Friday, August 31, 2012

Happy Birthday, Nana

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
This grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

For God has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I must be a mermaid. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living. — Anaïs Nin

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ce Que Mon iPhone Voit (What My iPhone Sees)

Picture from my favorite childhood book "Gwendolyn the Miracle Hen"
Me and some guy who looks like Bradley Cooper ( they say)
Anemones outside of our house (not to be confused with sea anemones, where Nemo lives...ok, ok, kid, don't hurt yourself)
Currants and blueberries with yogurt
Insane grilled smoked shrimp from Barbuzzo
Paper flower window display at Anthropologie Rittenhouse Square

P.S. - does anyone know if the "i" in iPhone stands for intelligent? As in an intelligent (smart) phone? Let's add that to the Question Book of Life which has been an ongoing writing project in the back corner of my mind since roughly the time that I was like, eh, conceived. Also in there, is hair actually dry under water?  I plan to present my Question Book of Life to whomever maybe standing there at the pearly gates when I flutter in (Dumbledore? Morgan Freeman? Yoda?) and saying, sweetly, "So if I can't get in there right away, do you mind if I work with someone on these questions as a research project in the meantime? I'm really good with excel."

And then I think to myself, maybe there are some things in life we are not supposed to know in this time period; because the mystery is somehow humbling and humanizing and grounding.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Impose ta Chance

Impose ta chance, serre ton bonheur et va vers ton risque. A te regarder, ils s'habitueront.
- René Char, Les Matinaux (1950)

Translation by Elizabeth Bard:
Impose your chance, hold tight to your happiness and go toward your risk.
Looking your way, they'll follow.

Banana Cupcakes

This past weekend at the shore, we had some visitors at our family house. Serendipitously, we also had three bananas in freckled, brown pajamas lying on the counter awaiting their eventual transmutation into what would become some kind of sweet treat for my brother's two friends. I contemplated. Heard Jack Johnson in my head. Remembered fondly a taste from several months ago. I began to page through a wilted, well-worn copy of the Joy of Cooking, unmasked from a catch-all junk drawer stocked with odds and ends my Nana used to collect along with rubberbands, hairpins, takeout menus, a ball of fisherman's string, mini water-guns (you never know...) When I landed on the Banana Cake recipe I knew I had found a winner, which I decided to turn into cupcakes once I realized we didn't have the right cake pans.

The closest recipe I could find online that was similar to the one I used is this one. I used butter (not margarine), 2% Greek yogurt, and added chocolate chips and walnuts to some of the cupcakes. I also had to adjust the cooking time slightly since I think cupcakes bake much faster. The recipe for the cake called for 30 minutes but I took them out after 20. They were a bit tougher and chewier than I would have liked so I would suggest taking them out sooner if you plan on making them.

Everyone seemed pretty pleased with the outcome. Even the bananas. I think they'd be happy to know that their time on earth was not in vain; in fact, they were able to reproduce a lovely batch of a dozen and a half babies.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Visual Language With Your Hands


I had some dreams...

...they were clouds in my sunglasses (next to my coffee)
Pop-pop making his Colombian brew from DiBruno's
(his gift from Mariana)
Tie-dye hibiscus saying hi
Steph and I
Roasted sweet potatoes and grilled summer squash wedges
A view of the bay from the marsh trees

Friday, August 17, 2012

Happy Friday

... it's off to the shore for me for mermaid hunting and salty sea breeze.
Bon weekend !

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven

HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)"He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven"


Monday, August 13, 2012

The Ballad of Sweet Cherry Clafoutis

What's the best way to eat cherries? Besides at your desk at work using a paperclip as a makeshift cherry pitter? (Yes, it actually works.) Cooking them up in a warm, sweet custard milk bath of eggs, sugar, flour and vanilla extract and a short glug of Cruzian coconut rum, mais bien sur! Known in France as a clafoutis (cla-foo-tee), the end result of this delicacy tastes similar to flan or baked custard, with a POP of juicy cooked cherry that floods your mouth with globby wetness. My dad (head chef of chez Mullen) suggested slicing the cherries into halves although I prefer seeing the round red balls bobbing in a pool of frothy yellow cream, don't you? Next time though I might try slicing them in halves, or I might keep them whole but leave the pits in. Not because I am trying to kill off any family members, but because I read that the French believe leaving the pits in while the cherries cook releases a more intense cherry flavor. Ah, le Français! Between their non-pasteurized cheeses, raw egg yolk mousses (yum!) and disregard for lethal choking hazards in their fruits, they are sure to never sacrifice taste and pleasure for safety. They have, as Debra Ollivier notes, "a keen awareness of the the brevity of time and the immediacy of pleasure." Life is short, pleasure is good for you, neurosis is not sexy. Namaste. Amen.

I followed this recipe (below) and added a bit of Cruzian coconut rum to the tablespoon of vanilla extract (you could also use the rum in place of the vanilla altogether.) The ultimate litmus taste test though came after my Pop-Pop ate two slices and told me he could eat this every single day for a week and not get tired of it. Here and here, are two other recipes to try out as well.

You'll need... 
2 cups pitted cherries or plums (or other moist fruit) 
1/3 cup granulated sugar

1⁄2 cup flour

Pinch of salt
3 eggs
11⁄4 cups milk
1 tablespoon vanilla (or Rum!)
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar (or brown sugar—I like muscovado)

1. Place the fruit in a bowl with half the granulated sugar, stir well, and set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 ̊F. Grease a 9-inch baking dish.
3. In a large bowl, sift the flour with the salt and remaining sugar. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and milk to combine. Add the va- nilla. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and combine well. Spread the fruit evenly in the baking dish and pour the batter on top. The cherries may float to the surface now (or later, during baking).
4. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is firm and golden brown. Cool, then sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar. Serve immediately.

And, finally, because clafoutis sort of looks like pie (and is maybe the French equivalent?) and because what recipe for dessert isn't complete without animated video about pastries? I give you, The Ballad of Poisonberry Pete.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, 
There is a rapture on the lonely shore, 
There is society, where none intrudes, 
By the deep sea, and music in its roar: 
I love not man the less, but Nature more, 
From these our interviews, in which I steal 
From all I may be, or have been before, 
To mingle with the Universe, and feel 
What I can never express, yet cannot all conceal.

-Lord Byron.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Vacation Days...

... are pretty sweet
especially when there is McDonald's soft serve involved
and when your best buds just so happen to take off the same days
and when there are kayaks and paddle boards in warm bays
and beach walks (on secluded beaches)
and boat rides (with beers and boys)
and long Italian dinners (with Gorgonzola stuffed figs wrapped in prosciutto)
and surreal moments of glittering stillness

Crazy Little Thing

Gustave Klimt "The Kiss"

Well, isn't love just stupefying?
Sometimes you don't have to be in it to appreciate it
Sometimes, maybe, you appreciate it most when you are not