Saturday, 8 November 2014 | 37 comments

Bonfire night

“Moreover to light a fire is the instinctive and resistant act of man when, at the winter ingress, the curfew is sounded throughout Nature. It indicates a spontaneous, Promethean rebelliousness against the fiat that this recurrent season shall bring foul times, cold darkness, misery and death.”
—Thomas Hardy

It’s difficult to explain about the bonfires. It started five years ago, right about the time I returned from living in Tanzania, just a few months before I created this site. Most people know about Guy Fawkes Day from the movie V for Vendetta. If this is your only acquaintance with the day, you probably picture eerie masks and explosions.

If you don’t know anything about Guy Fawkes Day, here’s your primer: on November 5th, 1605, a group of Catholic extremists in England tried to blow up the House of Lords and kill King James I. They were thwarted, and a man named Guy Fawkes was arrested. People lit a bunch of bonfires to celebrate and hated on Catholics. Like everything in England from Henry VIII on, it was about Catholics versus Protestants. Bonfire Night (a.k.a. “Gunpowder Treason Night”) caught on.

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Monday, 20 October 2014 | 17 comments

Sweet & sour delicata squash

We’ve been keeping busy. Lots of early mornings, driving from trains to winery to long days in the office, and late nights. I haven’t had my hands on as much good fall seasonal stuff as I would have liked this year. There will be no cutesy photos of the chickens milling about some decorative pumpkins. As usual, I thought I would plant a fall garden two months ago. Ha. I’m learning big lessons about this, about how some seasons I really get to dig in to the good things, and some I just suck it up, keep my head down, and pay the bills.

Ben picked me up from a late train home the other day with two hot pizzas in the backseat. Do you know how good that feels? What a guy.
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Tuesday, 7 October 2014 | 25 comments

David Tanis’s lentil & sausage cassoulet

Sometimes the recipes that are real workhorses in our household evade documentation here. I discovered this dish early in 2013, when it was still frigid February, and in subsequent cold seasons have made it (or a variation on it) more times than I can count. By the time I realized, this year, it was such a keeper that I had to write about it, it was spring. And writing about warming things like braised lentils is anathema when there are green things sprouting. Now, though, there’s a chill in the air again. This recipe has bided its time.

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Monday, 8 September 2014 | 23 comments

Chickpea & barley salad with toasted spice vinaigrette. Also, the Internet.

In the wide world of the Internet, it’s easy to get cynical about how rapidly and easily ideas are repackaged, reposted, and reshared, ad infinitum. You could say this about serious subjects, like news coverage, or about less serious subjects, like celebrity gossip. You could also say it about food-related content. Take, for instance, the phenomenon of what I call the “wedding salad” (because nearly every catered salad you’re served at a wedding is a variation on this). It consists of spinach/arugula, goat cheese/feta, dried cherries/cranberries, nuts (sometimes candied), and a vinaigrette. The wedding salad is omnipresent, and for good reason: it is delicious and time-tested. It’s hard to mess up. But the public does not need four million recipes for this salad. Moreover, I worry that all the recipes detailing minor variations on this wedding salad esotericize* something that should be simple. In other words, maybe the recipe should really be: Here is how you make a salad. A nice template for a salad is a tender green + a soft cheese + something sweet + something crunchy + something acidic.

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Thursday, 14 August 2014 | 25 comments

5-ingredient lemon honey macaroons

Nicole Spiridakis‘s Flourless arrived on my doorstep at just the right time. » Click to read more

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