I mentioned a couple weeks ago that we had plans to flee this so-called winter we’re having in New York and jet to a place where it’s always summer. It was dreadfully boring, by the way, all silky white sand that was cool under your bare feet, blazing aqua waters that you could walk a full city block into before you were in deeper than your waist and oh so quiet (rumor has it that they don’t even let these on the island!). Blissfully, there was nothing to do but read books, stare at the horizon and not think about life for a while. The most profound conversation we had in three days was whether a spot out on the water where the color slipped from a piercing aquamarine to a deeper cerulean to was due to a change of depth, or just the cast shadow of a cloud. The shadow of a cloud. Man, times were tough.
I hadn’t meant to disappear on you, and what’s worse, I have a terrible excuse: I took a nap. In the same week that I conquered my cooking Mount Everest — a lasagna I’d only dreamed about for the better part of six years, one that still took me many tries in the kitchen to get right and more than a week just to write — I was going back and forth with my publisher over the page designs for my cookbook, and (no doubt) giving some poor book designer some gray hairs. One day, I’ll remind my editor about that time I said that I didn’t care how the book looked, “just make it pretty!” and she’ll snort coffee out her nose. It will probably be a while. Nevertheless, the day after I posted the lasagna recipe, we finally found something that made everyone happy and now they’re designing the remaining hundreds of pages and that night, I think I slept a million hours. I did the same thing the next night and on the third night, when I yawned at 9 p.m. and said I was thinking about calling it a night my husband — who is the one who typically has a bottomless capacity for sleep and I’m the one who pops up at 7:30 even when it’s my turn to sleep in — looked at me like I had two heads. I… just had a lot of catching up to do.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been going nuts as it feels like every single person I know that has a food blog, has read a food blog, is a fan of food blogs or eats food itself has been gushing over Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks new book, Super Natural Everyday. But not me! Because although I pre-ordered mine in early March, it didn’t arrive for what felt like an eternity. Every morning, me and my tiny partner in crime would take the elevator (always his favorite part of the day) down to the basement, where unclaimed packages often linger by the Super’s apartment and came back empty handed. Then we would sigh,
get to work load up Twitter on my laptop and read that another two friends were gushing over a book I was being cruelly deprived of and shake our tiny fists at the Amazon Gods and cry, “Why must you make us wait?!”
You might want to start rolling your eyes right now, you know, to get a head start before you hear what I’m about to say next: You know that time I dashed off to Aruba for a lazy weekend? I couldn’t find a decent piña colada anywhere. I know! Can you imagine having to suffer like this while on vacation? I mean, life is hard enough when your resort has a water slide with no age limit that deposits one mere feet from the swim-up bar; where you can cat-nap under your cabana while reading a book — with pages — any time being awake is just too exhausting to bear and wake up to gaze at the turquoise water meeting the impossibly blue sky until all of your thoughts file neatly into order. Obviously a watered-down piña colada from a piña colada mix is taking things just one step too far.
I’ve got a mad case of wanderlust. You’d think that after taking in vistas like this two weekends ago and this just yesterday, I’d be happy just to be here. But even New York City on the stunning brink between a snow-blanketed February and a shiny, breezy March aren’t enough to keep me from dreaming about South America. Northern Italy. India. China. Austria. Rome. Cuba. St. Louis, if it promises me more spun sugar cake. And now: Brazil.
Almost without fail, January — which is always too cold, too dull, and too overdue for an antidote for holiday excess — puts me in the mood for rice pudding and this year was no different. I played around with it all month. I made my standard. I made a “creamiest” version I found online that landed me with an undercooked eggy puddle and a wobbly belly. I made a baked version that never came together. And I caved to my husband’s repeated request for chocolate rice pudding which is something you will never see on this site because it was, hands down, the most revolting looking dish I’ve yet to ladle into a bowl. (I added 3 ounces of bittersweet chocolate added to my old favorite, and nixed the almond. See? Now I’ve saved myself a photography challenge!)
I know, I know, I just talked up granola bars last September. Waxing on about granola bars twice in six months is just weird, right? I can’t help it, I honestly don’t remember last September. I was 37 weeks pregnant. I was as big as a house. I had a baby two weeks later, which I barely remember either, though that’s probably for the best. I forgot about the granola bars in my freezer too, until at least December and when I unearthed them they were so crisp I had to crumble them over yogurt. With a mallet. Then two weeks ago I bought a house-made granola bar at Whole Foods, sunk my teeth into it’s thicky, chewy, ingredient-laden madness and was consumed with envy; why haven’t I made granola bars that taste like that? (Minus about half the sugar; they’re crazy sweet. )