The Love Potion and Me

I was putting make-up on in Montreal two days ago in front of one of those fancy close-up lit-up mirrors that make you see each pore of your skin when I realized something about myself and about love. How I act in front of the mirror is entirely unrelated to how loved I feel and how beautiful my loved ones make me believe I am.

What I do every single day in front of the mirror is me, who I am, what pleases me, what makes me feel good – not beautiful, just good and normal, like my daily ritual is complete, like my routine has been fulfilled and I can move on to the next activity. It is not a trick to make me feel more beautiful or to make someone see me that way- far from it, actually.

That process is just me: I put make up on every morning in the same way: I line the lower part of my eye right at the root of my eyelashes with black eyeliner, gently touch up my upper eyelid with some version of a sheer eye shadow and finish with mascara, a fancy one I bought with my best friend on a trip to California. I love every second of this process and I love what it does to my eyes. I put perfume on- for me- because I love it. And I make sure my nails are clean and freshly painted – because I love to see them that way.

Do I need to do all that? Who’s asking? I think I need to. For me. As for those who love me…I hope not. I hope love means that I look good without any make up on, sweaty and with ragged nails. I hope it means I look stunning in my sweat pants, bleary eyed after a night of not sleeping enough, with my hair in a scrappy pony tail after a yoga class. But for me, yes I need it. No matter how beautiful those who love me make me feel, I still want my makeup, my perfume, my nail polish, and sometimes my high heels – that is me, and I love it that way.

Whether you love me or not, with my make up on or not, I know you’ll love this recipe. I made it with love and much thought for Valentine’s day. The only way to get what I wanted from it was to make it up myself, ingredient by ingredient, step by step, defying commercial Valentine’s day clichees that make my head hurt – no hearts, no chocolate, no overly sweet things- just a stunning combination of all the things that can mean love: kumquats for their perfection, rosewater for its perfume, vanilla, for the beauty of simple things, cardamom because it may make your pants fall off, honey for the sweetness in life, and bubbly for celebrating finding love.

Kumquat Compote, a Love Potion

Ingredients: 2 cups kumquats, sliced; 2 tablespoons rose water; 1 + 1/2 cups prosecco; 1 cup honey; 1 vanilla bean, split; 10 cardamom pods, crushed.

Combine the prosecco, honey, split vanilla bean, and crushed cardamon pods in a small pot and bring to a boil on medium-high. Lower the heat to medium and reduce the liquid by about one third. This will allow some of the alcohol to evaporate too.

Remove the cardamom pod shells but don’t worry about the little seeds- they add outstanding texture and flavor. Add the sliced kumquats and the rose water and continue to simmer for about 30 minutes or until it reaches the desires thickness.

Serve however your heart desires. I can just eat it with a spoon.

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  • Bethany

    Happy Valentine's Day Andra! You're a radiant beauty, an extraordinary writer, and a brilliant chef.

    I love your nail polish, perfume, and makeup and that it's part of who you are. You also rock the sweatpants and messy hair look…to me (and many, many others) you always sparkle.


  • Aztechan Pettus

    Dear and Sweet Andra,

    I certainly cannot top what Bethany wrote above, but I agree with my whole heart, what she has to say.

    Happy St.Valentine's Day to you, lovely person that you are!

    Big Kisses,

    P.S. I hope this recipe will make an appearance in your cookbook! I would love nothing more than to have a compilation of your fabulous creations. Plus, many of them remind me of growing up in a very Middle Eastern household!

  • Andra

    Thank you. Thank you. I am lucky to have so much love in my life. As for the recipe, super easy to make– and I swear it will make your pants fall off.

  • LawMama

    I can't wait to try this – perhaps on a vanilla tart?