Jul 22, 2013

The Basil Clan

This morning the sounds of summer play like a modern concert: the tinkling electronic whir of a neighbor's air conditioner, the high-pitched squeal and clank of a city garbage truck, and in between, the loud caw of crows, the low buzz of cicadas, the throaty groan of a distant lawn mower. It's a beautiful, if dissonant concert.

I've been feeling homesick today, and I don't really know why. I'm not technically far from home, and even my oldest brother, who lives on the opposite side of the planet, is only a Skype call away. But there is a spaciousness to the days of mid-summer that makes me a bit sad, as though everyone is far away doing their own thing: busy mowing the lawn or splashing in the waves of some fine beach. Being busy is distracting, and I realize when I have a second to stop and breathe, I miss my family.

Jul 9, 2013

Ah, Little Rose

I betrayed the roses I was trying to honor. I boiled them too long in syrup and ended up with a caramelized, sticky rose petal mess. After a lovely fourth of July on a secluded beach collecting Rosa rugosa petals in between swimming in the ice-cold North Atlantic and lying on the beach blanket squinting at the pages of my book, I tried to make rose petal jam. I collected a lot of petals. I used the edge of my shirt pulled up to form a basket and then filled the empty Tupperware containers from our picnic with the cool, silky petals. Then I brought them home and it all went downhill. When I combined them with sugar, water and heat the beautiful petals began turning into syrup, then jam, then all of a sudden they turned into a candy as stiff and inedible as tire rubber.

These failures happen in the kitchen - perhaps more frequently than I'd care to admit - but a failure with hand-picked rose petals is particularly heartbreaking. I stood over my pot of browning petals and wanted to crumple. But only for a little while until I decided to HELL with rose petal jam I'm going to make a wild strawberry tart. So I did, and it was delicious, but my heart still ached for those petals.

Jul 1, 2013

Vanilla Cured

I don't know what happened to June, but I think I ate it. It was full of bright green flavors, crisp days filled with sunlight, evenings that were as sweet and fragrant as a mountain primrose. It was strawberry rhubarb pie and baby arugula and French radishes and citrusy spruce tips. June was truly tangy and sweet and tart. Now that it's July we can safely say it's "Grill O'clock." Gone are the tender and sweet moments of early summer replaced by the flavor-packed, juicy and char-grilled days of July.