Having just read two great New York-centric books, I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic for the hometown of my youth. (Although I still sometimes like to think of myself as a New Yorker, given that I haven’t lived there in about 15 years now, it’s a bit of a stretch.) First was Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel, which I listened to on CD (and fell in love) with during my daily commute, so much so that I suggested it for my
booze book club. Turns out I liked it just as much in print. The book is really about grief and dealing with loss, but the city serves as a very visible backdrop. In the other book I read, Time and Again, New York is practically a character and the novel is a must-read for anyone who has lived in New York or has loved it. I’m not sure how this wonderful book slipped under my radar until now, but before I even finished it, I ordered the sequel, From Time to Time, off of Amazon. So needless to say, I’ve had New York on the brain.
But there’s nothing better to cure a case of nostalgic longing than to have a little fun in your new hometown. A couple of weekends ago, with our friends Alex and Dana in tow, Dylan and I had the sort of weekend one could only find in Los Angeles. Saturday evening we picked up a picnic at my new favorite restaurant, Doughboys, a couple of bottles of wine and prosecco, and we headed over to the fabulous Hollywood Bowl to see nerd rockers, the Decemberists, in concert. What could be nicer than an evening of music under the stars with friends, a glass of wine, and terrific red velvet cupcakes?
The next morning our little foursome headed to Disneyland, taking advantage of the free passes Dana gets as an ABC employee perk. Hopping from Space Mountain to the Matterhorn to It’s a Small World, we got caught up in the whole Disney thing, including the seemingly unavoidable gluttony of the place. I fully embraced it, rather than fighting it, deciding to exceed my deep-fry quotient for the year with chicken fingers and french fries, followed later by an ice cream sundae on Main Street USA. (That meal plus the depressingly rampant obesity on show at Disneyland could make a person seriously consider renouncing all junk food.)
When we got home that night, our aching tummies demanded something utterly healthy and I whipped up this recipe for a light squash dish I had stumbled across recently in the Apartment Therapy: Kitchen archives. Normally I’d serve it as a side dish (serves 2-4), but in this case, as an antidote to the caloric overload of the day, we simply put it over a little rice to make a slightly more filling meal for two. While it’s not particularly revolutionary or adventurous, this dish was lightning fast to make and with the woodsy taste of thyme and the saltiness of feta, it was fresh and flavorful. A healthy and tasty end to the kind of weekend that makes Los Angeles really start to feel like home.
Sauteed Squash with Thyme and Feta (serves 2-4)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 cups diced squash, such as summer or yellow squash and/or zucchini
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1. In a large sauté pan, saute the olive oil, red onion, and thyme until the onion is soft (about 1 minute).
2. Add the squash and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and a couple grindings of black pepper. Cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, until the squash is tender and has a little color. Scoop the squash into a serving bowl and crumbled feta on top. Serve immediately.