It's September 6 and the high today is supposed to be 85 degrees. But I still got myself my first pumpkin spice latte on the season. Mmm-mmm, bring on fall.
When Jeremy and I were house-hunting in the spring, I reflected that there is only so much research you can do on an area - the schools, amenities and property taxes. But your neighbors - well, only time will tell.
Blessedly, we landed in a very warm, community-oriented neighborhood, anchored by a one-lot playground. On school mornings, the kids parade down the streets, walking to the elementary school. Friday evenings, there are pizza parties on the playground. We had our block party last weekend, where Jeremy and I got to meet more people. One woman noted that the house really becomes your own when you start cooking and baking your favorite recipes, perfuming your house with those wonderfully comforting, familiar smells.
I thought of her as I prepared our Rosh Hashanah dinner this week. We had what are becoming our traditional dishes for this holiday - Italian-style brisket and apple cake; I had my little baker at my side.
Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust:
Provencal cherry tomato gratin
3 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large garlic cloves, peeled
1⁄3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 cups coarse bread cubes from a country bread (crusts removed)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place the tomatoes in a 9x13-inch ceramic dish. Add the 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss together. Spread the tomatoes evenly in the pan.
Place the garlic, parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until the garlic is finely chopped. Add the bread cubes and process until the bread is in crumbs. Add the ¼ cup of olive oil and pulse a few times to blend. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the tomatoes.
Bake the gratin for 40 to 45 minutes, until the crumbs are golden and the tomato juices are bubbling. Serve hot or warm.
Potato celery root puree
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (4 leeks)
4 cups (1½ pounds) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced into ¾" cubes
4 cups (2 pounds) celery root, peeled and diced into ¾" cubes
3 cups heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper
Melt butter over medium heat in a large (8" to 10") saucepan or Dutch oven. Rinse leeks well in a colander, spin dry in a salad spinner, and add to pot. Sauté over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes, until tender but not browned. Add potatoes, celery root, cream, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper to the pot, stir, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to very low, cover pot, and simmer gently 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. Be careful—don't let the vegetables scorch on the bottom of the pan! In batches, pour mixture into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until coarsely pureed. Taste for seasonings, return to saucepan, and keep warm over very low heat. If mixture gets too thick, add a little more cream.
Green beans gremolata
1 pound French green beans, trimmed
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
3 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
2 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the green beans and blanch them for 2 to 3 minutes, until tender but still crisp. Drain the beans in a colander and immediately put them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and preserve their bright green color.
For the gremolata, toss the garlic, lemon zest, parsley, parmesan, and pine nuts in a small bowl and set aside.
When ready to serve, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Drain the beans and pat them dry. Add the beans to the pan and saute, turning frequently, for 2 minutes, until coated with olive oil and heated through. Off the heat, add the gremolata and toss well. Sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and serve hot.
Friday, September 6, 2013
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
This moment is a good moment to shake me from my blog-writing coma.
Today is Jack's first full day of kindergarten. Yesterday, we had an open house for students and their parents, but today is the real deal.
Jack, Jossie and I were a few steps behind our neighbors as we walked to the school. We quickened our pace to catch up. Jack ran ahead and fell in line with two neighborhood boys. I was okay until that point - I watched how Jack tried to match their steps, readjusting his new backpack on his shoulders. He was looking to them on where he might fit in. Just a block or two away, all three boys were laughing together, blended together.
We hit the school grounds just as the first bell rang. Jack ran ahead, but then double-backed. He grabbed my hand, and I did my best to not cry. I grabbed Jossie's stroller and we pressed closer to the door, through the crowds of parents and students. "Where do I go?" Jack looked at me. I reminded him of what he needed to do and knelt down to hug and kiss him. Our new neighbor and friend, Annie, pressed her son's hand into Jack's hand, and together the boys walked into their classroom together, holding hands. Annie and I stood side-by-side, watching her youngest and my firstborn as they disappeared. I think we were symbolically holding hands too.
This is a big step for our boy, and I am very excited for this new journey. But for now, I think I just need a good cry at this milestone moment.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
There are a lot of cries bigger in this world than me being anxious about moving and finding a new caregiver for the kids. But it's all weighing me down. I sought peace at church this warm summer morning, and I brought Jossie with me. She held my hand with one chubby hand, and held her Minnie Mouse Lip Smacker in the other. She noted we were both wearing pretty dresses.
Church was at its best; the choir was all-women, and we sang comforting hymns. We sang my favorite hymn in fact. We had it at Jeremy's and my wedding.
For the Beauty of the Earth
For the beauty of the earth,
for the beauty of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our grateful hymn of praise.
For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower,
sun and moon, and stars of light, Lord of all…
For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth, and friends above,
Pleasures pure and undefiled, Lord of all…
For each perfect gift of thine
to our race so freely given,
graces human and divine,
flowers of earth and buds of heaven, Lord of all…
For thy Church which evermore
lifteth holy hands above,
offering up on every shore
Her pure sacrifice of love, Lord of all…
We packed this afternoon. As I lowered plastic boxes of Legos into a moving box, I thought I'd get Jack's thoughts. "I think these Legos are a little nervous to move, Jack," I said. "What do you think I should tell them?"
He thought for a second. "How should I know, Mom," he answered. "I don't speak Lego."
Happy week ahead, friends.