Beauty

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“Let the beauty of what you love be what you
do.”
 
-Rumi
Months have passed since my last post. Considering how often I cook and that I photograph nearly everything I make, it is not for a lack of material. If I’m completely
honest with myself, I haven’t posted on this blog because I haven’t had the
“perfect” recipe, nor the poignant story to accompany it. I haven’t had the “beautiful” photograph that can compare to what else is out there. Truthfully, over the past few months, I’ve allowed myself to become too self-critical, too caught up in “how I compare.” In striving to be like everyone else, I have forced myself into silence. In striving for “beauty” I have kept myself from doing what I love.
“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” I
have long found relevance in this quote. I find a beauty in food, in cooking,
in what I love, that I convey through photographs – photographs that others will appreciate and find beautiful. Truth be told, I’ve been
missing the point. I forced tangibility on beauty that the sentiment isn’t
meaning to imply. Instead, “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” Let the beauty
of loving something, of finding joy and solace in something, be what you do. Let the beauty of being true to yourself, free of comparison and judgement, be what you seek.
I
love to cook and I love to write – that is me – and therein lies the beauty. 

Strawberry and Lime Popsicles
Makes about 8-10 popsicles
(This recipe is very loose, and can be adapted to your taste – i.e. if you are looking for a sweeter popsicle, add 3/4 cup of sugar, or if you are looking for a less sweet popsicle, add 1/2 cup. Or, if you are looking for a less prominent lime flavor, only add the juice of half a lime).
ingredients:
1 – 1 1/2 pounds strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/2 – 3/4 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of water
the juice of 1 lime
directions:
1. Add strawberries, sugar, and water to a medium-sized sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer until sugar is completely dissolved, and strawberries have started to slightly blanch in color (about 10 minutes). Turn off heat and let mixture cool completely.
2. Once cool, use an immersion blender, or standing blender, and blend mixture until smooth. Add lime juice and stir to combine.
3. Strain entire mixture through a fine sieve, and pour into popsicle mold. Freeze until firm (preferably overnight).

a sunday worthy of cake

A few days ago, I discovered a truly inspirational blog, Bleubird.Like so many bloggers I aspire towards, James fills Bleubird’s pages withstunning photography, eloquent words, and endless ideas. It is her starkhonesty and boundless humility, though, that truly sets her apart. She doesn’t feignperfection, yet her creativity and talent abounds. Her style is eclectic andmismatched. She doesn’t follow trends, but instead makes her own. Her lifecould not be more dissimilar to my own, but somehow I found myself relating toher, and aspiring to her simplistic ways.

Life in New York City is hectic at best. Every day is afight through overcrowded streets and subways, just to get to work. Some days Ilove it – I live for the energy and momentum. Other days, I want to be anywherebut here, simply enjoying a quiet moment. What I tend to lose sight of, though,is that I AM capable of enjoying a quiet moment, amidst the chaos, if I createone for myself…

…which brings to me the “Sunday’s Cake” section on Bleubird.Last year, James made a promise to her family that they would bake a cake on Sundays, together. Do other plans get in the way? Of course. Do they sometimes bake thecake on a Monday? Yes. Are there weeks when they just don’t have time to bake acake at all? Absolutely. The point is, when possible, she makes the time toslow down, enjoy the moment, and do something she loves with her family.

This Sunday, I took some advice from James. I woke up, and started my day doing what I love– I baked a cake. And then, I spent a leisurely brunch eating the cake withsomeone I love. And then, we spent the afternoon enjoying what we so often “don’thave time” to enjoy. We walked through the park, and went to a museum. Weslowed down.

Something tells me this is the beginning of a weekly thing.
(Thanks, James from Bleubird, for the inspiration and thank you to Kate from Cookie + Kate for thedelicious recipe).

Orange Poppy Seed Cake (made with olive oil and yogurt)
 recipe from Cookie + Kate

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I used just plain all purpose flour and it turned out perfectly)
  • 1/3 cup poppy seeds
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 3/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 medium orange or 2 small oranges, to be zested and juiced
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest (zest from 1 medium orange)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a loaf pan (you can also line with parchment paper, to ensure your cake doesn’t stick. I buttered a non-stick loaf pan, and that worked well for me, though).
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Add the sugar into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Grate all the zest from the orange(s) (should yield about 2 teaspoons zest – I used 2 small oranges). Rub the zest into the sugar with your hands until the sugar is orange and fragrant.
  4. Slice the orange (I used one orange) in half for juicing. In a liquid measuring cup, measure out 3/4 cup yogurt and squeeze in about 1/4 cup orange juice to yield 1 cup total liquid. Whisk the yogurt and juice together until smooth. Add the yogurt mixture, eggs, and vanilla into the sugar mixture and whisk until smooth.
  5. When the mixture is well blended, gently whisk in the dry ingredients, just until incorporated. Fold in the olive oil with a spatula, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.
  6. Bake the cake for 50 to 55 minutes (I did 50), or until the top is golden and the sides start to pull away from the sides of the pan; a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.
  7. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then run a knife between the cake and the sides of the pan to loosen. Unmold the cake by placing a large plate upside down over the loaf pan and carefully turning them over. Let the cake cool to room temperature right-side up on a wire rack.

Our Trip

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It has been a while, and for good reason. Henry and I spent
the last week on our annual ski trip, this year taking it a step farther than
Vermont and heading out to Utah. Magical Utah – a place of enchanting beauty
and breathtaking scenery. Although Henry goes every year with his family, it
was my first time (and I think it is safe to say that it will not be my last).
I could not have fathomed a more peaceful and undisturbed place to do nothing
more than appreciate each other … and ski.

We stayed in a quaint village at the base of a mountain
called Solitude – and solitude it provided – the absolute antithesis of our
life in New York City. We spent the week doing exactly what we both love,
together.

Mornings were spent waking up to the sun rising over the mountain and
sharing a quiet breakfast together in front of the fireplace. Days were spent
alone in the wilderness, – hiking in the canyon and skiing through the trees,
with no other sound than our skis carving patterns in the snow. Afternoons were
spent laughing and sharing beers on the porch, quickly forgetting our sore
muscles and chapped faces. And nights – spent back by the fire, huddled over
warm food and shared with the best of company.

Life was simple. Life was sweet.  There was no work to be done, no bills to pay, no errands to
run. It was the two of us at our best: together.

Although the trip is over, the sweet memories remain.
Until next year…

(Happy Valentine’s Day).

Devil’s Food Cake with Fudge Frosting

(this recipe isn’t mine to add – it is from the Williams-Sonoma Dessert book – which I highly recommend, if you don’t have it already. Just so I’m not fully teasing you – click here for a very similar recipe)

A Festive Sunday

It’s officially Christmas time. Lights twinkle from otherwise barren trees, Christmas carols play from every storefront, people walk about bundled in scarves, carrying red holiday Starbucks cups. It’s a truly magical time of year. 

When I think of holiday cooking, I think of warm, comforting, hearty dishes – those meant to be eaten out of a bowl while curled up on the couch. I also think of desserts – sweet, rich, guilt-ladden desserts that no one feels bad eating, because hey, it’s Christmas. Probably one of the most iconic dessert of the holidays would have to be gingerbread. The smell of ginger, cinnamon, and cloves just screams Christmas to me. So, today, as I embraced the holiday spirit, I decided to fill my apartment with these comforting smells and bake a gingerbread. 
As all holiday baking should be, gingerbread is truly simple. A traditional cake base of sugar, butter, eggs, and flour, spiced up with warm seasonings and molasses.
And the best part, it is TOTALLY acceptable to enjoy a piece for breakfast. It is bread, after all.
Bake some Christmas in your oven today – I promise you will be happy that you did!
Happy Holidays!
Gingerbread