Chased inside from my epic weeding undertaking (just call me Sisyphus) by thunder, I am bursting with observations and conclusions wrought from a steamy morning trying to make order from chaos: 1) When one is covered head to toe with columbine seeds from banging into their seed pods repeatedly whilst weeding, they are completely indistinguishable from deer ticks and will exacerbate any already lurking anxiety. 2) Anxiety caused by dwelling on those things one hasn't done for three weeks (like gardening, blogging, exercising) is even more debilitating than insanely trying to pick infinitesimally small seeds off your sticky self with your gardening gloves that are encrusted with them,i.e., a complete waste of time.
Instead, with the sanity that comes from a hot shower and watching the columbine seeds wash away (blissfully unattached, unlike their wicked bloodsucking lookalikes who, thankfully, weren't there), I've decided to let go and focus on the wonderful things that happened in May instead of letting the undone things bind themselves to me, and suck the happiness away from what was really a splendidly lovely time.
May brought some wonderful dinners with friends, and some stellar lunches too. We had beloved house guests to stay and went to some really rollicking parties, and wound up the month attending a hilarious roast of my beloved husband by an array of clever politicians, hell bent on revenge. Memorably festive times.
Perhaps less remarkably, we successfully moved Felix home from Williamsburg for a wonderful two week visit, before packing him off to a summer full of exciting possibilities during his internship in D.C.. Having Felix home was a great treat of course. We laughed and talked, went to see The Avengers, and, well, ate tons, as you can imagine. Felix remains one of my greatest inspirations in the kitchen, and his willingness to eat just about anything emboldens me to try new things whenever he's around.
However, interspersed between all of jazzy new things I tried, I relied on some beloved favorites that, while not novel, carry the special imprimatur of home. Here is Felix's all time most beloved desert: Blueberry and Nectarine Buckle. I honestly thought he might weep with joy when he saw it. Nectarines are in season, and there's no reason in the world not to make this. The heavenly aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg will make your kitchen positively glow with happiness, and I promise, provide ample distraction from anything you haven't gotten around to doing. Bye bye anxiety, hello buckle.
Blueberry and Nectarine Buckle
1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
2 cups (12 ounces) blueberries, picked over and rinsed
2 nectarines (9 ounces total), pitted and cut into 1-inch pieces
accompaniment: vanilla ice cream
Make the topping: Blend together all ingredients in a small bowl with your fingertips until the mixture forms large clumps. Refrigerate.
Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 10-by-2-inch round cake pan or a 2 -quart baking dish.
Make the batter: Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Fold in blueberries and nectarines.
Assemble and bake the buckle: Spread batter in buttered pan and sprinkle topping evenly over it. Bake buckle until a wooden pic or skewer inserted in center comes out clean and topping is crisp and golden, 55 to 60 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream.
--adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook, edited by Ruth Reichl (Houghton Mifflin Company)