Vær så god: Toad in the hole with kale salad

April 15, 2013 § 30 Comments

toad in hole 1

I wrote this post yesterday, before the horrifying explosions in Boston, and I’m posting it anyway as it is, but I cannot not start by saying that my heart is sobbing for Boston.  For the past seven years until this year, every marathon Monday I have either been cheering near the finish or running the marathon, and so many people I care for were nearby today, though they are all safe as far as I have been able to discover.  The Boston Marathon is such a joyful pageant, a show of camaraderie and of the amazing strength of the human body.  It is tragic, it is unbearable as always, to see such goodness attacked.  That’s the very essence of an act of terrorism, I guess, to attack something good and meaningful to try to frighten people out of participating in the goodness life has to offer.  I often don’t actually feel strong enough to keep hoping and living joyfully in the face of such uncertainty, pain, and cruelty.  I am overcome with sorrow.  I pray for strength for Boston, and for all of us.

I’m in the process of working on a redesign of this site (and it will in a couple weeks be moved, finally, to fiveandspice.com, woohoo!).  And when I say I’m working on it, I really mean that the wonderful and talented Melissa and Erin of Wooden Spoons Kitchen are doing the heavy lifting, and I’m pelting them with questions and thoughts, and they’re helping me and making sense of it all admirably.  I can’t wait until it’s ready and you all can see it!

In the redesign process, I’ve had to spend a lot of time thinking about what this site is about and what makes it unique, while also spending lots of time looking at other beautiful blogs to guide the redesign and show what I like and don’t like in a look, and voice, and so on.  This, I’m sorry to say, sent me into a nice little bout of comparison, which is a worthless way to spend your time.  Comparison is the thief of creativity, and yet is nonetheless something that I am horribly prone to.  When I go down the road of comparison, I forget that I exist as anything except as how I stack myself up against others (and I never ever stack myself favorably).

toad in hole dry ingredients

There are so many cooking blogs, I wailed to myself.  So many are so gorgeous, clever, unique, thoughtful, creative, have well-tested recipes. What am I even doing trying to participate?  Am I just adding to the clutter of an already crowded space?  Just adding noise to the din of the argument about what and how we should eat?  I’ll never be the best (wah)!  What’s the point?

I worked myself into quite a sad, sorry state of worthlessness.  And then of course I ran into some nicely lettered quote on pinterest that said something like, “The forest would be a quiet place if only the very best songbirds sang.”  Which was totally annoying to see in that moment because I wanted nothing to do with sage advice, or with the truth, or with being reasonable at all.  I didn’t want to be an adult!  I wanted to wallow!!!!  I wanted to fester, to poke at my (self-inflicted) bruise!

And then I had to laugh at myself.  Because as soon as I could admit that my ego really just wanted to throw my own little pity party with me as guest of honor, I could see the pointlessness of that behavior, and how utterly true that “annoying” quote was.  We exist totally separately from how we compare to others.  We each exist in our own remarkable uniqueness.  We each have our own voice, and adding that voice to the chorus, if we are singing true, will never be adding clutter. « Read the rest of this entry »

Vanilla bean scones and lemon-tangerine curd

February 1, 2013 § 19 Comments

lemon tangerine curd scone overhead

So, a couple of weeks ago I had this whole plan in my mind wherein I was not going to make or eat any sweets until Valentine’s Day.  Not because of any January, ascetic, resolution-y type of reason.  I steer clear of food resolutions in general, and cleanses peeve me.  They rub me the wrong way, I guess because I feel like they’re a reflection of our national dysfunctional relationship with food.  I know they’re not trying to, but to me they send the message, “you can shove whatever you want into your body without paying attention all year long as long as you spend 2 weeks in January consuming nothing but juiced vegetables and wheatgrass,” or whatever.  Which you can’t.  You should eat cleanly all the time, and it should and can be incredibly enjoyable, and then also leave room for some good clean fun here and there (like nachos, hehe).

citrus curd whisk

Anyhow, pardon the brief tirade, that’s neither here nor there because the real reason that I was going to forego all sweets for any number of weeks was to create a giant buildup to a Valentine’s Day treat to end all Valentine’s Day treats. In spite of my usual relaxed attitude toward the holiday of love, this year, for whatever reason, it struck me as a fun idea to use it as an excuse to make something billowing, and chocolatey, and gooey, and basically hopelessly, ridiculously rich.

And, I suppose I still may, but a couple of things conspired against me in the last few days to send my plans into a tailspin.  First, my dear husband told me that he was going to be out of town on Valentine’s and the surrounding days for a consulting project he’s working on.  Insert sad face, but that hitch could be overcome by postponing our Valentine’s celebration until he returned.  But the second problem is, I lost my taste for chocolate.

I know:  What???!!!  Right?  It’s completely ridiculous.  Who goes from being a devotee of chocolate in all its most intense forms, mousse, sorbet, midnight dark bars, dense flourless cakes, to being slightly put off by the very thought of it?  Who????  Sadly, me.

citrus peels from curd « Read the rest of this entry »

Cornmeal peach scones and something of a manifesto

August 1, 2012 § 45 Comments

Ok guys, hold onto your hats because this one came out a little unbidden.  In trying to talk about our big plans for what we’re doing next (soon!), I couldn’t help but go into some of the background thinking behind these plans, and it turned into something of a manifesto.  Now, I may be a philosophizer and a wax eloquenter, but I’m not usually one to write a manifesto.  A manifesto will nearly always rub at least someone the wrong way, and I have in general lived my life bending over backwards to try never to rub anyone the wrong way, to please everyone, to be safe.  

But I’m finally, finally starting to realize that it’s not worth it.  Not if it means you sacrifice the truth.  The tag line of this blog is “fitting real food into real life,” and, well, it wouldn’t be real life if I didn’t speak about my truths.  So, it may have turned out to be a bit manifesto-y, but hey! there’s a really good scone recipe waiting for you at the end (Seriously.  Really good.  Moist and tender on the inside with those perfectly crunchy golden edges that are the best part of a scone.).  Next time I’ll be back with a more normal, chirpy blog post, but for now, deep breath, here we go…

I brought these scones to a goodbye brunch at my office a few days ago.  We were celebrating and sending off three of our colleagues who are on to new things.  All three of them did great work and will truly be missed.  Though I wasn’t included in the goodbyes, it felt like the time for me to say goodbye to everyone as well.  We’re leaving.  We’re moving!

I’m not done with my dissertation yet.  Ha.  Quite the opposite.  What was once a wade through data up to my knees has become thrashing in data up over my head.  I’m doing a little egg beater kicking, a little elementary backstroke, working on finding the best way for me to swim through it.  But, it won’t be happening here.  Joel and I have decided we’re moving to Minnesota.  In less than a month.  Yikes!

We’ve been thinking and talking about it for a while now, and finally things conspired to remind us that these are our lives, and we need to live them in a way that is honest and real for us.  Now, I don’t mean anything against Boston at all.  It’s a really great city.  A great place.  But, it’s not our place.  And, in staying here, no matter how hard we try not to, neither of us can escape our programmed slide into the speedy rails of achievement orientation. « Read the rest of this entry »

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