09 April, 2011

flirting with spring

Chicago Spring is quite the coquette. I first caught a glance of her during a bike ride in January, when temperatures rose to 60 degrees for a few glorious hours and piqued my interested. For months, that brief beauty sneaked into my daydreams and my desire grew. When March came along Spring began to show herself every now and then. Her face shined through beautiful blue skies, but I stepped outside to find nothing but a cold shoulder. I searched for her almost daily, and found her lurking in the bushes and trees whose twiggy branches were changing colors and producing the beginning of buds.

I knew that others had already enjoyed her - my Dad sent me pictures from Houston. But that didn't matter to me. Her birdsong and sweet earthy smell, breaking through the frost, came to me each morning as I shivered out my back door. Signs of life began popping up everywhere, rabbits, robins, red tail hawks, and I knew it was just a matter of patience.

Finally she broke down, shedding April showers.

And now she is here and I can't get enough of her.

06 April, 2011

like a sugary sand

I must admit, I am a bit of a sucker for chick flicks. Not so much the goofy ones, but the pretty, tragically-romantic ones. Like City of Angels. Read this:
What's that like? What's it taste like? Describe it like Hemingway.
Well, it tastes like a pear. You don't know what a pear tastes like?
I don't know what a pear tastes like to you.
Sweet, juicy, soft on your tongue, grainy like a sugary sand that dissolves in your mouth.   How's that?
It's perfect.
Isn't that beautiful? Well, at the very least it's gotta make you want to eat a pear. Here is a really good way to eat one.

Pear with Ricotta and Fig Vanilla Black Pepper Syrup:
1 pear
1 spoonful ricotta cheese
chopped walnuts
Jo Snow Fig Vanilla Black Pepper Syrup

Slice the pear thinly, top it with ricotta, a small handful of walnuts, and drizzle syrup on top.

That's all. It's so simple I can't even call it a recipe. I like to eat this as a dessert. If the pears have been in the refrigerator, the combination of cold and creamy satisfies all my ice cream cravings, with health benefits to boot. One pear has 6 grams of fiber, including pectin which helps to lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol. It also has a good amount of Vitamin C and Potassium.

In case you are wondering what the deal is with this crazy flavored syrup. It is made by Jo Snow Syrups. Jo Snow was started by Melissa Yen, who wanted more interesting syrups for her coffees and teas. For a while I was hesitant about buying any of these interesting syrups, uncertain of what I might do with them. Finally I broke down and bought fig vanilla black pepper. Yum, right? I didn't know what I would do with it but I knew that I would figure it out somehow. I read about using it on popcorn, to make a sort of kettle corn imitation - it was even better than I expected.

I haven't gotten too creative with it yet, in fact, I haven't even tried it in tea. But I have come up with one really nice, simple dish. If you don't have an awesome cheese market selling these syrups, you can order one from their website and check out all the other amazing flavor combinations. You could also use honey, but it won't be as interesting.
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