Life + Bacon Jam

I feel as though I'm retracing lines in a book, over and over again, watching the pen marks deepen and widen. But this is life: some sort of motion that looks like a sine wave but feels more like a circle. Every transition—the wishing, the getting, the releasing—is different and yet the same. And yet, that doesn't make each one any less hard. So I'm here, still gripping on to the bits of myself that have stayed the same while staying open to what newness might develop. 

A kind of light spread out from her. And everything changed color. And the world opened out. And a day was good to awaken to. And there were no limits to anything.
— East of Eden

After a morning of antiquing, we stopped to have lunch at Preservation Bread and Wine in downtown Geneva. Why we had yet to dine there, I do not know. Small plates are our favorite way to eat and their charcuterie and cheese options are amazing. It's tucked into a narrow building with exposed brick and close tables, and filled with the smell of grilled dough.  The wine list is eclectic and fun with a good mix quality, affordable wines. But it was the slab of slate hosting large crostinis topped with a savory and sweet bacon jam, peppery arugula, and tangy blue cheese that gripped me.

The following morning I set out to find a recipe that I could replicate and share for an upcoming dinner party. Thankfully, my neighbor Katie shared her version with me. I made only a slight modification from her original: cooking the bacon first so that the onions can cook down and caramelize in the drippings, adding a little more depth and flavor. There are a handful of other recipes I'd still like to try, but this one is a simple one to begin with. 

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BACON JAM CROSTINI

  •  1/2 lb of thick cut hardwood smoked bacon cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup dried pitted dates
  • Black pepper to taste
  • French baguette
  • Butter
  • Arugula, washed and dried
  • A good blue cheese of your liking 
  1. Using a cast iron skillet, cook bacon on medium-high heat until done but not crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the pan. 
  2. Toss in your onions. Stir constantly to keep your onions cooking, but not burning, until they turn deep in color.
  3. Add your caramelized onions (plus any remaining drippings), bacon, dates, and pepper into a food processor and pulse until smooth. 
  4. Slice your baguette into 1/2-slices, spread a thin layer of butter on both sides, then add to a heated pan. Toast both sides until golden brown.
  5. Remove your grilled bread from the pan, top with the bacon jam, a layer of arugula, and a few sprinkles of blue cheese.
The Thin Place
In thin places, we become our more essential selves.
— Eric Weiner

I don't always do a good job of explaining why I've become so attached to northern California. I mean, it's beautiful. Beyond beautiful, really. The air is clean and fresh. The color of the tomatoes brings tears to my eyes. I remember the one time, while walking down the street in St. Helena, how an orange rolled under the car. And I remember the way the soles of my converse conversed with the fallen olives, soft and hard.

California is where everything within me stills and the only voice I can here is my own. The only breath I'm aware of is my own. There is space for me there. Perhaps it's because I spend most of my time in the shadow of the mountains, deep in the valley, in awe of the way the sun rises and sets against the mountain peaks.

And so I share with you just a few of my moments from this past March, when the air was both warm and cool and the wild mustard bent in the breeze.

The Return

8 weeks here and still I am treading the waters of all that feels unknown. I know the names of only 4 streets—they are the ones that lead me back to home. I forget the names of the faces of neighbors that appeared in that first week. And there are the birds and the trees and the native grasses I've yet to identify. In the midst of all of this newness I've struggled to hold on to what is familiar. But what remains constant: food, wine, and words.

This space, SOMMERSALT, is meant to be a space to house the simple, storied beauty that is life. It's for the small and bright ways in which I find pleasure. 

Of course, this is not the first time I've tried to return to blogging. Over the past few years I've started and stopped, usually when it begins to feel forced and unnatural. But right now, there is nothing forced or unnatural about a return to a devotion of my essentials for being.

I believe in simplicity and beauty. I believe in the holiness of dark and the illuminating fullness of light. I believe in the healing power of mountain views, a properly made bed, and homemade bread. I believe in the necessity of expression in whatever medium feels most natural. And I believe that the most honest of conversations happen over a bottle of wine shared in the glow of a warm fire.

Let this space be that fire.