Happy Durin’s Day! Whether it is, in fact today, or later this month, I’m sending everyone reading my very best.
If you’re not familiar with Durin’s Day, let me provide a brief explanation. Durin’s Day is an annual holiday observed by J.R.R. Tolkien’s dwarves “when the last moon of Autumn and the sun are in the sky together”. It signifies the New Year for the dwarves. If you’ve read The Hobbit or seen the films, you’ll remember that Durin’s Day is of especially significant importance to Thorin’s company as it is the only day of the year when the light will be just right to reveal the keyhole to the secret door to Erebor.
I’ve written about my love of all things Tolkien on this blog before and now I’m here to write about it again. The man was a scholar and a genius. He created such a vast and beautiful world in Middle Earth–and I think it remains untouched by any other fantasy ever written or even filmed. He has inspired, directly or indirectly, many of the new favorites like Game of Thrones and Harry Potter. His works, beside The Hobbit, are massive and complicated, a mystical maze of wild and ethereal characters and landscapes. There is truly no other great epic that captures my heart quite like The Lord of the Rings.
I’m sitting here, trying to figure out how to write this post. I find writing to be the most challenging part of keeping up with this blog because I am not much of a writer. I made a really easy, delicious ice box cake that I want you to try. I’m trying to think of some s’more story or memory… or what to say about s’mores, but what is there to say? I ate them camping while I was growing up. The combination of rich chocolate melted with the fluffy marshmallow on a crunchy graham cracker is pretty much the best. The flavors and textures are all very comforting–eating a good s’more is kinda like getting a good hug from someone you let hug you.
Every year, I always dread the arrival of summer because it gets so hot in Los Angeles. I am lucky enough to have air conditioning and a covered carport, which means my apartment stays comfy enough to cook inside with the oven on and my car doesn’t become an oven itself sitting out in the sun. It’s a good life.
When summer finally does roll around, I find that instead of lamenting how hot it is, I am totally and completely inspired because all of our California produce is so incredible. We have tomatoes in almost every color of the rainbow and stone fruit that outshines even the rarest of gems. While I love all stone fruit, peaches edge out cherries as my favorite. There is nothing better than a plump, juicy, sweet summer peach and there is nothing worse than a hard, dry, out of season peach. They are perfect for eating on their own, lend themselves beautifully to baking up sweet treats and are surprisingly complimentary to many savory dishes.
Here in Los Angeles, we can be looking at getting the first of the strawberries in late winter or early spring. The sun here shines brightly and warm. Because of this weather kindness, we have amazing produce here all throughout the year and in each season. Our farmer’s markets never go away. They stick around every week, bringing us some of the best fruits and vegetables in the country and arguably the world. Roaming the stalls and different stands at the Sunday Hollywood Farmer’s Market or the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmer’s Market in any given season is almost a supernatural experience–for the lovers of food and the dreamers of dreams that is.
I buy my strawberries at the farmer’s market (I like Harry’s Berries) only when I cannot make it to a farm to pick them myself. I was lucky enough to get to pick twice this year. I made strawberry jam, wine, margaritas and a few desserts.
Last year, news broke that the beloved Yingst Ranch would be closing after the 2014 season. The news was a huge bummer, considering what a beautiful and wonderful farm Yingst was. They were a U-Pick operation in Littlerock, sorta out in the middle of nowhere near Palmdale. They grew the most gorgeous, juicy-delicious heirloom plums and peaches as well as apples and pears.
Before they closed, a friend and I drove up last summer to bid them farewell and pick/buy as much fruit as we could handle. It was bittersweet–we got some stunning 49er peaches and a large bounty of fresh heirloom plums and pluots to take home.