I had all sorts of epiphanic moments this week. I realized that this blog has created a new life for me. One I never imagined or pursued. But one I’m in love with. I figured out that doing the same thing will always yield the same result. And I came to accept that I relish in simple moments of pure joy and happiness. For most of my adult life, I’ve struggled with my soul filled with joy. On a daily, I’m happy, yes. But there’s a difference. And understanding that difference changes the modality in which I function. My sister recently told me that I can not change those things which I am willing to tolerate. Something like that. It makes sense. It applies to so many areas of my life, especially my personal which I seldom indulge you with.
These epiphany’s were mostly revealed by unplanned moments with special people from my past. One in particular reminded me of the very things that make me “B” — an unapologetic spirit for those things in which I firmly believe; always courageous to speak my mind and not fret the consequences. That passing conversation surfaced my relationship with food. I have a fantastic appetite and love great food. I like the art of cooking a beautiful meal that leaves you and me feeling like life is alright. I appreciate foods that have history and have become part of the culinary fabric of certain demographics.
And while I’ve known since I’ve been cooking professionally that using seasonal ingredients is always best, I’ve deviated from time to time. Every chef and home cook does. But, I’m changing that. I appreciate the work farmers put into cultivating foods that harvest when nature would have them.
Pomegranates is one of those foods I have respect for. It wasn’t always like that. It took a very educational trip to POM Wonderful‘s orchards in Fresno, California to really understand their history and culinary significance. You can read more about that extraordinary trip and the actual fruit in these two posts I wrote back in 2009. Since the fresh fruit is now in season, I’m relishing in sprinkling their concentrated goodness in different foods. I’ve only made 3 or 4 dishes with POM fruit or juice here on the blog, but have played around significantly in my kitchen and otherwise.
Flan is the simple thing I make with either product. I made one 3 years ago to much attention. In fact, POM’s official website featured it as the “Recipe of the Day” on Thanksgiving Day that year. I remember getting the email. My family was visiting Paquito D’Rivera in NY at the time. I knew it was coming but was still thrilled to see it go live. That flan, blended with Grand Marnier has been a repeat hit at home, for friends and clients.
But I’ve not tried another combination. Since my friends POM Wonderful offered to send me a box of fresh fruit and juice this season, I was quickly inspired to make the a new flan..an updated, new twist. and sexy one.
Using other seasonal ingredients.
With Christmas just 11 days away, my family has been entertaining ourselves with every bit of jovial activity. Apple picking, decking trees in three siblings’ homes, hosting a weekly fam and friend dinner, going to the annual and uberly festive Middleburg Christmas Parade and standing in long lines to buy the most amazing cookies; not to mention the insane amount of baking at at the house.
When I got the box of huge and just lovely poms, Mami got excited and got to thinking. This flan was giving me a headache. I mulled over what to mix it with. I toyed with doing something savory, inspired by the most non-flan flan I’ve ever had in NY last week (more on that later). But, that savory test didn’t work so well.
I recently jacked some lavender from a neighbor’s sidewalk and planted it in our backyard. I’ve been wanting to use it. So, as the poms stared at me at the kitchen sink, and my clear shot view of the herbs and perennials in the backyard swayed with the wind, the color combo instantly seemed pretty.
I went to picking and stuck to that. I added Brandy because a flan lover colleague suggested it while inviting ideas on Facebook. So, kind of a collaborative effort. And it worked much to my joyful merriment!
The process was a bit more involved than most of my flans, but the extra work was worth it. The beautiful aroma of lavender juxtaposed with the tartness of the arils and the smooth burn of the Brandy had an effective finish. It completed a basic egg custard. Lavender in the custard and the smell of it with each bite.
Making beautiful but simple food is art. And art brings me joy.