I should call this the Monet salad. I’m teasing, of course, but whenever I see varying tones of green and purple with touches of blue, I think of French Impressionist Claude Monet’s most famous and recognizable series of paintings — Waterlilies.
I think the first time I tried to make an apple dumpling I was about 26, give or take a year. I don’t remember cooking much during that particular time in my life, but what I did cook has stayed with me — for better or worse. A successful pot of chili verde qualifies as one of my better accomplishments, and apple dumplings one of my worst.
I’d like to say this wonderful boule of walnut bread has just come from my oven and that hints of its aroma are still wafting through my house, but it’s been quite a while since I baked it. I’ll blame my current efforts to change my eating habits on finally deciding to write about it because I’ve had little bread of any kind in nearly two months, and have decided writing about it, remembering its crusty, nutty appeal will be good enough for me today.
I have just begun to think about where my love for a good piece of bread fits into my plans for a healthier me. It’s been very easy to give up bread from the grocery store — even the extra fiber, packed with multiple grains and oats type loaf I’d often choose for morning toast, or lunch sandwiches. Ultimately, it’s all over-processed and lacking in any kind of appeal that good, fresh bread can have.
Passing up a crusty artisan loaf is more the challenge for me, especially if it’s something I’ve made. That first piece still warm from the oven, most likely sporting an already melting swipe of butter is tough to resist. So is the sandwich I can’t wait to sample at lunch loaded with my favorite ingredients, or tomorrow morning’s toast with jam.
I love bread, so completely avoiding it will never be a viable option for me. Instead, I’ll have to find more recipes like this Seedy Oaty Spelt Bread to try packed with wholesome goodness. And of course, the ideal — simply eating one slice once in a while. In the meantime, I am remembering the fabulous flavor and texture of this walnut bread — my first attempt at a mixed-starter bread. It took a while from start to finish, but was well worth the effort.
I’m not much of a New Year’s resolution person. I could blame it on the fact that I often don’t finish what I’ve begun, and to some extent that may be true, but know it’s more about being someone who constantly takes stock, reflects, compulsively evaluates, over-analyzes, sifts, sorts, and thrives on general hair-splitting. It’s endless, so to some degree I welcome January 1 each year to think in a more focused way — at least that’s what I’ve convinced myself of.
It’s really more about being able to sigh for the first time after a busy holiday season and quietly celebrate that I don’t have to cook anything too involved if I’m not in the mood. That for the first day in quite some time, mental lists, menus to plan, groceries to purchase, and errands to run aren’t interrupting a quiet moment, or causing alarm should something important be forgotten. It’s exhausting, and each year I vow to live through the holidays more graciously, more collected, and more as someone who enjoys and participates rather than orchestrates and delivers.
And so I’m reflecting on our holidays today and remembering some of the delicious food we shared with those we know and love. It always allows us to pause long enough to enjoy one another’s company, to laugh, clink our glasses in a toast or three, and then smile at the quiet that comes after everyone has picked up their forks and begun to eat.
This beautiful and delicious Pear Gorgonzola and Walnut Rustic Tart was made on Christmas Eve in celebration of a special couple, recently engaged who happen to have a kitchen always filled with music, and often, dancing. Here’s to you Lisa and Steve!
This year, there will be more music and dancing in my kitchen. I promise myself.
I can’t remember the first time I had carrot cake, but I’m sure it wasn’t until I was well into my adult years. It’s strange now that I think about it because my mother used to make a mean carrot salad. The basic ingredients aren’t all that different except for the mayonnaise she’d dollop in the huge bowl of grated carrots and raisins before stirring in some sugar, and I’ll bet I can find more than one recipe for carrot cake that calls for mayo, too. Mind you, this would be much to the complete horror of my husband who steers clear of anything that suggests mayo is an ingredient.