Thursday, 5 September 2013 | 24 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.

Friday, 2 September 2011 | 7 comments

Rustic harvest bread with merlot grapes

I always forget how perfectly sequenced the winding-down of summer is. Two weeks ago I was at the beach, grains of sand and damp curls sticking to sweaty temples. A week later, the weather settled into a breezy warmth. Now, the little hairs on my arms prickle into goosebumps when I step out the door in the morning. “Autumn is stretching her legs,” Ben likes to say. Images and feelings that I had shut away in my head in mid-April flood back: cool, dewy mornings; knitted woolly things; damp leaves. Scarves. Hot soup and apples. Boots! For the first time in months, I can unpack these ideas without the immediate sensation that they’re otherworldly. They seem possible, even. » Click to read more

Thursday, 5 May 2011 | 10 comments

Back-to-basics boule

A few years ago, Louise discovered no-knead bread and our lives were never the same. If this sounds dramatic, then clearly you’ve never been to a party we’ve co-hosted. We bake bread in a sneaky effort to get someone to comment positively on it—and then proselytize bread-baking to anyone that we can get to sit still for a few seconds. (It works best if we strategically serve the bread after guests have had a few glasses of wine first.)

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