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recipes

When you write about food for a living, you find yourself scraping the bottom of the barrel sometimes. You'll have twenty good ideas, then a few duds, and you start to doubt your ability to think about food coherently.

The first tomatoes of the season are sacred. Spoken for. They are thinly sliced, dressed with salt and pepper and maybe olive oil at the most, and eaten in reverent silence. As there are a few more tomatoes to be had, the tomato sandwich recurs. White bread, mayonnaise, tomato, salt and pepper. And then July and August arrive, and we are spoiled for choice.

Yesterday was a momentous day. It was all about dealing with loose odds and ends that have followed me around, if only in my mind, for some time now.

Few of my journeys in life have evoked such hunger as that to the sea.

The hunger after rising early to walk in the sand, against the wind. The hunger after a strong swim in cold water. The hunger a bright, hot fire on the beach instills.

The first heat wave of the season is always a shock. The days have been so temperate this spring, with regular rain and lush greenery, that I had almost forgotten how unbearably hot and humid the southern summer becomes. But here we are again.

This spring will go down as my busiest on record. It all began with a few 80 degree days in February. I took a chance, betting against a late snow or hard frost, and planted some things. As the days warmed and lengthened, I planted more. Then, we launched the website, John and I started planning our wedding, and we decided to go on a road trip this June.

Growing up, dessert meant lots of white sugar, white flour, and usually lots of icing. Pound cake, lemon meringue pie, and Texas sheet cake were standards at the Sunday table. And I did eat of the fruit of the tree, and I did eat well, which is probably why I love more complex flavors now.

I had a revelatory moment when I discovered that Brussels sprouts aren't naturally soggy and sulfuric.

The fact is, when you boil or steam them to within an inch of their watery, mushy lives, they don't taste very good no matter how much butter you slather on them.

Perhaps Easter isn't the time to get fancy. Perhaps it isn't the time to try something new, but rather to stick to the old family classics. But I've always believed in expanding holiday horizons. After all, what's celebratory about a scripted table? Why not make pumpkin baklava for Thanksgiving instead of pumpkin pie?

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