It's getting colder here. To the point of buying fleece blankets, to the point of wearing socks to bed. It gets dark earlier, I sleep in later. I am preparing myself for hibernation, and I live ten minutes from the beach. I have been frail for a week, maybe two. Before kids knocked on our door, asking for candy we never had. Before I got drunk enough to black out. Before I ate sea urchin from its skeleton, cracked open before our eyes. I was fragile in the morning, and dreamt of dreamless sleep. Instead, I remembered every punctuation of growing up in these 23 years of mine. It happens before I fall asleep, when I'm trying to recollect my day. It's been coming in waves, more frequently--more technicolor. Saturated in all those moments of awkward growth and "coming into my own", as my mother used to put it.
It's July in Washington, DC and I'm 15. I have my first kiss and lose my virginity all in one night.
It's a week later and I'm stoned at a concert in Baltimore.
It's six months after that and I'm reading Wuthering Heights in a makeshift bed, cold and reading in a spare room of my parent's house.
The next day my mom drives two hours north and she's not answering her phone. She left a note reading, "I just need some space."
A year later I'm in college.
A year later I'm in Italy, hating everything but my freedom.
Three months, I'm dating Nolan.
We create dreams from dust motes in his two-story Victorian. We take out some loans and move to California.
Get a dog.
Quit law school.
I learn from my mistakes, like how to cook and how to hold my tongue. Nolan one time said I went 14 days without anything nice to say. I threatened to make it 15 if he didn't shut the fuck up. And I think about all of the times I should have been quiet, told my parents I loved them more, walked Charlie before he died, and how I should have taught myself to not find cooking to be a trade, but an art. I would be happier with myself, calmer with myself, and in love with life the way I now understand I could still be.
I reflect on this before bed, so I can pray for it. When the clock is at 11:10 and you're waiting until it switches. When I let the dogs out and look up into the Milky Way. Stars have always been opportunity, so I whisper the lilting pseudo-prayer of a light Star, a bright Star.
The lost time won't ever come, but I will come to terms with its ephemerality. I will understand every atom in me shifts with a resounding confidence, where I can still greet days and whisper, "Yes." I'll do it over coffee, in the shower, anywhere that the steam of dewey newness can open my pores and help me remember, every once in a while, that I'm still alive. I didn't die when I had sex or smoked week in a penthouse loft overlooking the Harbor. I didn't die when my mom left for a day or when I went to Italy. I didn't die when I moved to California with Nolan, got a dog, or started to be who I am becoming. Instead, each piece put me together more. I'm everything I'm supposed to be, and I'm happy to sit at the kitchen table and take five minutes for myself to reflect on that.
It's cold in San Diego, and I hate waking up to let the dogs out. But if I ever see my breath when I step outside with them, it'll just mean I'm still alive. And thank God for that.
It was one morning like that, when i was overwhelmed with this realization, that I made these biscuits. Sweetness and heaviness are two of my least favorite ways to have breakfast, so I decided to tone down those elements with some goat cheese and pumpkin. Paired with a super-simple fig preserve, and you have a perfect pair to your otherwise contemplative solitude before you're ready for a second cup. Enjoy.
Pumpkin and Chèvre Biscuits with Fig Preserve
For the biscuits:
- 1 3/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon quality salt
- 1/2 cup butter, cubed and COLD
- 2 oz goat cheese
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
For the fig preserve:
- 16 oz fresh figs (a great way to use some bruised ones)
- 3/4 cup sugar (or half with brown sugar for a more earthy taste)
- 3 TB clover honey
- 1 TB orange juice
- 1/3 cup water
- Preheat oven to 425 and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
- Using two knives, a food processor, or a pastry cutter, blend butter and goat cheese into the dry mixture. Ensure ingredients stay cold and do not melt. Reconstitute into fridge while preparing step 4.
- Whisk together buttermilk and pumpkin in measuring cup or small bowl
- With a wooden spoon, create a well in the dry ingredients, begin pouring in wet ingredients slowly and with big sweeping movements to ensure everything is moistened. Do not over-mix. Add a small amount of pumpkin puree or buttermilk if you notice your flour is not incorporating with the amount of liquid you have used.
- Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead 8-12 times
- Cut into rounds and place on baking sheet. (Feel free to glaze with butter, add some salt or allspice. This is very customizable--just nothing that will melt or ruin the integrity of the dish itself at this stage)
- Bake for 18-22 minutes
- Let cool briefly, serve warm with pat of butter, salt, and some fig preserve
- Put all ingredients in a saucepan
- Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and juices are simmering for about 25-30 minutes
- Transfer to a blender or food processor, pulse to desired texture
- Transfer back to saucepan and heat gently
- Serve with biscuits or refrigerate*
*I did not include instructions on canning, but can be refrigerated, covered, for up to one week