Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Gettin' figgy with it: caramelized fig and toffee sundaes

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  And these, my friends, are desperate times.  Which means that, these days, I regularly go into the supermarket and come out with nothing more than 15 EURO (that's $20 folks) worth of potato chips, ice cream and wine.  Although I spend most of my days crying lying in bed watching Pretty Little Liars with potato chip crumbs all over my scarfI still try to keep it classy when I can...  Which means that said potato chip crumbs are rosemary sea salt flavored (totally better than regular flavored potato chip crumbs, right?) and the bowls of ice cream I stuff down my face are fancily topped with caramelized figs and toffee sauce (I know, right?).

Now, these caramelized fig and toffee sundaes are seriously to die for.  And if it was my misery that inspired this decadent, rich and totally moan-inducing concoction, then you're welcome and maybe every cloud truly does have its silver lining.

This is my silver lining.  Oh, and Ian Harding.   Because, he's as yummy as these sundaes.  

Caramelized fig and toffee sundaes

fresh figs
ice cream (almond flavor is my favorite)

Elaine's Toffee Company's Toffee Sauce
a pinch of sea salt

candied almond pieces (optional, my ice cream has it included)

Heat honey in a skillet over medium heat.  Slice the figs and sauté them in the honey until caramelized (about 5 minutes).  You can either let the figs cool or use them right away.  Place ice cream in dishes and layer the fig slices along the sides and on top.  Drizzle a little (or a lot ;-) of Toffee Sauce over the top and finish with a tiny sprinkle of sea salt for contrast.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Finding beauty in tears

This summer certainly hasn't been the best summer of my life.  In fact, it's probably been the worst, the hardest I've ever been through.  I hope it's the hardest I will go through for a long, long time.  I wish I could say that I am better today than I was two months ago, but I just don't think that is the case yet.  I still have a lot of healing to do.

But in the heartache, the struggle and very blue days, I have been fortunate enough to have a few moments take hold of me and breathe into me a deep breath of life.  These moments have saved me.  They are fleeting, gone in seconds, but they remind me of who I am and of the better days that lie ahead...

Once, after a hot evening shower, I opened the bathroom window and felt a cool summer breeze dance across my damp skin.  It was beautiful and I thought to myself, at least I can still enjoy the wind--that's got to count for something.  Another day, I was listening to good music on the train ride home from work when I saw the most beautiful pink and orange sunset.  Recently, it's been the way that the early evening light--faded, gold and soft--plays and shimmers in the late summer trees. It's been the color of figs when they are freshly sliced and the smell of the first autumn leaves damp and decomposing on the sidewalk.  

At first I felt guilty about not being able to control the pain and sadness.  (I am a firm believer that we choose to be happy in life and that happiness, or contentment rather, is something that must be nurtured.)  But, I have since decided that this particular form of unhappiness is out of my control, that this is a season in my life that I must embrace.  And I have.  If that means spending the next 6 months taking hot, teary baths and listening to depressing music, so be it.  Anyway, I will still keep searching out and finding the beautiful things.  The small things that lift my heart, even if just for a second.  It's who I am and the only thing that would really be a shame is if I lost that, too.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Neon nights

Something about late-summer Friday nights just begs for neon lights, ferris wheels and the smell of cotton candy and dust.  I guess the Germans believe it as much as the Americans do.   And aside from the sheer number of lederhosen and dirndls you see, there isn't much to differentiate Nürnberg's Volksfest and the Placer County Fair, which rolls through my home town every September.  There's plenty of sweet and greasy foods to fill your belly, log rides, bumper cars and fun houses.  There're hillbillies and cougars, teens and toddlers alike.  It's a grand ole time that leaves me feeling like a 6-year-old again.  And, boy, do I relish feeling like a 6-year-old these days...