Thursday, December 29, 2011

That's a wrap

You probably thought I was done for, but here I am, trying to resuscitate this thing before we shut down 2011. The year has flown by--for all of us, I'm sure. I remember an older cousin once saying to me that life just went faster and faster as you got older. I didn't entirely understand how that was possible, or why it was a worrisome thing, but now I appreciate it in full. Life spins along with or without you; if you're lucky, you can steer a little and take snapshots along the way.

Overall, it's been a great year.  It started off rough--we lost Frances in January, which broke my heart. But, the thing about life propelling forward is that eventually the hard or sad things get further away and you start to pick up happy and even fantastic things to focus on. Like traveling to wonderful places, or welcoming new members into your family.

Now, all of a sudden, the year is coming to a close. I generally feel neither excited nor melancholy about the holidays; however, this year was a little bit special. Someone I love very much had a serious health scare in the months leading up to the holidays, the kind of situation which demands that you be optimistic while quietly steeling yourself for the unknown. I am delighted to say that good news has prevailed, lending a true sense of joy to the the season. Whether you thank a god or a lucky star, these are the times one simply surrenders to the deepest feelings of gratitude.

To wrap up the year, I've put together a little highlight reel of the past year, food and otherwise.

1) We went to Paris and Barcelona, where we ate, drank, walked, and marveled for two weeks.

First day in Paris, jetlagged and happy.

2) I made a very average strawberry shortcake, which turned out to be my most popular post of all time.

Pretty but boring.

3) We found Sophie.


4) The husband ventured into the kitchen and made clam chowder, giving me a run for my money.

Not bad, even if it was from Esquire.

5) I spent a fabulous day with my sister in New York and ate the famous Momofuku Ssam Bar pork buns, the thought of which still sends me into a dreamy little daze.

Porky pork belly, I'll take two please.

6) We celebrated the husband's birthday on a beautiful, not-foggy day in August at Delfina.

Prosecco to ring in the next year!

7) I became obsessed with both Dorie Greenspan and sardines.

Dorie's sardine rillettes.

8) I had a blogging crisis and started talking about non-food things, which overall seemed to be met positively.

The subject of one of my ramblings.

9) I overcame my dislike of eggs. Sorry, cholesterol!

I ate eggs at home and abroad.

10) We went to Maui and began seriously considering a permanent move to the island.

If you don't want to live here, something is wrong with you.

I hope you all have enjoyed a happy and healthy year, and I wish you the same for 2012!

Hungry Dog

Me and my girl at Pizzetta 211.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Persimmon and apple crostata

All of a sudden we have a pile of persimmons. We got some in the produce box and someone gave the husband a nice-looking one at work. They're in season, you may know. We had some recently in a salad at Ragazza, and they've been popping up on blogs.

I like persimmons, although I doubt I would buy them. However, once they enter the house, I do my best to use them.

There's always the question of what to do, though. And I know for a fact I am not the only one contemplating this exact question! In the last month, my post about spiced persimmon chutney from two years ago has been the most popular one on my blog.

Incidentally, for fellow bloggers, don't you love looking at your blog stats? They never fail to surprise me. My all-time most popular post to date is strawberry shortcake (a bit unfortunate, since that recipe wasn't any good), followed upside-down plum cake, vanilla bean bundt cake, and crazy mango bars (which I love to read and be reminded of my beloved Frances--RIP baby girl!) I also like to see the searches that lead people to my blog. In addition to the expected recipe key words, I get a lot of dog-related questions, such as, "Can my dog eat olives?" and "Are dogs allergic to cabbage?" and a strangely popular one, "What happens if my dog eats persimmons?" (no joke). Apparently a lot of dogs out there are gobbling these odd little tannic fruits and sending their owners into frenzies. Perhaps I should add a canine diet and health page to my blog.

I myself will occasionally search for recipes (thus the chutney) and have come across persimmon bread, persimmon cake, persimmon preserves, etc. In the end, this week I fell back on an old basic recipe I've used a hundred times for a crostata. I've done it with blueberries, pears, and apples, among other fruits. The crust is very simple and since crostatas are free form I don't have to fret about my poor pastry skills.

This time I decided on a combination of apples and persimmons, and contrary to my usual method of just dumping all the fruit in a pile over the crust, I Martha-Stewarted the hell out of this thing and arranged the fruit into elegant little rows (elegant by my standards, sloppy by Martha's).

The result was lovely indeed, with one caveat, which is that although I sliced the persimmons rather thinly (I thought), they didn't quite cook enough. So while the apples were perfectly soft without being mushy, the persimmons were a shade al dente.

It was more than edible, though, the first night with vanilla ice cream and for the next couple of days for breakfast. The husband informed me from his cube at work that the mid-morning combination of the crostata with a latte was "dope." Indeed!

While I can't vouch for whether or not they are dog-safe, persimmons are a perfect fruit for humans to enjoy this time of year. They look like bright little jewels, have a curious texture employable in either a salad or dessert, and bear a distinctive, sweet flavor at home in a crumble, crisp, or this homey little crostata.