I feel a little like Adele right now (not in the sense of being able to carry a tune or having cheekbones fantastically suited to blush or anything like that): "hellooo, it's me..." Are you guys still there? Is this thing still on? I hope you are!
I think I'll need to ease back into writing here, like a runner slowly stretching their stiff morning legs before a race, shaking their limbs in the cold air. Or maybe it'll feel like dipping a toe tentatively into a pool, testing the temperature, then just diving headfirst and feeling shivers--the good kind--up and down my spine, and the thrill of chilled water on hot, sunburned skin.
In lieu of too much talking about all these months, and how they've been filled, I'll start by giving you some bits and pieces of things I've been loving. (Sometimes trying to give a big update can feel like you're tripping over yourself to get the words out. It's like coming back after a trip, and the colors and pictures and details threaten to gush out of you once you start talking. So I'll just start writing again, and let everything I want to talk about flow gently and steadily to the surface, to you.)
These are details, sights, sounds, and tastes that have stuck with me lately. Songs I've been replaying over and over. Recipes I've made more than a handful of times. Poetry I read aloud to myself in the slow, quiet moments of the afternoon.
When I'm feeling serious, I reach for Mary Oliver's new book of essays: Upstream. Or if I want to feel weak in the knees, Rupi Kaur's Milk & Honey. (In one poem she writes this: “You must/Want to spend/The rest of your life/With yourself/First" -- Preach, Rupi!). But if I want to just laugh, I keep reading the poem "When a Woman Loves a Man" by David Lehman (read it here).
I listen to "By Your Side" by the 1975, and close my eyes and pretend I'm at a dark, smoky bar with tea lights strung above me and someone I love standing in front of me. I listen to "Queen Elizabeth" by Cheat Codes and dance around the kitchen. I listen to "Under Your Skin" by Seeb and sing loudly enough that my neighbors probably think I've got ten friends over, at minimum.
I make a new cookie recipe from Dorie Greenspan's excellent new cookbook, Dorie's Cookies, at least once a week. Every single one is a surprise, and so far, the best reviews are for her Coconut Lime Sables and Moroccan Semolina & Almond Cookies (I'll post them soon). I put almond paste my waffles, mayonnaise in my chocolate cake, and turmeric in my homemade Cheez-its.
I so appreciate this place to write, and even these last few paragraphs have my thoughts unfurling and spiraling ahead of me in such a comforting way. While I remind myself how to keep doing this, perhaps you could make some muffins? With brown butter and two kinds of coconut and almond paste? That should brighten anyone's Monday.
Brown Butter, Coconut, and Almond Muffins
5 tablespoons butter
1 cup canned full-fat coconut milk
2 eggs, at room temperature
7 ounces almond paste, cut into small pieces
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners, or grease the wells.
In a pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Continue to cook, swirling the pan, until the butter begins to brown and smell fragrant and nutty (you'll see browned bits begin to settle on the bottom of the pan). Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, beat the coconut milk with the eggs until well-combined. Add the almond paste and mix thoroughly: The almond paste won't get fully incorporated; that's okay.
Add the brown butter to the coconut milk/egg mixture and mix to combine, scraping down the bowl as you go.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones, and mix until just combined—do not over-mix!
Stir in the shredded coconut.
Divide the batter evenly between the muffin pan wells—the batter should come almost to the top but not quite (they will dome significantly).
Bake the muffins for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown on the tops. Resist the urge to open the oven and peek at them! The heat needs to stay inside to make those nice domed tops.