Ricotta, stewed prunes, Bluebells and kumquats, bath fail

Oh, spring, how do you energize me. This morning's gray drizzle and an epically funny bath fail have given way to a glorious day. I was finally able to plant my mint and marjoram and uncover my basil, fennel, Bluebells and other carefully lidded treasures. They are all aglow now, happily drying out and warming up in the sunshine. Nutmeg is playing with all the abandon a cat on a leash can muster; I do feel terribly for him. He races gleefully after bugs, feathers, anything that appears to scoot, and though he reaches some before the leash length gives out, at other times he's foiled in a dramatic, whiplash way. If I weren't so worried that he'd either never come home or be hit by a car, I'd let him roam free. But we have feral cats in the alley, maniac drivers on the extremely nearby busy roads, and I just adore him entirely too much to risk a feline sayonara. www.em-i-lis.com

After dropping the boys off, I went to the market to stock up on stuff for us and the plethora of catering gigs, big and small, in my near future. Since, I've made ricotta, stewed prunes (don't judge; these are amazing in all their orange- and cinnamon-scented glory! If that's not enough of a draw, Molly Wizenberg provided the recipe so obviously it's foolproof!) and am about to embark on candied kumquats. An enormous pile of three types of freshly washed and spun kale is drying on the counter, and the open doors and windows are letting springy vibes wash away the remaining inside cold of winter.

PS- while at the market, I was thrilled to see that this Friday is the annual One Day mango sale. You do not want to miss this, not least because Ataulfo, aka champagne, mangoes are THE best. Canners out there, you should most definitely go nuts. Mango jam, mango chutney, etc. Yee-haw! Non-canners, you should still get excited too: grill your mangoes, make mango/amaretto/vanilla ice cream sundaes, craft some mango salsa for fish, eat them plain, make mango honey mustard, cook yogurt chicken with mangoes.....


How, you might still be wondering, does one experience an epic bath fail? Well, there are two ways.

One, you endure a mudbath in Calistoga, CA. Disgusting. Tom and I chose this activity during our first trip together, to Napa many moons ago. We had been dating all of four months, thought this might be a nice change of pace from wine tasting, got into our respective baths and immediately felt like pigs in styes and got out. Yuk.

Secondly, and this happened this morning, you realize while at the market just how dirty you feel. I passed the fancy, made-in-house bath salt area and was transported to a clean, aromatic world as I trailed my nose slowly over the bins of seductively "flavored" salt scrubs. I sprung for a bit of the rosemary-lavender one, visions of a relaxing, leisurely, exfoliative soak hurrying me home. I drew my bath, the dial turned decidedly to hot, looked with horror at my unkempt legs and felt doubly glad I'd bought the scrub.

I dropped gratefully into my tub, shampooed and conditioned my hair and got to work on depilation and exfoliation. At that point, the water started to feel a bit cooler than I hoped. I turned the cold completely off and enthusiastically commenced scrubbing. People, this scrub should perhaps be renamed bath soak; it's a tad aggressive for a scrub. I think I lost a layer of skin over my whole body. I was smooth, so there's that. Concurrently, the hot water quit. Just quit, and I still had conditioner to rinse out of my hair. I hate cold baths like I hate winter in March. Neither is right. And suddenly, my languid tub felt like a vat of chilly challenge. I have never rinsed so quickly or flung myself into a towel with such need.

That, my friends, is a bath fail!