Come January’s end in the Bay Area, it feels to me like springtime. I imagine this sensation has mostly to do with the fact that I go back home to Michigan over the holidays, and after that sort of cold and ice, this weather—along with the blue skies, leafy plants and blooming trees—seems awfully springlike indeed! Nor does it hurt that at this point, I’m open to anything that keeps on inspiring the feeling of newness brought on by a new year. But I do insist there’s something to it. The sunshine is warmer, and the air clear and wet and clean, the way I remember it feeling in my lungs when I was a kid and finally outside without layers upon layers of clothing, ready to stomp through puddles and (prematurely) run barefoot down the block.
It’s not springtime, of course. If those of you in the colder and snowier parts of the world actually continued reading beyond that first paragraph, especially without cursing beneath your breath, please forgive me for bringing up the sunshine so callously, and know that I’m well aware that it sure as heck doesn’t feel anything like spring to you. Even here, we’re had plenty of rain (and thank goodness for it!), which is springlike, sure, but not the best prompting for getting outdoors or, at least for me, staying happy and hopeful. We’ve got snow and rain showers aplenty to endure before the season really changes, and though I’ve protested this fact to varying degrees throughout my life, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
With the seasons, there’s plenty of waiting it out, of moving in and out, of liking some things more than others. That this aspect of the seasons is reflected in life has been a strange reality for me to grasp, to be honest, but one that I’ve come to peace with over time. At least things aren’t staying the same, someone said to me a very long time ago, when I was in the midst of a very different season. It’s stuck with me all this time.
It’s hard, though, the waiting, the storms, the confusing parts of our stories, being trapped indoors when you’ve got things to do. If that resonates with you, if you’re feeling stuck or blue, I have a small but brilliant thing that should help. This breakfast (or brunch, or lunch) is incredibly easy to whip up, thus launching your ordinary weekday with a little extra pizzaz. You simply fry a couple of eggs, char a piece of pita or flatbread, slather that bread with yogurt and top it with the eggs, pepper flakes and lots of herbs. It’s rich but still light, full of flavor and brightness from all of those herbs and very delicious.
I must say, it’s silly that it took me this long to share something from Anna Jones‘ wonderful cookbook A Modern Way to Eat. I think it’s because it was too hard to choose—I’ve baked and cooked so many things from it throughout the last few months. To name just a few: Sweet & Salty Tahini Crunch Greens, Seeded Banana Bread, Chickpea & Preserved Lemon Stew, Pistachio & Squash Galette, Butterscotch Blondies. All have been delightful, just like their author’s voice and style. The whole book is cheery and full of great ideas for wholesome meals that aren’t too complicated. I especially love Jones’ creative take on vegetable dishes, where she puts a new twist on ingredients and concepts I thought couldn’t ever surprise me again, without ever making the recipes too complicated or fussy. I also love the baked goods, of course, which are simple and wholesome and fun. She even offers maps to building your own soups, smoothies, salads and the like, breaking down the complexity of everyday, recipe-less cooking. This book would pave the way for a very good start to the new year in the kitchen, if you’re looking for such a thing, in the sense of deliciousness and health alike.
And if this meal isn’t enough to beat the blues and keep you feeling hopeful for springtime, I also recommend heaps of citrus, lunch with friends, getting out into the sunshine whenever possible, this article and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic (friendly and funny encouragement to get off our bums and do the work, put fear in its place, live vibrant, creative lives, etc.).
Spring will come soon enough. Let’s do our very best to enjoy these moments, too.
Turkish Fried Eggs
Adapted from Anna Jones’ A Modern Way to Eat
4 tablespoons Greek yogurt or labneh
Butter or olive oil
2 whole wheat pitas or flatbreads
1 teaspoon Aleppo or Maras chile flakes
A few sprigs each of fresh mint, parsley and dill, leaves picked and roughly chopped
Freshly cracked pepper
Mix the yogurt or labneh with a big pinch of sea salt and set aside.
Fry the eggs to your liking. Here’s my method: Heat a large skillet over low-to-medium heat. Add a good-sized pat of butter or a generous pour of olive oil and let it warm. If using butter, it should melt and then begin to foam. Add the eggs. If you like, spoon the butter or olive oil over the eggs as they cook. Or, cover the pan with a lid for a minute or two, which also helps with even cooking. I sometimes splash in a bit of water at this point as well, to the same end. Anna Jones and I share the same preference for fried eggs, which I think is quite delightful here: just set, the edges beginning to crisp up and the yolk very runny.
While the eggs cook, toast the pita or flatbread until lightly browned and charred in places. If you have a gas stove and it strikes your fancy, you can char the edges a bit over the flames. Since this is such a simple dish, I think it’s worth the extra effort to make sure you get some good texture and flavor from the bread.
Top each pita with a spoonful of yogurt and two fried eggs. Finish with the chile, a generous sprinkling of sumac and the herbs. Season with salt and pepper, and enjoy!