happened in mid-April that convinced me that it was time to try another brownie recipe? Well, it was less than 24-hours until a gluten-free dinner party that I was invited to, and let’s just say that I was clueless as to what I was bringing.
I promised everyone I’d bring something with chocolate, and with chocolate, there simply must be a generous amount of dark muscovado sugar to accompany it (I’ve been obsessed with this stuff). I went through a never-ending list of possible things to make; I eventually settled on brownies. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t end a meal without a brownie (Except for my sister who isn’t big on eating anything with chocolate. Weirdo.) I threw the brownies together, carefully noting the mass of each ingredient and the order they were mixed in. I was aiming for fudgy-bellied morsels of chocolate-y goodness studded with shards of macadamia nuts and viridescent pistachio pieces still blushing with their residual rosy skins.
I’ve been a hot mess lately. My hair is as crazy looking as it was when I stepped out of the shower this morning. At home, a huge pile of clothing sits patiently on the chair in my bedroom (as it has for over a week), waiting to be folded. Books and several hundred pages of hand-written and typed notes from this semester are haphazardly thrown in my backpack. I have an overflowing sink of emails to read and respond to. I have yet to bake my mother’s birthday cake (did I mention that her birthday is TODAY?!). And my “To-Do” list? I’ve disregarded it completely.
Final exams have made their way into my life, and although I should be studying right now, I need to procrastinate before I pass out from pushing myself into doing too much work. I know, writing seems like work, but I need to write about something entirely unrelated to school. I need this.
As I write this post, I am surrounded by a sierra of clothing, an unmade bed, books haphazardly flung across my bedroom floor and a checklist as endless as the Mahabharata. I am preparing for my brief trip to San Francisco tomorrow morning (more on that in a later post), and I figured that I’d share a recipe for Brown Butter Carnival Bars before my trip.
This adapted recipe comes from my friend Heidi’s newest book, Super Natural Everyday. The book is filled with gorgeous photos, a thoughtful design, and beautifully written recipes. I’ve had several great lunches and suppers thanks to Heidi’s latest book, but these bars have become my addiction. They’re like crack. I’m sure others that have made the Carnival Cookies from SNE will agree with me.