I spent a lot of time this winter and spring in a cave of my own making, shying away from people, from a social life. I am, by nature, a homebody. Running is my social life, and when I was injured after the marathon, I was down, I was defeated, and I hid in my cave, missing the energy of my body and my friends but sinking deeper and deeper into a miasma of self-alienation. Even once I started running again, I didn’t feel like myself, not until I cut back on my solo runs and started going back to my team’s workouts and running (slowly) in races. But I didn’t truly feel like my life was my life again until last week, when I ran an entire speed workout and at the end, after a slow start but a strong finish, our coach, Jared, smiled at me and said, “I love to see that. The athlete in you always comes out.” Then, this past weekend, two of my good friends and teammates got married at the base of our hill workout in Astoria Park under the Hell Gate Bridge, and, with the bride in a beautiful white running dress, led us on a group run over the Triboro Bridge and into Manhattan. The next day I cheered on another good friend and teammate as he competed, and kicked ass, in his first triathalon. There’s something fulfilling about being part of a community. Continue reading →
For years, it seems, Ray has been asking me to make a French silk pie, and every single time I’ve balked. It just never appealed to me. I’m not a fan of most whipped frostings and most whipped mousses — unless they’re drenched with flavor. Flipping through Cindy Mushet’s The Art and Soul of Baking a few weeks ago, though, I stumbled upon a chocolate silk pie that sounded leagues more sophisticated than anything I ever imagined French silk pie to be — it looked, in essence, like a chocolate truffle pie. It sounded decadent, dense, and rich — and quite a bit less cool-whippy than I always thought it traditionally was. And, to make it even more enticing, the crust was to be made from Oreos. Now this was the sort of silk pie I could get behind. This would be his birthday surprise. Continue reading →
Hear ye, hear ye! There are local strawberries at the NYC farmer’s markets! Thank the fruit gods, that rhubarb bridge really did bring us to summer sweets, and more quickly than I had imagined. I had gone to the Union Square Greenmarket last Friday for asparagus and ramps for an upcoming risotto I’m cooking up, but there was no way I was forgoing those gorgeous scarlet gems when I stumbled upon them. And the Pennsylvania farmer who prominently displayed them (the only one that day) took credit cards, which solved my “I only brought $15” conundrum, hallelujah. Six dollars for one pint and $10 for two wouldn’t be a bargain for giant strawberries trucked from across the country, but for small, sweet, tender berries grown locally and only just picked, that $10 was money well-spent. I brought them home after a couple of hours walking around downtown, and when I removed them from the bag I was reminded how delicate local berries can be. They needed to be consumed or baked into something lovely, stat. Good thing the fella and I were going to my baby nephew’s (um, and brother and sister-in-law’s) house for pizza Friday. Why yes, I would make us some strawberry balsamic basil hand pies for dessert.
Happy Pi Day! I hadn’t even realized this momentous occasion was approaching until my friend Katrina reminded me last week. She’d been thinking about it for at least a month — usually she throws a big 3.14 pie and bourbon party, but sadly, it’s a Monday, and bourbon doesn’t mix very well with work (unless it’s Friday). At the time, we had been messaging back and forth about flavor combinations, wondering, what fruit is in season? Is it still okay to use pumpkin? (the answer is yes.) She settled on making lovely little vegan hand-pies with apple and a coconut oil crust from Oh LadyCakes, which I’m dying to get my hands on. When she reminded me last week and I got to thinking about my own, though, I presented the idea to the fella: yes, I would make a pie. What pie should I make? He instantly asked for French silk — no hesitation. I hesitated. Somehow I picture chocolate and cool whip, but I’m sure there’s a better version. Still, I wanted fruit — I always want fruit pie. While he was thinking I was running through all the fruits currently available at my local market — “well, I could do pear,” I thought. “Maybe those blueberries from Chile…” And then he asked for key lime pie, and the rest is history.
You. Hey you. I saw you out there, splashing in the waves. Bathing in sunlight. Grilling on your patio. Saying good-bye to summer. I saw you dreading the cold of winter, still three months away. But I have news for you: it’s not over yet. Labor Day may have come and gone late this year, but it’s still hot. It’s still summer. We’ve got another two weeks of it, so if you’re in mourning, perk yourself up a bit and get thee to the farmer’s market. It’s peach pie time. Continue reading →
Spring? What was spring? I’m fairly convinced we skipped pretty much right over it, from the depths of winter to the stifling heat of summer. It is not fun out there. And anyone who thinks otherwise is crazy. Especially because this means that the oven is off-limits when it is 90 degrees outside. Yesterday was the first of many, I’m sure. Perhaps, though, there’s something beautiful to it: the late emergence of rhubarb and spring produce is touching fingers with early summer berries. The perfect pairing of sweet strawberries and that strange sour stalk herald something brighter — we’re no longer waiting for it all to be here, using it as a beacon for warmer weather. It’s here. All the flavors, together.
Or I might be delirious. Still, I’m glad I found rhubarb and turned my oven on for this strawberry rhubarb crostata earlier in the week, when it was dress-wearing weather during the day but cool enough again once the sun dipped behind the Manhattan skyline at night. I think there might be more days like that in our future, too. I hope.
So there’s apparently a thing in the Midwest where people put ranch dressing on everything. Hailing from the NYC suburbs, I still don’t really understand it. I’d definitely prefer a nice balsamic for my salads, barbecue sauce for my chicken fingers, and my pizza plain — without any dipping sauce, thank you very much. I still furrow my brow a little when my fella of four and a half years takes out the bottle when we reheat day-old pizza, but I mostly just shrug and let him do his midwestern thing. When I first made calzones a couple of years ago, I made him his favorite: a “Rocky Mountain High,” nostalgia from his college years, stuffed with chicken, mozzarella, blue cheese, and hot sauce, with a side of ranch. I, meanwhile, prepped myself a traditional cheese calzone stuffed with mozz, tomatoes, and basil, convinced that it would blow his weird midwestern concoction out of the water. Oh, how wrong I was.
My calzone was flat and boring. His was rich, creamy, and full of all kinds of explosive flavor. I ate mine sadly while looking over at his wistfully, probably much in the same way my Pema cat looks at my Lhamo cat as they’re eating their food (which is actually exactly the same). Needless to say, I haven’t made that sad calzone since. Continue reading →
This was supposed to be the post about the “perfect” apple pie. Instead, it will be the post about the the perfect day and the “very-almost-perfect” apple pie. It will be the post about being thankful, about digging deep, about finding out who you really are. This will be the post about the 2014 Philadelphia Marathon and the amazing gift of self-revelation.
When I was a kid, I was a jackrabbit. I loved running, jumping, racing, and I was damn good at it, too. Then my family moved and my new state had new requirements for phys ed: I was in third grade, and we had to run the mile. This eight-year-old had no idea what to do, so she went out the way she did for a 50-yard dash: fast. At the end, I finished with a pretty impressive time, but I paid for it when I puked on the side of the field after it was all said and done. That was my initiation into distance running, and I was no longer a fan. I slowed down in the following years and entered into each mile with resentment. It took me nearly 20 years before I finally rediscovered my love for running — when no one told me I had to do it. I just finally wanted to do it again.
Still, for years after I started running again I wasn’t a racer. I gave up when the going got tough. I hated it. I hated worrying about waking up early, getting to the start line. I hated the pressure I put on myself and the little devil on my shoulder who I knew would tell me to walk. But then I joined a running team. From my very first workout on the track, they believed in me. They believed in me before I did. Continue reading →
When I lived in Paris my junior year of college, I probably ate a crêpe every other day, if not every single day. My fillings of choice were simple: Nutella and banana. It wasn’t breakfast, and it wasn’t dessert. Usually it was lunch. I would eat it as I walked from my favorite outdoor crêperie (off rue de Passy) back to class, or to the Métro, pieces of just-warmed banana falling onto the cobblestone street as I would hurry across a small intersection while taking a bite, hot Nutella oozing onto my fingertips. Along with the pains au chocolat and other delectable pastries, I definitely had a problem. But it’s a problem that, almost a decade and a half later, I still can’t seem to shake.
Exhibit A: this blog. See, I ran out of apple oatmeal cookies, so I had to make something new last night. Forget the fact that I have chocolate chip cookie dough in the freezer. I also had leftover pizza dough that needed to be used up before going bad. Aha, see, there’s another dirty little secret I haven’t yet let on. I make pizza. And bread. And calzones. We’ll get to the first two at some point, I promise. But first let’s hit the latter, and hit it hard. Forget savory dinnertime calzones (for now). We’re making Nutella-banana calzones. Which, according to my inner 20-year-old’s logic, would also make an excellent lunch.
Continue reading →
Until the last week of August, summer in NYC was feeling a lot more like early fall. Sixty-three degree mornings that made you want to jump out of bed for an early morning run; temperatures plummeting overnight, saving your electric bill with open windows and your stomachs from takeout – I actually turned my oven to 550 degrees for a considerable amount of time over three nights to make pizza. Even the warmer days were cool: we finally hit that moment when, despite the thermostat calling out 85, breezes felt like they were coming overland from Canada, unsheathed from ice. It was respite. It was relief. It was the coming of cinnamon and scarves and spices.
Of course, summer returned with a vengeance, two days after two friends, during a 15-mile, multi-borough training run, hoped aloud that we would get some heat to make fall marathon training easier. Thanks, guys. Several days hit the lower 90s. Were there breezes? I have no idea. I think they were stuck somewhere in the swimming pool that became the atmosphere.