When I first started shooting film, now over a year ago (!), I loved exploring and discovering nature-y pockets of the city. I remember first visiting the Wood Line with my sister on one of my first film photo walks. We both loved walking along the Wood Line, and it continues to be one of my favorite places to visit in San Francisco. I finished my last roll of 2015 here, where it began.
It rained a bit here recently, reminding me of home. I love the way light streams across the dark pavement and the droplets of rain that appear on the window, each a magnified globe of the outside. A bit of nostalgia for now—
From my desk at work, I watch the light fade slowly into orange and pink pastels, then into deep dark blues, with car headlights sparkling from the freeway in the distance. A chill has set in suddenly, and it's begun to get dark by 6 p.m. It finally feels like fall, and I couldn't be more excited for the approaching holiday season.
I'll be heading home for Thanksgiving in just under two weeks and can't wait to be back in the kitchen. These lemon cheesecake squares are always a favorite of mine. This recipe makes for a cheesecake lemony enough for those who love lemon yet not overly so for those who aren’t as big fans. The shortbread crust is one of my favorite parts because it's different from the traditional graham cracker crust yet pairs so well.
LEMON SWIRL CHEESECAKE BARS // makes 16 bars
from Food & Wine
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water
2 large egg yolks
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided use
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 1/4 pounds cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325°F and position a rack in the center. Line with parchment paper and butter a 9-inch square pan.
In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, sugar, lemon zest, and salt, then pulse until combined. Add the butter and pulse until a soft, crumbly dough forms. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and a 1/2 inch up the sides of the pan. Bake the crust for 20 minutes, or until golden and firm.
In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water. In a medium saucepan, whisk the egg yolks with 3/4 cup of the sugar and the lemon juice. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture, then cook over medium heat, whisking until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot, about 4 minutes. Boil over medium-high heat for 1 minute, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thick and glossy. Strain the mixture into a heatproof bowl. Stir in the lemon zest and let cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup of sugar until smooth. Add the flour, and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions. Add the sour cream and the vanilla and beat until the batter is smooth. Pour the cream cheese batter over the crust and smooth the surface with a spatula. Dollop the lemon mixture on the cheesecake batter and swirl it into the batter.
Bake the cheesecake for 40 minutes, or until golden around the edges and just set. Let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour, then refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Cut into 16 bars and serve.
It’s strange—the parallels between moving out now and the feelings while moving in nearly six years ago. I remember the moment of settling into this room—empty but so full of opportunity. So much has changed—I’ve graduated from high school and am entering a new chapter of my life in a new city—but so much has stayed the same as well. This home has been my constant through those years.
We moved around over the years, but this home has felt like the place where I grew up. It’s where so many of my favorite memories were made—starting a vegetable garden with my family, numerous barbecues despite the city’s moody weather, and going on spontaneous photowalks in the park.
It’s hard to leave behind a place that holds so many memories—Thanksgiving dinners for as long as I can remember and the glittering Christmas lights, but in these last days, I’ve come to appreciate the details: the way evening light streams through the kitchen window, the familiar path home past the green of the park, and the colorful rows of houses all around.
I’ll certainly remember the camellias. They always bloomed in the spring.
It's hard to believe it's already October and already fall! I'm officially writing from LA, but for now, I'm sharing a few snapshots from the end of summer.
Peaches have been really great recently, which is a bit strange considering that the season is almost over, but I’m taking full advantage before summer ends. Galettes are a summer regular for me. I love the shatteringly crispy crust and the lightly-sweetened fruit. I like making small galettes, so I can try different combinations of stone fruits and berries. This time I went with combinations of peaches, raspberries, nectarines, and apricots, but in the fall, I love this recipe with apples and cinnamon as well.
SUMMER FRUIT GALETTES
makes 6 small galettes or 1 large galette // adapted and halved from Tartine
1 cup unsalted butter, cold
1/2 cup water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/6 cups all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups pastry (or all-purpose) flour
about 3 cups fruit, sliced or whole depending on the type
2 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, depending on the sweetness of the fruit
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
granulated sugar for sprinkling
Cut the butter into 1-inch cubes, then place in the freezer. Dissolve the salt into the water, and place in the freezer as well. Chill butter and water for 10 minutes.
Measure both flours onto your work surface. Spread the flour out into a rectangle about 1/3-inch deep. Scatter the butter cubes over the flour. Flour your rolling pin, then begin rolling. When the butter begins to flatten into long, thin pieces, use a bench scraper to scoop up the sides of the rectangle so that it is again the size you started with. Repeat the rolling and scraping 3 or 4 times.
Make a well in the center, and pour in the cold water. With a bench scraper, scoop the sides of the dough onto the center, mixing the water into the dough. Keep mixing until the dough is a shaggy mass. Shape the dough into a rectangle about 10x14-inches. Lightly flour the surface of the dough, then roll out the rectangle until it is half as thick. Next, scrape the top, bottom, and sides together again to the original size and reroll. Repeat 3 or 4 times until the dough becomes smooth and cohesive. The dough should be roughly a 10x14-inch rectangle.
Transfer the dough to a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and chill well, about 1 hour.
While the dough is chilling, prepare the fruit, pitting and slicing if necessary.
After the dough has been chilled, divide it into 6 equal portions if making small galettes. Roll the dough into a rough circle, or circles if making small galettes, about 14 inches in diameter and 1/8-inch thick for a large galette and 6 to 7 inches in diameter and slightly thinner for small galettes. Transfer the circle(s) to baking sheets, and chill until firm, about 10 minutes.
Fill the center of each dough circle with fruit, leaving a border of 2 inches on a large circle and 1 inch on small circles. Taste the fruit for sweetness, then sprinkle with granulated sugar, about 2 to 4 tablespoons for each large galette and 1 to 2 teaspoons for each small galette. Fold in the sides of the circle(s), making sure there are no openings where fruit juices can leak out. Chill until firm, about 10 minutes. While the galettes are chilling, preheat the oven to 375°F.
Make the egg wash by whisking together the egg yolk and cream. Brush the egg wash over the pastry edges, then sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake the galettes until the crust has puffed and baked to a dark brown and the juice from the fruit is bubbling inside, 45 to 60 minutes for a large galette and 40 to 50 minutes for small galettes. Rotate the baking sheets halfway through to ensure even browning. Remove from the oven, and let cool on a wire rack for a couple minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
I love the stillness of the forest early in the morning and the way light illuminates the paths throughout Muir Woods. I love how light passes through the redwoods, casting shadows onto certain pockets of the forest.
Though I do like the bustle of the city, it's energizing to spend time away from the constant motion as well. Visiting Muir Woods felt like an adventure, though it wasn't far from home. It's this that draws me to the city--it has the bustle of a city, but it's also close to nature.