Picking flowers dreamily along fences is a big obsession at the moment, pulling out all the colorful weeds and wildflowers and sticking them in water at home. I've never felt this powerful need to have fresh flowers around at all times before, but I'm feeling it now. Just got a yearning to bring a little nature indoors, I suppose.

On the days when there are no beautiful wildflowers to be picked, a handful of cheapish bodega flowers fills the need pretty nicely, too.

Flowers and dark-as-midnight black coffee, and mentally decorating my still-imaginary country house. So what that my 'country house' at the moment is technically a 500 square foot apartment in a crumbling walkup in Queens? That can all change. In fact, soon enough (t-minus twenty-two days, people) that will be changing......

What I've been reading lately....the perfect book under the circumstances. Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York is exactly where my head's been lately (and each one is, in fact, a nod to the Joan Didion essay I responded to in my last entry....a topic that resonates for so many people). Just drinking a lot of coffee and trying to drink in as much of the city as possible, now that my time here has a definite expiration date, and reveling in not feeling so alone after all. Others have been here, others have felt this way. Others will surely come after.

What I've been eating lately....roasted beets. Just look at those golden beets above, I picked up these gorgeous gems at the farmer's market last week and have been smitten with them ever since. In my world, the nicest thing that could happen to a beet (other than being turned into a beet spice cake, of course, remind me to tell you more about that someday) is to be roasted under a drizzle of olive oil and a showering of salt, until they're crinkly and caramelized at the edges and all the earthy sweetness comes bursting out of each slice. Served over baby greens and nestled next to a fluffy cloud of whipped goat cheese, it's my favorite salad of the moment.

Baby Kale Salad with Roasted Beets & Whipped Goat Cheese

Makes 2 side salads

4 medium-sized (at least the size of a golf ball) beets
2 T. olive oil

1/2 cup soft goat cheese
2 T. milk

1 cup baby kale (or other small greens)
1 T. chopped shallot
1 T. olive oil
1 T. fresh lemon juice
honey, salt & pepper, to taste

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Give the beets a good scrubbing under running water (no need to peel them), dry well & slice into 1/4" rounds. Arrange slices in a single layer on a baking sheet (parchment paper works well to prevent sticking), drizzle with 2 T. olive oil, sprinkle with salt. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until edges have browned and they smell delicious. Remove and let cool to room temperature.

Place goat cheese (this works better if you allow it to come to room temperature first, as well) in bowl with milk, whip the two together with a wire whisk just until fluffy.

Place a handful of kale on each plate. Arrange beet slices on top, sprinkle generously with chopped shallot. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining olive oil and lemon juice, taste and add honey, salt & pepper to desired level of seasoning. Pour this over each salad, then enjoy!