Clodagh, a designer whose work I much admire and was thrilled to see in person, took an different view and defined luxury as "feeling the sun on your face, sleeping on the perfect mattress, gathering around a table large enough to accommodate your family and sharing a meal". Meaningful stuff that resonated with many of us.
Years ago when my mom and I visited Greece together, we experienced little luxuries on a daily basis. As it was May and summer weather, nearly every meal was eaten outdoors. We ate thick, creamy yogurt drizzled with local honey in courtyards shaded by bougainvillea cascading down from balconies, and sipped wine at sidewalk cafes where we watched life go by.
Today's post is a story of learning to trust. Trust the recipe. Trust the chef. Trust the details.
If you are a all like me, the first time you make a recipe you will do it exactly as written. (Okay, I am a total liar - sometimes I make changes immediately and the finished dish in no way resembles the intended recipe...) But, assuming that on occasion I follow the recipe to the "T," there does come a time when I simplify or adjust or change the recipe completely. My mother's recipe for Autumn Vegetable Bisque is a perfect example. It calls for boiling the butternut squash with the other veggies. While good, this method just didn't yield the fullest-flavored soup. So I roasted the squash and some of the vegetables and then added it to the soup. Perfection!
It's been busy. And although I've had more than a few days to write a little story for you, una piccola storia, I've come up empty. So let's get right down to business: Rhubarb and Peach Crisp. This recipe has been sitting in the "must try" pile for eons and I'm not sure where I found it. Judging from the type, it looks like a clipping from Bon Appetit, and my apologies for any error in attribution. It was the color that inspired me to try it - red rhubarb, yellow peaches. . . And while tasty out of the oven, it was even better the next day. So good, in fact, that I ate it for dinner. Let me know what you think.
I remember very little about putting together Mom's cookbook other than the computer had a black screen with green words. Proofreading was impossible without massive headaches. French accents were also impossible at that time. And Courier was the font of choice... well, the only font available. Considering the recipes, one thing that didn't strike me then but is so obvious to me now is that there is one reason so much of my mother's cooking was so good. Butter. Yep, butter. As I retype all these recipes, I am stunned at how many recipes begin with "a stick of butter." I now understand fully why: a) I struggled with my weight all my life, and b) why I am addicted to butter.
On most days, I'll put on sneakers and head out for a brisk spin through town. Along the river and across Prescott Park, a quick stop at the post office, through Market Square and past the library - old and new - a loop around the South Mill Pond and back into the narrow streets and jumbled rooftops of the South End. I pass two neighborhood favorites, and if I've thought to bring enough money with me, I may stop in here and - better yet - here. Which, quite often, is a mistake. A little of this, a little of that. . . a little more of that. I can't help myself and now I'm loaded down with gorgeous mussels, shrimp, a crisp white wine, generous wedges of Humboldt Fog and Parmesan cheeses, Kalamata olives. Serious nibbling will most likely ensue. . .