Monday, 27 April 2015 | 27 comments

A simple rye bread for toasting

To say that our budget is a little tight right now is an understatement. More accurately, and perhaps more in the parlance of our modern era, we have enacted austerity measures. I am a reasonably thrifty person, but if you buy a house and throw a large wedding within the span of three months and aren’t broke, well, you probably aren’t doing it right. (Right?! Please comfort me.)

Being a person who cooks can be empowering during times like these, not only because cooking can be more pocketbook friendly than eating out, but because you likely already have some pantry staples and freezer something-or-others stowed away that you are only going to cook if necessity calls for it. You know what I’m talking about: the brick of leftover lentil stew that you froze in 2013 with good intentions, but looks so unappetizingly brown that you don’t really have the stomach to defrost it. Or the buckwheat groats that you bought because you have an Eastern European friend who claims that kasha varnishkes is somehow actually delicious (still open to being convinced; still have not cooked it). Canned water chestnuts (seemed like a good idea?). Ten pounds of dark rye flour (long story). That sort of thing. And so the gauntlet has been thrown: no grocery shopping unless absolutely necessary. Use what we have on hand.

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Monday, 26 January 2015 | 24 comments

Buttermilk tangelo scones

It’s that time of year again: bleak January, where I end up with my hands on some citrus and start feeling poetic about its life-giving brightness amidst the snow and the stupid ice that makes me slip and nearly fall on the way to the car every morning. (Truly, this happens every year (the citrus thing, not the slipping and almost falling): 2011. 2012. 2013. 2014.).

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Thursday, 5 September 2013 | 26 comments

Basil focaccia with summer tomatoes

We’ve rounded the corner into September, and I have that funny feeling in my belly, like I need to be sharpening my pencils or catching up on the list of summer reading. Even though all the little kiddos in town are back to school though, it is still summer, and we’re still getting a lot of tomatoes. Are you tuning out? Have I talked too much about tomatoes lately? Oh well.
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Thursday, 26 January 2012 | 19 comments

Cracked pepper skillet cornbread

A funny thing that DC-area people do is get together to watch political events, like election results coming in, or debates. (I didn’t realize this was not ordinary until recently.)Years ago, watching some election results roll in with my friend Del, it happened that a candidate that I loved won. We ran excitedly around my then-apartment, looking for something with which to celebrate. The only toast-able liquid was a bottle of gin.Guys, taking shots of gin is really just not a good idea, for a lot of reasons, but in this instance it was especially inappropriate because 1) it was bottom-shelf gin and 2) Del doesn’t even like gin. But we were undeterred, convinced that we needed something to mark the event. I measured the gin into those tiny tumblers, and we tipped it back.And here’s the part I’ll never forget: Del, the trooper that she is, screwed up her face and shook her head a little bit. Then she opened her eyes and looked at me calmly. “Tastes like election day,” she said.
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Tuesday, 1 November 2011 | 4 comments

Pumpkin Day.

My friend Laura inaugurated a tradition last year when she held Pumpkin Day. It’s a simple idea. I bet you can figure out the point of her self-proclaimed holiday: pumpkins. The picking of, the scooping the goop out of, the cooking of, the baking of…all of it. When I say “Pumpkin Day,” many people mistakenly think that I am referring to Halloween. This is not the case. On Pumpkin Day, pumpkins are the main event, rather than the vehicle for mood lighting. It is a lot of pumpkin-ing. It may deserve an exclamation point (which I use very, very sparingly). Pumpkin Day! That’s better.I wasn’t able to be present at last year’s Pumpkin Day. Had I known the extent to which I’d be hearing about the homemade pumpkin pasta in the year that followed, I would have flown from Tanzania just to preempt the sadness that would set in whenever my friends started to reminisce about it. Fresh pasta. Filled with cheese and pumpkin. Tossed in sage butter. It is possibly worth the plane ticket.Luckily for me, Pumpkin Day rolled around this year too, with an even bigger group of friends and a similar pasta-making agenda. Pumpkin Day, although sort of silly-fun in some ways, is a brilliant idea in that it gathers a bunch of people to explore and enjoy one particular veggie or fruit. We don’t often get the chance to do this. It’s also one of those good ideas that’s so good it’s dangerous, as now I’m scheming on how to ensure there are Strawberry, Tomato, Fig, and Garlic Days in my future. In the end, I’m just really happy I have the type of folks in my life who think it’s worth an entire Saturday to sit around a table and get their hands dirty, together.

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