Monday, 30 June 2014 | 35 comments

Herbed squash gratin

Sometimes life gives you lemons. Sometimes life gives you a behemoth summer squash on your doorstep.

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Wednesday, 11 June 2014 | 19 comments

Spring, in sum

I’m not really sure how this is possible, but between late-coming warmer temperatures and the impending solstice, I seem to have missed documenting an entire season here. It’s been muggy and very warm here, per the rules for Virginia-in-June, and I’d feel remiss if I didn’t write down a few notes before it’s full-blown summer.

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Sunday, 27 April 2014 | 45 comments

you ought to prize this

I was the lucky recipient of an unexpected windfall last weekend. Ben’s grandmother is in the process of moving out of her home of 50 years, and, in that sad-ish but grateful way, her son and daughters are kept busy divvying up the accumulated belongings that would otherwise become the casualties of downsizing.

My haul from this process was a yellowing envelope, cracked and brittle at the corners. Ben’s mom placed it in my hands, telling me, “I knew this was for you.”
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Thursday, 3 April 2014 | 57 comments

Chewy granola bars with pecans & figs,
breakfast confessions, & more

I am bad at breakfast. While it may be easy to assume that I, of the let’s-cook-dinner-every-single-night! ilk, eat a decent breakfast every morning, that would be incorrect. (Especially if by “incorrect”, you mean “resoundingly, totally not true”.) There are a lot of factors that culminate in me messing up breakfast, but the main one is this: I take a train into the city at an hour that makes most people cringe, and I’m just not that hungry when it is kind of-sort of STILL NIGHTTIME.

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Monday, 24 March 2014 | 28 comments

Good food/bad food

It’s no secret that I’m troubled by a lot of dictums that accompany food culture nowadays. I end up coming home from travel all keyed up about it, though. There’s nothing like a little perspective to show you how inadequate a lot of “food rules” are.

The party line of virtues that popular food rhetoric deems “good” includes food that is, among other things, locally produced, organic/sustainably grown, processed as little as possible, and/or homemade. Applying these concepts as a meterstick in other settings can make your head spin a bit. In Tanzania, I have found eggs at the market from Dubai, even though you can’t drive 50 feet without seeing someone’s “urban chicken”. In parts of Mozambique, refined white cane sugar is a local product. Some of the most famous coffee in the world is grown in Kenya or Indonesia, but you can’t get your hands on it in-country (although I think this is changing!). Most ex-pats in sub-Saharan Africa have housekeepers who double as cooks: this is “home cooking”, right? Does it still count, even though they aren’t doing the cooking (nor do they even necessarily know how to do it)?

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