When you tell people you spent your freshman year—and only your freshman year—in Florida, at a small school in Clearwater just a quick drive from white, sandy beaches and surrounded by year-long sunshine, the most typical response is confusion, especially when they find out you later transferred to the northern woods of Wisconsin, just a half hour from the U.P. What can I say? The truth is, Florida and I never quite hit it off:…
At the end of some weeks, what you really need is a pretty pink drink, you know? It’s not that this past one hasn’t been good—filled with kind people, strangers who felt like friends, unexpected work and unexpected rest—it has. In fact, like I could tell you about most of my life, it’s been filled with grace—that which I don’t deserve but which finds me, when I need it, when my strength is not enough,…
I don’t know where you sit today, but I hope your view is as nice as mine, where the air smells sweet and the sun is high. Charcoal grills send smoke through my windows, green grass surrounds blooming tulips and daffodils, restaurants open their walls so we can dine al fresco as the sun sets.
I’ve realized as much as I hate Chicago winter, I love it for this: what else could make me so aware of the beauty of Chicago spring? And as spring turns to summer and summer to fall, I will keep enjoying the beauty of seasons, the joy of watching change unfold around you, irrespective of you and what you want. It’s nice to be a part of that.
I guess what I’m saying is that these almost-summer afternoons are the good stuff, what we’ve been waiting for, so maybe you’ll understand why it’s hard to resist all they tempt me towards? Things like a sunny weekend game at Wrigley Field, hours antiquing in northern Illinois, long walks on tree-lined streets of ivy-colored brick buildings.
Last week, I met a three-year-old girl with an easy smile, while we walked down creaky steps in a vintage building near a Metra station, surrounded by trees with blossoms as big as my hands. Saturday, after lunching at one my favorite places with an old blogging friend, I strolled along Clark to Broadway, passing bakeries and restaurants and adorable little shops. And this week, after work each day, I’ll come home with no plans but to be outside, watching the tomato plants grow and ready for the sky to turn orange and crimson before I pillow my head.
Also last week, because I wasn’t done with Oikos Greek yogurt yet, I made this cake.
It has been said that some people don’t like chocolate, which is very strange, I think. It gives me the same feeling as when my dog barks at 7:30 AM, while he looks at empty grass from his perch atop the sofa. The same feeling as when people say they don’t have time to read books or watch LOST. There’s something very not right about it—No sense. It’s hard to trust those kind of people, if you know what I mean.
And come Valentine’s Day, it’s also hard to believe them—especially when there are things like Maria’s chocolate-mint brownies, Joy’s layered devil’s food cake with raspberries and, oh my gosh, Nick’s chocolate lava cakes floating around the Internet. It’s true that I like my desserts chocolate—the more fudgey the better, most of the time. I would eat the New York Times chocolate-chip cookies every day if it weren’t for the preliminary planning that’s required of the three-day chilling period. And all it took for me to make my grandma’s oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies this weekend was a quick message from my friend Lan, who said she’d made them, and, immediately when I read it, I do not exaggerate, I went down to the kitchen and pulled out ingredients.
But just to show there are no hard feelings for those of you who still swear you don’t like chocolate, here’s something you will appreciate. If you’re looking for a reliable stand-in for the endorphins brought by chocolate or, say, a romantic holiday coming up tomorrow, you should look to lemons. Did you know they are proven mood enhancers? It’s true. Lemons make people happy. And these cookies? Lovely and lemon, with no chocolate at all, filled with sweet and tart flavor, topped by shimmering vanilla icing: Suddenly the word happy doesn’t seem strong enough.
Freshly glazed, these buttery cookies are soft and almost creamy, melting in your mouth as you bite in. A few days later, they stay that way, and, really, I thank the 1/2 cup of lemon juice.
Well. I don’t know what kind of weather you’ve been having where you are, but here in Chicago, we’re receiving a little bit of a blizzard. Actually, that’s not right. There’s nothing little about it. Six inches of fluffy white fell fast and furious through the end of my work day and into my commute, meaning what usually makes for a 30-minute drive became just under two hours, full of fishtailing and slushy slow-crawling and,…