Spending the weekend on the farm in Vermont is always such a treat. While our reasons for being there may not have been ideal, we still had a great time there. We picked buckets of blueberries and peaches -- the last of the summer harvest. We ate handfuls upon handfuls of blueberries, and put them in just about anything we were eating. We made blueberry jam and peach blueberry cobbler. It was fantastic.
As much as I love food, I have the tendency to be a very boring eater. I tend to come across something that I love, and can then eat that very thing for the next month, or two, or twelve. In high school, I ate couscous at least once a day without fail. And not even interesting home-made couscous, it was just the five minute instant variety.
In college, i gave up my couscous craze and replaced it with smoothies. I then had a brief stint with black beans. And the past year or so, I have had a intense adoration for green salads -- having one a day, sometimes two!
Bruschetta is one of those foods that taste so good, and is so easy to throw together, yet for one reason or another I just never make it. And it is a real shame too; I order it at restaurants and repeatedly read over new recipes and versions of it in cookbooks. And even though all it takes is a little chopping, toasting and tossing, it just does not happen in my kitchen.
But, when walking through the farmers market this weekend, I came across red basil. I had never seen or heard of red basil before this, and I was mesmerized. A beautiful bouquet of red basil selling right alongside ripe new jersey tomatoes. It was a no brainer. These two items were going to become my first red basil, red tomato bruschetta.
My husband does not like to cook. It's not that he doesn't know how to cook, because he is a pretty good in the kitchen; it just seems to take too much effort to make a meal -- with the all the prepping, cooking and cleaning.
And, my husband doesn't like it when I cook either. While he likes and enjoys the food I prepare for us, he would much rather spend our shared time doing something else -- anything else. He thinks cooking takes up too much of our dwindling free time, and that we would be much better off grabbing a bite to eat out, and then being on our way to enjoying something else.
The thing is that I love to cook. It is one of my favorite ways to spend my time. It can sometimes be a source of conflict between us. But sometimes, rather then discuss if we should eat out or cook, sometimes, he will just spend the time that I am cooking to dream up a delicious homemade refreshment.
One of the highlights of moving to New York has definitely been the fantastic farmers markets -- along with the plethora of other great culinary indulgences. Coming from Miami where the markets were just a novelty not a way of life, the variety of produce was not entirely inspiring.
But, working close to Union Square I got to enjoy the market three days a week, being reassured that the seasons were in fact changing as promised by the spread that was becoming available from the different farms. Having moved to the city at the tail end of winter, I started out knowing the Union Square farmers market as a handful of stands, each selling loads of apples -- with the option for hot cider of which i partook in often -- a large variety of root vegetables, and lots and lots of baked goods. All great winter fare.
Most of us grew up eating sandwiches. Peanut butter & jelly, ham & cheese, we received them in our lunch boxes, and even continue the tradition of lunchtime-sandwich-time in our adult years. The number of sandwich shops, chain stores alone, is phenomenal, and all the varieties of sandwiches you can get.
Oops, I missed the boat. These were meant to be Christmas cookies. Well, even slightly before Christmas, Christmas cookies. But, as tends to happens, the holidays just quickly descended upon me, and before I could be warned, I found myself in the thick of it. And I just sort of had to hold on, and enjoy the ride.
And then before I knew it, it was over. Leaving me wind swept and slightly nostalgic.
For some reason, when I was first teaching myself how to bake, I set my sights on making all kinds of fresh tarts. I had my heart set on it-set on mastering my own, made from scratch, tart dough (or pate brissee.) And, it took a long time for me to master it. I am not sure that I have even mastered it as of yet, but at least I no longer mutter curses while I am making it. And I no longer have to throw the whole batch in the trash because I have tried to roll it so much, that it has become a gooey mess. Nor do I have to make all my tarts with the push in method because rolling it is too tricky. And at this point, that is mastery enough for me.
One of my biggest problems when learning to make my own dough was that I read over and over not to use too much flour when rolling my dough.
Turban squash is a very unusual squash in appearance. It's colors striate between green and orange and white, it's squat in shape and has a knobby head. But after buying my first turban squash, I grew quite fond of it, almost attached to it. It just might be the most beautiful of all the winter squashes. Which is why it is most recommend for use as a tureen, and why it took me nearly a month to take my turban squash out of the fruit bowl, and cut it open for this risotto style barley dish.