My heart is so heavy for the victims of the Oklahoma tornadoes that I can’t really talk about anything else today. In case you haven’t heard on the news, a tornado two miles wide wiped out a swath of Central Oklahoma twenty miles long. It was a monster. The tornado came within 200 yards of my best friend’s home, where she lives with her husband and their sweet little girl, Ruby. Fortunately, they were safe in their storm shelter and her home is still intact.
I know the area but can’t wrap my head around the extent of the damage. I want to run back to my home state and help, but I know there are already plenty of volunteers. Oklahomans are exceptionally compassionate and generous people. Oklahomans take care of one another.
It’s about time I told you all about my friend Bill. I’ve mentioned him before, but never by name. Bill is a badass. He’s a cancer survivor, a true fighter. Bill has survived leukemia, rhizopus (a horrific fungal infection) and a stem cell transplant. After all that, he endured a total knee replacement surgery and taught himself to walk again. Oh and he managed to graduate from college in the process. Total badass.
Bill lives near Seattle; we’ve never met in person. We have a unique relationship. I know him now because I donated my stem cells to him a little over two years ago. He was a sick 21-year-old then, the same age as my brother, a stranger whose antigens matched mine on a perfect 10 out of 10 scale. Since then, my immune system has taken over his and I’m so pleased that it’s working well for him. I’m glad to be a part of this guy’s recovery and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
My friend Stephanie makes the best strawberry rhubarb pie. Stephanie is a pie girl, a true baker. She has her flaky pie dough technique down pat and gladly bakes pies for all occasions. You might walk into your friend’s kitchen to find her grinning eagerly as a pie bubbles away in the oven. Maybe you are lucky enough to have a master pie maker in your life, too.
Late last spring, Stephanie brought a strawberry rhubarb pie to my friend’s wedding reception potluck. I hardly had room for dessert, but that didn’t stop me from forking bite after bite of bright pink filling and shatteringly flaky pie into my mouth in between sips of wine from a red Solo cup. I was tempted to steal another slice for myself, but the pie was gone before I had the chance.
I tell you about Stephanie and her pie to tell you that I am not Stephanie and I do not bake pies. I can’t pull off ladylike dresses like she can, I don’t have a law degree like she does, and I do not have her patience for chilling pie dough. I’m a crisp girl. Crisps are easy. Crisps are for people like me, people who scramble to meet deadlines, who wouldn’t dream of getting out of bed for an early morning workout and avoid ironing clothes at all costs. We want our sweets and we want them now, so we make crisps.
Fortunately there is plenty of room for pie girls and crisp girls in this world. The more pies and crisps the better, I’d say, especially when strawberry and rhubarb are in season. Tart rhubarb balances sweet, jammy strawberry flavor for an irresistible final product. This simple crisp recipe requires some chopping, some hand mixing and foolproof baking. I hope you’ll make it quick, before rhubarb season is over.
I intended to write about springtime in Kansas City today—about how the hum of my space heater had been replaced by the roar of the air conditioning unit, how the tulips are on fire and the whole city seems to be joining us on our evening walks—but it snowed yesterday. Unwelcome snow flakes covered our green grass in a patchy white blanket during a most unusual May flurry. I’m glad to report that it has melted already. What in the world?
It was warm the weekend before last when I walked into my favorite little health food store in Kansas City and found the first of the local cherry tomatoes. Juicy, sweet and ripe through the center, cherry tomatoes are reliably tasty. They’re my tomatoes of choice until those gorgeous heirloom tomatoes appear at the market in mid-summer. Anyway, I went back to the store for more local tomatoes after I dreamed up this recipe, but I couldn’t find any more of them. Maybe I spoke too soon on the tomatoes, too.
The recipe I have today is a combination of two recipe concepts I encountered last week in Oklahoma: roasted cherry tomatoes and an omelet stuffed with smashed tortilla chips. I’m a big fan of both. I found the whole roasted cherry tomatoes in Nebu‘s salad bar line when my dad took me to lunch at the new Devon tower. Though everything I sampled from that salad bar was phenomenal, I knew I had to find a use for sweet and juicy roasted tomatoes in a recipe pronto. They make this fresh homemade salsa taste extraordinary.
My brother texted me this quote yesterday morning and it seemed terribly appropriate. “And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.” The full letter by John Steinbeck to his son is worth reading if you can spare a minute.
Nothing good gets away. I felt a weight lift as I crossed the Oklahoma border this weekend. Suddenly I have a full social calendar—happy hour, lunch, dinner, trivia night at a smoky bar—and catching up with those who know me best seems to be doing me some good. I’m almost wondering why I left in the first place.
I threw together this pea pesto before I left Kansas City. My friend Alissa told me about a pea pesto that she made last week and I couldn’t get the concept out of my head. Sweet fresh peas and creamy cashews brightened with lemon and mint seemed like a winning combination, plus the flavors reminded me of the spring pea and asparagus pasta that I enjoyed so much earlier this month.
First of all, this ginger beer doesn’t have beer in it. My homemade ginger juice and soda version is non-alcoholic… unless you add liquor, of course.
Second, have I mentioned lately how much I appreciate you all? Thank you for visiting. Thank you for investing your time and energy (and money) into making my recipes. Thank you for your support and your kindness. Your comments and emails brighten my days and make this crazy food blogging thing worthwhile. I try to stay positive, but I don’t know when this dark cloud over my head will clear. All I know is that I have to make the most of this one wild and precious life, even when it makes turns that I don’t want to accept. I have to not be scared, even when explosions rock our world. I have to push my heart forward, even if it hurts.
Can we lighten the mood? Let’s talk about ginger. I’ve been totally obsessed with ginger lately. On its own, ginger is fiercely spicy and fragrant. Used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine since forever, it’s a powerful anti-inflammatory that boosts circulation and cleanses the body. It can calm nausea and soothe upset stomachs (source: The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia). There’s really not much it can’t do.
Just a hint of fresh ginger lends peppery spice and complexity to savory dishes, and powdered or fresh ginger brightens up baked goods. Ginger has been a predominant flavor in my recipes lately, making its way into ice cream, banana bread, twosoups, granola, couscous and pancakes. Ginger beer features the flavor most prominently, which I love. One sip warms me up from the inside.
First of all, holy adorable dog! He looks so sweet. And yes, I believe that this pizza is a revelation! I just need to go get the goat cheese. Gorgeous! by Christy@SweetandSavo, Strawberry, Basil and Balsamic Pizza