summer

I wanted to make you a salad, but all you got was this blog post

I've been listening to a lot of Neil Young lately, and also the kind of funky, groovy R&B that makes me awkwardly gyrate and sway on the subway and street corners-- because the need to dance is so in me. 
I play the song "Harvest Moon" over and over again, and suddenly I am sixteen and driving alone for the first time and singing along, in order to forget how terrifying driving actually is. 


Listening to Neil Young pulls the curtain back, shows me all the wistful, swinging summertime sadness and dreaming that is often too difficult to express aloud, if you can even put words to it. "When we were strangers, I watched you from afar." 
Has a more perfect love story, ever been written in just one sentence? 


So I'm in the mood for holding other people's babies and in the mood for going swimming in the morning, talking the world over with a few beers and I want to dance until there are blisters on my heels. 
I think I'm a little in love with all the ordinary parts of being a person. Which maybe explains why I love things like weddings and birthdays and baptisms-- all marking the passage of time, and time lucky enough to be spent here
Mostly, I want to cook for you-- I wanna make fat salads with mountains of arugula and fresh mozzarella and sliced avocados, all with some sharp limey dressing, and some beverage so cold it hurts our teeth. 


Because I've been sickish, I didn't go to work yesterday, and instead ate a thick croissant egg sandwich with fries and talked to this barista. He was Moroccan, but grew up in Israel. He told me how he had done a 7-month long solo motorcycle trip across the US and most of Central America. All the way to Honduras and beyond. 
"What did you learn?" I asked him. 
He looked me right in the eyes, "I learned," he said, "that it is good to be alive." 





Caesar Salad


When I was 16 years old, I saw the movie An Education, and it changed my life. I over-identified with the heroine, played by Carey Mulligan, to the point that it almost scared me. Because the character had this longing to really LIVE in the world. And in all of my adolescent angst I completely understood. 



In the very last scene of the film, she’s riding a bicycle through the streets of Paris. And she’s happy. She’s not longing to live her life, not wishing things were otherwise, but actually present in the moment, actually living.



I have been riding my bike a lot lately. With friends and alone. 
And there have been moments, silent, except for the sound of peddling and my own breath-- when I’ve sped under orange street lights late in summer night-- and I have thought to myself-- appreciate this. Because in those rare fractions of seconds-- 
I was so present that I didn't want to be Carey Mulligan. 
I didn't want anyone's life but mine. 

I wonder if everything can be this way. That the life you dream about can be yours always. That everything, from the clothes you wear to the food you eat, if it can all be of a piece. 
That all the tiny things can add up to a beautiful life, a present so wonderful that sometimes you can only recognize how fucking glorious it is in retrospect. 

I think so. 
I hope so. 



So I am quietly building a life. Or trying to.
I’m eating caesar salads with homemade dressing and attempting to delight in bike rides, lunches, conversations, swimming pools, coffee shops and dancing in the grocery store. 
Because right now, I am so young, and so much feels so possible. 





I think so. 
I hope so. 

XOXO

m

Caesar Salad Dressing 
from foodnetwork.com

Note: The recipe asks for six cloves of garlic. Which seemed just illogical to me. So I used four. Do as you like. And of course, I am a big proponent of anchovies. They really make it that much better. Also, this recipe is unusual in that it doesn't call for a raw egg, which is typical of many dressings.  

6 cloves garlic, minced 
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 cup olive oil 
salt
pepper
lemon juice 
minced anchovy fillets (optional) 

2-3 heads Romaine lettuce
Parmesan cheese

Combine garlic, mustard, vinegar and two pinches of salt in a blender and mix thoroughly. Add mayonnaise and blend together to form a thick base. In a slow stream add olive oil through hole in lid. Scrape dressing with spatula into a bowl and season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice. If desired, add anchovy to dressing to create a deeper, saltier taste.

Wash and dry lettuce. Chop leaves if desired. Combine dressing with lettuce and toss gently. Top with parmesan. Salt and pepper again as desired. 


Blueberry Picnic Cake




Dear Beloveds, 

I believe in going out to lunch: it’s more casual than dinner, not too long, not too short, and it’s nice
Lunch is always nice
Over lunch is the best way to talk to people. 
And I love talking to people. 
So the locations are always changing, the people are always changing. 
But the interesting thing is that the talk rarely does: It’s always love or god or family or school or work or the future or the past or what-should-I-order. The characters and situations might change, but the bewilderment never really does. 
And I don’t know if this changes with adulthood/time-- but so many people my age talk about loneliness. 
They are lonely on the insides. 
Lonely on the outsides. 
And there are people in your phone but frequently it feels like all the communication done and information garnered via facebook doesn’t translate into the real world.



All so lonely. 

So I don’t know who you are. 

Maybe I don’t even know you. 

But please know this. 

I get lonely. 

Maybe you do too. 

So call someone. 
Or sit in the sun till the ache inside gets a little better. 
Or bake this cake. Just because it is good. 

And know, that somehow, someone, somewhere, is maybe thinking about you. 
And wishing you only the sweet things. 

I’m only wishing you sweet things. 

xoxo

p.s. I will be traveling for a while with poor internet access and no kitchen. So we'll probably speak again late August. Love love love. 
p.p.s. This is yet another blueberry cake recipe. I'm not sorry. 



Blueberry Picnic Cake

My cousin Claire told me to make this from our family cookbook. She was not kidding when she said it was worth my time. Claire is pretty rad. So is this cake. And with a smudge of ice cream: heaven.  xo


4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups flour 
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup milk 

2 pints fresh blueberries, washed, dried and dusted with 1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar

Grease 13x9x3 inch baking pan. 
In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Gradually add 1/2 cup of the sugar and beat until well-blended. 
In a large bowl, cream butter until fluffy. Add salt and vanilla. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups sugar and beat until blended. 
Add egg yolks and beat until light and creamy. Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour, baking powder and milk. Mix throughly. Fold in the reserved beaten egg whites. 
Gently fold the blueberries into the batter. Spread evenly in prepared ban. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. 
Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan and wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. 



German Chocolate Cake



There was a pair of artists. They were called Christo and Jeanne Claude.

They were known for making tremendous art installations all over the world.
They swathed an entire island in pink fabric.
For several weeks they transformed Central Park into a series of fluttering saffron colored gates.
They wrapped the Reichstag, the German Parliment, in aluminum fabric.
This is all very impressive.
But even more interesting to me, is that the first time they kissed, the kiss was so passionate that Christo chipped a tooth.


Chipped a tooth. 

This is so hard for me to comprehend or even understand.

Tooth chipping passion.
They were hungry for each other. 


I've been thinking a lot about the idea of being a hungry person. 
Hungry for love. 
Hungry for touch. 
Hungry to be noticed. 
Hungry to dance. 

Hungry for cake. 


Because life is so short. 

It is so 

heartbreakingly 

short. 


I mean, the other day my brother told me that if every human life span is about 50 years, then basically all of recorded human history would fit into 100 lifetimes. 


I mean. 
What. 

So I want to have my cake and eat it too, and I just want to be so completely involved and PRESENT in NOW. 
My friend Connor and I talked about this. That when you realize that the present is all there is, that even the next breath you take is uncertain, then you are free to truly LIVE your life. 
Which is the best argument to eat cake instead of salad and get a tattoo and cut your own bangs that I have ever heard. 


So Christo and Jeanne Claude swathed an entire island in pink fabric.
And transformed Central Park into a series of fluttering saffron colored gates. 
And the first time they kissed, their first kiss was so passionate that Christo chipped a tooth.

They were so hungry to live in the present. 
They ate their cake. 
There is not the slightest doubt in my mind, that if they had this cake they would probably have eaten the entire thing. Because it really is that good. 

XOXO





German Chocolate Cake

This recipe is from a family cookbook someone gave to my mother many years ago. The format of the recipe is kind of unusual, (I didn't feel like rewriting it) so I recommend reading through it a couple times before starting. All the ingredients are italicized. Making the cake is pretty simple, and highly rewarding. As I suggested in the obnoxious post above. 

Preheat oven to 350 F. 
Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans. 

Microwave below in large microwavable cup or bowl for 1 1/2 minutes until chocolate begins to melt (stir half-way through.) Stop and stir when it boils up on sides of bowl or cup during the microwaving. 

1/2 cup water
1 package (4 oz. bar) Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate

Let rest five minutes, then stir until all chocolate dissolves. 

Sift together in another bowl 

2 1/4 cup sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

set aside. 

In another bowl, cream until light and fluffy:

1 cup soft butter (2 sticks)
2 cups sugar

Add ONE at a time:

4 egg yolks

Beat well after each addition. 
NOw add and mix in the chocolate mixture lightly. Along with 

1 teaspoon vanilla

Add, alternating flour and buttermilk:

Flour mixture you made 
1 cup buttermilk

Alternate with about 1/3 flour, 1/2 buttermilk, 1/3 flour, 1/2 buttermilk and finally the rest of the flour. 

In another clean bowl, beat at high speed until stiff peaks form:

4 egg whites. 

Fold the whites gently into the batter. Pour into prepared pans. 
Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes or until cake springs back when gently touched. (Toothpick test doesn't work.) Cool for 15 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely before frosting. 


Coconut-Pecan Frosting

Mix together in a large saucepan 

1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) 
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cook and stir on medium heat for about 12 minutes, or until thickened and golden brown. Remove from heat and stir in:

4 to 7 ounces ounces Angel Flake Coconut or whatever sweetened shredded coconut your heart desires
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Cool to spreading consistency. Frost cake.