Two days after a rejuvenating trip to Anna Maria Island, I’m sitting at my little writing desk listening to She & Him on the record player feeling blissful with a bit of sea salt at home in my hair. On Sunday we woke up and decided to drive out to the beach. Neither of us had ever been to Anna Maria Island before, so the ride there was filled with even more excitement and anticipation than our usual on these kinds of adventures. We drove into the first beach outlet on the island, the one with a children’s playground, swings, and pastel wooden changing rooms with swinging doors set just high enough to catch a glimpse of sandy feet and toes. The sky was fighting rain, but the air was balmy and warm. We walked into the ocean and let the cool, clear water envelop us. We swam and I floated on my back with my eyes closed, letting the waves gently rock me back and forth. Near the water’s edge, though, the waves broke hard and Will spotted a few mini rip curls. We walked along the shore, built sandcastles for a plastic tiger, and let the sun kiss our skin golden. On our way home we finally came into some rainy weather, though a sign for Bradenton’s Riverwalk along the Manatee River enticed us to wait it out over some iced smoothies and sorbet. Piper was excited to don her raincoat and hold her new owl umbrella. The walk itself is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. Boats lined the docks and proved a striking backdrop. A busy bridge in the distance made us glad to be taking our casual walk below, which was lined with interactive art and eventually led to an amphitheater and a playground and splash pad that Piper relished.
I’ve come home contented and inspired. Late last night, I prepped pastry dough for the onion tart recipe found in Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food. As many of you know, any type of pie or tart baking is new to me and I’ve been very intimidated by it up until now. I decided to just have a go (slowly), and enjoy the process. Since we do not eat dairy, I used Earth Balance vegan butter for the crust, and I’m happy with the results. I took care to measure the butter and even freeze it for a few minutes before incorporating it into the flour, otherwise I imagine it would spread too quickly. Early this morning I cooked down the onions (6, thinly sliced) with some dried thyme, as I did not have any fresh. Just as we were settling into the afternoon, I gently rolled out one disc of dough and took extra care to follow Waters’ technique. She suggests rolling out from the center of your dough, rather than rocking the pin back and forth across the entire disc. Of course it helps to be forgiving and patient with yourself, and fortunately today turned out to be a good day for such a project. The edges are folded over and brushed with some egg wash, and the tart is baked on the lower rack of a 375 degree oven for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom. Would you believe that we ate almost the entire thing between the two of us? Lunch paired well with a couple of glasses of red wine. The savory-sweet onions, the crisp, buttery crust, and my love next to me to share it all with has certainly made my day today. I’ve still got one disc of dough in the fridge for tomorrow. I’m going to try making a sweet apple tart, incorporating the quince I’ve got lying around the house. I’m sure Piper will be more inclined to eat a slice of that. I haven’t met many 3 year old children who jump at a plate of sauteed onions, but we’ll turn her yet!! Teasing, of course.
Hoping you all are enjoying your week with some good eats and good company.