When I was a little girl (and actually through parts of high school and college too), I used to come home from school and watch the 4:35 showing of The Brady Bunch on cable. I watched it every day without fail. What my friends and family came to think of as an obsession, was actually an integral part of my day-to-day sanity. Nothing made me feel better than to escape into the obsessively clean, easily problem-solved, disaster-free world of the Bradys. Turning the show on would fade my own issues so quickly that I often fell asleep a few minutes after the episode started. They were effortless naps where I dreamt of straight A’s, odorless bathrooms, and dark stains in white shirts that were easily removed. No other sleep felt as restful as that one.
The morning that we decided to put Dexter down, Shannon and I both fell into maniacal cleaning modes. The vet had given us an 8:00 p.m. appointment and the space between here and there seemed endless. We didn’t plan it, didn’t talk about it, we just instinctively got busy trying to control the only thing we had control of – our mess. I worked the bathroom with some old rubber gloves, a scrubby sponge, and a can of comet; Shannon deep cleaned the kitchen shelves and every single item those shelves supported. I exited the bathroom to find Shannon polishing up the final spice jars full of cumin and cinnamon sticks and suddenly burst into tears. His cleaning skills were clearly better than mine. I had scrubbed our old sink and tub till it shined bright, but could not get anything to look satisfactorily spotless. I felt like a hopeless housewife (housegirlfriend)- disastrous at all the things I take pride in being good at. Shannon smiled and wrapped his arms around me. “You know you’re not upset about the cleanliness of the bathroom or kitchen.”
I had set an impossible goal for myself – hoping that if I altered what was happening on the outside of my body, I would feel different on the inside. In truth, our apartment wasn’t even that dirty, just full of the heaviness of the impending loss of one of our family members. I needed Alice, the Brady’s maid, to come magically make everything better with ironed sheets, a funny dance, and a tuna casserole.
When all was said and done, Dexter’s passing was so beautiful that I found the peace I had been looking for over the months of his growing cancer. The next day I walked through our polished kitchen and felt a new inspiration. I felt drawn away from the unhealthy local take-out comfort food realm into a brighter and more colorful food world. I found a recipe for blue corn blinis and spent the day playing with healthy and vibrant vegetarian toppings. It should be said that the picture in the In Style Magazine I took this recipe from (though I altered the recipe a bit) was clearly photoshopped because these blinis don’t get bright blue. They get blue-ish; blue-esque, but they’re still fun to play with (and would be very easy to add a little blue food coloring to make really blue).
Blue Corn Blinis
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ ounce packet of yeast
- ¼ cup warm water
- 2 eggs, separated
- ¾ cup blue cornmeal
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup milk, warmed
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Canola oil, for frying
- Stir sugar and yeast together in warm water in a medium bowl. Let the yeast become proof and become foamy for about 10 minutes.
- Whip egg whites with a whisk until foamy.
- With a whisk, blend egg yolks, blue cornmeal, flour, salt, nutmeg, warm milk, and butter to the yeast mixture. Fold in the whipped egg whites.
- Let batter rise at room temperature for 90 minutes.
- Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat and then add the canola oil. Let it get hot and then drop teaspoonfuls of batter onto the pan to form small, silver dollar sized cakes. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side.
These are so gently seasoned that they can carry a million different toppings. I whipped up an edamame/ sweet pea puree, a spicy rouille, some sundried tomato and walnut butter, a rhubarb and strawberry compote, a beet vinaigrette, and some crème fraiche to play with. They were all delicious!