Monday, December 21, 2009

the warm embrace of home...

Mom and I have been discussing cookies lately. As in, would it be okay to not make the cornflake marshmallow holly cookies as long as we make the chocolate crinkle cookies? Can we do away with the peanut-butter Hershey kiss cookies this year if we make a batch of snickerdoodles? Can I still make some mint chocolate chip meringues even though I made them so recently for my library staff, and can we really live without the gingerbread?*

Oh how I love the quibbles and sacrifices of going to my mother's house for Christmas.

*Just for the record, Evan ma
de a batch of gingerbread men tonight, which more than makes up for the lack thereof on Christmas Day.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

near-winter days

Early rising, before full light. Coffee with sugar, half & half, the littlest bit of cinnamon. Soaking and blocking of most recent knitting job (beautiful pattern, scrumptiously soft kettle-dyed wool in deep purple -- I think she will be pleased). Toasted bagels with lox, cream cheese, red onion and capers.

Late morning, bundled up walk north through the park, then along Broadway to PJ Wines & Liquor for rum, then on to the Inwood Farmers Market for fresh eggs, cranberries, blue cheese, sourdough bread, several heads of garlic, beet kvass, giant ginger molasses cookie.

Long lazy afternoon slowly darkening to early evening, peppermint chocolate chip meringue cookies cooling on the counter, music playing, ornaments on the Christmas "tree," belly full of hot cider & rum & sourdough bread & garlic confit, cranberry ginger port concoction in the fridge, milk purchased for tomorrow's batch of yogurt, cat batting bemusedly at ornaments or curled contentedly up on the couch, purring quietly.

Friend's apartment-warming party later in the evening, mere blocks from home. Meringues packed up to bring to the gathering.

Such a core part of me loves
these winter days.

mint meringues

2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint flavoring
6-8 drops red or green food coloring
1 6-oz. package chocolate chips

Beat egg whites until foamy. Add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Add flavoring and coloring, and beat for one more minute. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop teaspoonfuls of mixture slightly apart on well-buttered baking sheets. Bake at 200 degrees for 1 hour or until outside is dry and set. Store in airtight container.

Notes: I always, without fail, double this recipe. I use an egg-separator because I am eggwhite-challenged. I sometimes use vanilla instead of peppermint. Today I added about a tablespoon of rum to the bottle of peppermint flavoring after discovering that all the alcohol (which makes up to 90% of these flavorings) had evaporated. These are very potently pepperminty meringues. I always either use red food coloring or none at all. The one time I used green coloring, the cookies rather uncomfortably resembled snot. Or mold. Or little green blobby aliens.

lauren's garlic confit

4 heads garlic, divided & peeled
2 cups olive oil
freshly ground pepper
red pepper flakes
4 sprigs fresh rosemary and/or sage, thyme, a bay leaf or two

Place garlic cloves in a 2-quart dutch oven or a loaf pan or whatever you have that is about the right size to hold the garlic and the olive oil. Add 2 cups olive oil, black and hot pepper and salt to taste. Add herbs. Bake garlic in oven at 325 degrees for about an hour, until golden brown and bubbling.

Let cool and store for up to a week, using as desired. Makes a delicious dip for bread or a welcome addition to a tomato tuna caper pasta sauce or in lieu of olive oil in almost any recipe, or, as friend Lauren from whom I stole this idea proclaimed, "I just eat it like candy!"

Thursday, December 03, 2009

a pox on the NYS legislature

Despite this incredibly moving testimony from New York State Senator Diane Savino, our state legislature yesterday saw fit to protect discrimination and bigotry rather than stand up for equality.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

moving on, or, going to court and what you can find there

I've been told that it takes half the time you were in a relationship to fully recover from it once it comes crashing to an end (depending, I suppose, on which side you're on, on whether you are the one leaving or the one left). I can't attest to the truth of this maxim as a general guideline, but in this, as in so many things, I have been slow (and with a relationship of just over five years, well, you see where this is going).

I was heading home this evening from the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Federal Courthouse after attending Jerry Lynch's induction ceremony to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. It was an experience to be sure, and I'm glad that I went, but there was something unnervingly sad about being an outsider, a mere spectator, at an event I might once have attended as his family, the girlfriend or fiancee or wife of his son.

After the ceremony various members of his family came up to say hello, giving me hugs, one of them holding my hand and telling me about the recent death of a family member, another whispering to me, "Emily, I've missed you so much."

Truth be told, I miss them too, and that whole world, that whole life I was once so intrinsically a part of.

But all of that was warm and good and nice, even if a little bit awkward, and even if a little bit sad. And it was good to see Jerry and Karen, his wife, even if only long enough to hug them and wish them well.

It wasn't until I was heading to the elevators that I ran into the old boyfriend, Jerry's son, standing in a doorway talking to a man in yet another suit (a courthouse full of suits, and there I was in my pink shawl sticking out like a sore thumb!). I wasn't sure what to do, given that I'd just found out he'd just passed the California bar, that his grandmother passed away yesterday, that his father is an even bigger bigwig than before. I wanted to congratulate and console and commiserate and applaud and make it be three years ago, five years ago, my arm again linked through his.

I paused and smiled, almost reaching out to him, and then kept on going when he continued his conversation with the suited man, feeling abruptly as if all the air had been sucked out of that seemingly endless hallway, and willing with all my might, all my being, for him to come after me (this is so often what we did). I took the elevator down to street level, crammed in between half a dozen important-looking men in business attire, pushed my way out into the dark and rain and headed across town toward the train, all the while wanting to curl up in a ball, sobbing, gasping for air I couldn't seem to find, waiting for him to come comfort me (this is so often what we did).

It took the walk to the subway station, and a long train ride north, and a text message from my new sweet boy wondering how the evening had gone before it fully hit me -- that this, these overwhelming feelings of sadness and loss and doom, this was how I often felt during those five years that he and I were together. That what I was feeling tonight on that walk, and have felt every time I've seen him since he left so abruptly almost three years ago, wasn't because of his absence, wasn't because of missing him so very much, or so desperately wanting him back, but rather was inherent to what our relationship was.

And it hit me, too, that I don't need to feel that way, and that that space we created together, that space so often full to the brim with need and dependency and rage (and yes of course, in its way, love), is not a space I inhabit anymore.

I got home, powered up my computer, spent an hour or so chatting with my boy on the far side of the world, and had some soup. Now it's time to head off to bed and I imagine, I have no doubt, that I will sleep much more soundly tonight than I have in awhile.