Tempeh, I was wrong about you. When we were first introduced to each other five years ago, I didn’t see your potential. Loved the texture. Your earthy flavor, however, turned me off and I decided, rather hastily, that you didn’t have a place in my life. But I saw you at the store the other day and thought that I should give you another shot. At first, I was skeptical. You still got some funk there! So, I went bold with my approach: garlic, ginger, spices and lots of lime juice. What would that do to you?
You know what it did? It mellowed you out and it showed me that, with just a little creativity, you can be turned into something quite beautiful. Sure, I noticed hints of your old traits in there, but they weren’t nearly as pronounced.
I see a relationship blossoming, tempeh. We aren’t BFFs quite yet, but definitely good buddies. And, in time, I think we’re going to be quite close.
It’s not surprising, but my memories of celebrating Rosh Hashanah as a kid all revolve around food. There was the preparation of the dinner, the smells of each dish marking the arrival of fall. Chicken soup simmering on the stove. Brisket roasting in the oven with onions and carrots. I adored (and still do enjoy) the gefilte fish served at the beginning of the meal, topped with thinly sliced cucumbers and accompanied by a dollop of beet horseradish. But without a doubt the moment that stuck with me the most is dipping apple slices in honey. Sure, I liked apple slices, but honey was too intense for my tongue. I know, odd for a child to not enjoy anything that tasted of sugar. But I found the whole thing cloyingly sweet. And the honey inevitably got on my fingers and made my hands all sticky. But it was tradition… to welcome in the new year.
I always liked this idea of starting things off with something sweet. So often, we harp on all the negative things in our lives. It’s nice to begin with something pleasant. Which is where this plum cake comes in. Though this kind of dessert was never served at our Rosh Hashanah dinners, it is a fairly traditional recipe to serve during Rosh Hashanah. I’ve taken some liberties with a plum cake by Melissa Clark (who is an incredibly talented cook and writer), by adding a crumble topping. Think of it as a cross between a cake and a crumble. We enjoyed it on its own, but you can’t go wrong with topping it with whipped cream or ice cream (though, now that I’ve typed that, I wonder if you can ever go wrong with adding ice cream to a dessert). And leftovers (if there are any leftovers) make for a fantastic breakfast.
Down to the last few days in my twenties. Eric has been joking for the past month that I need to order my coffin. My gay death is quickly approaching, he tells me, at which point I remind him that, no matter how old I get, I’ll always be his younger man. Ever since he turned thirty, I’ve tried to envision what we’d do to celebrate my introduction to the next decade of my life. For his birthday, we ate at The French Laundry. I had it in my head that we should do something equally extravagant for mine. Maybe a trip to New York to eat at Eleven Madison or Le Bernadin. One of our bucket list restaurants. Then we moved into our house and everything changed. I had dreams of hosting friends and family, gathering in our backyard, eating food fresh off the grill. There’d be copious amounts of cheese and wine. And laughter.
That’s all I really want and that’s exactly what we have planned for this coming weekend. As always, Eric and I have made plans to do a more intimate dinner on my actual birthday on Monday (I also have a much needed massage scheduled for that morning). Overall, I think we have some nice activities in the works.
Everyone’s been asking me if I’ll be cooking for the party. We had talked briefly about having it catered, but that just didn’t feel right. I get so much joy out of feeding people that it would be odd for me to present someone else’s food. One of the dishes I’ve prepared are these marinated mushrooms. It’s a very easy appetizer to create and one that can be multiplied for larger groups. I expect that they’ll go well with the rest of our spread: cheeses, olives, roasted tomatoes, grilled fish and smoked brisket.
In other news, I am thrilled to share that I have a few of my photos being displayed at the Boston Center for Adult Education. Ok… maybe a few is an understatement, since it’s actually 50. I was so honored when I was asked to create a show for the gallery space. It’s titled The Mood of Food and it’ll be up for the next month. On September 19th, the BCAE is hosting a reception that’s open to the public. They’ve put together quite the event… with wine, beer, a cocktail (they’re serving up my blackberry shrub) and some tasty bites. If you live in Boston, I’d love to see you there! (Click here for more details)