Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Wedding of Whimsy

I'm still trying to figure out what makes a wedding great, but this was definitely one of the most creatively handcrafted and whimsical I've attended.  Apologies for the quality of photographs -- I went camera-less, but found myself overwhelmed by the ebullient details and had to resort to my phone's camera.

After the ceremony, we processed through the streets of the West Village with makeshift instruments, giant garlands of paper flowers and a group of whimsically masked and costumed revelers. 

Arriving at the 14th Street Subway Station, we all boarded the train bound for the reception in Queens.  The bride and groom found seats directly under an illustrated subway poster of a subway car scene with a cast of NYC characters colorfully represented.  It seemed to reflect our own parade of merry-makers.

Arriving at the reception, we were faced with tables laden with food and flowers, reminiscent of a medieval feast.


The "wedding cake" was the most ethereal and enchanting I have seen.  Made by the father of the bride, it was a whirl of branches bent together and fitted with wire "nests" full of cream puffs.  The most delicious cream puffs I have ever eaten!

The traditional bride and groom cake topper snuck itself into the tree as well.

The reception space was hung with hand dyed paper banners and fairy lights.

The view of the Manhattan skyline was breathtaking, especially with the party reflected in the window.

Details really help to set the tone of a party and invite guests to experience the events in particular ways.  The details of this wedding set a tone of abundance and abandon, and gleeful originality.  This kind of energy is catching, and it caught on fast with the guests who added their own fodder and exuberance, making it a memorable occasion for our bride and groom.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Every Day Delights: (Over) Abundance

Zucchini is a prolific garden vegetable.  Every time you turn around more squash have formed on the vine.  If you fail to inspect the plants for even a single day, you may end up with a mammoth zucchini the size of your thigh.  They are certainly sneaky things, and thus they require a certain amount of stealth on our part as well.

Barbara Kingsolver wrote of zucchini season:
       "Sometimes I just had to put down my knives and admire
     their extravagant success. Their hulking, elongated
     cleverness. Their heft. I tried balancing them on their
     heads, on their sides: right here in the kitchen we had the
     beginnings of our own vegetable Stonehenge. Okay, yes, I was
     losing it. I could not stay ahead of this race. If
     they got a little moldy, then I could compost them. And the
     really overgrown ones we were cracking open for the
     chickens to eat – that isn’t waste, that’s eggs and meat….
        Could they design an automobile engine that runs on
        It didn’t help that other people were trying to give them
     to us. One day we came home from some errands to
     find a grocery sack of them hanging on our mailbox. The
     perpetrator, or course, was nowhere in sight.
        ‘Wow,’ we all said – ‘what a good idea!
        Garrison Keillor says July is the only time of year when
     country people lock our cars in the church parking lot,
     so people won’t put squash on the front seat. I used to
     think that was a joke.…”

    -Barbara Kingsolver, excerpt from 'Zucchini Larceny,' Animal,
    Vegetable, Miracle

Assuming Garrison Keillor is correct, and we all have a little too much of a late summer harvest, it is time to get creative with this ingredient.  
Grilled zucchini is definitely my favorite, but I have had some other more surprising dishes as well: Zucchini skin salad with lemon zest, Disappearing Zucchini Orzo (Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle), Zucchini Brownies (Edible Berkshires), Pizzas with zucchini, corn, feta, lime and cilantro.  The list goes on and on.  Some recipes showcase the zucchini's flavors, and others use it more for its texture and moisture.

Last weekend I got inventive in the kitchen.

Clockwise from top: A tiny fraction of the harvest, zucchini soup, zucchini bread, zucchini pickles (delicious atop a hamburger).

This weekend I'll probably do a little offloading, so keep your doors locked....

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Back to School

I've got the back to school blues and I'm not even headed back to school.  I confess that even as a non-school-attending adult, it still crushes my heart to see those banners and ads go up every summer's end about your nearest "Back to School Sale".  I'm a firm believer in enjoying every moment given to us, as you know, and the summer season is one of those that is very dear to me.  Especially the end of summer when the evening light is so golden, the grass is parched, and the nights start to get a bit cooler.

That said, I do have a back to school tradition that I love.  I haven't been a student for a number of years now, but L is starting a graduate program today so I have been thinking about "back to school" and my mixed feelings about it.  It is certainly bitter sweet, which is why I like having the following tradition to brighten the moment: The first day of school photo.  My parents insisted on taking one of me every year as I headed out the door with my still empty backpack and brand new blazingly white sneakers.  I hated it then, but somehow by the time I started college I came to love that moment.  So much so that my college roommate and I did whole photo shoots of ourselves headed back to classes each fall.  We made sure to make them really shmaltzy -- since they inherently are.  We often used the autumn-touched lake as a back drop, and clasped our hands under our chins as an homage to the cheezy official class photos we had been forced to take in elementary school.  The difference being that these were fun and goofy and we took them because we wanted to.
Whether by choice or not, these photos now provide me with a cross section of the years as they have passed: the change in fashions, hair length, braces to retainer to perfect smile, backpack to shoulder bag, child to young adult.  Sometimes it is good to reflect on who you were.  It may help you get to who you want to be.
And besides, as an adult who doesn't want to pose in front of the door with a brand new backpack to capture the moment of setting out on a new adventure?