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Entries in life(3)

Saturday
Jul022011

Peaches, berries and summer fare

It’s our last morning of a week-long retreat in the mountains of Lake Tahoe. As I type, sitting in front of a wide, sun-lit window, I am gazing out over the calm, glassy lake and marveling in the stillness of nature. 

I have had plenty of time to cook and bake this week. Somehow, whenever I’m on “vacation,” I am not only hungrier but I crave sweet treats much more often. I am definitely not one to ever skip dessert, but since my family is so active I wanted to make something that wouldn’t weigh us down. 

This had me grabbing peaches and berries by the armful. Fruit makes such a wonderful dessert. Inherently sweet, and you don’t need much to dress it up. I used the fruit all week long in so many ways!

Juicy peaches and blackberries made a quick cobbler. A great topping is the one here, or you could simply toss some oats with maple syrup and butter (or coconut oil) and sprinkle over.

Baked oatmeal always tastes so indulgent for breakfast. Like cold pie on the day after Thanksgiving. This one, based on the recipe here, used peaches, blueberries and almonds.

Plump and delicate raspberries were the stars of these unbelievable bars. The crust is based on the one I use for Pecan Pie Squares, only with maple syrup instead of brown sugar. With only a handful of ingredients necessary to throw them together, along with their ability to be served warm, at room temperature, or cold, I’ll be making these all summer long. 

Stay tuned for recipes in the coming posts. With the holiday weekend upon us, these next few days are sure to find me feasting some more. I’m anxious to know: What summer fare will grace your tables?

Tuesday
May242011

Delicious dirt

I spent my first day of summer vacation with my beautiful friend Jenny, volunteering at the Hidden Villa CSA. From 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., our time was spent weeding beets, getting to know the farmers, listening to the chatter of other volunteers from a local high school, and soaking in the deep, rich fragrance of earth and life. 

The intricacies of life fascinate me. I remember, during lazy summer days as a kid, how I would sprawl on my stomach in the back yard and watch the millions of bugs going about their day in between the blades of grass. I wanted to imagine what life was like for them; I wanted to know where they were going, what they were doing, and which microscopic hole in the ground they called their own. I could sit there for hours watching the bugs. 

And then we (my sister and brother and I) would catch butterflies and create little habitats in mason jars. Construct fairy houses (fairies live in the garden, didn’t you know?) with twigs and leaves. I once even dug them a pool, complete with a snipped piece of a ziploc bag so the water wouldn’t drain from the bottom. I thought of all this whimsy while weeding the beets, as my arms became a jungle gym for ladybugs and spiders. 

Possibly the best part of our day, though, was the potluck lunch that followed. With vegetables straight from the garden, everyone pitched in with a dish of their own. We had pasta with chard, quinoa and kale salad, black bean tortillas, apple crisp, romaine with a green onion vinaigrette, and fresh strawberries. Quite literally, the fruits of our labor. Straight from the earth, where the fairies and bugs and worms and butterflies each perform their daily tasks to nourish the soil and the plant life beneath it. Delicious dirt, indeed.

Our souls and stomachs fed, we left feeling lighthearted and deeply satisfied. My only hope for summer is that it continues with this theme of spirit-nourishing, carefree and whimsical goodness. If you’re in the area and happen to find yourself bored on a Wednesday, or just need something to do, I highly suggest you wander over to this gem of a place and lend a helping hand. 

Saturday
Apr022011

Meals for two

I’ve prided myself on maintaining a slight veil of anonymity here on The Chocolate Fig. Few mentions of family and friends, only a picture here and there and sparse personal details, not wanting to compromise anyone’s privacy (including my own). I’m sure many of you fellow bloggers can relate, as certain risks come with writing in such a public forum. I’m a very discreet person by nature, and so I tend to over-worry about things like this.

All of that is changing though. Those of you who know me personally probably realize that my boyfriend and I are now roommates in a spacious studio apartment in San Francisco, making life much easier for me, giving us the autonomy we so desperately crave, and making social isolation obsolete. As such, most of the meals I’ll be making are meals for two; most of my cooking will be done for and with him. And since accounts of my cooking are what appear here, it’s only natural that I finally and formally introduce you to one another.

Readers, meet Elliott. My muse, my inspiration, my sounding board and reality-checker. Born and raised in the same town as I, on the same street as some of my best friends. We didn’t meet until ages 19 and 23, when I guess you could say we had settled into ourselves. Over the time we’ve known each other, he and his family have been the patron saints of recipe-tasting, never hesitating to offer suggestions and inspirations. Even when I preface a batch of cookies with, I tried something new, I didn’t follow a recipe, I have no idea how they’ll taste, please don’t hate me… Hands are reaching into the bag with enthusiasm. For this, I am endlessly grateful.

So, with this post, the veil I had drawn over my personal life has been lifted slightly and now you know a bit more about us. Along with this big life transition, the content of this blog will shift accordingly as I navigate a new kitchen and learn how to grocery shop and cook for a grown (and hungry!) man. Any tips you have on this will be welcomed with gratitude.

Instead of my own solo adventure on this blog, you can now expect to hear about these two youngin’s trying to weave our way through life’s complexities, one meal at a time.