It has been really hot and muggy in the last week or so, nothing unusual in our area but we all took it as the usual sign of upcoming rain and thunderstorms. I don't mind hot and I don't mind rain, I actually don't mind hot rain...I dislike the few hours before the sky falls open. The dogs seem to pair up and want out every thirty minutes although they just stand there noses up to the air.
Three days a week I work almost completely from home so they "know" that they will be taken out, played with, petted and loved all this in between cracking a few many eggs and rolling out pastry dough. I get up early and start baking or writing depending on what has not been done the day before and they lie around, right outside the kitchen. When the smell of the coffee brewing reaches their snouts, they suddenly jolt up and want out. Out of the five households in our little custer around the curve, 3 of us work from home while looking over kids or animals. It is not unusual for us to be in our yards, still in our jammies sipping coffee and making sleepy small talk.
Except this morning. This morning was one of those morning you want your entire body to feel, your entire soul to take in. You want mornings like this to enter your pores and breathe inside you for as long as you can take it. This morning, I felt the dew under my bare feet. Not the one you want to capture when you know the day is going to be blistering hot, no, it was harsh and delightfully unsettling. This morning, I felt goosebumps along my arms and legs, and a whiff of cold air brought the feeling of a season trying to change. The dogs started bumping around the yard, excited by all these new scents and sensations. I started taping my feet in the dewy grass, knowing full well it would be another couple of months before we'd get another morning like this, all chilly and wet, all grassy and autumnal. If only I could be a painter of scents....
We all went back upstairs and resumed our activities, baking for me, and you guessed it, sleeping for them. While I was going down my baking to do list, I could not shake away that feeling I had earlier in the yard. It was inspiring and humbling at the same time. Nature does its thing and we just happen to be in the middle of it. So after I was done with half the "to-dos", I tried to recapture the flavors I sensed earlier.
Pears seemed perfect by in their femininity and yet firm and assertive natural scent. Vanilla, the smell of a lazy embrace. Saffron, the dewy grass under my feet. Poached....well because we were about to get soaked!! This is a most easy dessert yet rich in flavors, leaving you with nothing with goosebumps. I realize that vanilla beans and saffron are not cheap ingredients. I was very lucky that my mom sent a care package with a bag of vanilla beans and that Veronica shared some of her saffron with me for my birthday back in May. Like most people, we are on a budget but I like to save a little and invest in the "real" thing once in a while. It might seem trivial during our strange economic times to spend extras on more expensive food items, but that is really between you and....you! I am bumm....people send me care package... :) On a serious note, if you want to try this without the vanilla beans and saffron, use 2 Tb pure vanilla extract and the juice of one orange (blood orange if you can) in the poaching liquid and you will still have an excellent dessert.
Saffron And Vanilla Poached Pears:
4 cups water
1 vanilla bean
1 to 2 teaspoons saffron
3/4 cup (170 gr) sugar
juice of one lemon
- Peel the pears and sprinkle them with the lemon juice and set them aside while you prepare the poaching liquid.
Note: I don't core the pears in this dessert, I would do it if they were filled, I like eating around the core but feel free to do so.
- In a large pot or deep saucepan, combine the water, saffron and sugar. Split open the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out of the pod with a paring knife. Add the seeds and pods to the water and sugar mixture. Bring to boil over medium high heat, stirring a couple of times to make sure the sugar is dissolved. Bring down to a simmer and add the pears with the lemon juice.
- Cover the pot and cook the pears 10-12 minutes, turning them halfway through to make sure they cook evenly and all the way through (insert a toothpick to check).
- Remove the pears from the liquid and set them aside in deep serving plates or small ramequins.
- Simmer the poaching liquid until it reduces by half, about 10 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and pour the syrup over the pears and serve either hot or room temperature.
I like mine plain but fee free to add some ice cream or whipped cream.