Corn for dessert? If it’s sweet, creamy and tastes like ice cream like this Frozen Corn Tart with a Chocolate Crust, then heck yesss!
My eyes were GLUED to the enigmatic recording software, lines flaring like a frenetic life-support monitor. The producer/engineer clipped, elongated, patched and layered vocals like a wizard. He added flourishes that lodged little tunes in my brain and made me reconsider every song I’d ever heard- how little I had appreciated the magnitude of work that goes into each song!
How does a stylist/blogger end up in a recording studio?
I was there for a work related project (I will definitely tell you more about why I was there when I can), pinching myself that my path and the good people in my life would bring me here. What I can tell you is, when life seems the most random, or when career tangents make little to no sense on paper but make my face hurt from smiling, that’s when my life feels the most on track.
Corn for dessert may seem random or as out of place as me in a recording studio (especially if you hear me sign- ha!), but I assure you, once you try this Frozen Corn Tart, sweet corn as a sweet conclusion will make sense.
Roasting the corn brings out its natural sweetness. Blending those sweet kernels with rich, healthy coconut cream yields an ice cream like dessert on a chocolate cornmeal crust. I’m nothing if not thematic.
And what’s a sweet corn treat without a little caramel? Argentina (and more alfajores than I could count) taught me that. If you’re feeling ambitious, try my homemade Scotch Caramel, or Smoked Sea Salt Whiskey Caramel, or if all your energy is spent after roasting and pureeing corn, I have it on good authority Whole Foods has an organic caramel that you can justify using as a little indulgence.
So here’s to the random adventures, the events and tangents that make little sense on paper but lead to a sweet conclusion.
Frozen Corn Tart with a Chocolate Crust
(Gluten Free with a Vegan Option)
About this Recipe: Sweet and creamy, like a good scoop of ice cream, but made with wholesome ingredients and healthier sweeteners. I use honey, but you can easily substitute another sweetener for a vegan version.
Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th (3/14) around the world. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159. But around here, we celebrate with butter and flour!
Harmony- it's something I have been think about a lot lately. I wish I were preoccupied with harmony musically, but rather, I think about harmony in the sense of differences working together to create something richer, something stronger. I believe there is a sweet spot, a harmonious juncture where nature and modernity could coexist, like the harmony of a sweet and salty sprinkling on a dessert, this dessert- a Vegan Chocolate Tart with Salted Oat Crust.
If only it were possible to have conversations with myself, both past and future, without the burden of mental illness. When people utter the word “cool” in a sentence with my name (not a brag, more of a statement of disbelief), I wish I could bring young Quelcy into the fold, with her cumbersome backpack and pre-algebra stresses and general obsessive bookishness. “Hey you, LOOK! Someday, somehow, this will all pay off.” Similarly, I’d summon that Quelcy who worked a job she grew to abhor.
That Quelcy found a solace and creative outlet in baking, in trying new recipes and techniques, all while tinkering with a new camera. That Quelcy would walk into my dining room, judging the updates with her eyes (as always), and say, “Oh, you’ve paired down the collections a bit. Good for us, but why aren’t you hosting a brunch today?”
Current me would justify past Quelcy’s poignant observation. I’ve managed to steer myself to this magical overlap, where people pay me to play with food and flowers and gatherings, but somewhere in that process of leaving the job I hated, and fuzzing the line between work and play, I forgot to slate days to bake just for me or to host friends in my home just for fun. In short, I forgot that weekends even existed.
I was due for a reminder, so I treated myself to one of those expensive recipe compilation magazines, those textured pages just dripping with sweetness set against dark fabrics, etched slate and cold, crisp marble. Then I sank into my couch, nestled under the warmest of plaid blankets and made a weekend plan. In the simplest of approaches, I began with the first page, which just happened to boast many of my favorite flavors paired together: chocolate, pecan, bourbon and pie crust.
As winter finally made herself known, and the darkness set in oh so early, I sequestered myself, by my own freewill, in my kitchen, where I embraced the full process of baking and playing with food… simply because that’s what I really love to do, and I needed the reminder.
Even if you don’t play with food and flowers and gatherings for a living, the holiday season can taint baking and cooking with a hint of stress. Dinners and holiday parties put schedules and deadlines on creative outlets, and in the process, they can suck some of the joy from kitchen escapes.
Maybe there’s a future iteration of me, who could join current me and past me in the dining room, and hopefully tell us both that she figures it out, she finds more ways to balance paying bills with feeding our souls (after all, she will be the older, wiser one). In the meantime, I’m letting my inner crazy attempt to steer me toward more balance and simpler baking joys, and I hope you find the same outlets during the crazy of the holidays.
Here’s to [some semblance of] sanity!
Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart with Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraîche Adapted from Bon Appétit
About this Recipe: By reducing the sugar in the crust, using raw cane sugar, maple instead of processed sugar and corn syrup, and an extra dark chocolate, my adapted version allows you to enjoy the winning trifecta that is pecan, chocolate and bourbon without that “I feel my teeth rotting” sensation. In my zeal, I accidentally skipped adding chopped pecans to the filling, but I left that part in the instructions, so do as Bon Appétit says and not as I do. I was also a little over zealous with the chocolate (as per my usual). The Bourbon Crème Fraîche has a thick and fluffy texture, almost like a non-melting ice cream- win win!
When the golden arches threatened to land on Italy’s terrain, specifically to land near the Spanish Steps in Rome, Carlo Petrini reacted. He founded the Slow Food Movement to oppose the growing trend of fast food chain restaurants. As a girl who typically has one arm in the arm of a dirty, dusty urban farmer, I, not surprisingly, find myself on the Slow Food Movement’s side. However, recently, I’ve been thinking about how “Slow Food” might be a bit of a misnomer.
The whole process of planning and executing that menu was a far cry from driving your honey to a window, ordering off a board, pulling up a few more feet and receiving the food. I understand why “slow” seems to describe my anniversary versus the hypothetical.
However, when I think of “slow food,” I see images of men and women delicately adding floral garnishes, digging peacefully in the dirt, chatting while pouring a refreshingly chilled rosé. [Admittedly, we bloggers are at fault for this all too pristine depiction of setting a slow-food style feast, and I acknowledge my guilt.] When I think of “slow food,” I don’t think of me running around the kitchen in a dirty-ass apron, sweat matting my hair to my face, an already hot kitchen reaching sweltering new temperatures that threaten to rot the hard-earned tomatoes from my beloved’s farm. This, my friends, is why I am proposing a new campaign- “Hustle Foods.”
Our forefathers and foremothers were not sitting around basking in picnics. Even if they were gathered for a summer picnic, they were still predicting weather patterns, comparing notes, exchanging produce and planning canning sessions. Back then, they were HUSTLING. Life was a constant cycle ofplanting, harvesting and preserving.
Our forefathers and foremothers were planning constantly. They wouldn’t think about a bowl full of green peppers while eating a Chipotle dinner because you know, they were just “so tired.” They were thinking about those green peppers while using those green peppers to prepare that night’s dinner, while simultaneously canning pickled peppers and oh, I don’t know, rearing 12 kids in the background. They were HUSTLING!
So as much as I am pro- the Slow Food Movement, and as much as I am acknowledge certain modern conveniences are necessary, I am still proposing a new term. As much as I am moving toward more sustainable models for using the Urban Farmer’s hard-earned produce, I am still failing. Too much is still landing in the compost bin, and I am still shy about canning (do the jars really need to be sanitized that much?), but with each sweet cherry bite, I’m aiming to hustle harder. Care to join my movement?
Cherry Pie with a Whole Grain Basil Flower Crust Adapted from Bon Appétit
About This Recipe:The combination of almond flour and white whole wheat flour give this crust a toasty look and a nutty flower. I added flowers from a Sweet Basil plant for a floral accent to the crust. Alternately, use fresh basil or sweet basil for an herbal accent.
Starting an episode of The Chef’s Table on Netflix somehow initiates a chemical reaction which bonds my molecules to those of the couch (#science). I become glued to the cushions, obsessively committed to consuming as many episodes as I can before my eyes become heavy, the whiskey drinks kick in, and I fall asleep in some unattractive, gangly pose and then have to will every fiber of my being to go to my actual bed. The show inspires me, to say the least.
Aside from the dance of the camera, the insane food creations, the remote jet-setting possibilities, and the heartfelt personal stories, what drew me most in season two was the idea of the “nudge.” A few chefs mentioned a moment when they were hitting their stride, and a voice of reason would say “you’re almost there, but you need _________.” In the case of the self-taught Ana Roš, a food critic friend told her she was getting good, but she’d be great once she started to pull from and appreciate her Slovenian roots.
The friend’s words stuck with her, and she began to explore her region, visiting cheesemongers in the early morning, when the green mountains were still misty. She began to fish from the crystal blue waters of the Soca River. She began to cherish and preserve her culture through her own creative updates and twists. She set out to be a diplomat, wound up as a chef, and arguably, through hard work, fierce dedication and a little nudge, she became a diplomat for Slovenia nonetheless.
I’m going to go on a limb here to break that cautionary writing guideline about avoiding the use of “all, none, every, never, etc” to say that all of us need a little nudge sometimes, even those arrogant bastards who were born with enough confidence to try anything and put their names on everything. Even those types need nudges toward greatness sometimes, or I’m just projecting that need because I need a nudge every now and then.
At any given moment, I have a back burner stewing with ideas for shops, bakeries, retreats, art, workshops, products, illustrations, etc. Whether it’s fear, distraction, not enough hours in the day or a lack of funding, a lot of these ideas just continue to simmer. Sometimes the ideas themselves nudge me, nagging at me, lodging in my head like strikers rallying for their right to exist.
But other times, a lot of times, it’s this guy… The Urban Farmer.
He’s braver and bolder than I am. He’s willing to tackle anything, committed to figuring it out along the way, even if he has never tackled it before. When I hem and haw with the typical doubts and insecurities of a perfectionist, he is my nudge. “Nah, just do it,” he’ll say, and more importantly, he really believes I can just do it.
Nudge and support, nudge and support. It’s an important combination, so rare to find in a partner, and day by day, we’re becoming partners in more ways than one, scheming and brainstorming and creating together. I’m so excited for what’s in store, even if I’m not yet ready to broadcast those ideas to the far reaches of the internet.
Yet, even the boldest, bravest nudger occasionally needs a nudge himself, so when the Urban Farmer turned the big ol’ 3-1 this year, we gathered to weed, to mulch, to compost, to dig and to dine. We gathered to nudge him along, to encourage his efforts, trying as those farming efforts can be. And my gift for him?
A peach tree. I gave him a peach tree because a tree is an investment, a living, growing symbol that I believe in his vision, his labors and perhaps the biggest testament to my faith in him- I believe he’ll overcome city bureaucracies and get his name on the land, and one day, his farm will grow and grow and all of it will officially be his. On that day, I’ll make this crisp with farm-fresh peaches and muddle even more of those peaches into whiskey drinks, and I’ll raise a glass to him, my constant nudger and supporter!
Here’s to the Urban Farmer, the birthday boy! And here’s to many, MANY more birthdays by his side!
Strawberry Peach Crisp (Gluten Free)
About this Recipe: A great way to feed a group at the last minute, this crisp takes advantage of gluten-free muesli to add extra fruit, nuts and seeds to the crisp layer. Alternately, you could use gluten-free oats. Serve with homemade whipped cream or an all natural vanilla bean ice cream if you’re near a fridge/freezer, but for farm/outdoor gatherings, this crowd-pleaser dessert is sweet enough on its own.