Miscellany of Thoughts, Travels, and Tastes

August 7, 2011 § 2 Comments

I’m the kind of gal who has always loved to build the walls high, tuck the blankets in tight, and triple-check to make sure I’ve got everything on the list before I leave home. I’ve been thinking about security lately. I thought about it when I packed my suitcase to travel out west a couple of weeks ago. I’ve thought about it as I ponder job opportunities in the writing world. And my metaphor-seeking mind has prompted thoughts of security as I sandwich fragile veggie burgers between sturdy onion buns or soft vanilla ice cream between two chunky chocolate cookies.

It’s been a while since I last wrote in this blog, so I’m going to let my cup runneth over with photos taken this past month. There will be many images of assorted baked goods, as well as a few photos of Seattle and San Fransisco, where I explored for a good week in July. The image below, by the way, is all I have to remember the chocolate croissant and coffee I had at Café de la Presse in San Fransisco.

Going on that trip to the west coast was a break from the variety of security I’m used to at home right now. Something I’ve kept from readers who don’t know me: I live with my parents. That brand of security is one most of us 20-somethings would rather not have; am I right? There’s not much risk in that kind of lifestyle. I am spared from having to make big decisions; I get to float along with the rhythm of the day-in-day-out. So a leap into the explorations of two unknown cities was something I’d been looking forward to, big time. And to travel alone? To some degree, it’s like being a pioneer.

I escaped the tropical summer Minnesota’s been having (90-degree weather, 100-degree heat index, daily) and flew to Seattle where a gray froth of clouds covered the coffee-colored city, keeping it nice and cool. I explored lots of neighborhoods and made a point to seek out excellent coffee and baked goods (naturally). The photo above shows a cup o’ joe at my favorite coffeehouse, Caffe Vita. The photo below: the best chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever tasted. From De Laurenti, an Italian grocery store/deli/café/wine bar in the Pike Place Market.

I gotta figure out how they do it. Gooey chocolate chunks in the palm of the cookie and crispy-crunchy edges.

Seattle was a great city. A foodie’s paradise. There wasn’t enough time to visit all the restaurants and bakeries I found. I had to surrender and promise I’d return with a wad of cash reserved for tasting the city’s delicious treats.

Fortunately, I was afforded enough time to get to know a distant family member on my mom’s side who moved to Seattle from Minnesota years ago. Excellent conversation over a couple of dinners and one bit of advice that has stayed with me: Decision-making can be a paralyzing business. Sometimes it’s best to simply choose knowing that mistakes will happen, but fixing life’s faulty bike gears is always possible, and usually necessary, in order to discern where happiness and satisfaction lie.

Then, just like that, I was on a flight to San Fransisco.

Another city filled with incredible food and steep hills.

I found many, many cupcake shops:

And in the Italian quarter I found stellar pizza (which totally hit the spot after late-night dancing):

My favorite pastries came from Tartine, where a friend of a friend works as a baker. After four days of exploring, dining, and running along the marina, I spent my final hours in San Fransisco eating Tartine pastries in Dolores Park. Incredible amounts of butter and sugar. We feasted on morning buns (made with croissant dough, rolled in thick granules of cinnamon and sugar, then glazed with orange), ham and cheese croissant sandwiches, and assorted cookies.

That croissant sandwich and that morning bun? Somehow I need to finagle the recipes from my friends.

Going on that trip was a nice little break from the security of Home.

Now, I’m a total homebody—no one loves staying in with Thai takeout, a fresh batch of cookies, and a good movie more than I do. But a little buckle in the belt to shake things up makes that security more soft and comfortable to curl back up inside of.

It was nice to have some friends over to feast on veggie burgers, for instance. Just staying in with quinoa-black-bean-sweet-potato patties, fruity red wines, cold beers, Tater Tots, and special sauce? It ought to happen every weekend.

Oh! And I made ice cream sandwiches! Double chocolate chip cookies sandwiching French vanilla ice cream:

I guess this brings everyone almost up to speed on what’s happened in my life up ’til now (at least on what I’ve been eating and where). Basically life has been airplanes, cookies, and veggie burgers, I guess. I suppose I can wrap up my circuitous musings on security: I accepted a full-time job last week to write at a magazine an hour and a half south of the Twin Cities. All I can think is that this will bring exciting changes: a new sense of independence and self-sufficiency, security, and—of course—fodder for more bakery scribbling and ambiguous reflections on life.

I’m going to end with some images of the crêpes and zucchini-lemon-ricotta galettes I baked for book club at the end of last month. Here’s hoping your final month of summer is secured with delicious food and good company.

(Crêpes baked with prosciutto, fig jam, and blue cheese)

(And zucchini-lemon-ricotta galettes)

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