I consider this past weekend a success, because it was the first time I got up in the morning and wanted to put any effort into cooking/baking and towards my blog in general. To be honest, the last couple of weeks have left me feeling drained, depressed and uninspired to do anything. I usually try to leave politics off of social media and my blog, but after the election here in the US I've felt so hopeless that I think it's finally time for me to start speaking up.
My first election experience was in 2008 when I was a senior in high school. It was the first time I could vote and I supported Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. I remember going to one of his rallies in downtown Hartford and being let onto the floor with one of my friends last minute. We were only about 20 feet away from him as he made his speech, and I felt completely inspired by him, in a way that I had never felt about another politician. He hasn't been perfect, but I have truly loved having him be our President for the last eight years - he is everything that I admire in a leader; strong, hopeful, a great speaker, charismatic, funny, and relatable.
In the 2016 elections I supported Hillary Clinton. I felt that after Obama, it was time for a woman to become President, and she was not only a woman, but one of the most qualified people ever to run for office. On November 8th when I went to the polls, I was so confident, as was everyone I knew. There was no way that she would lose to Donald Trump, a man (one who I have disliked since before he ever even publicly discussed running for office) who ran a campaign on the platform of being a bigot - completely sexist, racist, xenophobic, homophobic, you name it - had no experience whatsoever, claimed that climate change is not real (it is, people, and it's a big problem!) seemed drastically unaware of major issues, and also seemed like a generally deranged narcissist. Yes, Hillary Clinton had flaws too, but in my eyes these flaws were not parallel to each other. And yes, maybe she wasn't as inspiring as Barack Obama, but her earnestness and years of qualification spoke volumes to me.
But on November 9th, the America that I woke up to was starkly different from the America that I felt I had known my entire life. I'm aware that I have lived in a bit of a bubble - I grew up in a liberal suburban town in Connecticut, went to a small liberal arts college in New England with a bunch of pot-smoking hipsters, and now live in New York, one of the most liberal cities in the country. My parents (also liberal) have also engrained the idea of "acceptance" into our lives from the very beginning. I had friends in school who were of all different races, went to a Universalist Unitarian church where we literally celebrated all of the holidays, and most recently, my mom has been working tirelessly to help a family of Syrian refugees get settled in our town. Tolerance and wanting to do things to make our world better and more accepting was never something that I questioned growing up and still don't today.
The fact that so many Americans woke up on November 8th and decided to support a man who stood for everything against this was gut wrenching to me. This was a man who laughed about sexually assaulting women, called Mexicans rapists, refrained from denouncing white supremacists and members of the KKK, and was COMPLETELY misinformed about many of today's political issues. I couldn't believe that people (and women!!) went out and voted for him and I still really can't believe it as I write this.
So the morning after the election, Pat and I woke up at 4am to make our 7am flight to San Francisco and I felt like I was in shock - that America and it's citizens were drastically different that I thought they were. I cried most of the flight to San Francisco, not wanting to watch or look at any media coverage (another outlet that has deeply disappointed me this election cycle) and being unable to do so as literally everyone on the plane around me was watching it on their seat screens. I was also determined not to let this news ruin a trip that I'd been looking forward to for months. The trip was wonderful, but returning to NYC and my regular life this past week was tough. At work everyone's mood was noticeably dimmer and I felt myself sinking into despair once again, often going home after work and just crying to myself. Each day seemed to be getting worse, instead of better.
In the past couple of days things have been shifting and I'm starting to feel like my normal self again (the first notice of that was the desire to spend a day baking and creating in my kitchen), but trying to think with more of a purpose than before. People I'm close with have been saying that although the outcome of this election is terrible, it is a wake up call to us all, reminding us what we can do more of to make this world good. For me, that's been listening more, making phone calls whenever I can, donating to Planned Parenthood, finding comfort in Pantsuit Nation, and just trying to become a more active and informed citizen. Each day has been getting better and I'm glad to live in a city and community that's so diverse and energized. This has triggered me to do all that I can to make my voice heard come next election season, and hopefully others, whatever your political affiliation may be, do the same.
Ok, so I know this post was a bit more serious than normal and it probably doesn't make sense to even have a recipe in here, I'm adding this Pear & Pecan Tart I made on Saturday, because it was the first recipe I made when I decided I even wanted to be in my kitchen again and thinking about my blog. Let's just say that right now it symbolizes some hope for me!
Pear & Pecan Tart
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat.
Once it's melted add in sugar and stir until dissolved. Add in spices and keep stirring, until the mixture is a dark brown color. Add in the vanilla extract and stir. Add in the heavy cream and keep stirring until everything is well mixed and a caramel forms. Add in pecans and salt. Turn off heat and set aside to cool for a couple minutes.
On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, roll out puff pastry. Pour caramel and pecan mixture across the center of the pastry dough and spread evenly, leaving the edges (about 1 1/2 inches) uncoated. Layer pears evenly over the caramel and fold up the sides of the dough so that the pears are nestled in. With a pastry brush, brush an egg wash around the edges and sprinkle with a couple teaspoons of turbinado sugar.
Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes, until dough is cooked through and pears are soft. Serve warm.
- 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
- 3 medium/large Anjou pears, thinly sliced
- 4 tbps unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup dark brown turbinado sugar (reserve some for sprinkling)
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 beat egg (for egg wash)