More than a month has passed since I’ve written here, but that doesn’t mean I’ve left it to sit. Okay, it appears as if it’s been abandoned. But I’ve been searching for and learning about many things that will hopefully make it function better than it has in the past. It seems everyone is reading favorite websites on their cell phones and tablets these days and so that makes it necessary to ensure all is functioning properly here. You may be one to roll eyes and question any sort of change, and I will smile in response, understanding. I will! But please know, my 75-year-old mother has to deal with me on a regular basis as I coach her on the most efficient use of her Mac, Kindle, and brand new iPhone probably more than she’d like, but she tolerates me. Sometimes. So thank you for your patience as I not only strive to make Sass & Veracity the very best it can be (at a glacial pace), and exercise my brain while I’m in the process. My work will never be done.
I grew up expecting to have to eat the onions on my plate whether I wanted them or not. That’s just how it went at our house, and I didn’t question it. Good thing I’ve always liked them. Although I remember my mother telling me my grandfather liked a good onion sandwich, we had them sliced and in salads — mostly yellow onions because they were a staple — but scallions were included once in a while, along with red onions. Now that I think of it, red onions made their appearance when we lived in Spain because they were served in the cafes, often included with cucumbers and tomatoes in a very light water and red wine vinegar marinade. No lettuce, just a sprinkle of salt. It was wonderful.
Onions were chopped and fried in bacon fat for the liver my mother enjoyed so much, and as much as I didn’t want a taste of the liver, I could sit all day and inhale the aroma of those onions. Chopped onions went into simple spaghetti sauce to flavor it, or in goulash along with other vegetables and pasta, because it didn’t seem right to not have them in the mix. My mother’s meatloaf wouldn’t be meatloaf without chopped onions. They were quartered and added to our Sunday pot roast with carrots and celery as well, but I didn’t appreciate their flavor in the braise. Perhaps it was the sweetness — something I expected in the more predictable foods kids enjoy — not an onion. I still had to eat them. I liked them best raw on burgers, or a salami sandwich, the crunch and sharp spike of flavor something that was definitely missed if it wasn’t included.
Maybe it was the onion soup my father made one year before a holiday dinner. I’m surprised I don’t remember the details of his making it, but the flavor of those long cooked onions nestled in a rich broth gave me a different perspective on just how unique the sweetness of caramelized onions could be. I’d never had onion confit, though, and wondered just how different it might be. Would the sweetness that it took me years to appreciate be more intense and if it was, would I enjoy it? Based on many of the recipes I’ve come across where onion confit or jam is included, I’m thinking yes.
But would one type of onion suffice?
I’ve been trying to write something here for days now. I approach the task with the best intentions but know that it’s really only my conscience goading me. No words come. I scrounge for a memory worth sharing, then wonder if it’s one I’ve already written about and catch myself wanting to waste time sorting through archived posts to make sure. It’s an old procrastination ruse, so I’m onto it most of the time.
Photos of recipes I’ve tried and liked are accumulating, waiting for something to be said about them, or the ingredients they were made with, whether they’re in season, local, organic….or not. Because you know, that matters, right?
I can’t muster up the energy because it all sounds so trivial.
I’m like an ostrich avoiding reality. I’d rather edit photos (which qualifies at least as legitimate procrastination), or sprawl on my bedroom floor in front of the big windows on this blustery day watching the storm come in off the Pacific — probably the last we’ll have until next winter. Mother Nature seems to have gotten March all wrong this year, with its entrance more like that of a lamb’s and its exit resembling a lion’s — at least in San Diego.
I could grab a book and lose myself for a while or think again for what seems to be the millionth time about whether the windows need drapes, and whether I should make them myself — except I’m not sure which closet that sewing machine is in and even if I did, my heart wouldn’t be into it.
A walk in the rain would also be nice, but the force of the wind is rattling the skylights and whistling down the chimneys. I’d make it out the door and realize how silly a decision it was since I’m nothing like the thin woman clad in white who just sprinted past my window, nor like anyone the Brontës might write about, a thin figure whose dark dress is flapping about her ankles on the hauntingly beautiful Yorkshire moors and proof of a pained existence etched across her brow.
So ridiculously unfocused and thinking none of it really matters.
I’ve been thinking about perspective quite a bit this past week. Counting my blessings. Thinking about life, loss, what I take for granted (see foolish exhibits A, B, C, and D above) and what others in the world right now have lost and may never, ever recover. I’m watching it on the news, in the photos that stream through a variety of websites, and can’t begin to understand. How can anyone not actually experiencing the magnitude of such devastation understand? I’m weighing the pettiness of any complaint, feeling short with others for their narrow mindedness, and all in all just very sad and angry.
So on this first day of spring and all it traditionally represents with respect to birth, new growth, and renewal, I hope the best for people in so many places on Earth right now devastated by things beyond their control.
If you’re someone who has thought about donating to a relief fund for Japan’s recovery, you may be interested in this piece by Stephanie Strom from the New York Times, “Charities Rush to Help Japan, With Little Direction.”
Donations can be made directly to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
More information about other ways to help are listed in “The Lede” at The New York Times: “Japan Earthquake and Tsunami: How to Help”
When I saw this month’s Daring Baker’s challenge I knew that it would be something I couldn’t wait to take on because I’ve always wondered how such a small ball of dough can actually end up stretched over such a large area and so impossibly thin. But then a few things happened that have have caused a bit of a commotion in our house. Ironically, I ended up putting it together at the last minute, which is seemingly the norm I’ve established over the past two years. In this case, however, the timing was perfect, and I was able to spend the day in my kitchen doing what I enjoy, which seems to have been just what was needed to soothe the savage beast. I owe big thanks to this month’s hosts for their excellent choice.
The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.
Time has just flown by lately and with it, my opportunities to not only write as much as I have, but cook the way I’ve always enjoyed cooking — experimenting with new recipes. Since coming back from Mexico, I’ve been mulling over an opportunity that has taken on a life of its own and me with it. For the next year or so, I’ll be out of the house again for most of the day so will have to learn to adjust to writing here in the time I have left. I know there are many of you who do this successfully, so I’ll look to you for inspiration and perhaps a schedule! By all means, share your secrets with me so I can find a good balance.
In the meantime, I wanted to share a tart I made recently inspired by yet another tart made with some lovely vegetables from Specialty Produce. Although the brief and somewhat elusive season for ramps is close to ending (April – May) , I was able to sample them for the first time. Ramps are wild leeks harvested by foraging in wooded, mountainous areas, and from what I’m learning, quite the reason to celebrate since they’re a sign of spring. Ramps are a member of the allium family, so I decided to sample them with green garlic and shallot shoots knowing that whatever I ended up making would be delicious. Unfortunately, the first tart was prepared for a dinner party, and since I’m challenged to find a way to shoot great photos while entertaining, I decided to recreate the tart using a different collection of vegetables from the onion family.
Because I was home alone that evening, I was thrilled not to have to share this amazing tart with anyone.