This is a recipe from the new cookbook Vibrant Food by Kimberley Hasselbrink (of the blog The Year in Food), and I was drawn to it immediately given it’s those stone fruit summer days. The swelling afternoons of July make me recall something about the smell of smoke from the chimney during summer rains and walking down the stairs in the dark for a cup of cold water. Thoughts that float by like leaves, like feathers, like clouds, like bad similes. I’ve remembered the difference between a floating thought and shoving a thought, and I can see one satin magnolia blossom from out my office window. I recalled a truth that’s easy to forget: you can change the tape. When you think something disturbing—a recalled memory, a worry, or any random bit of negative mental detritus—you can choose to watch it float right past you. You can do it a hundred times a day, a monsoon of feathery thoughts, none resting on you and all of them finally drifting away and leaving you with the smell of smoke & rain from the chimney and a cold glass of water.
This is a linen top. Its name is Chandler. It has stripes and a pocket, is made by Hackwith Design House, and is my new favorite shirt. I wear it tied or tucked or un. I wear it wrinkled as you please or crisp from the wash. Its utility, comfort, and simple beauty are the reasons it earns a place in my closet. And at this point in my life, that truly has to be earned. Clutter makes my ADHD hurt, and I’m in the process of a continuing purge with the goal to donate 80% of my clothing. The goal is to build a streamlined, functional wardrobe of sustainable goods while giving my unworn clothing a better home, a home that needs it.
“New Orleans is, on the other hand, a comfortable metropolis which has a certain apathy and stagnation which I find inoffensive.” – John Kennedy O’Toole
I don’t need to pretend New Orleans is something it isn’t to love it more deeply than I have ever loved any city and most men. It stinks awfully, a specific stink. Acrid and sour, the stench drips from those iconic wrought iron balconies. It runs through the streets, bakes up in the heat, mellows at night. The tourism in the quarter is oppressive, and the violence is real. Just before we arrived, there was a shooting on Bourbon. 10 people hit. One dead, a nursing student, and it was senseless. For what that city pays, I can’t say. But it pays, has paid, for as long, it seems, as it’s been standing. It’s not of this world, whatever curse it labors under. But the thing about it is, that city makes you want to labor alongside it. It exists as a city on death row, a matter of when not if. It’s a mortal city for mortals.
These days I gravitate more and more towards simplicity. A rustic simplicity that’s clean but not cold, warm but not busy. Every month I get rid of more of my possessions asking the question “is this both functional and beautiful?” Sometimes an object is just one of those two things, and sometimes that’s enough. But the truly special artifacts of everyday life are the ones that satisfy both requirements. And these ceramic nesting spoons by Fringe & Fettle in collaboration with HDH are that kind of special. Since receiving them I’ve used them for everything from serving olives and jams on a cheese plate to scooping ingredients to spoon rests while I cook. Like the pieces of HDH clothing I own, they’ve already become part of the fabric of my daily life. So, in celebration of Hackwith’s Maker’s Alongside collaboration with Fringe & Fettle, I whipped up some blueberry & cream cheese rye muffins before hitting the road earlier this week for New Orleans. Gas station food is hateful, and I wanted to have something delicious on hand for us to nibble on during the long drive down to New Orleans, where I am currently. You can find the ceramic nesting spoons here and the recipe for the muffins below. That’s all for now…back to soaking in my fair old home, many photos of which I’ll share with you soon, no doubt!
Sometimes tectonic plates shift in the ether. Sometimes celestial orbs of fire, great, hot and inhospitable, align in deep space. We call them stars. It begins, in this story, on a country rode somewhere outside of Albany, where the honeysuckle that’s already bloomed and fallen in the south still weaves alongside the road. A week later—a week of snap peas in the garden, airports, 1000 photos, rolling pastry crust, the varied terrain of faces you love, days without sleep, a backyard dinner all Marrakech meets Nashville, and so much work and all of it good—they complete their slow trajectory. The angles are perfect and so perfect. A great softness descends. You give the universe what it’s asked of you for a long time, what you’ve suffered for not giving. And the moment you do it gives you validation. And you know it doesn’t always work this way, and you’re just grateful that just this once it did. It feels like death, the best kind. And then, for a moment that hangs suspended in the air you have electricity, mostly white with shocks of blue, running through your veins instead of slow, warm blood. Your skin shudders and sloughs off. And you experience that delicious faith, amor fati.The pain and frustration and wildflowers all the same—you love them. It can happen somewhere nowhere on I-75 while Dolly sings Jolene. Eternal return.