April 28, 2012

Lessons from an Artichoke

Grilled Artichokes w/ Lemon Garlic Caper Marinade and Basil Aioli



What is so vulnerable, I wonder, that must need such safeguarding, such armor?  When you hold the artichoke in your hand, the first thing you notice are the waxy prickly leaves, brilliantly designed to keep predators out. They can be sharp, injurious even, if not handled with care. Still, you can not help but see how beautiful they are, thorns and all, with their perfect symmetry and silvery hues of greens and purples. Their leaves curl tightly inward, holding something precious inside.  At the center of the choke, lies the heart, its true essence. Tucked away and concealed from the outside world, the heart remains hidden, and eludes many.

Are we not so different from the artichoke?  What prickles and thorns we grow, to shelter and shield our most true and tender places.  Our defenses, wisely and beautifully crafted in times of need, have preserved us. They have kept us safe. And to this, we must give our respect and our thanks. But what, I wonder, do we give up, everyday, in return for this safety?

April 21, 2012

Asparagus and Poached Egg on Toast with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette


After we walked everywhere, saw everything, and had done all there was to do, we did something strangely wonderful. We meandered. It was a beautiful spring day in Paris two years ago. We wandered with abandon, winding and turning down small cobbled streets, directed only by whim.  With no agenda, Brian and I eventually found ourselves sitting at a sidewalk cafe in the early afternoon, at last, finally relaxed. Sometimes it can take a while on vacation. I am discovering that my favorite days of all, are days without plans. Letting a day unfold on its own, with no schedule to adhere to, is pure luxury.  And, a day with no plans often brings the best surprises.  At the cafe, we ordered something very simple to share, and surprisingly, it become one of our most memorable meals. Isn't this often the case?

April 14, 2012

fingerling potatoes with peas, tarragon and mustard seed



In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
Margaret Atwood


I hesitate to even think this, let alone write it for fear of jinxing it. The sun has been out now for five days in a row. The ground has unfrozen. It almost feels warm outside. Could it be true? Could it really, truly, finally... be spring?


April 6, 2012

The Best Deviled Eggs




Of all the holidays, Easter has always been my favorite.  I have such cheery memories of my father in the kitchen dying Easter eggs, the same way his mother did, in the small Egyptian village he grew up in.  The first time I witnessed this as a child, I was very skeptical.  He had different piles of ingredients on the counter - onion peelings, beets, cabbage, spinach, parsley, carrots, various yellow and red spices, and a pot of boiling water on every burner.