Naming Zoe 1988, oil on canvas, 58 x 62 inches
Recently, an old friend tracked me down on the internet. The richly detailed letter she later sent with a family update reminded me of this painting, Naming Zoe, (her daughter, named on this occasion after ours). And I was reminded of the wonderful letters we once exchanged. There is nothing like an envelope arriving in the mail with a friend’s handwriting, a postmark from afar, an interesting stamp. Few people write letters any more. I send thank you notes and try to write email messages as though they were letters. My sister Mimi is a wonderful correspondent, her letters full of her life and musings on it. Her evocative words put me right there with her. I have saved every one.
During these trying times, encounters with friends make my day, whether they are via emails, phone calls or letters. I resolve to be a better communicator knowing how much these connections can change my mood from sad to elated.
So, after a long gap in writing this blog, here are some of the foods I have been preparing. I hope they inspire you.
One of the tasks I have accomplished in these strange times is to cull recipes that I do not use or cannot imagine making, from my books full of clippings and print-outs, scrawls on bits of paper. One of the keepers is a recipe for Jerusalem Bagels. I found this on a wonderful blog ─ http://davidlebovitz.com . Reading David’s posts is like hearing from a friend, plus the recipes are dependably delicious. The dough is simply made, then the stretched bagels are finished with a pomegranate molasses glaze before being dipped in loads of sesame seeds and baked.
The Shark’s Ink studio is in editioning mode with prints by Amy Ellingson and Enrique Chagoya in the works. For hard working printers I like to offer a little sweet dessert, a lemon sablé, a slice of banana bread, or simply a piece of dark, dark chocolate at lunch time. Or this ─
My favorite fall fruit is plums, especially so-called prune or Italian plums. Here is a plan for a plum cake, adapted from a classic Marion Burros recipe. I make the batter in my Cuisinart.
Combine 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup sugar and pulse until smooth.
Add 2 large eggs, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.
Then mix in, until just combined, 2/3 cup unbleached flour, 1/3 cup cornmeal, 1 teaspoon baking powder and a pinch of salt.
Scrap this thick batter into a buttered springform or other cake pan. Arrange 24 plum halves on the batter, then sprinkle with a teaspoon or so of cinnamon sugar.
Bake at 350° for one hour or until firm when tested with a toothpick or skewer.
This simple recipe is adaptable to other fruit ─ I made it with peaches and raspberries and I think pears or champagne grapes would be delicious.
So, my friends, stay well and maybe write a letter!