THE VEGETABLE SOUP MATRIX: You choose the green bean and the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. Take the red lentil, you stay in Wonderland, and get shown what the rabbit’s eating down deep in its hole. This divine little article explores the recipe-less free-wheeling cousins of bisque. Just like I like alphabetizing my condiments and labeling my leotards, the idea of pushing a vast category of wild foodstuffs into Four Simple designations (CREAMY, EARTHY, HEARTY, BROTHY) is like a Punnet Square of sustainable eating on the cheap. We’d better get (pepper) cracking if we’re going to make any of these delicious bottom-of-the-barrell greenmarket scrapers before we’re back to rhubarb and tomatoes. I will gladly celebrate the end of butternut squash, kill the kale, and im-peach the beet, all with toasted baguettes and crème fraîche.
Daylight Savings Time: Who’s looking forward to those long Spanish seeming evenings where the between-the-buildings shadows of New York seem ever-lengthening and where you move through the air and it is no hotter or cooler than your skin, where any breeze feels like rosé… um. Me. that’s who.
In the meantime, just as this 1931 hit from the High Hatters says:
There ought to be a moonlight saving time
so I could love that boy of mine
until the birdies wake and chime
Oh My. Just discovered For Love and Lemons the other day and have been returning to this image ever since. Powerful and undeniably girly at the same time, both wild and sophisticated. This is also how I’d like to describe myself on my good days.
From Meags: Daily Lexeme: Nidification
Today’s word, in association with the unbeatable Oxford English Dictionary, is:
nidification (n.) The action of nest-building (esp. by birds); the construction of a nest or nests; the manner in which this is done.
Used in a sentence in 1842 by H.W. Herbert:
“He arrives here from the South during the month of February …
Love, nidification, and good eating are then his chief employment.”
This is now my official mantra, motto, way of life, om shantih shantih shantih, manifest destiny, instruction booklet, mandate.
Ahh, it’s been one of those weekends. This week justified doing absolutely nothing* all day Saturday and then deciding, oh hell, let’s do absolutely nothing again today. Well… no matter how busy my week was, if I’m not going to go see (what looks like the most amazing) Norman Rockwell photography exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum or Snape/Shine at BAM or all the myriad things one should do on a rainy day off in Brooklyn. I always feel at least the need to fluff around my apartment and feather it a little bit. Enter: my favorite recipe- which I have never named and is simply: Almond Cake. It is SO ridiculously easy, but ends up quite special and sophisticated.
I like this recipe so much (and make it so frequently) that instead of living with the rest of the recipes, I transcribed it onto the back of the awesome Alpine Accordion Band postcard I got in the Hague and it lives on the fridge, edges curling with repeated Kirschings, in easy in-case-of-reference reach:
Almond Cake (for company or solitude celebrations)**
1 cup almonds, raw
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 stick butter (softened, cut up)
1 tsp. Kirsch (if you have)
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
powdered sugar (in truth, optional… but just you wait!)
– Oven to 350 degrees please.
– Place almonds, sugar, salt and almond extract in food processor, pulverize.
– Add eggs, butter, kirsch and blend thoroughly.
– Add flour and baking powder, mix until just blended.
– butter/oil/pam/crisco/lard/whatever and flour pan (standard cake pan, torte pan, whatever)
– Scrape batter into prepared pan, smooth.
(at this point Sweetheart comes in dripping wet in the middle of it– heading from teaching a children’s music class in Chelsea on his way to Bed-Stuy to lead a rock band of eight year olds– bearing champagne and bacon. le swoon.)
– enlist sweetheart’s help to lick spatula and everything with even a smidge of almond mixture on it clean (optional, encouraged…if you are afraid of raw eggs, then… I am very sorry for you. Egg nog, Southsides, Hollandaise, all other -aises, and sweet batters are some of the best treats around).
– Put un-cake in oven for 30-45 minutes until it turns golden brown and becomes cake.
– Let cool completely, then run a fine knife around the edge and invert on a plate. There is a surprisingly good little drawing of how to do this on my recipe card:
NOW- you are effectively done. BUT- if you’d like to take it a step further, then the easiest and most lovely thing to do next is to decorate it with a powdered sugar relief. Again, if you like making cheap things look expensive (like I do) and easy things look impressive (me too) then this is the kind of next level thing you’ll love.
Cut whatever you’d like out of plain paper– if you are artistically inclined you can get totally crazy, but simple shapes work just as well***– I chose a rainstorm-brings-spring-blooms thing because it’s so wet and nasty out today, but it must be paving the way for crocuses and daffodils like.any.second. Place your cutouts on your lovely almond cake:
Then dust a light sprinkling of powdered sugar over the cutouts using a fine sieve or flour sifter if you’re super fancy:
Then carefully take off the paper cutouts (I used tweezers for this one because the flower stems were as bendy as real flower stems and I didn’t want to color inside the lines by accident).
This is the perfect way to make “a rainy day where you could have gone to see Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts but decided to nap” into “a triumph of home and sweetness, and now let’s have people over to eat it for dessert”.
* Saturday I actually spent in the thrall of a Colum McCann book… I loved his newest and “supported my local bookstore” by buying this one and recommend devoting a Saturday to it wholeheartedly. Lovely and bittersweet and occasionally staggeringly beautiful. Slivovitz and words that taste like wheat and sky.
**The recipe calls for a large food processor, but until Sweetheart’s mama gave us a “Robot Culinaire” for Christmas/Hannukah/New Years, I made it just fine on multiple occasions without (chop the almonds fine fine fine and melt and stir the butter, instead of cubing it- no prob).
*** Other cakes we’ve made in the past month include:
If you make one Please send in a picture (we’ll keep adding on!).
A few great things happened to me today. I finished my first Sudoku puzzle. Ever. It took me 19:52 (which I think is a long time but felt like a butterfly kiss of an eyelash flutter).
I got a Hyacinth at the Union Square Farmers Market (and said silently to myself “they called me the Hyacinth Girl”).
I watched this:
I went to SoHo for a rare mid-day appointment and when I stepped out of the subway I was immediately hit with a fashion-shoot-worthy bluster of wind blowing my coat open and lifting my scarf around like something out of Avedon (see above). I felt oh-so-fashionable in a vintage houndstooth in-the-style-of-Chanel, big gold baubles, bigger sunglasses, my favorite pumps, and- per my resolution- a big, bright, silk, scarf. Only when I arrived at my appointment did I realize that TWO buttons had popped off my coat (one into my purse, file under: bizarre, fortuitous). My coat was LITERALLY telling me it was time to start wearing less, taking more off… in the meantime (until it rises above 40) what am I to do!? More scarves.
Am enamored with this look from Glamourai and fully realize that I am essentially one whole year late on this. Trend-cycling or something. Right? Regardless, isn’t her little fox simply divine? And, as you know, I like nothing more than showing my bra.
While we wait eagerly for spring, here’s a reminder of what adventures feel like.
image courtesy of Jennifer Evans and the divine Still Developing project in support of polaroid film.