Yesterday I walked into my office building past the beautiful garden of tulips and realized tulip season was officially done. All the beautiful green stalks had officially lost their blooms. Sadness. While I love living in an apartment and am an opt-of-house suburbanite, spring is when I have slight jealousy for those who have a yard and can enjoy just a touch of nature outside of their front door. Maybe even plant something. But that takes effort. Never mind. #lazy
So over the last few weeks I’ve been putting tulips everywhere for a little hint of color and nature but it’s time to move on to peonies. Just like tulips they can easily make up a bouquet all by themselves and be cut to be in whatever container happens to be on hand. Set out either a couple at a time or in a huge bunch – they are so beautiful. While not quite as predictable in shape as my beloved tulips, they are so wonderfully rotund that it makes me happy. Clearly I’m easily amused.
It’s Monday. Ugh. After such a beautiful sunny weekend, to get up and have to sit behind my desk gives me ants in my pants. I wish I could get everything done sitting outside under all the blooming cherry blossoms. So what was necessary to sip in the sunshine? A latte of course. Just a perfect foamy latte with a touch of sugar. It went perfectly with the crisp breeze and blooming tulips (ok the breeze really could be a tad less crisp). This time of year the weather is still cool enough to enjoy coffee being hot. Once the heat picks up it’ll be time to make the annual jump to iced coffee.
Seeing as I’m getting gradually more and more into coffee maybe I should educate myself on all the different options. It can be my back up obsession to wine with all the varieties and flavor intricacies… What better way to learn than with a Pop Chart Lab creation?!
photos courtesy of Pop Chart Lab
Cooking, for the average Joe/Jane, is a learn-by-example or learn-by-experimentation skill. Adulthood sort of requires you to suddenly be procificient at it when you move into your first place or risk weight gain from excessive prepared and processed foods and/or financial paralysis from spending entirely too much on ordering in/eating out. Some find their wings in the kitchen pretty quickly or were previously interested and some struggle (can you tell which camp I’m in?). Yes, I was a struggler, but a lot of learn-by-experimentation and some learn-by-example thrown in has gotten me fairly far along.
But a little formal instruction can go a long way, so for a friend’s birthday, we signed up for a cooking class together at Sur La Table’s New York City learning kitchen near Columbus Circle to get some inspiration for our next kitchen forays. We made a roast chicken with basil pistou, creamy wild mushroom polenta (ingredients pictured above), braised fennel with shallots and herbs, finished off with a dessert of Bosch pear tartlets. No wonder cooking shows make it look so easy – the menu is set, everything is purchased and prepped in little dishes, the space is huge, the equipment top notch… cooking classes make cooking less stressful… Freedom within a framework and all that. We learned some basics in knife technique (apparently I’m not as bad as I thought I was), our chef/instructor Joel taught us not to be too afraid of raw meat and dirty mushrooms – “A little dirt will never hurt” was his mantra – and we had a great time eating everything we made (since they make it foolproof and it was delicious).
Here is us with Chef Joel. Happy Birthday Kate!
Changing of the seasons makes me excited about cooking again. The end of winter makes my cooking mojo fizzle. I start making the same recipes over and over and eating out way too often. Eating things that are savory and heavy no longer tastes as great. I start to crave salads and fresh vegetables. Overall I’m just more energized. Getting up early with the sunshine on Sunday to make homemade yogurt all of sudden felt like a good idea. While I was at it I also roasted sweet potatoes and made pancakes. Because why not? I’m up. I’m drinking French pressed coffee and wearing new yoga pants. The suburban world is my oyster.
Part of my excitement is that my annual favorite day of the year is coming soon. Opening Saturday of the local farmer’s market. With that comes weekends of cooking, freshly baked bread, huge tomatoes, grilling corn, potato salads, pesto making, summer squash and roasting beets: #foodporn. So in preparation for the best day ever I sat this weekend and read through all my favorite cookbooks. Gathered ideas. Refreshed my memory. I absolutely cannot wait for the first tomato, watermelon, spinach and feta salad with a balsamic dressing of the season. Definitely will be washing that down with a glass of cold rosé.