tarte à la lavande et citron

missioncarmelInspired by the gardens at Mission Carmel and the fragrant lavender my daughter gathered into my Mother’s Day bouquet, I attempted a classic French dessert this week.  I’m still working on the travel story, which includes a review of one of my favorite light-filled literary spaces, River House Books, but the recipe and photos are below.

If you cook, you know that these days most recipes come to us from the internet, of course.  Who needs to buy an entire cookbook, which will not only take up space but gather dust, when you could quickly Google any recipe you desire?  Who needs to do that?  Well, I have to tell you I am quickly becoming obsessed with beautiful cookbooks, books that are not only full of gorgeous photography but soft paper, sophisticated graphic design, and captivating storytelling.  Whenever I pop into Anthropologie, I always wander through their aprons and bakeware and teacups and cookbooks, and last year for my birthday I bought myself Hillary Davis’s divine French Comfort Food.  Not only do Steven Rothfeld’s photographs transport me into some Parisian Café and place a perfectly crisp croissant in my hands, but Davis’s recipes have been delighting my loved ones as well.


IMG_5573Davis calls her classic French dessert “Very Lemon Tart In a Butter Cookie Crust,” or tarte au citron, but as I said, I wanted to work in some of the lavender my daughter tucked into a beautiful bouquet she gave me for Mother’s Day.  Experimentation paid off on this first attempt, and it was dare I say, delicious!  You do need a few handy kitchen gadgets to pull this off, most especially a Cuisinart and a good fluted tart pan with a false bottom.  But with those on hand, the rest of this is really easy!  (Note on the recipe that I substituted the cinnamon for two tablespoons fresh lavender blooms, and it was the perfect amount: fragrant but not overpowering and not at all crunchy in the perfect buttery crust)

Click on the photos to view the gallery images, and when you’re finished use the “escape” key to exit or find your way out however you can on your ipad or phone.  Apologies for some of the images rotating however they please depending on the device you are using to view them.  C’est la vie avec la technologie!

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what time will make of you

We read for a million reasons. To seek solace and companionship and affirmation. To bring alive or overcome the deepest darkest recesses of our minds. Reading is the best foil to the human condition . . . . It nurtures curiosity, gives wings to the search for knowledge, and improvement, the exploration of the world within and the world beyond. It’s the easiest form of escapism. There’s no better place to start than a book.

~ via mspeacockescapes.wordpress.com

Photo1A friend and member of a small group I facilitated during Lent gave me a spirituality book I can’t wait to blog about, but it’s one of those books that will take some mulling over.  I’m only about 50 pages in, too, and who knows . . . it may take a terrible turn and render me a fool if I write about it too soon.  I’m not one to care too much about looking a fool, but still, I am loving this book right now and want to get it right.  It’s profound.  It’s provocative.  It made me weepy with resonance in the beginning chapters.  It’s about the power and imperative of storytelling.  It’s about narrative and myth, imagery symbol and metaphor.  It’s about the eternal presence of the divine and in particular, the manifestation of the eternal in the presence of Jesus and the story of his life and teachings.  It’s about spiritual awakening and transformation.  So far it’s solace, companionship AND affirmation, and I will blog about it soon!

Instead I’m going blog about this insightful piece below from the French philosopher-scientist and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955).  His name gets tossed about on blogs I read, and I gather he’s considered somewhat of an iconoclast for his forward thinking.  I confess I am unfamiliar with his ideas on the whole, but when I read this particular piece yesterday I thought, this is something to write about!  You can see on my morning mug the word P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E.  It’s a daily practice for me for sure, so I share the passage with you and the story I wrote after reading it.


Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ original source unknown

I have always considered myself an impatient person and was a child known for being around the corner in my mind before my body could catch up.  I still cringe thinking about all my stubbed toes. The banged foreheads.  Bruised shins and scraped knees.  I was a tiny mess of frenetic energy.  I even started two small fires in our house because I was too busy to wait around the kitchen.  One fire started while I was making popcorn on the burner.  We had one of those cool banjo-style popcorn poppers that were popular in the 1970s, the ones that you had to shake back and forth over the electric coil.  Who has time not to mention the arm strength for all that?  I guess I got tired and left the popcorn to pop itself.  The second was an oven fire.  It started during a summer when my brothers and I really had the run of the house all day while our teenaged sister slathered herself in baby oil and read Cosmo out by the pool.  Our house was fun but sort of dangerous, I guess.  A veritable Lord of the Flies in suburban Silicon Valley.  Anyway, on this particular summer day I wanted to make cookies, and somehow I got a batter together and put them in the oven.  On broil!  I just wanted them to cook faster, you know.  But again, I was too busy and ran off to play somewhere.  Eventually we smelled smoke coming from the oven door, and when my brother opened it, FLAMES SHOT OUT!  The story gets even better, because my brother really loved that TV show Emergency and wanted to be a firefighter, so he ran outside to the back patio for the garden hose.  He may have even stopped to put on a helmet and gloves, I can’t recall.  But I remember him running into the house with that green garden hose and squirting it into the oven until the fire went out.  It was so heroic and made me love him even more.  But more than anything else, I was devastated over my cookies, I mean, looking into that oven and seeing their charred and soggy remains still stuck to the pan like obsidian rocks.  As we cleaned up the mess, I thought to myself, If only I had stuck around we’d be eating these right now instead of scraping them into the trash!

In truth, aren’t we all trying to accomplish things in a hurry?  Don’t you just love a good shortcut?  I know I do.  And that’s why I was moved by this piece from Teilhard de Chardin because it reminds me of the importance of patience, trust and faith.  Whether you are someone on a spiritual path or someone just trying to put dinner on the table for your family, it helps to remember, we can’t speed up the clock or cut corners.  Above all, “we need to trust the slow work of God.”  Have faith in what time will make of you because in the end, all will be well.  Even if you broil your cookies.


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make lemonade

Some of my readers might recall the story I once told of how littlest love and I discovered our beloved iced lemon pound cake had disappeared from Starbuck’s.  The legend of this tale of woe has grown such that our relatives living in Costa Rica have (rudely) taken to rubbing it into our lemon lusting noses that all the Starbuck’s in Central America still carry this beloved delicacy–they send me digital photos along with their invitations to come visit.  Yet another reason, I’m sure, for me to swing with monkeys from the trees and lay awake at night worrying about scorpions crawling into my bed.  Well, luckily I am here today to tell another story because littlest love and I have finally found our replacement.  She made these iced lemon brownies for a class party, and there was even one left over for me.  They are delicious and very easy to make.  We sliced them into mini bites and served them in muffin cups with cute little flags perfect for celebrating her class’s “Homework Hall of Fame.”  But if you’re like me, next time you’ll just grab a fork and sneak off with the whole pan.


iced lemon brownies


   photo 5   photo 4   photo 3   photo 1(1)

for the recipe, see baker Becky Charms

Out of lemon flowers loosed on the moonlight, love’s lashed and insatiable essences, sodden with fragrance, the lemon tree’s yellow emerges, the lemons move down from the tree’s planetarium: Delicate merchandise! ~ from Pablo Neruda’s poem “A Lemon

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