lemon jelly

Modest Steps

Contrary to popular understanding, philosophy is a pretty modest enterprise. The days of grand, architectonic metaphysics are pretty well over. No one today is going to sit down with a pen and try with a little a priori deduction to convince you that God exists. One of the hallmarks of any grounded method or mode of inquiry is its practitioners’ recognition of the method’s limitations. Without it, you end up with embarrassments like St. Anselm’s folly. I think it’s safe to say that some hard lessons have been learned and that philosophers generally don’t entertain those kinds of pretensions anymore.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally get tripped up by overambition. I realised last night that I’ve probably been having trouble with my thesis because I’m not quite ready to settle the ongoing debate in liberal theory in twenty pages. So, today I’ve been scaling back and taking modest steps – in food and in philosophy.

A few nights ago, I made Daniel Pattern’s honey-glazed apricots, but lacking the requisite vanilla ice cream, I’ve been smushing the lovely sweet-tart apricot halves on toast for breakfast. At lunch today, I decided that that gooey goodness would work well with some old cheddar too. Grilled cheese, anyone? Unpretentious and completely doable.

Gooey Grilled Cheese with Smushed Apricots

  • two slices multigrain bread
  • softened butter for slathering on bread
  • thin slices of aged white cheddar
  • 2 honey-glazed apricot halves or 1 tbsp of apricot jam (see above)
  • a pinch of sucanut or brown sugar (optional)
  • 5 or 6 medium basil leaves
  • fresh ground pepper
  1. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Butter each slice of bread on one side and flip over. Top one slice with half the cheddar. Layer with apricot halves and smush with a butter knife until fruit breaks out of skins. Spread fruit evenly over cheese. Sprinkle with sucanut if using.
  2. Smash basil leaves with the end of a wooden spoon to release oils. Stack leaves one on top of the other, roll up from stem towards tip, and slice thinly to get curled shreds. Layer basil on apricots. Add pepper to taste, followed by the remaining cheese. Top with second bread slice, buttered side up.
  3. Grill sandwich on skillet, 3-5 minutes per side, flipping when bread is golden. Slice on a diagonal and serve immediately.

Good Excuses
August 10, 2008, 6:36 pm
Filed under: food | Tags: , , ,

There’s this charming man I know, who feeds me peanut butter and crackers late at night and gives me excuses to bake lovely things like blueberry tarts. Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been looking for excuses like these for a long while. Happy birthday.

Distractions and a Salad
August 8, 2008, 8:13 pm
Filed under: food, recipes | Tags: , , , ,

I’ve been reading a lot lately. I’m at 9 journal articles, 12 chapters from 4 books, and counting for my lit survey. That’s probably only about 500 pages at most, but give me a break – I’m a philosophy undergrad. I consider anything more than 30 pages to be a lot of reading. Of course, I’d have read a lot more by now if it hadn’t been for certain distractions.

Rather than reading Eamonn Callan’s Creating Citizens while at the library yesterday, I found myself browsing wistfully on the Anthropologie website. Isn’t the peacock dinnerware just adorable? The 3-D Toile Full Apron is quite fetching too. I don’t think I can quite justify spending the $108 or so it would cost to purchase just two sets of the peacock dishes, but I do need a new apron…

I’ve also devoted an unusual amount of thought to quinoa over the past couple of days. I’m not very keen on its natural nutty flavour, but, with all of its nutrients, it’s not something to pass up. I really liked the porridge I wrote about a few weeks ago for its use of cardamom pods, so I thought that maybe another spice infusion would be the trick to making quinoa a little more palatable. I also had a little bit of homemade peanut butter left from Heidi Swanson’s amazing vegan peanut butter cookies – clearly the beginnings of a tangy peanut sauce. Throw in a few fresh things from the farmers’ market, and you’ve got a salad with substance.

Summer Quinoa Salad

Note: The 1/2 tsp of chili flakes adds a touch of heat to the salad but isn’t necessary. I enjoy the kick. The vegetables I used were the ones I just happened to have picked up at the farmers’ market yesterday. I’m sure that a number of other summer veggies would work just as well – maybe some blanched broccoli florets or fresh corn kernels or cucumber slices.

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp dried chili flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, well rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • zest and juice of a lime
  • 1/2 a red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup green string beans, blanched and chopped
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  1. Heat oil in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add coriander and and chili flakes and toast until their flavours begin to release, about a minute.
  2. Add quinoa and water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until most of the water has been absorbed.
  3. Meanwhile, stir together peanut butter, soy sauce, maple syrup, sesame oil, lime juice, and lime zest. Add sauce to the cooked quinoa. Stir in bell pepper and green beans. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  4. Garnish with cherry tomato halves and serve at room temperature or chilled.

Urban Brunch
August 4, 2008, 11:12 pm
Filed under: eating out, food | Tags: , ,

Not surprisingly, a visit to Toronto meant that I stuffed my face overmuch this weekend and didn’t do a jot of internship research. I had good intentions and a stack of book excerpts stuffed in my bag, but of course, the train ride proved to be a perfect opportunity for an extended nap.

I’m just glad that Rice Bar, my favourite spot in Kensington Market, is amenable to my vegetarian ways and still a treat, free-range eggs and all. I met a couple of good friends for brunch there on Saturday and savoured the La La – two poached eggs with avocado, hollandaise, and tomatillo salsa on toast. Just gorgeous. I recommend Rice Bar wholeheartedly – it’s cute, friendly, delicious, and principled. 319 Augusta, if you’re ever in the area. It’s a reasonable walk from Spadina station.