Tag Archives: Caprese salad

Up Past Bedtime

A-hoy-yy! So many tidbits & salutations to be offered: happy almost-weekend! Happy belated birthday to my mom, the rockingest lady around! Happy SUMMER! Solstices are rad, even for those among us who appreciate them strictly on a physical (and not ideological) level. I’m talking about increased daylight, people, the thrill of evening extending beyond its prestated limits, eating away at the night. Incidentally, if I had to choose one or the other — night or day — I’d choose night. The trees are much more striking then, laced in shadow as they are. At night, I have my best ideas.*

These days, my summer traditions are few. I owe this to two factors: my nostalgia’s slow fade and the Bay Area’s dearth of True Summer Weather. I do love living in a seasonless zone; time passes differently here, and I welcome the chance to wear sweaters year-round.

At the same time, I miss the constants of Midwest summer: electrical storms, humidity, calamine-dotted mosquito bites. Aloe vera sticky on your shoulders and thighs; ice cream eaten in an air-conditioned backseat. These joys of my youth embody the season, and I do mean embody: memories of Augusts past give me pause, cause my gut to sink in the best possible way. Without these joys, summer veritably ceases to exist.

It does exist, though, and I’m developing new traditions. Among these is my ceremonial preparation/enjoyment of the caprese salad. When spring loosens into summer, I develop a taste for fresh basil.  Never mind that the climate doesn’t sync with the calendar; this craving is rooted deep. Tomato season rolls around, and suddenly all I want to eat is tomatoes: sliced and dashed with salt; wedged in a hella greasy grilled cheese; chopped, tossed with balsamic and oil, and added to a pretty little bed of romaine.

My favorite preparation is the caprese salad. Bright and fresh, a snap to prepare, the caprese is a great pretender, assuming an air of elegance that belies its humble origins.

On a warm day last week, I made this salad. I purchased one large tomato, tiny balls of fresh mozzarella, and a basil plant. The plant, now somewhat withered, sits on the back patio, but the day I brought it home it was vibrant and half the size of a rosebush. I take my time constructing these salads, slicing the tomato into even rounds, placing the basil leaves just so. With the salad featured here, I had a Glenlivet and soda. I listened to the Talking Heads as I put away the dishes. Then, changing into shorts, I laid out in the backyard with a book and a Pellegrino and conjured some Midwest memories.

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* I almost spun off into a nostalgiathon about My Walks Through The Galesburg Industrial Park, but I stanched the desire. You’re welcome.

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Buy Me Something Good to Eat!

As I’ve mentioned 1,000 times*, it’s crunch week at my office. The new semester starts next week, so this week is all about Getting Shit Done. How does crunch week affect my life? For starters, I have to work a full five days instead of my typical four (#totalfirstworldproblem). Also, I may have to stay past 5:00 on Friday (#thehorror!). Aside from that, it’s pretty much bizness as usual.

Fortunately, crunch week gave me an excuse to buy myself a few treats Tuesday night. Evenings, I walk up the Embarcadero (past the Ferry Building) to my MUNI stop. Nine times out of ten, I resist the temptation to shop. Tuesday night, my willpower caved. I headed straight for Acme Bread, where I got this gorgeous loaf: It’s whole wheat with walnuts: a crusty, heavy loaf with a gorgeously crisp crust. When I removed it from its bag, I got flour all over my hands, my floor, and my black dress. No matter — the bread was #worthit. Dinner consisted of — you guessed it! — a Caprese salad, a slab o’ bread, and a glass of Sauvignon blanc. The kitchen door stood open, letting a small breeze through, and I lit my pine-scented candle. A cozy meal, I must say.

The bread wasn’t my only treat, though. Inspired by Monday’s cookieventures, I snagged a jar of lavender salt from Prather Ranch Meat Company: (I tried to disguise the blurriness of this photo by applying a grainy, scratchy filter: you like?)

The dude who sold me the salt assured me that I was making a Good Decision.

“You like baked potatoes?” He asked.

“Um, yeah,” I said. (Confession: I only like baked sweet potatoes.)

“Well,” he said, “this salt is fucking awesome on baked potatoes. It’s also good on everything else.”

Good on everything else? Yes please! If there’s one trait I admire in a spice (or condiment, or grain, or anything), it’s versatility. My next batch of muesli will include lavender salt. Hell, maybe I’ll make a baked potato just to see what this salt can do.

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*Maybe not on the blog, but IRL/via text/via email/via telepathy/&c.

A New Era of Garky

Hey, Garkyfans and readers: I owe you an apology. I’ve totally neglected my blog; those of you who know me in real life know why I’ve been so lax with the updates. For those of you who don’t know me in real life, or for those of you who haven’t talked to me in a while, Hook and I are no longer together. I’ve been preoccupied with finding a new place, moving, and unpacking; I’m more or less settled into my new apartment (all the way out here in the mid-Sunset: holla?), though I still need to pick up a few odds and ends: a knife sharpener, a fruit bowl, and perhaps a few prints from Etsy.

I’ll admit, I was a mega-slacker about cooking for myself for a little bit, but I’m back on track. In what way, you ask? With fresh basil!

One of the first post-move purchases I made was an organic basil plant. After the moving crew had unloaded all my stuff, and after I’d unpacked enough boxes to feel like I’d accomplished real work, I walked four blocks north to the Safeway — my new Safeway. I’d eaten nothing but Muesli all day and I was hungry in a way I haven’t been for months; I could feel my stomach churning inward on itself. Standing in an unfamiliar grocery store, I thought, “Man, I can have any of this. What should I even eat?”

I smelled basil, sharp and sweet. I flashed back to Berlin, where I ate my first Caprese salad after an all-night party; frazzled as I was then, the Caprese salad, followed by pizza and sparkling water, calmed me — it was food made by somebody’s mother. I needed comfort food, and in this moment, Caprese salad was it. I grabbed a pot of basil, a few tomatoes, and a ball of fresh mozzarella.

Once home, I arranged the tomato slices and mozzarella wedges on a Wedgwood plate; I splashed the slices with balsamic, arranged basil, and set myself a place at my new table.Listening to Lou Reed and sipping a beer, I felt alright.

It’s been a long few weeks, but I’m back in full force.