28 June 2012

The Last Week

This is our last week in our apartment. Tomorrow we close on our new house; this weekend we move. Everything is so surreal at this stage. I'm so excited about the house and so ready to leave the apartment; or I'm so sad about leaving this apartment and I'm so nervous about the house. It's a roller coaster in my heart. 

How strange this whole house hunting process has been - like dating I think, but now that we have bought the house it feels more like an arranged marriage or perhaps a rushed marriage. Deep down you believe that this is the one but you still have to admit to yourself that the actual house itself may not live up to the version of the house in your head. And like a lover you may have turned a blind eye now to things you'll come to hate later and you've over emphasized the things you love now. There will be a reality you can't entirely predict. But hey, every good relationship takes hard work, right? And is totally worth it in the end.

And so it's happening. Our home is at last being dismantled - piles of our belongings ready to pack or already packed away in the big corner stash of our hodgepodge, mismatched moving boxes. Things are in upheaval though some normalcy continues. I picked up our CSA share yesterday and came home wanting to eat a tomato - the first of the season! So I absentmindedly open the big drawer to absentmindedly grab the tomato knife from the place where it always is and - oops! That big drawer is totally empty. The tomato knife is deep in the boxes somewhere. 

Dismantling is weird, even if it's only to rebuild it a day or week later in a new but familiar place, a part of town that you know or that you think you know, just like you thought you knew this part of town when you moved in here 7 years ago.

And packing is slow - so slow. Now only does it take a long time because there is always more stuff than I think and because, in my case, gestational sciatica limits my stamina. But on top of all that, I am prone to fits of nostalgia, so I can't just pack. I have to ponder my memories while I pack them away. As if moving weren't emotional enough already.

I have summoned my best powers of organization for this move. Even so I think we'll be the people the movers complain about - too many boxes with too many books (heavy!) or weak second-hand boxes with compromised integrity stuffed with things marked fragile (note the extra duct tape at the bottom of the box pile in the above pic). And I've ended up with funny labels "pictures and pillows" or "hangers and a shoe." So far just one "mystery box" - something Sergio taped up before I could label it and now it's anyone's guess what is in there. 

So this is the last week - the last week of watching cars drive by from our high rise window, looking at the picture perfect church across the street. The last week of our tiny, intimate and contained apartment. The last week of Julia saying "Bye, Craig" every morning and "Hi, Kathleen!" in the evening when we pass the concierge desk in the lobby.  

On the other hand, there's Julia who, despite my assertions to the contrary, thinks that packing is fun. And who keeps saying "Minee?" (our realtor's name) "New house?" Not sure she quite understands what's happening here. Perhaps none of us fully do.

PS: Not to worry: Julia will be riding to the new house in a car seat - not a moving box. 

03 June 2012

Sage Cake

File this in the What To Do With All Those Herbs category. I'm always buying herbs and then - unless it's parsley - struggling to figure out what to do with the last of it. Lots of rosemary? You can only eat so many roasted potatoes. So I always use my remainder rosemary to make this Rosemary Remembrance Cake.

Not to mention, I have a penchant for savory/sweet cross over applications - like rosemary in a cake or a creme brûlée, salt on my watermelon, balsamic vinegar on vanilla ice cream, etc.

Along those same lines I had an excess of sage. In the spring, no less, and I usually can't figure out what to do with sage when I don't have any winter squashes around. But now I have this - Rustic Sage Cake.

I have made it twice now (which means I have eight eggs whites in the freezer; if I make this cake one more time, I'll have enough discarded egg whites to make an angel food cake! Can I make an angel food cake with frozen egg whites? Hmmm...) and I can confirm that it is both easy to make and delicious.

You can use olive oil or butter for this - I've only tried the olive oil method. The butter would be better for sourcing local (Shatto!). But I also enjoy the idea (and taste) of olive oil in a cake.

The source for this recipe recommends ice cream as a companion which I'm sure is delicious, but at Sergio's suggestion, we ate ours with drizzles of honey. Very nice indeed.

Rustic Sage Cake
Adapted from this recipe at How Stuff Works
Helpful Tip: Since this recipe calls for egg yolks only, freeze the individual whites in an ice cube tray, then transfer them to a Ziploc bag for easy storage. Next time you want to make a recipe that calls for whites you’ll already have some on hand!
  • 14 fresh sage leaves (7 large leaves for steeping and 7 baby leaves for decoration)
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch round, springform cake pan with PAM or another baking spray.
In small saucer combine the milk and 7 large sage leaves, torn into thirds. Warm over medium heat until the milk is very hot. Set aside to steep for 15 minutes.
While the milk is steeping, sift the cake flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt, mixing well with a whisk.
In a small bowl combine the yolks, sugar, olive oil and vanilla.
Strain the milk through a fine mesh sieve, then add half of the milk, and the yolk mixture, to the bowl with the cake flour, stirring to combine. Add the remaining milk, mixing well.
Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and decoratively arrange seven small sage leaves on top of the batter. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cake is lightly golden and starts to pull away from the edges of the pan.
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then run a butter knife around the edges and remove the sides of the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature, with vanilla ice cream if you like.