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Monday, November 10, 2014

on cooking + lentils with sausage and kale

IMG_5662

It’s 6am Sunday morning and the house is blissfully quiet. Andrew is still sleeping; and Forrest is doing that thing where he sits on various window sills of the apartment for long stretches of time watching the birds and the squirrels with the kind of rapt attention usually reserved for very important things. We call it “morning cat office hours”, because he takes his job very seriously. When the squirrels make it dangerously close to the window, you can see Forrest pacing back and forth behind the curtains, clearly unnerved by what he clearly believes is them taunting him.

I’m finally writing in our new-ish office where we hung the Elfa shelving from the Container Store. We didn’t need that expense making a dent in our bank account, but we had no choice. The home office is a tiny room hardly the size of a closet, and the way our desks were set up, things were piling up everywhere. To let the Container Store guy do its job (aka hang shelves in the home of two home-improvement illiterate Jews), we had to move all the furniture and detritus out, which of course, meant that we could no longer find things like staples and tape, notebooks and printing paper, post-its and paperclips, and most importantly – bills.

Saturday morning buckwheat waffle things.

Yesterday, was the first day we had of no plans, no extended stay visiting family or friends, no obligations, no books to edit (me), no breaking stories to cover (Andrew) – and I, in my crazy nesting stage, demanded we put our home office in order. The chaos of it all, loose papers everywhere, was clouding up my mind and affecting everything else; it was even making it hard to breathe. And that’s what we did pretty much all day. Five loads of laundry, a trip to the post office, and the organization of our home office. I made sour milk waffles for breakfast, the ones I tend to make the most around here given my inability to plan such things, and swapped in a third of buckwheat flour for the all-purpose. Andrew declared them even better than the original, and I think a new family favorite is born. At the end of the evening, we rewarded ourselves with some excellent Indian take-out which we ate while watching SNL reruns.

Outside of organizing the home office, not much happened. I vowed that today I’d make pie crust for Thanksgiving and the secret soup which I’m surprising our families with. We’re hosting again, but this time, our holiday will be a bit more modest given that I’m operating with a larger belly and am not making a dozen sides to go with our turkey. A handful will be plenty and good enough. Plus cooking ahead, in stages, is making it easier for me.

It’s been a funny thing cooking at home since I started work in September. I love my job, love the work, and I love each new challenge. I don’t so much love having to edit two books in addition to the job despite my love of both books. It’s hard: weeknights and weekends spent poring over books line by line, and being pregnant is a bit draining especially at night.

Rainy day granola - a short break from editing. Also, the slow-cooker has commenced its 2014-2015 season. If I have to stay cooped up and working, I might as well make the house smell amazing and cook a few hands-off things.

And I’ve had a harder time, than I’d expected, adjusting to the demands of working full-time in an office, the daily commute, plus dinner prep. If you had talked to me last month, I’d tell you that I’m kind of failing on the home cooking front. There’s been a lot of takeout and not a whole lot of cooking. But in the last month or so, I’ve come to be gentler on myself – I’m doing the best I can.

Curiously enough, there must be something in the air about cooking at home, because there’s been a flurry of articles and blog posts about it, with some pieces charged and maybe a touch incendiary, and others calmer and more neutral.

Cooking at home, especially for an adult who commutes daily to a full-time job, but most certainly for all, is another logistical piece of the time management puzzle. How often is often enough; how does one feel about nightly weeknight cooking; is there guilt involved when it’s not frequent enough (whatever “enough” means)?

Continue reading on cooking + lentils with sausage and kale.

Monday, December 6, 2010

chana masala

chana masala

As I write this, my heart is somewhere in Vermont, where Andrew and I spent Thanksgiving week with his family and friends in a cozy house replete with bananagrams, a thousand piece puzzle, naps, and snow. It was perfection and neither one of us wanted to return to New York where lately I’ve been feeling a beat or two behind. We ate, rested, laughed. We watched quite a bit of football. There was a mishap with a golf cart that got stuck on the field. And everything about our trip left us grateful for having amazing family and friends. We’d go back in a heartbeat.

This post took me a whole week to write. A whole week, people! A Sisyphean task! I’ve been writing distractedly lately, and it’s been really hard to get my mind focused and honed on this wee space here. There are changes in the air; changes I will write about more clearly soon, but they have been on my mind in a singular, all-consuming way.

Continue reading chana masala.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

braised peas with spring onions and lettuce

braised peas with scallions, onions and lemon

My goodness, where do I even start? Since I have posted last, so much transpired in that time. The markets have fallen a precipitous amount with yesterday’s capitulation being quite brutal for the S&P 500. The world is a different place now and it will be interesting to see where the chips will fall or where the bottom might be. But enough of that. This is, after all, a food blog. And you come here, not for my financial take on things, but hopefully, to find recipes for good food.

And yet, partly because I spend my days working in the financial industry and partly because what is happening right now is so big, it’s hard to extricate yourself completely from it, even if your industry is as far away from the markets as it gets. It has affected and continues to affect us all. The restaurants are emptier and it’s now easier to get a reservation at historically difficult to book places. My friends and I are cutting on going out, instead choosing to cook our meals. And as our jobs and our savings are in flux and on a southward spiral, we turn to foods of comfort and greater simplicity to fix some of the anxiety. I know I’ve been eating more mashed potatoes lately – my food equivalent of a security blanket.

porcini flavored salt mmmmmm

Well, this recipes here I have for you here is a doozie. It’s so perfect, I’m annoyed with myself for having taken nearly two weeks to write about it. It’s a triple threat of amazing, with everything you could possibly want in a meal at stressful juncture: easy to make, delicious and comforting, and extremely wallet-friendly. Oh and it feels luxurious too. The recipe comes from Jamie Oliver’s cookbook “Cook with Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook” – Jamie Oliver, is known to many as the Naked Chef – and I’ve been a longtime fan of his easy, delicious recipes. His premise is elementary – good food need not be complicated or elaborate – sometimes things taste best at their simplest.

Even better, the dish requires minimal counter space – something that came in truly handy because I was making it at the time when my kitchen cart, stood (for nearly 4 weeks!) half-assembled in my kitchen, with spare parts strewn around the rest of my apartment. It was impossible to truly cook or to truly live – I felt like I was dealing with an obstacle course – not a home. The kitchen cart, with its generous counter, also comes with a fold-out breakfast bar – which means more counter space – a lucky find for me!

kitchen cart with a fold out breakfast bar

This is the first recipe I have made from this book, but already, I’ve dog-eared many a page and can’t wait to give other recipes a go. And with my kitchen cart constructed and ready for use – I have no excuse not to cook anymore. All I need it a few more volunteers to drop in for dinner and I will be all set.

Continue reading braised peas with spring onions and lettuce.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

lima beans with tomatoes and onions

butter beans with green and yellow tomatoes

Sometimes I have this elaborate story to tell you about how this or that recipe came to me. And at other times, I don’t. I have cravings I cannot quite rationalize, I then will literally dream about the dish and the next day I must make it or hell will freeze over.

KS has by now learned not to argue with my cravings. Even at times when we have other food in the fridge practically going to waste – if I get that look in my eyes, all bets are off. It’s on occasions like these that I develop what he calls “food hands”. I’d be shoving a forkful of food in my mouth and hear him say under his breath, “Foodhands!!” For the readers scratching their heads over the term, imagine, if you will, preternatural hand speed made popular in the Matrix series, but focused on food consumption as opposed to hacking your enemy to bits. Food hands seem to say, “Come near me and my food, and scary things might happen to you.” Apparently, my diminutive stature is very deceiving when it comes to feeding myself.

my favorite beans

After our SC sojourn, I’ve been craving large lima beans, the kind you soak over night and cook for over an hour the next day. The kind that when expand are as big as well-sized almonds. They’re also often called butter beans, and in my lexicon they’re called “edible bliss”. They are indeed very buttery, earthy, filling and definitely satisfying. They’re my favorite bean in the whole wide world and I could probably eat them if not every day, then very often indeed.

And that’s about all on these beans. With the abundant and sinfully good tomatoes we have in season right now, these beans are simply heavenly. And with fall creeping up on us, they’re somewhat of a good segue into the season. A little earthy and yet when eaten cold the next day (that is if you have leftovers) – a little summery. Or if you want to puree them in a food processor and serve warm, drizzled with some good olive oil, they’re heavenly on crostini.

Of course, with a dish this good – you too could develop food hands. And then your loved ones might be in danger.

Continue reading lima beans with tomatoes and onions.

Friday, December 15, 2006

warm canneloni beans with olive oil

white bean salad

I get all confused when winter rolls around. Do I get excited over wearing sweaters, or do I sit around all mopey that we get three hours of daylight? Do I start making a list of all the stews and soups I can make or start a countdown to the springtime equinox? Being a creature of all things comfort-related, sweaters and food finally win out. Sure, I mope a little about how it’s cold and dark outside, but I mope while shoving a forkful of food into my mouth.

Last Friday, I invited a friend for dinner, but given my current job-seeking status, I spent the day running about without so much as having given a fleeting thought as to what I was going to feed my hungry, weekend-ready guest. I got home with only an hour to spare and had to think on my feet – fast. I had very little in my cupboards, and even less in the fridge. A can of cannelloni beans caught my eye. And thus a simple dish was born.

Whenever I am at an Italian restaurant, I always look for warmed cannelloni beans in the appetizer section. I find it filling, comforting and delicious. So I wanted to make warm cannelloni beans, but spruced up a bit. You know, for the holidays. I added tomatoes, basil, onion, and some other ingredients and it turned out incredibly well!

the italian flavor triumvirate

I am telling you, people, this recipe is so simple and so good that you will make it over and over again. Unless you hate beans. In which case, you’d probably never even try to make it in the first place. My guest had seconds. And thirds. And then complained that I didn’t make enough. Which was true, I was craving more of it myself.

If you plan ahead, unlike me, you can soak the beans and cook them, instead of resorting to canned ones. If, however, you’re like most people, you can hardly plan your next few hours, never mind dinner.

Continue reading warm canneloni beans with olive oil.