Thursday, August 26, 2010

Indigo Days

I've got a case of that deep mood indigo that comes with the end of summer, but rather than fret, I have to admit that I revel in it.  I love the buzz of an old fan on low; the slow, golden descent of the sun behind the pines of Sebago Lake; the call of the loons in the distance just as the day winds down; and the soft cocoon of a cotton quilt for comfort more than for warmth.  

These are the days that slip through your fingers like lake water.  The ones you wish could simmer on and on, made all the more sweet by their fleeting ways.  These are the days when I feel most mortal.  I sense endings in each slam of the screen door, and I lie awake long after the cottage has fallen into its own night rhythms, listening to the drip of the bathroom sink and the slow, steady breathing of someone I love on the other side of the beadboard wall.  

This moment, no other, is all that matters.  If there are endings, so be it, because that means that there are beginnings, too.    

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Squash Blossom Special

It was a full day.  Parts of it, like an early morning visit to the farmers' market and a phone conference with a good friend and collaborator, were inspiring and energizing.  Other parts were tough.  I hate when someone amazing is repeatedly not recognized for just how profoundly amazing they are.  I especially hate it when that someone is my husband.  Do you ever just want to stand in the face of the powers that be and shake your tiny fist?  We have had such a crummy year--a truly crummy year--yet we are still going strong, and I am thankful every day that I married such a resilient and funny and good guy.  And I am thankful more than words can say that we have moved to a city that fills us with joy.

So, in the midst of a busy day of work, I had it in my head that I needed to make some stuffed and fried squash blossoms tonight.  I'd bought four of them at the market, and they were calling to me all afternoon.  Finally, I set work aside and made four little bundles of bliss.
Do you ever make fried squash blossoms?  If not, you really must!  They're easy and delicious.  I make a little bit of batter with some flour, corn starch, salt and pepper, and sparkling water (or tap water or beer).  I whisk it up and pop it in the fridge for half an hour.

While the batter is chilling, I make my stuffing.  Tonight I just mixed together half a cup of ricotta with some fresh chopped basil, salt and pepper, a little grated parmesan, and some minced garlic.  The filling can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be.  I spoon a little filling inside each blossom, twist 'em shut, and chill for about 15 minutes.  

I heat an inch or two of canola oil with a touch of olive oil in a cast iron skillet--or whatever pot you like to use for frying.  Then I dip the blossoms into the batter and pop them into the hot oil.  I use medium high flame, and turn it down just a bit if I get any spattering.  

Turn them occasionally until they are golden brown and crispy.  It only takes five or six minutes.  Transfer them from the oil to paper towels and sprinkle with sea salt.  

Try to get anyone who's hovering around you at this point to keep their hands off until you're ready to serve them.  I served mine tonight alongside a simple pasta dish: penne tossed with sauteed garlic, onions, and baby arugula and topped with parmesan, salt, and pepper.  

I always feel like a simple, delicious meal shared with someone you love (or alone with a few candles) is a great way to erase some of the worries of the day.  Everything seems a little less crummy after a bowl of really good pasta and the crunchy, creamy goodness that is a fried squash blossom.  

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Moving Update, or "Where Did She Learn to Talk Like That?"

Thanks for all the warm anniversary wishes!  The week since my last post has been a whirlwind of unpacking, shifting, sorting, arranging, rearranging, swearing, rubbing Icy Hot on aching muscles, applying cold packs to sore bruises, swearing some more, scrubbing out appliances that were left in less than pristine condition (understatement of the year) by the people who lived here before, still more swearing, and cleaning and painting our loft back in Massachusetts so that our new tenant won't have to do as much swearing as I've done over the past week.  Seriously, I'm starting to sound like a sailor.   

Moving was easier when we were 23.  Our muscles and bones were still made of rubber, and we owned a mattress, some books, a lamp or two, and couple of pairs of Doc Martin's that we'd bought slowly, painstakingly on layaway with little bits and pieces of our tiny paychecks.  Twenty years later, we own far, far too much stuff, and our bodies seem to have transformed into wood (creaky knees and back) held together with random bits of wire and knotted string.  I feel this morning like a bedraggled puppet and am telling myself a long walk along the ocean later will improve all.

My physical condition may be a little fragile this morning, but my spirits are high.  How could they be otherwise?  Seagulls, fresh tomatoes from the neighborhood market, sunshine on the porch, and a day ahead of me slated for organizing my new study (which Todd has dubbed The Magpie's Workshop).  Hot damn!  

See, there I go again with the swearing.  

Friday, August 6, 2010

When Dreams Come True

As I was packing for the move last week, I discovered this series of photo booth shots that Todd and I did sixteen years ago.  That was back in the time when "photo booth" still meant a little closet you sat inside to have your photo taken on a boardwalk or in an arcade--long before it became a macbook app.  It was also back when we lived on whatever food we could scrounge from the restaurant where I cooked and he tended bar. I think there were many days when I considered a pickle my lunch, followed by a stale piece of French bread for dinner.  Ah, we were so bohemian.  Not really, but we were in love, and later that same year, on this very day, August 6th, we were married.  This fall it will be twenty years since we met, and like any couple who has been together for more than a few years, we've weathered our share of storms, but it fills me with joy to say that we are still pretty darn crazy about each other--and we're still the best of friends.

And now we're back in a city we love.  Let me share two quick dreams: 

Yesterday morning Todd said, "I dreamed early this morning that I was listening to a really beautiful piece of classical music.  Then I woke up and realized that the music was really the cry of the seagulls outside our bedroom window."

Just before waking this morning I dreamed that it was winter--one of those special bright winter days when the air is crisp and the whole world looks like it is made out of crystal.  I looked out my window and realized that the street was glazed with smooth ice, so I threw on clothes, laced up my skates, and ran gingerly down the stairs.  Once outside, I glided onto the ice and skated straight into the center of town, passing other skaters twirling, spinning, and leaping as I whipped past them in my perfect skates.  A man called out to me, "Beautiful day, isn't it?"

"Yes," I replied. "It's the best day ever."

xoxo Gigi