My husband was on a business trip to Seattle recently and I told him that if given the opportunity, he must visit Delancey. I’ve been following the brilliant unfolding of this restaunrant since inception and I very seriously contemplated tagging along for this reason alone. And to see my childhood BFF Dawn of course who is only two short hours away. Actually, had we arranged it better, she could have met me there and we would have been dashing off to Delancey every night for homemade pizza and hand-crafted cocktails. Dawn, why are we such poor planners? Why?
Anyway, I told my children they could sleep in our bed while he was away and as we all snuggled in one night, I could hear the faint sound of their sweet exhales as they drifted off to sleep. And I felt a rush of earnest gratitude. There were so many nights that I fell asleep with heartache and despair, not knowing if I’d ever have a child to love and hold and now, these two little beauties were asleep next to me.
I remembered the first time we brought Raphaelia home from the hospital. She was fast asleep in our bed one morning and Spiro picked up the camera and snapped photos of us. I was wearing a striped grey and white shirt and Raphaelia was in her finest onesie and our heads sort of peaked and met in a V. One of her little arms was reaching out and a teeny tiny finger touched my face as if to say: Hey there. We're a team now FYI.
The sheets were crumpled and my hair was pulled back and I looked ridiculously exhausted- even for someone already sleeping if you can imagine. That sort of zonked out slumber that only really happens when you are bone tired and your mouth hangs open slightly.
That was me.
I remember looking at that photo and thinking how awful it was but now, it’s one of my favorites. It’s just so raw and honest and it’s a real representation of those early days of motherhood when you find yourself nursing endlessly and feeling utterly shattered with fatigue. I was so very fortunate though because I had an entire village of loving friends looking after me. And I am so grateful for their mid afternoon visits with baskets of homemade baked goods and decaffeinated hazelnut lattes. Oh I don't know, I suppose I also really enjoyed all the pampering too, I mean, who wouldn’t?
My friend Sarah, who had a baby only 5 weeks before me, came to visit one day and brought over the best orange cranberry muffins I'd ever had. The secret she said, was using the entire orange, rind and all. The recipe is genius because all of the ingredients are tossed into the food processor and left to mingle while you sip tea or tend to your newborn who you've realized, rather likes the sound of the buzzing food processor. So you do what any sane person in that situation would do and just keep the darn thing running for just a wee bit longer than required.
The things we do. Honestly.
Ellina always came to visit with a loaf of her mom's famous banana bread, which incidentally, is the only banana bread I ever make. Period. If there was ever any left, which wasn't very often, I used to cube the loaf, leave it out over night to dry up a little, and then make a super scrumptious banana bread pudding with homemade chocolate drizzle.
It got to be that more often than not, I'd make banana bread with the sole intention of not eating it and using it instead as a base for this bread pudding. I used to make a small batch in a cast-iron skillet and then finish it off in the oven. The part that really makes it special I think, is the caramelizing of butter and brown sugar before the cubed pieces of banana bread are added. It creates this thick, beautiful syrup that is really the showstopper in this recipe. The entire pudding gets crispy and gooey and pretty fabulous but I must warn you, you’ll most definitely find yourself eating it by the spoonful directly out of the pan, which is to say, it’s a dangerous thing to have lying around.