Today, author and editorial director of Exterminating Angel Press, Tod Davies shares her love of giving in to great food:
I love to eat. I really do. I love to eat and drink, and I love to do both with friends and loved ones. And then I love to eat and drink when I’m by myself, too. You all know what I’m talking about. The day when you seriously get down to the work at hand. The day spent before I notice I put my yoga pants on inside out. The day spent without talking to anyone but my dog. The day I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want it.
I like to feed people, true. But I also like to feed myself. When I’m by myself, I feed myself with just as much care as I would feed a friend or a loved one. Because who else pays as much attention and helps me to do the tasks I set myself as myself?
When I’m on my own, I like to eat simply, since I work better that way, and—face it—I’m lazy, too. My solitary tastes run to…well, I’ll give an example of a work day’s meals this week, when in between hours of sitting and staring at the big trees before writing something down and going back to sitting… I fixed myself something to eat. For lunch, it was an omelet filled with odds and ends of cheese left in the fridge, soaking up the juices of a tomato salad left over from the night before. For dinner a griddled bit of ribsteak rubbed with garlic, nestled by a green salad made with shallots and toasted walnuts and blue cheese. Red wine with that, of course. It was the end of the work day, after all.
But I want to go backwards and tell you what I had for breakfast that day. I love fruit for breakfast. What I really love are Baked Pears. This is a dish I highly recommend to anyone who wants to care for themselves without thinking about it very much. When pears are inexpensive, which means in season and ripe—or even, blessed be, given away by a neighbor with a particularly fruitful tree—I grab as many as I think I’ll eat for a week’s worth of breakfasts. Then when I’ve got something else going in the stove, I shove in a pan of pears. First I carve a little scoop out of the bottom of each one, add a little honey, set it right side up, and fill the pan so that all the pears are touching. I add a little water and a scatter of cloves. I bake them at 400 degrees until they smell great and are a little wizened and shrunk, and syrup has appeared at the bottom of the pan…about an hour. I don’t fuss about this, they can go in longer at less temperature if I have something else I want to bake. Then I let them cool, cover, and stick in the fridge. For breakfast, I extract as many as I feel like eating, put in a little ovenproof dish, add a bit of apple juice or cream (I highly recommend the cream), and bake at about 350 degrees to heat the pears and cook down the liquid. In the cream’s case, to where it’s brown and clotted and sweet, since I like that the best. Fortunately these things are pretty indestructible, so I don’t need to worry unless I forget and absolutely burn them (and even then, I just scrape off the burned bits and have pear sauce instead). They taste great. I like a light breakfast, so they’re perfect for me. I love how they smell, I love how they taste, I love the feeling of warmth and autumn they give. Most of all, I love how little trouble they are, so that I can get on to the morning’s work without fuss, and that’s a very friendly start to the day.
Pears are my friend. The two missing from the bowl in the photo at the top of the post are the ones I had for breakfast today. (By the way, as a bonus, if you skip them for breakfast, heat them up and have them with ice cream for dessert later that night. So there.) And then I got on with listening to the trees give their input to storytelling, which is the most joyful part of the day.
Tod Davies, editorial director of indie Exterminating Angel Press, is also the author of Snotty Saves the Day and Lily the Silent, both from The History of Arcadia series, and the cooking memoirs Jam Today: A Diary of Cooking With What You've Got and Jam Today Too: The Revolution Will Not Be Catered (June 2014). Unsurprisingly, her attitude toward publishing is the same as her attitude toward literature, cooking, and, come to think of it, life in general: it's all about working with the best of what you have to find new ways of looking and new ways of being. Find her and EAP at www.exterminatingangel.com.