I want to tell you about my mom-in-law Deborah’s orange rolls. They’re deluxe. Pillowy soft, swirly, orange-scented dream rolls. Deborah doesn’t glaze them and I think that’s right on because they’re really perfect just how they are. Simple, orange-zested magic. They live in that land somewhere between breakfast and dessert and they rule the kingdom. Just decadent enough to feel like a treat but not so out of control that the indulgence becomes uncomfortable.Read More
“Where'd God go?” I wasn't having some type of existential crisis, or pondering the meaning of life. No, it was an honest question, and I expected an answer. I was six and a bit confused.
We were attending a Buddhist almsgiving at a friend's house. The prayers had ended and the feasting was about to begin. The priest who had been leading the ceremony had wandered out of the living room and out of my sight, and I wanted to know where he'd gone. I can't remember if I thought his name was God, or if I believed that He himself had decided to make a visit to Connecticut and lead us in prayer. The latter seems more likely.Read More
This tart is for my dad. It’s right up his alley. Come to think of it, it’s right up my alley as well. I am my father’s daughter after all.
My dad is a like a squirrel when it comes to nuts. He’s not storing up for a long winter ahead – although you wouldn’t know it. He cracks me up. When I go home to visit, I’m always rummaging around the kitchen cabinets for a snack. I could attack the chocolate drawer. (Yes, our house has a drawer dedicated solely to chocolate. It's always stocked. It's always dangerous.) But sometimes chocolate just won't do. So I turn to my dad's special cabinets. At first glance, you'll see a bunch of old Nescafe jars and maybe some big bottles of aspirin or Metamucil. If you don’t know my funny dad, you might just keep on looking for a snack thinking, "there's nothing here for me." But let me tell you, the man is sneaky. Tucked away in all those old plastic bottles are treasures. Nut treasures. Sweet. Salty. Roasted. What have you. It’s all there, hidden away behind the empty promises of supplemental fiber and pain relief.Read More
Generally speaking, my husband and I aren’t competitive. We’re big supporters of each other. When we jog together, Gus always runs at my pace, encouraging me along without complaint, even if that means he never breaks a sweat. But all of that changes in the kitchen. Near a stove, our ugly side tends to come out. It’s simple. We’re both sure that we’re the stronger cook. (The fact that I cook for a living doesn’t deter Gus one bit. Of course he’s wrong…but I sure do love his confidence. ) This year we decided to rebel against the spirit of generosity and community that usually accompanies the Thanksgiving season and settle the ongoing dispute with a little cookoff. Welcome to Cranberry Challenge 2013.Read More
Remember when people got fancy for travel? Not early-1900’s-voyages-on-grand-ocean-liners fancy. I'm thinking early-80's fancy. When we were kids, my family would get plenty gussied for a plane ride. I can remember pretty new dresses, shiny patent leather Mary Janes, and nicely brushed hair. Traveling was a pleasure and a privilege and my family dressed the part. Let me tell you, wearing tights on the 14-hour flight (plus layovers!) to Sri Lanka was a serious endeavor. They don't call them tights for nothing. My adult self can recognize the lunacy in the act, but the desire to dress nicely took over any consideration for comfort. I’m surprised that I could actually eat while flying (all that constriction!) but you know that I never missed a meal.Read More
I heard a rumor recently and it blew my mind. No, I'm not talking about Lady Gaga in space. (Although that's a good one.) It's food related dish. And it’s juicy. Quite literally. Three words. One incredible concept. Seedless. Concord. Grapes.
My friend Cate and I have a recurring food theme. Anyone who knows us would probably guess it's noodles. We have eaten our fair share of noodles together. I don’t know if that’s because Cate loves them as much as I do or she’s just dear enough to eat them with me whenever I beg. (Which is often.) When she and I travelled back to China after a trip to the beach in Thailand, sweet Cate agreed to go directly from the airport to my favorite Beijing noodle shop - before even popping home for a quick refresh. We ran straight from plane to cab, with all of our heavy luggage in tow, and zipped to this tiny hole-in-the-wall spot all because I was craving a noodle fix. (Thank goodness noodles are my only addiction.) I still can’t really believe she agreed to do that. Dear friend. I still can’t really believe I asked her to.Read More
Hooray for apple season! Perhaps you’ve already hopped over to your local orchard for some fantastic fall pick-your-own. If so, you probably have apple pie on the brain. Apple pies are beloved. There’s no doubt about that. This is America, after all. (Have you ever thought about why the saying is “American as apple pie” but cinnamon, the other significant ingredient, is native to a very special island all the way out in the Indian Ocean? Just a little food for thought.) Anyway, today I thought I’d take you out of your apple comfort zone. Give you a break from pie. Put apple crisp on hold. Let applesauce go on sabbatical. Today I implore you to make a new apple friend. Hello my name is…strudel!Read More
One day, on a visit to Sri Lanka in the 80's, my grandmother and I made a trip to town in a three-wheeler. After buying the spices and vegetables that she needed, grandmother took me to the sweet shop for a treat. I carefully weighed my options and then spent my saved rupees on some foil-wrapped toffees. You’d think I’d invested in golden bricks the way that I treasured them. When we got home, I gave everybody exactly one candy to cherish before I put the rest away for safekeeping. When I say safekeeping what I really mean is tied in a small baggie around my neck. That’s right. Just like some kind of candy-deprived maniac, I wore those toffees securely fastened around my little head. That’s how afraid I was that my precious sweets could be taken from me. Supposedly my mom has a picture of me fast asleep, candies safely secured at the end of a creepy string. Whoa. Whenever I hear this story, at the point at which I am the most ashamed of my ridiculous behavior, my sweet mom always chimes in with the fact that I did share them to begin with. As if that helps my case.Read More
How do you know when you have a true friend? When she brings you 6 cardboard boxes of macaroni and cheese from her family vacation in California. Twenty-five years later and I still remember that gift. Lin knew me so well. She knew that I didn’t want a silly California keychain, a useless stuffed animal, or a tee shirt that would be too big and certainly too scratchy. She understood me. Of course that’s what I would want as a souvenir from her trip (regardless of the fact that macaroni and cheese could be found easily in all fifty states). She knew that pasta would be her best idea for a gift and the thing that would make me beam the very brightest. But most importantly, she could be sure that every single box of rehydrated cheese covered noodles would be shared with her - the glorious feast at many a giggly sleepover to come. That’s best friendship at its finest.
“What are those things called? Crutters?” Oh. I wish. I’m pretty sure the woman in the elevator at work was asking her friend about Cronuts but I kept to myself. No one likes a know-it-all who wasn’t a part of the conversation in the first place. Do you think Cronuts, the croissant doughnut hybrid by Dominique Ansel, would be as popular if they were called Crutters? The thought made me giggle all the way down the hallway to my office and a little laugh is always a good way to start the day.Read More
Do you like mysterious grain of the Aztec? I love it! It makes a great lunch with some roasted veggies or a nice dinner with a piece of fish. And it’s super nutritious. Bonus! Wait, what’s that? You have no idea what mysterious grain of the Aztec is? Of course you do. It’s sooo hot right now.Oh, hold on! That’s right. You might not call it mysterious grain of the Aztec in your house. You probably think that sounds ridiculous. Normal people know it by its slightly more common name - quinoa. Mysterious grain of the Aztec is just what my family called it. Yup. If you were at our house in the 90's you might have heard someone say, “Hey, are you going to make any mysterious grain of the Aztec? Great! I’m hungry.”
What was your first job? I’m interested if you’re willing to share. First jobs are like windows into the soul. Wait. Nope. (I'm notoriously bad with idioms.) But they are usually entertaining insight into the past of the people you love. One of my husband’s first jobs was as the assistant manager of his local Electro Lux franchise. That illustrious title also earned him the responsibility of door-to-door vacuum sales. I think he was around 16. Can you please imagine buying a vacuum from a 16-year-old boy? How many teenage boys do you know who are experts at vacuuming? Hmm.Read More
About 30 years ago LeVar Burton ate a fig. I was just a chubby-cheeked kiddo watching Reading Rainbow but I remember it like it was yesterday. I had never seen a fig and I wanted one desperately. LeVar made them look so heavenly. Pretty purple. Jammy. Sweet. I longed to try one myself. Maybe while reading a book. Figs were so special. So unattainable. So mysterious. So lovely. I might have also had a little crush on LeVar.Read More
I have a dirty secret. I really love brownies from a mix. There. I said it. Don’t judge me too harshly. You know I really do like to bake things from scratch. I generally prefer homemade pie crusts and cookie doughs. But when the stand mixer is unplugged at home you'll find me in the baking aisle of the supermarket with my arms wrapped tightly around a box of Ghirardelli brownie mix. Maybe two. Especially when I’ve got a good friend to laugh with (I miss you, Jenny) and a couple of feel-good-foreign movies to watch. I would chose mix brownies over homemade any day. I know it’s a bit shameful for a baker but it’s the truth about me. Now you know.Read More
Oh man. It’s almost the end of the summer. Are you feeling it? I’m a little down about it. It’s not like as a working person sans children there is a big delineation between the summer and the rest of the year. But summer is just so darn magical. The light. The sky. The beach. And even if you don’t have a ton of vacation time you can have tons of ice cream. And ice cream feels like a vacation, right?Read More
We should talk about crêpe cakes. If you ask me, everyone should talk about crêpe cakes. Why aren’t more people talking about crêpe cakes? I think it’s because crêpe cakes are sneaky. They look boring from the top. Practically bland. There’s no swirly frosting or whipped cream to seduce you. And they’re tan. Just tan. You might look at a crêpe cake and want to walk on by. But I urge you to stop. Crêpe cakes have this seductive split personality that you’re going to want to explore. The crêpes are all proper, prim, and vanilla-scented lace. They’re ladylike and discreet. But between each crêpe is a layer of oozy, out of control, luscious custard that just wants to sneak out of its crêpe cage and give you a kiss. Together they’re just amazing. Not too sweet. Rich yet restrained. Simple and so tricky. A perfect dessert.Read More
Gus and I have made it one year! That sounds a little ridiculous to say, considering we’ve been together for years, but we just celebrated our one year wedding anniversary. Should I tell you all the things I’ve learned one year in? I have a lot of marriage wisdom. Just kidding. I don’t have any. This is our paper anniversary for goodness sakes. We’re highly flammable at this point.Read More
I’m not much of a drinker. Some might call me a cheap date. If you haven’t already guessed I would always prefer to chew my calories. That said, a few weeks ago a sesame-infused vodka crossed my path and I went for it! Alcohol that tastes like food is OK by me.Read More
Guess what? I found an exciting hybrid fruit at the market the other day. I know hybrid fruit doesn’t sound all that appetizing but Black Velvet Apricots might be worth some hype. Fruit has hype in my world. Have you heard of them? They're really something. I know - the name is just a little too sensual for an innocent piece of fruit, right? Maybe that's just because I can’t stop singing about that little boy’s smile while I bake.Read More