I offer a simple premise: the holidays are a heavy time filled with chances to fail, or feel lonely, overwhelmed, or inadequate. When we strive for perfection, we can only lose. After barely making it through Halloween – going through all the motions of making costumes, carving pumpkins, and trick-or-treating – hoping all the while the girls didn’t notice our hearts weren’t in it, Brian and I realized we need to be vigilant for the upcoming holidays. Starting now, we’re protecting ourselves from anything but the most pressing obligations, the pressure of excess, and all the other things that take us away from the actual moments spent with those we love. You should too. [Read more…]
When you work for yourself, when a hobby turns into a job, it’s tough to measure success. And, where the internet is concerned, it’s nearly impossible.
My friend Kelly, the talented woman behind Design Crush, has an ongoing project to share a quote a day everyday this year. I must confess to kind of hating the typical quote sharing on the internet and can guarantee that I do not follow your inspiration board on Pinterest. (It’s not you, it’s me – if I never see the Keep Calm meme again it will be too soon.)
Kelly’s quotes are different. They move beyond the fluff and hint at the best quiet, focused, or selfish bits of driven people. They reveal truths, minus the saccharine. And occasionally, the smart words she shares stop me in my tracks. [Read more…]
For a while now, I’ve felt like the TV boyfriend checking his phone on a date –– like I’m not really present here. For one thing, moving to Virginia has changed me. I used to be positive that I wanted to live the homesteading life out here in the foothills of the Blue Ridge, but I’m slowly realizing this city girl might not be cut out for all that. There have also been some pretty major changes in routine –– no coffee shop around the corner for a latte before I start working and no chance of running down the block to pick up some thyme for the sauce I have bubbling on the stove. I’m bad at planning ahead. [Read more…]
Brooklyn Supper’s focus is on local, seasonal foods, but we’ve never been averse to seasonal foods that come from afar, especially in the winter. As east coasters, we have non-local foods on hand like coffee, chocolate, and lemons. And when it gets cold out, you can be sure we have pounds and pounds of oranges on the counter and a couple containers of dates in the fridge.
Date season peaks in the late fall, and so now is the time to get your hands on some if you haven’t already. Look for a box of delicate Medjool dates, which are almost overwhelmingly sweet. They’re sticky and yielding, with a hint of smokiness and a depth that’s surprising for fruit. After eating several straight out of the box, that intense sweet and smoky flavor got me thinking that dates would be an excellent addition to some boozy ice cream. I was totally right. [Read more…]
I spent Christmas Eve building a gingerbread house with my oldest daughter and it was an absolute joy. I made this gingerbread recipe, drew up my own plans, and went for it. Then, with the help of two containers of very cheap grocery store frosting and lots of candy, we constructed a pretty charming little cabin. I liked making this one with minimal planning, but already I can envision a future in competitive gingerbread house building. It fulfills my 9 year-old self’s dream of being an architect, except with frosting. So very much frosting. Then, I made a cheesecake for Christmas dinner. [Read more…]
One of my lesser New Year’s resolutions was to eat more cooked greens. For whatever reason (somewhere between an aversion to extra dishes and a hatred of soggy greens), I’ve never really cooked my greens. Until now. So far, I’ve blanched and sauteed, and without a soggy green in sight, I’m loving the results.
Last night I decided to rectify the situation.
Though the pickings at the farmer’s market were slim on Saturday, Brian managed to pick up some beautiful mushrooms, shitake and oyster. The oyster mushrooms were the inspiration for this hearty (and lucky?) winter stew made with sweet italian sausage, leeks, pinto beans, and oyster mushrooms. What can I say about this soup? It just hits the spot. A perfect simple dinner for a January night. The sausage is the predominant flavor, but the leeks and mushrooms really help to round things out. I love broth. I have a hard time not drinking it all before the soup is ready. If you eat dinner at my house a lot, don’t worry, I only do this if i the soup’s just for me. This broth is warm and buttery, complex in flavor and homey. I think you’re going to like it.
There is a lot of room for experimentation here, and really, it would be hard to go wrong. Play with the broth; I used dry vermouth, but you might like white wine, sherry, or cider vinegar. You should also play with the ingredients; Cannelloni beans, black-eyed peas, chopped collards or kale, shallots, scallions, or several cloves of whole garlic would be delicious.
*Historically, and because of my allergies, we have eaten pinto beans, sometimes with black-eyed peas on the side, and collards or kale. I am severely allergic to all nuts and beans (except pinto beans, navy beans, coconuts, and pine nuts) and break out in hives if I eat eggplant or rhubarb.
1 lb. sweet italian sausage, carefully sliced 1/4″ thick
1 leek thoroughly cleaned* and thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can of pinto beans, rinsed
1 1/2 cups oyster mushrooms, carefully cut free of large stem
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup dry vermouth
2 cups water
salt and pepper
In a large dutch oven or stockpot, brown sausage coins over medium heat, roughly 7 minutes. Then tilt the pot so excess fat can run to one end, carefully ladle it out. Throw in the leek and onion and saute until tender, add the garlic and stir. Increase heat to medium-high and pour in the vermouth, stir while it sizzles, roughly one minute. Add the stock, water, pepper, and beans; bring to a boil. When soup has reached a boil, stir and turn down to a simmer (look for a few delicate bubble streams, nothing more). Add the oyster mushrooms and continue to cook, uncovered, for at least an hour. After 45 minutes, check the soup and beans for saltiness and add to taste. Also check the liquid level and add water or stock as needed.
*As you may know, leeks are nearly impossible to clean. I usually pull the leaves down one by one and rinse the sand as I go. A more thorough option would be to the chop the leek and rinse in a colander.
Happy New Year.