So here’s what a day off looks like–a day off nearing the second half of June where I try to squeeze in way too many things because I know I won’t have another leisurely day in awhile. Is that what you do on your days off? Oy.
There was a double espresso with almond milk, my favorite yoga class, and plenty of ball with Noel:
There were also drop biscuits to make. Whole wheat drop biscuits from Good to the Grain to be more specific. There were also strawberries to wash and slice. My sister’s boyfriend flew in tonight from Philly and I wanted to make dessert but didn’t have much time. Solution: drop biscuits with strawberries and cream.
After making the biscuits and prepping the berries, I hopped on the ferry to meet with some folks about a writing job in the city. I actually missed my first ferry and was late to my meeting but that’s a different story altogether–one involving sweat, racing down Market St. for blocks in ballet flats, and frizzy hair. But back to the ferry and the not-so-shabby views:
Off I went. My meeting rocked. And I raced back down to The Ferry Building to have a glass of wine with my old friend Katie. She’s awesome and it was happy hour. What’s better than that? Then back home (but first, I actually missed my second ferry. Yes, it was a stellar day of transportation for me) to a big dinner around the table with family, Zoe’s new boyfriend, a gaggle of dogs, fresh flowers, a few mosquitos, and a damn fine dessert. Here you have it. I hope you have a lovely June weekend.
Now remember my last post— how I sung the praises of the slump for all its simplicity and ease? Well, this tops the slump in that regard. These drop biscuits are unbelievably simple and versatile. They’re slightly crumbly, surprisingly light, and only subtly sweet. Once you get the biscuits in the oven, you can literally whip this dessert up as people finish the dishes and make coffee and tea. It’s that easy (and I’m not one of those people that likes to whip much of anything up last minute. But this is the recipe that’s changed me for good).
Putting it Together:
Preheat oven to 325 F and rub a baking sheet lightly with butter. In a large bowl, sift together the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pour back into the bowl any bits of grain or other ingredients that may remain in the sifter.
Add the heavy cream and stir using your hands or a fork until the dough just comes together. Don’t over mix: the dough is supposed to be shaggy. On the baking sheet, pile the dough into six mounds, leaving 3-4 inches between them. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. sugar for dusting. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the tops just begin to brown.
While the biscuits are baking, place the berries in a bowl and toss with 1 Tbsp. sugar. Allow them to sit and release their juices, uncovered, for 30 minutes (or until the biscuits are done). Meanwhile, whip the remaining cup of cream into soft peaks. Add 1 tsp. of sugar if you like your whipped cream sweetened.
When the biscuits are out of the oven, fill each bowl with a generous spoonful of berries, cream, and arrange a warm biscuit alongside.
Winter Soups and Stews
If your house is anything like ours, last week wasn't our most inspired in terms of cooking. We're all suffering from the post-election blues -- the sole upside being Oliver's decision to sleep-in until 7 am for the first time in many, many months; I think he's trying to tell us that pulling the covers over our heads and hibernating for awhile is ok. It's half-convincing. For much of the week, instead of cooking, there'd been takeout pizza and canned soup before, at week's end, I decided it was time to pour a glass of wine and get back into the kitchen. I was craving something hearty and comforting that we could eat for a few days. Something that wouldn't remind me too much of Thanksgiving because, frankly, I can't quite gather the steam to start planning for that yet. It was time for a big bowl of chili.
Last weekend it was so windy – apocalyptically stormy, you could say – that our tent at the farmers market was uprooted by gusts of wind that were not messing around. I wasn't there, but apparently despite being heavily weighted down and with four customers holding onto each corner, it quite literally blew down the block. Sam, from across town, was reporting trees falling on every block and traffic lights out across the city. The next morning on a walk with Oliver around Green Lake, we were met with that same biting wind and ended up retreating for a hot chocolate instead. 'Tis the season in Seattle: we all get a little giddy and ahead of ourselves when we spot the cherry blossoms and daffodils, and I always trick myself into thinking that with the start of daylight savings time, summer must be right around the corner. In truth, before we had Oliver, we'd often travel somewhere sunny for a little mood boost around this time of year. When I moved from California, many friends – other (empathetic) 'expats' now living in the Pacific Northwest – recommended this: if you know what's good for you, they'd all say, go find the sun in February or March, and we would follow that advice faaaaaithfully. But with a baby, this just isn't where our priorities are this year, and I've found myself relying on other antics like buying out of season strawberries, drinking white wine with dinner, buying a new pair of sandals that likely will not see the light of day for the next two months, and making big, colorful pots of feel good, springy soup. Let's not kid ourselves: Cherry blossoms or not, Seattle's no Palm Springs when it gets down to bathing in the sunlight. But if you step outside onto your little porch, smell the honeysuckle blooming, take notice of the longer, lighter days and think about how you simply can't wait to see your baby crawling around on the sand when it's warm enough to stroll down to the beach, it starts looking better in its own light.
We returned home from San Francisco on New Years Eve just in time for dinner, and craving greens -- or anything other than baked goods and pizza (ohhhh San Francisco, how I love your bakeries. And citrus. And winter sunshine). Instead of driving straight home, we stopped at our co-op where I ran in for some arugula, an avocado, a bottle of Prosecco, and for the checkout guys to not-so-subtly mock the outlook of our New Years Eve: rousing party, eh? They looked to be in their mid-twenties and I figured I probably looked ancient to them, sad even. But really, there wasn't much sad (or rousing, to be fair) about our evening: putting Oliver to bed, opening up holiday cards and hanging them in the kitchen, and toasting the New Year with arugula, half a quesadilla and sparkling wine. It wasn't lavish. But it's what we both needed. (Or at least what we had to work with.) Since then, I've been more inspired to cook lots of "real" food versus all of the treats and appetizers and snacks the holidays always bring on. I made Julia Turshen's curried red lentils for the millionth time, a wintry whole grain salad with tuna and fennel, roasted potatoes, and this simple green minestrone that I've taken for lunch this week. Determined to fit as many seasonal vegetables into a bowl as humanly possible, I spooned a colorful pesto on top, as much for the reminder of warmer days to come as for the accent in the soup (and for the enjoyment later of slathering the leftover pesto on crusty bread).
One of the things I wanted to accomplish before really returning to work in earnest was to print some of our honeymoon photos and get them into an album. This project has taken far longer than expected as I find myself daydreaming about the craggy streets of Naples and meeting up with our friends Mataio and Jessica for a late night slice of pizza which we ate sitting on the sidewalk before embarking on an aimless but wonderful stroll of the city. There are photos of our balcony by the sea, most with tanned limbs, sandy sandals and a Campari and soda gracing the periphery of the frame. There was the little grocery store up the hill from our apartment on the Amalfi Coast that had the sweetest, tiniest strawberries and the best yogurt in little glass jars. Tomatoes drying in the sun, Aperol spritzes and salty peanuts before dinner at the bar across from the church square where all the neighborhood kids played kickball. As I sit here typing this now, photos remain scattered on my desk and it's likely they may not make it into the proper slots in the album anytime soon. Of course, they have me dreaming of sunshine and long days with little agenda, but they also have me thinking about the simplicity of our meals in Italy and how truly easy it was to eat well. Coincidentally, a few days ago Rachel Roddy's lusty new cookbook (can we call it lusty?!), My Kitchen in Rome, arrived at our doorstep. Clearly it was time to set the photos aside and get into the kitchen.
And suddenly, it's fall. I find that realization always comes not so much with the dates on the calendar as it does the leaves on the ground, the first crank of the heat in the morning, the dusky light on the way home from an evening run. Because we were gone on the train for nearly a week, I feel like fall happened here in Seattle during that very time. I left town eating tomatoes and corn and returned to find squashes and pumpkins in the market. It was that quick. And so, it only seemed fitting that I make this soup, one that has graced the fall table of each and every apartment (and now house) I've ever lived. In fact, I'm surprised that I hadn't yet made it for you here, and delighted to share it with you today.