I’ve had soup on my mind for a while. A few weeks back, I made and froze a batch of rich vegetable stock (made with the first yellow onions of the season from our CSA). Since then, I’ve been plotting. Though hot soups aren’t typical summer fare, there are plenty of great soup ingredients out there right now – young fennel bulbs, leeks, potatoes – and so I’ve abandoned tradition. To give things a more summery feel than a typical potato-leek soup, I’ve tweaked my standard recipe and riced the potatoes for a silky texture, added sliced fennel bulb and a big squeeze of lemon, and used milk instead of cream. Leek-y, light, and lemony, this soup’s good enough to make August soup lovers out of us all. [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…]
Last Saturday, we picked up our Christmas tree. Brian wanted to drive to the nice in-town place where we got a tree last year, but heading out to the country to chop down our own was very high on my things-to-do-now-that-we-don’t-live-Brooklyn wish list, and because he could see I had my heart set on it, we drove south to a tree farm. As we crossed the county line south of town, I realized that the “just over the river” place I’d picked was actually 30 miles past the river –– over winding backcountry roads of varying degrees of pavedness through the rain-soaked Virginia hills and forests shrouded in fog. We arrived, were given instructions by a kind older man with a very specific central Virginia accent that is best described as Southern meets Canadian. We set out to find our tree and after some slogging through wet fields selected a Norway spruce. Instead of chopping, Brian sawed it down with a dull hacksaw. After we carted it back, paid, and tied it to the car, we happily made our way home, stopping at our favorite rural pizza place (our favorite pizza in Virginia!) on the way back.
But in the backdrop of all this merriment, are a few stressors. [Read more…]
Home decor, especially kitchen appliances, can last a long time, so even though I was born after the heyday of burnt orange and pea green, the palette persisted well into my childhood. Even now, overly warm wood stains, yellow undertones, and dimly lit television shows all send me running for aesthetic cleansing. This may be why I have such difficulty embracing the hues of October. Besides the pervasive orange-ness of the season, to embrace all things squash or pumpkin is to admit defeat. For me, winter squash signals the end of the growing season, meaning everything from now until April is either a storage food or from someplace else. [Read more…]
Even on the busiest nights, we almost always serve up a family dinner –– in part because we believe in sitting down as a family and in part because it’s just easier to only cook once. It sounds so simple here on the screen, but in reality, finding a meal to suit the shifting tastes girls age 3 and 7 is not easy. Or at least, it wasn’t, until I realized the power of a good soup.
Like many of the best dishes, this one started with M.F.K. Fisher. I love the simple eating she advocates, and at the center of her frugal and delicious universe, is soup. [Read more…]
Last night at around 5:30pm here on the east coast, something magical happened. All at once, at the dinner table I looked up and noticed that it was still light outside. Instead of the pitch dark we had become accustomed to, there was a faintly pink sunset just wrapping up. I mentioned it to Brian and the girls, and we all agreed that spring might really be here soon. Later, a glance at my Instagram feed showed that others had noticed the pink glow, too.
Then today, a brief morning downpour greeted us as we left the house. The kind that makes everything smell like dirt. A spring rain. Once it had passed, I took a long walk. Suddenly, the warm sun was out, snow seemed to be melting in one giant gush, and the birds were chirping madly.
A week ago, I may have doubted it. But today, I tell you with total confidence that spring is coming. [Read more…]
My first Brooklyn apartment had a distant view of the Chrysler building. You had to climb out the kitchen window and stand on an adjacent roof to see it, but still it was there. Brian and I would sit out there in the evenings, filled with all the optimism that young love and any kind of view of the NYC skyline inspires, and dream our dreams. We planned to take the city by storm. We’d also talk about having kids and all the things we wanted for these potential humans. [Read more…]
Antoine-Auguste Parmentier, for whom potage Parmentier and a host of other potato dishes are named, is the rare agronomist whose life makes for an interesting read (George Washington Carver is another and after that I’ve got nothing.) While we now think of the potato as central to European peasant cuisine, that wasn’t the case in Parmentier’s time, prior to the French Revolution. An import from South America where it was a staple for the Indians of the Andes, the potato hadn’t caught on as human food in Europe and was thought to only to be edible only for animals. [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…]
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…]