Arugula and delicata salad

January 22, 2013 § 22 Comments

arugula delicata salad 1

Right at this moment, it is 20 below zero outside.  The windchill is -43F, and the high today is a balmy -4.

In other words, it is January in Minnesota.  And while this kind of weather does make you vaguely wonder how life can exist here, it is also pretty great – after the thaw we had two weeks ago – to feel like we’re getting a spot of normal weather.

delicata half moons

In case you don’t live in such a frigid place, here are some things to know about this type of weather:

Yes, there is still a palpable difference between temperatures when you get lower than 32F.  Sure, it all feels freezing, but not at all the same level of freezing.  5 degrees above feels downright vernal after a spell of -15.  When it’s around 10 or 15 below, salt actually stops working to melt ice.  It’s kind of funny.  When it gets really, really cold you can toss a cupful of water up in the air, and it will freeze before it makes it back down to the earth.

The best way to respond is to go outside in spite of the cold, just be sure all of your skin is covered and that everything you’re wearing is thick and wooly.  Then, make some type of remark to everyone you meet about how arctic explorers would be overjoyed to have such a pleasantly warm day.

On a related note, you must learn to recognize everyone by their hats and puffy coats because you can’t really see faces.  You need boots that are in a whole different league, preferably made of moose skin.  The long fur coats you inherited from your grandmother stop looking like a politically incorrect bit of fashion history and instead look like an extremely reasonable and adaptive way of dressing. « Read the rest of this entry »

The “honeycrisp” cocktail

January 17, 2013 § 14 Comments

honeycrisp cocktail 1

A cocktail seems only appropriate given I still have dried whiskey grain schmutz on my shoes (epic pump disaster people, epic!) and smell like a fermenting tank from our five days of working out at the Bainbridge Distillery.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not so very coincidentally, this particular cocktail came out of our last trip to Seattle.

maple syrup spoonpouring rye shot

« Read the rest of this entry »

An everlasting batch of yogurt

January 14, 2013 § 2 Comments

yogurt marinated salmon

We’re off another work trip – turns out that on your way to being rooted in a place you sometimes have to do a good bit of traveling (as my mother pointed out, “you’re on an adventure, and no good adventure happens without a long voyage or two”).  We’re back in Seattle to get trained on some of our specific equipment for the new distillery, and to bring the equipment back with us.(!!!!!)

So, training by day, dissertating by night, and not a lot of time in between for cooking or writing.

However, I have something else fun for you.  Something I’m quite excited about.

My clever friends at Food52 started a new column a couple months ago, and I am hopelessly in love with it.  It’s called halfway to dinner, and the idea behind it is something that I believe in so strongly it makes me want to pump my fist in the air, or some other such psyched up behavior.  The idea (the same as that underlying Tamar Adler’s brilliant book An Everlasting Meal – if you haven’t read it, do.  Amazing.  Inspiring.  And more.) is that if you cook one thing, the leftovers of that thing can bleed into the next meal, and the remainders of that one into the next, and that if you have a few everyday ingredients around and just a bit of creativity, you can usually put together something wonderful for dinner, or even stretch it into dinners for a week.

I wrote and photographed the column for them for this week, stretching a batch of plain yogurt into six different meals.  So, I hope you’ll go over and check it out for a bit of dinner inspiration from yogurt marinated salmon, to Turkish yogurt soup, to yogurt dumplings.  And, of course, check out the other examples by other great cooks while you’re there.

yogurt soup

Vanilla Nut Granola

January 9, 2013 § 15 Comments

nutty granola jar

How are we already more than a week into January?  Can someone please explain to me how that happened?

Around mid-November through mid-December I was so happy because I’d really found a rhythm, a productive and interesting but soothing rhythm, to my days.  I was finally comfortable enough to put 2012 into cruise control and start admiring the scenery.

Then 2013 came barging in and it totally threw off my groove.  The toddler-like newness of the year must be contagious because I’m stumbling about a bit trying to regain my stride.  I suppose I should respect the newness and not try so hard for broad, efficient striding at all.

nutty granola bowl 1

Transitions, good or bad, they’re always a little tricky and tiring.  Not the least of the reasons for which being that the crack in the earth is open and naughty daemons are wandering around making mischief in our lives and of our immune systems.  (Especially our immune systems!  Sniff, wheeze, cough.  More chicken soup please.)

But, the threshold has been crossed, and once you’re over you can look back, but you can’t go back.  Not with any amount of kicking or screaming or clinging to the doorframe.  What’s back there has been digested (hopefully well) and given strength to now, and now off we go to the next now and onward! « Read the rest of this entry »

Creamy “pumpkin” soup

January 2, 2013 § 35 Comments

pumpkin soup 1

Happy, happy New Year to you all!  Did you ring in the New Year in style?

I know we did.  Much more stylishly than we really are, in fact.  But if the holidays aren’t a time to up your style game, when is, right?

Perhaps it’s the crash after the high of holiday activity, perhaps it’s that the New Year always makes me nearly as nostalgic as October does, but I’m now left feeling quietly morose.  “Another year,” a voice somewhere inside of me sighs, “another year, and I still don’t understand.”

onion skins

So I’m sitting in our living room now, which feels dark as the Christmas twinkle lights have all been put back into boxes, wondering to myself, ‘understand what?  What do I so yearn to understand?’

The answer, I’m sorry to say, is anything and everything, as far as I can tell.  The answer is Life.

Day by day life happens, intermittently glorious and terrible, and I don’t understand any of it.  At all.  Not a bit.

I’m suddenly remembering a quote my mother told to me earlier this year (I’m not entirely sure of its origin), “this thing of which we speak cannot be found by seeking.  But only seekers will find it.”

I don’t entirely understand the quote either, but it speaks to me about life and meaning on a level separate from understanding.  I feel somehow like that’s it.  Like maybe trying to understand won’t get you anywhere.  Life just is, it isn’t an entity to be dissected and understood.  You have to get out of your own way, but at the same time seek and make that daily effort to get out of your own way. « Read the rest of this entry »

Winter vegetable fattoush

December 29, 2012 § 30 Comments

fattoush winter vegetables 1

Hello there!  ‘Tis really and truly the season, isn’t it?

I feel as though it’s been days since I’ve gotten to bed at a reasonable hour, drunk anything that didn’t come from a just uncorked bottle, or eaten a meal that didn’t end with cookies.

And it isn’t even New Year’s yet!

Which is terrifically fun.  Obviously.  Though is it horribly dull of me to say I’m ready to get back to our quieter everyday routine?   What can I say, I’m a cancer.  Home and hearth is where my heart is.

Plus, I’m looking forward to putting my shiny new Christmas gifts to use!

My family tried (and semi-succeeded) in going mildly minimal on gifting this year.  That is to say, we gave presents that were things people needed (socks!  Oh my gosh, I love socks!  And I’m not even saying that in a sarcastic voice.  I reeeeaally love getting socks as a present.  Somehow I always need them.) or that were really high quality and would earn their keep with use.

fattoush parsley « Read the rest of this entry »

Italian sausage burgers with garlicky spinach

December 21, 2012 § 17 Comments

sausage burgers 1

I imagine, if you are like me, what you need right now is not another cookie or another cup of punch.  What you need is the world’s quickest and easiest tasty dinner, so you can be well fed between the events, between all the time commitments demanded by crafting the elegant meals and trays of cookies required for the days that are the events, between the traditions that can’t be monkeyed with.

And on some days, you may want that meal to be something other than spaghetti.  Nothing against spaghetti.  I love spaghetti.  I went through a phase of hating it because I thought we ate if far too often during my childhood, but now I understand why we ate it so often.  I 110% understand why because now that I’m the one making dinner, we eat it just about as often, though usually with spaghetti squash these days rather than actual pasta.  But, even with that understanding, there are only so many days in a row one can stomach spaghetti.

Which is why these burgers are such a great find.  I’m pretty sure the idea came from Food & Wine, or else Bon Appetit.  It was one of the various food magazines that I was reading on one of my several recent work trips at any rate, and the idea stuck with me.

spinach leaves overhead « Read the rest of this entry »

Molasses spice cookies (grain free)

December 17, 2012 § 13 Comments

molassess cookie and milk

Life is really crazy right now, friends.  I honestly can’t quite keep up.  There’s holiday hustle, and major, major work bustle, and there are current events and insanity and life, really.  It just is crazy.

But in the midst of so much action, so much feeling, so much, I keep having these moments where my breath catches in my throat and I almost suffocate from the enormity of the sense that I am so blessed.  So, so blessed.  These stresses and worries are privileges, each a reminder.

The packages to be mailed, the gifts to be made, the notes to be sent show that I have people I love and who love me, wonderful, meaningful relationships to attend to.

The work to be done, the daunting decisions to be made, the worried conversations about scenario after scenario at all hours of the day mean that we have work, we are taking risks, we’re in a position to take risks, we have each other to talk to about it, and so much enthusiastic support from others that it’s almost absurd.

The emotions, oh the emotions, the tears of sadness and fury at the state of the world remind me that I care, that I’m able to care, and that I don’t have to be complacent.

molasses cookies

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Poached eggs with sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts

December 12, 2012 § 14 Comments

poached eggs sweets and brussels 1

I have a major breakfast thing people.  It’s pretty weird.

I mean, I knew I had a breakfast thing before – I’ve brought it up more than a few times, for example every time I mention breakfast – but I don’t think I knew knew.  If you know what I mean.  You know?

But now I know.  When I commandeered the whole breakfast-making procedure at my best friend in Boston’s house – where I was the guest, mind you – and started turning out frittatas with arugula and over easy eggs with a brown butter vinegar sizzle, that’s when I really knew.

poached eggs sweets and brussels 2

It may be Monday or Thursday, I may have a meeting at 8 am, but still I find myself compulsively fixing breakfast for myself and whomever else I can shake out of bed.  Plates of migas, fried eggs with kimchi and orange aioli, potato cakes with smoked salmon, honey-avocado lassis, fresh baked corn bread with homemade ricotta.  I may not be able to plan out my lunch, potentially not even dinner, but breakfast is likely to be a minor masterpiece.

I’d say it was a problem, if it weren’t so delicious! « Read the rest of this entry »

Roasted cauliflower with harissa cream

December 8, 2012 § 13 Comments

cauliflower harissa pom 1

I’m back.  Phew.

I think 3 1/2 days at a time is my new favorite way to be in Boston.  In 3 1/2 days I can cram in almost all my favorite things (friends! colleagues!  Bread products! Riding along the river on a classic Dutch commuter bike that is beautiful but also insanely heavy!) and avoid the majority of the things that drove me slightly batty when living there.

But now I’m back, and in my kitchen banging out some semblance of meals including, a) some very awesome homemade pasta with butter and anchovies last night, and b) cauliflower with harissa cream several times.  The latter (at least for the purposes of this conversation) is the more important by far.

homemade harissa

Perhaps you have not been waiting with bated breath for this cauliflower, but I have!

I’m not even sure why I love this cauliflower so very much.  I just do.  I love the dark, charred frill that develops on the edges of the golden roasted cauliflower florets.  I love how the minute pocks and crevices of the cauliflower make the perfect surface for catching the sauce.

I love how incomprehensibly soft and mellow the garlic cloves become, and the wrinkled skin the olives develop.  I love how they all work together, if you carefully assemble a forkful with one of each, and how they are equally delicious each on their own if you can’t be bothered with focused bite construction. « Read the rest of this entry »