Wednesday, August 27, 2014

baby burrito – a tiny announcement

This needed to happen today.

Hi.

I’m looking at the calendar — it says that it’s August 28, and my brain can’t process that. I could ask where the summer went, but it went by while I was working on two books – that’s where. Somewhere in there, I also landed a dream job, and now, like a kid before her first day of school, I’m full of anticipation, sharpened pencils and all. On Monday, I had a pre-work meeting with my boss and we talked about specific books and projects on the docket, and I walked away with a level of excitement somewhere in the eeeeeeee! stratosphere. I can’t wait to get started.

Over the last several weeks, I cooked a lot of different things from blogs, books, and magazines. Something to the tune of a dozen, and not a single one is worth mentioning here. They were solid recipes, but not anything I’d tell you to drop your planned dinner for or anything that I’d repeat – some had good potential but were only so-so in the end; others were lacking balance, like a touch of acid, or a light punch of heat. The last of these recipes, Butter Chicken, from the Sunday New York Times Magazine, was a solid recipe, but it needed (forthcoming) some major tweaking. I was promised a dish “astonishing in its richness and depths of flavor”, but in the end, it tasted a bit bland on my palate – rich in texture, but lacklusters overall – and I wanted more flavor, more intensity, something that would stop me in my tracks.

Stay tuned for that, I’m not done with this one yet. But if you do attempt your hand at it, do make it with ghee instead of butter – and use Heidi Swanson’s excellent primer.

My cooking plans for August, derailed as they were (I get easily distracted!), were dead simple: lobster rolls (check), lots of salads and eggplant caponata (check and check), Swedish cardamom buns (one unsatisfactory attempt to be continued when it’s not 90 degrees out), Dutch baby pancakes (I keep forgetting), and burrito bowls (check, again). On the whole, it’s safe to say that I’ve consumed more burritos (and burrito bowls) this summer alone than collectively in my entire life, and there’s a good reason for it besides the fact that burritos are supremely delicious and gratifying on their own. There was that one day when I had two burritos for lunch and one for dinner – and that was a very, very good day. (Also, if I am forced to count burrito bowls, then the estimates of burrito consumption are far higher…)

Which brings me to this next tiny announcement… I’ve never been good at these sorts of things, and I don’t like to beat around the bush. I’ve been known to bury the lede in the past; I don’t do it intentionally, so let’s just get right to it, shall we?

Continue reading baby burrito – a tiny announcement.

Friday, August 8, 2014

friday link love

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My month of loafing has been off to a non-loafing start. Let’s hope that after today loafing commences at full force, though I’m not so good at doing nothing, so knowing me, I’ll probably reorganize our hallway closet or something. Because I was busy tying up a few loose ends for one of the books, I was a bit preoccupied and didn’t read as much – hence the short list of links. At least I got to cook a fair amount this week – always a good thing – eggplant caponata, broccoli slaw, blackfish with olives and lemon, a black currant streusel cake I’m testing (still have a round or two left to tweak), lobster rolls, lots and lots of pesto to make good use of the most immense pile of basil I got at the market. I made lobster stock with the lobster carcasses – and now I’m thinking of ways to use it up. Lobster + corn risotto? Fancy seafood chowder? Any other ideas, friends?

I hope you have a great weekend ahead. We’re off to Home Depot – again. Hoping to finalize our balcony door solution – the frame, as well as the door, are rotted through and through – and we need to do something about it. Until next week. xx

Continue reading friday link love.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

mario batali’s eggplant caponata + some news!

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Folks, I have much to tell you, and I had hoped that August would be off to a slow start, but I was wrong. It’s been pretty busy and a few things here and there needed to be done for one of the books, so that’s kept me occupied. We had family visiting over the weekend, and by far, my personal highlight was going through The Food of Spain with my two-year old niece who was riveted. She fell completely and unabashedly in love with Angelita Carcia de Paredes Barreda (an 84-year old Franciscan nun) on page 214 and for twenty minutes straight we played the game of “Where’s the old lady?” She was also really taken by the fried goat cheese, but then again, who wouldn’t be? Fried goat cheese is stuff of the gods, right?

I don’t know why, and there’s no segue or connection to my news or to eggplant caponata I wanted to tell you about, but I’ve been thinking – a lot – about a really good high school friend of mine. When I say really good, she might have been one of the biggest influences in my life. She was fiercely smart – smarter than anyone I’ve ever met – and well educated. She spoke, and picked up, languages with great ease: Russian, Arabic, Farsi. She taught herself ancient Greek; she was fluent in Latin. She introduced me to authors and food; music and theatre – and she had a razor sharp wit. I always, always, looked up to her. She pulled me through some hairy situations and it was wonderful and lovely to spend our post high-school and college years in New York. She took me to a hole in the wall restaurant that served outstanding pasta alla carbonara, she extolled the virtues of cacio e pepe; and I still fondly recall our incredible meals at the now-shuttered, excellent, Cookies and Couscous that served, well, you get the idea. She was incredibly hard to get to know, but through our many years of friendship, there were moments when she’d open up. She was like a sister to me.

And then one day she stopped answering her phone. And then the number became disconnected.

Continue reading mario batali’s eggplant caponata + some news!.

Friday, August 1, 2014

wellfleet mini-vacation

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Hi friends, I don’t have any links for you today. None. Zilch. Nada. I spent a few days in Wellfleet on the Cape, finishing up two books and trying to squeeze in a little r&r in there too. There was a trip to the beach, a trip to the lake, a rainy trip to Provincetown where we ate at Canteen (terrific food, you ought to give it a try if you’re in the area!).

And yesterday, after working in my pj’s since five thirty in the morning, I submitted both books about twelve hours later. And then I took a shower and watched Law & Order SVU reruns until Andrew came home. At around eight thirty pm, I put my pj’s back on and read a book on US foreign policy, because this lady here knows how to party. And at nine thirty, it was lights out.

So what, if not links, do I have today? How about some images from the trip? That’s about all I’ve got, and I hope it’s okay with you. I need a good, solid weekend of rest, and I am really hoping that August will be my month of loafing. I’m pretty terrible at doing nothing, but I’d really like to have the opportunity to try.

A couple of places we really like in Wellfleet and Provincetown (this is just a short list):

  • The Canteen – Provincetown – great food all around and super friendly owner + staff! Andrew and I had lobster rolls that were very good.
  • The Nuthouse – Provincetown – serves excellent ice cream by Toscanini including my personal favorite Kulfi flavor.
  • Mac’s Shack – Wellfleet – I know any restaurant that serves x along with sushi is suspect, but Mac’s does it really well. Fresh fish, delicious food, excellent Wellfleet oysters, and great cocktails.
  • Box Lunch – Wellfleet – their John Alden sandwich (turkey, cranberry sauce, etc) is really terrific, along with other fantastic lunch options. Great to grab and head to the beach.

    Continue reading wellfleet mini-vacation.

  • Friday, July 25, 2014

    friday link love

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    Happy Friday, friends!

    I’m actually not the one witnessing this staggering landscape; my office faces the the back of some buildings and sits on top of our building’s garage roof. The picture above was taken by Andrew while hiking at the Rocky Mountain National Park yesterday – he’s spent the week in Boulder for work, and given these kinds of views, I can’t imagine he got much work done. I mean, would you? Look at that expanse!

    I, on the other hand, have been a shut-in, waking up at five to write and edit, edit and write. It’s an all-hands on deck kind of a race to the finish line, which, if you think about it, means just my two hands, since those two books due August 1 need my uninterrupted attention. So, what’s a girl to do but work nonstop through the week and make a last-minute decision to slink away to the Cape for a few days? Have I suddenly lost my mind? Shouldn’t the next few days be hermit-like, filled with toast, hard-cooked eggs, and tomato sandwiches?

    Yes – that might be the sensible thing to do, especially given the quality of tomatoes at our local farmers’ market (the very best I’ve had in awhile and certainly better than those at our last greenmarket!).

    However, what I really want to do, besides finish my books in a timely fashion, is to also see my two-year old niece, whom we haven’t seen in quite some time and who is going to be sojourning, with her parents of course, in bucolic Wellfleet. She’s quite a funny kid, and I feel that with us living in Brooklyn, and her family in DC, we miss a lot of the good stuff. Important stuff.

    Deadlines are important – there’s no denying it; but so are nieces and nephews who are growing up faster than the speed of light. Yesterday morning, after perhaps a bit too much coffee (my version of liquid courage), I decided that I could make the trip and meet all my deadlines. Let’s hope I’m as industrious as I’ve been while Andrew spent the week on a work trip in Boulder (lucky lucky guy).

    I skipped links last week in light of the sad news from the Ukraine and the heavy news coming from the Middle East; it didn’t feel right to post, and I wanted to take the time to process. I’ll be doing that a long time. I hung on to some of the links (sorry if they feel a bit stale) but only the ones I thought might be more or less evergreen.

    I hope you have a good weekend and week. I’ll be at it until August 1: editing and writing, writing and editing. Until I hit that “send” button on two separate emails, I’m singularly focused on getting things done. I have some more exciting things with you to share down the road – good things – but they need to wait. I’m hoping to an August that is calm, quiet, and still. xo, olga

    Continue reading friday link love.

    Friday, July 11, 2014

    friday link love

    Midmorning snack.

    Happy Friday, friends. It appears some cooler weather is coming our way – sounds crazy in July, but it seems like we might have a week or so when we’re actually comfortable outside. I’m all for it, but I do worry about what this means in the great scheme of things.

    My ice cream book with the wonderful folks from Van Leeuwen is due August 1. My copy edits for the book I wrote with Marc Murphy is also due August 1. How the gods have arranged such a schedule is a little beyond me, but now is no time pontificate – but to do. But(!) to make things more interesting, I’ve been battling what seems to be sciatica inflammation for the last two days. I’ve never had anything like it, and I can tell you the pain can be excruciating not to mention – distracting. I’ve a slew of possible treatments to consider – acupuncture is looking good, and my angel of an agent sent me her person’s contact info, so I think I’ll be making a call today.

    I skipped posting last Friday because it was Fourth of July and because I found myself (along with Andrew) in the depths of Home Depot researching balcony doors, door frames, house paint, in-wall a/c units (for those of you lucky enough to wind up with in-wall a/c, I feel your pain – incredibly high prices and virtually zero reviews to go on!). So these links might be a touch dated, and I hope you can forgive me. I’m trying to keep myself organized the best I can.

    Have a lovely weekend. I’m whipping a draft of the ice cream book into shape to send to the VL team for review July 15. Then copy-edits. Then more ice cream AND copy edits – all until August 1. And then I get to pass out for a day before I pick up with another project – fun! But please – rest up for me, I need to know people have a better work/life balance out there! xo, olga

    Continue reading friday link love.