The Eat This Poem Pre-Order Bonus!

 
An illustration from inside the pages of Eat This Poem, drawn by Cat Grishaver.

An illustration from inside the pages of Eat This Poem, drawn by Cat Grishaver.

 

I love pre-ordering books because it means the day a book is released (and occasionally, a day or two before), the book will be in my hands. Isn’t there something special about sharing that moment with others? Checking the mail, walking inside with a box, and pulling the book out of its packaging materials…all of us simultaneously anticipating what we might find between the pages. Then, of course, there’s the moment when you can sit down with a mug of tea or coffee and begin reading.

When I started writing the Eat This Poem blog in January 2012, I couldn’t see this far ahead. I hoped to write a book one day, but it wasn’t until an editor emailed me asking if I’d thought about a cookbook that the idea really started percolating and taking hold (plus all the years of back and forth during the book’s development). Five years later, and being less than 100 days away from a real published book hitting the shelves, I’m having a difficult time removing the smile from my face.

On March 21, Eat This Poem: A Literary Feast of Recipes Inspired by Poetry will be here. I cannot wait for you to read the poems I’ve practically memorized, and try some of the recipes I’ve cooked in my kitchen for the past several years.

And because waiting is pretty much the hardest thing in life, I’d like to make it a little bit easier.

Eat This Poem Excerpt
Eat This Poem Excerpt
Eat This Poem Excerpt
Eat This Poem Excerpt
 

When you pre-order Eat This Poem before March 21, you’ll receive an exclusive excerpt featuring 18 pages from inside the manuscript. It’s one of my favorite poems—“Mushrooms” by Mary Oliver—and the three recipes that accompany it: Truffle Risotto with Chanterelles, Mushroom Pizza with Taleggio and Thyme, and Mushroom and Brie Quesadillas.

The reason I’m doing this is because bookstores use pre-orders as a gauge for determining how many copies of a book it orders. More pre-orders mean more copies of the book will be on the shelf when it releases. It’s a really easy and useful way to support your favorite authors!


Here's how it works!

 

1. Pre-order the book from your favorite bookstore (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Powell’s)

2. Fill out this form and submit the receipt or order number 

3. Download the excerpt and start reading!

 

Note: When you pre-order, you will not be automatically added to my mailing list; the weekly newsletter is optional, only if you’re interested.

5 Poems for the New Year

5 Poems for the New Year #poetry #poems

Of the many things poetry is good for, marking occasions is one of them. Lauren F. Winner calls it “decorating a life-cycle event,” noting how people whose “last encounter with a poem was tenth-grade British Lit, grasp for a poem when their child marries, or dies.” Jim Morrison—The Doors late frontman, and poet—wrote “If my poetry aims to achieve anything, it’s to deliver people from the limited ways in which they see and feel.”

He’s right about that. Poetry provides access to emotions we cannot express, new perspectives, and as I often say, brings meaning to the mundane. It’s why I read “The Bight” by Elizabeth Bishop on my birthday every year—to center myself in the “awful but cheerful” routines of the day.

In January, I read poems for the new year. In Pablo Neruda’s ode on the subject, he reminds us that the day does not know the difference. We are the ones who give such prominence to the occasion.

“Yes,
even though
you’re
only
a day
a poor
human day
your halo
beats
over so many
tired
hearts,
and you are
oh new
day,
oh forthcoming cloud,
bread unseen before,
permanent tower!”

—Pablo Neruda, from “Ode to the First Day of the Year”

On January 1—this “poor human day”—we mark the passage of time by staying up late, drinking champagne, resolving to do better, to grow and change. We want to start fresh, clean, like the unblemished layer of snow that covers the ground each January.

To usher in a brand new year (and all the possibilities sure to unfold), here are five poems worthy of a read.

5 quiet, reflective poems to celebrate the new year #poetry #winterpoems #poem #eatthispoem

1 | “To The New Year” by W.S. Merwin

With what stillness at last
you appear in the valley
your first sunlight reaching down
to touch the tips of a few
high leaves that do not stir
as though they had not noticed
and did not know you at all
then the voice of a dove calls
from far away in itself
to the hush of the morning

Read the rest of the poem here


2 | “Burning the Old Year” by Naomi Shihab Nyes
 

So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
orange swirling flame of days
so little is a stone.

Read the rest of the poem here

OF NOTE: "BURNING THE OLD YEAR" is featured inside the Eat This Poem Cookbook alongside a recipe for the short ribs and celery root puree I make every New Year’s Eve. Get your copy!


3 | “Snowfall” By Ravi Shankar

Particulate as ash, new year’s first snow falls
upon peaked roofs, car hoods, undulant hills,
in imitation of motion that moves the way
static cascades down screens when the cable
zaps out, persistent & granular with a flicker
of legibility that dissipates before it can be
Interpolated into any succession of imagery.

Read the rest of the poem here


4 | From “New Year’s Day”by Kim Addonizio

The rain this morning falls
on the last of the snow

and will wash it away. I can smell
the grass again, and the torn leaves

being eased down into the mud.

Read the rest of the poem here


5 | “The Passing of the Year” by Robert W. Service

My glass is filled, my pipe is lit,
     My den is all a cosy glow;
And snug before the fire I sit,
     And wait to feel the old year go.

Read the rest of the poem here


What are your favorite poems for the new year? Share them in the comments!

Celebrating 100 Literary City Guides

Back in 2013, I emailed two of my friends—Shanna and Stacy—and asked if they'd be willing to help me with a new project. A couple of months later, I launched Literary City Guides with three destinations: Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Nashville.

It's been three years and we've hit a pretty celebratory number—100! I haven't been able to travel nearly as much as I'd like to this past year, so I've been living vicariously through the beautiful guides our community has offered. If you're looking for inspiration, I dug through my analytics to find out which destinations you've loved the most, and here they are. Time to book your flights (and maybe pack your passport!).


Top 10 Literary City Guides


I've lived in Los Angeles since 2008, and the city has charmed me more and more each year. Perhaps it's because I've finally made peace with the things people tend to dislike, like traffic and confusing parking signs. But the more you get to know each neighborhood, it's easy to embrace the real gems from restaurants to bookstores, and my favorite paper boutique. 


This quote From William Saroyan sums up the city nicely: "San Francisco itself is art, above all literary art. Every block is a short story, every hill a novel. Every home a poem, every dweller within immortal. That is the whole truth." For evidence, look to its coffee shops, museums, winding streets, and impeccable food. 


Shortly after Eat This Poem began in 2012, I told you about a trip I took to London. It was a nostalgic trip for me, walking familiar streets (and sitting in the same squares as Virginia Woolf), seeing favorite museums, and stopping by the building where I took most of my classes while studying abroad. One thing was certain: I loved the city just as much as when I first arrived. Elena is from San Francisco, but moved to London in the late eighties and has never left. She brings a thoughtful perspective to the guide, from her favorite local coffee shop to the best way visitors can follow in the footsteps of London's famous writers. 


If you look at a map of Montana, you'll find Missoula on the western edge near the border of Idaho. This gem of a town is home to Erika, who played hooky in California before returning to the city where she was born and raised. Here, seasonal pizzas command lines out the door every fall, readings inspire in the prestigious creative writing program at the University of Montana, and local coffee roasters will keep you caffeinated all afternoon. 


Jenny's recommendations are spot on for anyone looking for an independent bookstore, good cup of coffee, or salted caramel cupcakes. From a library that will make any Harry Potter fan swoon, to coffee shops with deconstructed lattes, Seattle is filled with experiences to fulfill any literary craving. 


6. Portland, Oregon

From libraries with stunning views and week-long literary festivals, to beer-filled mason jars and small-batch ice cream, Portland epitomizes everything there is to love about a good literary destination.


The summer after my junior year of high school, we took a family vacation to the east coast. Boston was a highlight, and in addition to immersing yourself in American history, there are plenty of cant-miss literary stops like the oldest antiquarian bookstore in the country.


I've been to Spain also, but not to Barcelona (sadly). The three days I spent there were based in Madrid, with a train ride to Seville in between. Our guide lived Barcelona since 1998 before relocating to the Bay Area recently, and her local perspective is one to rely on during your next visit. There are plenty of good bookstores, cafes for tea and coffee lovers alike, and more pastry shops than you probably need. Luckily, Barcelona is a walkable city, so all will balance out.


Ashland sits just north of the California border, making it a favorite and frequent destination of tour guide Katrina Neill, who has been visiting since 2001 when she first made the trip with her book club. A hallmark of Ashland's literary scene is the annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and in between plays you can find plenty of cute coffee shops and eateries to enjoy.


10. Chicago, Illinois

When it comes to offering tips for places to eat and read in Chicago, I knew Amina would be a fantastic tour guide. She's a fellow literary food blogger and the editor behind Paper/Plates, a blog devoted to all things food and literature. As a native of Illinois, her recommendations come from years of getting to know the city she now calls home. 


9 Non-Book Gifts for Literature Lovers

9 Non-Book Gifts for Literature Lovers

I can’t think of an instance when giving the gift of a book is not a good idea. From graduations to birthdays, or major holidays like Christmas or Mother’s Day, a good book is always thoughtful and appropriate.

Over the years, I’ve been on both the giving and receiving end of many literary gift exchanges, like the time when everyone who came to my baby shower arrived with their favorite children’s book, or unwrapping the latest cookbook releases under the tree each Christmas. I’ve given people books just because, mailing them almost as soon as I closed the back cover.

But when you’re looking for something extra special for a bookworm in your life (or want to treat yourself to something, too!) look beyond the page. These non-book gifts for literature lovers are just the thing!


1. Book Lovers’ Soy Candle

If you love getting close to a book’s pages, inhaling that musty, inky smell, here’s a candle that actually smells like old books.

2. Poetry-Inspired Tea

Skylark—a green sencha tea blend from August Uncommon Tea—has notes of strawberry and tangerine, and is inspired by Shelley’s lyrical poem by the same name.

3. Literary Tea Towels

Obvious State makes a variety of literary gifts, from prints to mugs. For bookworms who enjoy spending time in the kitchen, literary tea towels are the perfect cooking companion.

4. Cozy Throw Blanket

One of the best parts about reading is having a cozy blanket to snuggle in. My favorite right now is the plush cable knit throw from Pottery Barn. 

9 Non-Book Gifts for Literature Lovers

5. Kindle Cover

E-readers are here to stay, so a sleek Kindle cover is essential.

6. A Fresh Notebook

You can never go wrong with a fresh notebook. Moleskine is my favorite, especially the red version. 

7. Stamped Teaspoon

This clever little spoon will stir cream into coffee, or honey into tea.

8. Banned Book Tote Bag

A reusable tote is a must-have nowadays. I use one for groceries, carrying snacks to work, and even to hold dog toys when we’re out and about with our pup.

9. Literary Pillows

Fans of Virginia Woolf keep her front and center on their favorite reading chair. If that’s too much, try a minimalist pillow featuring the War and Peace cover.

"Baking With My Daughter" by Joseph Robert Mills + Sarah's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies from The Vanilla Bean Baking Cookbook

When I first met Sarah, we shared a bowl of terrible guacamole. (Here's a picture to prove it.)

I was in Minneapolis for work and in the sliver of free time I had one evening, Sarah drove to the suburbs and met me in the hotel restaurant where I was staying. It was dark and lightly sprinkling, so the whole thing felt sort of moody and cozy while we sat next to the window overlooking a courtyard fountain. There may have been a fireplace, although my memory escapes me now. 

The wild rice soup wasn’t memorable either, but the company was. We talked about blogging, about writing, about our future books, the things we had in common, and as I expected, Sarah had the same warmth offline as she projected online. 

We both wrote our cookbooks around the same time and occasionally exchanged exasperated and/or encouraging emails about the process. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this arrival because I know how hard Sarah worked on it. She was committed wholeheartedly to creating the best book possible, with well-tested recipes and thoughtful writing. Putting a book into the world is an enormous task requiring devotion, time, energy, and in Sarah’s case, pounds and pounds of butter and flour, plus grateful friends and neighbors who could take pies and pastries off her hands. 

If you followed her Instagram at all this past year, you would have seen the occasional face and frequent stray hand of her son or daughter and read notes about her family life. I love how her kids were such a part of this process, and although my own son isn't old enough to help much in the kitchen, I look forward to the day when he stands next to me adding flour to a bowl or mixing dough, and today's poem captures this special moment so beautifully. 


Baking with My Daughter

by Joseph Robert Mills

I want to do it, she says at each step
of the recipe, and I try to let her
even if it means broken eggs on the counter,
too much salt, and too little flour.

She splays the dough onto the cookie sheet,
using the wooden spoon as if it’s a combination
snow shovel and mallet. When she turns away,
I try to perform a kind of cookie triage,
finding those blobs with a chance at survival
and nudging them into a vague roundness.

After they’re finished, she holds one aloft
like a medal and tells her mother,
I did these all by myself, right Daddy?
I nod, saying nothing, and, for the first time,
wonder how many of my own victories
were smoothed into shape behind my back.

From Love and Other Collisions (Press 53, 2010). Reprinted with permission from the author.


The first stanza delicately illustrates the never-ending dance of embracing childhood impulses alongside the patience we must summon as adults. No, the counter will not always be clean. No, the toys will not always be picked up. No, the laundry won't always be folded. No, they will do it this way or that way. But it doesn't matter, does it? 

I chuckled a bit in the middle, after the girl's father comes in to try and salvage the cookie dough, to give it "a chance at survival." It's an illustration in our daily task as parents: letting go of the should, and embracing whatever comes, even if it includes misshapen cookies. 

By the end of the poem we're privy to an insight only made possible by having a child of one's own. That is, the question of how many times the father's own parents did something similar, creating small victories in the midst of chaos. It's a beautiful tribute to the magical yet complicated relationships between parents and children, and one so many of us can relate to.

That is the job of the poet, and the role I like best of all: To make the mundane meaningful. Time stops, if only for the twelve minutes or so it takes for a tray of cookies to bake. And whether they are perfectly round or thick blobs on the sheet pan matters little. They will be eaten and loved because they were made by a father and daughter.


When it comes to dessert, I tend to be a purist. You won’t find me adding avocado to brownies or making vegan birthday cakes. My sweet tooth isn’t strong, so when I do have a craving, I want the real deal. I can’t think of any circumstances under which chocolate chip cookies are not appropriate. It’s one of my favorite things to make, and I’m known for saying things like “It feels like a cookie day,” or “I just need a chocolate chip cookie” around the house. No one ever complains.

So, of course, this chocolate chip cookie recipe was the first treat I made from her beautiful cookbook. I’ve also bookmarked lots of goodies for the future. And as someone who occasionally feels daunted by the task of baking anything elaborate, Sarah actually makes me feel like I can do it. Her photos are beautiful yet welcoming, her voice is encouraging, and I might have found my absolute perfect birthday dessert, in the form of her raspberry cream cake which I’ll be making next May. 

But back to the cookies, which remind me of two things. 

In high school, I usually brought a packed lunch, but once a week I bought lunch from the cafeteria. It was always the same: a personal cheese pizza and a cookie. The cookie was slid into a brown bag made translucent with oil remnants seeping through, and like Sarah's cookies, it was a size that could comfortably feed a family of three. That's the first thing. These cookies also remind me, strangely, of my French bulldog's wrinkles. I know, it's a stretch, but if you happen to have a French bulldog of your own, you might understand why. 

Now, a few baking notes.

First, read the recipe. It requires some freezing, several baking sheets, and whatever you do, DO NOT bake the cookies close together. They spread. 

If you, like me, have a side-by-side fridge/freezer situation that won't accommodate a large sheet pan, use a half-sheet pan instead. I possess only one, so I cooked two cookies at a time. It will take longer this way, but if you have a relaxing afternoon at home, not to worry. You can also bake them in the usual way (without freezing in advance, which I tried), by scooping rounds onto the baking sheet with a cookie scoop and baking for 14 minutes. They won't be as craggy, but as Sarah says, they will still be quite good.

Sarah anticipated readers' reservations about lifting up the tray and slapping it down, but it works. You'll see the bubble flatten out, and after three or four times of this, those edges will push out and get wrinkly, which is a very satisfying sight. 


SARAH'S CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Barely adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book by Sarah Kieffer

Makes about 10 extra-large cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons water
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into bite-size pieces (not chips)

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line 3 baking sheets with aluminum foil, dull side up. (If you don't have this many sheet pans, or a small freezer, do this one at a time with a half-sheet pan instead.) 

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter on medium until creamy. Add the granulated and brown sugars and beat on medium until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla, and water and mix on low to combine. Add the chocolate and mix until just combined.

Using a 1/3-cup measuring scoop, place balls an equal distance apart (2 cookies for a half sheet pan; 4 cookies for a regular sheet pan). Transfer to the freezer for 15 minutes. After you put the first baking sheet in the oven, put the second one in the freezer.

Place the chilled baking sheet in the oven and bake 10 minutes, until the cookies have puffed slightly in the center. Lift the side of the baking sheet up about 4 inches and gently let it drop down against the oven rack once or twice. This will feel strange, but you'll see the cookies flatten out, and the crinkly edges begin to form. 

After the cookies puff up again in 2 minutes, repeat lifting and dropping the pan. Repeat a few ore times to create ridges around the edge of the cookie, baking a total of 16 to 18 minutes. Repeat with remaining cookie dough.

First Birthday Cake

First birthday cake with mashed banana, orange juice, and maple

Our little man turned one earlier this month so of course, I made him a cake.

My birthday dessert policy is simple: pick what you want, and I'll make it. This applies to anyone old enough to have an opinion (I've made my husband a cheesecake and friend a coconut cake in past years), but since Henry isn't talking just yet, I decided on a festive, mini-sized, and mostly wholesome cake to celebrate.

There are a lot of things we could discuss in this post. How fast the year has flown by. How different life is. How my capacity to exercise/write/cook/read/etc. has changed. How I no longer fit into my skinny jeans from two years ago. How I've completely altered my self-imposed expectations surrounding my writing life. How watching my son pick up pieces of homemade food with his own two hands is utterly satisfying. (And when he says mmmmm, with a smirk and a twinkle in his eye, it's one of my favorite things.) How I've been more sentimental than usual recalling the hot summer months at the end of my pregnancy last year, because, as I mentioned, the year has flown by.


 
 

Birthday Cupcakes (photo by Tawny Alipoon)

The truth is, in some ways I feel enormously settled into our new lives. But when your to-do list is long and ideas spark quicker than you can act on them, it sparks conversations about what's really important, how valuable my time is, and where to devote my energy. I've been managing to navigate this period of my life in large part due to Essentialism, a book I read this past spring. The general premise is simple: less but better.

1st Birthday Cake

It requires you to take a look at what's really happening and see where you can make changes. It means fewer events on the calendar. It means donating clothes you don't wear. It means letting magazine renewals lapse and hitting unsubscribe to old newsletters. It means saying no to activities that don't provide value. It means resting more.

It also means on a sunny October day, I spent more time enjoying the moment than worrying about all the details. Sure, I ran around in the morning to pick up cupcakes and set up the tables and blow up balloons. But once the party started, I was right there watching my son laugh and play, completely joyful and grateful to be celebrating this milestone.

That's what's really essential, isn't it?

The rest, well, I'll get to it eventually.

MINI TRIPLE LAYER BIRTHDAY CAKE

As first birthday cakes go, this one is relatively wholesome. Instead of granulated sugar, the cake is lightly sweetened with maple syrup and orange juice, and the mashed banana gives it a very banana bread-type feel. I riffed on this gem of a recipe from The Faux Martha.

A few weeks before the party, I tried Melissa's recipe as-written to make sure it worked in my pans and was the size I wanted. For the day-of, I doubled the recipe and baked 4 cake layers in individual, 4 1/2-inch springform pans (similar version here). I wanted a thicker smear of frosting, plus an extra cake layer just in case something went wrong during baking or assembly. To serve, I placed the cake on top of a 6-inch cake board

Makes 1 triple layer, 4.5-inch cake, with extra, just in case

For the cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup whole milk
2 eggs
1 small ripe banana

For the frosting
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
4 to 6 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of four 4.5-inch springform pans with parchment paper. Whisk the flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the maple syrup, orange juice, milk, eggs, and whisk until combined. Mash the banana in a small bowl, then add it to the wet ingredients and incorporate with a wooden spoon.

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Evenly distribute between the four pans, and place them on a sheet pan.

Bake for 16 to 18 minutes*, or until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool completely before assembling. (*This timing worked with Melissa's original recipe, but when I doubled it and had thicker cake layers, I found my cakes needed a bit more time, closer to 25 minutes. Just check on them periodically until they're done.)

To make the frosting, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in one tablespoon of maple syrup at a time, until the sweetness suits your palate. 

To assemble, remove the cooled cakes and place one layer on the bottom of a cake board. If needed, slice through the tops with a serrated knife to make the tops even. Add a thin layer of frosting and stack the additional cake layers, inverted (so the bottom and flattest side is up), on top, and add more frosting. Repeat with final layer, then frost the outside of the cake.

Note: I did a light crumb coat first and let the cake chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before finishing, but Melissa's "crumb coat" also looks adorable if that's the look you want! Finish with sprinkles, candles, or other festive decorations.


Photos captured by Tawny Alipoon

"Ramps" by Kyle Potvin + Grilled Scallion pizza

For your consideration, a list of ingredients with very, very short seasons: figs, persimmons, perfectly ripe strawberries, and ramps. There are others, of course, but these come to mind as I draft this post—a post that, unfortunately, is paired with a poem whose brief window of glory was back in April, or thereabouts.

So we will adapt, as we do. Adaptation (the evolution, not the film starring Meryl Streep and Nicholas Cage) has been on my mind this year occasionally when I've had time to stop and actually think. As someone who used to make plans and stick to them (everything from vacation itineraries to weekly meals), there's been somewhat of a learning curve to slowly transition from hyper organized to easygoing. 

You might say I'm a recovering Type A personality. I'm still organized and I still like to look at the big picture, but I don't stress about small things as much anymore, especially, especially when they fall outside my control (which is often). 

Grilled Scallion Pizza from Eat This Poem
Grilled Scallion Pizza from Eat This Poem

Like most things in life worth doing, progress was slow for a while, but years later, I can see a real softening of spirit and a much more peaceful mindset than I used to have, which has come in handy this year especially.

Because we had a baby. Because we moved. Because our oven stopped working on Thanksgiving Day, and our kitchen sink backed up on Christmas Eve. Because it took four months for our new slipcover to arrive. Because our building decided to change the garage codes the same day I was picking up my sister-in-law at the airport. Because that's usually the way it goes.

So, we adapt. We make a new plan. We just see how it goes. I still plan our meals because that's how my life stays on track these days, but I like to leave room for inspiration to strike, especially at the farmer's market. 

And although ramps might not be in season now that it's October, the poem below transports us back to the clear days of spring.

Grilled Scallion Pizza

RAMPS

by Kyle Potvin

After Poached Eggs on Toast with Ramps
– Bon Appétit, April 2014

Hail young allium!
Spring onion,
wild leek.

Your season is brief
yet you are complicated,
three parts in one:
pungent bulb that hides beneath the surface,
magenta stem,
broad tender leaf that disappears by summer.

Your ancestors have lined rivers
and fed tribes.
A city – Chicagou –
is named in your honor!

Some try to preserve you,
pickle you,
for the months ahead
but I say:

Sizzle in the heat of the pan.
Soften to unexpected sweetness.
Join with the delicate egg, poached,
on a thick slice of toast,
thinly spread with cheese:
fresh goat, ricotta, burrata.

This Sunday morning,
rock the Maldon.
Run with the abandon
of broken yolk. 

Printed with permission from the author.


This poem has summed up my feelings nicely. The directive is firm but friendly: "Sizzle in the heat of the pan. / Soften to unexpected sweetness." In several stanzas, we are given instructions in both cooking and living. Rather than hoarding ramps for the future and giving up precious time in the moment to preserve them, there's an alternative I very much like, which involves three cheese options, a thick slice of toast, poached egg, and flaky salt.

Stay present. Stay hungry.

I am both of these things. In wrong season, perhaps, but I have adapted. I have replaced the bread with pizza dough, and ramps with scallions. And we have what is still a very good meal indeed.

Grilled Scallion Pizza

GRILLED SCALLION AND RICOTTA PIZZA

When ramps are not in season, green onions make a worthy substitute for this spring/summer pizza. If you have an outdoor grill, it adds a nice char to the green onions, but blister them in a hot pan on the stove if not.

1 batch pizza dough (recipe here)
1 large bunch scallions
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly cracked pepper
4 ounces mozzarella
4 ounces whole-milk ricotta
Crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat a pizza stone in your oven for 30 minutes to 1 hour, on the highest setting you have, ideally around 500 degrees.

While the oven heats up, rinse and dry the scallions. Add them to a large sheet pan, drizzle with oil, a pinch of salt, and a few turns of freshly cracked pepper. If you're using a grill, keep them in tact and place them on the grates, heated to medium-high. They only need a minute or two per side before becoming brown and charred. Remove from the grill before they've gone too far, then chop into small pieces.

(If you're cooking indoors, chop the scallions into 2 to 3-inch pieces. Follow the same process coating them in oil, salt, and pepper. Saute over medium heat until wilted and slightly charred.)

Once the stone is preheated, get your dough in order. Shape one dough and leave the other covered. Pull out the stone and dust is with cornmeal. Place the dough down, then top with half the mozzarella, ricotta, and green onions. Finish with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and brown in places, and the crust is golden. Slide the pizza onto a fresh cutting board and place the stone back in the oven. Slice and serve.

September Food Haiku Winner + Steel Cut Oats with Fig Sauce

Steel Cut Oats with Orange-Stewed Figs

My recommendation for fig season is a simple one: don't hesitate. As in, if you see a basket of figs while you stroll through your weekend market, buy them. If you say to yourself, I'll get some next week, they might be gone. I speak from personal experience, it's worth noting. 

Steel Cut Oats with Orange-Stewed Figs

So, now that you have your basket of figs, you can make this comforting fall breakfast. It's a warm bowl of steel cut oats with syrupy figs, made sweet from fresh orange juice and a touch of maple syrup. But first, congratulations to Vivian Tu, this month's food haiku contest winner! 

steel cut oats with orange-stewed figs

for the oats
1 cup steel cut oats
3 cups water
1 cup whole milk or almond milk

for the figs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 basket figs (about 3/4 pound), tops cut off and sliced lengthwise
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch salt

To make the oatmeal, add the oats, water, and milk to a 4-quart sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, until tender. I like to add a splash of milk at the end, to make it a bit more soupy.

To make the figs, melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the sliced figs, orange juice, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt. When the liquid is bubbling, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the figs are tender and most of the orange juice has evaporated, leaving behind a sweet and thickened sauce. 

Pour spoonfuls of fig sauce over the bowls of oats before serving. 

Steel Cut Oats with Orange-Stewed Figs
Steel Cut Oats with Orange-Stewed Figs