roasted fig, kale + chickpea salad and cauliflower coconut curry + a silent call to leave home


Truth be told, I rarely re-read what I write here. I write for the rush of it, the joy of it–the words come from a compulsion to make sense of a situation, find clarity, and once that clarity has been found I move on. However, amidst all this food, amidst a stove that resembled a bonfire, I kept re-reading this post. And one of the questions I keep asking myself is this: Why am I still here? This isn’t a Montaigne why-do-we-exist ontological argument, rather, it’s why am I still in New York? Before you talk about a hoard of writers who never grew up in New York yet pen dreamy essays about leaving old New York, my story is less about a place and more about a desperate need to sit in discomfort. A need to lay down my head somewhere else in the world for an extended period of time–beyond travel.

This place is my home. I went to Fordham when I could have gone to Boston University or Brown. I went to Columbia when I could have applied to Iowa. I watched so many people I love move away, start new lives in different states and countries and it’s only now that I have a sense of longing. A realization that my home has become my barnacle, a place to which I’ve been unhealthily attached. My mother still lives here. My pop lives here. All my memories are tethered to this place, and I want new memories, new places. I posted something on Facebook and one of my very sage friends wrote this, which put my heart on pause:

Come up with an eccentric plan and give yourself to it. For example, resolve to live on every continent for 3 months to a year (okay, not Antarctica). Or live in a different country for a year for 5 years in a row. Or live on an island for a year. I’ve found that it’s very, very hard to will a change out of the swirling lights of one’s soul, but it’s easy to react to a change you believe has already been made for you. We move in a week if our employer makes us, but if it’s up to us, we’ll linger for five years making excuses and riding the wave of inertia. So find some way to externalize the impetus for the change, and then don’t question it. Just get it done. Pretend an employer is forcing you to move. Pretend anything. Oh, you could live in four states, each of which abuts a corner or edge of the US: say, Traverse City, Michigan; Bangor, Maine; Austin, Texas; and Portland, Oregon. You get the idea. You could also plan a book and live along some route that you would create art/photos/writing about. I am not thinking about money here, of course, so the daydreaming is easy. But I’d say daydream hard first, and you’ll figure out the money.

Last night I vacillated between this comment and my post, and I realized I keep asking questions that go unanswered because I’m afraid. It’s easy to talk about New York and how much I hate it, how much it’s gone to blight, overflowing with long-term tourists who call themselves New Yorkers. I lament that so much of the danger, art and energy I loved as a child has been whitewashed, excised. Everything feels pedestrian, done by rote, and the discomfort I feel is more akin to waking up to someone whom you thought you knew for the whole of your life to realize they’re actually a stranger. The discomfort I want is the feel of the new, the unsettling that comes from uprooting yourself and planting yourself somewhere else. I want quiet. I want land. I want solitude. I want slow. I want simple.

My god, I’ve lived a complicated, often difficult, life in a place that’s frenetic. I want to slow down and breathe.

So I’m following my friend’s advice and using the next 12 months to put my exit strategy into action. More details to come.

Now, my questions are when and how?

INGREDIENTS + DIRECTIONS FOR THE CHICKPEA SALAD: Pre-heat an oven to 400F. To a large roasting pan, add figs, quartered; handfuls of curly kale; 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained; salt/pepper/olive oil. Toss the figs, kale and chickpeas so they’re evenly coated in olive oil. Roast for 30-40 minutes until the kale is crispy and the chickpeas are browned.

INGREDIENTS + DIRECTIONS FOR THE CAULIFLOWER CURRY*: 2 tbsp coconut oil; 2 cloves of garlic, minced; 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced; 1 large cauliflower head (1 lb) cut into florets; 2 tbsp curry powder; 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes; 1/4 tsp cinnamon; 1/8 tsp ground coriander; pinch of sea salt and coarse black pepper; 1 14oz can of full-fat coconut milk; 2 tbsp almond butter.

Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the coconut oil and garlic. Once the garlic is fragrant, add the bell pepper and cauliflower. Stir the vegetables to evenly coat them in garlic + oil.

Add all of the spices and toss to coat. Add the coconut milk and almond butter. Mix to incorporate.

Cover the pan and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the cauliflower is softened. Taste for seasoning + add more salt if needed.

*Recipe from The Paleo Kitchen.


a woman gets hip to the beet!


After sleeping for seven hours (interrupted sleep, but at this point I’ll take what I can get), you know I woke up this morning blasting the Go-Go’s “We Got the Beat” on volume 10 on my laptop. Why all the fanfare + confetti, you ask? Well, I look less like a mutant (the hives have diminished by 75% and I can go outside without wearing a full-body scarf), I don’t feel nauseous from the steroids anymore, and I’m going to the Hamptons today for a fancy-pants magazine party with my i-Chat partner-in-crime, Amber.

I also had bread for the first time in a month. Gluten-free, but delicious, and I nearly wept into my small sandwich. It’s the little things, people.

As I sit here, semi plagued with itch (the morning meds have not yet kicked in), I’ve also got something else to celebrate: I AM EATING BEETS. You might shrug, but this is huge for me since I’ve hated beets since the womb.

I didn’t grow up in a healthy home (in more ways than one, but we won’t get into that on a Saturday morning, especially when the Go-Go’s are playing and Belinda Carlisle is in queue). In our home, we ate what was cheap. We procured $1 chicken legs from bodegas and feasted on bags of potatoes and mashed potatoes that came out of a blue box, a mythical white pouch. Vegetables were gruesome, soggy things in cans — torture devices my mother implemented when she was cross with me. I shudder to think of the string beans dumped on a plate, the limpness of them, their sickly pallor. It wasn’t until college when I had my first salad, and I wouldn’t eat proper vegetables until I was in my 20s.

So beets are a big deal.

After reading this post on the benefits of beets (and there are many, people), and realizing that I need to stop being myopic about the kinds of vegetables I’ll eat considering I need to be eating more of them, moving forward, I broke down and incorporated a beet into this morning’s smoothie, and I’m happy to report that it’s TASTY. I’m pleasantly surprised. There is an adjustment to the beet, mind you, but it wasn’t the terror I envisioned it to be.

INGREDIENTS: Beet, Fig + Apricot Smoothie
1 cup almond milk
1 ½ scoops of XyMogen OptiMetaboliX™ powder*
2 fat figs + 2 small apricots
1 golden beet, washed, peeled and chopped
5 ice cubes

*Note: Here’s the rub: you can only get this powder from licensed nutritionists or medical professionals. If that’s not possible, feel free to sub in your favorite protein powder. I’d opt for vegan protein or hemp rather than whey.

Add all the ingredients to a high-powered blender (I start with the fruit + veg at the bottom to preserve my blades), and blitz until smooth.

fig galette

I’ve a confession to make: over the summer I botched about half a dozen galettes. I can blame my oven, the cruel, monstrous thing that just loves to torch any crust that dare enter its clutches. I can blame the time I neglected to remove my dough from the place on the counter directly above my dishwasher, just as my dishes were drying. Or maybe I can lament over the pints of fresh strawberries that leaked out of the crevices in the dough and burned the body of said oven. Rotten luck! Circumstance! Faulty flour, etc, etc!

I could tell you stories.

Or, I could be honest. I can tell you that it’s been a while since I’ve formed great pie dough. Instead I focused on breads, cookies, cakes and puddings — because I needed the quiet comfort of the weight of the things. This summer was the worst I’ve known, and the tactile feeling I got from making cakes in a bowl instead of a stand mixer, freezing almond ice cream and pulling sheets of perfumed cookies out of the oven delivered a calm I needed. I didn’t have it in me to consider the intricacies of pastry dough, a kind of dough that makes you hawk a clock rather than linger. Summer raged a platoon against butter, and I cursed as I pulled one sheet pan after another of ruined galettes.

What I love about baking is the methodical nature of it. I view a recipe as a blueprint for creating a life, something you can create from air, from nothing, and as long as you follow the outline, as long as you keep at it, you will make beautiful things. But if you aren’t humble, if you aren’t ready to accept that the directions can only take you so far and you can’t control humidity, ovens and forgotten sheet pans on top of dishwashers, then you’re done for. If you don’t practice, your technique atrophies, and so here I am, armed with a new food processor, re-learning the consistency and texture of pastry dough.

After forty minutes, I’m proud to say that there are no leaks or dough that reminds one of chewing cardboard, rather the pastry is a little tart, sublimely sweet and the crust is tender and hearty, a lovely home for the fruit capturing its last breath of air in the season.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned this summer, it’s this: you will fall. You will burn things. You will believe that the thing that made you extraordinary has left you dulled around the edges, simple and ordinary. And only in admitting failure, only in steadying yourself with your hands, only when you lift yourself up, only then you’ll find the extraordinary all over again.

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cane sugar
1 tsp salt
2 sticks (8oz) butter, cold and cubed
1/4 cup ice-cold water
12-14 fresh figs, halved
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp heavy cream

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt to combine. Distribute the cubed butter evenly amidst the flour and pulse 4-5 times for two seconds at a time. Your dough should have the texture of coarse sand with pea-sized bits of floured butter throughout.

With the blade running, slowly stream in the cold water until your dough just comes together. Tumble your dough onto your counter and wrap in cling film, pressing the dough into a fat disk, about 1 inch thick. Chill for an hour.

While the dough is chilling, prepare the figs, vanilla, syrup and sugar in a bowl, gently tossing the mixture with your hands. You don’t want the figs to fall apart so take it easy.

Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Remove the chilled dough from the fridge, and on a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough until it’s 12-14 inches wide. Don’t get caught up in measurements — you just want a large circle where the dough is a 1/4 inch thick.

Transfer the dough to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Leaving about 2-3 inches of space from the crust, assemble your fig mixture and begin to fold the dough over the mixture, making sure you don’t have any tears or holes. Chill the galette for 15 minutes before transferring to the oven. After it’s chilled, brush on the heavy cream.

Bake the galette for 35 minutes, and then cool completely on a rack. Serve solo or with ice cream!



get your food swoon on: bacon, figs + spinach sandwich

I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. ― Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Is it strange to hold a number but not feel the shape of it? The clocks are an altogether different matter — they force a kind of inventory. You stare at your hands, inspect your face under the glare of a sun that threatens to set your skin aflame, and contort your body this way and that. A mask, a doll, a funhouse mirror, a forest — you are all and none of these things, and you stare at photographs as a reminder of the person you used to be. As instructed, you’ve taken the inventory, you’ve done the maths, and all you’re left with are the additions. And as a result, all that has been taken away. This wasn’t what you used to look like, you think. You scramble to compare a photo taken then and a photo taken now, and you chart the minor (and sometimes significant) differences.

I’m 37, but I don’t feel it. No, that’s not true. I feel some it. I feel the quiet and patience that comes with having lived through the torrent, having felt the undertow, of having almost gone under, but didn’t. I’ve imagined all the ways in which I can end, complete — from a plane hurtling into the ocean to a wisp of air sputtering out in the middle of sleep — so the trash can flames and basement floods don’t incite the terror they once had the capacity to do. I feel something of the severe in terms of managing the multiplications. There was a time when I’d wake to a face covered in barnacles, all those who cling, burrow and fiercely attach to only drain, and I’d try to yank them off and tire from their resilience. Now I walk around with a scalpel, ready for the scraping. I feel a body slowly not able to recover like it used to. I feel the softness that won’t easily harden. I can start to see the years in my eyes and on patches of my face.

I’m 37, but I don’t feel it because I feel as if I’ve only just woken up. Had I been asleep all this time? Had I been dreaming?

This week an old friend tells me that my greatest challenge (there’s another challenge? I laugh in a way that isn’t funny) is taking comfort in the betweens. There was a time when I worked in marketing and only saw myself as a writer. Refusing to write jacket and campaign copy because it would ruin — I was a woman who would not bend. Then there was a time when I was all slideshows and key performance indicators, and all the important people in my life don’t even know I’d written a book. Don’t know I’m writing a new one. So my friend tells me that I’ve got to find a way to reconcile the two. Torch the masks and meet the world with this one face, these two hands, this one mind, divided.

We talk about the kids and their entitlement, which is sometimes true, but I wonder if we’re a little envious. If we want to age in reverse — start knowing too much to knowing nothing at all, and living every moment in the wonder of the next. It used to infuriate me to hear children cry because I wanted them to know how good they have it. How every moment forward brings a newness that they’ll never get back.

I’m 37 and I hear about the too lates, the new starts, the pivots, the awakenings — and I want to torch all of it.

I wonder if instead of us staring at photographs, obsessing over the surface of things, perhaps we can attempt to create a map of the country that is our heart, the cities that are our mind in swell, in bloom. We gawk at the largeness of it, of all that we’ve become and achieved, and perhaps we need this laid down on paper. Perhaps we need this taped to our mirrors, festooned on the walls. Perhaps then we’ll stop thinking about the maths, the numbers.

I don’t have an answer, but I know that I want to move in the direction of our heart being a country.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe inspired by Joanne Chang’s Famous Applewood Smoked BLT recipe in Flour, Too (Serves two)
8 slices applewood-smoked bacon, thick cut
4 slices good-quality slice sourdough bread
2 tbsp butter
2 cups baby spinach
12 figs, quartered
1 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette
Sea Salt to taste

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil and preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place bacon on the cookie sheet and bake for 24-28 minutes, until half is crispy and half is still a little bendy. Remove from oven. Lightly toast bread. Spread each slice with a tablespoon of butter. As I need to keep my dairy in check, I used Earth Balance butter. Top two slices with baby spinach and quartered figs, a drizzle of vinaigrette and bacon. Season with salt to taste. Top with second slice of bread. Cut in half and serve.