Was just out for a lunchtime walk when I came upon this flower. I think it's a variety of poppy. A bush filled with sunnyside up eggs--that makes me giggle!
Having twins is like having a set of peas. The girls certainly are as close as two peas in a pod. It is the most amazing thing to have twins. When I was little growing up as the only child in the house (my brother and sister are much older), I played all sorts of imaginary games by myself. I was often lonely and always wished I had a sibling my age. When I see the girls engaged in each other's play, mirroring and matching each other's enthusiasm at every turn, I feel so happy that their youth is so opposite of my own. I'm amazed at the closeness of their bond, and just a bit envious, too.
Most of us spend much of our adult lives searching for someone to be our companion, and in many ways, Franny and Jordan have all ready experienced that kind of affinity. They will surely have many friends in their lifetime, many boyfriends and—dare I say—lovers, and hopefully life partners who will cherish and respect them and who will be the fathers of their children. But from the beginning, they've had not only an ideal collaborator in play but a sister who is intimately familiar with their rhythms, preferences and needs. They have someone to rely on, to cheer them on, to learn from and occasionally to feel in opposition to. Although it does seem likely that my Jane Austen-loving, Victorian dress-obsessed girls will want to get married, it is my hope that their early closeness with each other will aid in their independence from the men in their lives. I hope they might be free from the longing and angst that many of us are familiar with when it comes to relationships. Maybe that craving for connection is not as great when you've experienced a deep attachment from the very beginning? I wish for Franny and Jordan—and all young girls—the courage to follow their ambitions with joy and openness, to engage in meaningful relationships, and to revel in their own unique strength, creativity and intelligence.
Last Saturday, our family had the pleasure of seeing Les 7 Doights de la Main, a nouveau circus performance collaborative from Montreal, perform their piece PSY. The company name translates to "the seven fingers of the hand" (evoking the French idiom of the five fingers of the hand working together toward a unified goal) and refers to the seven founding members and their unique creative backgrounds that fit together to accomplish a larger artistic collaboration. The result was a thrilling performance of quirky, innovative and high energy talent that combined circus arts, theatre and dance.
The larger narrative of PSY is therapy, individual neurosis and the psyche as creative juice for life. Each performer engaged in acts of physical feat that represented the torment that their characters felt internally. As I watched awed by each performer's kinesthetic prowess, I meditated on the comfortable predictability of gravity, contrasted with the seemingly outright defiance of its force by the amazing performers. The juggler's pin is tossed and then rhythmically caught over and over, our mind's eye tracing its path through the air. There is a thrill in watching the juggler because we instantly become familiar with the sequential pattern of the tumbling pins, while simultaneously fearing that a pin will not be caught and our fascinated trance broken. The arc that the aerialist makes while pumping her swinging trapeze soothes like a pendulum and makes your heart race as the apex reaches dizzyingly heights. The greatest delight was watching a couple seemingly flout the laws of physics by clinging to an apparatus, the Chinese pole—basically a fireman's pole that stretched skyward two stories above the stage floor. Their feet would scamper up the bar as if it were a notched tree trunk, then at ridiculous heights their limbs would wind and spin around the pole, stopping to elongate their bodies away from this center line. As the couple spoons as if in bed, but stacked one body atop the other, we are lulled into thinking this is easy, when they suddenly loosen their grip and drop from two stories high to inches from the floor. It is spellbinding to see these performers surrender to gravity's pull. How can one be so brave as to let themselves plummet towards the earth?
PSY was about psychology and the mind's yield to forces beyond us. As I watched, I wondered about the lure of falling. We, as humans, may fear the descent but ultimately we want to fall, to feel. We seek out thrill rides where we are protected by metal enclosures so we can safely replicate this sensation without any daring. When we dream in our sleep that we are losing our balance, toppling down, our minds awaken to catch us before we hit. We jolt awake stunned by our instinctive muscles contracting. We feel tense, but initially the fall felt weightless and a little intoxicating. If we didn't think we would crash, would we have become so panicked?
We crave falling in love, drawn to another who reciprocates our feelings, and for that brief time we feel so accepted that we can be giddy and silly and uncaring of the outcome, simply drunk with life. I wonder if what we aren't yearning for is that sensation of abandon. These performers embraced this desire, yielding to gravity and confident that their bodies would catch them right side up. We enjoy watching this physical and metaphorical spectacle of arcing ebbs and flows because it tantalizes that wonder in our soul. We want to fall. We want to be that open; we want to no longer care about being judged, by ourselves, by others, or by perceived limitations. We want to skip for joy and to hell with constraints and pessimism. We want to savor whole-heartedness. It is up to us as individuals to perch at the highest heights, leap off believing that we can enjoy the tumult, sometimes cascading, sometimes falling faster than we like, but trusting that our landings will offer enough momentum to arc us back to the summit for another breathless dance.
These homemade croutons are completely addictive. I named them Elle's croutons because I first made them up when Elle was over for a playdate with the girls (they've designed a model of their dream Parisien apartment and are currently building it together). It was lunchtime, we were having soup and were out of crackers, so I improvised and made croutons. Normally I would have combined olive oil and butter, but I made these without due to Elle's dairy allergy. I love it when a restriction becomes an improvement! My family (and Elle) can eat these in huge quantities, snacking on them like potato chips.
*Special Note about Kosher Salt
When I started using Kosher salt a few years ago, I luckily picked up the Diamond Crystal brand which recently I've learned is the preferred salt in many a professional kitchen. It has a course texture and is much less salty per volume than table salt, and even compared to different brands of kosher salt. Diamond Crystal has a patented method of stacking salt crystals, instead of flattening, which creates a grain size that, although larger, is less compressed and so not as strong flavored.
Therefore, you can't use equal amounts of table salt when a recipe calls for kosher or koshering salt, and you can't use equal amounts from different brands. Deb from Smitten Kitchen has a great article about salt where she sites Jill Santopietro's article and conversion between different brands and types. I've listed the conversion below for convenience, but you really should read both articles! Ultimately, you can be a lot more liberal when sprinkling with Diamond Crystal without worrying about over-salting.
As for baking, my friend and food professional, Peter Degnan, uses kosher salt for savory and Morton's table salt for baking. This has worked well for me. Thanks, Peter!
Salt Conversion from Jill Santopietro's Research:
Now, back to the croutons.
They're best with a quality sweet batard (like Acme's Italian batard or Semifreddi's sweet batard), loads of olive oil and generous sprinkles of kosher salt. It's a great way to use up old bread (extra olive oil is required), but the flavors soak in better with a fresh loaf.
serrated knife & cutting board
Large frying pan
half loaf of crusty bread (we like sweet batards but sourdough would be delicious, too)
1/4 C olive oil, approx.
1/2 to 1 tsp kosher salt, approx. (table salt or iodized salt is too harsh. Course sea salt would work fine)
1. Slice bread into 1/2"-1" rough squares.
2. Pre-heat pan on medium-high heat.
3. Drizzle olive oil across pan to coat (approx 2T) and heat well.
4. Add half of the bread. A single layer is best for better browning.
5. Sprinkle with kosher salt (about 1/4 tsp).
6. While one side is browning, drizzle more olive oil on top of bread (about 1T).
7. Toss to brown other side, sprinkle more salt (about 1/8 to 1/4 tsp).
8. Keep adding more olive oil and salt to taste until well-browned.
Be sure to heat the olive oil in the pan before adding the bread for better browning. I let them brown on one side and then toss while in the pan, adding more olive oil and salt as I go. I'm not sure how chefs codify a recipe. It's so hard to measure exactly how much salt I'm using when I'm sprinkling. So I encourage sprinkling and tasting, rather than getting out your measuring spoons! You can always sprinkle more table side if you find they aren't savory enough.
The saturated pieces taste the best -- first you crunch through the browned exterior, then a satisfying little gush of olive oil. Don't be shy with either ingredient, and be sure not to overcrowd the bread in the pan. I usually make these in two batches, or else there are never enough! Even with two batches, we always want more. Enjoy!