If you’re anything like me, you probably have a bowl of clementines somewhere in your home, slowly withering away. You bought a 5-pound box sure that you would eat several every day, convinced after that 2-pound bag you bought previously that all clementines were perfect, each one bright and sweet and tangy and just calling out, in a sultry voice, to be eaten. Turns out, the box I bought sometime around the holidays was just meh — sweet but not bright. Not bad and definitely edible but not wowing, as clementines should be, as that last bag from Trader Joe’s was. So a few handfuls of them have just been sitting in my living room, some growing sunken, most still looking surprisingly okay, and in the spirit of my New Year’s Resolution I’ve put them to work. Into the world as fresh clementines, out they came as clementine marmalade.
Runners are an interesting breed. Throw us together on a Saturday night and there may be whiskey and push-up contests. In the mornings, long runs leave much time for vocal introspection — no thoughts, no subjects are off limits. There’s the usual catch-ups of the previous evening or week, soul-bearing conversations of life and love, (literal) potty humor, and, of course, what we’d like to eat when the miles are finally at an end — or, in many cases, often after running past the wafting aroma of crispy bacon from a corner deli 10 miles into a 20-miler, right at that very moment. And thus, it was on one of those runs, several months ago, that a few of us started daydreaming about croissants. Marathoners, ultra-marathoners, and IronWomen in our crew, none of us shies away from a challenge. And so became “That Time We Made Croissants” — from scratch.
Let’s get this out of the way right here, right now: croissants are easy. Yes, you read that right. So long as you pay attention to the steps, the ingredients, the measurements, and the timing, anyone can make croissants. The trouble with them is that they take a ridiculous amount of time. Meaning, you need to devote an entire day to these bad boys. Not all of it is hands-on. Most of it is actually spent resting, chilling, and freezing the dough — there was time for us to go for a run, watch a movie (and drink wine), and go out to dinner (and drink wine) during three lengthy rest periods. In all, it took us about 11 hours from start to finish. And it was totally worth it.
There was a time in my life when every penny I saved went towards traveling around the country — and the world — to attend major figure skating competitions. Specifically, to cheer on the great Michelle Kwan and revel in her strength and the beauty she would always, without fail, create on the ice. Her movement, her emotion, her attention to every detail. We fed off of her performances in wild exultation, and she fed off of us with explosions of power and joy beaming straight out of her heart. In retrospect, it sounds insane. But if I said I regretted any of it I’d be a lying fool. The energy, the nervous excitement, the camaraderie. Ten years ago, Michelle competed in what would end up being her last National Championships, fighting her way to the top once again, for the eighth year in a row, to match the iconic Maribel Vinson Owen in claiming a record nine national titles. Ten years ago today, in Portland, Oregon, she skated to Ravel’s Bolero in a stunning gold dress, her last long program on National Championship ice, and I was there for the ride.
So you’re wondering, what on earth does this have to do with maple oat scones? This post just seems like an excuse to reminisce and be happy and sad all at once — happy because I was there and it was incredible; sad because, without truly realizing it at the time, a hip injury was slowly eating away at her ability to compete and would take her out of the 2006 Nationals, and then, maybe even more heartbreakingly, out of the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino, Italy. But that week in Portland, 10 years ago, a freak ice storm wreaked havoc on the city’s streets and sidewalks and made getting to early morning practice sessions difficult and slow — and there was no way we were going to miss any of Michelle’s practice sessions. We had to leave our hotels earlier than usual, missing out on leisurely breakfasts and necessitating brief daily runs into one of the Starbucks along the way. I skipped the coffee and bought tea, as was my custom then, and discovered their maple oat scones. Continue reading →
I might be the only person in New York City who likes winter. And not just light snowfalls, pristine white flakes floating down onto quiet sidewalks, silhouetted against lamplight and curtainless windows. Not just chilly temperatures, asking for sweaters and scarves and woolen coats and boots. No, I like extended frozen landscapes. Last winter? The polar vortex? The frozen Hudson? I loved it. I may have been the only person who didn’t complain when it felt like spring would never come — well, until it did, for a day, and then got cold again. Then I was ready. Because cold winters mean glorious springs, and it was. I may shiver and it may take courage to go out for a training run when it gets below 20 degrees, but this week’s sub-zero wind chills just make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside — because when it gets like this, I fill my insides with warm bread and hot soup. But not just any hot soup — Moroccan chickpea soup.
This beautiful concoction melds the flavors of cinnamon and cumin, paprika and cayenne, to build a slightly sweet, slightly spicy base from which the chickpeas can make their case for a hearty alternative to meat. Baby spinach adds vitamins, a pop of color, and a hint of bitterness, which compliments the handful of slightly acidic tomatoes here wonderfully, and I’ve added diced carrots for an additional boost of mellow sweetness (and something else to chew on). Some of the chickpeas are mashed at the end, so that the soup isn’t just chunky, it’s thick, too. Continue reading →
Happy New Year, everyone. 2014 is now a relic of the past. Like many of you, mine was filled with ups and downs — and this year, they weren’t simply little hiccups and little boosts here and there. 2014 was momentous, it was disastrous, it was marvelous. I left my life at an organization to which I dedicated seven years of my heart and soul, bled passion and tears and hope and frustration. Left what had become an unkind regime. Rekindled my passion for my own work, my own writing. Found you, the ImaginariYUM, and found myself.
And now it’s 2015, and things are gonna change. A little. My big New Year’s Resolution is simple, but will hopefully be profound: I resolve to use up all the leftover vegetables I buy before they turn to mush, grow mold, or grow eyes. And to start, I’m using up (almost) all the leftover potatoes from my two crazy days of latke-making a couple of weeks ago by turning them into velvety potato leek soup. And as a side? I’ve taken some of the leftover buttermilk from last week’s perfect cinnamon rolls and turned them into the easiest buttermilk biscuits. It’s cold, I’m hungry and still tired from being up way too late last night, and I’m damn glad there’s something good, healthy, and hearty to eat for the start of the new year.