For a while I had a spin teacher who ended every class imploring his students to spend a second being grateful that they were healthy enough to exercise. That seems right to me. I love to jog. I like the feel of the sun on my shoulders and the wind in my hair. Once I’ve gotten oven my initial laziness, I feel glad and grateful whenever I hit the pavement. That said, I also harbor no illusions about being an athlete. I’m clumsy and not light on my feet. But that’s why jogging is so great. You can just do it your way. Any way that happens to be.Read More
Every day I confront a pressing moral dilemma. The good and evil parts of my personality are fighting it out, and I’m really not sure which side is going to win. My predicament involves fresh strawberries, a friendly church, and potential jail time.Read More
Joyce Carol Oates said that “getting a first draft finished is like pushing a peanut with your nose across a very dirty floor.” What a great analogy. My first cookbook draft and whatever masterpiece Joyce Carol Oates was referring to may not have much in common, but I can relate to her sentiment. Lately I’ve been getting a mouth full of dust bunnies on my quest to push the peanut. I write every day. I cook almost every day. But every day I wonder if the things I’m creating are good enough. I guess that’s all a part of the process.Read More
You know that thing where as soon as you schedule a haircut, your hair starts to look extra luxurious? It’s just one good hair day after another, right up until your appointment, and you start to question the impulse that brought you to the salon in the first place. I’m having that problem with New York City.Read More
Did you know that rhubarb grows in Sri Lanka? Neither did I. I don’t know why that's surprising to me. According to the Internet, rhubarb is probably native to Mongolia or Siberia. So if it travelled all the way to the US, why couldn’t it travel to Sri Lanka, which is pretty close, relatively speaking. But it’s kind of fascinating. Imagine the diverse landscapes of Siberia, Sri Lanka, and Maine, for example. Rhubarb can make it’s home in all of those places. She's just that adaptable.Read More
Last week: pudding. This week: brownies. Are you getting the theme here? Yes. Chocolate. But that’s not what I’m referring to. I’m making things simple. Making it cozy. Baking it easy. Brownies. That’s about the speed I’m at right about now. I don’t know about you, but my mind is cluttered. I’ve got a lot weighing on my brain these days. Brownies take the edge off. Lots of brownies. (Thank goodness I’ve also picked up my running shoes after a much-too-long-post-ankle-surgery hiatus.)
So brownies. Everyone has a different opinion on what makes the perfect pan. Chewy. Cakey. Fudgy. What have you. I like mine from a box. Always have. Always will. But I wonder if that makes the best sense.Read More
My former colleague/current friend Merritt emailed me with a snippet from her dream life the other day. Not her dreamy and beautiful existence in San Francisco but an actual dream. Apparently, in her dreams, my current morning routine involves at least ten minutes of combing my eyebrows with a rusty old dime. Yes. That sounds about right.Read More
Do you remember the first time you tasted biscotti? Do you remember what ran through your mind? Perhaps it was something along the lines of, “This stupid cookie stick is stale. Rude.” That was my first reaction. But then again, I was just a kid. I didn’t know that biscotti are supposed to be hard. I didn’t know anything about drinking coffee. And I didn’t know that the singular of biscotti is biscotto. I’ve come a long way.Read More
I recently fell asleep at the movies. I think I've entered a new stage of life. The I’m-perfectly-rested-but-now-I’m-old-so-if-I get-too-comfortable-I’m-going-to-pass-out stage. Strange. I didn’t feel the transition.Read More
The other day my husband looked at my Instagram feed and told me that everything looked brown. Don’t I know it? The winter is darn long. Tan. What do you expect? Now is the time for chocolate, caramel, coffee etc. Brown flavors. Delicious flavors but monochromatic nonetheless. While I’ll always be a big fan of chocolate, right about now I'm really missing all the other colors of the rainbow.
Remember peaches? Think back on blueberries. Can we talk about rhubarb? I know I should really be getting into winter-loving citrus. I’m working on a kumquat recipe as we speak. We’ll get to citrus. But right now I just want to think about summer cherries.Read More
Mmm. Cookies. Buttery, fruity, nutty cookies. Bejeweled cookes. Perfect for curling up with a book cookies. (Truth be told, I like all my food with a side of book.)
If you’d like to know a little bit more about these shortbread delights (including how to make them) pop over to Big Girls, Small Kitchen where I’m guest posting today. The lovely Cara Eisenpress asked me to share a sweet treat with her readers and I couldn’t resist. Cross blog pollination. It’s a wonderful thing and I’m touched to have been invited to partake.Read More
I want to tell you about my mom-in-law Deborah’s orange buns. 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
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
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.
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