Today I was lucky to experience both. Because the power was out due to PG&E working on something or other, I ventured out to a local coffee place. You know the kind – a laptop on every table, everyone deep in thought, pissing off the management because they’re only drinking one cup of coffee over a five-hour period.
After about an hour of my own deep concentration, trying to write a very important case study for my favorite client but getting distracted by emails coming in every three minutes, my friend Kira walked in and asked if she could join me. We talked about our teenage daughters and how different it is for them growing up in the “internet generation”, with access to all kinds of goodies we only dreamed about when we were their age. And we agreed how much most of us parents are alike, in the same boat so to speak, doing our best to be good parents to these hormonally-challenged offspring without going “cra-cra”.
After Kira left, I noticed a book on the lady’s table next to me, “Freeing Your Child From Anxiety” and was intrigued. I’m currently dealing with my son’s anxiety after a terrible accident he had a few weeks ago and looking for ways to help rid him of his fears of all things that he “might get trapped in and not be able to get out”. Turns out I sat next to the right lady. Marie is a psychotherapist specializing in anxiety disorders. Score! We had a wonderful (and highly educational!) talk about Andrew and realized we knew many of the same people in Marin County’s tight knit special education community.
Then lunch time! Picked up the kids and a few of their friends from school (minimum day) and treated everyone to Belcampo (www.belcampomeatco.com), an organic butcher shop turned restaurant featuring American comfort food and the best French Fries in the world.
My daughter, Emma, shared her story of how she stood up to a group of guys at school bullying and “whipping” one of her old grade school classmates. I listened with such pride as she explained what she said to the boys and how she got the victim away from the scene and consoled him. That's my girl!
After dinner, I spent a few hours getting my 2013 tax info together to hand over to my CPA. Upon completion, I decided to bake a recipe I had salivated over on David Lebovitz’ blog (www.davidlebovitz.com) - Honey Almond Squares. Emma had a friend spending the night, so I thought it would be a nice treat for us all to celebrate the end of a great day. A day lived “like the first and last”. As I took a bite of the warm, “heavenly” as Emma’s friend described it, bar, I thought to myself “I could live like this everyday”. Oh yeah, that’s the whole idea.
HONEY ALMOND SQUARES
From David Lebovitz' Blog - www.davidlebovitz.com
For the blanched almond powder, I just pulverized almonds in the food processor before adding the other ingredients to a floury consistency - be sure to measure that exactly 1/2 cup before adding the rest.
1/2 cup (50g) blanched almond powder
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (120g) all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3 ounces, 90g) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
The almond topping
4 tablespoons (2 ounces, 60g) unsalted butter, cubed
2 tablespoons dark honey, such as buckwheat or chestnut
zest of 1 orange (unsprayed)
scant 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (80g) sliced almonds (preferably blanched)
1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC).
2. Line a 9-inch (23cm) square baking pan with aluminum foil, easing it up the insides of the pan. Spray the foil with nonstick spray or lightly grease it with a bit of softened butter.
3. To make the crust, add the almond flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times, then add the 6 tablespoons (90g) of cubed butter and pulse until the mixture resembles very coarse cornmeal. Add the egg yolk, water, and vanilla and process until the dough comes together. If it’s too dry, add another tablespoon of water.
(You can also make the dough by hand, cutting the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or a fork.)
4. Press the dough into the pan so it covers the bottom evenly. Bake the dough until the top is golden brown, about 12 minutes.
5. While the dough is baking, make the topping by melting the 4 tablespoons (60g) butter in a small saucepan. Once it has melted, add the honey, orange zest, vanilla, and salt, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and add the sliced almonds, stirring until they’re completely coated with the butter-honey mixture.
6. Scrape the almond mixture onto the still warm baked crust and spread it evenly over the top. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes more, or until the almond topping is nicely bronzed. Let cool. Remove from the pan by lifting out the foil. Cut into squares or rectangles.
Storage: The almond-honey squares are best the day they are made, although they will keep for up to three days in an airtight container at room temperature.