Friday, October 23, 2009

in the (vegan) kitchen with sillymortalmama.

okay, before we get started today i have to say that out of everything i make for family and friends, these next two recipes are ones that i get the most compliments on and the most requests for.

and they are both vegan. added bonus and go figure.

plus, coincidentally, they both throw off a little heat. not too much, just enough. and that's the trick and the art of vegan cooking. without all that blasted meat getting in the way, literally and morally in some cases, you really have a chance to highlight individual flavors and make them shine. or combine a lot of flavors for a symphony of taste. okay, that was a dippy metaphor but you get my drift.

and as another coincidence, this post will fulfill TWO promises of recipes i made and haven't yet delivered on. one that is only a week or so old. the other is, um, over two years old. and if you think that's bad just don't ever ask me to send you anything through the mail. or hold your breath if i tell you i am going to send you something. or expect to see it arrive at all. ever.

so this salad recipe, i know, salad? but bear with me. this is so good, so amazing, the flavors so fresh and wonderful, you really could start eating this and not stop. i've seen it happen. plus, it is an entire meal in and of itself which makes it doubly wonderful. and if that wasn't enough, just to gild the lily, this salad is sooooo beautiful. it is just gorgeous. like a veggie noodle jewel in the bowl. which makes it perfect for entertaining at barbecues, potlucks, or dinner at home sitting at the big picnic table in the yard. even more perfect is that you can make both the salad and the dressing ahead of time. and because there is a LOT of chopping, it's better if you do. just bag the chopped and sliced salad ingredients separately and combine when you're ready to serve. don't leave chopped/sliced veggies more than a day, though. and beware, the recipe makes a TON! but as you will soon see, you can tweak the amounts to suit your needs. or make it as is and eat the whole damn thing yourself.

Asian Noodle Salad (from Confessions of a Pioneer that she adapted from Jamie Oliver)

1 package linguine noodles, cooked, rinsed, and cooled*
1/2 to 1 head sliced Napa cabbage
1/2 to 1 head sliced purple cabbage
1/2 to 1 bag baby spinach
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
1 orange bell pepper, sliced thin
1 small bag mung bean sprouts
3 sliced scallions
3 peeled, sliced cucumbers**
LOTS of chopped cilantro, up to one whole bunch
1 can whole cashews, lightly toasted in skillet***

juice of 1 lime
8 TBS olive oil
2 TBS sesame oil
6 TBS soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 TBS fresh ginger, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 hot peppers or jalapenos, chopped
more cilantro-LOTS****

mix together all the salad ingredients. (it works best to use your hands to do the mixing. but don't let your guests see you doing this. they think it's gross.)

whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over salad. mix and serve on a platter. (i always make the dressing ahead of time. like a day or so. the flavors are so much better when they've had a chance to mingle. the dressing will keep up to three days in the fridge before serving, WITHOUT the cilantro. add that to the dressing right before serving)

cook's notes:
*i toss the drained linguine with olive oil. makes it MUCH easier to work with.
**i never use cucumbers. i love them, i just forgot them the first time and the salad seemed so jam packed already. but i bet they'd be good.
***i buy cashews in bulk. be sure to get the toasted and salted ones. and even though they are already toasted, don't skip on heating them up in the skillet. it really brings out another level of flavor. i don't know how much a can holds, but i end up using about a cup or so. sometimes i break them up, sometimes i don't. the recipe doesn't say to, but i mix the salad and the dressing together first and then sprinkle the cashews on top.
****i LOVE the cilantro in the salad, but i never use it in the dressing. mainly because i make it ahead and then i forget to add it at the end. but you do what you want with your cilantro. have at it. if you can remember to.

now, this next recipe could make someone fall in love with you. i've never actually seen it happen, but i sense that it possesses the power to do so. if anyone wants to test that theory and get back to me then please do so. this recipe is less a recipe and more pure alchemy. i know chocolate mixed with spice is not a new idea, but every time i have a slice of this cake (and i don't care for cake but like the other chocolate cake i always have some of this) it feels like the first time i discovered that chocolate and spice mixed together is pure genius. and pure bliss. plus, it's vegan!

oh, god i have to say, the vegans i have made this for just go crazy for it. no marriage proposals or declarations of undying love crazy, but there is that gleam in their collective eye and a moment or two fraught with intense pleasure that threatens to spill over onto the baker. or, they just really like it and i'm imagining the whole thing because i need more excitement in my life. really could go either way.

i have to say i have no idea where i got this it's been so long. and i really wish i could show you the actual paper the recipe is written down on because it's fabulous. wrinkled and fading with a gob of dried batter on the top and some other gob of something dried on the bottom. i can barely read it. and i really should recopy it. but where's the fun in that?

Mexican Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup cold water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 TBS balsamic vinegar*
1 TBS vanilla extract

1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup sweetened cocoa powder
6 TBS water

preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

lightly coat an 8 inch springform pan with vegetable oil.

combine all. (okay, that's what i wrote down originally but let's tweak this a bit shall we? combine the dry ingredients first, then mix in the wet. okay. that's better.)

bake 25-30 minutes until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. (again, that's what is written down, but i find sometimes it can take longer than this.)

cool 10 minutes in pan, then completely on cooling rack.

to make the glaze whisk the sugar and the cocoa together, then add the water in one tablespoon at a time. (i find that sometimes i need less water, just add until it's the consistency you like.)

pour the glaze over the cooled cake on the rack and move to serving plate or stand. (okay, that's what is written, but it's harder than it sounds!!! first of all, the glaze is gonna drip down so make sure there's something underneath the rack. plus, moving an already glazed cake is tricky business. sometimes i do it on the rack and move it with one of those big dough spatulas, and sometimes i do it on the plate and catch the excess by putting strips of parchment under and along the bottom of the cake. glaze and then pull the parchment strips out and your plate is clean. mostly.)

cook's notes:
*this is the 'secret' ingredient. meaning this is what's in there that makes everything sing and that no one can ever put their finger on or guess. drives people crazy. especially when i won't tell them what it is when they ask.



Thursday, October 22, 2009

in the kitchen with sillymortalmama.

after my Gourmet post a friend asked what my "favorite recipe so far" was. and you know, i really can't answer that. there are just too many to choose from. literally too many.

and if we're just keeping it to the magazine, every month in Gourmet there are also too many good recipes to choose from. and they have a pretty crack staff so they are generally foolproof. i've kept all my issues (whatever, reserve your judgment. we all have our 'issues.' no pun intended. keeping magazines is mine) and OFTEN refer back to them. i suppose my absolute all time favorite from Gourmet is actually one sent in from a reader. a red lentil soup that is so simple to make and so delicious. i make it all the time. i wish i could say it was something more exciting, but sometimes there really is nothing better in the world than something warm and good in a bowl.

since i can't really come up with ONE favorite, i thought i would share two recipes that i make ALL the time. for company or just for us. they are foolproof and they are delicious.

and as an added bonus, and so there isn't any room available for fussing, one just happens to be vegan.

and as an added *added* bonus i am also going to throw in two chocolate cake recipes that i make ALL the time. for company or just for us. (mostly for company, though) they are also foolproof and they are also delicious.

and one of them just happens to be vegan! i know. you're welcome.

and if you don't like chocolate then you're just out of luck. i can only please so many people. and frankly, pleasing a vegan is no small task.

so today's recipes are for the omnivores. tomorrow's recipes are for the omnivores, the vegans, the vegetarians, and the veggie adjacent.

one note about the recipes, they are both from cookbooks and more or less are copied here just as they are written there. BUT since i have made both of these so many times i have changed wording here and there for flow or clarification. anything in parenthesis is purely mine.

okay, so this first dish is absolutely flawless. it's perfect, actually. and i don't use that word lightly, or, really ever. except i will in this post. and more than once. and it really is that good. it is full of flavor, sumptuous, and just about as sexy as a chicken dish can be. PLUS, and this is huge, this can be made from start to finish the day before, stored in the fridge overnight, and gently reheated the next day. and it tastes even better doing it that way! so it's perfect for entertaining! i'm getting all excited just thinking about it!

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic (adapted from Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris)
serves 6

3 whole heads garlic, about 40 cloves
2 (3 1/2 pound) chickens cut into eighths*
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 TBS butter
2 TBS olive oil
3 TBS Cognac, divided**
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 TBS fresh thyme leaves
2 TBS all purpose flour
2 TBS heavy cream

separate cloves of garlic, leave peels on, and drop them into a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds. drain the garlic and peel. set aside.

dry the chicken with paper towels. season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. heat the butter and oil in a large pot or dutch oven on medium-high. in batches, cook the chicken in the butter/oil, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. turn with tongs or spatula so you don't pierce the skin. if the butter/oil is burning, turn down to medium. when a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue to cook all the chicken in batches.

remove the last chicken piece to the plate and add all of the garlic to the pot. lower the heat and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned.

add 2 TBS of the Cognac and all of the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan (that's flavor, don't miss this step!)

return the chicken to the pot with all the juices from the plate and sprinkle with the thyme leaves. cover and simmer over the lowest heat you can keep it simmering at for about 30 minutes until all the chicken is done. (the recipe doesn't call for this but at @ 15 minutes in, i always swap the chicken on the bottom layer with the chicken on the top for more even cooking)

remove the chicken to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.

in a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce (from the pot) and the flour and then whisk that back into the sauce in the pot.

raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Cognac and the cream and boil for 3 minutes. add salt and pepper to taste; it should be very flavorful because chicken tends to be bland.

pour the sauce with the garlic over the chicken on the platter and serve hot.

to prepare ahead, refrigerate the chicken with the sauce and reheat over low heat before serving.

cook's notes:
*i use 8 thighs and 8 legs. tastes better and cooks more evenly.
**i've used brandy, vodka, and vermouth before when i haven't had cognac on hand.

this next recipe is a cake i make every single st. patrick's day. it not only uses guinness in the recipe, but when all is said and done, the cake is black and the frosting is white and only on the top and so it LOOKS like a pint of guinness, too! so while it is an understandable st. patrick's day staple, it is also good for a birthday or a dinner party or really any occasion. it is quite a perfect chocolate cake. i don't care for cake, but i always have some of this one because i love to marvel at the perfection. it is moist and dense and tastes good with or without the frosting. i vote for the frosting, though, because the texture of the cake balances so beautifully with the sweetness of the frosting. and if all of that wasn't enough, it's easy to make and easy to frost with no fussiness required. perfect.

Chocolate Guinness Cake (adapted from Nigella Lawson's Feast)

1 cup Guinness
1 stick plus 2 TBS unsalted butter*
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups superfine sugar**
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 TBS pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda

8 oz Philadelphia cream cheese***
1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

preheat the oven to 350 degrees

butter and line a 9 inch springform pan

pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter in spoons or slices, and heat until the butter's melted. whisk in the cocoa and sugar.

in a bowl, beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the pot with the beer mixture. then whisk in the flour and baking soda. (it's gonna look weird. like the eggs are cooking. i know, trust me though. it will work out)

pour the cake batter into the greased and lined pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. cool completely IN the pan ON a cooling rack. this is important because it's a very damp cake.

to make the frosting;

lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sift the confectioners sugar over the top, then beat them together. add the cream and beat again until spreading consistency.

place the completely cooled cake on a plate or stand and ice JUST the top of the black cake with the white frosting so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.

cook's notes:
*i've baked with both salted and unsalted butter most of my life. including this cake. and while there are lots of schools of thoughts on the difference, i basically use what's on hand and don't give it a moment's thought.
**i keep superfine or baker's sugar on hand for baking. but you can blitz regular sugar in a blender to make it superfine, too.
***philly is the best brand for baking. but use any brand you like. just DO NOT go low fat or light. and if you do, just don't tell me about it.

bon appetit! (which they should have folded of instead of Gourmet, but whatever)


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

why the folding of Gourmet upsets me so. and why i love it. and why it will be missed in this house. by this girl.

so when i was growing up the food in our house was good. mostly everything was healthy and home made, made with love, and an eye towards taste.

but i always had the sense that there was something missing. not lacking, just missing. being young and not exposed to much i had no idea what that was.

until one day in high school when i was hanging out at the goddess mother's house and we went into the kitchen for a snack. she forgot something in her room and left me in there with her mother who was doing something at the other end of the long island. now, this was back when her mother didn't care for me (though it must be said that her mother wasn't ever ungracious or unkind to me in any way) and i sort of knew that. and so of course i tried to engage her in conversation. because i have manners. and also because back then and even to this day i still can't believe there are people who don't like me. so of course i throw myself at them.

so i wandered down to the end of the island to make small talk. and lo and behold what i saw mesmerized me! it literally stopped me in my tracks. it was nothing short of magic. alchemy.

"what are you doing?'

"i'm sugaring violets."

she could have said she was creating a bust of my sophomore english teacher out of head cheese and i wouldn't have been more shocked, or understood less the reason for it. or absolutely loved the idea of it more. (the sugaring of violets, not the head cheese bust)

so i asked her how and why and all the questions one might ask about something they found so odd and delightful and fascinating. and right then and there i knew what i couldn't put my finger on all those years growing up. and that was that food was and could be totally fabulous. that the possibilities were endless. that food was sustaining and delicious and nourishing, but that there was always the potential for something more. for fancy.

and by fancy i don't only mean fussy or elaborate. that, too. sometimes. by fancy i mean more than just food on a plate. and anyone who loves to cook, or loves to eat good food so much they seek it out whether it's served from a kitchen table, a stick on the street, a truck, or a fine dining establishment knows exactly what i mean.

because at that time in my life the idea of that, food being more than just on the plate to eat, was about as fancy as it got.

then when i finally got a kitchen of my own i was a hippie vegetarian and all the money and creativity i had went towards making truly awful tasting soymilk and internal organ rattling herbal tinctures. i didn't even have a cookbook and i actually only ate the same. four. things. every. single. week. ramen and bean and cheese burritos and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cheese pizza. sometimes with mushrooms or the occasional black olive. ooh. fancy.

then i got another, better, more adult kitchen and a vegetarian cookbook. i had a little more money, and a little more creativity, and i ended up making the same. four. things. every. single. week. boring. i know i know, vegetarian cooking isn't boring at all! NOW. now when we've all been exposed to so many different cuisines and techniques and spices, etc. THEN. then it was pasta and brown rice and tofu scramble and the occasional badly devised quiche. at least it was in my kitchen. the day i learned to make mushroom gravy i nearly broke down and cried. i think there was at least a tear or two. the flavor! oh my god there was FLAVOR!

then right when i started to get the hang of vegetarian cooking that had some flavor, i put all my energies towards trying to be the coolest girl in the room. you know, drinking my weight in beer every night, dancing at the clubs, sucking in my already flat stomach. as you can imagine this didn't leave a lot of room for actual cooking, let alone any fancy sort of cooking. in fact, i don't really remember doing any cooking. i think i survived on bar snacks and the occasional garnish in a cocktail. good times.

oh, and the occasional fabulous meal out when i could get it. which actually did a lot to spur the foodie in me, but i didn't know it at the time. at the time i was probably just happy to be eating something other than bar snacks and cocktail garnishes.

then when i became a responsible, okay who am i kidding...when i started my family there had to be more routine, and apparently bigger than a 24 inch waist. by then i wasn't a vegetarian anymore, THANK GOD, had a bigger and even better kitchen, got a different cookbook, discovered trader joes, and ended up making the same. four. things. every. single. week.

it wasn't until i discovered Gourmet that all of that changed. because i always knew the potential was there, but i never knew where to start. sure i had seen Gourmet around through the years, but i never really picked it up to check it out. then one day at a dentist or doctor or baby appointment i picked it up and i was hooked. right then and there. all of it. hooked. so i stole that copy, filled out a subscription, and never looked back.

what grabbed me was the variety, the depth, the sheer load of information, technique, and know how in each copy. every single month there was something new to learn. about food, restaurants, drinks, travel. it was endless and fascinating. this was right around the time the internet was still newish and the food network was getting going, but they still really only had emeril. god, remember when BAM! didn't annoy the hell out of you? yeah. i don't either. so this was back when you actually had to physically pick something up, a book, magazine, encyclopedia, and actively seek out information. wow. that is a truly depressing sentence.

and as these things go, i started being exposed to more by way of technique and ingredient, and i sought out more cookbooks, different ways of shopping, and stopped making the same four things every single week. i started planning weekly menus with an eye toward variety and excitement on the plate. an eye towards fancy. cooking, which had been enjoyable if not seeming a bit of a chore, and boring with the same dishes every week, began to be the absolute highlight of my day. i could spend hours cooking and be as happy as a clam steamed with white wine, garlic, and just a hint of red curry. happier still to put the food on the table and feed my family and my friends.

i love Gourmet for giving me Ruth Reichl. she is hands down simply fantastic. a true foodie, an excellent writer (her books, please read them!) and i feel, a kindred spirit.

i love Gourmet for giving me Jane and Michael Stern. their Roadfood column and books and radio spots are some of the highlights of my month, my sunday afternoons, and a few of my road trips. i will always love them for introducing me to the Golden Light Cafe on Route 66 in Amarillo, Tx. it was everything they said it would be. right down to the two busty, saucy waitresses (okay, so i said busty, they didn't) who kept me plied with frosty mugs of cold Shiner Bock and the honest to goodness golden light that poured through the windows in the afternoon.

i love Gourmet for introducing me to some of the most fabulous restaurants i could ever hope to visit (they are on my list) and to those that i have. most memorably The Slanted Door in San Francisco that really truly did exceed expectation and was worth the two month wait, the 1000 mile distance, and the 9:30 pm seating.

i love Gourmet for introducing me to chefs i never would have known about and cookbooks i never would have seen otherwise. and for their Christmas cookie issue. i will miss the Christmas cookie issue. a lot.

i have also learned from Gourmet, in a roundabout way, that big kitchens and fancy kitchens and inspiring kitchens are fabulous and wonderful and well, inspiring. but despite all of that, good food comes from simply combining ingredients and preparing them with love and care. sure you have to search some things out, learn a new technique, explore and explode your boundaries, make mistakes and correct them as you go along. but it really, in the end, it is just a simple process. (if it works, right? ;) )

i also learned from Gourmet that recipes printed in magazines can contain errors and that some just plain suck. (and sometimes it's your execution that just plain sucks) and that's okay. the thing about cooking is the ability to work with the mistake to make something different than you originally intended, or to just chuck the screw up and move forward. because there's always another meal, another recipe, one more chance to make it good. better even. if only everything else in life was so easy.

i loved Gourmet for showing up every month and giving me just that bit of time to explore a world i always knew was out there and is now always at my fingertips. a chance to express myself and my love for my friends and family in the most time honored and primal way and loving way possible.

only fancy.


Friday, October 02, 2009

it's midnight in manhattan, this is no time to get cute.

one of my midnights in manhattan. this is no time to be trying to take a picture.

view from my friend fern's apartment. that's the empire state building. at night you can see all the flashes of the tourist's cameras.

okay, so i had this whole post about how much i loved my trip to new york. about what i saw and what i did and blah blah blah. i deleted it and started over.

because the thing about being in new york, about me being in new york is what can i say that hasn't been said, hasn't been sung, written, or waxed on and on about?

like that has ever stopped me before. so i started over.

and i will say this and bunch of other stuff. I LOVED IT. i felt at home there. sure at first, the first morning, i was overwhelmed, jet lagged, hungover, missing my family. my friend fern went to work and the day and the trip stretched out before me. so yeah, i was overwhelmed.

but there's this thing about being there that before you know it it's just in you. and it's you and 8 million plus people moving within controlled, fluid, chaos and it's like you've been there all your life.

it helps to love to walk, know east from west, north from south, be able to figure out the subways in short order. though really, you can't get lost on an island. eventually you are back where you started or recognize something familiar.

waiting for the subway

it also helps to have been visiting my friend, fern. everyone should have a friend who can say 'go to this building, head to the second floor and look up.' that city is so amazing on the surface, we've all seen that, whether we've seen that in person or just on the big or small screen. but if you just take one side street over, take a different set of stairs, look in a different direction, you will see what truly makes that city more amazing than you could ever imagine.

and it also helps that there is just this knowing about new york. like it has its identity fully intact. and it is just there to offer you the chance to be in it. to just be. i felt more at home in the 5 days i was in new york than i ever did in many of the other places i've lived.

i won't bore you with the whole travelogue because there really is too much, but i'll give you my brief snapshot. enjoy! (and please bear with me those of you who have already been bored by these pictures;) )

the metropolitan museum of art was amazing. i just mean the building itself. i didn't have much time there as we went simply for friday evening cocktails. but i was so taken with the building. just being inside it felt amazing and awe inspiring. if you had no idea before what "gothic" meant in terms of an architectural style you really couldn't come away from there without being totally clear. and totally moved. there's something about being so small and surrounded by so much huge, solid beauty. it was well...hard to put into words.

the new york city public library. okay, why aren't all libraries this fantastic? shouldn't it be mandated that a library offer impressive surroundings with which to engage the mind and fascinate the senses? at the very least a big heavy door you can barely open yourself? the whole building is incredible but the second floor ceiling is amazing. simply amazing. i sat for a half an hour just taking in the whole scene. wanting to share this with my boys. you couldn't sit there and not feel as though there was an importance to this building. that the history, and what it stood for, not to mention its purpose and its contents, well...the building was worthy of the knowledge it contained.

st. patrick's cathedral. what can i say? when you walk in it's just so intense it's hard to get a grasp of it right away. thankfully right to my right as i walked in was the virgin de guadalupe altar. how fitting. i practically fell into the pew. i was simply overcome. my spirituality is a long island iced tea of religious and spiritual beliefs and labels at best. i won't bore you with the details. and i know organized religion is just such a hot button for people. but to sit and be so fully absorbed by a place, to openly weep because the beauty of the spirit is just that intense, well...if there's anything else to say about that i don't know what it is.

central park is more beautiful than you can imagine.

riding bikes in NYC is easier than you think it is.

having a local dive bar seems an essential part of one's daily life. and yet i have missed out on this. WTF?

being in grand central terminal made me wish i had a packed bag, a ticket, and a destination.

and i wish i had a picture but just know that heckling a big city comic is way more fun and way more satisfying than you'll ever know.

and yeah, i walked through times square. meh.

i could see myself in new york more permanently. living, being, etc. there's an inspiring element to the juxtaposition of the endless sea of people moving amongst the solid and unmoving shore of buildings. unmoving, but no less alive.

washington square park. when the architect of the arch died (stanford white) he had the largest porn collection ever found to that date. inspiration comes in many forms.

i have never been one to appreciate architecture and buildings. okay, sure i've appreciated them. but to fully experience their importance, what they bring to the world. and to their little corner of it. the importance of place has always been in me. but this idea of a single building contributing to that importance, in some case "making it." it's new and i am inspired by it.

chrysler building.

and the slices of life you get exposed to on a minute by minute basis. conversations you overhear on the subway, snippets you get when people are passing by, the fully hardcore crazy right in front of you, subtle and not so subtle bits of life being lived all together on one amazing island. there's none of this fake politeness. the lowering of voices to shield your life from those who are living their life right next to you. it's authentic. and i like that.

if you can't see it, the sign says Lawn Closed Temporarily. yeah.

one of my favorite moments was sitting in zabar's deli with an underwhelming bowl of matzoh soup listening to the two old jewish men across from me. they were 80 if they were a day. and yet with detail and clarity they were reminiscing about the blintzes one of the mens mother made when they were little. they remembered her bringing them out to the stoop and how they'd all stop playing and crowd around. how the recipe was so guarded and died with her. this was a long and loving conversation and i just basked in it.

being in new york made me realize that the sparkle i thought i had lost and sought to find there was not there at all. it was still in me, just stagnate. in some cases misused, given away without purpose. i didn't need to find the sparkle, i needed inspiration to put it to use.

beyond just absorbing and being absorbed by new york, the promises my soul made to my self in the met to seek more beauty, in the library to seek more knowledge and acknowledge what i already know, and in st. patrick's cathedral to honor spirit, both within me and around me, are the best kinds of souvenirs from the best kind of travel. the kind that exposes you to new surroundings, ideas, experiences, and to those parts of yourself that have been there all along. you just never knew it.

and now i do.