Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Psycho Babble

“I should be… I have to… I can’t…” go ahead, fill in the blank. We all say this sort of thing or think it. Our minds are split into tasks we have to complete or should be doing and things we want to do. I have some time “off,” finishing online classes, only working one part-time job, and packing to move in 2 weeks. This week, I assigned myself a single task: Cook. Every. Day. We ate out a lot last week, which is fine occasionally, but we ate out A LOT. Hey! Cooking in a half-packed kitchen is tough, but we are moving in two weeks and my new kitchen, it needs work. I’m determined to enjoy every last recipe in my spacious, modern, chef-friendly, fully equipped kitchen before plummeting into the depths of an early 80’s nightmare, complete with particle board cabinets. The nightmare will be short lived; we’re knocking down walls, gutting the kitchen, and remodeling within 6 months. But 6 months without my kitchen! So, I’m cooking while I can.

When I have time for creative pursuits, I make dessert. I’m not sure what that says about me. I have other interests. In another lifetime, I was a writer, an artist, a poet, and I still love those things. But dessert? When you make something delicious, you know it. People smile, they make yum-sounding noises, they ask for more. My egotistical little mind loves recognition. And when I channel Martha, instant gratification! Last night, I took a little trip on the ego train. Choo-choo! My voyage was a result of this beauty. Let me pause to marvel at my artistry….

Ha! The tart was tasty and is modified below from an EDF recipe that can be found here.


3/4 cup raw almonds
1/3 cup granulated sugar
A Pinch of Coarse salt
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 stick of unsalted butter


2 teaspoons plain powdered gelatin
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar


In a food processor, pulse almonds, granulated sugar, and salt until finely ground. Add flour; pulse to combine. Cube cold butter, add to processor and pulse until mixture is crumbly and holds together when squeezed. Press crumbs in bottom and up side of an 8-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom or a cheesecake pan. Freeze 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is golden brown and set, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack 10 minutes, then remove tart ring and let cool completely.

In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 2 tablespoons cold water and let stand 5 minutes. In a small saucepan, warm half-and-half over medium. When it begins to steam, add gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved, about 1 minute. In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, brown sugar, and pinch of salt. Stir warm half-and-half mixture into yogurt mixture. Pour filling into cooled tart shell and refrigerate until set, 2 hours (or up to 1 day).

Decorate with fruit of your choice. I used 1/2 a pint of organic strawberries, a kiwi, and a peach.

A few notes: I like more crust, so I modified the original to make it more robust. When heating the half and half, it might be nice to infuse a bit more flavor into the yogurt custard thingy. A vanilla bean? Lemon or orange zest? Oooo! Star anise? Can you think of any modifications? Let me know if you try it and how it turns out.

Tonight's menu: Pan seared rosemary pork tenderloin with polenta and garlicky kale.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, July 26, 2010

Odds & Ends

Hey! I have a blog! When did this happen? Please stand by as I try to make blogging a regular part of my life, but don't stand on your head. You might pass out! Schedule adjustments don't come easy to me! In the meantime, I have a few odds and ends for you:

-Dr. Charles is hosting the First Annual Charles' Prize for Poetry for poetry in the context of science and medicine! Details can be found HERE. To quote from Dr. Charles, "Should your poem be selected as the winner, you shall receive an award of $500, along with a cherry tomato from my garden. Seriously." How amazing is that? I LOVE cherry tomatoes!

-Have you seen this blog? It's strange and adorable and I am now wondering what my own little monkey dreams about each time he catches a bit of shut eye...

-Also, when once I finish moving into the new place, I want to try to make goat cheese ice cream. Fer serious!

Enjoy the links and thanks for reading!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

I once danced a Huayno with a man named Melquiades

Do memories sneak up on you? You’re walking down the street and a restaurant emanates with the smell of your grandma’s goulash. They don’t have the goulash, or anything close, but the smell has the power to make you open the door and take you back. Popcorn is popping in the microwave, because that’s how people make it these days, and suddenly you’re transported to a South Floridian dinner theater. Star Wars Episode IV is on the big screen and your dad’s beer sits precariously close to the edge of the table.

Digging through articles about melting glaciers and global warming, pictures of Aymara and Quechua farmers tug strands of memory to the front of my mind. I’m 19 and dressed in a jewel toned velvet skirt with layers and layers of native slips beneath, some cotton, some wool, all beautifully embroidered with patterns as old as the Inkas. Braids and a hat complete the ensemble, my feet tap out a quick beat while my partner turns pink with embarrassment. He never danced a Huayno before, but he would spin one for the gringa. He raises his brow in awe of my ease with his native dance. We turn circles around each other, striking the concrete with heavy clicks as the charango intensifies. The swish of my skirts mimic the shuffling second beat of our feet. His handkerchief brushes my shoulder as we cross the floor. The up-tempo slows when I see it now, pitched voices soften while the two dancers swirl in my memory. Burgundy skirts, yellow shirt, gold-toothed smile, luggage, Cruz del Sol, customs, blink, 14 years pass in the mist of that swirl. But still… I tap my foot, turn on Pandora, and suddenly I’m spinning a Huayno with Melquiades Augustine. I wonder where Tio Augustine is now. Doing missionary work in the Amazonas? Up in the mountains or back home in the sweltering heat of Chepen? Teaching his son to drive? Time ticks away, mountains melt.

“Mommy, you can dance!” My three year old is now turning circles with me on the kitchen floor. I pause and smile at him. I hope he can meet my Tio one day and those mountains that brought my memories back.

More on the mountains next week. Sorry for the neglect. I'm posting more often. Pinky swear.