Two Years

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It must be serendipity: last year, I posted a tomato tart recipe to celebrate the one-year anniversary of my blog, and this year, without even planning to do so, I have another tomato tart recipe!

…Or maybe September is tomato season, and I’m deeply unoriginal.

Well, it’s a certainly at least a little comforting that despite the difficulties of the past year, there are parts of me that remain unchanged. I still love tomatoes, I still adore pastries and butter and learning to cook, and I am still writing about it all.

It’s been two years of discovering that my love for food extends beyond desserts and sweets, and that I may not be as useless in the kitchen as I first thought. Two years of learning family recipes from my dad, exploring new cuisines, gaining confidence with each success, and learning from failures.

Well this is a horribly cliché post, but honestly, I (and everyone else I know) never thought Kitchen Whimsies would make it past its first year. In ancient times, if a baby lived past two years old, parents could begin to believe that their child might actually make it to adulthood, or at least adolescence. I don’t know how to measure the lifespan of a blog – in dog years? In blog years? – but hey, what matters is that somehow, we’re still alive.

I think this year’s tomato tart turned out a little better than last year’s, and I certainly had fun trying out a totally new and totally easy way to make tart crust. Enjoy :)

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Rise of the Alien Fruits

IMG_2570As four-legged creatures, we’re inclined to get a little grossed out by things with “too many” legs, or seeds, or eyes. Centipedes and millipedes and spiders are the creepy crawly stuff of nightmares. Many people can’t stomach kiwis, with their fuzzy exterior and billion-seeded exterior. And watermelons, in a semi-abuse of science, have been genetically altered to be seedless.

However, the last few years have bucked that trend. Heirloom tomatoes, or ugly tomatoes, as they’re affectionately called, appeared in gourmet stores, then in large supermarkets. They’re still sold for unholy prices, but that has done little to dampen increasing demand. And other strange fruits and vegetables have begun to appear on the Whole Foods shelves. I literally don’t even know who buys them, but clearly there’s somehow a large enough market for them.

As people strive to be healthier, they’re embracing chia seeds, and flax seeds, and almonds and pistachios, and the general diet of our dear squirrel friends. Trader Joe’s now sells cartons of just pomegranate seeds, and Whole Foods carries horned fruits, which are basically all seeds (and some extraterrestrial green goo). And everyone and their mother suddenly loves figs.

Though my fight-or-flight instinct remains strong when I see a fly or a centipede or a giant spider, I’ve come to appreciate foods with “too many” seeds. Like this horned fruit I got for free the other day, which seriously looks like alien food, but kind of grows on you after a while. And figs, which I absolutely hated as a kid, but now use for “healthy” desserts and “healthy” salads (that are really more like desserts masquerading as salads by the time I’m done with them…).

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Easy Breezy Beautiful Crostini

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In root vegetable world, radishes get the short end of the stick. Think about it. Carrots and potatoes would be the popular kids, sweet potatoes would be cute and sweet. Ginger would be be edgy and beets would be the artsy ones. And radishes? Poor radishes. They’re mistaken for beets and even turnips. People just don’t know how to interact with radishes. At least turnips are loved by animals.

But I think radishes are wonderful. They taste clean, a little bit spicy, and utterly refreshing. They also come in a myriad of beautiful colors, adding artistic flair to the dish.

People usually toss their radishes into salad. I cannot even count how many sad salads I’ve seen with little dehydrated slices of radishes. My friends pick the radishes out of their salads. Poor radishes. I honestly believe that a lot of people think they hate radishes because they’ve never eaten a fresh radish.

So when my dad’s colleague gave him a few radishes the other day, I began to brainstorm how to best showcase them. I wanted to capture the freshness, the feeling they leave in your mouth of having eaten something pleasantly cleansing. I then remembered that radish leaves have their own unique flavor, an almost abrasive spiciness. I settled on crostini because 1) I was short on time and 2) crostini are fairly healthy. The quest for healthy delicious food continues! Enjoy :)

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