Wednesday, April 27, 2011

cook and bake. eat and laugh.

In the last month, I was on some sort of high.  I'm not sure exactly how or why, but for a good two weeks, I was bubbling over with happiness in a totally abnormal way.  I was buzzing, humming, flying.  I'd wail at the top of my lungs on the way to work, declaring along with the Cold War Kids that from now on, I'll be royal blue (seriously people, get their new album).  I'd go shopping, and everything would look amazing on me!  I couldn't wait to get home so I could dance around like a crazyperson.  The sun was shining; the world, and my life, were magical.  It was like everything positive I'd heard, read, seen for the last year that I just wasn't ready to believe had finally sunk in. 

It didn't last.

blood oranges
I didn't expect it to.  These things come and go.  But I discovered something.  There are things I can do to keep the magic going, to stretch it out as far as it'll go.  And a night like last Sunday, when my kitchen was filled with new friends baking and cooking and telling stories, then my living room was filled with the warmth of even more friends, laughing, gossipping, cooing over the day's work, moaning contentedly over its deliciousness -- well, if that kind of magic doesn't get you, you must be a robot.  What I discovered is that one major ingredient for keeping my world amazing is opening my home to good people: cooking, eating, and laughing together.

exotic ingredients
I won't bore you with how I'm connected to lovely Victoria, who designs beautifully sweet stationery as paper & type, or to sweet Satsuki, who designs handmade (by her!) goods as zakka nouveau.  I'll just say that through the magic of Twitter (I know), the three of us planned a baking day in my kitchen.  It was amazing to watch these women work.  Victoria had a conscientious meticulousness as she sliced lemons and rolled out perfect dough (then pierced the bottom of the crust in beautiful geometric patters -- no matter that her handiwork would be covered in lemon curd), and Satsuki lilted around the kitchen with natural ease, chatting happily as she formed pudgy little hamburger patties by hand.  Don't be fooled by their delicate appearance: there is strength, intuition, and wisdom shining through these two.

We cooked all day.  I was in charge of the blood orange galette, Victo made a sunny lemon tart, and Satsuki took on the main course of Japanese hamburgers with sesame snowpeas and completely-from-scratch miso soup.

hamburg steak
Satsuki's contribution was especially a treat.  For one, it turns out she is an encyclopedia of simple Japanese food preparations, and had brought with her specialty ingredients from at least 3 different stores:  the freshest bonito flakes ever, the cutest bundle of buna shimeji mushrooms, powdered beet sugar, and two kinds of seaweed -- one imported from the motherland.  And that's just some of her loot.  But also, we got to recreate a variation of one of the recipes she posted, with quirky hand-drawn instructions for each step, on her blog.  Though we went with snowpeas, her okra goma-e recipe is versatile enough for a variety of vegetable options.

satsuki's miso soup
The joy in the place multiplied when our dinner guests arrived.  Four giggling girls brought with them a new wave of infectious positivity, not to mention homemade kale chips (sprinkled with fleur de sel, bien sur -- it pays to work at Spice Station!), which we inhaled, and sweet-like-candy farmer's market dates.

We sat on the floor around my coffee table (our places marked by beautiful hand-written placecards compliments of miss Victo), drinking cheap sake out of tacky shot glasses, oohing and ahhing over every course, and smiling from the inside out.


The happiness-high of the past month made one thing clear to me.  The psychobabblers and spiritualists are totally, completely, absolutely right:  if you take the time to nourish yourself with quality, you will get results.  Nourishing, quality literature* and music get me pretty far.  But sharing in the slow preparation and eating of delicious, real foods with high-quality people goes an extra step to nourish both body and soul.

Hey, here are some recipes:
 - Blood Orange Galette with salted caramel sauce, from Lottie+Doof.  (Do you know this blog?  You should.  Totally crushworthy.)
 - Lemon Tart, from Design*Sponge
 - Satsuki's Okra Goma-e, from Zakka Nouveau (For snowpeas:  Trim the end and cut into bites.  Cook for a few quick minutes in a pot of boiling water.  Chill snowpeas, and add sesame and other ingredients just before serving.)

* I recently started reading Jonathan Lethem's Fortress of Solitude.  Halfway into the first page, I decided not to finish the other novel I was in the middle of.  My god, life is too short to waste time on mediocre pap when there exists writing that is so achingly, deliciously good.


  1. I enjoyed this post immensely, esp. reading about the camaraderie between you gals. The food looked awesome too. Thanks for sharing!

  2. aw thanks, Veggie Girl! Just discovered your blog last night! such vibrant pictures, and that tangerine pound cake looks amaaaazing!

  3. Yummz, Tannaz! Your parties add to my daydreaming about LA...

  4. Volare, get yourself over here! We'll party it up!

  5. wow. this is a perfect treat for my family. gonna try these this saturday. they will surelly love this.

  6. Sounds like such a sweet and special day spent with dear friends!

  7. well hello there, miss starchy marie! great to see you around these parts!

  8. What a lovely spread. Those are some great looking recipes - especially that lmeon tart. Thanks for sharing.

    Take care,
    -- Chelsey