Over the weekend, a friend asked me what I like best about my work here on the blog. My answer surprised me – I told her I love playing with the ingredients. Before I had editorial schedules and deadlines, this blog was my place to experiment. Over time, external forces and an internal drive have pushed me to be better, more professional. I also have less time – the sun’s always setting, the food’s always wilting, and the girls always, always want me to drop the camera and make them (another) snack. Photographing raw ingredients comes at the beginning – before the sun has begun to dip, before the final dish has been made, before the girls are home from school. This conversation made me realize that I missed playing with food, without pressure (both outward and self-imposed), and resolved to make more time for fun and invention. [Read more…]
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In the kitchen, my second great love was Indian food. The first was muffins from a box, a love born of the fact that they were something my seven year-old self could make without a grown-up’s help (that it was sweet was a bonus). After the thrill of muffins wore off, I moved on to trying to figure out Italian food and so-called hearty soup recipes dotted with undercooked bits of grain. For a long time after that, it was cans of pinto beans and boxed mac mostly. And then, Indian food.
Years ago now, there was a fire in our building in Brooklyn. Nothing serious, but even so, the city cut electricity and gas to the building for six weeks and our family (then consisting of me, Brian, a single daughter, and a very cute dog) moved into the Affinia Hotel on 7th Avenue, directly across the street from Madison Square Garden. In February. Save one beautiful snowstorm, our days in that hotel were bleak – walking the dog in Midtown and needing to go blocks to find even a tiny patch of earth, making the long trek to the foreign world of the Madison Square Park playground, cooking for three in the tiny kitchenette, and other catastrophes major and minor. We’d occasionally get back to Brooklyn, and coming out of the subway I’d always be stunned by all the light there. The low-rise buildings that made up the Brooklyn skyline (especially back then) left more room for the sky. Even though it was frigid out, I started to bring my sunglasses. [Read more…]
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There are lots of little ways to reclaim our kitchens, and those I relish most are the daily battles and small victories. One of my favorite kitchen triumphs is the MacGyver dinner. You know that one –– you realize you have nothing to eat for dinner: no plan, no protein, and hardly any time. But then, with a bit of ingenuity, or at least a nicely chopped onion and some olive oil, a good meal is suddenly underway. Home cooks know the braises we’ve planned or the pasta sauce that’s cooked all day will be delicious, but these surprise meals, these takeout near misses, these dinners that make use of all the odds and ends, are always the most gratifying. [Read more…]
Like many people out there – whether they are quietly stoking a fulfilling career in the industry or just trying to hold down a day job while creating a little something in the evenings, or both – I went to art school. For painting. Learning of my degree might lead a polite conversationalist to ask, “So, what do you do now?” This is usually followed by an explanation of what and how I write on the internet, which nearly always raises questions of varying levels of intrusiveness about whether these pursuits generate, you know, income?, then the equally inevitable reference to Julie and Julia, and finally my polite demurral that no, I don’t follow Julie’s career or writings so closely, but yes, of course I love Julia. [Read more…]
Yesterday we had our third March snowstorm. What was predicted to be a dusting, changed to an all day, several inches type of affair. And somehow, blessedly, school was not cancelled. With the house to myself, I spent the morning watching the snow fall and cooking up some spring comfort food (even if the weather begged to differ). [Read more…]
Brian contends that this blog is as much about the weather as it is about food. I could talk about weather for days, but I try not to indulge too often for fear I’ll bore you. These days though, the chill of winter is inescapable. (Except on the west coast, where it’s apparently summer?) But out here in the east, this winter weather feels right. I want to earn the spring and summer, to make the most of the contrasts and changing seasons. And earning it we are, with highs in the teens and lows in the single digits, we are all getting an education in cold.
All in all, it’s a very good time to have the oven on; twisting the knob is the first essential step for just about everything we make lately. But these cauliflower steaks are more than an excuse to warm things up, they’re also part of a plan. [Read more…]
As the days and weeks add up, as the fall seems to have gone from just beginning to full-on, I’m feeling a little stunned. I’ve loved every minute of the mild early fall weather. Now that things have edged colder, and I find myself a little bewildered even thinking of coats. But, the occasional blast from the heater, my withered garden, and all these pumpkins seem to point to the inevitable. Soup weather, we meet again. [Read more…]
I think I have writer’s block? I’ve been staring at this screen for two days now trying to write about purple cauliflower, the most psychedelic of the cruciferous vegetables (Ok, except for Romanesco broccoli). To break through the block, I decided to listen to Foxygen, but then just cut to the chase and went straight to Donovan. “There is a Mountain” seems to have cleared things up for me nicely. I mean, the mountains, Juanita, the caterpillar, what else is there? Purple cauliflower. [Read more…]
The main way a windy New York day differs from days in other places I’ve lived is in the amount of debris blowing down the street. In Virginia a windy day might have meant some blowing leaves and a few papers, but here, the walls of buildings channel the wind into something powerful enough to really pull up all sorts of things from who knows where and I’ve seen large plastic sheets, advertising circulars, trashcans and their contents all tumbling down the street. I once saw a pair of couch cushions blow by our building like tumbleweeds. It can be a little frightening if you’re out in it, especially if you’re walking by a construction site (which is every other lot in our neighborhood), but looking out the window, it’s easy to imagine everything old is being blown away and you’re getting a fresh start. [Read more…]