Summer time is pie time. After years of resistance, I have come to love a good fruit pie, with juices running every which way. But as seasonal as it is, fruit pie is not often convenient for summer activities. It doesn’t go on road trips, or to the beach. It doesn’t slip into sack lunches for camp, or feed the crowd at the Friday night neighborhood barbecue.
Enter slab pie. It may sound unprepossessing, but slab pie is a pinch hitter for summer fun. Sure, a higher crust to fruit ratio makes it neater to take along with you, but it’s also just a little sassier – big enough to feed a crowd, with a slick of icing and generous proportions, it’s the Fat Amy to regular fruit pie’s Becca. (Bonus points if you get my reference.)
Continue reading Peach Almond Slab Pie
I first tried Vietnamese food the summer after I graduated from college. I was in the south of France with my parents, who were chaperoning a group of college students through a summer program. We were staying in a hotel in a small town on the Riviera where nearly every restaurant served a variation on the following menu: Fish soup, grilled fish, poached fish, sauteeed fish, tapenade. Although washed down with copious amounts of rose wine, we were desperate for some.. any! variation in our daily bread. So when we stumbled on the town’s only non-French restaurant, we fell on it like starving people.
Vietnamese food was a revelation – clean flavors bright with citrus and fresh herbs and that dank, funky flavor I since learned comes from fish sauce. When I moved to New York that fall, I found a local Vietnamese restaurant that delivered to my apartment, and went to town. I fell hard for crunchy nem wrapped in a lettuce leaf with herbs and dunked in that mysteriously orange nuoc cham, the star anise aromas of Pho (still my favorite food when I have a head cold), delicately crisped Banh Xeo, fragrant with coconut, and Bun Thit Nuong – bland noodles with crispy, savory pork on top. Pork with layers of flavor, charred from the grill.
Continue reading Vietnamese Lemongrass Grilled Pork Tenderloin
My baby boy has just turned one, and I have no clue how that happened. Just last week he was a tiny little warm bundle, whose floppy body fit – just exactly – into mine. His head smelled like powder and was covered with just the whisper of soft peach fuzz. He slept (and woke!) every two hours, and I was his sun.
I blinked and suddenly he’s walking around the house like a bear on his hind legs. Often with something dangerous – a fork, a length of jump rope, a permanent marker – clutched tight in one grubby little paw. He has the most delightful sly little smile, which is slower to come than it used to be, unless there is something TRULY exciting, which must also be shouted at and banged upon – like a drum, or a dog. He likes to tell jokes, and he wants to know what everything in the world is called, pointed and gesturing, and always saying, “que?” “que?” The peach fuzz is still strawberry blond, but has lengthened into curls – CURLS, which hurt my heart to look at, because WHAT is more darling than a little boy toddling around with blond curls? When he wakes up in the morning, he goes hunting for his sister, who is the MOST fun person in his world. He’s not a baby any more.
As if to squelch any doubt remaining in my mind about the end of his babyhood, the cruel calendar came round to May, and his babyhood year (why only one year?) was officially over. Toddlerhood is officially here, with all the joys that entails (stairs! And talking!)
So we made cake. And because I’m busy chasing the little blond monster all over creation, I didn’t fool around with layers and creaming, and baking and frosting. I made icebox cake.
Continue reading Lemon Blueberry Icebox Cake
After we went to New York this summer, we decided to head up the coast to Maine. Ken and I both love New England — he spent part of his childhood there, and we met in college there. I’m a total California girl, but the other place I really feel at home is New England.
Neither of us had ever been to Maine, though I had been fascinated with it since I was a child. To a kid growing up in Los Angeles, nothing is quite so exotic as the Pine Tree State. We rented a darling little cottage with a water view, no cell service, and a lot of peace.
And here’s the thing about Maine — it’s exactly how you imagine it to be.
Continue reading Summer Vacation II: Great State of Maine and Crab Rolls
The end of August is not the easiest of times. The novelty of summer has worn off, lost its gloss and charm. Summer camps are over, the last suitcases from vacation are half unpacked and staring dolefully at you. The kids are climbing the walls with boredom. The weather is unrelenting, the temperature climbing into the triple digits and staying high into the night. It’s too hot to cook, too hot to go to the park, or play in the yard.
This summer has not been the easiest time for me. I am usually breezy, with a joke every minute. But I felt unable to cope. And yet I found myself in my OB’s office at 8:30 one morning, sobbing.
Post partum depression was not something I expected. I didn’t have it when Nuni was born, but here I was, with a baby who cried a lot, a husband who worked a lot, a mother out of the country, a nearly- five year old who does nothing I tell her to, and a bucketful of hormones making me -literally – crazy. I wanted to enjoy my baby’s babyhood, rather than resenting it, but I felt like I couldn’t.
It took a good friend to send me a note saying, “I think you might have PPD”, a husband who talked the doctor into seeing me tomorrow, instead of two weeks from now, and some medication, but the fog has started to lift.
The meds have helped, but some days are still a struggle. I have to remind myself, every day, to focus on the blessings. The grins and coos of my little boy When he sees my face, the conversations with my big girl, a husband who is an active parent rather than a bystander. When I focus on these, I can slowly find the joy that surrounds me.
August has its blessings, too. The sun may feel oppressive, but it brings us ruby tomatoes and juicy peaches. This gazpacho takes advantage of those, with the added bonus that it requires no cooking. I keep a jar in my refrigerator, and no lunch is more refreshing on a hot day. When I embrace the season, I can find the joys of late summer.
Continue reading Quick Tomato Peach Gazpacho