There aren't too many things to do when one of your dearest friends leaves town --- except feel blue for a while. I know all too well because my friend, David, just moved to Dallas.
O'there are friends that I adore, friends I love fiercely: and then there's David: sprite of my heart.
David! Eternally Dill to my Scout. My affection for this man: exalted! I think I fell in love with him after hearing his second sentence, swore once I would have his Semitic love-child if not this lifetime -- the next, and to this day call him My Gay Husband. Although Kate and Jane and many others in our circle will also invariably chirp in kind, "You mean our Gay Husband." And because he's David and infinitely lovable, you know you have to share and affirm by say, "yes, our gay husband."
He moved last week on a Thursday. Damn, just a week ago.
I caught him that Wednesday night before he left - realizing as I took off for my run that evening, that he was going to be gone the next day. That thought shattered me like a glass. It felt like a movie; my heart beating madly, me dashing like hell, afraid he wouldn't be home. But thankfully he answered the door and we stood there for a moment before he let me in. Surprised to see me, I think. And he muttered something about a list and how empty the house looked and I could only sit there and sweat and say, "I've come to kiss you goodbye" before we both cried and hugged and then yours truly had to tear off down Sacramento crying so loudly that a little Hasidic girl playing in her front yard looked up and asked, "What's wrong?" and then looked at her mother for an answer. I loved her little face, her eyes full of concern --- but I could only shake my head and run on, whimpering. (Bless you little girl on Sacramento.) And I couldn't stop crying till I finished running and that was just fine. I needed that cry; it was as natural as breathing and strangely curative. Because I realized that night that there are some people who are put on this earth to teach you how to be yourself. And David, my dear dear friend, has always allowed me to be JUST WHO I AM and actually love me (flaws and all) which renders me to tears even while I write this because whether David lives down the block or in Texas, he is always in my heart. So hokey, I know and so absolutely, motherfucking true. Which is how life goes......
Of course, I'm happy as pie (this is a hint!) that he and his partner Jake are off on a grand adventure and that they are moving close to David's family. There's just so much hopefulness ahead for them. And that is really grand to share. Plus I know just as soon as I get through this blinking marathon, I will be down there sitting at their fabulous pool and laughing my fool head off and plotting some perfectly executed meal with David. But for now, I'm still a little out of sorts and allowing myself to feel the tenderness/ache that comes when you really miss someone.
Like all seasons of mourning/funkiness -- there are a few tried and true things you can do to combat the blues: but mostly you just have wait it out. But sometimes you can pull out the big guns and get back to business as it were; you can pull up your boot straps and fire up the stove cause by God, even the sad have to eat. And being a kitchen witch means your magic is both fierce and practical.
Because I am also a sentimental Witch, I had to make something that I would make for David. Something I would really feed him if he were here right now; something so suave and yet so homey that it makes you feel like a child again - waiting anxiously for the yummiest thing your favorite Aunt or Grandmother would put before you. And of course that thing would be, o'Holy of Holies: O'TOMATO Biscuit Pie (ala Laurie Colwin) with adaptations by Madam SOS. If you don't own her books, get your ass to Amazon now. These are tomes no good cook should be without. As my friend E once said, "once you read Laurie Colwin she will become your friend." And it's true. Read everything you can get your hands on -- novels, cookbooks, all. She is priceless.
Essentially speaking - TBP (Tomato Biscuit Pie) calls for two cups of flour, 1 stick of butter, & 4 tsp baking power and 3/4 milk for each biscuit crust. My little trick? I doubled the batch and used a cup of chive cream cheese in place of one of the sticks of butter which resulted in a very fluffy/yet crisp biscuit crust. Roll your dough out after chilling and do not over handle (essential) for a 9 inch pie plate.
Then it's simply sliced tomatoes (2 pounds appox per pie), cheddar cheese (1 1/2 cups shredded per pie) and half a cup of mayo thinned with lemon juice (per pie) and the largest bunch of basil/chives/parsley you can gather and layer everything: tomatoes, cheese, mayo, herbs before topping with a reserve of the cheese, then plop on the lid/remaining biscuit crust and bake the whole thing at 400 for 25 min. PS I also like to lightly salt the tomatoes and let them sit while I'm fussing w/the dough --- so some of the moisture is wicked off.
These things emerge from the oven smelling like heaven: butter, chives, cheese and basil. It's intoxicating.
And they are versatile. Adapt to your taste. Next time I intend on using sour cream or yogurt instead of the mayo or maybe using something more pungent, but less over powering than sharp cheddar. Gouda might be nice. Or a lovely Manchego.
I baked these beauties and instantly felt better. I was elated. I decided then that they must be offered up to friends in memory to David. So one was slotted for Wendy and Casey and the other went to my friend Jen Howard. I trotted my tomato pies off to each house (drive by Pie!) and felt a strange sort of peace wrap around me. I had manifested - literal, steaming, examples of my concrete love. And that was GOOD. I sat on the floor with Baby Olive and watched Wendy and Casey tuck in and cooed at the baby and realized that melancholy passes like a storm and friends, both near, far -- and yes even those in books we've never met (LAURIE!) are buttresses that hold us in place and anchor our lives. Without our friends by God there would be no stories or pies worth sharing.
So yes, there are seasons, my dears - which we cannot prevent and must endure. But all things can be weathered when you feed your friends and are, in turn, fed metaphorically with their love.
David, David, David!!!! We are stuffing zucchini when I get there, love. I promise.