Tuesday, April 30, 2013

dark and stormy

dark 'n stormy

I had my first Dark and Stormy when I was on my first (and only) vacation in Mustique with my then-boyfriend’s father’s family. It’s a gorgeous, lush island in the Caribbean, close to St. Vincent island, and it’s the kind of place where, unless you own a house there, you must rent one for an astronomical price. The house comes with staff who will wait on you, cook for you, tend to your every need. All you have to do is buy groceries and fly them over there. No big deal, right? Not if you like to live “like a [fill in the blank] raja” — my ex’s father’s words, not mine. At the time, I found the phrase to be funny, and he (the father) was always lovely to me.

Anyway, Mustique was kind of a surreal place, and our rental house, one of the swankiest on the island, opened to a kind of a panoramic view where you see so much of where water meets the sky that you see the horizon beginning to curve on the ends. It’s a simple thing, but it’s the kind of thing that never fails to take my breath away. That curve, that hazy glow of water meeting sky, when I think about it even now, I get a little light-headed. It was truly, breathtakingly gorgeous there. It was also the island where I got to stand, one foot away, from Mick Jagger while we waited out a quick shower on the beach.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

fregola sarda with peas, zucchini, feta, and almonds

fregola sarda with peas, zucchini, feta, and almonds

Funny how the first thing I write about post honeymoon isn’t some tropical drink or dish (though those are coming some time soon), but about pasta with a somewhat obscure name – fregola sarda. From Jamaica to Sardinia in one fell swoop. How’s that for globetrotting?

Fregola sarda’s name hints at its origins, the island of Sardinia (hence “sarda”). It’s sometimes spelled as fregula and even though it’s a little tricky to find, I can’t recommend it enough. Visually, it looks just like Israeli couscous, which you can certainly swap in its place, should its Sardinian cousin be difficult to find. The only difference that I can think of (and please correct me if I’m wrong) is that fregola sarda is toasted, which gives the pasta a lovely, nutty flavor, while Israeli couscous is not. Curious, I’ve tried toasting Israeli couscous and it makes for a decent close substitute.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

avocado toast and vegetable juice – using up produce before a trip

Breakfast. #nofilter

I wasn’t initially going to post this – after all, is avocado on toast or vegetable juice such novel ideas? But I started to think about how it’s probably not just me who is under the gun in trying to use all of the produce at home before going on a trip. Personally, I hate it when things go to waste, and inevitably, I do find an old bag of yellowing parsley in the back of the crisper. It happens to the best of us.

So what to do when you find yourself in a rather bountiful abundance of fruit and vegetables and only two days left to consume them? In my lack of proper planning, our crisper runneth over. Still. And we leave very early on Saturday morning. What to do?

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

carrot almond cake with ricotta cream

carrot almond cake with ricotta cream

Last week, I made this cake, and I think you should make it this week. Trust me, I think you’ll be glad you did. I bet there are a few carrots that are lounging around in your crisper – everyone does. I wanted to tell you more about it a few days ago, but things, here, have been a little busy. For one, we’re going on our honeymoon in a few days, and as all weeks leading up to a vacation go, this one is frenetic and busy.

Since we got back from Florida, you could find me doing either of the following two things: learning the ropes for this new part-time position I’ve accepted (it’s not food related, but I’m loving it and learning a ton), or reading Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy. The latter has also been quite a thrill; I’ve been reading it the way one reads a novel, page by page, recipe by recipe. It’s part cookbook, part botany lesson, part gardening companion. For the record, and sadly, I do not garden since we live in a 650-square-foot apartment, unless you count watering my five-year-old jade plant, Harold (named for a children’s book character) once every four days gardening, in which case, yes, I certainly do dabble in the practice. Harold is a succulent and as far as plants go, you can have a black thumb and not kill it. And given how hot our current apartment gets, not even a sun-loving basil can make it through the scorching summer.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

my favorite tuna salad

Working lunch. #nofilter

I get emails from time to time asking me what I, as someone who works from home mostly, eats for lunch. I can tell you this much: it’s not glamorous. Often, I’m so busy that I barely have time to toast a piece of bread and spread some peanut butter over it, and lots of recipes I test don’t a proper lunch make, unless you want to argue that cake, especially if it includes a vegetable or two, can be justified as lunch.

There have been times, I’ll admit, to heating up Trader Joe’s chana masala, and before you shake your DIY finger at me in judgement, I just would like to say: Trader Joe’s makes a mean chana masala. How? I don’t know, but they do.

Generally, it’s not uncommon for me to be reheating whatever dinner leftovers we have, and unlike my husband, I love leftovers. Of course, as a last resort (or an insanely strong banh mi craving), there’s always take out.

On days when I allow myself to take a wee break to compose my lunch, there’s a fun trip through the pantry. I’m generally good at cobbling together a decent lunch for myself when time allows. Today was one such day. And I decided to make myself my favorite tuna salad.

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Monday, April 1, 2013

jamaican banana bread

jamaican banana bread

Does the world need another recipe for banana bread? I highly doubt it, and yet here I am today, writing about it, right after talking about not wanting to throw the same thing (in slightly different giftwrap) your way. And yet, mere days later, I went ahead and did just the opposite – and I blame Jamaica, where my head is these days, for all this.

Why Jamaica of all places? Because that’s where we’re (finally) going on our honeymoon in about two weeks. Ten months into being married, we’re sneaking it in before our one-year anniversary. I am told that, technically, it’s no longer a honeymoon, but we’re calling it that, and go ahead to try and argue with us.

Wait a second, you’re probably thinking, “Didn’t you just get back from Florida? And now you’re going away, again??”

I know how this looks on paper: that all we do is fly to Florida and the Carribean, but normally, we’re so not the jet-setting type. But the way travel schedule worked out this year (especially when it came to visiting Andrew’s grandmother in Florida), it does seem like all we do is vacation in warm, sunny places replete with palm trees and swim-suit appropriate venues. I promise you this: we don’t.

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