Years ago, I assisted a chef in New York City and we were catering a dinner party in the famous gothic Dakota building on 72nd street. I’d never been inside the Dakota, I'd only been on the sidewalk trying to steal a view of the plaque commemorating the shooting of John Lennon.
I knew Yoko Ono still lived in the Dakota. (Even today, I still think of her passing through that gate every day and what effect that plaque has on her.) Well wouldn’t you know, Ms. Ono was a guest at this dinner party! I hadn’t really crossed over into the celebrity guests and famous clients world yet, so Little Cook Lisa was super excited for this opportunity.
One of my best friends lives on 72nd street so I pass the Dakota all the time when I go to visit him. Of course it’s across the street from Strawberry Fields and the Imagine mosaic in Central Park, which I only ever happen upon when friends are in town. But I’m not a Yoko fan. I find her music irritating. I really don’t think about her much at all.
Cut to last November... I was riding the subway with two friends heading up town. I was sitting across from my friends and facing the doors. I actually had my phone up to take a photo of the two of them. So when we slid into 72nd street and the doors opened and revealed the words Remember Love, I quickly snapped a photo as the doors were closing.
Did I really just see that?! Did I imagine it? Was this a message placed there just for me? Where - what - who - when - why? I had to find out these answers and go back to the subway station and sit with those words.
Remember Love. Had I forgotten? Have you? I am surrounded by love. My life is flooded with love. But am I contributing to this flow? Am I surrounding my nears and dears with the love they deserve? Am I remembering to love myself? Am I remembering love when I shop, and cook, and deliver food to my clients? Am I remembering love when I step behind a microphone and record my voice over jobs?
Good news! For the most part, there is a ‘yes’ after each of those questions! As consistently as I can, I lead with love, I follow up with love. I love my life. I love the people whom I have chosen and that have chosen me back. I love my jobs. I love my home. I love my family. I love New York City. And on and on...
I know I am the exception to the norm. Not everyone can access love that easily. Not everyone has circumstances that allow them to feel love so abundantly.
I think before we can feel love, we must feel peace and joy. Are those more manageable? Maybe you can start there. Do something to encourage those feelings and maybe they’ll get you closer to love.
On with the story…
So I went back to 72nd street and wouldn’t you know it’s a whole mosaic installation by none other than Yoko Ono?!
“I’m thrilled that my new work, ‘SKY,’ will be opening at the 72 Street subway station just steps from my home and Strawberry Fields, which I created in memory of my late husband,” Ono said in a statement. “It will bring the sky underground, so it’s always with us. I hope this will bring peace and joy to my fellow New Yorkers for many years to come.” Aha!
So you may not live in NYC or ever come here to visit this subway station (but DO come visit and I’ll give you a subway mosaic tour. I am obsessed!) But wherever you are, there is the sky. The sky is pretty powerful. It holds the weather, clouds, planets and stars. Moons and suns. Birds and rocket ships, airplanes and satellites.
And maybe if you’re having a hard time remembering love, or just having a hard time in general, you can look at the sky. And feel peace and joy. Imagine that the sky is holding peace and joy for you. The sky is holding clouds of love waiting to rain down on you.
I felt peace, joy, and love a few weeks ago when I was treated to a dinner at chef Alex Guarnaschelli’s restaurant Butter. As you sit down, literal clouds of goodness are placed in front of you with perfect baby quenelles of butter. Yes, you have died and gone to homemade Parker House Roll heaven. I had to make them. Now you have to.
Parker House Rolls
by Alex Guarnaschelli
1 1/4-ounce packet active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
7 1/2 to 8 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus softened butter for brushing
2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
Bloom the yeast.
Measure out 1/2 cup warm water and check the temperature: It should be between 110 degrees F and 120 degrees F (comfortable bathwater temperature). Sprinkle the yeast into a large bowl, add the warm water and whisk in the sugar. Let sit 1 minute (it should bubble and froth slightly), then gently stir in 1 cup flour. Set aside near the stove while you prepare the dough.
Make the dough.
Mix the melted butter and milk in a mixer with the hook attachment on low speed. Add the eggs and mix until blended. Scrape in the yeast mixture and mix until incorporated. Add 6 1/2 cups flour and 1 tablespoon salt; mix until the dough forms a ball, 2 to 3 minutes, adding up to 1/2 cup more flour if the dough is too wet and sticky.
Let it rise.
Brush a large bowl with softened butter. Transfer the dough to the bowl, cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place, 2 hours to 2 hours, 30 minutes. The dough should double in volume.
Shape the dough.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dust a clean flat surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Flour your hands; gently press the dough into a 16-by-8-inch rectangle, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick (don't use a rolling pin).
Cut the dough.
With the short side in front of you, cut the dough in half lengthwise with a floured knife. Then slice crosswise into 12 strips.
Shape the dough.
One at a time, fold each strip of dough unevenly in half so the top part slightly overlaps the bottom half, then tuck the overhang underneath. Place the rolls seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet in 3 tightly packed rows. (If making in advance, wrap the baking sheet tightly in plastic wrap and freeze up to 3 weeks.)
Bake the rolls.
Bake until the rolls are bursting at the seams and golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. (If frozen, bake 25 minutes at 325 degrees F, then 10 minutes at 375 degrees F.) Remove from the oven and brush with softened butter. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.