Friday, July 28, 2006

Summer sweets

I'm not a sugar girl (with the exception of my Southside addiction). I don't need chocolate daily. I rarely eat dessert.

Instead, I crave salty, crunchy things. The crust is my favorite part of the pie. Put a basket of chips in front of me, and prepare for an episode of mindless munching. If it's got bacon in it, I'm pretty much in hog heaven.

But I do love fruit, mostly unadorned: mango slivers with lime, halved figs with a dab of chevre, peaches with lemon verbena syrup. And, when I want to glam it up just a little, this:


Make syrup by combining 2 parts honey with 1 part balsamic vinegar. Add a splash of vanilla.

Halve nectarines and put, cut side up, into an oven-safe pan. Brush with syrup. Broil until the peaches start to brown on top.

Serve with a spoonful of fresh ricotta and more syrup drizzled on top.

This recipe is very clean, so everything has to be tasty: the nectarines should be sweet and firm, the vanilla should have bits of vanilla bean, the vinegar should have some depth. I use fresh ricotta from Trader Joe's, but I imagine it would be even better with fresh homemade ricotta.

Easy, sweet but not-too, tangy, impressive and delicious.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

One classy weekend

2 gorgeous boys

3 heavy packs, 1 sweet ride

1 cowboy hat, 6 cups of cowboy coffee, grounds and all

12 Clif Bars, 1 pound of jerky, 2 Nalgenes, 1 bag trail mix

and, yes, rice in a bag cooked in a coffee can

16 ounces scotch and 12 roll-your-owns

1 perfectly ice-cold river swimming hole, 1 tired dog

lots of dust boogers, plenty sweat, a couple blisters, abundant sun, then countless stars

Time out. Good times. Not enough time.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

An oeuf

I have to admit, I have been taking our chickens for granted. They cackle triumphantly late morning, waddle and scratch around the yard in the evenings, and keep us in eggs. And it takes a brush with a bad egg to remind me of how primally delicious our symbiotic relationship is.

We were house-sitting this winter while our house was being torn apart. A lazy Sunday morning in a house with heat. So, naturally, time for a fry-up. And we scrambled up some of their eggs, the kind that come in a jumbo pack advertised with a slogan like "500 eggs for a buck" or "insanely cheap eggs from unhappy hens" and keep indefinitely in your fridge.

One bite of the squeaky pale eggs made it abundantly clear that we were spoiled--and so were our hens. These were eggs with all the life sucked out of them, eggs that tasted machine-made. No yellow glow, no creamy taste of sunshine and long afternoons. Tabasco didn't cover the taste of assembly-line desperation, and we couldn't finish them.

Now we spend mornings with soft-boiled eggs and laugh that our breakfast comes perfectly formed from our pets.

As W. likes to crow to the more squeamish of our friends while handing them a fresh egg, still warm, "This just came out of her butt!" Often, he gets a quick moue of disgust and the egg handed back as if it were painfully hot, not just still quivering with life. Probably these people insist on a shower before lights-off sex.

And those people we know we are going to love curl their hands around the warm egg and ask for an omelet...

Monday, July 10, 2006

A not-quite-rural late afternoon

In lieu of late nights on the 5 freeway...

No foot on the brake, we watch tomatoes ripen and imagine dinner.