Wednesday, 25 July 2012 | 104 comments

On dinner, work, & lifestyle

When I wrote this post awhile back, trying to celebrate home cooks, it resonated with some of you, rubbed some of you the wrong way, but all in all, generated some nice dialogue. Outside of the public comments, some readers emailed me with big questions. Questions about work-life balance, questions about how one manages a full-time non-blog, non-food job and a life of home cooking. Some of you even had questions about my schedule and shopping habits, which were simultaneously flattering in their sincere (and mistaken) belief that I cook every single meal and grow a huge proportion of my diet, and embarrassing in the humble truth of my responses.

My recent college grad sister (congratulations!) related an anecdote to me. She’s at the receiving end of all those post-college let’s-talk-about-real-life speeches, and was recently given one that she found a bit belittling. “The problem with your generation,” the speaker said, “is that they don’t know the value of a day’s hard work. The young people who work for me do their 40 hours and no more. You all want to have a lifestyle.”

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Monday, 5 December 2011 | 12 comments

Endive & gruyère flatbread

Most recent in the “I never stop learning” chapters of my life was getting schooled on the subtleties of endive. As it turns out, that which I know as “endive” is technically “Belgian endive”. Confusingly, “endive” can refer to what most people call “frisée” (the curly-leafed, spindly salad green) and also “escarole.” All of them—Belgian endive, frisée, escarole (also known as “broad-leaf endive”)—are in the chicory family, but are the leaves of chicory plants, not the roots (which is the chicory we might think of as a coffee substitute). All of this newfound endive knowledge was conferred onto me by a very zealous farmstand helper who must have had a lot of coffee to start off his day (caffeinated, not the chicory kind). I almost wished I hadn’t asked about the word “Belgian” on the sign. But the endive zealot finished his polemic with a fact that left me walking away feeling as if I had tucked a few treasures in my basket: there are only one or two commercial producers of Belgian endive in the U.S., so even in the grocery store, it is very rare to find a Belgian-style endive grown in the States. » Click to read more

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, 4 March 2011 | 2 comments

Pizza with red onions, spinach, & mushrooms

I’ve never been a huge pizza fan. I’m not really sure why–the main ingredients make up the majority of my diet: bread, veggies, and cheese. I think all of the greasy, gluey abominations out there—and living one memorable year in college with four boys who ate them often—ruined the idea of pizza for me. But in recent years, I’ve started to warm up to the idea of fresh, thinner-crust, neapolitan style pizza.

After reading Smitten Kitchen’s awesome post(s) about simple pizza in your own kitchen, I went home after work one day and made one for Ben and Chuck. It was good. Really good. But the crust wasn’t quite right. I resolved to try again, soon. And trying again became somewhat of an obsession, as the following night’s pizza was also really good…but what if I added lemon zest to the ricotta? and what if we used a honey & wine pizza dough recipe?

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