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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Snail Mail

IMG_1252Signs that I am getting old: I remember when I used to receive chain mail in a tangible mailbox.

I also used to have a pen pal. A girl I’d met at…circus camp. So maybe my childhood was a little unusual, but I promise you millennium babies, getting a letter in the mail used to be a normal occurrence.

When email took off in middle school, I loved getting chain emails. I loved all the pretty font colors and the suspense of scrolling through

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to get to the answer of some joke or riddle, or some ridiculous good luck charm.

Fast forward to now: I get so many emails, I sometimes dislike getting mail. One week, I went without internet except for classwork-related research, and I ended up with over 100 unchecked emails. Half of them were actually semi-important. Oops. And even the best of email filters can’t protect me from Joyce the Voice bombarding the radio station e-list with updates on her back surgery. Lady, we all hope you get better, we really do. But please, please stop emailing us an hourly status report. There’s other places on the internet (read: Twitter) for you to do that.

Receiving a letter in the mail has become a special occasion, almost as infrequent the birthday of a child born on February 29th. (No but seriously, I could count on one hand how many letters I’ve received in the past four years.)

Today, my friend JMeter sent me a beautiful piece of mail. It was so beautiful and so rare, I had to take a (crappy IPhone) picture. Scroll down to see the picture:

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(And why did I used to think these were fun and exciting? They’re freaking annoying.)

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Behold, a letter with a skull bead enclosed. It made my week.

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So beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes.

With the decline of our postal service and our cursive writing abilities (does anyone even still use cursive?), beautifully written letters on beautiful stationary are quickly disappearing from our society. What used to be a deluge of communications between distant siblings, friends, and lovers has now become a trickle of thank you letters and wedding invitations. But even as we turn to 140-character expressions of our emotions and the immediate gratifications of the internet, we still have not forgotten the joy of riffling through the mail and discovering a personal letter.

So you want to know how to make a far away friend’s day? Write them a letter. Thanks, JMeter, for making mine.

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